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Jack; "good-evening to you; actually going away.
" and he was "I think it is quite just that some provision should be made for that."
"Look here," said Wodehouse, hastily, in his beard; "I aint a man to forsake old friends. If Jack Wentworth does not mean anything unreasonable or against a fellow's honor Hold your tongue, Waters; by Jove! I know my friends. I know you would never have been one of them but for Jack Wentworth. He's not the common sort, I can tell you. He's the greatest swell going, by Jove!" cried Jack's admiring follower, "and through thick and thin he's stood by me. I aint going to forsake him now—that is, if he don't want anything that goes against a fellow's honor," said the repentant prodigal, again sinking the voice which he had raised for a moment. As he spoke, he looked more wistfully than ever toward his leader, who said "pshaw!" with an impatient gesture, and put back his cigar.
And then there was a pause. Frank Wentworth was sufficiently aware after his first start of indignation that he had no right to interfere, as Mr. Proctor said, between the Miss Wodehouses and their interest. He had no means of providing for them, of setting them above the chances of fortune. He reflected bitterly that it was not in his power to offer a home to Lucy, and through her to her sister. What he had to do was to stand by silently, to suffer other people to discuss what was to be done for the woman whom he loved, and whose name was sacred to him. This was a stretch of patience of which he was not capable. "I can only say again," said the curate, "that I think this discussion has gone far enough. Whatever matters of business there may be that require arrangement had better be settled between Mr. Brown and Mr. Waters. So far as private feeling goes
"This room is too hot for anything," said Jack; "but don't open the window, I entreat of you. I hate to assist at the suicide of a set of insane insects. For Heaven's sake, Frank, mind what you're doing. As for Mr. Wodehouse's remark," said Jack, lightly, "I trust I never could suggest anything which would wound his keen sense of honor. I advise you to marry and settle, as I am in the habit of advising young men; and if I were to add that it would be seemly join him. Wodehouse was himself again. to make some provision for sisters your He gave a sulky nod to the curate, and said,
“Never fear, I'll manage it,” said Jack Wentworth, "as well as a dozen lawyers. Private feeling has nothing to do with it. Have a cigar, Wodehouse? We'll talk it over as we walk home," said the condescending potentate. These words dispersed the assembly which no longer had any object. As Jack Wentworth sauntered out, his faithful follower pressed through the others to
Stop there!" said the curate, who had" Good-night, parson; I don't owe much to taken no part in the scene up to this moment. He had stood behind rather contemptuously, determined to have nothing to do with his ungrateful and ungenerous protégé. But now an unreasonable impulse forced him into the discussion. "The less that is said on that part of the subject, the better," he said, with some natural head. "I object to the mixing up of names which-which no one here has any right to bandy about ”—
you," and hastened out close upon the heels of his patron and leader. All the authorities of Carlingford, the virtuous people who conferred station and respectability by a look, sank into utter insignificance in presence of Jack. His admiring follower went after him with a swell of pride. He was a poor enough rogue himself, hustled and abused by everybody, an unsuccessful and shabby vagabond, notwithstanding his new fortune; but Jack was the glorified impersonation of cleverness and wickedness and triumph to Wodehouse. He grew insolent when he was permitted to put his through that of his hero, and went off with him trying to copy, in swagger and insolence, his careless step and well-bred ease. Perhaps Jack Wentworth felt a little ashamed of himself as he emerged from the gate of
"That is very true," said Mr. Proctor; "but still they have their rights," the late rector added, after a pause. "We have no right to stand in the way of their—their interest, you know." It occurred to Mr. Proctor, indeed, that the suggestion was, on the whole, a sensible one. "Even if they were to-to marry, you know, they might still be left unprovided for," said the late rector.
"I did not forget myself," said Gerald; every man who can distinguish good from evil has a right to advise his fellow-creature. I have not given up that common privilegedon't hope it, Frank," said the martyr, with a momentary smile.
