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THE 


VICAR OF WREXHILL. 

BY MRS. TROLLOPE. 

AUTHOR OF 

“JONATHAN JEFFERSON WHITLAW,” “DOMESTIC MANNERS 
OF THE AMERICANS,” “ TREMORDYN CLIFF,” &C. 


Les bons et vrais devots qu’on doit suivre a la trace 
Ne sont pas ceux aussi qui font tant de grimace. 

He, quoi ! . . . vous ne ferez nulle distinction 
Entre l’hypocrisie et la devotion ? 

Vous les voulez traiter d’un semblable langage, 

Et rendre meme honneur au masque qu’au visage ? 

Moliere, 


IN THREE VOLUMES. 

YOL. I. 


LONDON: 

RtCHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

1837 . 


LONDON 


PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY, 

Dorset Street, Fleet Street. 







ILLUSTRATIONS. 


VOL. I. 


A Visit to the Widow (page 78) 
Disappointment 

The Lime Tree 

Frontispiece. 

. Page 150 
272 

VOL. II. 


Evangelical Affection (page 236) 
Amen ..... 

The Mowbray Arms 

Frontispiece. 

. Page 138 
326 

VOL. III. 


Receiving Company (page 81) 

Frontispiece. 


A Fancy Fair .... Page 210 
The Vicar at the Bedside of his Daughter 285 



ERRATA. 


YOL. I. 

Page 2, line 9, for never seen, read never sear. 

66, ,, 6, from bottom, for some, read none. 

75, ,, 11, for himself, read herself. 

90) >) 3, from bottom, for pine, read nine. 

103, ,, 3 „ delete of, before sweethearts, 

137, ,, 7 ,, for polite, read politic. 

14] ,, 3, for bonnet, read baronet. 

VOL. II. 

Page 223, line 12, for than his bosom, read than had ever 
before troubled his bosom. 

VOL. III. 

Page 3, line 3, for lord, read land. 

39, ,, last, for body, read lady. 

101, ,, 3, from bottom, for strollen, read stolen. 






THE 


VICAR OF WREXHILL. 


CHAPTER I. 

THE VILLAGE OF WREXHILL.-THE MOWBRAY FAMILY.— 

A BIRTHDAY. 

The beauties of an English village have been 
so often dwelt upon, so often described, that I 
dare not linger long upon the sketch of Wrex- 
hill, which must of necessity precede my] in¬ 
troduction of its vicar. And yet not even 
England can show many points of greater 
beauty than this oak-sheltered spot can display. 
Its peculiar style of scenery, half garden, half 
forest in aspect, is familiar to all who are 
acquainted with the New Forest, although it 
has features entirely its own. One of these is 
an overshot mill, the sparkling fall of which is 


VOL. i. 


B 



2 


THE VICAR OF 


accurately and most nobly overarched by a 
pair of oaks which have long been the glory of 
the parish. Another is the grey and mellow 
beauty of its antique church, itself unencum¬ 
bered by ivy, while the wall and old stone 
gateway of the churchyard look like a line 
and knot of sober green, enclosing it with such 
a rich and unbroken luxuriance of foliage 
cc never seen,” as seems to show that it is held 
sacred, and that no hand profane ever ventured 
to rob its venerable mass of a leaf or a berry. 
Close beside the church, and elevated by a very 
gentle ascent, stands the pretty Vicarage, as 
if placed expressly to keep watch and ward 
over the safety and repose of its sacred neigh¬ 
bour. The only breach in the ivy-bound fence 
of the churchyard, is the little wicket gate that 
opens from the Vicarage garden ; but even this 
is arched over by the same immortal and unfad¬ 
ing green,—a fitting emblem of that eternity, 
the hope of which emanates from the shrine it 
encircles. At this particular spot, indeed, the 
growth of the plant is so vigorous, that it is 
controlled with difficulty, and has not obeyed 



WREXHILL. 


3 


the hand which led it over the rustic arch 
without dropping a straggling wreath or two, 
which if a vicar of the nineteenth century could 
wear a wig, might leave him in the state coveted 
for Absalom by his father. The late Vicar of 
Wrexhill, however,—I speak of him who died a 
few weeks before my story begins,—would never 
permit these graceful pendants to be shorn, 
declaring that the attitude they enforced on 
entering the churchyard was exactly such as 
befitted a Christian when passing the threshold 
of the court of God. 

Behind the Vicarage, and stretching down 
the side of the little hill on which it stood, so 
as to form a beautiful background to the 
church, rose a grove of lofty forest-trees, that 
seemed to belong to its garden, but which in 
fact was separated from it by the road which 
led to Mowbray Park, on the outskirts of 
which noble domain they were situated. This 
same road, having passed behind the church 
and Vicarage, led to the village street of Wrex¬ 
hill, and thence, towards various other parishes, 
over a common, studded with oaks and holly- 

b 2 


4 


THE VICAR OF 


bushes, on one side of which, with shelving 
grassy banks that gave to the scene the ap¬ 
pearance of noble pleasure-grounds, was a sheet 
of water large enough to be dignified by the 
appellation of Wrexhill Lake. Into this, the 
little stream that turned the mill emptied itself, 
after meandering very prettily through Mow¬ 
bray Park, where, by the help of a little artifice, 
it became wide enough at one spot to deserve 
a boat and boat-house, and at another to give 
occasion for the erection of one of the most 
graceful park-bridges in the county of Ramp- 
shire. 

On one side of the common stands what 
might be called an alehouse, did not the ex¬ 
quisite neatness of every feature belonging to 
the little establishment render this vulgar appel¬ 
lation inappropriate. It was in truth just such 
a place as a town-worn and fastidious invalid 
might have fixed his eyes upon and said, “ How 
I should like to lodge in that house for a week 
or two r Roses and honeysuckles battled 
together for space to display themselves over 
the porch, and above the windows. The little 


WREXHILL. 


5 


enclosure on each side the post whence swung 
the “ Mowbray Arms” presented to the little 
bay windows of the mansion such a collection 
of odorous plants, without a single weed to 
rob them of their strength, that no lady in the 
land, let her flower-garden be what it may, but 
would allow that Sally Freeman, the daughter, 
bar-maid, waiter, gardener at the “ Mowbray 
Arms,” understood how to manage common 
flowers as well as any Scotchman in her own 
scientific establishment. 

Industry, neatness, and their fitting accom¬ 
paniment and reward, comfort, were legible 
throughout the small domain. John Freeman 
brewed his own beer, double and single; Doro¬ 
thy, his loving wife, baked her own bread, cured 
her own bacon, churned her own butter, and 
poached her own eggs, or roasted her own 
chicken, when they were called for by any 
wandering lover of woodland scenery who was 
lucky enough to turn his steps towards Wrex- 
hill. The other labours of the household were 
performed by Sally, except indeed the watering 
of horses, and the like, for which services a 


6 


THE VICAR OF 


stout, decent peasant-boy received a shilling a 
week, and three good meals a day: and happy 
was the cottager whose son got the appointment, 
for both in morals and manners the horse¬ 
boy at the Mowbray Arms might have set an 
example to his betters. 

There are many other pretty spots and many 
more good people at Wrexhill; but they must 
show themselves by degrees, as it is high time 
the business of my story should begin. 

The 2nd of May 1833 was a gay day at 
Wrexhill, for it was that on which Charles 
Mowbray came of age, and the fete given on 
the occasion was intended to include every 
human being in the parish, besides about a 
hundred more, neighbours and friends, who 
came from a greater distance to witness and 
share in the festivities. 

A merrier, or in truth a happier set of human 
beings, than those assembled round the break¬ 
fast-table at Mowbray Park on the morning of 
that day, could hardly be found anywhere. This 
important epoch in the young heir’s life had 
been long anticipated with gay impatience, and 



WREXHILL. 


7 


seemed likely to be enjoyed with a fulness of 
contentment that should laugh to scorn the 
croaking prophecy which speaks of hopes ful¬ 
filled as of something wherein doubtful good is 
ever blended with certain disappointment. The 
Mowbray family had hoped to wake upon a 
joyous morning, and they did so: no feeling 
of anxiety, no touch of disease, no shadow of 
unkindness to any being who shared with them 
the breath of life, came to blight the light¬ 
hearted glee which pervaded the whole circle. 

Charles Mowbray senior had hardly passed 
the prime of life, though a constitutional ten¬ 
dency to something like corpulency made him 
look older than he really was. Throughout 
his fifty summers he had scarcely known an 
ailment or a grief, and his spirit was as fresh 
within him as that of the noble-looking young 
man on whom his eyes rested with equal pride 
and love. 

Mrs. Mowbray, just seven years his junior, 
looked as little scathed by time as himself; her 
slight and graceful figure indeed gave her 
almost the appearance of youth; and though 


8 THE VICAR OF 

her delicate face had lost its bloom, there was 
enough of beauty left to render her still a very 
lovely woman. 

Charles Mowbray junior, the hero of the day, 
was, in vulgar but expressive phrase, as fine a 
young fellow as ever the sun shone upon. His 
mind, too, was in excellent accordance with the 
frame it inhabited,—powerful, elastic, unweary¬ 
ing, and almost majestic in its unbroken vigour 
and still-increasing power. 

4C Aux cceurs heureux les vertus sont faciles,” 
says the proverb; and as Charles Mowbray was 
certainly as happy as it was well possible for 
a man to be, he must not be overpraised for 
the fine qualities that warmed his heart and 
brightened his eye. Nevertheless, it is only 
justice to declare, that few human beings ever 
passed through twenty-one years of life with 
less of evil and more of good feeling than 
Charles Mowbray. 

Helen, his eldest sister, was a fair creature 
of nineteen, whose history had hitherto been, 
and was probably ever doomed to be, dependant 
upon her affections. As yet, these had been 





WREXHILL. 


9 


wholly made up of warm and well-requited 
attachment to her own family ; but few people 
capable of loving heartily, are without the 
capacity of suffering heartily also, if occasion 
calls for it, and this strength of feeling 
rarely leaves its possessor long in the enjoy¬ 
ment of such pure and unmixed felicity as 
that which shone in Helen’s hazel eye as 
she threw her arms around her brother’s 
neck, and wished him a thousand and a 
thousand times joy ! 

Fanny Mowbray, the youngest of the family, 
wanted three months of sixteen. Poets have 
often likened young creatures of this age to 
an opening rose-bud, and it was doubtless just 
such a being as Fanny Mowbray that first 
suggested the simile. Anything more bright, 
more delicate, more attractive in present love¬ 
liness, or more full of promise for loveliness 
more perfect still, was never seen. 

In addition to this surprising beauty of form 
and feature, she possessed many of those quali¬ 
ties of mind which are attributed to genius. 
Meditative and imaginative in no common 

b 5 



10 


THE VICAR OF 


degree, with thoughts occasionally both soaring 
and profound, she passed many hours of her ex¬ 
istence in a manner but little understood by her 
family—sometimes devouring with unwearying 
ardour the miscellaneous contents of the large 
library, and sometimes indulging in the new 
delight of pouring forth her own wild, rambling 
thoughts in prose or rhyme. Unfortunately, 
the excellent governess who had attended the 
two girls from the time that Helen attained her 
eighth year died when Fanny was scarcely four¬ 
teen ; and the attachment of the whole family 
being manifested by a general declaration that 
it would be impossible to permit any one to 
supply her place, the consequence was, that 
the cadette of the family had a mind less well 
and steadily regulated than it might have been, 
had her good governess been spared to her a 
few years longer. 

Though so many persons were expected be¬ 
fore night to share the hospitalities of Mowbray 
Park, that, notwithstanding the ample size of its 
mansion, both the lady and her housekeeper 
were obliged to exert considerable skill in 


WREXHILL. 


11 


arranging their accommodation, there was but 
one person besides the family present at the 
happy breakfast-table ; and she was not a guest, 
but an inmate. 

Rosalind Torrington was a young Irish girl 
from the province of Ulster, who had passed the 
first seventeen years of her life in great retire¬ 
ment, in a village not far distant from the 
coast, with no other society than the immediate 
neighbourhood afforded. Since that time her des¬ 
tiny had undergone a great change. She was an 
only child, and lost both father and mother in 
one of those pestilential fevers which so fre¬ 
quently ravage the populous districts of Ire¬ 
land. Her father was one of that frightfully- 
wronged and much-enduring race of Protestant 
clergy, who, during the last few years, have 
suffered a degree of oppression and persecution 
unequalled for its barefaced injustice by any¬ 
thing that the most atrocious page of history 
can record. 

Her mother, of high English descent, had 
been banished from all intercourse with her 
patrician family, because she refused to use her 


12 


THE VICAR OF 


influence with her exemplary husband to induce 
him to abandon his profitless and often perilous 
preferment in Ireland, where he felt he had the 
power as well as the will to do good, in order 
to place himself in dependence upon his wife’s 
brother, a bachelor -viscount who had invited 
the impoverished family to his house, and pro¬ 
mised some time or other to do something for 
him in his profession—if he could. This invi¬ 
tation was politely but most positively refused, 
and for the last three years no intercourse of 
any kind had taken place between them. At 
the end of that time, Mr. Torrington and his 
exemplary wife, while sedulously administering 
to the sick souls of their poor parishioners, 
caught the fever that raged among them, and 
perished. Mrs. Torrington survived her hus¬ 
band three days; and during that time her 
thoughts were painfully occupied by the future 
prospects of her highly-connected but slenderly- 
portioned girl. 

All she could do for her, she did. She wrote 
to her haughty brother in such a manner as 
she thought, from her deathbed must produce 



WREXHILL. 


13 


some effect; but lest it should not, she ad¬ 
dressed another letter to Mrs. Mowbray, the 
favourite friend of her youth, entreating her 
protection for her orphan child. 

This letter enclosed a will fully executed, by 
which she left to her daughter whatever pro¬ 
perty she might die possessed of, (amounting 
at the utmost, as she supposed, to about five 
thousand pounds,) and constituting Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray sole guardian of her person and property. 

During the interval which had elapsed since 
Mrs. Torrington’s estrangement from her noble 
brother, his lordship had contrived to quarrel 
also with his nephew and heir, and in the height 
of his resentment against him, made a will* 
leaving the whole of his unentailed property, 
amounting to above eighty thousand pounds, 
to his sister. By a singular coincidence, Lord 
Trenct died two days before Mrs. Torrington ; 
so that her will was made exactly one day after 
she had unconsciously become the possessor of 
this noble fortune. Had this most unexpected 
event been made known to her, however, it 
would probably have made no other alteration in 


14 


THE VICAR OF 


her will than the addition of the name of some 
male friend, who might have taken care of the 
property during the minority of her child : and 
even this would only have been done for the 
purpose of saving her friend trouble ; for such 
was her opinion of Mrs. Mowbray, that no cir¬ 
cumstances attending her daughter’s fortune 
could have induced her to place the precious 
deposit of her person in other hands. 

The poor girl herself, while these momentous 
events were passing, was stationed at the house 
of an acquaintance at a few miles’ distance, 
whither she had been sent at the first appear¬ 
ance of infection ; and thus in the short space 
of ten days, from the cherished, happy darling 
of parents far from rich, she became an heiress 
and an orphan. 

Rosalind Torrington was a warm-hearted, 
affectionate girl, who had fondly loved her pa- . 
rents, and she mourned for them with all her 
soul. But the scene around her was so rapidly 
and so totally changed, and so much that was 
delightful mixed with the novelty, that it is not 
wonderful if at her age her grief wore away, 


WREXHILL. 


15 


and left her, sooner than she could have believed 
the change possible, the gay and happy inmate 
of Mowbray Park. 

About four months had elapsed since her 
arrival, and she was already greatly beloved by 
the whole family. In age she was about half¬ 
way between the two sisters; and as she did not 
greatly resemble either of them in temper or 
acquirements, she was at this time equally the 
friend of both. 

In most branches of female erudition Miss 
Torrington was decidedly inferior to the Miss 
Mowbrays: but nature had given her a voice 
and a taste for music which led her to excel in 
it; and so much spirit and vivacity supplied on 
other points the want of regular study, that by 
the help of her very pretty person, her good 
birth, and her large fortune, nobody but Charles 
Mowbray ever discovered deficiency or inferio¬ 
rity of any kind in Rosalind Torrington : but 
he had declared vehemently, the moment she 
arrived, that she was not one quarter so pretty 
as his sister Fanny, nor one thousandth part 
so angelic in all ways as his sister Helen. 


16 


THE VICAR OF 


Such was the party who, all smiles and felici¬ 
tations, first crowded clamorously round the 
hero of the fete which now occupied the 
thoughts of all, and then seated themselves 
at the breakfast-table, more intent upon talking 
of its coming glories than on doing justice to 
the good things before them. 

u Oh, you lucky twenty-one!” exclaimed 
Miss Torrington, addressing young Mowbray. 
“ Did any one ever see such sunshine ! .... And 
just think what it would have been if all the 
tents for the people had been drenched with 
rain! The inward groans for best bonnets 
would have checked the gratulations in their 
throats, and we should have had sighs per¬ 
chance for cheers.” 

“ I do not believe any single soul would 
have cared for rain, or thought for one moment 
of the weather, let it have been what it would, 
Rosalind,” observed Helen. “ Charles,” she 
continued, 64 is so adored and doted upon by 
all the people round, both rich and poor, that 
I am persuaded, while they were drinking his 
health, there would not have been a thought 
bestowed on the weather.” 





WREXHILL. 


17 


44 Oh ! . . . . To be sure, dear Helen .... I 
quite forgot that. Of course, a glance at the 
Mowbray would be worth all the Mackintosh 
cloaks in the world, for keeping a dry skin in a 
storm ;—but then, you know, the hero himself 
might have caught cold when he went out 
to shine upon them—and the avoiding this is 
surely a blessing for which we all ought to be 
thankful: not but what I would have held an 
umbrella over him with the greatest pleasure, of 
course .... but, altogether, I think it is quite 
as well as it is.” 

44 You won’t quiz my Helen out of her love 
for me, Miss Rosalind Torrington,” replied 
Charles, laughing; 44 so do not hope it.” 

44 Miss Rosalind Torrington!”.... re¬ 
peated the young lady indignantly. Then 
rising and approaching Mrs. Mowbray, she 
said very solemnly, 44 Is that my style and 
title, madam ? Is there any other Miss Tor¬ 
rington in all the world ? .... Is there any 
necessity, because he is one-and-twenty, that 
he should call me Miss Rosalind ? . . . . 
And is it not your duty, oh ! my guar- 




18 


THE VICAR OF 


dianess ! to support me in all my rights and 
privileges? And won’t you please to scold 
him if he calls me Miss Rosalind again ?” 

44 Beyond all question you are Miss Torring- 
ton, my dear,” replied Mrs. Mowbray ; 44 and 
were not Charles unfortunately of age, and 
therefore legally beyond all control, I would 
certainly command him never to say Rosalind 
again.” 

44 That is not exactly what I said, Most 
Respected !” replied the young lady. 44 He 
may call me Rosalind if he will; but if I am 
Miss any thing, I am Miss Torrington.” 

44 You certainly are a lucky fellow, Charles,” 
said his father, 44 and Rosalind is quite right 
in praising the sunshine. Helen with her coax¬ 
ing ways may say what she will, but our fete 
would have been spoilt without it.” 

44 Indeed I think so, sir . 4 . . Pray do not 
believe me ungrateful. Besides, I like to see 
everything accord—and your bright beaming 
faces would have been completely out of keep¬ 
ing with a dark frowning sky.” 

44 You are quite right .... But come, make 



WREXHILL. 


19 


haste with your breakfast ... let us leave the 
ladies to give an inquiring glance to the decora¬ 
tions of the ball-room, and let you and I walk 
down to the walnut-trees, and see how they are 
getting on with the tents and the tables, and all 
the rest of it.” 

“ I shall be ready in a minute, sir; but I 
have been scampering round the whole park 
already this morning, and I am as hungry as a 
hound. Give me one more egg, Helen, and 
then 

“It is really a comfort to see what a fine 
appetite he has !—is it not, Helen ?” said Rosa¬ 
lind, surrounding his plate with rolls of all sorts 
and sizes. 

“ I will call you 4 Wild Irish GirT in the 
very midst of the ball this evening if you do 
not behave better,” said young Mowbray. 

44 And if you do, I will ...” 

44 Come along, Charles,” said his father; 44 her 
threats may put you out of heart for the whole 
day.” 

44 And might not we too take a walk before 
any of the people arrive ?” said Fanny. 44 I 


20 


THE VICAR OF 


have heard the cuckoo this morning for the 
first time. He was certainly thanking God for 
the sunshine; and I really think we ought to 
go out, and then we shall do so too.” 

64 A most delightful proposal!” cried Rosa¬ 
lind ; 44 and if the birds should happen to in¬ 
troduce a jig movement, we can practise our 
dancing steps as we go along.” 

44 Wait half an hour for me,” said Charles, 
rising to accompany his father, 46 and I will join 
your party. Let us go to the Pebble-Ford, 
Rosalind; and you shall all three drink my 
health out of that clear pool beside it, that 
Ros .... Miss Torrington—admired so much 
the other day.” 

44 No, no, we can’t wait a moment, Char. 

Mr. Mowbray—” said Rosalind. 44 Come, dear 
girls, let us be gone instantly.” 

44 Not wait for him on his birthday !” cried 
Helen. 44 But you are not in earnest, Rosa¬ 
lind ?” 

44 How you do labour and toil to spoil that 
man, Helen !” said Miss Torrington, raising her 
hands and eyes as he left the room. 44 It is a 




WREXHILL. 


21 


great blessing for him that I am come amongst 
you ! If anything can save him from utter 
destruction, it is I shall do it.” 

Charles however was waited for, and that 
for at least three times the period he had 
named ; but he came at last, and the walk 
was taken, and the birds sang, and the brook 
sparkled, and the health was drunk cordially, 
even by Rosalind; and the gay party returned 
in time to see the first carriage approach, 
bearing guests invited to be present at the 
tenants’ dinner in the Park. Their morning 
toilet was hastily readjusted, as another and 
another equipage rolled onwards towards the 
house; and then the business of the day 
began. Lords and ladies, knights and squires, 
yeomen and peasants, were seen riding, driving, 
running, and walking through the spacious park 
in all directions. Then followed the rustic 
fete, and the joyous carouse, in which the 
name of Charles Mowbray made the welkin 
ring ; and then, the company having retreated 
to the house, came the hurried steps of a 
dozen lady’s-maids hastening to their various 



THE VICAR OF 


22 

scenes of action, and valets converting closets 
of all sorts and sizes into dressing-rooms for 
unnumbered gentlemen ; and then the banquet, 
and then the coffee and the short repose—and 
then the crowded ball. 

All this came and went in order, and without 
the intervention of a single circumstance that 
might mar the enjoyment of a day long set 
apart for happiness, and which began and 
ended more exactly according to the wishes 
and intentions of those who arranged its festivi¬ 
ties than often falls out at galas planned by 
mortals. 

At five o’clock on the following morning the 
joyous din at length sank into silence, and as 
many as hospitable ingenuity could find room 
for lay down at Mowbray Park to enjoy again 
in dreams the untarnished gaiety of that happy 
day. 



WREXH1LL. 


23 


CHAPTER II. 

THE MORNING AFTER THE BIRTHDAY. 

Even the stable-boys deemed themselves 
privileged to sleep later than usual on the 
day after ; and the ploughboy, as he went afield, 
missed the merry smile of the Park dairy¬ 
maid, who, like her superiors, seemed to think 
on such an occasion time was made for very 
vulgar souls indeed, and that none who had 
joined in so illustrious a gala could be expected 
to recover the full possession of their waking 
senses for some hours after the usual time. 

By slow degrees, however, the different 
members of the establishment began to stretch 
themselves and give sign of reviving animation. 
The housemaids yawningly opened the window- 
shutters ; the footmen crept after them to aid 
in removing from one room at least the traces 


THE VICAR OF 


21 

of the jubilee, which, like the relics of a lamp 
that has burnt out, showed but the more un¬ 
sightly from its past splendour ; and at length, 
to a superficial eye, the breakfast-room looked 
like the breakfast-room of former years; though 
a more discriminating glance might have de¬ 
tected girandoles where no such things had ever 
glittered before, card -tables in the place of work¬ 
tables, and flowers, still blooming in situations 
as little usual to them as a bed of strawberries 
would have been the day before. 

But it was long after these hireling efforts of 
forced labour had prepared the table for the 
morning meal, that any one of the favoured 
sleepers destined to partake of it left his or her 
downy pillow .... In short .... it was past 
mid-day before the family and their guests 
began to assemble; and even then many strag¬ 
glers were still waited for before they appeared, 
and Mrs. Mowbray and Helen began at length 
to talk of breaking up the long session, and of 
giving orders to the butler to take care of all 
those who should come after. 

“ It is not very surprising that the Daven¬ 
ports, who never ceased dancing till long after 



WREXHILL. 


25 


the sun came to look at them,” said Helen,— u it 
is not at all wonderful that they should sleep 
late, and I believe Mr. Vivian makes it a prin¬ 
ciple to be the last on all occasions. But I am 
quite astonished that papa does not appear : 
was he asleep, mamma, when you came down 
this morning ?” 

“ No, Helen, not quite asleep, for he spoke 
to me. But I think he was very sleepy, for I 
hardly understood what he said; and as he ap¬ 
peared extremely tired when he went to bed, I 
told Curtis to darken the room again and leave 
him quiet.” 

