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PART IV.-CHAPTER XI.
not that quick-witted iron-gray woman been, Miss Dora WENTWORTH rose very unre- as we have already mentioned, too deeply freshed next morning from her disturbed engaged. Perhaps her nephew's imaginary slumbers. It was hard to sit at breakfast backsliding might have excited even Miss with Leonora, and not betray to her the new Leonora to an interest deeper than that anxiety; and the troubled sister ran into a which was awakened by the new gin-palace ; countless number of digressions, which would but as it happened, it was the humbler intelhave inevitably betrayed her, had not Miss ligence which occupied itself with this Leonora been at the moment otherwise occu- supposed domestic calamity. Miss Dora's pied. She had her little budget of letters as breakfast was affected by it in a way which usual, and some of them were more than did not appear in the morning meal of her ordinarily interesting. She, too, had a favor- sister; for somehow the most fervent love of ite district, which was in London, and where souls seldom takes away the appetite, as the also a great work was going on; and her love of some unlucky individual occasionally missionary, and her Scripture-readers, and does. her colporteur were all in a wonderful state When breakfast was over, Miss Dora made of excitement about a new gin-palace which a very elaborate excuse for going out by herwas being fitted out and decorated in the self. She wanted to match some wool for a highest style of art on the borders of their blanket she was making, " For Louisa's especial domain. They were moving heaven baby,” the devoted aunt said, with a little and earth to prevent this temple of Satan tremor. - Poor Louisa ! if Gerald were to from being licensed ; and some of them were go any further, you know, it would be so sad 80 very certain of the divine acquiesence in for her; and one would like to help to keep their measures, that they announced the up her heart, poor dear, as much as one success of their exertions to be a test of the could.” faithfulness of God; which Miss Leonora By means of a blanket for the bassinet read out to her sisters as an instance of very in scarlet and white,” said Miss Leonora ; touching and beautiful faith. Miss Went . but it's quite the kind of comfort for worth, perhaps, was not so clear on that Louisa. I wonder if she ever had the smallsubject. During the course of her silent life, est inkling what kind of a husband she has she had prayed for various things which it got. I don't think Frank is far wrong about. had not been God's pleasure to grant; and Gerald, though I don't pin my faith to my just now she, too, was very anxious about nephew's judgment. I dare say he'll go Frank, who seemed to be in a bad way; so mad or do worse with all those crotchets of she rather shook her head gently, though his — but what he married Louisa for has: she did not contravene the statement, and always been a mystery to me. concluded with sadness that the government “ I suppose because he was very fond of of the earth might still go on as usual, and her,” suggested Miss Dora, with humility. God's goodness remain as certain as ever, • But why was he fond of her ? a goose! even though the public-house was licensed, said the strong-minded sister, and so went.' or Frank did fall away. This was the teach- about her letter-writing without further coming of experience; but Aunt Cecilia did not ment, leaving Aunt Dora to pursue her inutter it, for that was not her way. As for dependent career. It was with a feeling of Miss Dora, she agreed in all the colporteur's relief, and yet of guilt, that this timid insentiments, and thought them beautiful, as quirer set forth on her mission, exchanging a Leonora said, and was not much disturbed sympathetic significant look with Miss Wentby any opinion of her own, expressed or un- worth before she went out. If she should expressed, but interspersed her breakfast with meet Frank at the door, looking dignified and little sighing ejaculations on the temptations virtuous, what could she possibly say to him ? of the world, and how little one knew what and yet, perhaps, he had only been impruwas passing around one, and “ let him that dent, and did not mean anything. Miss Dora thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” looked round her on both sides, up and down which could not have failed to attract Miss Grange Lane, as she went out into the lovely Leonora's attention, and draw forth the summer morning. Neither Frank. nor any whole story of her sister's suspicions, had other soul, except some nurse-maids,, was to,
