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ties. Don't turn away, but hear me. Ger- but firm tones, laying his hand on his brothald, Louisa"

er's arm.

And it was at this moment, when " Don't say any more. Do you imagine I in his heart he felt that his influence might have not thought of that?” said Gerald, once be of some avail, and when all the powers of more, with a gesture of pain and something his mind were gathering to bear upon this like terror ; "I have put my hand to the last experiment, that the door opened sudplough, and I cannot go back. If I am not a denly, and poor Louisa, all flushed and tearpriest, I am nothing." But when he came ful, in womanish hot impatience and misery to that point, his cedar-tree no longer gave that knew no prudence, burst, without any him any assistance; ho came back to his warning, into the room. chair, and covered his face with his hands. “I can't bear it any longer !” cried the

• Louisa is your wife ; you are not like a poor wife. “I knew you were talking it all man free from the bonds of nature," said the over, and deciding what it was to be; and Curate of St. Roque's. • It is not for me to when one's life is hanging on a chance, how can speak of the love between you ; but I hold one keep quiet and not interfere ? O Gerald, it, as the Scripture says, for a holy mystery, Gerald! I have been a true wife to

you.

I like the love of Christ for his Church-the know I am not clever ; but I would have died most sacred of all bonds," said the young to do you any good. You are not going to man, with a certain touch of awe and emo- forsake me! poor Louisa, going up to tion, as became a young man and a true lover. him and putting her arms round him. He made a little pause to regain command of said Frank was to tell you everything, but a himself before he continued, “and she is de- man can never tell what is in a woman's pendent on you—outwardly, for all the com- heart. O Gerald, why should you go and fort of her life-and in her heart, for every- kill me! I will never oppose you any more ; thing, Gerald. I do not comprehend what whatever you want, I will give in to it as that duty js which could make you leave her, freely as if it were my own way. I will all helpless and tender, as you know her to make that my own way, Gerald, if you

will be, upon the mercies of the world. She her- only listen to me. Whatever changes you

"_and poor Louisa's complaint grew please, 0 Gerald, I will never say a word, into pathos under the subliming force of her nor your father, nor any one! If the bishop advocate's sympathy — " that she would be should interfere, we would all stand up for like a widow, and worse than a widow. I am you. There is not a soul in Wentworth to not the man to bid you suppress your convic- l'oppose-you know there is not. Put anytions because they will be your ruin, in the thing you please in the church-preach how common sense of the word; but, Gerald— you please-light the candles or anything.

Gerald, you know it is true I am saying, I Gerald had bent his head down upon his am not trying to deceive you ! ” cried the clasped hands ; sometimes a great heave of poor soul, bewildered in her folly and her his frame showed the last struggle that was grief. going on within him—a struggle more pain- No, Louisa, no-only you don't underful, more profound, than anything that had stand,” said her husband, with a groan : he gone before. And the voice of the curate, had raised his head, and was looking at her who, like his brother, was nothing if not a with a hopeless gleam of impatience in the pity priest, was choked and painful with the force and anguish of his eyes. He took her little of his emotion. He drew his breath hard be- hand and held it between his own, which were tween his words : it was not an argument, trembling with all this strain-her little tenbut an admonition; an appeal, not from a der, helpless woman's hand, formed only for brother only, but from one who spoke with soft occupations, and softer caresses ; it was authority, as feeling himself accredited from not a hand which could help a man in such God. IIc drew closer towards the voluntary an emergency-without any grasp in it to martyr beside him, the humbleness of his take hold upon him, or force of love to part reverential love for his elder brother mingling --a clinging, impotent hand, such as holds in that voice of the priest, which was natural down, but cannot raise up. He held it in a to him, and which he did not scruple to adopt. close tremulous pressure, as she stood looking " Gerald,-your wife,” họ said, in syftened down upon him, questioning him with eager,

self says

your wife"