Another half-hour brought forth the Daven¬ 
ports and Mr. Vivian; but still Mr. Mowbray 
did not appear, and Helen, though hitherto 
she had been quite satisfied by her mother’s 
account of his prolonged slumbers, again began 
to feel uneasy about him. 

“ Do you not think, mamma,” said she, 
4 ‘ that I might venture to go up to him ?” 

66 I see not the least objection to it, Helen ; 
especially as we know that if it were you who 
happened to wake him out of the soundest 


VOL. i. 


c 



26 


THE VICAR OF 


sleep he ever enjoyed, the pleasure of seeing 
you near him would quite atone for it.” 

(e Very well, mamma,—then I shall certainly 
let him sleep no longer now;” and so saying, 
Helen left the room. 

“ Is not Helen Mowbray a charming crea¬ 
ture !” said a gentleman who was seated next 
Miss Torrington, and who, being neither young, 
handsome, rich, nor noble, felt that he could 
wound no feelings by expressing his admiration 
of one young lady to another. 

“ I will tell you what she is,” answered Rosa¬ 
lind warmly : “ she is just as much better than 
everybody else in the world, as her sister, there, 
is more beautiful.” 

66 And you are . . . .” said the middle-aged 
gentleman, fixing a pair of very intelligent eyes 
on her face,— 44 you are . . . .” 

But notwithstanding the look of curiosity 
with which Miss Torrington listened, the 
speaker suddenly stopped, for a bell was rung 
with that sort of sudden and continued vehe¬ 
mence which denotes haste and agitation in the 
hand that gives it movement. 



WREXHILL. 


27 


“ That is ray father’s bell!” said Charles in 
an accent of alarm ; and starting up, he was 
out of the room in an instant. 

Mrs. Mowbray immediately followed him, 
and for several minutes a sort of heavy silence 
seemed to have fallen on every individual 
present—not a word being uttered by any one, 
and the eyes of all fixing themselves on the face 
of Fanny, who kept her place as if spell-bound, 
but with a countenance that expressed a feeling 
approaching to terror. 

“ This is not to be borne!” exclaimed Rosa¬ 
lind abruptly. “ Excuse us for a moment,” 
she added, addressing those who still remained 
in the breakfast-room.—“Come with me, Fanny, 
and let us know the worst at once.” 

The two girls left the room together ; and in 
a very few minutes afterwards a servant en¬ 
tered, the violent agitation of whose manner 
announced the news he brought before he 
spoke it. 

“ My master .... my poor master is dead !” 
were the words he uttered ; and their effect upon 
a party assembled for an occasion of so much 

c 2 


28 


THE VICAR OF 


festivity, and who had so lately parted with 
their kind and happy host in perfect health, 
may be easily imagined. 

One single word in reply to the eager chorus 
of inquiry told the manner of his death— 

44 Apoplexy !” 

The scene which followed was what such an 
event must necessarily produce. No single 
creature present, except one pretty portionless 
young lady who thought it very likely that 
Mr. Charles might now fall in love with her, 
could by possibility be benefited by the death 
of the amiable man who had just breathed his 
last, and it is therefore probable that the uni¬ 
versal expression of regret was sincere in qua¬ 
lity, though its quantity might have been some¬ 
what preternaturally increased by the circum¬ 
stances in which the parties were relatively 
placed when the awful event was made known. 
Several tears were shed and some glasses of 
cold water called for while the carriages were 
getting ready ; the gentlemen all looked grave, 
and many of the ladies pale; but in less than 
half an hour they had all left the house, not one 


WREXHILL. 


29 


of them, as it happened, being on terms of suf¬ 
ficient intimacy with the family to justify their 
offering to remain at such a moment. 

It is easy enough to dismiss from the scene 
persons whose feelings were so slightly inter¬ 
ested in it; but far different would be the 
task were I to attempt painting the heartfelt 
anguish of those who remained. Mr. Mowbray 
had been so deeply yet so tranquilly loved by 
every member of his family—his intercourse 
with them had been so uniformly that of con¬ 
stant endearment, unchequered by any mixture 
of rough temper or unreasonable caprice, that 
their love for him was so natural and inevitable, 
that they had never reasoned upon it, or were 
fully aware of its intensity, till the dreadful 
moment in which they learned that they had 
lost him for ever. 

The feelings of Mrs. Mowbray for many hours 
amounted to agony; for till a medical gentle¬ 
man who examined the body at length suc¬ 
ceeded in convincing her that she was mistaken, 
she felt persuaded that her beloved husband 
owed his death to her neglect, and that if, when 


30 


THE VICAR OF 


she mistook his unintelligible speech for sleepi¬ 
ness, she had discovered his condition and caused 
him to be bled, his precious life might have 
been saved. It was evident, however, from 
many circumstances, that the seizure was of 
a nature not to be baffled or parried by art; 
and the relief this conviction at length afforded 
the widow was so great, that her having first 
formed a contrary opinion was perhaps a bless¬ 
ing to her. 

The grief of Charles was that of a young, 
ardent, and most affectionate spirit; but his 
mother and his sisters now seemed to hang upon 
him wholly, and the Being who alone can 
read all hearts only knew how deep was the 
sorrow he felt. The young Fanny, stealing 
away to her chamber, threw herself in an agony 
of tears upon her bed, and, forgotten in the 
general dismay that had fallen upon all, wept 
herself into a sleep that lasted till she awakened 
on the following morning to a renewed sense of 
sorrow which came over her like the dreadful 
memory of some frightful dream. 

But of all those whom poor Mowbray had 





WREXHILL. 


31 


left to deplore his loss, it was Helen—his darling 
Helen—who unquestionably felt it the most pro¬ 
foundly. His love for her had all that is most 
touching in partiality, without one atom of the 
injustice which renders such a feeling criminal; 
and its effect upon her loving and enthusiastic 
temper was stronger than any words can de¬ 
scribe. 

Miss Torrington was perhaps beyond any 
other member of the family aware of this, and 
the tenderest pity for the silent, suffering Helen 
took possession of her. She was in truth a 
looker-on upon the melancholy scene, and as 
such, was more qualified to judge how sorrow 
worked in each of them than any other could 
be. Her residence in the family, though suffi¬ 
cient to impress her with the kindest feelings 
towards its chief, and the deepest impression of 
his worth, had hardly been long enough to 
awaken thoroughly her affections towards him, 
and she wept more in pity for those around her 
than from any personal feeling of grief for the 
loss she had herself sustained. To soothe poor 
Helen, to lead her thoughts even for a moment 


32 


THE VICAR OF 


from the subject that engrossed them, and to 
keep her as much as possible from gazing in 
vain tenderness and hopeless agony upon the 
body of her father, became the sole occupation 
of Rosalind during the dreadful interval be¬ 
tween the real loss of the beloved being to 
whom the soul of his child still fondly clung, 
and the apparently more final separation still 
which took place when all that was left of him 
was borne from the house. 

Helen made little apparent return to all these 
tender cares, but she was fully conscious of 
them. She felt that Rosalind read her heart, 
and knew how to pity her ; and the conviction 
turned liking into love, of that enduring kind 
which such hearts as Helen’s alone know how 






WREXHILL. 


33 


CHAPTER III. 

THE VICAR OF WREXHILL. 

On the day preceding that appointed for 
the funeral, Mrs. Mowbray received the follow¬ 
ing letter:— 

“ Madam, 

“ I trust that, as the minister of your 
parish, my venturing to break in upon your grief 
will not be considered as an intrusion. In the fes¬ 
tivities which have ended so awfully, your hospi¬ 
tality invited me and my children to bear a part; 
and although I declined the invitation, I am 
most anxious to prove to you, madam, and to 
your family, that no deficiency of friendly feeling 
induced me to do so. But ‘ it is better to go 
to the house of mourning than to the house of 
feasting, 1 and I now therefore ask your per¬ 
mission to wait on you, with the most earnest 

c 5 


34 


THE VICAR OF 


hope that the sacred office I hold may enable 
you to receive me rather with a feeling of com¬ 
fort than of pain. Be assured, madam, that 
short as the period of my ministry in the parish 
of Wrexhill has been, it is with deep sympathy 
in the grief that afflicts you that I subscribe 
myself, madam, 

“ Your humble servant and friend, 
William Jacob Cartwright. 

“ Wrexhill Vicarage, May 9th, 1833.” 

Little calculated as this letter may seem to 
excite violent emotion, it threw poor Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray into an agony of renewed grief. The 
idea of seeing for the first time since her 
loss a person who, however well-meaning in his 
wish to visit her, must be classed as a stranger, 
was inexpressibly painful; and, unused to en¬ 
counter difficulty or inconvenience of any kind, 
she shrank from receiving Mr. Cartwright with 
a degree of weakness which made her son, who 
had seldom left her side, tremble to think how 
little she was calculated to endure with firmness 
the desolation that had fallen upon her. 



WREXHILL. 


35 


“ Oh ! no ! no ! no !” she exclaimed vehe¬ 
mently, “ I cannot see him—I can see no one ! 
—keep him from me, Charles,—keep every one 
from me, if you would not see me sink to the 
earth before your eyes !” 

tc My poor mother! . . .” said Charles, ten¬ 
derly taking her hand, “ do not let me see you 
tremble thus—you will make me tremble too ! 
and we have need of strength—we have all great 
need of strength in this time of trial.” 

“ But you will not let this clergyman come 
to me, Charles ? .... Oh, no! you cannot be 
so cruel!” 

£C The very weakness which makes you shrink 
from this, my dearest mother, is the strongest 
proof that such a visit should be sought, and 
not avoided. Where, mother, are we any of us 
to look for the strength we want, except from 
Him whose minister now seeks to comfort us ?” 

“ He cannot comfort me ! . . . . Can you, can 
Helen, can my pretty Fanny comfort me ? . . . . 
Then how should he ? . . . . Charles, Charles, 
there is no comfort in seeing this strange man; 
you cannot think there is: then why do you 




36 


THE VICAR OF 


still stand with his note in your hand as if 
doubtful how you ought to answer it ?” 

“ No, mother, I am not doubtful: my very 
soul seems to sink within me, when I think that 
he whose precepts 

Tears—copious woman-like tears choked the 
utterance of the athletic youth, who looked as 
if he could fight and conquer in any strife 
to which fortune or misfortune could lead him. 
But the softness that now mastered him came 
not of weakness, but of strength—strength of 
every feeling that might do honour to a man. 
For a few moments he gave way to this burst 
of passionate sorrow, and the mother and son 
wept together. 

“ My own dear Charles ! v said Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray, taking his hand and pressing it to her 
heart, e< how could I think for a moment that 
you would urge me to do what was so very 
painful r 

“ It can hardly be so painful for you to 
do as for me to urge it, dearest mother; and 
yet I must do so ... . because I think it right. 
There is no other person in the world, I think, 



WREXHILL. 


37 


of what rank or station soever, for whose 
admittance I would plead so earnestly, unless 
it were one who, like this gentleman, offered to 
visit you as the minister of God.” 

Mrs. Mowbray buried her face in her hand¬ 
kerchief, and turned from him with a move¬ 
ment of impatience. At this moment, Helen, 
and her constant attendant Rosalind entered 
the room. Mr. Cartwright’s note was still 
in Charles’s hand, and he gave it to his sister, 
saying, 44 Helen, I think my mother ought not 
to refuse this visit; but she is very averse 
to it. God knows, I would not pain her for 
the world; but this is not a moment to 
refuse any one who offers to visit us as the 
minister of Heaven.” 

Helen read the note, and her pale cheeks 
were washed anew with tears as she did so. 

44 It is meant kindly,” she said as she laid 
it upon the table; 44 but it is very soon for my 
poor mother to meet a stranger.” 

Rosalind’s eyes rested on the folded note, 
and some feeling suggested by the consci¬ 
ousness that she too was almost a stranger 


38 


THE VICAR OF 


brought a flush to her cheek, and led her 
to step back towards a distant sofa. Whether 
Charles observed or understood the movement, 
she knew not; but he followed and placed 
the letter in her hand. 

The words of Helen seemed to comfort her 
mother for she again looked up, and address¬ 
ing Charles almost reproachfully, said, 

“ Your sister Helen thinks as I do, Charles : 
it would almost be an outrage against de¬ 
cency to receive a stranger on such a day as 
this.” 

“ Had the request to wait upon you come 
from our late clergyman, mother, would you 
have refused it ?” 

<c Certainly not: but he was a friend of long 
standing, not a stranger, Charles.” 

“ But had he not been a clergyman, mother, 
you would hardly have wished him to choose 
such a time to make a visit here; and our 
not having yet become familiar with Mr. Cart¬ 
wright in the common intercourse of society, 
seems to me no sufficient reason for refusing to 




WREXHILL. 


39 


see him in the sacred character in which he has 
offered to come . . . . ” 

Some powerful emotion checked his utter¬ 
ance ; but in a moment he added, 

44 I would wish once more to pray beside 
my father before he goes hence to be no more 
seen by us on earth. ,, 

44 Mother ! . . . cried Helen, dropping on 
her knees and throwing her arms round her. 

The appeal was answered by an embrace in 
which their tears mingled, and poor Mrs. 
Mowbray, whose aching heart seemed to dread 
every new emotion, said, while something like 
a shudder ran through her frame, 44 Do with 
me as you will, my children .... I cannot bear 
much more .... But perhaps it would be 
better for me that I should sink to rest beside 
him !” 

44 My dearest friend !” exclaimed Rosalind, 
coming softly towards her and impressing a 
kiss upon her forehead, 44 you have not lost 
all for which you might wish to live.” 

44 Oh, true .... most true ! .... Where is 







40 


THE VICAR OF 


my poor Fanny, Rosalind ? You will answer 
this letter for me, Charles P .... I will be 
ready to see Mr. Cartwright whenever he 
chooses to come .... It will be a dreadful trial 
—but I am willing to endure it.” 

The young man left the room, and such 
an answer was returned to the clergyman’s 
note as brought him to the door within an 
hour after it was despatched. 

Rosalind, in obedience to Mrs. Mowbray’s 
hint, had sought Fanny in her chamber, where 
she seemed to find a sad consolation in ver¬ 
sifying all the tender recollections of her lost 
father that her memory could supply; but 
she instantly obeyed the summons, and when 
Mr. Cartwright arrived, the whole family 
were assembled in the drawing-room to receive 
him. 

The person, voice, and address of this gen¬ 
tleman were singularly well calculated to 
touch and soothe hearts suffering from afflic¬ 
tion ; and after the first painful moment in 
which they raised their eyes to meet those 
of the first stranger who had been admitted 




WREXHILL. 


41 


to look upon their sorrow, there was nothing 
in the interview to justify the terror with 
which the thought of it had inspired the 
poor widow. 

Either from tact or feeling, Mr. Cartwright 
seemed to avoid speaking to Mrs. Mowbray, 
and it was to her son that he addressed such 
words as the occasion called for. Meanwhile, 
from time to time his eyes rested with gentle 
pity on the three beautiful girls, whose tears 
flowed silently as they listened to him. 

But though the manner of Mr. Cartwright 
was full of the tenderest kindness, it was ap¬ 
parently embarrassed. He evidently feared to 
touch or to dwell upon the agonising subject 
which occupied all their thoughts, and it was 
Charles who had the courage to turn this 
melancholy meeting to the only purpose for 
which it could be desirable, by saying—though 
with a faltering voice,— 

“ Mr. Cartwright.may we ask you to 

pray with us beside the coffin that contains the 
body of my father ?” 

The clergyman started, and his countenance 




42 


THE VICAR OF 


expressed a mixture of satisfaction and surprise, 
his manner instantly became more solemn— 
more devout, and he replied eagerly, rising from 
his chair as he spoke, as if willing to hasten to 
the scene to which he was called, 

“ Most gladly—most joyfully, my dear sir, 
will I kneel with you and your amiable family 
to implore the divine grace. I did not 
know .... I had hardly dared to hope .... 
Indeed I feared from the festivities.... from 

the style in which.” 

66 I trust, sir,” interrupted young Mowbray 
almost in a whisper, “ that you do not suppose 
us unused to prayer, because we have rejoiced 
in the blessings which Heaven has bestowed ?” 

“ I thank my God and Saviour that it is not 
so,” replied the clergyman, pressing the young 
man’s hand affectionately ; 66 and I will praise 
His holy name for every symptom I find that the 
world, my dear young friend, has not taken 
too strong a hold upon your heart. May we 
through His grace walk righteously together 
in the path in which it hath pleased Him to 
place us side by side !” 




WREXHILL. 


43 


Charles Mowbray’s heart was ever open to 
every expression of kindness; and now, softened 
by sorrow, and warmed by a feeling of the purest 
piety, he returned the friendly pressure with 
interest, and then, taking his poor mother’s arm 
within his own, led the way to the chamber of 
death. 

The mourning family knelt beside the coffin, 
and listened with suppressed sobs to an ex¬ 
tempore prayer, by no means ill suited to the 
occasion, though it was not, as poor Charles 
had expected, chosen from among the many 
solemn and beautiful orisons which the Church 
has furnished or which the Scriptures might sup¬ 
ply for such an hour of need. But he was not 
disposed at this moment to cavil at any words 
calculated to raise his thoughts and those 
of the beings he most fondly loved to that 
Power which had hitherto blessed their existence, 
and from whence alone they could hope for 
support under the affliction with which He had 
now visited them. Fervently and earnestly he 
prayed for them and for himself; and when 
he rose from his knees and again pressed his 


44 


THE VICAR OF 


suffering mother to his heart, it was with a 
feeling of renovated hope and confidence in the 
future protection of Heaven which nothing 
but prayer uttered with genuine piety can 
give. 

Mr. Cartwright did not take his leave till he 
had spoken an individual blessing to each of 
them, which was accompanied by a pressure of 
the hand that seemed to express more sympathy 
in what each felt than any words could have 
done. 

Young Mowbray then retired with him to 
arrange everything respecting the ceremony 
which was to take place on the morrow. His 
mother expressed a wish to lie down for an 
hour; and the three girls, after attending her to 
her room, carefully shutting out the light in 
the hope that she might sleep, and each one 
bidding her do so with a fond caress, retreated 
to the dressing-room of Helen, when their con¬ 
versation naturally turned on Mr. Cartwright. 

This gentleman had taken possession of the 
little living of Wrexhill only one month before 
the death of his most distinguished parishioner. 


WREXHILL. 


45 


During the week which followed his first per¬ 
formance of duty in the church, the family at 
the Park made a visit at the Vicarage: for 
though Mr. Cartwright was a widower, he had 
a daughter nearly twenty years of age, who, as 
mistress of her father’s house, was of course 
visited by the ladies. When this visit was 
returned, the Mowbray family were all absent; 
and during the short interval which followed 
before the day on which young Mowbray came 
of age, the preparations for the fete by which 
this event was to be celebrated had prevented 
Mr. Cartwright and his family from receiving 
any other invitation than that which requested 
their attendance at it. This having been de¬ 
clined, he was as nearly as possible a personal 
stranger to the whole Mowbray family. 

44 What exquisite benevolence his counte¬ 
nance expresses!” exclaimed Fanny: 44 I never 
saw eyes so full of gentleness.” 

44 His eyes are remarkably handsome, re¬ 
plied Rosalind ; 44 but I am not quite sure that 
I like him.” 

44 The moments we passed with him were 


46 


THE VICAR OF 


moments of agony,” said Helen: 44 it would 
hardly be fair to pronounce any judgment 
upon him from such an interview.” 

44 Perhaps you are right, dear Helen, and I 
will endeavour to suspend mine,” replied Rosa¬ 
lind. 44 But at least I may venture to remark 
that he is a very young-looking father for 
the full-grown son and daughter we have 
seen.” 

66 I do not think he can be their father,” 
observed Fanny. 44 Perhaps he is only the 

husband of their mother ?.Don’t you 

think that is most likely, Helen ?” 

44 I don’t know, dear,” answered Helen: 44 I 
believe I hardly saw him.” 

44 I really doubt if you did, my poor Helen,” 
said Rosalind ; 44 but if he speak sooth, he could 
not say the same of us. If the reverend 
gentleman be given to sketching of portraits, he 
might, I think, produce a good likeness of either 
of us, for, like Hamlet when he looked at 
Ophelia, 4 he fell to such perusal of our faces, 

as he would draw them’.I do not think 

I shall like this Mr. Cartwright .... I do not 







WREXHILL. 


47 


mean now, Helen ; I speak only of what I think 
I shall do when I know more of him.” 

“ Do you call that suspending your judg¬ 
ment, Rosalind ?” said Helen with a feeble 
smile. 

66 Well, then, do not try to make a hypocrite 
of me, dearest: it will never answer. Wisdom 
is of too slow a growth for my little unprofitable 
hotbed of an intellect, which forces every 
thought to run up to full growth, lanky and 
valueless, as soon as it is sown. But by-and- 
by you shall transplant some of my notions, 
Helen, into the fine natural soil of your brain"; 
and then, if they flourish, we shall see what they 
are really worth.” 

For all reply, the pale Helen shook her head, 
as one who knows not well what has been said 
to him ; and the conversation languished and 
dropped, as every other had done since the 
blow had fallen which had levelled her young 
and joyous spirit to the dust. 



48 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER IV. 

THE WILL. 

The day which saw the honoured remains of 
Mr. Mowbray committed to the tomb was one 
of dreadful suffering to his family, and to none 
more than to his son, who, with a heart swelling 
with the most genuine grief, was obliged to 
assume the garb of ceremony, and do the now 
gloomy honours of the mansion to many of the 
same friends and neighbours who had so re¬ 
cently received the joyous greeting of his father. 
Most thankful was he for the relief which fol¬ 
lowed the departure of the last of those who 
came to do honour to these splendid obsequies ; 
and most soothing was it to his wounded and 
weary spirits to find himself once more sur¬ 
rounded only by those who could read in a 
look all he wished to express, and who required 
no welcome to share in the sorrow of that 
bitter day. 


WREXHILL. 


49 


But, like all other periods of human life, 
whether marked by sorrow or by joy, it passed 
away with as even and justly-measured a pace 
as if no event distinguished it from its fellow 
days; and then, by slow but sure degrees, the 
little trifling ordinary routine of daily circum¬ 
stance came with its invisible and unnoticed 
magic, to efface, or at least to weaken, feelings 
w'hich seemed to have been impressed by the 
stamp of burning iron on their souls. 

Charles Mowbray had not yet taken his 
degree, and wishing to do so as soon as possi¬ 
ble, he was anxious to return to Christ Church 
without delay; but his father’s will had not 
yet been opened, and, at the request of his 
mother, he postponed his departure till this 
could be done. This important document was 
in the hands of Sir Gilbert Harrington, an in¬ 
timate friend and neighbour, who being in Lon¬ 
don at the time of Mr. Mowbray’s death, had 
been unable to obey the summons sent to him 
in time to attend the funeral; but within a 
week after, he arrived, and the following morn¬ 
ing was fixed upon for this necessary business. 


VOL. i. 


D 


50 


THE VICAR OF 


The persons present were Sir Gilbert Har¬ 
rington, Mr. Cartwright, a respectable solicitor 
from the country town who had himself drawn 
the instrument, and Charles Mowbray. 

It was dated rather more than ten years 
back, and, after the usual preamble, ran thus: 

“ In order that my children, or any other 
persons whom it may concern, may know the 
reason and motive of the disposition of my 
property which I am about to make, it is ne¬ 
cessary that I should therewith state the man¬ 
ner of my marriage with Clara Helena Frances, 
my dearly-beloved wife. Notwithstanding her 
vast possessions, I wooed and married her sole¬ 
ly because I loved her ; and this she had ther 
generosity to believe, though I was nearly 
penniless, having nothing but my true affec¬ 
tion and good blood to offer in return for all 
the wealth she brought. For several months 
she withstood my earnest solicitations for an 
immediate union, because, had she married be¬ 
fore she became of age, her guardian would 
have insisted upon settlements and restrictions, 


WREXHILL. 


51 


which would have deprived me of all control 
over her property; nor would she subsequently 
sign any document whatever previous to her 
marriage, thereby rendering me the sole posses¬ 
sor of her fortune. Wherefore, to show my 
sense of this unparalleled confidence and gene¬ 
rosity, I hereby make her the sole inheritrix of 
all I possess, to be ultimately disposed of ac¬ 
cording wholly and solely to her own will and 

pleasure.”.And then followed, with 

every necessary and unnecessary technicality 
of the law, such a disposition of his pro¬ 
perty as left his children entirely dependant 
on their mother both for their present and 
future subsistence. 

That this will was very different from any¬ 
thing that Charles Mowbray expected, is most 
certain, and there might perhaps have been 
some slight feeling of disappointment at finding 
himself dependant even upon his mother; but 
if such there were, it was not sufficiently strong 
to prevent his doing justice to the noble 
feeling which had led to it; and, in truth, he 

d 2 




52 


THE VICAR OF 


felt so certain of the fond affection of his 
mother, that not a shadow of fear either for his 
own interest or that of his sisters crossed his 
mind. 

The lawyer who read aloud the deed he had 
penned, had of course no observation to make 
upon it, and Mr. Cartwright only remarked 
that it was a proof of very devoted love and 
confidence. 

Of the small party present at this lecture, 
Sir Gilbert Harrington was the only one who 
testified any strong emotion respecting it; and 
his displeasure and vexation were expressed in 
no very measured terms. His warmth was at 
length checked, not because he had uttered all 
he had to say, but because he met the eye of 
Mr. Cartwright fixed upon him with a sort of 
scrutiny that was unpleasing to his feelings. 
He therefore stopped short in the philippic he 
was pouring forth upon the infernal folly of a 
man’s acting in matters of importance without 
consulting his friends, and taking the arm of 
Charles, walked through the hall into the 
grounds without appearing to remember that 


WREXHTLL. 