be seen along the whole line of sunny road. I kept things close, and there ain't a many as She was relieved, yet she was disappointed at knows; but Miss Wodehouse has spoke up the same time, and went slowly up towards for me, ma’am, right and left, and most perElsworthy's shop, saying to herself that she sons as count for anything in Carlingford gets was sure Frank could not mean anything. their fancy articles out o' my shop. Mr. It must have been that forward little thing Wentworth, ma'am, our respected clergyherself who had come up to him when he was man, gets all his papers of me—and partickout for his walk, or it must have been some ler he is to a degree—and likes to have 'em accident. But then she remembered that she first thing afore they're opened out o' the had heard the curate call Rosa pretty ; and parcel. It's the way with gentlemen when Miss Dora wondered within herself what it they're young. Most people ain't so parmattered whether she was pretty or not, and tickler later in life--not as I could tell the what he had to do with it, and shook her reason why, unless it may be that folks gets head over the strange way men had of finding used to most things, and stop looking for anyout such things. For her own part, she was thing new. But there ain't a many young sure she never looked whether the girl was gentlemen like our clergyman, though I say pretty or not; and the anxious aunt had just it as shouldn't,” continued Mr. Elsworthy, come round again, by a very circuitous and with a little effusion, as he succeeded in findperplexing course, to her original sentiment, ing an exact match for the scarlet wool. and strengthened herself in the thought that " And why shouldn't you say it, Mr. Elsher dear Frank could not mean anything, worthy ?” said Miss Dora, a little tartly; when she reached Elsworthy's door.
'you are not any way particularly connected That worthy trader was himself behind the with my nephew.” Here she gave an angry counter, managing matters with his usual ex- glance at Rosa, who had drawn near to listen, actness. Berlin wool was one of the articles having always in her vain little heart a cerMr. Elsworthy dealt in, besides newspapers tain palpitation at Mr. Wentworth's name. and books when they were ordered. Miss “ I ask your pardon, ma’am ; l’m clerk at Dora, who wore no crinoline, stumbled over St. Roque's. It ain't often as we have the her dress in her agitation as she went in, and pleasure of seeing you there--more's the -saw, at the first glance, little Rosa, looking pity,” said the church official, “ though I very blooming and pretty, tying up a parcel may say there ain't a church as perfect, or. at the other end of the shop. The poor lady where the duty is performed more beautiful, did not know how to enter upon so difficulta in all the county; and there never was a question. She offerred her wool humbly to clergyman as had the people's good at heart be matched, and listened to Mr. Elsworthy's like Mr. Wentworth—not in my time. It sentiments upon the subject. He told her ain't no matter whether you're rich or poor, how he always had his wools from the best young or old, .if there's a service as can be houses in London, and could match anything done to ever a one in his way, our clergyman as was ever made in that line, and was proud is the man to do it. Why, no further gone to say as he always gave satisfaction. Miss than last night, ma'am, if you'll believe me, Dora could not see any opening for the in- that little girl therequiries which she hoped to make ; for how “ Yes," said Miss Dora, eagerly, looking was it possible to intimate the possibility of with what was intended to be a very stern disapproval to an establishment so perfect in and forbidding aspect in the little girl's face. all its arrangements ? The probabilities are, “ She was a-coming up Grange Lane in the that she would have gone away without say- dark,” said Mr. Elsworthy—“ not as there ing anything, had not Mr. Elsworthy himself was any need, keeping two boys, as I do, but given her a chance.
she likes a run out of an evening-when Mr. “ Miss Wodehouse has been my great Wentworth see her, and come up to her. It help," said the shopkeeper ; “ she is the ain't what many men would have done,” said nicest lady, is Miss Wodehouse, in all Car- the admiring but unlucky adherent of the lingford. I do respect them people ; they've suspected curate : “ he come up, seeing as had their troubles, like most families, but she was by herself, and walked by her, and there ain't many as can lay their finger on gave her a deal of good advice, and brought the skeleton as is in their cupboard : they've her home. Her aunt and me was struck all
of a heap to see the clergyman a-standing at ceiving the drift of the examination. He our door. "I've brought Rosa home,' he roused himself up to answer now, a little said, making believe a bit sharp. • Don't alarmed, to tell the truth, by the new lights send her out no more so late at night, and thrown on the subject, and vexed to see how was off like a shot, not waiting for no thanks. unconsciously far both the women had gone. It's my opinion as there ain't
gen “ It ain't easy to go into a house in Grange tlemen. I can't call to mind as I ever met Lane without meeting of some one in the with his fellow before."