66

hopeful eyes, and taking comfort in her igno- in a hysterical fit, and laid her on the sofa. rance from his silence, and the way in which He had to stand by her side for a long time he held her. Poor Louisa concluded she was holding her hand, and soothing her, with yet to win the day.

deeper and deeper shadows growing over his “I will turn Puseyite, too,” she said, with face. As for Frank, after pacing the room a strange little touch of attempted laughter, in great agitation for some time, aster trying

I don't want to liave any opinions different to interpose, and failing, he went away in a from my husband's;

and
you
don't think

your fever of impatience and distress into the garfather is likely to do anything to drive you den, wondering whether he could ever find out of the Church? You have only given us means to take up the broken thread, and a terrible fright, dear,” she continued, be- urge again upon his brother the argument ginning to tremble again, as he shook his wbich, but for this fatal interruption, he hcad and turned away from her. “ You did thought might have moved him. But gathnot really mean such a dreadful thing as sendering thoughts came thick upon the Perpeting me away. You could not do without me, ual Curate. He did not go back to make Gerald-you know you could not.” Her another attempt, even when he knew by the breath was getting short, her heart quicken- sounds through the open windows that Louisa. ing in its throbs—the smile that was quiver- had been led to her own room up-stairs. He ing on her face got no response from her hus- stood outside and looked at the troubled band's downcast

eyes.
And then

poor Louisa house, which seemed to stand so serene and lost all her courage ; she threw herself down secure in the sunshine. Who could have at his feet, kneeling to him. “O Gerald, it supposed that it was torn asunder in such a is not because you want to get rid of me? hopeless fashion ? And Louisa's suggestion You are not doing it for that? If you don't came into his mind, and drove him wild with stay in the Rectory, we shall be ruined—we a sense of horror and involuntary guilt as shall not have enough to eat! and the Rec- though he had been conspiring against them. iory will go to Frank, and your children will". The Rectory will go to Frank.” Was it be cast upon the world—and what, oh, what his fault that at that moment a vision of Lucy is it for, unless it is to get rid of me?" cried Wodehouse, sweet and strong and steadfastMrs. Wentworth. 6. You could have as much a delicate, firm figure, on which a man could freedom as you like here in your own living lean in his trouble-suddenly rose up before -nobody would ever interfere or say what the curate's eyes ? Fair as the vision was, are you doing? and the bishop is papa's old he would have banished it if he could, and friend. O Gerald, be wise in time, and don't hated himself for being capable of conjuring throw away all our happinces for a fancy. it up at such a time. Was it for him to If it was anything that could not be arranged, profit by the great calamity which would I would not mind so much; but if we all make his brother's house desolate? He could promise to give in to you, and that you shall not endure the thought, nor himself for finddo what you please, and nobody will inter- ing it possible ; and he was ashamed to look fere, how can you have the heart to make us in Gerald's face with even the shadow of such all so wretched? We will not even be re- an imagination on his own. He tapped at spectable,” said the weeping woman; "a the library window after a while, and told family without any father, and a wife with his brother that he was going up to the Hall. out her husband--and he living all the time! Louisa had gone up-stairs, and her husband O Gerald, though I think I surely might be sat once more, vacant yet occupied, by his considered as much as candles, have the altar writing-table. “I will follow you presently," covered with lights if you wish it: and if said Gerald. • Speak to my father without you never took off your surplice any more, I any hesitation, Frank; it is better to have it would never say a word. You can do all that over while we are all together—for it must and stay in the Rectory. You have not the be concluded now.” And the curate saw in heart-surely-surely, you have not the heart the shadow of the dim apartment that his -all for an idea of your own, to bring this brother lifted from the table the grand emterrible distress upon the children and me?” blem of all anguish and victory, and pressed

6 God help us all!” said Gerald, with a upon it his pale lips. The young man turned sigh of despair, as he lifted her up sobbing away with the shadow of that cross standing

CHAPTER XVII.