53 


as he was left joint executor with Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray to the will, it might be expected that he 
should make some notification of its contents to 
her before he left the house. 

(e Shall we not speak to my mother, Sir 
Gilbert ?” said Mowbray, endeavouring to re¬ 
strain the eager step of the baronet as he was 
passing through the hall-door. 

“ No, sir,” was the laconic reply; and 
on he stalked with a more rapid step than 
before. 

The conversation which passed between them 
during the hour which intervened before Sir 
Gilbert clambered up to his saddle and gal¬ 
loped off, was made up of something between 
lamentation and anathema on his side, and the 
most earnest assurances that no mischief could 
ensue from his father’s will on the part or 
Charles. The testy old gentleman could not, 
however, be wrought upon to see the widow 
who, as he said, must have used most cursed 
cunning in obtaining such a will; of which, 
however, poor lady, she was as innocent as the 
babe unborn; and he at length left the Park, 


54 


THE VICAR OF 


positive that he should have a lit of the gout, 
and that the widow Mowbray would marry 
within a year. 

As soon as he had got rid of his warm¬ 
hearted but passionate old friend, Mowbray 
hastened to repair the neglect he had been 
forced into committing, and sought his mother 
in the drawing-room. But she was no longer 
there. 

The room, indeed, appeared to be wholly un¬ 
tenanted, and he was on the point of leaving it 
to seek his mother elsewhere, when he perceived 
that Miss Torrington was seated at the most 
distant corner of it, almost concealed by the 
folds of the farthest window-curtain. 

“ Rosalind !” .... he exclaimed, “ are you 
hid there ? . . . . Where are all the rest ? and 
how come you to be left alone ?” 

“ I am left alone, Mr. Mowbray .... be¬ 
cause I wished it. Helen and Fanny are with 
your mother, I believe, in her room.” 

Charles wished to see them all, and to see 
them together, and had almost turned to go; 
but there was something in the look and man- 




WREXHILL. 


55 


ner of Rosalind that puzzled him, and going 
up to her, he said kindly, 44 Is anything the 
matter, Rosalind ? You look as if something 
had vexed you.” 

To his great astonishment she burst into 
tears, and turning from him as if to hide an 
emotion she could not conquer, she said, 
44 Go, go, Mr. Mowbray — go to your mother 
—- you ought to have gone to her instantly.” 

“ Instantly ? . . . . When ? . . . . What do 
you mean, Miss Torrington ?” 

46 Miss Torrington means, Mr. Mowbray, 
that it would in every way have been more 
proper for you to have announced to your 
mother yourself the strange will it has pleased 
your father to leave, instead of sending a stran¬ 
ger to do it.” 

44 Who then has told her of it, Rosalind ? 
Was it the lawyer? was it Mr. Humphries?” 

44 No, sir—it was Mr. Cartwright.” 

44 But why should you be displeased with me 
for this, dear Rosalind? Sir Gilbert led me 
out of the library by force, and would not let 
me go to my mother as I wished to do, and 



56 


THE VICAR OF 


I have but this instant got rid of him ; but 
I did not commission either Mr. Cartwright or 
any one else to make a communication to her 
which I was particularly desirous of making 
myself. 1 ’ 

“ You did not send Mr. Cartwright to her ?” 
said Rosalind, colouring, and looking earnestly 
in his face. 

“ No, indeed I did not Did he say I had 
sent him ?” 

“ How very strange it is,” she replied after a 
moment’s consideration, “that I should be per¬ 
fectly unable to say whether he did or did not! 
I certainly do not remember that he explicitly 
said e Madam, your son has sent me here 
but this I do remember—that somehow or other 
I understood that you had done so.” 

“ And how did he announce to my mother 
that she .... I mean, how did he communi¬ 
cate to her the purport of my father’s will ?” 

“ Charles Mowbray !” exclaimed Rosalind 
passionately, clenching her small hands and 
stamping her little foot upon the ground — “I 
may be a very, very wicked girl: I know I 


WREXHILL. 


57 


am wilful, headstrong, obstinate, and vain ; 
and call me also dark-minded, suspicious, what 
you will; but I do hate that man !” 

“ Hate whom, Rosalind ?” said Charles, in¬ 
expressibly astonished at her vehemence. 
c< What is it you mean ? Is it Mr. Cart¬ 

wright, our good friendly clergyman, that 
you hate so bitterly ?” 

“ Go to your mother, Mr. Mowbray. I am 
little more than seventeen years old, and have 
always been considered less instructed, and 
therefore sillier of course than was to be ex¬ 
pected even from my age and sex; then 
will it not be worse than waste of time to in¬ 
quire what I mean — especially when I con¬ 
fess, as I am bound to do, that I do not well 
know myself? .... Go to your mother, 
Charles, and let her know exactly all you 
feel. You, at least, have no cause to hide 
your faults.” 

“ I will go — but I wish I knew what has 
so strangely moved you.” 

“Ask your sisters—they saw and heard all 
that I did; at least, they were present here, 



58 


THE VICAR OF 


as I was;—ask them, examine them, but ask 
me nothing; for I do believe, Charles, that I 
am less to be depended on than any other 
person in the world.” 

44 And why so, my dear Rosalind ?” replied 
Mowbray, almost laughing. 44 Do you mean 
that you tell fibs against your will ?” 

44 Yes . . . . I believe so. At least, I feel 
strangely tempted to say a great deal more 
than I positively know to be true; and that is 
very much like telling fibs, I believe.” 

44 Well, Rosalind, I will go, for you grow 
more mysterious every moment: only, remem¬ 
ber that I should greatly like to know all the 
thoughts that come into that strange little 
head of yours. Will you promise that I 
shall ?” 

44 No,” was the ungracious reply ; and turn¬ 
ing away, she left the room by a door that led 
into a conservatory. 

On entering his mother’s dressing-room, 
Mowbray found her seated between her two 
daughters, and holding a hand of each. 

She looked up as he entered : the traces of 


WREXHILL. 


59 


tears were on her cheeks, and her eyes rested 
on him with an expression of melancholy re¬ 
proach such as he had never read in them 
before. 

“ My dear, dear mother !” he exclaimed as 
he approached her, “ has my absence then 
vexed you so grievously ? .... I could not 
help it, mother ; Sir Gilbert literally made me 
his prisoner.” 

“ Sir Gilbert, Charles, might have shown 
more respect to the memory of the friend he 
has lost, than by keeping his son to listen to 
his own wild invectives against the wife that 
friend so loved and trusted.” 

“ Whoever has repeated to you the hasty 
expressions of Sir Gilbert, my dear mother, in 
such a manner as to leave a painful impression 
on your mind against him, has not acted well. 
You know his temper, but you know his heart 
also; and I should not have thought that it 
could have been in the power of any one to 
make you doubt the real friendship of Sir 
Gilbert for us all.” 

“ Surely, Charles, it was no symptom of 



60 


THE VICAR OF 


friendship to me, to say that your dear father 
had made an accursed will !” 

44 Good heavens! . . . . what a strange mis¬ 
representation, mother ! . . . . and all hanging, 
as it should seem, upon one little syllable l .... 
Our friend, as you well know, is what Rosalind 
calls a manish man ; he denies the supremacy 
of woman, and might, and I verily believe 
did say, that a will which vested power in her 
must be a cursed will. But we know too well 
his long-licensed coarseness of expression to 
greatly marvel at that; but for the solemn and 
most awful word ac-cursed, believe me, mother, 
he never said it/’ 

44 It matters little, my dear son, what parti¬ 
cular words of abuse Sir Gilbert uttered against 
me, provided that your heart did not echo them/’ 

44 Mother! dearest mother !” cried Helen, 
rising and going towards her brother, who 
seemed petrified at the words he heard, 44 how 
for a single moment could you believe that 
Charles’s heart could echo any word that spoke 
not honour and love towards you !” 

44 He might have been mistaken, Helen,” re- 





WREXHILL. 


61 


plied her mother with a heavy sigh : 66 Charles 
could not indeed suspect that the mother 
his dear father so fully trusted should prove 
unworthy of the trust.—But let us quit this 
painful theme; and believe me, my children, 
that the first wish of my heart is to prove my¬ 
self worthy of his trust and your love.” 

“ Such words are just what we might expect 
to hear from you, mother,” said Mowbray, 
“ were any profession from you to us neces¬ 
sary ; but I would gladly forget that you have 
ever thought such an assurance called for.” 

He bent down and kissed her fervently ; and 
then, making a sign to Helen, who seemed 
about to follow him, that she should remain 
where she was, he walked out for a couple of 
hours among the darkest thickets he could 
find, with more of melancholy feeling than had 
ever before rested on his spirits. 


62 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER V. 

THE ARISTOCRACY OF WREXHILL. 

There was no longer anything to prevent 
Charles Mowbray’s return to Oxford, and the 
following day the time of his departure was 
canvassed, and at length fixed for the early 
part of the following week. During the few 
days that intervened, Mrs. Mowbray seemed 
quite to have forgotten their painful conversa¬ 
tion respecting the will; she resumed all her 
former confiding tenderness of manner, and told 
him before they parted, that henceforward his 
liberal allowance would be doubled. 

The day preceding his departure was Sun¬ 
day, and for the first time since their heavy 
loss the whole family appeared at church. 
They had all dreaded the moment of reap¬ 
pearing before the eyes of the little village 
world, and of thus giving public notice, as it 


WREXHILL. 


63 


were, that they no longer required to be left to 
mourn in secret: but this painful ceremony 
came, and was endured, like those that had 
preceded it; and poor Helen, as she laid her 
head upon her pillow, exclaimed, 46 What is 
there that we could not bear, and live.” 

The sad parting of the next morning having 
also passed over them, they at once, and by 
necessity, fell into the mode of life which they 
were hereafter to pursue. But dreary and 
heavy was the change that had fallen on them, 
and it was long ere the mere act of assembling 
for their daily meals ceased to be a source of 
suffering — for fearful was the blank left by 
the absence of the kind, the gentle, the beloved, 
the venerated being, whose voice was used to 
speak a blessing and a welcome over every 
repast. But our natures seize with avidity 
the healing balm which time and occupation 
offer : much variety of disposition was, however, 
manifested in the manner in which each one 
of the family sought the consolation they 
needed. 

Mrs. Mowbray became evidently, though 


64 


THE VICAR OF 


perhaps unconsciously, better both in health 
and spirits from the time that her neighbours, 
according to their different ranks, resumed their 
visits of friendship, civility, and respect. She 
had testified outwardly, excepting to such an 
eye as Rosalind’s, more intense suffering than 
any other member of the family. Nor was this 
in the smallest degree the result of affectation : 
she felt all, and more than all, that she had 
ever expressed, and would gladly, for the sake 
of her poor children, have concealed a part of 
it, had the fibre of her character permitted her 
doing so. But she was demonstrative by 
nature: with great softness and sweetness of 
temper, was joined that species of weakness 
which is often said to be the most attractive 
feature in the female character;—a weakness 
that induced her to seize gladly and gratefully 
any hand extended to lead her, and which, 
while it made her distrust herself, gave most 
sovereign sway and masterdom to any one 
ready and willing to supply the strength and 
decision of purpose which she wanted. 

Many female philippics have been penned, I 


WREXHILL. 


65 


believe, against that manly passion for superio¬ 
rity which leads our masters to covet in a com¬ 
panion chosen for life the temper of mind here 
described; but I am tempted to think that 
this longing to possess a being that wants 
protection, far from demonstrating a disposi¬ 
tion prone to tyranny, shows a nature disposed 
to love and to cherish, in a manner perfectly 
accordant to the most perfect beau ideal of 
married life. But, on the other hand, there 
may perhaps be more of fondness than judg¬ 
ment in those who make such mallability of 
mind their first requisite in a choice so awfully 
important. 

Mrs. Mowbray, however, had a thousand 
good qualities to justify the devoted affection 
of her husband. Generous, unsuspicious, and 
confiding, she was almost as incapable of 
doubting the goodness of others, as of de¬ 
serving such doubts herself. Though heiress 
to immense property, no feeling in the slightest 
degree approaching to pride had even for a 
single instant swelled her heart; and though 
good, beautiful, and accomplished, her estimate 


66 


THE VICAR OF 


of herself was lower than that formed of her 
by any other human being. Her heart was 
now more than ever opened to every expression 
of sympathy and kindness, and she experienced 
the most salutary effects from admitting those 
who uttered such, yet she was still a mourner 
in her very heart and soul; and there were 
moments in which she felt so bitterly that all 
her youthful affections were buried and every 
hope of earthly happiness past, that the fair 
young faces of the three affectionate girls who 
were ready to devote themselves to her seemed 
too bright and beautiful to be kept within the 
influence of her melancholy, and she often sent 
them from her to their music-room, their flower- 
gardens, or the Park, with a sort of feverish 
anxiety, lest their youth and health should be 
sacrificed to their affection for her. 

Helen had all the tenderness with some of 
the weakness of her mother’s character. She 
soon ceased to speak of her father, except occa¬ 
sionally, when walking or sitting quite alone 
with Rosalind, when sheltering boughs or 
thickening twilight might conceal the working 


WREXHILL. 


67 


features of her face even from her. At such a 
moment, if some kind caress from her young 
companion touched unawares the feelings over 
which she unceasingly kept guard, as if they 
were a secret treasure too precious to be ex¬ 
posed to vulgar eyes, she would from time to 
time give way to the sacred pleasure of dis¬ 
coursing on the character of the father she had 
lost. 

But she had resumed all her former occupa¬ 
tions, and added to them the far from unpleas¬ 
ing task of imparting to Rosalind much that 
had either been ill taught or altogether neg¬ 
lected in her early education. This, as well as 
their daily-increasing affection for each other, 
kept them much together, without any blameable 
desertion either of Mrs. Mowbray or Fanny : 
for the former was really wretched if she 
thought they confined themselves too much to 
her drawing-room and herself; and the latter 
was hourly becoming more devoted to solitary 
study, and to speculations too poetical and sub¬ 
lime to be shared by any one less romantic and 
imaginative than herself. 


68 


THE VICAR OF 


The neighbourhood was not a large one: 
Mowbray Park, and the estate attached to it, 
stretched itself so far in all directions, that 
Oakley, the residence of Sir Gilbert Harring¬ 
ton, the nearest landed proprietor, was at the 
distance of more than a mile. The little village 
of Wrexhill, however, had one or two pretty 
houses in it, inhabited by ladies and gentlemen 
of moderate but independent fortune, with 
whom the family at the Park associated on 
terms of intimacy. 

Among these, the late Vicar and his family 
had been the decided favourites of the whole 
race of Mowbrays,—and most deservedly so ; 
for the father was a man of piety, learning, 
and most amiable deportment; his wife, a 
being whose temper, to say nothing of sundry 
other good qualities, had made her the idol of 
the whole parish; and his two sons and two 
daughters, just such sons and daughters as 
such parents deserved to have. But, as 
Gregory Dobbs, the old parish clerk, ob¬ 
served after officiating at the funeral of Mr. 
Mowbray, “ Death seemed to have taken a 


WREXHILL. 


69 


spite against the village of Wrexhill, for within 
one short month he had mowed down and 
swept away the two best and most 'powerful 
men in the parish, and ’twas no easy matter to 
say how long the inhabitants might be likely to 
wear mourning.” 

The dispersion and departure of the good 
Vicar’s family was an additional misfortune 
that his parishioners had not looked for. The 
living, more valuable for its pleasant house and 
pretty glebe than for its revenue, was in the 
gift of one who through life had been, not in 
appearance or profession only, but in most true 
sincerity the attached friend of the late in¬ 
cumbent; and Edward Wallace, his eldest son, 
was bred to the church with the express un¬ 
derstanding that the next presentation should 
be his. With this persuasion, the young man’s 
first act on the death of his father was to tell 
his mother and sisters that they should con¬ 
tinue to inhabit the home they had so long 
loved. But this arrangement was speedily 
overthrown ; for in reply to the letter which 
announced the death of his father to Sir J. C. 


70 


THE VICAR OF 


Blackhouse, the patron of the living, he re¬ 
ceived the following answer. 

64 My dear Fellow, 

“ As the devil would have it, I am now a 
cabinet minister, and I no more dare give the 
living to your Tory father's son, than I dare 
blow up Westminster Hall, or pull the Lord 
Chancellor’s nose in public. I do assure you 
I am very sorry for this, for I believe you are 
likely to be as good a man as your excellent 
father, who, when he was my tutor, had cer¬ 
tainly no notion that I should turn out such a 
first-rate Radical. However, there is no resist¬ 
ing destiny; and so here I am, just going to 
give my pretty little living to some Reverend 
Mr. Somebody that I don’t care a straw about, 

because my Lord M-says, that though a 

bit of a saint, he is a capital clerical Whig. 
I wish, Edward, you’d try to forget all the fusty 
old nonsense about Church and State,—upon 
my soul I do. By-gones are by-gones, my dear 
fellow; and if you could get up a clever pam¬ 
phlet on the Tithe Laws, or on the Protestant 


WREXHILL. 


71 


affinities to the Church of Rome, or anything 
else with a good rich vein of whiggery running 
through it, I really think I might still be able 
to do something for you. Do think of this, 
and believe me, 

44 My dear fellow, 

44 Very affectionately, 

46 Your friend, 

44 J. C. Blackhouse.” 

This most unlooked-for disappointment of 
course banished the Wallace family from 
Wrexhill; and the regret their departure left 
was so general, that it would be hardly saying 
too much to declare that no interference of the 
Whig government, however personal or tyran¬ 
nical, ever produced a stronger sensation of 
disgust in the circle to which its influence ex¬ 
tended than this. 

It was greatly owing to the influence of Mr. 
Mowbray, that Mr. Cartwright, his son and 
daughter, were visited by the neighbourhood 
on their arrival; but the obvious injustice and 
impropriety of treating with indignity and dis- 


72 


THE VICAR OF 


respect the clergyman who was placed among 
them, solely because they would have preferred 
one of their own choosing, had led the benevo¬ 
lent owner of “ the great house” to banish the 
painful feelings to which this unpopular ap¬ 
pointment had given rise, and before he died, 
he had the satisfaction of knowing that those 
who looked up to him as authority had fol¬ 
lowed his example, and that the new Vicar 
had been called upon by all the visiting fami¬ 
lies of Wrexhill. 

The handsomest house in the village was in¬ 
habited by a widow lady still young enough to 
be called handsome, and living with sufficient 
show to be supposed rich. She played a little, 
sang a little, sketched a little, and talked and 
dressed a great deal. Some people declared that 
when she was young, her complexion must have 
been as beautiful as that of Miss Fanny Mow¬ 
bray : but these were only the young farmers, 
who did not know rouge when they saw it. This 
lady, whose name was Simpson, had one little 
girl, a pretty little creature of eight years old, 
who was sometimes petted and played with till 



WREXHILL. 


73 


she was completely spoiled, and sometimes left 
in the nursery for days together, while her 
mamma was absorbed in the perusal of a new 
novel or the fabrication of a new dress. 

At the next turn of the village street was 
the entrance to a little place of much less pre¬ 
tension, but infinitely prettier, and in better 
taste : this also was tenanted by a fair widow, 
who, had she not been surrounded by three 
daughters, all taller than herself, might 
have passed for being as young and as hand¬ 
some as Mrs. Simpson. She was, how¬ 
ever, as little like her as possible in every 
other respect, being subject to no caprice, 
remarkably simple in her dress, and her hair 
and her cheeks always remaining of the colour 
that pleased God. This lady had been early 
left a widow by the gallant and unfortunate 
Colonel Richards, who lost a life in a skirmish 
with the native troops of India which might 
have done honour to his country in a nobler 
field. What his young widow endured in re¬ 
turning from a remote part of the country 
to Madras, with her three infants and very 


VOL. i. 


E 


74 


THE VICAR OF 


little means, had doubtless contributed, with 
the good gifts born with her, to make her 
what she was; for there was a firmness and 
strength of mind enveloped in her miniature 
frame, which seemed as if her brave husband 
had bequeathed to her the legacy of his daunt¬ 
less spirit to sustain her under all the priva¬ 
tions and misery his early death left her to en¬ 
counter alone. 

The character of her three girls will be easily 
understood hereafter. 

Mrs. Richards’s cottage was the only residence 
in Wrexhill, except the Vicar’s, that did not 
open upon the village street, so that she had 
no immediate neighbour; but close to the 
corner of the pretty field that fronted her 
dwelling and fed her cow, lived a bachelor 
half-pay officer, who among many other ex¬ 
cellent qualities possessed one which made him 
pre-eminently interesting in her eyes :—he had 
known Colonel Richards well, and less than 
half the reverence he felt for his memory has 
often sufficed to enrich the church of Rome 
with a saint. It was not Major Dairympie’s 


WREXHILL. 


75 


fault if the widow of his umqwhile commanding 
officer had not long ago exchanged her com¬ 
parative poverty for his very comfortable inde¬ 
pendence; and considering that he was five 
years younger than the lady, was the pre¬ 
sumptive heir to a noble Scotch cousin who 
was thought consumptive, played the flute ex¬ 
quisitely, and was moreover a tall and gen¬ 
tlemanly figure, with no other fault imputed 
to him than a somewhat obstinate pertinacity of 
attachment to himself, many people both in 
and out of Wrexhill wondered at her obdu¬ 
racy, especially as she had never been heard to 
say, even by her most intimate friends, “ that 
her heart was buried in the grave of her dear 
Richards.” 

The remaining aristocracy of Wrexhill need 
hardly be enumerated, as they will not make 
any very considerable figure in the following 
pages. But there was an attorney, an apothe¬ 
cary, and a schoolmaster. The latter, indeed, 
was an excellent person, of whom we may hear 
more in the sequel; but a catalogue raisonne 
of names makes but a dull chapter. 

e 2 


76 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER VI. 


THE PRINCIPAL PERSON IN THE VILLAGE.-THE VICAR's 

FAMILY. 

Two days after the Mowbray family ap¬ 
peared at church, the village gentry began 
to offer their visits of condolence, which, hap¬ 
pily however for the tranquillity of the per¬ 
sons chiefly concerned, were performed in the 
improved manner of modern times; that is to 
say, every allusion to the recent event being 
by all but their intimate friends most cau¬ 
tiously avoided by all parties. 

The first person who entered the drawing¬ 
room was Mrs. Simpson. On all occasions, 
indeed, this lady exerted herself to sustain 
the position of “ the principal person in the 
village.” She seldom gave an order for 4 ‘the 




WREXHILL. 


77 


fly,” which, weak as were its own springs, 
was, in truth, the main-spring of all the rural 
visitings; she seldom ordered this indispensa¬ 
ble commodity without adding to her instruc¬ 
tions, “ Pray be punctual, Mr. Sims, — I say 
this for your sake as well as my own ; for 
if the principal person in the village is made to 
wait, you may depend upon it an opposition 
will be started immediately, and in that case, 
you know, I should be obliged to give it my 
patronage.” In like manner, the butcher and 
baker in the village, the ruddy-faced milkman 
out of it, the shoemaker, the dressmaker, the 
carpenter, the glazier, the dealer in small wares 
and all wares, were severally and collectively 
given to understand that Mrs. Simpson, as 
the principal person in the village, had a 
right to expect the first-fruits of their civi¬ 
lity, attention, industry, and general stock- 
in-trade. 

Her entrance into the presence of Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray was as pregnant with sentiment and sym¬ 
pathy as the degree of intimacy to which she 
was admitted would permit. The hand-shaking 



78 


THE VICAR OF 


was performed with a little pressure and a 
little sigh ; every pause in the conversation 
was made to speak volumes by the sad tone in 
which the next sentence was spoken: in short, 
if the minds of Mrs. Mowbray, her eldest 
daughter, and her ward, who kindly volun¬ 
teered to sustain this ordeal with her, had not 
been fully occupied by the recent event, almost 
every word, look, and gesture of the principal 
person of Wrexhill were calculated to re¬ 
call it. 

Mrs. Simpson was accompanied by her 
pretty little girl, flowered and furbelowed into 
as near a resemblance to a bantum chicken as 
it was possible for a pretty little girl to 
take. 

The distance from the village to the Park 
was almost too great for so young a child to 
walk, and the poor little thing looked heated, 
cross, and weary; but her mamma declared 
that a ramble through those delicious fields 
was the greatest treat in the world. 66 1 trust in 
heaven,” she continued, using her near-sighted 






WREXHILL. 


79 


eye-glass to look at a drawing which lay on 
the table, “ that Mimima” (her abbreviation of 
Jemima,) “will have my taste for sketching—I 
like to take her out with me, dear pet, she 
enjoys it so ! but at this lovely season it is the 
most difficult thing in the world not to sketch 
as one goes. Indeed, when the mind is preoc¬ 
cupied 1 ’— (a sigh)—“every object, however” 
— (a pause) — “I beg your pardon, but it is 
so difficult —” 

“ Come to me, Jemima,” said Helen, holding 
out her hand, “ and let me take your bonnet 
off.” 

The child put up her shoulder and pressed 
with distressing closeness upon the delicate 
lilac of her mother’s new silk dress. 

“ It is such a shy puss !” said Mrs. Simpson; 
“ I often think what would become of her”— 
(a sigh). “ I beg your pardon — but sad 
thoughts will press—” 

“ Little girl, do you love eau de Cologne ?” 
said Rosalind, taking a bottle from the table 
and holding it towards her. 


