« AnteriorContinuar »
pulpit; and gave a hymn out himself beginning, when I went into service, to some meeting-house tune ?” I alys did my duty by my emplyers.
“Yes," said Mrs Hackit, stooping I was a good wife as any's in the towards the candle to pick up a stitch, county-never aggravated my hus“and turned as red as a turkey-cock. band. The cheese-factor used to say I often say, when he preaches about my cheese was alys to be depended meekness, he gives himself a slap in I've known women, as their the face. He's like me—he's got a cheeses swelled a shame to be seen, temper of his own.”
when their husbands had counted on “Rather a low-bred fellow, I think, the cheese-money to make up their Barton," said Mr Pillgrim, who hated rent; and yet they'd three gowns to the Reverend Amos for two reasons- my one. If I'm not to be saved, I because he had called in a new doc- know a many as are in a bad way. tor, recently settled in Shepperton; But it's well for me as I can't to and because, being himself a dabbler church any longer, for if th' old in drugs, he had the credit of having singers are to be done away with, cured a patient of Mr Pillgrim's. there'll be nothing left as it was in “They say his father was a dissent- Mr Patten's time; and what's more, ing shoemaker; and he's half a dis- I hear you've settled to pull the senter himself. Why, doesn't he church down and build it up new ?” preach extempore in that cottage up Now the fact was that the Rev. here, of a Sunday evening?"
Amos Barton, on his last visit to Mrs “ Tchaw!”—this was Mr Hackits Patten, had urged her to enlarge favourite interjection—“that preach- her promised subscription of twenty ing without book's no good, only when pounds, representing to her that she a man has a gift, and has the Bible was only a steward of her riches, and at his fingers ends. It was all very that she could not spend them more well for Parry-he'd a gift ; and in for the glory of God than by giving a my youth I've heard the Ranters out heavy subscription towards the reo' doors in Yorkshire go on for an building of Shepperton church-a hour or two on end, without ever practical precept which was not likely sticking fast a minute. There was to smooth the way to her acceptance one clever chap, I remember, as used of his theological doctrine. Mr to say, 'You're like the wood-pigeon ; Hackit, who had more doctrinal enit says do, do, do all day, and never lightenment than Mrs Patten, had sets about any work itself.' That's been a little shocked by the heathenbringing it home to people. But our ism of her speech, and was glad of parson's no gift at all that way; he can the new turn given to the subject by preach as good a sermon as need
be this question, addressed to him as heard when he writes it down. But church warden, and an authority in when he tries to preach wi’out book, all parochial matters. he rambles about, and doesn't stick "Ah," he answered, "the parto 's text ; and every now and then son's boddered us into it at last, and he flounders about like a sheep as we're to begin pulling down this has cast itself, and can't get on’ts spring. But we haven't got money legs again. You wouldn't like that, enough yet. I was for waiting till Mrs Patten, if you was to go to we'd made up the sum, and, for my church now"
part, I think the congregationi fell "Eh, dear," said Mrs Patten, fall- off o' late ; though Mr Bart ing back in her chair, and lifting up that's because there's been her little withered hands, “what for the people when they've would Mr Gilfil say, if he was worthy You see, the congregation got to know the changes as have come in Parry's time, the people stou about in the church in these ten th' aisles : but there's never years? I don't understand these new, crowd now sort o' doctrines. When Mr Bart
whose comes to see me, he talks abog
that it nothing but my sins and my nece o'marcy. Now, Mr_Hackit, I'll never been a sinner. From the fuss.
good sort o' man, for all he's not “Well, I don't know about that," overburthen'd i th’ upper story; said Mrs Hackit, who had always and his wife's as nice a lady-like the courage of her opinion, “but I woman as I'd wish to see. How nice know, some of our labourers and she keeps her children ! and little stockingers as used never to come to enough money to do't with ; and a church, come to the cottage, and delicate creatur-six children, and that's better than never hearing any another a-coming. I don't know how thing good from week's end to week's they make both
ends meet, I'm sure, end. And there's that Track Society now her aunt has left 'em. But I as Mr Barton has begun—I've seen sent 'em a cheese and a sack o' pota- more o' the poor people with going toes last week; that's something to- tracking, than all the time I've lived wards filling the little mouths.” in the parish before. And there'd
“ Ah !” said Mr Hackit," and my need be something done among 'em ; wife makes Mr Barton a good stiff for the drinking at them Benefit glass o' brandy-and-water, when he Clubs is shameful. There's hardly a comes in to supper after his cottage steady man or steady woman either, preaching. The parson likes it; it but what's a dissenter." puts a bit o' colour into 's face, and During this speech of Mrs Hackmakes him look a deal handsomer.” it's Mr Pillgrim had emitted a suc
This allusion to brandy-and-water cession of little snorts, something suggested to Miss Gibbs the introduc- like the treble grunts of a guinea-pig, tion of the liquor decanters, now that which were always with him the the tea was cleared away; for in bu- sign of suppressed disapproval. But colic society five-and-twenty years he never contradicted Mrs Hackitago, the human animal of the male a woman whose pot luck” was sex was understood to be perpetually always to be relied on, and who on athirst, and something to drink her side had unlimited reliance on was as necessary a condition of bleeding, blistering, and draughts. thought” as Time and Space.