black between him and the sunshine. His father walking under the lime-trees which heart ached at the sight of the symbol most formed a kind of lateral aisle to the great sacred and most dear in the world. In an avenue, which was one of the boasts of the agony of grief and impatience he went away Wentworths. The squire was like most sadly through the familiar road to his father's squires of no particular character; a hale, house. Here had he to stand by and see this ruddy, clear-complexioned, well-preserved sacrifice accomplished. This was all that had man, looking his full age, but retaining all come of his mission of consolation and help. the vigor of his youth. He was not a man

of
any

intellect to speak of, nor did he pre

tend to it; but he had that glimmering of The Curate of St. Roque’s went sadly along sense which keeps inanya stupid man straight, the road he knew so well from Wentworth and a certain amount of natural sensibility Rectory to the Hall. There was scarcely a and consideration for other people's feelings tree nor the turning of a hedgerow which bad which made persons who knew no better give not its own individual memories to the son of Mr. Wentworth credit for tact, a quality unthe soil. Here he had come to meet Gerald known to him. He was walking slowly in a returning from Eton-coming back from the perplexed manner under the lime-trees. They university in later days. Here he had rushed were all in glorious blossom, filling the air down to the old rector, his childless uncle, with that mingled sense of fragrance and with the copy of the prize-list when his music which is the soul of the murmurous brother took his first-class. Gerald, and the tree ; but the short figure of the squire, in family pride in him, was interwoven with the his morning-coat, with his perplexed looks, very path, and now- The young man was not at all an accessory in keeping with pressed on to the hall with a certain bitter the scene. He was taking his walk in a submoisture stealing to the corner of his eye. dued way, pondering something-and it puzHe felt indignant and aggrieved in his love, zled him sorely in his straightforward, unpronot at Gerald, but at the causes which were found understanding. He shook his head conspiring to detach him from his natural sometimes as he went along, sad and persphere and duties. When he recollected how plexed and unsatisfactory, among his limes. he had himself dallied with the same thoughts, He had got a note from Gerald that morning; he grew angry with his brother’s nobleness and how his son could intend to give up and purity, which never could see less than living and station, and wife and children for its highest ideal soul in anything, and with anything in heaven or earth was more than a certain fierce fit of truth, glanced back at the squire could understand. He started very his own Easter lilies and choristers, feeling much when he heard Frank's voice calling to involuntarily that he would like to tear off him. Frank, indeed, was said to be, if any the flowers and surplices and tread them un- one was, the squire's weakness in the family; der his feet. Why was it that he, an infe- he was as clever as Gerald, and he had the

should be able to confine himself to practical sense which Mr. Wentworth prized the mere accessories which pleased his fancy, as knowing himself to possess it. If he could and could judge and reject the dangerous have wished for any one in the present emerprinciples beneath ; while Gerald, the loftier, gency, it would have been Frank—and he purer intelligence, should get so hopelessly turned round overjoyed. lost in mazes of sophistry and false argu- Frank, my boy, you're heartily welcome ment, to the peril of his work, his life, and home !” he said, holding out his hand to him all that he could ever know of happiness ? as became a British parent—" always welSuch were the thoughts that passed through come, but particularly just now. Where did the mind of the Perpetual Curate as he went you come from ? how did you come? have you rapidly through the winding country-road eaten anything this morning ? it's close upon going “ home.” Perhaps he was wrong in lunch, and we'll go in directly; but, my dear thinking that Gerald was thus superior to boy, wait here a moment, if you're not parhimself; but the error was a generous one, ticularly hungry; I can't tell you how glad and the curate held it in simplicity and with I am you're come.