80 


THE VICAR OF 


Either the look, the accent, or the action of 
Rosalind had attraction sufficient to draw the 
child towards her; when she good-humouredly 
relieved the glowing cheeks from the stifling 
encumbrance of a very close pink bonnet and 
thick green veil, and then copiously bedewed 
the pretty head with the fragrant and refresh¬ 
ing water. 

“ Do you like it, dear ?” 

“Yes, very much; do it again! again!” 
said the child, laughing aloud. 

“ Mimima! — what did I tell you, dear! 
Alas!—young heads—-I beg your pardon—” 
(a sigh). “ You are too good ! — I fear you will 
spoil her, Miss Torrington.” 

“ I am only trying to cool her a little, ma’am ; 
she looks quite in a fever.” 

“ She has sported along before me like a 
little fawn ! I brought my maid and the man 
servant, as I thought they might carry her 
between them if she was tired; but she would 
not hear of it — the step of childhood is so 
elastic ! — Alas! — I beg your pardon ! — ” 

“ Don’t you like to ride a-cushion , Miss 




WREXHILL. 


81 


Jemima?” said Rosalind, struck by the idea 
of the maid and the man carrying the young 
lady between them. 

“ What is that?” inquired the child. 

Rosalind laughed a little, and coloured a 
little, at being obliged to explain herself; but, 
making the best of it, she took Mimima’s little 
hands and interlaced them with her own, after 
the most approved manner of preparing to 
treat somebody with riding a-cushion. 

No persons resent ridicule so much as those 
who are perpetually exposing themselves to it. 
Mrs. Simpson out glowed her rouge as she said, 
“ I did not mean, Miss Torrington, that my 
servants were to carry the child together,— I 
really wonder such a very droll idea.— I beg 
your pardon— but at such a time—” 

Miss Torrington looked at her for a moment, 
and then rose and left the room. 

Mrs. Simpson saw that she had offended the 
heiress, and from that moment conceived to¬ 
wards her one of those little feminine antipa¬ 
thies, which if they do not as often lead to 
daggers and bowls in the higher ranks of so- 


8 2 


THE VICAR OF 


ciety as to black eyes and broken noses in 
the lower, are nevertheless seldom quite in¬ 
noxious. 

The conversation now began to languish, for 
the principal person in Wrexhill was decidedly 
out of humour, and Helen was painfully seek¬ 
ing for what she was to say next, when the door 
was thrown open, and Mr. and Miss Cart¬ 
wright, and Mr. Jacob Cartwright, were an¬ 
nounced. 

No sudden and unexpected burst of sun¬ 
shine ever produced a greater change in the as¬ 
pect of a watery landscape, than the entrance of 
this party on the countenance of the handsome 
widow. Had Rosalind been present, she would 
have found some amusement, or at least some 
occupation, in seeking to discover whether it 
were the father or son who possessed this vivi¬ 
fying power. To the pale hollow-eyed daugh¬ 
ter she would certainly have attributed no 
such influence. But as we have not her help 
to decide the doubt, we must leave the matter 
to the slower hand of time. 

Mr. Jacob Cartwright was a tall, straight, 


] 


WREXHILL. 


83 


young man, but as yet a little inclining to that 
line of contour, which can only be described by 
the expressive word lanky. Neither was his 
hair handsome, for, designated as 66 light” by 
his particular friends and admirers, it was 
called 66 sandy” by the rest of the world. But 
the young gentleman had a finely-formed 
mouth, with a very beautiful set of teeth, and 
a large clear light blue eye, which many per¬ 
sons declared to be beautiful. 

This young man was said to resemble greatly 
the mother he had lost: to his father he was 
certainly as unlike as possible. Mr. Cart¬ 
wright, though somewhat above the middle 
height, was shorter than his son, and his person 
incomparably better built; his features were 
very regularly handsome, and the habitual ex¬ 
pression of his countenance gentle and attrac¬ 
tive. His eyes were large, dark, and very 
beautifully formed, and his hair and beard as 
black as those of a Spaniard, save here and 
there a silver line which about the temples 
began to mix itself with the sable. His mouth 
and teeth perhaps might have been said to re- 


84 


THE VICAR OF 


semble those of his son, had not the expression 
been so different. In the son these constituted 
merely a well-formed feature ; to the father 
they seemed to give a power when he spoke 
that might work wonders either for good or 
evil. 

Henrietta Cartwright resembled neither of 
them: of the two, she would have been said 
to be most like her father, because her hair 
and eyes were dark ; but the form of the head 
and face, and above all, the cynic expression 
of the mouth, were in perfect contrast to his. 
Like her brother, she was extremely thin; 
but she was not proportionably tall, and in her 
this ascetic form seemed rather the result of ill 
health than of make. She was moreover deadly 
pale, and seldom spoke in general society if she 
could possibly avoid it. 

Mrs. Mowbray received all the party with 
cordial kindness. In Helen’s manner there was 
a shade of coldness, especially to the father, 
whose offered hand she did not appear to see; 
but the whole trio shared the affectionate greet¬ 
ing of Mrs. Simpson. 





WREXHILL. 


85 


“ How very lucky I am to meet you ! Such 
a dismal long walk, all alone! — but now we 
can return together. How are you, my dear 
Miss Henrietta P has your headach left you ? 
— No ? — Oh, how I grieve to see you suffer 
so ! I need not inquire for you, Mr. Jacob — 
what a picture of youth and activity you are ! 
Mimima, come here. Don’t you remember 
your friend ? — don’t you remember Mr. Jacob 
Cartwright ? — Ah ! I thought you could 
not forget him! You would not be your 
mothers child, dearest, if you could ever for¬ 
get kindness.” 

In her address to the elder gentleman there 
seemed to be a little more caution in the ex¬ 
pression of her affectionate feelings; but she 
looked at him, and she listened to him, and 
more than once repeated what he said, as if to 
impress the precious words on her memory. 
In short, from the moment the Vicar and his 
family entered the room, it was evident the 
ladies of the Park were completely put 
-“ In non cale;” 


and this, considering the undeviating respect 



86 


THE VICAR OF 


which through life Mrs. Simpson had ever paid 
to wealth and station, was no trifling proof of 
the sincerity of that friendship which she pro¬ 
fessed for her new friends. 

“I hope your youngest daughter is well, 
and Miss Torrington also ?” said Mr. Cart¬ 
wright. 

“Quite well, thank you. Helen, do you 
know where your sister is ?” 

“ In the library, I believe, mamma.” 

“ Miss Cartwright, would you not like some 
refreshment ? ... . Do ring the bell, Helen. 
I am sure, Mrs. Simpson, you ought to 
take some wine-and-water after your long 
walk.” 

It was not difficult to see that this civility 
was the result of a strong and painful effort on 
the part of Mrs. Mowbray, and Helen was 
provoked with the whole party for not declin¬ 
ing it; but no choice was left her — the bell 
was rung, and the tray arrived. One comfort 
she had, and that no trifling one : neither her¬ 
self nor her mother had any further occasion to 








WREXHILL. 


87 


seek subjects of conversation; Mrs. Simpson 
took the whole of this troublesome business 
upon herself, and for the period that the 
luncheon lasted was so completely engaged in 
eating and talking, that she had not time for a 
single sigh. 

The two gentlemen and the little girl were 
very nearly as busily employed as herself; but 
Mis9 Cartwright sat silently apart, and a feel¬ 
ing as nearly allied perhaps to curiosity as 
politeness induced Helen to change her place 
and seat herself near her. 

64 Will you not take some refreshment, Miss 
Cartwright ? .... Let me get you some 
grapes.” 

44 1 thank you—none.” 

44 Not even a little soda-water and wine ? 
The morning seems unusually warm.” 

44 Nothing, I thank you.” 

44 Are you a great walker ?” 

44 Yes.” 

44 This is a charming country for it—such a 
beautiful variety of lanes and fields.” 



88 


THE VICAR OF 


44 I seldom vary my walk.” 

64 Indeed! And what is the favourite spot 
you have chosen ?” 

44 The ugliest and most gloomy I could find, 
that I might be sure of never meeting any 
one.” 

Helen was silenced—she had not courage for 
another word, and in order to cover her retreat, 
moved towards the table, and bestowed her at¬ 
tention on the little girl, who, totally forgotten 
by her mamma, was quaffing long draughts of 
wine from a tumbler which Mr. Jacob had been 
preparing for himself, but which he had will¬ 
ingly yielded to her, and now seemed waiting 
for the inevitable effect of such excess with a 
sort of sly and covert glee that made Helen 
very angry. 

44 Your little girl will make herself ill, I am 
afraid, Mrs. Simpson, by the quantity of wine 
she is taking: I am afraid there is no water 
with it.” 

The lady, who was talking very earnestly in 
an under tone to Mr. Cartwright, started at 
this appeal, and with a glance of more anger 



WREXHILL. 


89 


than the age of the child could justify, drew 
her back from the table and made her stand at 
some distance from it. 

“ I really think that it is Mr. Jacob Cart¬ 
wright who should be punished,” said Helen ; 
44 for he knew a great deal more about the 
matter than the little girl herself.” 

44 Oh no ! . . . . naughty little thing !”— 
said the mamma. 

44 1 am very sorry if I have been the occa¬ 
sion of the little girl’s doing what was wrong,” 
said Mr. Jacob slowly and in a very gentle 
tone. 44 1 did not think she would have taken 
so much ; and she looked very tired and warm.” 

Mrs. Simpson made some civil answer, and 
turned to renew her conversation with the 
Vicar; but he was gone. She positively start¬ 
ed, and looked about her with great interest to 
discover what had become of him. The win¬ 
dows of the room opened upon the lawn, and 
though she had not seen his exit, she very 
naturally guessed that it must have been made 
in that direction. After rising from the table, 
and making one or two unmeaning movements 



90 


THE VICAR OF 


about the room, taking up a book and laying 
it down again without looking at its title, ex¬ 
amining a vase on the chimney-piece and a 
rose on the flower-stand, she gradually drew 
towards the open window, and after pausing 
for half a minute, walked through it upon the 
grass. 

The little girl trotted after her; Mr. Jacob 
followed, probably hoping to see her stagger 
about a little ; and Helen, though sadly vexed 
at this new device to prolong the tedious visit, 
could do no less than walk after them. 

The conservatory, drawing-room, and library, 
formed this side of the house, the whole range 
of windows opening uniformly upon the lawn. 
As Helen stepped out, she perceived that the 
party who had preceded her were entering by the 
window of the library, and she quickly followed 
them, thinking it probable that Fanny might be 
startled and vexed at this unexpected interrup¬ 
tion, when, as was very likely, she might be in 
the very act of invoking the “ sacred pine.” 

Upon entering the room, however, she found 
her sister, to her great surprise, conversing 


WREXHILL. 


91 


earnestly with Mr. Cartwright, and appearing 
to be hardly yet conscious of the presence of 
the others. 

Mrs. Simpson gave a little, almost imper¬ 
ceptible toss of the head, at discovering how 
the gentleman was engaged. 

“We could not think whither you had va¬ 
nished, Mr. Cartwright,” said she in her sweet¬ 
est voice; “ but you really were very lucky to 
ramble in this direction. Miss Fanny ought 
to have her picture taken in this fine room, with 
all her books about her.” 

While she said this, Mr. Cartwright con¬ 
tinued in a whisper to finish what he was ad¬ 
dressing to Fanny; and having done so, he 
turned to the party which had followed him, 
saying, “ The bright verdure of your beautiful 
lawn, Miss Mowbray, tempted me out; but I 
hope our intrusion has not disturbed your 
sister ?* 

Fanny answered eagerly that she was very 
glad to see him. At that moment Helen 
chanced to turn her eyes towards the window 
by which they entered; when she perceived that 



92 


THE VICAR OF 


Miss Cartwright had followed them. She was, 
however, more than half concealed by a large 
orange tree which stood in a high square box 
beside the window ; but her head was bent for¬ 
ward to look into the room, and a sneer of 
such very singular expression rested on her 
lip and in her eye as she looked at her father 
and Fanny, who were still standing close toge¬ 
ther, that Helen remained perfectly still, star¬ 
ing at her. In another moment Miss Cart¬ 
wright changed the direction of her eyes, and 
encountered those of Helen fixed upon her with 
a look of unconcealed astonishment; but her 
own did not sink before them, and she turned 
away with a smile quite as strange and unintel¬ 
ligible as the look she had bestowed on Fanny. 

At length this tedious visit was brought to its 
conclusion ; the bonnet of the tipsy and now 
very pale little girl was replaced, a number of 
civil speeches spoken, and the whole party 
walked off together across the lawn to a gate 
which was to take them by a short cut through 
the Park. 


WREXHILL. 


93 


44 1 quite envy Mrs. Simpson her walk 
home !” said Fanny. 44 1 see she has taken 
Mr. Cartwright’s arm : I really do think he is 
the very handsomest and most agreeable man I 
ever saw in my life !” 


94 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER VII. 

THE FIRST IMPRESSIONS MADE BY MR. CARTWRIGHT.— 
LETTER FROM LADY HARRINGTON. 

The three girls rallied round Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray as soon as the guests had departed, all 
kindly anxious to see how she bore this first 
step back into a world so wholly changed for 
her. 

She looked pale, and there was an air of 
languor and weariness about her: nevertheless, 
to the great surprise of Helen, she expressed 
herself much pleased by the visit: 

“ Mr. Cartwright,” said she, “ appears to 
me to be one of the most amiable men I ever 
saw ; every tone of his voice speaks kindness, 
and indeed, if he did not speak at all, one look 
of his has more feeling and pity in it than 


WREXHILL. 


95 


other people could express by a volume of 
words.” 

“ Do you really think so, mamma?” said Helen 
eagerly, but suddenly stopped herself, aware 
that in truth she had no grounds whatever for 
the strong feeling of dislike towards him of 
which she was conscious. She remembered, too, 
that her father had expressed himself greatly 
pleased by the urbanity of his manners, and 
that the last act of the benign influence he was 
wont to exercise on those around him had been 
to conquer the prejudice against him, to which 
the exclusion of the Wallace family had un¬ 
justly given rise. Helen remembered all this 
in a moment; the colour mounted to her cheeks, 
and she was silent. 

Rosalind, too, was silent, at least from words ; 
but her eyes could speak as many volumes at a 
glance as Mr. Cartwright's, and she fixed them 
for an instant on Helen with a look that told 
her plainly her prejudices against their new 
neighbour, however unreasonable, were fully 
shared by her. 

Meanwhile Fanny had thrown her arms 


96 


THE VICAR OF 


round her mother’s neck in a sort of rapture 
at hearing her own opinions confirmed by such 
authority. cc Oh, how true that is, dearest 
mamma!” she exclaimed; “ how exactly I feel 
the same when he speaks to me! . . . . Such 
goodness, such gentleness, so much superiority, 
yet so much humility ! Poor dear Mr. Wallace 
was an excellent good man, certainly, but no 
more to be compared to Mr. Cartwright than I 
to Hercules !” 

“ How many times have you seen Mr. Cart¬ 
wright, Fanny ?” said Rosalind. 

“ I have heard him preach three times,” she 
replied, “ and they were all the most beautiful 
sermons in the world; and I have seen and 
spoken to him four times more.” 

“ Poor Mr. Wallace !” said Rosalind. u It 
was he who christened you, Fanny; and 
from that time to the hour of his death, you 
seldom passed many days together, I believe, 
without seeing and receiving affectionate words 
and kind looks from him : and yet four times 
speaking to this gentle gentleman has driven 






WREXHILL. 


97 


the memory of the poor old man from your 
heart!” 

44 No, it has not, Rosalind,’' replied Fanny, 
deeply blushing: 44 I am sure I did not say that, 
did I, mamma P—But my loving and remem¬ 
bering Mr. Wallace all the days of my life 
need not make me dislike everybody else, I 
suppose ?” 

44 It would be a great misfortune to you if it 
did, Fanny,” said Mrs. Mowbray. 44 1 am de¬ 
lighted to see, both in you and many others, 
that the violent and most unjustifiable prejudice 
which was conceived against Mr. Cartwright 
before he was seen and known, is giving way 
before his amiable and excellent qualities: I 
have no doubt that he will soon be quite as 
popular in the parish as Mr. Wallace was.” 

44 And Miss Cartwright, mamma?” said 
Helen; 44 do you think we shall love her as 
well as we did Emma Wallace ?” 

44 1 know nothing whatever of Miss Cart¬ 
wright as yet, Helen; she appears very shy, but 
we must try to give her courage, my dear girls. 


VOL. i. 


F 


98 


THE VICAR OF 


I hope we shall be on terras of as great intimacy 
with our new clergyman, as with our former one: 
it was a sort of association that your dear father 
particularly approved, and that alone is a suffi¬ 
cient reason for our wishing to cultivate it.” 

This allusion was too solemn to admit any 
light conversation to follow it. Mrs. Mowbray 
strolled with Fanny into the conservatory, and 
Rosalind persuaded Helen that they should 
find the shrubberies infinitely cooler and more 
agreeable than the house. 

But even under the thickest cover that the 
grounds could offer, Helen could not be 
tempted fully to open her heart upon the sub¬ 
ject of Mr. Cartwright, an indulgence which 
Rosalind certainly expected to obtain when 
she proposed the walk ; but the name of her 
father had acted like a spell on Helen, and all 
that she could be brought positively to advance 
on the subject of the Cartwright family was, 
that she did not think Miss Cartwright was shy. 

Within the next fortnight nearly every one 
who claimed a visiting acquaintance with the 
Mowbray family, both in the village and the 


WREXHILL. 


99 


neighbourhood round it, had called at the 
Park. 

“All the calling is over now,” said Helen, 
“ and I am very glad of it.” 

“ Everybody has been very kind and atten¬ 
tive,” replied her mother, (i and next week we 
must begin to return their calls. I hope no¬ 
body will be offended, for some of them must 
be left for many days ; the weather is very hot, 
and the horses must not be overworked.” 

“ I wonder why that charming little person 
that I fell in love with—the widow, I mean, that 
lives in the cottage at Wrexhill,” said Rosalind, 
—“ I wonder she has not been to see you ! She 
appeared to like you all very much.” 

66 1 have thought of that two or three times,” 
replied Helen. u I think, if they had any of 
them been ill, we should h#ve heard it; and 
yet otherwise I cannot account for such in¬ 
attention.” 

“ It is merely accidental, I am sure,” said 
Mrs. Mowbray. u But there is one omission, 
Helen, that cuts me to the heart!” Tears burst 
from her eyes as she spoke. 


100 


THE VICAR OF 


Poor Helen knew not how to answer : she 
was well aware that the omission her mother 
alluded to was that of Sir Gilbert and Lady 
Harrington; and she knew too the cause of it. 
Lady Harrington, who, with one of the best 
hearts in the world, was sometimes rather blunt 
in her manner of showing it, had sent over a 
groom with a letter to Helen, her god-daughter 
and especial favourite, very fully explaining 
the cause of their not calling, but in a manner 
that could in no degree enable her to remove 
her mother’s uneasiness respecting it. This 
letter, which by her ladyship’s especial orders 
was delivered privately into the hands of 
Helen, ran thus: 

“ My darling Child ! 

“ Can’t you think what a way I must be 
in at being prevented coming to see you ? Sir 
Gilbert excels himself this time for obstinacy 
and wilfulness. Every breakfast, every dinner, 
and every tea since it happened, William and 
I do nothing but beg and entreat that I may 
be permitted to go over and see your poor 


WREXHILL. 


101 


mother ! Good gracious! as I tell him, it is 
not her fault — though God knows I do think 
just as much as he does, that no man ever did 
make such a tom-fool of a will as your father. 
Such a man as Charles ! as Sir Gilbert says. 
’Twas made at the full of the moon, my dear, 
and that’s the long and the short of it; he was 
just mad, Helen, and nothing else. But is that 
any reason that your poor dear mother should 
be neglected and forsaken this way ? God bless 
her dear soul! she’s more like a baby than any¬ 
thing I ever saw, about money; and as to her 
being an heiress, why I don’t believe, upon my 
honour, that she has ever recollected it from 
the day she married to the time that your 
unlucky, poor dear distracted madman of a 
father threw all her money back at her in this 
wild way. He had much better have pelted 
her with rotten eggs, Helen ! Such a friend as 
Sir Gilbert, so warm-hearted, so steady, and so 
true, is not to be found every day—old tiger 
as he is. But what on earth am I to do about 
it ? I shall certainly go mad too, if I can’t get 
at you; and yet, I give you my word, I no more 


102 


THE VICAR OF 


dare order the coachman to drive me to Mowbray 
Park than to the devil. You never saw such a 
tyrannical brute of a husband as Sir Gilbert is 
making himself about it! And poor William, 
too—he really speaks to him as if he were a 
little beggar-boy in the streets, instead of a 
colonel of dragoons. William said last night 
something very like, 4 1 shall ride over to 
Wrexhill to-morrow, and perhaps I shall see 
the family at Mow . . . .’ I wish you had 
seen him — I only wish you had seen Sir Gil¬ 
bert, Helen, for half a moment! — you would 
never have forgotten it, my dear, and it might 
have given you a hint as to choosing a husband. 
Never marry a man with great, wide, open, 
light-coloured eyes, and enormous black eye¬ 
brows, for fear he should swallow you alive 
some day before you know where you are. 
4 See them ! ! ’ roared Sir Gilbert. 4 If you do, 
by G—d, sir, I’ll leave every sou I have in the 
world to some cursed old woman myself; but 
it shan’t be to you, madam,’ turning short 
round as if he would bite me :— 4 laugh if you 
will, but go to Mowbray if you dare !* 



WREXHILL. 


103 


44 4 But are we never to see any of the family 
again, sir ?’ said the colonel very meekly. 4 1 
never told you so, Colonel Booby, 1 was the 
reply. 4 You may see that glorious fellow 
Charles as often as you will, and the more you 
see of him the better ; and I’ll manage if I can, 
as soon as he has taken this degree that his 
heart’s set upon, to get a commission for him in 
your regiment; so you need not palaver about 
my wanting to part you from him. And as 
for you, my lady, I give you full leave to kid¬ 
nap the poor destitute, penniless girls if you 
can; but if I ever catch you doing anything 
that can be construed into respect or civility to 
that sly, artful hussy who cajoled my poor 
friend Mowbray to make that cursed will, may 
I .... You shall see, old lady, what will come 
of it!’ 

44 Now what on earth can I do, dear darling ? 
I believe your mother’s as innocent of cajoling 
as I am, and that’s saying something; and as for 
your being destitute of sweethearts, you’ll have 
fifty thousand pounds apiece if you’ve a far¬ 
thing. I know all about the property, and so 


104 


THE VICAR OF 


does Sir Gilbert too ; only the old tiger pretends 
to believe, just to feed his rage, that your 
mother will marry her footman, and bequeath 
her money to all the little footboys and girls 
that may ensue: for one principal cause of his 
vengeance against your poor mother is, that she 
is still young enough to have children. Was 
there ever such a man !—But here have I, ac¬ 
cording to custom, scribbled my paper as full 
as it will hold, and yet have got a hundred 
thousand more things to say; but it would all 
come to this, if I were to scrawl over a ream. 
I am miserable because I can’t come to see 
your mother and you, and yet I can’t help my¬ 
self any more than if I were shut up in Bride¬ 
well : for I never did do anything that my 
abominable old husband desired me not to do, 
and I don’t think I could do it even to please 
you, my pretty Helen ; only don’t fancy I have 
forgotten you : but for God’s sake don’t wnte to 
me! I am quite sure I should get my ears boxed. 

“ Believe me, darling child, 

“ Your loving friend and godmother, 


“Jane Matilda Harrington.” 


WREXHILL. 


105 


44 P.S. I am quite sure that the colonel would 
send pretty messages if he knew what I was 
about: but I will not make him a party in my 
sin. I was just going to tell him this morning; 
but my conscience smote me, and I turned very 
sublimely away, muttering, in the words of Mac¬ 
beth— 4 Be innocent of this, my dearest chuck !’” 

This coarse but well-meaning letter gave 
inexpressible pain to Helen. She dared not 
show it to her mother, who, she felt quite sure, 
would consider the unjust suspicions of Sir Gil¬ 
bert as the most cruel insult: nor could she, after 
Lady Harrington’s prohibition, attempt to an¬ 
swer it, though she greatly wished to do it, in 
the hope that she might be able to place her 
mother’s conduct and feelings in a proper light. 
But she well knew that, with all her friend’s 
rhodomontade, she was most devotedly attached 
to her excellent though hot-headed husband, 
and that she could not disoblige her more than 
by betraying a secret which, under the present 
circumstances, would certainly make him very 
angry. 

p 5 


106 


THE VICAR OF 


But the sight of her mother's tears, and her 
utter inability to say anything that might con¬ 
sole her very just sorrow, inspired Helen with 
a bold device. To Rosalind only had she 
shown Lady Harrington’s letter, and to Rosa¬ 
lind only did she communicate her project of 
boldly writing to the enraged baronet him¬ 
self. 

6( Do so, Helen,” said Rosalind promptly: 
“ it is the only measure to pursue—unless in¬ 
deed you and I were to set off and surprise 
him by a visit.” 

“ But my mother ?....” replied Helen, 
evidently struck by the advantages of this 
bolder scheme over her own,—“ what would my 
mother say to our going ?” 

66 If she knew of it, Helen, I suspect it would 
lose all favour in Sir Gilbert's eyes, and you 
would have no chance whatever of softening his 
rage towards her. The expedition, if under¬ 
taken at all, must be a secret one. When he 
learns it is so, I think it will touch his tough 
heart, Helen, for he knows, I fancy, that such 
escapades are not at all in your line. I only 
hope that he will not find out that I proposed 



WREXHILL. 107 

it, as that might lessen your merit in his 
eyes.” 