Mrs Patten, however, felt equal “Now, that cottage preaching," disapprobation, and had no reasons said Mr Pillgrim, mixing himself a for suppressing it. strong glass of “cold without,” “I “Well,” she remarked, “I've heard was talking about it to our Parson of no good from interfering with Ely the other day, and he doesn't one's neighbours, poor or rich. And approve of it at all. He said it did I hate the sight o' women going as much harm as good to give a too about trapesing from house to house familiar aspect to religious teach- in all weathers, wet or dry, and ing. That was what Ely said—it does coming in with their petticoats dag. as much harm as good to give a too ged and their shoes all over mud. familiar aspect to religious teach- Janet wanted to join in the tracking, ing.”
but I told her I'd have nobody trackMr Pillgrim generally spoke with ing out o' my house ; when I'm gone, an intermittent kind of splutter; in- she may do as she likes. I never deed, one of his patients had observed dagged my petticoats in my life, that it was a pity such a clever man and I've no opinion o' that sort of had a “'pediment” in his speech. religion.” But when he came to what he con- No,” said Mr Hackit, who was ceived the pith of his argument or fond of soothing the acerbities of the the point of his joke, he mouthed out feminine mind with a jocose complihis words with slow emphasis ; as a ment, “ you held your petticoats so hen, when advertising her accouche- high, to show your tight ankles : it ment, passes at irregular intervals isn't everybodi to show her from pianissimo semiquavers to for- ankles.” tissimo crotchets. He thought this This jol speech of Mr Ely's particularly meta- tance, eve
Janet, physical and profound, and the more whose ank
in the decisive of the question because it sense of lc
ezer was a generality which represented by her bo. no particulars to his mind.
always to it
aunt's personality, holding her own manage. Mr Hackit, who always under protest.
said he “never saw the like to women Under cover of the general laugh- with their maids—he never had any ter, the gentlemen replenished their trouble with his men,” avoided listenglasses, Mr Pillgrim attempting to ing to this discussion, by raising the give his the character of a stirrup- question of vetches with Mr Pillgrim. cup, by observing that he must be the stream of conversation had thus going.' Miss Gibbs seized this op- diverged; no more was said about portunity of telling Mrs Hackit that the Rev. Amos Barton, who is the she suspected Betty, the dairymaid, main object of interest to us just now. of frying the best bacon for the shep- So we may leave Cross Farm withherd, when he sat up with her to “help out waiting till Mrs Hackit, resobrew;" whereupon Mrs Hackit replied, lutely donning her clogs and wrapthat she had always thought Betty pings, renders it incumbent on Mr false ; and Mrs Patten said, there was Pillgrim also to fulfil his frequent no bacon stoler when she was able to threat of going.
nerer heard any one sniff so fright- have long been gone to bed. He fully as Mr Barton did she had a opens the sitting-room door, but ingreat mind to offer him her pocket- stead of seeing his wife, as he expecthandkerchief; and Miss Arabella ed, stitching with the nimblest of wondered why he always said he was fingers by the light of one candle, he going for to do a thing. He, excel- finds her dispensing with the light of lent man! was meditating fresh pas- a candle altogether. She is softly phe toral exertions on the niorrow; he ing up and down by the red fire-light
, would set on foot his lending library, holding in her arms little Walter, in which he had introduced some the year-old baby, who looks over her books that would be a pretty sharp shoulder with large wide-open eyes, blow to the dissenters - one espe- while the patient mother pats his back cially, purporting to be written by a with her soft hand, and glances with working man who, out of pure zeal a sigh at the heap of large and small for the welfare of his class, took the stockings lying unmended on the trouble to warn them in this way table. against those hypocritical thieves, the She was a lovely woman-Mrs dissenting preachers. The Rev. Amos Amos Barton; a large, fair, gentle MaBarton profoundly believed in the ex- donna, with thick, close chestnut curls istence of that working man, and had beside her well-rounded cheeks, and thoughts of writing to him. Dissent, with large, tender, short-sighted eyes. he considered, would have its head The flowing lines of her tall figure bruised in Shepperton, for did he not made the limpest dress look graceful, attack it in two waysHe preached and her old frayed black silk seemed Low-Church doctrine—as evangelical to repose on her bust and limbs with as anything to be heard in the Inde- a placid elegance and sense of distincpendent Chapel; and he made a High- tion, in strong contrast with the unChurch assertion of ecclesiastical easy sense of being no fit, that seempowers and functions. Clearly, the ed to express itself in the rustling of Dissenters would feel that “the par- Mrs Farquhar's gros de Naples. The son" was too many for them. No- caps she wore would have been prothing like a man who combines nounced, when off her head, utterly shrewdness with energy. The wisdom heavy and hideous-for in those days of the serpent, Mr Barton considered, even fashionable caps were large and was one of his strong points. floppy; but surmounting her long