the rectory with his shabby and disreputa- brother. "I don't understand how you are ble companion. He shrugged his shoulders to give up your work. To-night even slightly as he looked back and saw Gerald and Frank coming slowly out together." Coraggio!" said Jack to himself, "it is I who am the true philanthropist. Let us do evil that good may come. Notwithstanding, he was very thankful not to be seen by his father, who had wished to consult him as "If I could but understand why it is that a man of the world, and had shown certain you make this terrible sacrifice!" said the cuyearnings toward him, which, to Jack's infi-rate-" No, I don't want to argue-of course, nite surprise, awakened responsive feelings you are convinced. I can understand the in his own unaccustomed bosom. He was wish that our unfortunate division had never half ashamed of this secret movement of taken place; but I can't understand the sacrinatural affection, which, certainly, nobody fice of a man's life and work. Nothing is perelse suspected; but it was with a sensation fect in this world; but at least to do someof relief that he closed the rectory-gate be- thing in it-to be good for something-and hind him, without having encountered the with your faculties, Gerald!" cried the adkeen, inquiring, suspicious glances of the miring and regretful brother. "Can abstract squire. The others dispersed according to right in an institution, if that is what you their pleasure, Mr. Waters joining the party aim at, be worth the sacrifice of your existup-stairs, while Mr. Proctor followed Jack ence-your power of influencing your fellowWentworth and Wodehouse to the door with creatures?" This Mr. Wentworth said, naïve natural curiosity. When the excellent being specially moved by the circumstances man recollected that he was listening to pri- in which he found himself, for, under any vate conversation, and met Wodehouse's look other conditions, such sentiments would have of sulky insolence, he turned back again, produced the warmest opposition in his Anmuch fluttered and disturbed. He had an glican bosom. But he was so far sympathetic interest in the matter, though the two in that he could be tolerant to his brother who whose hands it now lay were the last whom had gone to Rome. he would have chosen as confidants; and to do him justice, he was thinking of Lucy only in his desire to hear what they decided upon. Something might happen to me," he said to himself;" and even if all was well, she would be happier not to be wholly dependent be the rule of faith that every man may beupon her sister; "with which self-exculpa-lieve as he pleases. There is no authority tory reflection, Mr. Proctor slowly followed either to decide or to punish. If you can the others into the drawing-room. Gerald foresee what that may lead us to, I cannot. and Frank, who were neither of them disposed for society, went away together. They had enough to think of, without much need of conversation, and they had walked halfway down Grange Lane before either spoke. Then it was Frank who broke the silence abruptly with a question which had nothing to do with the business in which they had been engaged.
I take refuge in the true church; where alone there is certainty-where," said the convert, with a heightened color and a longdrawn breath," there is authority clear and decisive. In England you believe what you will, and the result will be one that I at least fear to contemplate; in Rome we believe what-we must," said Gerald. He said the words slowly, bowing his head more than once with determined submission, as if bending under the yoke. "Frank, it is salvation!" said the new Catholic, with the emphasis of a despairing hope. And for the first time Frank Wentworth perceived what it was which had driven his brother to Rome.
"And what do you mean to do?" said Frank, suddenly. It was just as they came in sight of the graceful spire of St. Roque's; and perhaps it was the sight of his own church which roused the Perpetual Curate to think of the henceforth aimless life of his
“I know what you mean,” said Gerald; it is the prevailing theory in England that all human institutions are imperfect. My dear Frank, I want a church which is not a human institution. In England it seems to
"I understand you now," said the Perpet-all that is most precious in life? My sister ual Curate; "it is because there is no room Mary, for example," said the curate, for our conflicting doctrines and latitude of seems to bear the cross for our family. Her belief. Instead of a church happily so far children die and yours live. Can you explain imperfect that a man can put his life to the to her why? I have heard her cry out to best account in it, without absolutely deliv- God to know the reason, and he made no ering up his intellect to a set of doctrines, you answer. Tell me, have you the interpretąseek a perfect church, in which, for a sym- tion?" cried the young man, on whom the metrical system of doctrine, you lose the use hardness of his own position was pressing at of your existence!" Mr. Wentworth ut- the moment. They went on together in sitered his opinion with all the more vehe- lence for a few minutes, without any attempt mence, that it was in direct opposition to on Gerald's part to answer. "You accept his own habitual ideas; but even his venera- the explanation of the church in respect to tion for his" Mother "yielded for the moment doctrines," said the curate, after that pause, to his strong sense of his brother's mistake. "and consent that her authority is sufficient, and that your perplexity is over; that is well enough, so far as it goes; but outside lies a world in which every event is an enigma, where nothing that comes offers any explanation of itself; where God does not show himself always kind, but by times awful, terrible,-a God who smites and does not spare. It is easy to make a harmonious balance of doctrine; but where is the interpretation of life?" The young priest looked back on his memory, and recalled, as if they had been in a book, the daily problems with which he was so well acquainted. As for Gerald, he bowed his head a little, with a kind of reverence, as if he had been bowing before the shrine of a saint.