“ No, no, that would do no harm. My doing 
it would be quite proof enough how near this 
matter is to my heart.” 

“Well, then, Helen, shall we go?” 

66 Let me sleep upon it, Rosalind. If we do 
go, it must, I think, be quite early in the morn¬ 
ing, so as to have no questions asked before we 
set out. It is not a long walk. Shall we see if 
he will give us some breakfast ?” 

“ A most diplomatic project !” replied Rosa¬ 
lind ; “ for it will enlist his hospitality on our 
side, and ten to one but the rough coating of 
his heart will thaw and resolve itself into a 
dew, as Fanny would say, by the mere act of 
administering coffee and hot cakes to us; and 
then the field is won.” 

“ I think we will try,” said Helen, smiling 
with a sort of inward strengthening, from the 
conviction that such would very probably be 
the result. 

A few more words settled the exact time and 
manner of the expedition, and the friends parted 
to dress for dinner. 


108 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER VIII. 

MRS. RICHARDS AND HER DAUGHTERS.-THE TEA-PARTY. 

On the evening of that day, the three girls for 
the first time induced Mrs. Mowbray to go be¬ 
yond the limits of the flower-garden, and walk 
under the avenue of beautiful elms in the Park. 
The simple and unostentatious tone of her cha¬ 
racter had influenced all her habits, and Mrs. 
Mowbray was a better arid more constant 
walker than ladies generally who have two or 
three carriages ready to attend them. She ap¬ 
peared to enjoy the exercise from which for 
several weeks she had been debarred; and when 
the end of the avenue was reached, and Fanny 
almost mechanically opened the wide gate at 
the bottom of it, her mother passed through it 
without making any observation, and in truth 


WREXHILL. 


109 


forgetting at that moment all that had happened 
since she had last done so. The gate opened 
upon a road, which, according to long-esta¬ 
blished custom, they crossed nearly at right 
angles, and then mounted and descended half 
a dozen steps, which conducted them into a 
wide and beautiful meadow, now fragrant with 
the new-made hay that several waggons were 
conveying to augment a lofty rick in a distant 
corner of it. 

It was not till Mrs. Mowbray perceived 
another party seated round the base of a 
haycock which an empty waggon had nearly 
reached, that she remembered all the circum¬ 
stances which made every casual meeting a 
matter of importance and agitation to her. 
The group, which seemed a very merry one, 
retained their places, till two stout haymakers 
saucily but playfully presented their pitch- 
forks as if to dislodge them. They then started 
to their feet to the number of five; and the 
Park family recognised Mrs. Richards, her 
three daughters, and Major Dalrymple. 

“ I have not seen them yet, Helen I” said 


110 


THE VICAR OF 


Mrs. Mowbray with nervous trepidation :*— 
44 how very wrong I have been to come so 
far !” 

44 Why so, my dearest mother ?” replied 
Helen. 44 I am sure it is less painful to meet 
thus, than at those dreadful visits in the draw¬ 
ing-room.” 

44 But they have not called, Helen .... cer¬ 
tainly, we had better go back.” 

44 Dear mamma, it is not possible,” said 
Fanny, stepping forward to meet a favourite 
companion in the youngest Miss Richards: 
44 you see Rosalind has got to them al¬ 
ready.” 

It was indeed too late to retreat; nor did the 
wish to do so last long. Mrs. Richards pressed 
the hand of Rosalind, who had taken hers, but, 
throwing it off at the same moment, hastened 
forward to greet the widowed friend she had 
wanted courage to seek. Her colour was 
heightened, perhaps, from feeling it possible 
that the cause of her absence had been mis¬ 
taken ; but large tears trembled in her dark 
eyes, and when she silently took the hand of 


WREXHILL. 


Ill 


Mrs. Mowbray and pressed it to her lips, 
every doubt upon the subject was removed. 

Major Dairymple and the three girls fol¬ 
lowed ; and the first moment of meeting over, 
the two parties seemed mutually and equally 
pleased to join. Mrs. Richards was the only 
person in the neighbourhood to whom Rosa¬ 
lind, during her six months’ residence in it, 
had at all attached herself: there was some¬ 
thing about her that had fascinated the young 
heiress’s fancy, and the circumstance of her 
being the only good second in a duet to be 
found within the circle of the Mowbray Park 
visitings had completed the charm. 

With the two eldest Misses Richards, Helen 
was on that sort of intimate footing which a 
very sweet-tempered, unpretending girl of nine¬ 
teen, who knows she is of some consequence 
from her station, and is terribly afraid of being 
supposed to be proud, is sure to be with 
young ladies of nearly her own age, blessed 
with most exuberant animal" spirits, and de¬ 
sirous of making themselves as agreeable to her 
as possible. 


112 


THE VICAR OF 


Louisa and Charlotte Richards were fine, 
tall, showy young women, with some aspira¬ 
tions after the reputation of talent; but they 
were neither of them at all like their mother, 
who was at least six inches shorter than either 
of them, and aspired to nothing in the world 
but to make her three children happy. 

Little Mary, as her sisters still persisted 
to call her, approached much nearer to the 
stature, person, and character of Mrs. Rich¬ 
ards: she was not quite so mignonne in size, 
but she 

<f Had her features, wore her eye. 

Perhaps some feeling of her heart,” 

and was, spite of all the struggles which her 
mother could make to prevent it, the darling of 
her eyes and the hope of her heart. Moreover, 
little Mary was, as we have before hinted, the 
especial friend of Fanny Mowbray. 

The delights of a balmy evening in the 
flowery month of June—the superadded de¬ 
lights of a hay-field, and above all, the su¬ 
preme delight of unexpectedly meeting a party 
of friends, were all enthusiastically descanted 



WREXHILL. 


113 


upon by the two tall Misses Richards. They 
had each taken one of Helen’s slight arms, and 
borne her along over the stubble grass with a 
degree of vehemence which hardly left her 
breath to speak. 

44 I do not think mamma is going any far¬ 
ther,” she continued to utter, while Miss 
Louisa stopped to tie a shoe-string. 

44 Oh, but you must!” screamed Miss Char¬ 
lotte, attempting to drag her onward singly. 

44 Stop, Charlotte ! . .. stop !” cried the eldest 
sister, snapping off the shoe-string in her haste 
— 44 you shall not carry her away from me. 
What a shame ! Isn’t it a shame, when it is 
such an age since we met ?” 

There is nothing against which it is so diffi¬ 
cult to rally, as the exaggerated expression of 
feelings in which we do not share. The quiet 
Helen could not lash herself into answering ve¬ 
hemence of joy, and having, smiled, and smiled 
till she was weary, she fairly slipped from her 
companions and hastened back with all the 
speed she could make to the tranquil party 
that surrounded her mother. 


114 


THE VICAR OF 


The lively young ladies galloped after her, 
declaring all the way that she was the cruelest 
creature in the world. 

Mrs. Mowbray now said that she hoped 
they would all accompany her home to tea;—a 
proposal that met no dissenting voice; but it 
was some time before the whole party could be 
collected, for Fanny Mowbray and little Mary 
were nowhere to be seen. Major Dalrymple, 
however, who was taller even than the Misses 
Richards, by means of standing upon the last 
left haycock at length discovered them sitting 
lovingly side by side under the shelter of 
a huge lime-tree that filled one corner of the 
field. He was dismissed to bring them up to 
the main body, and executed his commission 
with great gallantry and good-nature, but not 
without feeling that the two very pretty girls 
he thus led away captive would much rather 
have been without him; for as he approached 
their lair, he perceived not only that they were 
in very earnest conversation, but that various 
scraps of written paper lay in the lap of each, 
which at his approach were hastily exchanged. 


WREXHILL. 


115 


and conveyed to reticules, pockets, or bosoms, 
beyond the reach of his eye. 

They nevertheless smilingly submitted them¬ 
selves to his guidance, and in order to prove 
that he was not very troublesome, Fanny so 
far returned to their previous conversation as 
to say, 

u We must ask your judgment, Major Dal- 
rymple, upon a point on which we were disput¬ 
ing just before you joined us: which do you 
prefer in the pulpit—and out of it—Mr. Wal¬ 
lace, or Mr. Cartwright ?” 

“ You were disputing the point, were you ?” 
he replied. 66 Then I am afraid. Miss Fanny, I 
must give it against you; for I believe I know 
Mary’s opinion already, and I perfectly agree 
with her.” 

“ Then I shall say to you, as I say to her,” 
replied Fanny eagerly “ that you are alto¬ 
gether blinded, benighted, deluded, and wrapt 
up in prejudice ! I have great faith both in 
her sincerity and yours, major; and yet I de¬ 
clare to you, that it does seem to me so im¬ 
possible for any one to doubt the superiority 


116 


THE VICAR OF 


of Mr. Cartwright in every way, that I can 
hardly persuade myself you are in earnest.” 

“ What do you mean by every way , Miss 
Fanny?—you cannot surely believe him to be 
a better man than our dear old vicar ?” said the 
major. 

“ We can none of us, I think, have any 
right to make comparisons of their respective 
goodness—at least not as yet,” replied Fanny. 
“ When I said every way , I meant, in the 
church and in society.” 

“ On the latter point I suppose I ought 
to leave the question to be decided between 
you, as in all cases of the kind where gentle¬ 
men are to be tried, ladies alone, I believe, are 
considered competent to form the jury;—not 
that Mary can have much right to pronounce a 
verdict either, for I doubt if she has ever been 
in a room with Mr. Cartwright in her life.” 

“ Yes, I have,” said Mary eagerly, “ and 
he is perfectly delightful!” 

“ Indeed!—I did not know you had seen 
him.” 

66 Yes—we met him at Smith’s.” 


WREXHILL. 


117 


44 Oh ! you saw him in a shop, did you ? 
—and even that was sufficient to prove him 
delightful ?” 

44 Quite enough!” replied Mary, colouring 
a little as she observed Major Dairymple 
smile. 

44 The more you see of him, the more you 
will be aware of his excellence,” said Fanny, 
coming to the aid of her friend, and with an air 
of gravity that was intended to check the levity 
of the major. 44 I have seen him repeatedly at 
the Park, Major Dalrymple, and under cir¬ 
cumstances that gave sufficient opportunity to 
show the excellence of his heart, as well as the 
charm of his friendly, affectionate, and graceful 
manner.” 

44 He has certainly been a very handsome 
man,” said the major. 

44 Has been !” exclaimed both the girls at 
once. 

44 He is still very well-looking,” added the 
gentleman. 

44 Well-looking!” was again indignantly 
echoed by the ladies. 


118 


THE VICAR OF 


“ You do not think the term strong enough ? 
but when a man gets on the wrong side of 
forty, it is, I think, as much as he can ex¬ 
pect.” 

“ I don’t care a farthing what his age may 
be,” cried Mary ; “ do you, Miss Mowbray ? 
. . . . If he were a hundred and forty, with 
that countenance and that manner, I should 
still think him the handsomest and most per¬ 
fect person I ever saw.” 

“ Dear Mary!” replied Fanny affection¬ 
ately, “ how exactly we feel alike about him ! 
I love you dearly for fighting his battles so 
warmly.” 

“There is surely no fighting in the case,” 
said Major Dalrymple, laughing,—“ at least 
not with me. But have a care, young ladies: 
such perfect conformity of taste on these sub¬ 
jects does not always, I believe, tend to the 
continuance of female friendship. What a sad 
thing it would be if those two little hands were 
some day to set pulling caps between their re¬ 
spective owners!” 

“ There is not the least danger of any such 


WREXHILL. 119 

dismal catastrophe, I assure you. Is there, 
Mary?” 

“ Good heavens, no !” replied little Mary in 
a voice of great indignation. 66 What a hate¬ 
ful idea!” 

“ One reason why it is so delightful to love and 
admire Mr. Cartwright,” rejoined Fanny, “is, 
that one may do it, and talk of it too, without 
any danger that rational people , Major Dal- 
rymple, should make a jest of it, and talk the 
same sort of nonsense that everybody is so 
fond of doing whenever a lady is heard to 
express admiration for a gentleman. But we 
may surely love and admire the clergyman of 
the parish: indeed I think it is a sort of duty 
for every one to do so.” 

“ I assure you,” replied the major, “ that I 
both loved and admired Mr. Wallace exceed¬ 
ingly, and that I shall gladly pay the same 
homage to his successor as soon as I know him 
to deserve it. But 

“ Cautious age, and youth .... 
you know the song, Mary ?” 

“I know your meaning, Major Dalrymple : 


THE VICAR OF 


WO 

you are always boasting of your age; but I 
don’t know any one but yourself who thinks so 
very much of .... ” 

44 . . . . My antiquity and my wisdom. 11 

“Just that .... But, good heavens ! Fanny 
Mowbray, who is that to whom your mother 
is speaking on the lawn ?” 

“ It is Mr. Cartwight I 11 cried Fanny with an¬ 
imation ; 44 and now, Major Dairymple, you will 
have an opportunity of judging for yourself.” 

44 1 fear not,” he replied, taking out his 
watch; 44 it is now eight o’clock, and Mrs. 
Richards seldom walks much after nine.” 

The two girls now withdrew their arms, and 
hastened forward to the group of which Mr. 
Cartwright made one. Fanny Mowbray held 
out her hand to him, which was taken and held 
very affectionately for two or three minutes. 

44 You have been enjoying this balmy air,” 
said he to her in a voice sweetly modulated to 
the hour and the theme. 44 It is heaven’s own 
breath, Miss Fanny, and to such a mind as 
yours must utter accents worthy of the source 
from whence it comes.” 



WREXHILL, 


121 


Fanny’s beautiful eyes were fixed upon his 
face, and almost seemed to say, 

u When you speak, I ’d have you do it ever .’ 7 

44 I do not think he recollects me,” whisper¬ 
ed Mary Richards in her ear: 44 I wish you’d 
introduce me.” 

Fanny Mowbray started, but recovering her¬ 
self, said, 44 Mr. Cartwright, give me leave to 
introduce my friend Miss Mary Richards to 
you. She is one of your parishioners, and one 
that you will find capable of appreciating the 
happiness of being so.” 

Mr. Cartwright extended his pastoral hand 
to the young lady with a most gracious 
smile. 

44 God bless you both!” said he, joining their 
hands between both of his. 44 To lead you toge¬ 
ther in the path in which we must all wish to 
go, would be a task that might give a foretaste 
of the heaven we sought!—You are not little 
children,” he added, again pressing each of 
their hands ; 44 but I may safely say, 4 of such 
are the kingdom of heaven.’ ” 

He then turned towards Mrs. Mowbray, and 


VOL. i. 


G 


THE VICAR OF 


m 

with a look and tone which showed that though 
he never alluded to her situation, he never 
forgot it, he inquired how far she had ex¬ 
tended her ramble. 

“ Much farther than I intended when I set 
out,” replied Mrs. Mowbray. <c But my chil¬ 
dren, the weather, and the hay, altogether 
beguiled me to the bottom of Farmer Bennet’s 
great meadow.” 

*' 6 Quite right, quite right,” replied Mr. Cart¬ 
wright, with something approaching almost to 
fervour of approbation : “ this species of quiet 
courage, of gentle submission, is just what I 
expected from Mrs. Mowbray. It is the sweet¬ 
est incense that you can offer to Heaven ; and 
Heaven will repay it.” 

Mrs. Mowbray looked up at his mild coun¬ 
tenance, and saw a moisture in his eye that 
spoke more tender pity than he would per¬ 
mit his lips to utter. It touched her to the 
heart. 

Mrs. Richards, who was something of a 
florist, was examining, with the assistance of 
Rosalind, some new geraniums that were placed 


WREXHILL. 


123 


on circular stands outside the drawing-room, 
filling the spaces between the windows. As 
this occupation had drawn them from the rest 
of the party from the time Mr. Cartwright ap¬ 
proached to join it, they had not yet received 
that gentleman’s salutation, and he now went 
up to them. 

“ Miss Torrington looks as if she were dis¬ 
coursing of her kindred. Are these fair blos¬ 
soms the children of your especial care ?” 

“ They are the children of the gardener and 
the greenhouse, I believe,” she replied care¬ 
lessly, and stepped on to another stand. 

“ Mrs. Richards, I believe ?” said the grace¬ 
ful vicar, taking off his hat to her. 

Ci I hope you are well, Mr. Cartwright ?” 
replied the lady, following the steps of Ro¬ 
salind. 

The two eldest Misses Richards were still as¬ 
siduously besieging the two ears of Helen ; but 
as the subjects of which they discoursed did not 
always require the same answers, she began to 
feel considerable fatigue from the exertion ne¬ 
cessary for carrying on this double conversa- 

g 2 


124 


THE VICAR OF 


tion, and was therefore not sorry to see Mr. 
Cartwright approach them, which must, she 
thought, produce a diversion in her favour. 
But she found that the parties were still per¬ 
sonally strangers to each other ; for though his 
bow was general, his address was only to 
herself. 

“ And have you, too, Miss Mowbray, been 
venturing upon as long a walk as the rest of 
the party ?” 

“ We have all walked the same distance, 
Mr. Cartwright; but I believe we none of us 
consider it to be very far. We are all good 
walkers. - ” 

“ I rejoice to hear it, for it is the way to be¬ 
come good Christians. Where or how can we 
meet and meetly examine the works of the great 
Creator so well as on the carpet he has spread, 
and beneath the azure canopy which his 
hands have reared above us ? — The Misses 
Richards, I believe ? May I beg an introduc¬ 
tion, Miss Mowbray?” 

“Mr. Cartwright, Miss Richards — Miss 



WREXHILL. 


125 


Charlotte Richards,'” said Helen, without add¬ 
ing another word. 

“ I need hardly ask if you are walkers,” said 
the vicar, as he passed a smiling and appa¬ 
rently an approving glance over their rather 
remarkable length of limb. “ Your friends, 
Miss Mowbray, look like young antelopes ready 
to bound over the fair face of Nature; and their 
eyes look as if there were intelligence within 
wherewith to read her aright.” 

64 Mamma is going in to tea, I believe,” said 
Helen, moving off. 

The whole manner and demeanour of the 
two Misses Richards had changed from the 
moment Mr. Cartwright approached. They 
became quite silent and demure; but as they 
followed Helen, one on each side of him, they 
coloured with pleasure as he addressed a gentle 
word, first to one, then to the other ; and when, 
after entering the drawing-room, he left them 
for the purpose of making his farewell bow, or 
the semblance of it, to Mrs. Mowbray, Miss 
Louisa whispered to Miss Charlotte, “ Little 


1 26 


THE VICAR OF 


Mary is quite right: he is the most delight¬ 
ful man in the world.” 

“ You are not going to leave us, Mr. Cart¬ 
wright ?” said Mrs. Mowbray kindly. “We 
are going to tea this moment.” 

“You are very obliging; but I had no in¬ 
tention of intruding on you thus.” 

“Pray do not call it an intrusion. We 
shall be always most happy to see you. I only 
wish your son and daughter were with us 
also.” 

“ My daughter, thank you, is a sad invalid; 
and Jacob generally wanders farther afield in 
such weather as this. ... Is that gentleman 
Major Dairymple ? May I ask you to intro¬ 
duce me ?” 

“ I shall have much pleasure in doing so, 

I am sure. He is a very amiable and estimable 
person.” 

Mrs. Mowbray crossed the room towards 
him, followed by the vicar. The introduction 
took place, and the two gentlemen conversed 
together for a few minutes on the ordinary 
topics of Russia, the harvest, the slave-trade, 



WREXHILL. 


127 


and reform. On every subject, except the 
harvest, which Mr. Cartwright despatched by 
declaring that it would be peculiarly abundant, 
the reverend gentleman expressed himself with 
an unusual flow of words, in sentences parti¬ 
cularly well constructed; yet nevertheless his 
opinions seemed enveloped in a mist; and when 
Mrs. Richards afterwards asked the major his 
opinion of the new vicar, he replied that he 
thought his manners very gentlemanlike and 
agreeable, but that he did not perfectly remem¬ 
ber what opinions he had expressed on any 
subject. 

At first the company seemed inclined to dis¬ 
perse themselves in knots about the room ; but 
by degrees Mr. Cartwright very skilfully con¬ 
trived, on one pretence or another, to collect 
them all round a table that was covered with 
the usual incitements to talk, and the con¬ 
versation became general. At least Mr. Cart¬ 
wright was very generally listened to ; the 
major did not speak at all; and the ladies did 
little more than agree with and applaud from 
time to time the placid, even, dulcet flow of 


m 


THE VICAR OF 


words which fell like a gentle rivulet from the 
lips of their new vicar. This description, in¬ 
deed, would not apply quite generally to all the 
ladies; but the majority in his favour was five 
to three, and with this advantage,—that where¬ 
as his admirers were loud and eloquent in their 
expressions of approval, the minority contented 
themselves by preserving silence. 




WREXHILL. 


129 


CHAPTER IX. 

HELEN AND ROSALIND CALL UPON SIR GILBERT 
HARRINGTON. 

Helen Mowbray knew that the choleric friend 
whose gentler feelings she wished to propitiate 
was an early-riser himself, and was never better 
disposed to be well pleased with others than 
when they showed themselves capable of follow¬ 
ing his example. She was therefore anxious to 
arrive at his house in time to have the conver¬ 
sation she sought, yet dreaded, before nine 
o’clock, the usual family breakfast-hour; 
though in the shooting-season Sir Gilbert 
generally contrived to coax my lady and her 
housekeeper to have hot rolls smoking on the 
table by eight. But, luckily for the young 
ladies’ morning repose, it was not shooting-sea¬ 
son ; and they calculated that if they started 

g 5 


130 


THE VICAR OF 


about half-past seven, they should have time 
for their walk, and a reasonably long conversa¬ 
tion afterwards, before the breakfast to which 
they looked as the pacific conclusion of the 
negotiation should be ready. 

At half-past seven, accordingly, the fair 
friends met at the door of Rosalind’s dressing- 
room, and set off, fearless, though unattended, 
through the shrubberies, the Park, the flowery 
lanes, and finally, across one or two hay-fields, 
which separated the two mansions. 

Nothing can be better calculated to raise the 
animal spirits than an early walk in the gay 
month of June; and on those not accustomed 
to the elasticity, the freshness, the exhilarating 
clearness of the morning air, the effect is like en¬ 
chantment. All the sad thoughts which had of 
late so constantly brooded round Helen’s heart 
seemed to withdraw their painful pressure, and 
she again felt conscious of the luxury of life, 
with youth, health, and innocence, a clear sky, 
bright verdure, flowery banks, and shady hedge¬ 
rows, to adorn it. 

Rosalind, by an irresistible impulse of gaiety, 


WREXHILL. 


131 


joined her voice to those of the blackbirds that 
carolled near her, till she was stopped by 
Helen’s exclaiming, “ Rosalind, I feel courage 
for anything this morning !” 

“ Yes,” answered her companion, <c let Sir 
Gilbert appear in any shape but that of the 
Vicar of Wrexhill, and I should greet him 
with a degree of confidence and kindness that 
I am positive would be irresistible.” 

They were now within a short distance of the 
baronet’s grounds, and another step brought 
their courage to the proof; for on mounting 
a stepping-stile which had originally been 
placed for the especial accommodation of the 
Mowbray ladies, they perceived the redoubtable 
Sir Gilbert at the distance of fifty paces, in 
the act of removing an offending dock-root 
with his spud. 

He raised his eyes, and recognising his 
young visitors, stepped eagerly forward to meet 
them. To Rosalind, however, though usually 
a great favourite, he now paid not the slightest 
attention ; but taking Helen in his arms, kissing 
her on both cheeks and on the forehead, and then 


132 


THE VICAR OF 


looking her in the face very much as if he were 
going to weep over her, he exclaimed, 

“ My poor, poor child! . . . Why did not 
you bring poor Fanny too ? .... You are 
right to come away, quite right, my dear child : 
it’s dreadful to live in dependance upon any 
one’s caprice for one’s daily bread! Your 
home shall be here, Helen, and Fanny’s too, as 
long as you like. Come, my dear, take my arm : 
my lady will dance, you may depend upon it, 
when she sees you, for we have had dreadful 
work about keeping her from Mowbray ! I’d 
just as soon keep a wild cat in order as your 
godmother, Helen, when she takes a fancy: 
but you know, my dear, her going to Mowbray 
was a thing not to be thought of. You are a 
good girl to come—it shows that you see the 
matter rightly. I wish Fanny were here 
too!” 

All this was said with great rapidity, and 
without pausing for any answer. Meanwhile 
he had drawn Helen’s arm within his, and was 
leading her towards the house. 

liosalind followed them quietly for a few 



WREXHILL. 


133 


steps; and then, either moved thereto by the 
feeling of courage her walk had inspired, or 
from some latent consciousness of the baronet’s 
partiality to herself, she boldly stepped up and 
took his arm on the other side. 

“ God bless my soul, Miss Torrington ! . . . . 
by the honour of a knight, I never saw you ; nor 
do I think I should have seen a regiment of 
young ladies, though they had been all as 
handsome as yourself, if they had happened to 
come with my poor dear Helen. It was very 
good of you to walk over with her, poor little 
thing ! . . . . Your fortune is quite safe and 
independent, my dear, isn’t it? Nobody’s do¬ 
ing a foolish thing can involve you in any way, 
can it ?” 

“ Not unless the foolish thing happened to 
be done by myself, Sir Gilbert.” 