garden,” said Mr. Elsworthy; “not as I “ But a young creature like that ought not mean to say it was the right thing for Rosa to have been out so late," said Miss Dora, to be going them errands after dark. My trying to harden herself into severity. “I orders is against that, as she knows; and wonder very much that you like to walk up what's the good of keeping two boys if things Grange Lane in the dark. I should think it isn't to be done at the right time? Mr. very unpleasant, for my part; and I am sure Wentworth himself was a-reproving of me I would not allow it, Mr. Elsworthy,” she for sending out Rosa, as it might be the last said firmly, “ if such a girl belonged to me.” time he was here; for she's one of them as
“ But please, I wasn't walking up Grange sits in the chancel and helps in the singing, Lane," said Rosa, with some haste. “ I was and he feels an interest in her, natural,”. at Mrs. Hadwin's, where Mr. Wentworth said the apologetic clerk. Miss Dora gave lives. I am sure I did not want to trouble him a troubled look, but took no further nohim," said the little beauty, recovering her tice of his speech. She thought with an innatural spirit as she went on," but he in- stinctive contempt for the masculine spectasisted on walking with me; it was all his tor, that it was impossible he could know own doing. I am sure I didn't want him ;” anything about it, and pursued her own and here Rosa broke off abruptly, with a con- wiser way. sciousness in her heart that she was being 6. It is very wrong of you—a girl in your lectured. She rushed to her defensive wea- position,” said Miss Dora, as severely as she pons by natural instinct, and grew crimson could in her soft old voice,“ to be seen walkover all her pretty little face, and flashed ing about with a gentleman, even when he lightning out of her eyes, which at the same is your clergyman, and, of course, has nothtime were not disinclined to tears. All this ing else in his head. Young men don't think Miss Dora made note of with a sinking anything of it,” said the rash but timid. heart.
preacher ; " of course it was only to take “ Do you mean to say that you went to care of you, and keep you out of harm’s way. Mrs. Hadwin's to see Mr. Wentworth ?” But then you ought to think what a trouble asked that unlucky inquisitor, with a world it was to Mr. Wentworth, taking him away of horror in her face.
from his studies and it is not nice for a I went with the papers,” said Rosa, young girl like you.” Miss Dora paused to óc and II met him in the garden. I am take breath, not feeling quite sure in her own sure it wasn't my fault,” said the girl, burst- mind whether this was the right thing to say. ing into petulant tears. “ Nobody has any Perhaps it would have been better to have occasion to scold me. It was Mr. Wentworth disbelieved the fact altogether, and declared as would come; ” and Rosa sobbed, and it impossible. She was much troubled about lighted up gleams of defiance behind her it, as she stood looking into the flushed, teartears. Miss Dora sat looking at her with a ful face, with all that light of defiance behind very troubled, pale face. She thought all the tears and felt instinctively that little her fears were true, and matters worse than Rosa, still only a pretty, obstinate, vain, unshe imagined ; and being quite unused to pri- educated little girl, was more than a match vate inquisitions, of course she took all pos- for herself, with all her dearly-won experisible steps to create the scandal for which she ences. The little thing was bristling with a had come to look.