"It is a hard thing to say," said Gerald; "but it is true. If you but knew the consolation, after years of struggling among the problems of faith, to find one's self at last upon a rock of authority, of certainty,-one holds in one's hand at last the interpretation of the enigma," said Gerald. He looked up to the sky as he spoke, and breathed into the serene air a wistful, lingering sigh. If it was certainty that echoed in that breath of unsatisfied nature, the sound was sadly out of concord with the sentiment. His soul, notwithstanding that expression of serenity, was still as wistful as the night.
"I have had a happy life," said the elder brother. "I have not been driven to ask such questions for myself. To these the church has but one advice to offer: Trust God."
"We say so in England," said Frank Wentworth; "it is the grand scope of our teaching. Trust God. He will not explain himself, nor can we attempt it. When it is certain that I must be content with this
"Have you the interpretation! said his brother; and Frank, too, looked up into the pure sky above, with its stars which stretched over them serene and silent, arching over the town that lay behind, and of which nobody knew better than he the human mysteries and wonderful unanswerable questions. The heart of the curate ached to think how many problems lay in the darkness, over which that sky stretched silent, making no sign. There were the sorrowful of the earth, enduring their afflictions, lifting up pitiful hands, demanding of God in their bereave-answer for all the sorrows of life, I am conments and in their miseries the reason why. tent to take my doctrines on the same terms," There were all the inequalities of life, side said the Perpetual Curate;-and by this time by side, evermore echoing dumbly the same they had come to Miss Wentworth's door. awful question; and over all shone the calm After all, perhaps it was not Gerald, except sky which gave no answer. "Have you the so far as he was carried by a wonderful force interpretation?” he said. "Perhaps you of human sympathy and purity of soul, who can reconcile freewill and predestination was the predestined priest of the family. the need of a universal atonement and the As he went up to his own room, a momenexistence of individual virtue? But these tary spasm of doubt came upon the new conare not to me the most difficult questions. vert,-whether, perhaps, he was making a Can your church explain why one man is sacrifice of his life for a mistake. He hushed happy and another miserable?-why one has the thought forcibly as it rose; such im puleverything and abounds, and the other loses ses were no longer to be listened to. The
same authority which made faith certain de-reading as Lucy had done in writing it,— cided every doubt to be sin.
balancing in his mind the maidenly "truly yours" of that subscription with as many ingenious renderings of its possible meaning as if Lucy's letter had been articles of faith. Truly mine," he said to himself, with a smile; which indeed meant all a lover could require; and then paused, as if he had been Dr. Lushington or Lord Westbury, to inquire into the real force of the phrase; for after all, it is not only when signing the Articles that the bond and pledge of subscription means more than is intended. When Mr. Wentworth was able to tear himself from the agreeable casuistry of this self-discussion, he got up in much better spirits to go about his daily business. First of all, he had to see his father, and ascertain what were the squire's intentions, and how long he meant to stay in Carlingford; and then- It occurred to the Perpetual Curate that after that,
NEXT morning the curate got up with anticipations which were far from cheerful, and a weary sense of the monotony and dulness of life. He had won his little battle, it was true; but the very victory had removed that excitement which answered in the absence of happier stimulants to keep up his heart and courage. After a struggle like that in which he had been engaged, it was hard to come again into the peaceable routine without any particular hope to enliven or happiness to cheer it, which was all he had at present to look for in his life; and it was harder still to feel the necessity of being silent, of standing apart from Lucy in her need, of shutting up in his own heart the longing he had toward her, and refraining himself from the desperate thought of uniting his genteel beg-politeness demanded that he should call on gary to hers. That was the one thing which must not be thought of, and he subdued himself with an impatient sigh, and could not but wonder, as he went down-stairs, whether, if Gerald had been less smoothly guided through the perplexing paths of life, he would have found time for all the difficulties which had driven him to take refuge in Rome. It was with this sense of hopeless restraint and incapacity, which is, perhaps, of all sensations the most humbling, that he went down-stairs, and found lying on his breakfast-table, the first thing that met his eye, the note which Lucy Wodehouse had written to him on the previous night. As he read it, the earth somehow turned to the sun; the dubious light brightened in the skies. Unawares, he had been wondering never to re-nor Wentworth could be kept open for him ; ceive any token of sympathy, any word of and that beyond these two he had not a hope encouragement from those for whom he had of advancement, and at the same time he made so many exertions. When he had read was pledged to remain in Carlingford. All Lucy's letter, the aspect