“ That’s a great blessing, my dear,—a very 
great blessing ! . . . And you ’ll be kind to our 
two poor girls, won’t you, my dear ?” 

“ I have more need that they should be kind to 
me—and so they are,—and we are all very kind 
to one another; and if you will be but very kind 




134 


THE VICAR OF 


too, and come and see us all as you used to do, 
we shall be very happy again in time.” 

44 Stuff and nonsense, child! ... You may 
come here, I tell you, and see me as much as 
you like, under my own roof,—because I know 
who that belongs to, and all about it; but I 
promise you that you will never see me going 
to houses that don’t belong to their right 
owner,—it would not suit me in the least— 
quite out of my way; I should be making 
some devilish blunder, and talking to poor 
Charles about his estate and his property: 
—poor fellow! and he not worth sixpence in 
the world.” 

During all this time, Helen had not spoken 
a word. They had now nearly reached the 
house; and drawing her arm away, she held out 
her hand to Sir Gilbert, and said in a very 
humble and beseeching tone, 

44 Sir Gilbert! . . . may I speak to you alone 
for a few minutes ?” 

44 Speak to me, child ? — what about ? Is 
it about a sweetheart ? Is it about wanting 
pocket-money, my poor child ?—I’m executor 


WREXHILL. 


135 


to your father’s will, you know, Helen, and 
if you were starving in a ditch, and Fanny 
in another, and poor Charles begging his bread 
on the high road, I have not the power of 
giving either of ye a shilling of his property, 
though he has left above fourteen thousand a 
year!” 

Sir Gilbert was now lashing himself into a 
rage that it was evident would render the ob¬ 
ject of Helen’s visit abortive if she attempted 
to bring it forward now. She exchanged a 
glance with Rosalind, who shook her head, and 
the next moment contrived to whisper in her 
ear, “ Wait till after breakfast.’’ 

Sir Gilbert was now striding up the steps to 
the hall-door : the two girls silently followed 
him, and were probably neither of them sorry 
to see Colonel Harrington coming forward to 
meet them. 

This young man had for the two or three 
last years seen but little of the Mowbray 
family, having been abroad during nearly the 
whole of that time; but he returned with 
something very like a tender recollection of 


136 


THE VICAR OF 


Helen's having been the prettiest little nymph 
at fifteen that he had ever beheld, and her 
appearance at this moment was not calculated 
to make him think she had lost her delicate 
beauty during his absence. Her slight tall 
figure was shown to great advantage by her 
mourning dress; and the fair and abundant 
curls that crowded round her face, now a little 
flushed by exercise and agitation, made her 
altogether as pretty a creature in her peculiar 
style as a young soldier would wish to look 
upon. 

The coal-black hair and sparkling dark eyes 
of Rosalind, her ruby lips and pearl-like teeth, 
her exquisite little figure, and the general air 
of piquant vivacity which made her perfectly 
radiant when animated, rendered her in most 
eyes the more attractive of the two; but Co¬ 
lonel Harrington did not think so; and giving 
her one glance of curiosity,—for he had never 
seen her before,—he decided that neither she, 
nor any other woman he had ever beheld, could 
compare in loveliness with his former friend 
and favourite. 


WREXHILL. 


137 


His greeting to Helen was just what might 
be expected from a man who had known her 
with great intimacy when she was some half- 
dozen inches shorter, and who felt the strongest 
possible desire to renew the acquaintance with 
as little delay as possible. 

44 Helen Mowbray!” he exclaimed, spring¬ 
ing forward and seizing her hand, 44 how de¬ 
lighted I am to see you ! How is dear little 
Fanny ? — how is Charles ? I trust you have 
none of you forgotten me !” 

Helen blushed deeply at the unexpected ar¬ 
dour of this address from a very tall, hand¬ 
some, fashionable-looking personage, whose face 
she certainly would not have recognised had 
she met him accidentally: but a happy smile 
accompanied the blush, and he had no reason 
to regret the polite freedom of his first saluta¬ 
tion, which had thus enabled him to pass over 
an infinity of gradations towards the intimacy 
he coveted, at one single step placing him at 
once on the footing of a familiar friend. It was 
indeed nearly impossible that Helen could be 
offended by the freedom; for not only was it 


138 


THE VICAR OF 


sanctioned by the long-established union of 
their two families, but at this moment she 
could not but be pleased at finding another 
dear old friend in the garrison, who would 
be sure to add his influence to that of her 
godmother, that what she so greatly wished to 
obtain should not be refused. 

Before they reached the breakfast-room, 
therefore, the most perfect understanding was 
established between them. Her friend Miss 
Torrington was gaily introduced, for her heart 
felt gladdened by this important addition to 
her supporters in the cause she had under¬ 
taken ; and she was disposed to believe that 
Rosalind's proposal to make this alarming 
visit would turn out to have been one of the 
most fortunate things that ever happened. 

Within the breakfast-room, and approach¬ 
able by no other access, was a small room, 
known throughout the mansion, and indeed 
throughout the neighbourhood also, as 44 My 
Lady’s Closet.” This sacred retreat was an 
oblong room, about eighteen feet by eight; 


WREXHILL. 


139 


a large and lofty window occupied nearly one 
end of it, across which was placed a deal- 
dresser, or table of three feet wide, filling the 
entire space between the walls. The whole 
room was lined with shelves and drawers, the 
former of which were for the most part shel¬ 
tered by heavy crimson damask curtains. A 
few small tables stood scattered here and there; 
and the sole accommodation for sitting con¬ 
sisted of one high stool, such as laundresses use 
when ironing. 

To the door of this apartment Sir Gilbert 
approached, and there reverently stopped; for 
by the law of the land, even he, though a 
pretty extensively privileged personage, was 
permitted to go no farther, unlesS licensed by 
an especial warrant from its mistress. 

66 My lady,” he said, in the cheerful lusty 
voice that announces agreeable tidings ,— i6 My 
lady, I have brought home company to break¬ 
fast.” 

“ Have you, Sir Knight ?” replied Lady 
Harrington, without turning her head, or 


140 


THE VICAR OF 


otherwise interrupting herself in the perform¬ 
ance of some apparently delicate process upon 
which she was occupied. 

44 I’d rather have Mrs. Lot for a wife than 
such an incurious old soul as you are !” said 
the testy baronet .— 44 And so you have not even 
the grace to ask who it is ?” 

44 Why, my dear Sir Tiger, I shall be sure 
to know within two minutes after Tompkins 
gives his passing thump to announce that he is 
carrying in the coffee; then why should I dis¬ 
turb this fairest of the Pentandria class P — my 
charming high-dried mirabilis ?” 

44 The devil take you, and all your classes, 
orders, and tribes, to his own hothouse !—I ’ll 
be hanged if I don’t lock you into your den 
while I breakfast with her;—you shan’t see 
her at all, by G-d!” 

44 Mother ! mother!” exclaimed the colonel 
hastily, to anticipate the execution of the threat 
— 44 it is Helen Mowbray !” 

44 Helen Mowbray!” cried the old lady, 
thrusting her hot smoothing-iron on one side, 
and her blossom blotting-paper on the other, 


WREXHILL. 


141 


while the precious mirabilis fell to the ground; 
44 Helen Mowbray!” and pushing aside the 
bonnet by no very gentle movement of her tall 
and substantial person, she rushed forward, 
and Helen was speedily folded in a very close 
embrace. 

44 There, there, there ! don’t stifle the girl, 
old lady !—And supposing you were to bestow 
one little monosyllable of civility upon this 
pretty creature, Miss Torrington, who stands 
smiling at us all like an angel, though every 
soul amongst us is as rude as a bear to her. 
— I don’t believe you ever found yourself so 
entirely neglected before, my dear ?” 

44 I have never witnessed attention more gra¬ 
tifying to me than that which I have seen dis¬ 
played this morning,” replied Rosalind. 

44 You are a good girl, a very good girl, my 
dear, and I shall always love you for com¬ 
ing over with this poor dear disinherited 
child.” 

44 Miss Torrington, I am delighted to see 
you, now and ever, my dear young lady,” said 
Lady Harrington, who, when she chose it, 


142 


THE VICAR OF 


could be as dignified, and as courteous too, 
as any lady in the land. 

u You have walked over, I am sure, by the 
bright freshness of your looks. Now, then, sit 
down one on each side of me, that I may be 
able to see you without hoisting a lunette 
d'approche across this prodigious table.” 

44 And so, because your ladyship is near¬ 
sighted,” said Sir Gilbert, 44 William and I 
are to sit at this awful distance from these 
beautiful damsels? You are a tiresome old 
soul as ever lived !” 

44 And that 7 s the reason you appear so pro¬ 
foundly melancholy and miserable at this mo¬ 
ment,” said Lady Harrington, looking with no 
trifling degree of satisfaction at the radiant 
good-humour and happiness which the unex¬ 
pected arrival of Helen had caused to be visible 
in the countenance of her boisterous husband. 
44 Do you find William much altered, Helen ?” 
she continued. 44 I wonder if any one has had 
the grace to present Colonel Harrington to 
Miss Torrington ?” 

44 Helen did me that kind office,” said the 


i 


WREXHILL. 


143 


colonel, “ and I suppose she must do the same 
for me to little Fanny. I long to see if she 
continues as surpassingly beautiful as she was 
when I took my sad, reluctant leave of Mow¬ 
bray Park.” 

Rosalind immediately became answerable for 
the undiminished beauty of Fanny, adding to 
her report on this point a declaration that the 
whole family were anxious to renew their ac¬ 
quaintance with him. 

This was the nearest approach that any of 
the party ventured to make towards the men¬ 
tion of Mowbray Park or its inhabitants. 
Nevertheless, the breakfast passed cheerfully, 
and even without a word from Sir Gilbert in 
allusion to the destitute condition of Helen, 
and her brother and sister. But when even 
the baronet had disposed of his last egg-shell, 
pushed the ham fairly away from him, and 
swallowed hifc last bowl of tea, the beautiful 
colour of Helen began gradually to deepen; 
she ceased to speak, and hardly seemed to hear 
what was said to her. 

Rosalind took the hint, and with more tact 


144 


THE VICAR OF 


than is usually found in the possession of se¬ 
venteen and a half, she said to Lady Har¬ 
rington, 

“ If I promise to keep my hands not only 
from picking and stealing, but from touching, 
will your ladyship indulge me with a sight 
of your press, and your boxes, and a volume 
or two of your hortus siccus ? for I feel consi¬ 
derable aspirations after the glory of becoming 
a botanist myself.” 

66 My ladyship will show you something in¬ 
finitely more to the purpose, then, if you will 
come to the hothouse with me,” replied Lady 
Harrington, rising, and giving an intelligible 
glance to her son as she did so, which immedi¬ 
ately caused him to rise and follow her. “ I 
cannot take you where I should be sure 
to overhear them, my dear,” she added in a 
whisper as she led Rosalind from the room ; 
“ for if my rough diamond should chance to 
be too rough with her, I should infallibly burst 
out upon them ; and yet I know well enough 
that I should do nothing but mischief.” 

Helen was thus left alone with the kind- 


WREXHILL. 


145 


hearted but pertinacious baronet. He seemed 
to have a misgiving of the attack that was 
about to be opened upon him ; for he made a 
fidgetty movement in his chair, pushed it back, 
and looked so very much inclined to run away, 
that Helen saw no time was to be lost, and, in 
a voice not over-steady, said, 

c< I want to speak to you, Sir Gilbert, about 
my dear mamma. I fear from what you said 
to Charles, and more still by nobody’s coming 
from Oakley to see us, that you are angry 
with her. — If it is about the will, Sir Gil¬ 
bert, you do her great injustice: I am very, 
very sure that she neither wished for such a 
will, nor knew anything about it.” 

“ It is very pretty and dutiful in you, Miss 
Helen, to say so, and to think so too if you 
can. Perhaps I might have done the same at 
nineteen ; but at sixty-five, child, one begins to 
know a little better what signs and tokens 
mean.—There is no effect without a cause, Miss 
Helen. The effect in this affair is already 
pretty visible to all eyes, and will speedily 
become more so, you may depend upon it. 


VOL. i. 


H 


146 


THE VICAR OF 


The cause may be still hid from babes and 
sucklings, but not from an old fellow like me, 
who knew your poor father, girl, before you 
were hatched or thought of,—and knew him to 
be both a good and a wise man, who would 
never have done the deed he did unless under 
the influence of one as ever near and ever dear 
to him as your mother.” 

44 You have known my mother too, Sir Gil¬ 
bert, for many, many years :—did you ever see 
in her any symptom of the character you now 
attribute to her ?” 

44 If I had, Miss Helen, I should not loathe 
and abominate her hypocrisy as I now do. 
I will never see her more—for all our sakes: 
for if I did, I know right well that I could 
not restrain my indignation within moderate 
bounds.” 

44 Then certainly it would be better that you 
should not see her,” said the weeping Helen: 
44 for indeed, sir, I think such unmerited in¬ 
dignation would almost kill her.” 

44 If you knew anything about the matter, 
child, you would be aware that merited indig- 






WREXHILL. 


147 


nation would be more likely to disagree with 
her. Unmerited indignation does one no harm 
in the world, as I can testify from experience; 
for my lady is dreadfully indignant, as I dare 
say you guess, at my keeping her and William 
away from Mowbray Park : and it’s ten to one 
but you will be indignant too, child;—but I 
can’t help it. I love you all three very much, 
Helen; but I must do what I think right, for 
all that.” 

“ Not indignant, Sir Gilbert;—at least, that 
would not be the prevailing feeling with me, 
though a sense of injustice might make it so 
with my poor mother. What I shall feel will 
be grief—unceasing grief, if the friend my be¬ 
loved father most valued and esteemed con¬ 
tinues to refuse his countenance and affection 
to the bereaved family he has left.” 

From the time this conversation began, Sir 
Gilbert had been striding up and down the 
room, as it was always his custom to do when 
he felt himself in a rage, or was conscious that 
he was about to be so. He now stopped op¬ 
posite Helen; and while something very like 

h 2 


148 


THE VICAR OF 


tenderness almost impeded his utterance, he 
said, 

“ That’s trash—damnable false trash ! Miss 
Helen. After what’s passed to-day, to say no¬ 
thing of times past, you must know well enough 
that I’m not likely to refuse my countenance 
and affection to your father’s children ^be¬ 
reaved they are, sure enough ! You know as 
well as I do, that I love you all three—for your 
own sakes, girl, as well as for his;—and your 
pretending to doubt it, was a bit of trumpery 
womanhood, Helen,—so never make use of it 
again : for you see I understand the sex,—and 
that’s just the reason why I like my old woman 
better than any other she in the wide world ;— 
she never tries any make-believe tricks upon 
me.” 

“ Believe me, Sir Gilbert,” said Helen, smil¬ 
ing, 44 I hate tricks as much as my godmo¬ 
ther can : and if it were otherwise, you are the 
last person I should try them upon. But how 
can we think you love us, if you will not come 
near Mowbray ?” 

44 You may think it, and know it, very 


WREXHILL. 


149 


easily, child, by the welcome you shall always 
find here. It is very likely that you may not 
be long comfortable at home; and before it 
happens, remember I have told you that you 
shall always have a home at Oakley : but it 
must not be on condition of bringing your 
mother with you; for see her I will not,—and 
there ’s an end.” 

Helen remained silent. She felt painfully 
convinced that, at least for the present, she 
should gain nothing by arguing the cause of 
her mother any farther; and after a long 
pause, during which Sir Gilbert continued to 
pace up and down before her, she rose, and 
sighing deeply, said, 

“ I believe it is time for us to return.—Good- 
b’ye, Sir Gilbert.” 

There was something in the tone of her voice 
which very nearly overset all the sturdy resolu¬ 
tion of the baronet; but instead of yielding to 
the weakness, as he would have called it, like a 
skilful general he marched off the field with 
his colours still flying, and certainly without 
giving his adversary any reasonable ground to 
hope for victory. 


150 


THE VICAR OF 


66 They are all in the hothouse, I believe,” 
said he, walking before Helen to a door of the 
hall which opened upon the beautiful gardens. 
“ You have not seen my lady’s heaths for 
many a day, Helen ;—she ’ll be savage if you 
go without taking a look at them.” 

Helen followed without saying a word in 
reply, for her heart was full; and when she 
joined the trio who had so considerately left 
her to the uninterrupted possession of Sir Gil¬ 
bert’s ear, there was no need of any question¬ 
ing on their part, or answering on hers, to put 
them all in full possession of the result of the 
tete-a-t£te. 

It would be difficult to say which of the three 
looked most vexed: perhaps Lady Harrington 
gave the strongest outward demonstrations of 
what she felt on the occasion. 

She glanced frowningly at Sir Gilbert, who 
looked as if he intended to say something ami¬ 
able, and seizing upon Helen’s two hands, 
kissed them both, exclaiming, <s Dearest and 
best ! what a heart of flint must that being 
have who could find the cruel strength to pain 
thee!” 







ID) I § IP P © or T JMEE ^ T 








































































WREXHILL. 


151 


Colonel Harrington, who, discomposed and 
disappointed, had thrown himself on a bench, 
gave his mother a very grateful look for this; 
while Rosalind, after examining her sad coun¬ 
tenance for a moment, pressed closely to her 
friend and whispered, 44 Let us go, Helen.” 

Poor Helen had no inclination to delay her 
departure; and knowing that her partial god¬ 
mother was fully capable of understanding her 
feelings, she said, returning her caresses, 

44 Do not keep me a moment longer, dearest 
friend, for fear I should weep ! and then I am 
sure he would call it a trick.” 

44 I will not keep you, Helen,” replied Lady 
Harrington aloud. 44 You have come on a 
mission of love and peace; and if I mistake not 
that heavy eye and feverish cheek, you have 
failed. Poor child ! she does not look like 
the same creature that she did an hour and a 
half ago—does she, William ?” 

44 Adieu, Lady Harrington !” said Helen, 
the big tears rolling down her cheeks despite 
her struggles to prevent them. 44 Good morn¬ 
ing, Colonel Harrington ; — farewell, Sir Gil¬ 
bert !” 


1 52 


THE VICAR OF 


44 This is d-d hard, Miss Torrington ! w 

said the baronet, turning from Helen’s offered 
hand ; 44 this is confounded hard! I ’m do¬ 
ing my duty, and acting according to my 
conscience as a man of honour, and yet I shall 
be made to believe that Nero was a dove, and 
Bluebeard a babe of grace, compared to me !” 

But Miss Torrington being in no humour to 
answer him playfully, said gravely, 

44 I am very sorry we broke in upon you so 
unadvisedly, Sir Gilbert. It is plain our hopes 
have not been realised.” 

The young lady bowed silently to the colo¬ 
nel, and taking a short farewell of Lady Har¬ 
rington, but one in which mutual kindness 
was mutually understood, she took the arm 
of her discomfited friend, and they proceeded 
towards a little gate in the iron fencing which 
divided the garden from the paddock in front 
of the house. 

44 And you won’t shake hands with me, 
Helen !” said Sir Gilbert, following. 

44 Do not say so, sir,” replied Helen, turning 
back and holding out her hand. 



WREXHTLL. 


153 


“ And when shall we see you here again ?” 

44 Whenever you will come and fetch me, 
Sir Gilbert,” she replied, endeavouring to look 
cheerful. He took her hand, wrung it, and 
turned away without speaking. 

44 Your interdict, sir,’"’ said Colonel Harring¬ 
ton, 44 does not, I hope, extend beyond Mowbray 
Park paling ? — I trust I may be permitted 
to take care of these young ladies as far as the 
lodges ?” 

44 If you did not do it, you know very well 
that I should, you puppy !” replied his father: 
and so saying, he turned into a walk which led 
in a direction as opposite as possible from that 
which his ireful lady had chosen. 

Colonel Harrington felt that it required some 
exertion of his conversational powers to bring 
his fair companions back to the tone of cheerful 
familiarity which had reigned among them all 
at the breakfast-table; but the exertion was 
made, and so successfully, that before the walk 
was ended a feeling of perfect confidence was 
established between them. When they were 
about to part, he said, 

h 5 


154 


THE VICAR OF 


“ My mother and I shall labour, and cease 
not, to work our way through the ecorce to the 
kernel of my good father’s heart; and there we 
shall find exactly the material we want, of 
which to form a reconciliation between your 
mother and him. — Farewell, Helen! — fare¬ 
well, Miss Torrington ! I trust that while the 
interdict lasts, chance will sometimes favour our 
meeting beyond the forbidden precincts.” 

He stepped forward to open the Park gate 
for them, shook hands, uttered another “ Fare¬ 
well !” and departed. 


WREXHILL. 


155 


CHAPTER X. 

MRS. MOWBRAY CONSULTS MR. CARTWRIGHT UPON THE 
SUBJECT OF HER LATE HUSBAND’S WILL. 

The first person they encountered on enter¬ 
ing the house was Fanny. 

“ Where have you been!” she exclaimed. 
“ My mother is half frightened to death. Do 
go to her this moment, Helen, to set her heart 
at ease.” 

“ Where is she, Fanny ?” inquired Helen, 
with a sigh, as she remembered how little the 
answers she must necessarily give to the ques¬ 
tions she would be sure to ask were likely to 
produce that effect. 

“ In her dressing-room, Helen. But where 
have you been ?” 

“To Oakley.” 


156 


THE VICAR OF 


“ Good gracious, Helen !—and without ask¬ 
ing mamma’s leave ?” 

“ I did it with a good intention, Fanny. Do 
you think I was wrong in endeavouring to 
restore the intimacy that has been so cruelly 
interrupted ? Do you think mamma will be 
very angry ? I am sure it was chiefly for her 
sake that I went.” 

“ No, I am sure she will not when you tell 
her that. But come directly : I do assure you 
she has been seriously uneasy.—Did you find 
Sir Gilbert very savage, Rosalind ?” 

66 Pas mal , my dear.” 

Another moment brought them to Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray. “ Thank God !” w^as her first exclama¬ 
tion on seeing them; and the repetition of 
Fanny’s emphatic “ Where have you been?” 
followed it. 

cs Dearest mother !” said Helen, fondly em¬ 
bracing her, “ do not chide us very severely, 
even if we have been wrong; for indeed we meant 
to be very, very right; and when we set out the 
expedition appeared to us anything but a plea¬ 
sant one. We have been to Oakley.” 


WREXHILL. 


157 


“ I am too thankful at seeing you returned 
in safety, my dear girls, to be very angry at 
anything. But do tell me, Helen, what could 
have induced you to volunteer a visit to the 
only people who have been unkind to us since 
your poor fathers death ?” 

66 In the hope, mamma, of putting an end to 
an estrangement which I thought was very 
painful to you.” 

“ Dearest Helen ! it was just like you ! And 
have you succeeded, my love ?” 

ce No, mamma, I have not.” 

Mrs. Mowbray coloured. 

“ And pray, Helen, have they explained to 
you the cause of their extraordinary and most 
unfeeling conduct ?” 

cs Do not say they , dearest mother ! Lady 
Harrington is greatly distressed at Sir Gilbert’s 
conduct: so is the colonel, who is just come 
home. Whatever fault there may be, it is Sir 
Gilbert’s alone.” 

“ Did he, then, explain himself to you ?” 

Helen remained silent. 

“ I must request, Helen,” resumed her mo- 


158 


THE VICAR OF 


ther, “ that you make no farther mystery about 
the Harringtons. I am willing to excuse the 
strange step you took this morning; but I shall 
be seriously displeased if you refuse to tell me 
what passed during your visit. Of what is it 
that Sir Gilbert accuses me ?” 

“ I pointed out to him, mamma, the injustice 
of being angry with you because papa made a 
will that he did not approve.” 

“ Well, Helen! and what did he say to 
that ?” 

“ Upon my word, mamma, I could not find 
a shadow of reason in anything he said.” 

“ You evade my questions, Helen. I insist 
upon knowing what it is that Sir Gilbert lays 
to my charge. — Helen ! — do you refuse to 
answer me ?” 

“Oh no, mamma!—but you cannot think 
how painful it would be for me to repeat it!” 

“ I cannot help it, Helen : you have brought 
this pain on yourself by your very unadvised 
visit of this morning. But since you have 
gone to the house of one who has declared him¬ 
self my enemy, you must let me know exactly 





WREXHILL. 


159 


what it is he has chosen to accuse me of; unless 
you mean that I should imagine you wish to 
shield him from my resentment because you 
think him right.” 

et Oh, my mother !” cried Helen ; 44 what a 
word is that !” 

“ Well, then, do not trifle with me any longer, 
but repeat at once all that you heard him say.” 

Thus urged, poor Helen stated Sir Gilbert’s 
very unjust suspicions respecting the influence 
used to induce Mr. Mowbray to make the will 
he had left. It was in vain she endeavoured to 
modify and soften the accusation,—the resent¬ 
ment and indignation of Mrs. Mowbray were 
unbounded ; and Helen had the deep mortifica¬ 
tion of perceiving that the only result of her 
enterprise was to have rendered the breach she 
so greatly wished to repair a hundred times 
wider than before. 

44 And this man, with these base and vile sus¬ 
picions, is the person your father has left as 
joint executor with me! — What a situation 
does this place me in ! Did he make any allu¬ 
sion to this, Helen ?—did he say anything of 


160 THE VICAR OF 

the necessary business that we have, most un¬ 
fortunately, to transact together ?” 

44 No, mamma, he did not.” 

A long silence followed this question and 
answer. Mrs. Mowbray appeared to suffer 
greatly, and in fact she did so. Nothing could 
be farther from the truth than the idea Sir 
Gilbert Harrington had conceived, and its in¬ 
justice revolted and irritated her to a degree 
that she never before experienced against any 
human being. That Helen should have listened 
to such an accusation, pained her extremely; 
and a feeling in some degree allied to displea¬ 
sure against her mingled with the disagreeable 
meditations in which she was plunged. 