hundred natural weapons and defences, “ Did you ever meet him in the garden be- against which Miss Dora's weak assault had fore?” asked Miss Dora, painfully, in a low no chance. voice. During this conversation Mr. Elswor “ If it was a trouble, he need not hawe thy had been looking on, perplexed, not per- come,” said Rosa, more and more convinesd
that Mr. Wentworth must certainly have said Miss Dora, “ you will take care of that meant something. “I am sure I did not poor little thing: she will be getting ridicwant him. He insisted on coming, though I ulous notions into her bead ;” and Aunt begged him not. I don't know why I should Dora went out of the shop with great solembe spoke to like this,” cried the little co- nity, quite unaware that she had done more quette, with tears, “ for I never was one as to put ridiculous notions into Rosa's head looked at a gentleman ; it's them,” with a than could have got there by means of sob, as comes after me."
dozen darkling walks by the side of the ma“ Rosa,' said Mr. Elsworthy, much jestic curate, who never paid her any complialarmed, “ your aunt is sure to be looking ments. Miss Dora went away more than out for you, and I don't want you here, not ever convinced in her mind that Frank had now; nor I don't want you again for errands, forgotten himself and his position, and everyand don't you forget. If it hadn't have been thing that was fit and seemly.
She jumped that Mr. Wentworth thought you a silly to a hundred horrible conclusions as she went little thing, and had a kind feeling for my sadly across Grange Lane with her scarlet missis and me, you don't think he'd have wool in her hand. What Leonora would say took that charge of you ?—and I wont have to such an irremediable folly ? and how the my clergyman as has always been good to squire would receive his son after such a me and mine, made a talk of. You'll excuse méssalliance ? “ He might change his views," me, ma'am,” he said, in an under tone, as said Miss Dora to herself, “but he could not Rosa reluctantly went away-not to her aunt, change his wife ; " and it was poor comfort however, but again to her parcel at the other to call Rosa a designing little wretch, and to end of the shop" she aint used to being reflect that Frank at first could not have talked to. She’s but a child, and don't know meant anything. The poor lady had a bad no better: and after all,” said Rosa's uncle, headache, and was in a terribly depressed with a little pride," she is a tender-hearted lit-, condition all day. When she saw from the tle thing—she don't know no better, ma'am; window of her summer-house the pretty figure she's led away by a kind word—for nobody of Lucy Wodehouse in her gray cloak pass can say but she's wonderful pretty, as is very by, she sank into tears and melancholy reflecplain to see.”
tions. But then Lucy Wodehouse's views “ Is she ?” said Miss Dora, following the were highly objectionable, and she bethought little culprit to the back counter with disen- herself of Julia Trench, who had long ago
“ Then you had better take been selected by the sisters as the clergyman's all the better care of her, Mr. Elsworthy,” wife of Skelmersdale. Miss Dora shook her she said, with again a little asperity. The head over the blanket she was knitting for fact was, that Miss Dora had behaved very Louisa's baby, thinking of clergymen's wives injudiciously, and was partly aware of it; in general, and the way in which marriages and then this pret ess of little Rosa's, even came about. Who had the ordering of these though it shone at the present moment before inexplicable accidents? It was surely not her, was not so plain to her old-maidenly Providence, but some tricky imp or other eyes. She did not make out why everybody who loved confusion ; and then Miss Dora was so sure of it, nor what it mattered ; and paused with compunction, and hoped she very probably, if she could have had her own would be forgiven for entertaining, even for way, would have liked to give the little in- one passing moment, such a wicked, wicked significant thing a good shake, and asked her thought. how she dared to attract the eye of the Perpetual Curate. As she could not do this, however, Miss Dora gathered up her wool, On the afternoon of the same day Mr. and refused to permit Mr. Elsworthy to send Morgan went home late, and frightened his it home for her. “ I can carry it quite well wife out of her propriety by the excitement myself,” said the indignant little woman. and trouble in his face. He could do nothing "I am sure you must have a great deal too but groan as he sat down in the drawingmuch for your boys to do, or you would not room, where she had just been gathering her send your niece about with the things. But work together, and putting stray matters in if you will take my advice, Mr. Elswortby,” order, before she went up-stairs to make her
self tidy for dinner. The rector paid no at- | good qualities," said the rectors wife. tention to the fact that the dinner-hour was must not let our personal objections prejudice approaching, and only shook his head and re- us in respect to his conduct otherwise. I am peated his
groan when she asked him anx- sure you are the last to do that.” iously what was the matter. The good man I have never known an insubordinate man was too much flushed and heated and put out, who was a perfect moral character," said the to be able at first to answer her questions. rector. " It is very discouraging altogether ;
Very bad, very bad,” he said, when and you thought he was engaged to Wodehe had recovered sufficient composure house's pretty daughter, didn't you? I hope “far worse than I feared. My dear, I am not-I sincerely hope not. That would make afraid the beginning of my work in Carling- things doubly bad ; but, to be sure, when a ford will be forever associated with pain to us man is faithless to his most sacred engageboth. I am discouraged and distressed be- ments, there is very little dependence to be Fond measure by what I have heard to-day." placed on him in other respects.”