of affairs changed this, however, though discouraging enough, considerably. To be sure, nothing that she did not succeed in discouraging Mr. Wenthad said or could say made any difference in worth after he had read Lucy's letter. He the facts of the case; but the curate was went down-stairs so lightly that Mrs. Hadyoung, and still liable to those changes of win, who was waiting in the parlor in her atmosphere which do more for an imagina- best cap, to ask if he would pardon her for tive mind than real revolutions. He read making such a mistake, did not hear him the letter several times over as he lingered pass, and sat waiting for an hour, forgetting, through his breakfast, making on the whole or rather neglecting to give any response, an agreeable meal, and finding himself re- when the butcher came for orders,—which possessed of his ordinary healthful appetite. was an unprecedented accident. Mr. WentHe even canvassed the signature as much in worth, went cheerfully up Grange Lane,
the Miss Wodehouses, who had, or at least
"He was always a contradictory man,' said Miss Leonora; "since the first hour he was in Skelmersdale, he has made a practice of doing things at the wrong time. I don't mean to reproach the poor man now he's gone; but when he has been so long of going, what good could it do him to choose this particular moment, for no other reason
meeting, by a singular chance, ever so many | immaculate breakfast "things," and indeed people, who stopped to shake hands with lay, with its broad black edge on the top of him, or at least bowed their good wishes and the snow-white lumps, in Miss Leonora's own friendly acknowledgments. He smiled in sugar-basin; and the news had been suffihimself at these evidences of popular peni- ciently interesting to suspend the operations of tence, but was not the less pleased to find tea-making, and to bring the strong-minded himself reinstated in his place in the affec- woman to her feet. The first words which tions and respect of Carlingford. "After were audible to Frank revealed to him the all, it was not an unnatural mistake," he nature of the intelligence which had prosaid to himself, and smiled benignly upon the duced such startling effects. excellent people who had found out the error of their own ways. Carlingford, indeed, seemed altogether in a more cheerful state than usual, and Mr. Wentworth could not but think that the community in general was glad to find that it had been deceived, and so went upon his way, pleasing himself with those maxims about the ultimate prevalence of justice and truth, which make it appar- that I can see, except that it was specially ent that goodness is always victorious, and uncomfortable to us? What my brother has wickedness punished, in the end. Somehow just been saying makes it all the worse,” even a popular fallacy has an aspect of truth said Miss Leonora, with a look of annoyance. when it suits one's own cuse. The Perpetual She had turned her head away from the door, Curate went through his aunt's garden with which was at the side of the room, and had a conscious smile, feeling once more master not perceived the entrance of the curate. of himself and his concerns. There was, to "As long as we could imagine that Frank tell the truth, even a slight shade of self- was to succeed to the rectory, the thing content and approbation upon his handsome looked comparatively easy. I beg your parcountenance. In the present changed state don, Gerald. Of course, you know how of public opinion and private feeling, he be-grieved I am,—in short, that we all feel the gan to take some pleasure in his sacrifice. deepest distress and vexation; but, to be sure, To be sure, a perpetual curate could not since you have given it up, somebody must marry; but perhaps Lucy-in short, there succeed you; there can be no doubt of was no telling what might happen; and it that." was accordingly with that delicious sense of goodness which generally attends an act of self-sacrifice, mingled with an equally delicious feeling that the act, when accomplished, might turn out no such great sacrifice after all-which it is to be feared is the most usual way in which the sacrifices of youth are madethat the curate walked into the hall, passing his Aunt Dora's toy terrier without that violent inclination to give it a whack with his cane in passing which was his usual state of feeling. To tell the truth, Lucy's letter had made him at peace with all the world.
“Not the least, my dear aunt,” said Ger
When, however, he entered the diningroom, where the family were still at breakfast, Frank's serenity was unexpectedly disturbed. The first thing that met his eye was his Aunt Leonora, towering over her tea-urn at the upper end of the table, holding in her hand a letter which she had just opened. The envelope had fallen in the midst of the
"I am glad you grant so much. It is well to be sure of something," said the incisive and peremptory speaker. "It would have been a painful thing for us at any time to place another person in Skelmersdale while Frank was unprovided for; but, of course,' said Miss Leonora, sitting down suddenly, "nobody who knows me could suppose for a minute that I would let my feelings stand in the way of my public duty. Still it is very awkward just at this moment, when Frank, on the whole, has been behaving very properly, and one can't help so far approving of him”.
"I am much obliged to you, Aunt Leonora," said the curate.
"Oh, you are there, Frank," said his sensible aunt; and strong-minded though she was, a slight shade of additional color