I'd rather see you

than all his heart.

a hundred pound !” Before he reached the house, he saw his When Frank had thanked him, and returned

rior man,

his greetings, and answered his questions | up his mind that the Church of Rome is the (which the squire had forgotten), and made only true Church, and therefore he is in a his own inquiries, to which Mr. Wentworth false position in the Church of England : he replied only by a hasty nod, and an“ Oh, yes, can't remain a priest of the Anglican comthank you, all well--all well,” the two came munion with such views, any more than a to a momentary pause : they had nothing par- man could fight against his country, or in a ticular to add about their happiness in seeing wrong quarrel”— each other; and as Frank wrote to his sisters “ But, good heavens, sir !" said the squire, pretty regularly, there was nothing to tell. interrupting him,“ is it a time to inquire into They were quite free to plunge at once, as is the quarrel when you're on the ground? to British relatives under the trying circum- Will you tell me, sir, that my son Charley stances of a meeting a blessed possibility, into should have gone into the question between the first great subject which happened to be Russia and England when he was before Sebasat hand.

topol—and deserted,” said Mr. Wentworth, “ Have you heard anything about Gerald ?” with a sort of infinite scorn, “ if he found said Mr. Wentworth, abruptly ; “ perhaps the czar had right on his side? God bless you called there on your way from the station? my soul! That's striking at the root of everyGerald has got into a nice mess. He wrote thing. As for the Church of Rome, it’s Anto tell me about it, and I can't make head tichrist—why, every child in the villageschool nor tail of it. Do you think he's a little could tell you that; and if Gerald entertains touched here ?”' and the squire tapped his any such absurd ideas, the thing for him to own round forehead, with a troubled look ; do is to read up all that's been written on the " there's no other explanation possible that I subject, and get rid of his doubts as soon as can see : a good living, a nice house, a wife possible. The short and the long of it is," that just suits him (and it's not everybody said the troubled squire, who found it much that would suit Gerald), and a lot of fine chil- the easiest way to be angry, 66 that you ask dren—and he talks to me of giving up every- me to believe that your brother Gerald is a thing; as if a man could give up everything! fool and a coward ; and I wont believe it, It's all very well talking of self-renunciation, Frank, if you should preach to me for a year.” and so forth ; and if it meant simply consid- “ And for my part, I would stake my life ering other people, and doing anything disa- on bis wisdom and his courage," said the greeable for anybody's sake, I don't know a curate, with a little heat; “ but that is not man more likely than my son Gerald. Your the question-he believes that truth and honbrother's a fine fellow, Frank—a noble sort of or require him to leave his post. There is fellow, though he has his crotchets," said the something more involved which we might yet father, with a touch of involuntary pathos ; prevent. I have been trying, but Louisa in“ but you don't mean to tell me that my son, terrupted me—I don't know if you realize a man like Gerald Wentworth, has a mind to fully what he intends. Gerald cannot cease throw away his position, and give up the to be a priest—he will become a Catholic duties of this life? He can't do it, sir! I priest when he ceases to be Rector of Wenttell you it's impossible, and I wont believe worth—and that implies,” it.” Mr. Wentworth drew up his shirt col- 6. God bless my soul ! cried the bewillar, and kicked away a fallen branch with his dered squire—he was silent for a long time foot, and looked insulted and angry. It was after he had uttered that benediction. He a dereliction of which he would not suppose took out Gerald's letter and read it over the possibility of a Wentworth being guilty. while the two walked on in silence under It did not strike him as a conflict between the lime-trees, and the paper shook in belief and non-belief; but on the question of his hands, notwithstanding all his steadia man abandoning his post, whatever it might ness. When he spoke again, it was only be, the head of the house beld strong views. after two or three efforts to clear his I agree it's impossible ; but it looks as voice. “ I can't make out that he

that, if it were true," said the curate, " I don't Frank,—I don't see that that's what he understand it any more than you do ; but I means," said Mr. Wentworth, in a fainter am afraid we shall have to address ourselves tone than usual ; and then he continued, to the reality all the same. Gerald has made with more agitation, “ Louisa is a dear good

