« PreviousContinue »
moment, had he suffered himself to be over- himself against entertaining them again, even persuaded by his mother, and coerced by his as passing guests. It was a poor man's life stepfather, and drifted by circumstances into he was going back to, doomed to it for the entering the Church? His heart was not in remainder of his days; for if Richard came his work. He discharged his duties con- into unconditional possession it was little scientiously, and would not wilfully omit one help his mother would get from her younger of his obligations; but they were a weari- son, and she would become an additional ness, not a delight, to him. His desire was burden upon him. Two hundred a year was for other pursuits. When the men about the full value of his little living. Poverty had him talked of their fishing and farming, their not yet looked in through his window, for horses and their boats, he could enter easily old Richard Herford's pride would not have and cordially into their interests; but when brooked the idea of any one belonging to they were dying, and looked to him to give him being in low condition; but now Richard them comfort and counsel for their souls, was master he would spend all on himself in he was at a loss. He had found himself riotous living. His stepfather's last coherent tongue-tied and embarrassed at his step- words haunted him as he retraced his way father's death-bed. It ought not to have homewards : “ Justin has always been a good been so. Perchance, if he had been himself son to me; I wish I'd done something for a more devout and spiritual man, he might him, but it's too late now.” have awakened some answering emotion in the departing spirit, and it would have passed
CHAPTER IV.-PANSY. into another world with less of earth's igno- JUSTIN's vicarage was built in the shadow rance and hardness about it. He felt bowed of the church—a small, low house, not much down by his sense of unfitness for his office. better than the best of the village dwellings; There had been times before this when the yet such as it was he had been content with same wretched despondency had breathed it until his younger brother disappeared, and over him, but now he had fallen into a dark his stepfather ostentatiously and continuand deep degree of it. If he had been what ally proclaimed him heir to Herford Court. he ought to be as a minister of Christ, would Since then he had, unawares to himself, his stepfather have gone from this life in so looked upon it as a merely temporary abode, dense an ignorance of the character of God, which answered his purpose well enough till and the nature of the revelation Christ had he could move into a larger habitation. come to bring ?
Now it must be his home for life, for Justin But irksome as the yoke was he must bear had no desire to quit Herford, for which he it. There had been a half-dream in his mind felt an almost passionate love, and no ambiof giving up his living to his old friend tion apart from his beloved village tempted Cunliffe, if the estate should ever come to him. He had never left it as a boy without him. It amazed and shamed him to dis- suffering from that strange malady, half cover how active had been his anticipations physical and half. mental, which we call of supplanting his half-brother ; yet what home sickness; and to be banished from it freedom there would have been in it for altogether would have seemed to him like himself! How well he could have filled tearing up his life by the roots. the offices of owner and master, squire and He looked up expectantly to the small magistrate! Richard would do mischief in window of the closet adjoining his own each of these positions-Richard, the igno- study, where his motherless child slept, and rant, reckless spendthrift, as selfish as his which he could enter with quiet footfall any father, with low habits bordering on vices. moment of the long evenings he often spent Justin had always despised Richard while alone, and mark every change on the sweet he envied him. He had continually drawn rosy face asleep on the little bed. comparisons between them, and in all these not disappointed, for Pansy was already up comparisons his own character and conduct and dressed, and was watching for him, with stood out well ; yet Richard was to be her face pressed close against the window. master of Herford !
She ran down swiftly, and he heard her At last Justin roused himself from his long fingers busy at the fastenings of the door, reverie, stood up shivering, and lifted his , which were but slight ones, for no one feared soft cap from his head to let the keen sea- housebreakers in Herford. There was no breeze cool his throbbing temples. The lack of warmth in Pansy's welcome. She thoughts that had passed through his mind pulled down his sad face to hers and covered he could utter to no man; and he must guard it with kisses.
“ How I've missed you, father !” she said. reached the man's hard and selfish heart had
I was going to run up to grand- while I'm with you !” said Pansy wistfully.
hadn't come soon.” Why, no! How could I?” he replied,
I couldn't be sorry for long. Now give me “Where is he gone?” she asked in an my breakfast, little woman.”
unfailing pleasure to him to see the flush of
when I was a little girl. Not if I never
make believe I'm little again, please. I'm "Is it a pleasant place ?” asked Pansy. going to learn how to mend your stockings; "Is it where you'd like us two to go, father?" and some day, when I am quite tall, I shall
“God forbid !" he answered hastily, wash your surplices and iron them. I'm
cold and dark all night, father ?”
voice of awe and pity; "did he know he was
here a little longer ? Would grandmamma
He “She would rather stay with us as long as
“I am grieved," answered Justin, stroking leave me behind. Didn't you want to go
“ we have no choice
“Why ! how's this?" he said. “My little slumber easily enough in the recesses of the woman was quite merry a minute ago, and brain so long as death passes by our own now she is crying her poor little heart away. circle. He exerted himself to chase away Did you love your grandfather so much ?” the gloom on Pansy's face; and presently
“I didn't love him enough,” she faltered she was sitting again at the head of the table between her sobs; “if I'd only known I'd chattering almost gaily, though a suppressed have tried to love him better. And now he'll sob now and then forced itself from her lips. never speak to me again; and he's gone Her father had soon to leave her to go again alone by himself; and I'm afraid it's not a to Herford Court, and Pansy ran up-stairs pleasant place, for you said God forbid you to her little room to ask God to grant a very and me to go there. If I was there I'd ask quiet place to her old grandfather. God to let him go to a quiet room, where he could rest himself a little while, because he
CHAPTER V.- READING THE WILL. is so old ; and he should have some very Justin had to pass through the whole quiet angels to take care of him. Might I length of the village street before reaching ask God for it? Perhaps it would not be too the road which led up to Herford Court. late yet.”
The place was in an unusual stir and excite“You may ask God for everything you ment, with groups of men and women wish," answered Justin soothingly. There standing here and there talking busily. could be no harm in teaching his child that; Only the very oldest among them could but he was reluctant to burden her young remember the death of the last Herford of mind with any theory of the great mystery Herford, more than sixty years before ; and and tragedy which he had just witnessed. It the news that their old master had at last came home to himself more closely than any laid down the burden of his extreme age had death had done since his wife's, and had shaken the village as with the shock of an awakened a whole host of questions that earthquake. There was no other death that