Look at him as he winds through arched neck, and mingling their borthe little churchyard ! The silver ders of cheap lace and ribbon with light that falls aslant on church and her chestnut curls, they seemed mitomb, enables you to see his slim racles of successful millinery. Among black figure, made all the slimmer by strangers she was shy and tremulous tight pantaloons, as it flits past the pale as a girl of fifteen ; she blushed crimgravestones. He walks with a quick son if any one appealed to her opinstep, and is now rapping with sharp ion; yet that tall
, graceful, substandecision at the vicarage door. It is tial presence was so imposing in its opened without delay by the nurse, mildness, that men spoke to her with cook, and housemaid, all at once--that an agreeable sensation of timidity, is to say, by the robust maid-of-all- Soothing, unspeakable charm of work, Nanny; and as Mr Barton gentle womanhood ! which superhangs up his hat in the passage, you sedes all acquisitions, all accomsee that a narrow face of no particu- plishments. You would never have lar complexion-even the small-pox asked, at any period of Mrs Amos that has attacked it seems to have Barton's life, if been of a mongrel, indefinite kind played the pian with features of no particular shape, perhaps have and an eye of no particular expres- ised if she had sion, is surmounted by a slope of serene dignity baldness gently rising from brow to duous unrest crown. You judge him, rightly, to be the man, you about forty. The house is quiet, for whose eye will it is half-past ten, and the children pauses of his firesit
hot aching forehead will be soothed sleep! Can't you give him to by the contact of her cool soft hand Nanny ?"
who will recover himself from de- “Why, Nanny has been busy jection at his mistakes and failures ironing this evening ; but I think in the loving light of her unre- I'll take him to her now.” And Mrs proaching eyes! You would not, Barton glided towards the kitchen, perhaps, have anticipated that this while her husband ran up-stairs to bliss would fall to the share of pre- put on his maize-coloured dressingcisely such a man as Amos Barton, gown, in which costume he was whom you have already surmised quietly filling his long pipe when his not to have the refined sensibilities wife returned to the sitting-room. for which you might have imagined Maize is a colour that decidedly did Mrs Barton's qualities to be destined not suit his complexion, and it is by pre-established harmony. But I, one that soon soils; why, then, did Mr for one, do not grudge Amos Barton Barton select it for domestic wear? this sweet wife. I have all my life Perhaps because he had a knack of had a sympathy for mongrel un- hitting on the wrong thing in garb gainly dogs, who are nobody's pets; as well as in grammar. and I would rather surprise one of Mrs Barton now lighted her canthem by a pat and a pleasant morsel, dle, and seated herself before her than meet the condescending ad- heap of stockings. She had somevances of the loveliest Skye-terrier thing disagreeable to tell her huswho has his cushion by my lady's band, but she would not enter on it chair. That, to be sure, is not the at once. way of the world : if it happens to “Have you had a nice evening, see a fellow of fine proportions and dear ?" aristocratic mien, who makes no “Yes, pretty well. Ely was there faux pas, and wins golden opinions to dinner, but went away rather from all sorts of men, it straightway early. Miss Arabella is setting her picks out for him the loveliest of cap at him with a vengeance. But unmarried women, and says, There I don't think he's much smitten. would be a proper match! Not at I've a notion Ely's engaged to some all, say I let that successful, well- one at a distance, and will astonish shapen, discreet, and able gentleman all the ladies who are languishing put up with something less than the for him here, by bringing home his best in the matrimonial depart- bride one of these days. Ely's a sly ment; and let the sweet woman go dog; he'll like that.” to make sunshine and a soft pillow Did the Farquhars say anything for the poor devil whose legs are not about the singing last Sunday ?” models, whose efforts are often blun- “Yes ; Farquhar said he thought ders, and who in general gets more it was time there was some improvekicks than halfpence. She-thement in the choir. But he was sweet woman-will like it as well; rather scandalised at my setting the for her sublime capacity of loving tune of 'Lydia.
' He says he's will have all the more scope ; and I always hearing it as he passes the venture to say, Mrs Bartou! ture Independent meeting." Here Mr would never have grow
Barton laughed—he had a way of angelic if she had marrie
hing at criticisms that other you would perhaps have hi
thought damaging - and eye for her a man with
owed the remainder of a income and abundant personal
hich, like the remnants Resides, Amos was an offertionat
were few in numLand, and, in 1
the worse for wear, This be
d“Mrs Farit about Mr ntess. She saip about rt me to