says

66

or

we all

soul, you know; but she's a bit of a fool, in argument could never be named
like most women. She always takes the dreamed of in connection with Gerald," said
worst view. If she can get a good cry his brother, with some emotion;
out of anything, she will. It's she that's know that.”
put this fancy into your head, eh? You There was another pause of a few minutes,
don't

say
that

you had it from Gerald him- during which they walked on side by side self ?—you don't mean to tell me that? By without even the heart to look at each other. Jove, sir !-by Heaven, sir!” cried the ex- " If it had been Plumstead, or Hawtray, or cited squire, blazing up suddenly in a burst any other fool," burst forth the squire, after of passion, she can't be any son of mine that interval, “ but Gerald !” Plumstead Por any damnable Papistical madness to give was the husband of the eldest Miss Wentup his wife!

Why, God bless us, he was a worth, and Hawtray was the squire's sister's man, wasn't he, before he became a priest ! son, so the comparison was all in the family. A priest! He's not a priest—he's a clergy-“I suppose your Aunt Leonora would say man, and the Rector of Wentworth. I can't such a thing was sent to bring down my pride believe it-I wont believe it !” said the head and keep me low,” said Mr. Wentworth,

bitof the house, with vehemence.

- Tell me terly. - Jack being what he is, was it anyone of my sons is a speak and a traitor!-thing but natural that I should be proud of and if you weren't another of my sons, sir, Gerald? There never was any evil in him, I'd knock you down for your pains.” In the that I could see, from a child ; but crotchety, excitement of the moment Mr. Wentworth always crotchety, Frank. I can see it now. came full force against a projecting branch It must have been their mother," said the which he did not see, as he spoke these words ; squire, meditatively ; “ she died very young, but though the sudden blow half stunned poor girl! her character was not formed. As him, he did not stop in his vehement contra- for your dear mother, my boy, she was aldiction. " It can't be. I tell you it can't-ways equal to an emergency; she would have it sha'n't be, Frank !” cried the squire. He given us the best of advice, had she been would not pay any attention to the curate's spared to us this day. Mrs. Wentworth is anxieties, or accept the arm Frank offered, absorbed in her nursery, as is natural, and I though he could not deny feeling faint and should not care to consult her much on such giddy after the blow. It took away all the a subject. But, Frank, whatever you can do color from his ruddy face, and left him pale, or say, trust to me to back you out,” said the with a red welt across his forehead, and won- anxious father of three families. 6s Your derfully unlike himself. " Confound it! Il mother was the most sensible woman I ever told Miles to look after that tree weeks ago. knew," he continued, with a patriarchal If he thinks I'll stand his carelessness, he's com posure. Nobody could ever manage mistaken !” said Mr. Wentworth, by way of Jack and Gerald as she did. She'd have seen relieving himself. He was a man who al. at a glance what to do now. As for Jack, ways eased his mind by being angry with he is no assistance to anybody ; but I consomebody when anything happened to put sider you very like your mother, Frank. If him out.

anybody can help Gerald, it will be you. He “My dear father," said the curate, as soon has got into some ridiculous complication, as it was practicable, “ I want you to listen you know—that must be the explanation of to me and help me ; there's only one thing it. You have only to talk to him, and clear to be done that I can see. Gerald is in a up the whole affair,” said the squire,' recovstate of high excitement, fit for any martyr- ering himself a little. He believed in " talkdom. We can't keep him back from one ipg to,” like Louisa, and like most people sacrifice, but by all the force we can gather who are utterly incapable of talking to any we must detain him from the other. He purpose. He took some courage from the must be shown that he can't abandon his thought, and recovered his color a little. natural duties. He was a man before he “ There is the bell for luncheon, and I am was a priest, as you say; he can no more very glad of it,” he said ; a glass of sherry give up his duty to Louisa than he can give will set me all right. Don't say anything to up his own life. It is going on a false idea alarm Mrs. Wentworth. When Gerald comes, altogether ; but falsehood in anything except | we'll retire to the library, and go into the

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