44 My head aches dreadfully !” she said at last. 
44 Fanny, give me my shawl and parasol: I will 
try what a walk in the fresh air will do for 
me.” 

44 May I go with you, mamma ?” said 
Helen. 

44 No, my dear; you have had quite walking 
enough. Fanny has not been out at all: she 
may come with me.” 


WREXHILL. 


161 


These words were both natural and reason¬ 
able, but there was something in them that 
smote Helen to the heart. She fondly loved 
her mother, and, for the first time, she sus¬ 
pected that her heart and feelings were not un¬ 
derstood. 

Mrs. Mowbray and Fanny had just walked 
through the library windows into the garden, 
when they perceived Mr. Cartwright approach¬ 
ing the house. They both uttered an exclama¬ 
tion of pleasure at perceiving him, and Fanny 
said eagerly, tc He must see us, mamma ! Do 
not let him go all the way round to the hall- 
door ! May we not walk across and meet 

him r 

“ To be sure. Run forward, Fanny ; and 
when he sees you coming to him, he will turn 
this way.” 

She was not mistaken: Fanny had not made 
three steps in advance of her mother, before 
Mr. Cartwright turned from the road, and 
passing through a gate in the invisible fence, 
joined her in a moment. 

46 How kind this is of you !” said he as 


162 


THE VICAR OF 


he drew near ;—“ to appear thus willing to re¬ 
ceive again an intruder, whose quick return 
must lead you to suspect that you are in 
danger of being haunted by him! And so I 
think you are, Miss Fanny; and I will be ge¬ 
nerous enough to tell you at once, that if you 
greet me thus kindly, I shall hardly know how 
to keep away from Mowbray Park.'” 

“ But mamma is so glad to see you,” said 
Fanny, blushing beautifully, “ that I am sure 
you need not try to keep away!” 

Mrs. Mowbray now drew near to answer for 
herself; which she did very cordially, assur¬ 
ing him that she considered these friendly and 
unceremonious visits as the greatest kindness he 
could show her. 

<fi It will be long, I think,” said she, “ before 
I shall have courage sufficient to invite any 
one to this mournful and sadly-altered man¬ 
sion : but those whose friendship I really value 
will, I trust, have the charity to come to us 
without waiting for an invitation.” 

“ I wish I could prove to you, my dear 
madam,” replied Mr. Cartwright with respect- 



WREXHILL. 


163 


ful tenderness, “ how fervently I desire to 
serve you : but, surrounded by old and long- 
tried friends as you must be, how can a new¬ 
comer and a stranger hope to be useful ?” 

This was touching a very tender point—and 
it is just possible that Mr. Cartwright was 
aware of it, as he was present at the reading of 
the will, and heard Sir Gilbert Harrington’s 
first burst of rage on becoming acquainted with 
its contents. But Mrs. Mowbray had either 
forgotten this circumstance, or, feeling deeply 
disturbed at the fresh proof which Helen had 
brought her of the falling off of an old friend, 
was disposed to revert anew to it, in the hope 
of moving the compassion and propitiating 
the kindness of a new one. 

tc Alas! my dear sir,” she said feelingly, 
“ even old friends will sometimes fail us ; and 
then it is that we ought to thank God for such 
happy accidents as that which has placed near 
us one so able and kindly willing to supply 
their place as yourself.—Fanny, my love, the 
business on which I have to speak is a painful 
one : go to your sister, dearest, while I ask our 


164 


THE VICAR OF 


kind friend’s advice respecting this unhappy 
business.” 

“ Good-b’ye then, Mr. Cartwright,” said 
Fanny, holding out her hand to him,—“ But 
perhaps I shall see you again as you go away, 
for I shall be in the garden.” 

e< God bless you, my dear child !” said he 
fervently, as he led her a few steps towards the 
shrubberies ; 66 God bless, and have you in his 
holy keeping!” 

“ What an especial blessing have you, my 
dear friend,” he said, returning to Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray, “ in that charming child !—Watch over 
her, and guard her from all evil! for she is one 
who, if guided in that only path which leads to 
good, will be a saving and a precious treasure 
to all who belong to her; but if led astray— 
alas ! the guilt that the downfall of so pure 
a spirit would entail on those whose duty it is 
to watch over her !” 

“ She is indeed an excellent young crea¬ 
ture !” said the proud mother, whose darling 
the lovely Fanny had ever been ; “ but I think 




WREXHILL. 


165 


she wants less guiding than any child I ever 
saw,—and it has always been so. She learned 
faster than she could be taught; and her temper 
is so sweet, and her heart so affectionate, that I 
really do not remember that she has ever de¬ 
served a reprimand in her life.” 

“ May the precepts of her admirable mother 
ever keep her thus f* said Mr. Cartwright, as 
they seated themselves in the library, into which 
they had entered. “ But, oh ! my dear lady ! 
know you not that it is just such sweet and 
gifted creatures as your Fanny that the Evil 
One seeks for his own ?—-Nay, look not thus 
terrified, my excellent, my exemplary friend, 
—look not thus terrified : if it be thus, as most 
surely it is—if Satan doth indeed first seek to 
devour those that God seems to mark more es¬ 
pecially for his own, think you he has left us 
without help to resist ? My dear, my admirable 
Mrs. Mowbray ! yours is the hand appointed to 
lead this fair and attractive being unspotted 
through the world. If great—awfully great, as 
assuredly it is, be the responsibility, great— 


166 


THE VICAR OF 


unspeakably great, will be the reward. Then 
tremble not, dear friend ! watch and pray, and 
this unmeasurable reward shall be yours 1” 

Mrs. Mowbray, however, did tremble; but 
her trembling was accompanied by a sweet 
and well-pleased consciousness of being con¬ 
sidered by the excellent man beside her as 
capable of leading this darling child to eternal 
happiness and glory. The look, the accent of 
Mr. Cartwright went farther than his words to 
convince her that he believed this power to 
be hers, and she gazed at him with something 
of the reverence and humble love with which 
Catholics contemplate the effigies of the saints 
they worship. 

“ But what was the business, the painful 
business, my poor friend, upon which you 
wished to consult me, before that vision of 
light had drawn all our attention upon herself? 
What was it, my dear Mrs. Mowbray, you 
wished to say to me ?” 

I am hardly justified, I fear, Mr. Cartwright, 
thus early in our acquaintance, in taking up 


WREXHILL. 167 

« 

your valuable time in listening to my sorrows 
and my wrongs; but in truth I have both to 
bear ; and I have at this moment no friend near 
me to whom I can apply for advice how to pro¬ 
ceed with business that puzzles almost as much 
as it distresses me. May I, then, my dear sir, 
intrude on your kindness for half an hour, while 
I state to you the singular predicament in which 
I am placed ?” 

<c Were it not, as most assuredly it is—were 
it not, dearest Mrs. Mowbray, a true and deep- 
felt pleasure to me to believe that I might pos¬ 
sibly be useful to you, it would be my especial 
and bounden duty to strive to be so. For 
what are the ministers of the Most High placed 
amidst the people ? wherefore are their voices 
raised, so that all should hear them ? Is it not, 
my friend, because their lives, their souls, their 
bodies, are devoted to the service of those com¬ 
mitted by Providence to their care ? And, trust 
me, the minister who would shrink from this is 
unworthy—utterly unworthy the post to which 
he has been called. Speak, then, dearest Mrs. 


168 


THE VICAR OF 


Mowbray, as to one bound alike by duty and 
the most fervent good-will to aid and assist you 
to the utmost extent of his power.” 

The great natural gift of Mr. Cartwright 
was the power of making his voice, his eye, and 
the flexible muscles of his handsome mouth, 
echo, and, as it were, reverberate and reiterate 
every word he spoke, giving to his language a 
power beyond its own. What he now said was 
uttered rapidly, but with an apparent depth 
and intensity of feeling that brought tears of 
mingled gratitude and admiration to the eyes 
of Mrs. Mowbray. After a moment given to 
this not unpleasing emotion, she said, 

“ It was from you, Mr. Cartwright, if I re¬ 
member rightly, that I first heard the enact¬ 
ments of my husband’s will. When I give you 
my word, as I now most solemnly do, that I 
had never during his life the slightest know¬ 
ledge of what that will was to be, I think you 
will believe me.” 

“ Believe you !” exclaimed Mr. Cartwright. 
M Is there on earth a being sufficiently de- 


WREXHILL. 


169 


praved to doubt an assertion so vouched by 
you ?” 

ec Oh, Mr. Cartwright ! if all men had your 
generous, and, I will say, just confidence in me, 

I should not now be in the position I am ! But 
Sir Gilbert Harrington, the person most un¬ 
happily chosen by Mr. Mowbray as joint execu¬ 
tor with myself, is persuaded that this generous 
will was made in my favour solely in conse¬ 
quence of my artful influence over him ; and so 
deeply does he resent this imputed crime, that 
instead of standing forward, as he ought to do, 
as the protector and agent of his friend’s 
widow, he loads the memory of that friend 
with insult, and oppresses me with scorn and 
revilings, the more bitter because conveyed to 
me by my own child.” 

Mrs. Mowbray wept. — Mr. Cartwright hid 
his face with his hands, and for some moments 
seemed fearful of betraying all he felt. At 
length he fixed his eyes upon her—eyes moist¬ 
ened by a tear, and in a low, deep voice that 
seemed to indicate an inward struggle, he ut¬ 
tered, 66 Vengeance is mine , saith the Lord P 


VOL. i. 


i 


170 


THE VICAR OF 


He closed his eyes, and sat for a moment 
silent,—then added, 66 Perhaps of all the trials 
to which we are exposed in this world of temp¬ 
tation, the obeying this mandate is the most 
difficult! But, like all uttered by its Divine 
Author, it is blessed alike by its authority and 
its use. Without it!—my friend ! without it, 
would not my hand be grappling the throat of 
your malignant enemy ?—Without it, should I 
not even now be seeking to violate the laws 
of God and man, to bring the wretch who can 
thus stab an angel woman’s breast to the dust 
before her ? But, thanks to the faith that is in 
me, I know that his suspicious heart and cruel 
soul shall meet a vengeance as much greater 
than any I could inflict, as the hand that wields 
it is more powerful than mine! I humbly 
thank my God for this, and remembering it, 
turn with chastened spirit from the forbidden 
task of punishing him, to the far more Christian 
one of offering aid to the gentle being he would 
crush.—Was it indeed from the lips of your 
child, my poor friend, that these base asper¬ 
sions reached you ?” 



WREXHILL. 


m 


66 It was indeed, Mr. Cartwright; and it was 
this which made them cut so deeply. Poor 
Helen knew not what she was about when she 
secretly left her mother’s roof to visit this 
man, in the hope of restoring the families to 
their former habits of intimacy !” 

“ Did Helen do this?” said Mr. Cartwright 
with a sort of shiver. 

“ Yes, poor thing, she did ; and perhaps for 
her pains may have won caresses for herself. 
But, by her own statement—most reluctantly 
given, certainly,—she seems to have listened to 
calumnies against her mother, which I should 
have thought no child of mine would have 
borne to hear;” and again Mrs. Mowbray shed 
tears. 

“ Great God of heaven !” exclaimed Mr. 
Cartwright, fervently clasping his hands, 
6C wilt thou not visit for these things ! — He 
will, he will, my friend ! Dear, tortured Mrs. 
Mowbray, turn your weeping eyes to Hea¬ 
ven ! those drops shall not fall in vain. It 
was your child — a child nurtured in that 
gentle bosom, who repeated to you this blas- 

i 2 



172 


THE VICAR OF 


phemy ? Oh, fie ! fie! fie ! But let us not 
think of this,—at least, not at this trying mo¬ 
ment. Hereafter means must be taken to stay 
this plague-spot from spreading over the hearts 
of all whom nature has given to love and 
honour you. Your pretty, gentle Fanny ! she 
at least will not, I think, be led to listen to any 
voice that shall speak ill of you :—sweet child ! 
let her be near your heart, and that will com¬ 
fort you.—But, alas ! my poor friend, this ma¬ 
ternal disappointment, grievous as it is, will 
not be all you have to bear from this wretch 
whom the Most High, for his own good but 
inscrutable purposes, permits to persecute you. 
There must be business, my dear Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray, business of great importance that this 
man must be immediately called upon to ex¬ 
ecute with you, — the proving the will, for 
instance; he must either do this, or refuse 
to act.” | 

“ Would to Heaven he might refuse !” said j 

Mrs. Mowbray eagerly ; “ what a relief would j 

this be to me, Mr. Cartwright ! Ho you 
think there would be any possibility of leading 
him to it ? r ' 


WREXHILL. 


173 


cc Of leading him,-—certainly not; for it is 
very clear from his conduct that whatever you 
appeared to wish, that he would be averse to 
do. Your only hope of obtaining what would 
most assuredly be an especial blessing for you, 
his formal renunciation of the executorship, 
would, I think, be from writing to him imme¬ 
diately, and imperatively demanding his joining 
you forthwith in proving the will. In such a 
state of mind as he must be in before he would 
bear to utter his vile suspicions to your daugh¬ 
ter, I think it very likely he may refuse.” 

44 And what would happen then, Mr. Cart¬ 
wright ?” 

44 You must place yourself in the hands of a 
respectable lawyer, totally a stranger and un¬ 
connected with him, and he would put you in 
the way to prove it yourself; after which he 
could give you no further trouble of any kind : 
unless, indeed, your misguided children should 
continue to frequent his house, and so become 
the means of wounding your ears and your 
heart by repeating his calumnies. But this I 
trust the God of all wisdom and goodness will 
give you power to prevent.” 


174 


THE VICAR OF 


“ With your help and counsel, Mr. Cart¬ 
wright, I may yet hope to weather the storm 
that seems to have burst upon me ; but indeed 
it could hardly have burst upon any one less 
capable of struggling with it! In what lan¬ 
guage should I write to this cruel man, who 
has so undeservedly become my enemy ?” 

66 There is no difficulty there, my friend. 
The shortest and most strictly ceremonious 
form must be the best.” 

Mrs. Mowbray drew towards her materials 
for writing,—opened the portfolio, which be¬ 
tween its leaves of blotting-paper contained 
sundry sheets of wire-wove, black-edged post, 
—placed one of them before her,—took a 
pen and curiously examined its tip—dipped it 
delicately in the ink, and finally turned to Mr. 
Cartwright, saying, 

“ How very grateful I should be if you 
would have the great kindness to write it for 
me !” 

“ But the hand-writing, my dear lady, must 
be yours.” 

“ Oh, yes! I know. But it would be so 






WREXHILL. 


175 


much more satisfactory if you would sketch 
the form !” 

“ Then I am sure I will do it most readily.” 
He drew the paper to him and wrote, 

“ Mrs. Mowbray presents her compliments 
to Sir Gilbert Harrington, and requests to 
know on what day it will suit him to meet her 
and her lawyer in London, for the purpose of 
proving her late husband’s will at Doctors’ 
Commons. The amount of the real property 
may be ascertained by the rent-roll; that of 
the personal, by means of papers left by the 
deceased, and a valuation of the effects made 
by competent persons. Mrs. Mowbray begs 
leave to intimate that she wishes as little delay 
as possible to intervene before the completion 
of this transaction/’ 

Mr. Cartwright turned what he had written 
towards her, saying, “ This is the sort of letter 
which I should think it advisable to send.” 

Mrs. Mowbray drew forth another sheet, and 
transcribed if so rapidly that it might be 
doubted whether she allowed herself time to 
read it as she did so. 


176 


THE VICAR OF 


44 And this should be despatched instantly, 
should it not ?” she said, folding and direct¬ 
ing it. 

46 Indeed, I think so.” 

64 Then will you have the kindness to ring 
the bell, Mr. Cartwright ?” 

44 Bring me a lighted taper, John,” said 
Mrs. Mowbray to the servant who entered; 
44 and let Thomas get a horse ready to take this 
letter immediately to Oakley.” 

The taper was brought, the letter sealed and 
delivered, with instructions that the bearer was 
to wait for an answer. 

This important business concluded, Mr. 
Cartwright rose to go, saying, 44 You have 
filled my heart and my head so completely 
by the communication of Sir Gilbert Harring¬ 
ton’s conduct, that I protest to you I do not 
at this moment recollect why it was I troubled 
you with a visit this morning. I shall recollect 
it, I dare say, when I see you no longer ; and 
if I do, you must let me come back before 
very long to tell you.” 

44 But whether you recollect it or not,” re- 


WREXHILL. 


177 


plied Mrs. Mowbray in a plaintive tone, 44 I 
trust you will not let it be long before I see 
you : otherwise, Mr. Cartwright, I shall not 
know how to proceed when I receive Sir Gil¬ 
bert’s answer.” 

This appeal was answered by an assurance, 
uttered in a tone of the most soothing kindness, 
that he would never be far from her when she 
wished him near; and then, with a pastoral 
and affectionate pressure of her hand, he left 
her. 

Fanny kept her word, and was walking up 
and down about a dozen yards from that end 
of the shrubbery which terminated in the road 
leading to the house. Mr. Cartwright looked 
in that direction as he stepped from the library 
window, and walking quickly to the spot, con¬ 
versed with her for several minutes as she stood 
leaning over the gate. Fanny smiled, blushed, 
and looked delighted: her hand, too, was 
pressed with affectionate kindness; and Mr. 
Cartwright returned to his vicarage and his 
early dinner. 


178 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER XI. 

Helen's misery at her mother's displeasure.—sir g. 

Harrington's letter on the subject of the will. 

When. Miss Torrington and Helen retreat¬ 
ed to the dressing-room appropriated to the 
former, which was the apartment in which 
they generally pursued their morning studies, 
they sat down disconsolately enough to review 
the results of their enterprise. 

<c Everything is ten times worse than it was 
before, Helen !” said her friend; “ and it is all 
my fault!” 

“ Your fault ? — Oh, no ! But I believe 
we are both of us too young to interfere, with 
any reasonable hope of doing good, between 
those who in age and wisdom are so greatly 
our superiors. Oh, Rosalind! I fear, I fear 
that my dearest mother is very angry with me l” 


WREXHILL. 


179 


“I cannot believe it, Helen. I hardly know 
how far a dutiful daughter may be permitted 
to act like a rational human being; but, to the 
best of my knowledge and belief, your conduct 
has been such as to ensure you the approbation 
and gratitude of any mother in the world—at 
least of any reasonable mother. You know, 
Helen, how truly fond I have become of my 
sweet-tempered guardianess.—Is there such a 
word ? — I believe not;—of my guardian, then. 
During the eight months that I have made one 
of her family, I have never yet received a harsh 
word or unkind look from her, though I have 
not the slightest doubt that I have deserved 
many: but nevertheless, my own dear Helen, if 
she should blunder so egregiously as to be 
really angry with you for acting with such 
zealous, tender affection as you have done this 
morning, merely because that obstinate old 
brute Sir Gilbert was not to be brought to 
reason; if she should really act thus—which 
I trust in God she will not — but if she should, 
I do verily believe, in all sincerity, that I 
should hate her.” 


180 


THE VICAR OF 


“ No, you would not,—you would not be so 
unjust, Rosalind. What right had we to vo¬ 
lunteer our silly services ? What right had I, 
in particular, to fancy that if Sir Gilbert would 
not listen to the remonstrances of his excel¬ 
lent and very clever wife, he would listen to 
mine ? — I really am ashamed of my silly 
vanity and most gross presumption ; and if my 
dear, dearest mother will but forgive me this 
once, as all naughty children say, I do not 
believe she will ever have cause to chide me for 
meddling again. Oh, Rosalind! if she did 
but know how I love her, she could never have 
looked so coldly on me as she did when she 
told me I had had walking enough !” 

<e I hope you are mistaken; I hope she did 
not look coldly on you. I hope she is not 
angry ; for if she be .... I shall go over to the 
enemy, Helen, as sure as my name is Rosalind, 
and you may live to see me patting the rough 
hide of that very shaggy British bull-dog, Sir 
Gilbert, every time he says something imperti¬ 
nent against your mother.” 

There is one thing,” said Helen, slightly 


WREXHILL. 


181 


colouring, 44 that does in some little degree re¬ 
concile me to the unfortunate visit of this 
morning — and that is . . . 

44 The having met Colonel Harrington !” 
cried Rosalind, interrupting her. 44 Is it not 
so ?” 

44 You are right,"’ replied her friend com¬ 
posedly. 44 William Harrington, when he was 
simply William Harrington, and not a dashing 
colonel of dragoons, was kindness itself to me, 
when I was a puny, fretful girl, that cried when 
I ought to have laughed. I cannot forget his 
good-natured protecting ways with me, and I 
should have been truly sorry if he had left the 
country again, as I suppose he will soon do, 
without my seeing him.” 

44 Truly, I believe you, my dear,” replied 
Rosalind, laughing. 44 And your plain William 
Harrington, too, seemed as willing to renew 
the acquaintance as yourself. To tell you the 
truth, Helen, I thought I saw symptoms of a 
mighty pretty little incipient flirtation.” 

44 How can you talk such nonsense, when we 
have so much to make us sad ! Don’t you 



182 


THE VICAR OF 


think I had better go and see if mamma is come 
in, Rosalind? I cannot express to you how 
miserable I shall be as long as I think that 
she is angry with me.” 

At this moment the bell which announced 
that the luncheon was ready, sounded, and poor 
Helen exclaimed, “ Oh, I am so sorry ! I 
ought to have sought her again, before meeting 
her in this manner. But come! perhaps her 
dear face will look smilingly at me again: 
how I will kiss her if it does !” 

But the warm heart was again chilled to its 
very core by the look Mrs. Mowbray wore as 
the two girls entered the room. Fanny was 
already seated next her. This was a place 
often playfully contested between the sisters, 
and Helen thought, as she approached the door, 
that if she could get it, and once more feel her 
mother’s hand between her own, she should be 
the happiest creature living. 

But nothing could be less alike, than what 
followed her entrance, to the imaginings which 
preceded it. Mrs. Mowbray was unusually 
silent to them all, but to Helen she addressed 


WREXHILL. 


183 


not a single word. This was partly owing to 
the feeling of displeasure which had recently 
been so skilfully fastened in her breast, and 
partly to the anxiety she felt respecting the 
answer of Sir Gilbert to her note. 

In the middle of the silent and nearly un¬ 
tasted meal, the poetical Fanny being in truth 
the only one who appeared to have much incli¬ 
nation to eat, a salver was presented to Mrs. 
Mowbray, from whence, with a heightened 
colour and almost trembling hand, she took a 
note. She instantly rose from table and left 
the room. Helen rose too, but not to follow 
her: she could no longer restrain her tears, 
and it was to hide this from Fanny, and if pos¬ 
sible from Rosalind, that she hastened to leave 
them both, and shut herself in her own cham¬ 
ber to weep alone. 

The present emotion of Helen cannot be un¬ 
derstood without referring to the manner in 
which she had hitherto lived with her mother, 
and indeed to the general habits of the family. 
Mystery of any kind was unknown among 
them ; and to those who have observed the effect 


184 


THE VICAR OF 


of this, its prodigious influence on the general 
tone of family intercourse must be well known. 
To those who have not, it would be nearly im¬ 
possible to convey in words an adequate idea 
of the difference which exists in a household 
where the parents make a secret of all things of 
important interest, and where they do not. It 
is not the difference between ease and restraint, 
or even that more striking still, between sweet 
and sour tempers in the chief or chiefs of the 
establishment; it is a thousand times more 
vital than either. Without this easy, natural, 
spontaneous confidence, the family union is like 
a rope of sand, that will fall to pieces and dis¬ 
appear at the first touch of anything that can 
attract and draw off its loose and unbound 
particles. But if it be important as a general 
family habit, it is ten thousand times more so 
in the intercourse between a mother and her 
daughters. Let no parent believe that affection 
can be perfect without it; and let no mother 
fancy that the heart of her girl can be open to 
her if it find not an open heart in return. 
Mothers! if you value the precious deposit of 


WREXHILL. 


185 


your dear girls 1 inmost thoughts, peril not the 
treasure by chilling them with any mystery of 
your own ! It is not in the nature of things 
that confidence should exist on one side only : 
it must be mutual. 

Never was there less of this hateful mildew 
of mystery than in the Mowbray family dur¬ 
ing the life of their father. Whatever were 
the questions that arose,—whether they con¬ 
cerned the purchase of an estate, or the giving 
or accepting an invitation to dinner,—whether 
it were a discussion respecting the character of 
a neighbour, or the flavour of the last packet 
of tea,—they were ever and always canvassed in 
full assembly ; or if any members were want¬ 
ing, it was because curiosity, which lives only 
by searching for what is hid, lacking its proper 
aliment, had perished altogether, and so set the 
listeners free. 

This new-born secrecy in her mother struck 
therefore like a bolt of ice into the very heart 
of the sensitive Helen. “ Have I lost her for 
ever I 11 she exclaimed aloud, though in solitude. 
“ Mother ! mother ! — is it to be ever thus ! 



186 


THE VICAR OF 


— If this be the consequence of my poor fa¬ 
ther’s will, well might Sir Gilbert deplore it! 
How happily could I have lived for ever, de¬ 
pendent on her for my daily bread, so I could 
have kept her heart for ever as open as my 
own!” 