“ Dear William, tell me what it is ? ” said " But you have not told me what it is ?” the rector's wife.
said the rector's wife, with some anxiety; and “ I feared it was a bad business from the she spoke the more hastily as she saw the first,” said the disturbed rector. I confess I shadow of a curate-Mr. Morgan's own cufeared, when I saw a young man so regard- rate, who must inevitably be invited to stop less of lawful authority, that his moral prin- to dinner-crossing the lawn as she spoke. ciples must be defective, but I was not pre- She got up and went a little nearer the winpared for what I have heard to-day. My dow to make sure. - There is Mr. Leeson," dear, I am sorry to grieve you with such a she said, with some vexation. “I must run story; but as you are sure to hear it, per- up-stairs and get ready for dinner. Tell me haps it is better that you should have the what is it !” facts from me.
Upon which the rector, with some circum" It must be about Mr. Wentworth,” said locution, described the appalling occurrence Mrs. Morgan.
She was sorry; for though of the previous night,-how Mr. Wentworth she had given in to her husband's vehemence, had walked home with little Rósa Elsworthy she herself in her own person had been pre- from his own house to hers, as had, of course, possessed in favor of the Perpetual Curate ; been seen by various people. The tale had but she was also sensible of a feeling of relief been told with variations, which did credit to to know the misfortune concerned Mr. Went- the ingenuity of Carlingford ; and Mr. Morworth, and was not specially connected with gan's version was that they had walked arm themselves.
in arm, in the closest conversation, and at an Yes, it's about Mr. Wentworth," said the hour which was quite unseemly for such a rector. He wiped his face, which was red little person as Rosa to be abroad. with haste and exhaustion, and shook his cellent rector gave the story with strong exhead. He was sincerely shocked and grieved, pressions of disapproval ; for he was aware to do him justice ; but underneath there was of having raised his wife's expectations, and also a certain satisfaction in the thought that had a feeling, as he related them, that the he had foreseen it, and that his suspicions circumstances, after all, were scarcely suffiwere verified.
My dear, I am very glad he ciently horrifying to justify his preamble. had not become intimate in our house,” said Mrs. Morgan listened with one ear towards Mr. Morgan ; " that would have complicated the door, on the watch for Mr. Leeson's matters sadly. I rejoice that your womanly knock. instincts prevented that inconvenience ;” and 66 Was that all! " said the sensible woman. as the rector began to recover himself, he " I think it very likely it might be explained. looked more severe than ever.
I suppose Mr. Leeson must have stopped to “ Yes,” said Mrs. Morgan, with hesitation; look at my ferns; he is very tiresome with for the truth was, that her womanly instincts his botany. That was all! Dear, I think it had pronounced rather distinctly in favor of might be explained. I can't fancy Mr. Wentthe Curate of St. Roque's. " I hope he has worth is a man to commit himself in that not done anything very wrong, William. I way—if that is all!” said Mrs. Morgan; “ but should be very sorry; for I think he has very I must run up-stairs to change my dress."