At this period, Helen Mowbray had much 
suffering before her; but she never perhaps felt 
a pang more bitter in its newness than that 
which accompanied the conviction that her 
mother had a secret which she meant not to 
communicate to her. She felt the fact to be 
what it really was, neither more nor less; she 
felt that it announced the dissolution of that 
sweet and perfect harmony which had hitherto 
existed between them. 

The note from Sir Gilbert Harrington was 
as follows : 

64 Sir Gilbert Harrington presents his compli¬ 
ments to Mrs. Mowbray, and begs to inform 
her that he has not the slightest intention of 
ever acting as executor to the very singular 
and mysterious document opened in his pre- 



WREXHILL. 


187 


sence on the 12th of May last past, purporting 
to be the last will and testament of his late 
friend, Charles Mowbray, Esquire. 

“ Oakley, June 29th, 1834. ,? 

“ The lady had gone to her secret bower” to 
peruse this scroll; and it was fortunate perhaps 
that she did so, for it produced in her a sensa¬ 
tion of anger so much more violent than she 
was accustomed to feel, that she would have 
done herself injustice by betraying it. 

Mrs. Mowbray had passed her life in such 
utter ignorance of every kind of business, and 
such blind and helpless dependence, first on 
her guardians, and then on her husband, that 
the idea of acting for herself was scarcely less 
terrible than the notion of navigating a se¬ 
venty-four would be to ladies in general. Her 
thoughts now turned towards Mr. Cartwright, 
as to a champion equally able and willing to 
help and defend her, and she raised her eyes 
to Heaven with fervent gratitude for the timely 
happiness of having met with such a friend. 

That friend had pointed out to her the fault 



188 


THE VICAR OF 


committed by Helen in a manner that made it 
appear to her almost unpardonable. To have 
doubted the correctness of his judgment on 
this, or any point, would have been to doubt 
the stability of that staff which Providence had 
sent her to lean upon in this moment of her 
utmost need. She doubted him not: and Helen 
was accordingly thrust out, not without a pang 
perhaps, from that warm and sacred station in 
her mother’s heart that it had been the first 
happiness of her existence to fill. Poor Helen ! 
matters were going worse for her—far worse 
than she imagined, though she was unhappy 
and out of spirits. She believed, indeed, that 
her mother was really angry; but, terrible as 
her forebodings were, she dreamed not that she 
was already and for ever estranged. 

As soon as the first burst of passionate anger 
had been relieved by a solitary flood of tears, 

Mrs. Mowbray called a council with herself, ) 
as to whether she should immediately despatch { 
a messenger to request Mr. Cartwright to call 
upon her in the evening, or whether she should 
trust to the interest he had so warmly ex- 



WREXHILL. 


189 


pressed, which, if sincere, must bring him to 
her, she thought, on the morrow. 

After anxiously debating this point for 
nearly an hour, and deciding first on one line 
of conduct, and then on the other, at least 
six different times within that period, she at 
last determined to await his coming; and con¬ 
cealing the doubts and fears which worried her 
by confining herself to her room under pretence 
of headach, the three girls were left to pass 
the remainder of the day by themselves, when, 
as may easily be imagined, the important 
events of the morning were fully discussed 
among them. 

Fanny, after the motives of the visit to 
Oakley had been fully explained to her, gave 
it as her opinion that Helen was wrong in 
going without the consent of her mother, but 
that her intention might plead in atonement 
for it. But her indignation at hearing of 
the pertinacious obstinacy of Sir Gilbert was 
unbounded. 

“ Oh! how my poor father was deceived 
in him !” she exclaimed. “ He must have a 


190 


THE VICAR OF 


truly bad heart to forsake and vilify my mo¬ 
ther at the time she most wants the assistance 
of a friend. For you know there is busi¬ 
ness, Helen, relative to the will, and the pro¬ 
perty, and all that—Sir Gilbert understands it 
all,—hard-hearted wretch ! and I doubt not he 
thinks he shall crush poor mamma to the dust 
by thus leaving her, as he believes, without 
a friend. But, thank God ! he will find he is 
mistaken.” 

44 What do you mean, Fanny ?” said Rosa¬ 
lind sharply. 

44 I mean, Rosalind, that mamma is not with¬ 
out a friend,” replied Fanny with emphasis. 
44 It has pleased God in his mercy to send her 
one when she most needed it.” 

64 I trust that God will restore to her and to 
us the old, well-known, and trusted friend of 
my father,” said Helen gravely. 44 On none 
other can we rest our hope for counsel and 
assistance, when needed, so safely. 1 ’ 

46 Even if you were right, Helen,” replied 
her sister, 44 there would be small comfort in 
your observation. Of what advantage to mam- 



WREXHILL. 


191 


ma, or to us, would the good qualities of Sir 
Gilbert be, if it be his will, as it evidently is, to 
estrange himself from us ? What a contrast 
is the conduct of Mr. Cartwright to his ! v 

44 Mr. Cartwright!” cried Rosalind, distort¬ 
ing her pretty features into a grimace that in¬ 
timated abundant scorn,— 44 Mr. Cartwright ! 
There is much consolation, to be sure, in what 
an acquaintance of yesterday can do or say, 
for the loss of such an old friend as Sir Gilbert 
Harrington !” 

44 It would be a sad thing for poor mamma 
if there were not,” replied Fanny. 44 Of what 
advantage to her, I ask you, is the long stand¬ 
ing of her acquaintance with Sir Gilbert, if his 
caprice and injustice are to make him withdraw 
himself at such a time as this P—And how un¬ 
reasonable and unchristian-like would it be, 
Rosalind, were she to refuse the friendship 
of Mr. Cartwright, because she has not known 
him as long ?” 

44 The only objection I see to her treating 
Mr. Cartwright as a confidential friend is, 
that she does not know him at all,” said 
Rosalind. 


192 


THE VICAR OF 


“ Nor ever can, if she treats him as you do. 
Miss Torrington,” answered Fanny, colouring. 
“ I believe Mr. Edward Wallace was an espe¬ 
cial favourite of yours, my dear; and that per¬ 
haps may in some degree account for your pre¬ 
judice against our good Mr. Cartwright.—Con¬ 
fess, Rosalind;—is it not so?” 

“ He was indeed an especial favourite with 
me!” replied Rosalind gravely ; and for the 
love I bear you all, and more particularly for 
your sake, Fanny, and your poor mother’s, I 
would give much—much—much, that he were 
in the place which Mr. Cartwright holds.” 

“ But if mamma is in want of a man to 
transact her business, why does she not write 
to Charles and desire him to return ?” said 
Helen. 44 The taking his degree a few months 
later would be of little consequence.” 

44 Charles ?” said Fanny with a smile that 
seemed to mean a great deal.— 44 Charles is one 
of the most amiable beings in the world, but 
the most incapable of undertaking the manage¬ 
ment of business.” 

44 How can you know anything about it, 



WREXH1LL. 


193 


Fanny ?” said Helen, looking at her with sur¬ 
prise. 

“ I heard Mr. Cartwright say to mamma, 
that Charles was quite a boy, though a very 
charming one.” 

Helen looked vexed, and Rosalind fixed her 
eyes upon Fanny as if wishing she would say 
more. 

<c In short,” continued Fanny, “ if Sir Gil¬ 
bert chooses to cut us, I don’t see what mamma 
can do so proper and so right as to make a 
friend of the clergyman of the parish.” 

Her two companions answered not a word, 
and the conversation was brought to a close by 
Fanny’s drawing from her pocket, her bag, 
and her bosom, sundry scraps of paper, on 
which many lines of unequal length were 
scrawled ; and on these she appeared inclined 
to fix her whole attention. This was always 
considered by Helen and Rosalind as a signal 
for departure : for then Fanny was in a poetic 
mood; a word spoken or a movement made 
by those around her produced symptoms of 
impatience and suffering which they did not 


194 


THE VICAR OF 


like to witness. Their absence was indeed a 
relief: for pretty Fanny, during the few mo¬ 
ments of conversation which she had enjoyed 
at the gate of the shrubbery in the morning, 
had promised Mr. Cartwright to compose a 
hymn. To perform this promise to the best of 
her power, was at this moment the first wish of 
her heart: for the amiable vicar had already 
contrived to see some of those numerous offer¬ 
ings to Apollo with which this fairest and 
freshest of Sapphos beguiled her too abundant 
leisure. He had pronounced her poetic powers 
great, and worthy of higher themes than any 
she had hitherto chosen : it was most natural, 
therefore, that she should now tax her genius 
to the utmost, to prove that his first judgment 
had not been too favourable : so the remainder 
of that long day passed in melancholy enough 
tete-a-tete between Rosalind and Helen, and in 
finding rhymes for all the epithets of heaven on 
the part of Fanny. 


WREXHILL. 


195 


CHAPTER XII. 

mr. Cartwright’s letter to his cousin.—colonel 

HARRINGTON. 

The intelligent reader will not be surprised 
to hear that Mr. Cartwright did not suffer 
himself to be long expected in vain on the 
following morning. Fanny, however, was al¬ 
ready in the garden when he arrived ; and as it 
so happened that he saw her as she was hover¬ 
ing near the shrubbery gate, he turned from 
the carriage-road and approached her. 

64 How sweetly does youth, when blessed 
with such a cheek and eye as yours, Miss 
Fanny, accord with the fresh morning of such 
a day as this !—I feel,” he added, taking her 
hand and looking in her blushing face, “ that 
my soul never offers adoration more worthy of 

k 2 


196 


THE VICAR OF 


my Maker than when inspired by intercourse 
with such a being as you !” 

cc Oh ! Mr. Cartwright ! w cried Fanny, avoid¬ 
ing his glance by fixing her beautiful eyes 
upon the ground. 

“ My dearest child ! fear not to look at 
me—fear not to meet the eye of a friend, who 
would watch over you, Fanny, as the minister 
of God should watch over that which is best 
and fairest, to make and keep it holy to the 
Lord. Let me have that innocent heart in my 
keeping, my dearest child, and all that is idle, 
light, and vain shall be banished thence, while 
heavenward thoughts and holy musings shall 
take its place. Have you essayed to hymn the 
praises of your Saviour and your God, Fanny, 
since we parted yesterday ?” 

This question was accompanied by an encou¬ 
raging pat upon her glowing cheek ; and Fanny, 
her heart beating with vanity, shyness, hope, 
fear^ and sundry other feelings, drew the MS. 
containing a fairly-written transcript of her 
yesterday’s labours from her bosom, and placed 
it in his hand. 


WREXHILL. 


197 


Mr. Cartwright pressed it with a sort of 
pious fervour to his lips, and enclosing it for 
greater security in a letter which he drew from 
his pocket, he laid it carefully within his waist¬ 
coat, on the left side of his person, and as near 
as possible to that part of it appropriated for 
the residence of the heart. 

44 This must be examined in private, my be¬ 
loved child,” said he solemnly. 44 The first 
attempt to raise such a spirit as yours to God 
the Saviour in holy song, has to my feelings 
something as awful in it as the first glad mo¬ 
ment of a seraph’s wing ! . . . . Where is your 
mother, Fanny ?” 

44 She is in the library.” 

44 Alone ?” 

44 Oh yes! — at least I should think so, for 
I am sure she is expecting you.” 

44 Farewell, then, my dear young friend !— 
Pursue your solitary musing walk ; and remem¬ 
ber, Fanny, that as by your talents you are 
marked and set apart, as it were, from the great 
mass of human souls, so will you be looked 
upon the more fixedly by the searching eye of 



198 


THE VICAR OF 


God. It is from him you received this talent 
— keep it sacred to his use, as David did, 
and great shall be your reward! — Shall I 
startle your good mother, Fanny, if I enter by 
the library window ?” 

“ Oh, no ! Mr. Cartwright — I am sure 
mamma would be quite vexed if you always 
went round that long way up to the door, es¬ 
pecially in summer, you know, when the win¬ 
dows are always open. ,, 

<c Once more, farewell, then!” 

Fanny’s hand was again tenderly pressed, 
and they parted. 

It would be a needless lengthening of my 
tale, were I to record all that passed at this 
and three or four subsequent interviews which 
took place between the vicar and Mrs. Mow¬ 
bray on the subject of proving the will. Toge¬ 
ther with the kindest and most soothing demon¬ 
strations of rapidly-increasing friendship and 
esteem, Mr. Cartwright conveyed to her very 
sound legal information respecting what it was 
necessary for her to do. The only difficulty re¬ 
maining seemed to arise from Mrs. Mowbray’s 


WREXHILL. 


199 


dislike to apply to any friend in London, either 
for their hospitality or assistance, during the 
visit it was necessary she should make there 
for the completion of the business. This dis¬ 
like arose from the very disagreeable difficul¬ 
ties which had been thrown in her way by Sir 
Gilbert Harrington’s refusing to act. It would 
have been very painful to her, as she frankly 
avowed to her new friend, to announce and ex¬ 
plain this refusal to any one ; and it was there¬ 
fore finally arranged between them, that he 
should give her a letter of introduction to a 
most excellent and trustworthy friend and re¬ 
lation of his, who was distinguished, as he 
assured her, for being the most honourable and 
conscientious attorney in London,—and per¬ 
haps, as he added with a sigh, the only one 
who constantly acted with the fear of the Lord 
before his eyes. 

Gladly did Mrs. Mowbray accede to this 
proposal, for in truth it removed a world of 
anxiety from her mind ; and urged as much 
by a wish to prove how very easy it was to be 
independent of Sir Gilbert, as by the strenuous 


200 


THE VICAR OF 


advice of Mr. Cartwright to lose no time in 
bringing the business to a conclusion, she fixed 
upon the following week for this troublesome 
but necessary expedition. 

It may serve to throw a light upon the kind 
and anxious interest which the Vicar of Wrex- 
hill took in the affairs of his widowed parish¬ 
ioner, if a copy of his letter to his cousin and 
friend Mr. Stephen Corbold be inserted. 

“to STEPHEN CORBOLD, ESQ. SOLICITOR, GRAY’S INN, 
LONDON. 

“ My DEAR AND VALUED FRIEND AND COUSIN, 

“ It has at length pleased God to enable 
me to prove to you how sincere is the gratitude 
which I have ever professed for the important 
service your father conferred upon me by the 
timely loan of two hundred pounds, when I was, 
as I believe you know, inconvenienced by a 
very troublesome claim. It has been a constant 
matter of regret to me that I should never, 
through the many years which have since passed, 
been able to repay it: but, if I mistake not, the 


WREXHILL. 


20 1 


service which I am now able to render you 
will eventually prove such as fairly to liqui¬ 
date your claim upon me ; and from my know¬ 
ledge of your pious and honourable feelings, I 
cannot doubt your being willing to deliver to 
me my bond for the same, should your advan¬ 
tages from the transaction in hand prove at all 
commensurate to my expectations.” 

[ Here followed a statement of the widow 
Mowbray’s business in London, with the com¬ 
mentary upon the ways and means which she 
possessed to carry that, and all other business 
in which she was concerned, to a satisfactory 
conclusion, much to the contentment of all 
those fortunate enough to be employed as her 
assistants therein. The reverend gentleman 
then proceeded thus.] 

u Nor is this all I would wish to say to you, 
cousin Stephen, on the subject of the widow 
Mowbray’s affairs, and the advantages which 
may arise to you from the connexion which 
equally, of course, for her advantage as for 
yours, I am desirous of establishing between 
you. 

k 5 


202 


THE VICAR OF 


“ I need not tell you , cousin Stephen, who, 
by the blessing of a gracious Saviour upon 
your worthy endeavours, have already been 
able in a little way to see what law is,—-I need 
not, I say, point out to you at any great 
length, how much there must of necessity be 
to do in the management of an estate and of 
funds which bring in a net income somewhat ex¬ 
ceeding fourteen thousand pounds per annum. 
Now I learn from my excellent friend Mrs. 
Mowbray, that her late husband transacted the 
whole of this business himself; an example 
which it is impossible, as I need not remark, 
for his widow and sole legatee to follow. She 
is quite aware of this, and, by a merciful dis¬ 
pensation of the Most High, her mind appears 
to be singularly ductile, and liable to receive 
such impressions as a pious and attentive 
friend would be able to enforce on all points. 
In addition to this great and heavy charge, 
which it has pleased an all-wise God, doubtless 
for his own good purposes, to lay upon her, 
she has also the entire management, as legal 
and sole guardian of a young Irish heiress, of 


WREXHILL. 


203 


another prodigiously fine property, consisting, 
like her own, partly of money in the English 
funds, and partly in houses and lands in the north 
part of Ireland. The business connected with 
the Torrington property is therefore at this 
moment, as well as everything concerning the 
widow Mowbray’s affairs, completely without 
any agent whatever ; and I am not without 
hopes, cousin Stephen, that by the blessing of 
God to usward, I may be enabled to obtain the 
same for you. 

44 1 know the pious habit of your mind, cou¬ 
sin, and that you, like myself, never see any 
remarkable occurrence without clearly tracing 
therein the immediate finger of God. I confess 
that throughout the whole of this affair ;—the 
sudden death of the late owner of this noble 
fortune; the singular will he left, by which it 
all has become wholly and solely at the dis¬ 
posal of his excellent widow ; the hasty and not 
overwise determination to renounce the execu¬ 
torship on the part of this petulant Sir Gilbert 
Harrington ; the accident, or rather series of 
accidents, by which I have become at once and 


204 


THE VICAR OF 


so unexpectedly, the chief stay, support, com¬ 
fort, consolation, and adviser of this amiable 
but very helpless lady ;—throughout the whole 
of this, I cannot, I say, but observe the gracious 
providence of my Lord, who wills that I should 
obtain power and mastery even over the things 
of this world, worthless though they be, cousin 
Stephen, when set in comparison with those of 
the world to come. It is my clear perception 
of the will of God in this matter which renders 
me willing,—yea, ardent in my desire to obtain 
influence over the Mowbray family. They are 
not all, however, equally amiable to the whole¬ 
some guidance I would afford them: on the 
contrary, it is evident to me that the youngest 
child is the only one on whom the Lord is at 
present disposed to pour forth a saving light. 
Nevertheless I will persevere. Peradventure 
the hearts of the disobedient may in the end be 
turned to the wisdom of the just; and we know 
right well who it is that can save from all dan¬ 
ger, even though a man went to sea without 
art; a tempting of Providence which would in 
my case be most criminal,—for great in that 


WREXHILL. 


20 5 


respect has been the mercy of the Lord to his 
servant, giving unto me that light which is 
needful to guide us through the rocks and 
shoals for ever scattered amidst worldly af¬ 
fairs. 

46 Thus much have I written to you, cousin 
Stephen, with my own hand, that you might 
fully comprehend the work that lies before us. 
But I will not with pen and ink write more 
unto you, for I trust I shall shortly see you, 
and that we shall speak face to face. 

44 I am now and ever, cousin Stephen, your 
loving kinsman and Christian friend, 

“William Jacob Cartwright. 

“ Wrexhill Vicarage, 9th July, 1834.” 

44 P.S. Since writing the above, the widow 
Mowbray has besought me to instruct the 
gentleman who is to act as her agent to obtain 
lodgings for her in a convenient quarter of the 
town; and therefore this letter will precede 
her. Nor can she indeed set forth till you 
shall have written in return to inform her where- 
unto her equipage must be instructed to drive. 
Remember, cousin, that the apartments be suit- 


20 6 


THE VICAR OF 


able; and in choosing them recollect that it is 
neither you nor I who will pay for the same. 
Farewell. If I mistake not, the mercy of the 
Lord overshadows you, my cousin;” 

Poor Mrs. Mowbray would have rejoiced ex¬ 
ceedingly had it been possible for her kind and 
ever-ready adviser and friend to accompany 
her to London ; but as he did not himself pro¬ 
pose this, she would not venture to do it, and 
only asked him, such as an obedient child might 
ask a parent, whether he thought she ought to 
go attended only by a man and maid servant, 
or whether she might have the comfort of tak¬ 
ing one of her daughters with her. 

Mr. Cartwright looked puzzled ; indeed the 
question involved considerable difficulties. It 
was by no means the vicar’s wish to appear 
harsh or disagreeable in his enactments; yet 
neither did he particularly desire that the 
eldest Miss Mowbray should be placed in cir¬ 
cumstances likely to give her increased influ¬ 
ence over her mother: and as to Fanny, his 
conscience reproached him for having for an 


WREXHILL. 


207 


instant conceived the idea of permitting one 
to whom the elective finger of grace had so 
recently pointed to be removed so far from his 
fostering care. 

After a few moments of silent consideration, 
he replied, 

“ No ! my dearest lady, you ought not to 
be without the soothing presence of a child; 
and if I might advise you on the subject, I 
should recommend your being accompanied by 
Miss Helen,—both because, as being the eldest, 
she might expect this preference, and because, 
likewise, I should deem it prudent to remove 
her from the great risk and danger of falling 
into the society of your base and injurious 
enemy during your absence.” 

“ You are quite right about that, as I ’m 
sure you are about everything, Mr. Cartwright. 
I really would not have Helen see more of Sir 
Gilbert’s family for the world! She has such 
wild romantic notions about old friendships 
being better than new ones, that I am sure it 
would be the way to make terrible disputes be¬ 
tween us. She has never yet known the misery 


208 


THE VICAR OF 


of having an old friend turn against her,—nor 
the comfort, Mr. Cartwright, of finding a new 
one sent by Providence to supply his place !” 

66 My dearest lady ! I shall ever praise and 
bless the dispensation that has placed me near 
you during this great trial;—and remember 
always, that those whom the Lord loveth he 
chasteneth !” 

“ Ah ! Mr. Cartwright, I fear that I have 
not been hitherto sufficiently mindful of this, 
and that I have repined where I ought to have 
blessed. But I trust that a more Christian 
spirit is now awakened within me, and that 
henceforward, with your aid, and by the bless¬ 
ing of God upon my humble endeavours, I 
may become worthy of the privilege I enjoy as 
being one of your congregation.” 

54 May the Lord hear, receive, record, and 
bless that hope!” cried the vicar fervently, 
seizing her hand and kissing it with holy zeal. 

Mrs. Mowbray coloured slightly ; but feel¬ 
ing ashamed of the weak and unworthy feeling 
that caused this, she made a strong effort to 
recover from the sort of embarrassment his 


WREXH1LL. 


209 


action caused, and said, with as much ease as 
she could assume, 

“ Rosalind and Fanny are both very young 
and very giddy, Mr. Cartwright. May I hope 
that during my short absence—which I shall 
make as short as possible,—may I hope, my 
kind friend, that you will look in upon them 
every day ?” 

“ You cannot doubt it!—what is there I 
would not do to spare you an anxious thought! 
—They are young and thoughtless, particularly 
your ward. Miss Torrington is just the girl, 
I think, to propose some wild frolic—perhaps 
another visit to Sir Gilbert; and your sweet 
Fanny is too young and has too little authority 
to prevent it.” 

“ Good Heaven ! do you think so ? Then 
what can I do ?” 

“ An idea has struck me, my dear friend, 
which I will mention to you with all frankness, 
certain that if you disapprove it, you will tell 
me so with an openness and sincerity equal to 
my own.—I think that if my staid and quiet 
daughter Henrietta were to pass the short 


210 


THE VICAR OF 


interval of your absence here, you might be 
quite sure that nothing gay or giddy would be 
done:—her delicate health and sober turn of 
mind preclude the possibility of this ; — and 
her being here would authorise my daily visit.” 

4C There is nothing in the world I should like 
so well,” replied Mrs. Mowbray. 64 Anything 
likely to promote an intimacy between my 
young people and a daughter brought up by 
you must be indeed a blessing to us. Shall I 
call upon her ?—or shall I write the invitation ?” 

44 You are very kind, dear lady !—.very hea¬ 
venly-minded !—but there is no sort of ne¬ 
cessity that you should take the trouble of 
doing either. I will mention to Henrietta your 
most flattering wish that she should be here 
during your absence ; and, believe me, she will 
be most happy to comply with it.” 

44 I shall be very grateful to her.—But will 
it not be more agreeable for her, and for us 
also, that she should come immediately? I 
cannot go before Monday—this is Thursday; 
might she not come to us to-morrow ?” 


WREXHILL. 


211 


“ How thoughtful is that !—how like your¬ 
self !—Certainly it will be pleasanter for her, 
and I will therefore bring her.” 

The conversation was here interrupted by 
the entrance of a servant with a note. But for 
the better understanding its effect both on the 
lady and gentleman, it will be necessary to 
recount one or two circumstances which had 
occurred to the anti-Cartwright party in the 
Mowbray family, subsequent to their visit to 
Oakley. 

A few days after that which witnessed poor 
Helen’s disgrace, after entering the drawing¬ 
room and receiving a hint from her mother 
(whom she found there in close conclave with 
the vicar) that she had better take her morn¬ 
ing walk, it happened that she and Rosalind, 
as they were earnestly discoursing of their yes¬ 
terday’s visit, and enjoying the perfect shade of 
a lane leading to the village of WrexhilJ, per¬ 
ceived a horseman approaching them as slowly 
as it was possible to make a fine horse walk. 
In the next moment, however, something ap- 



212 


THE VICAR OF 


peared to have pricked the sides of his intent, 
as well as those of his horse; for with a bound 
or two he was close to them, and in the next 
instant dismounted and by their side. 

The gentleman proved to be Colonel Har¬ 
rington, who immediately declared, with very 
soldierly frankness, that he had been riding 
through every avenue leading to Mowbray 
Park, in the hope of being fortunate enough to 
meet them. 

Rosalind smiled; while Helen, without know¬ 
ing too well what she said, answered with a 
deep blush, 66 You are very kind.” 

Colonel Harrington carefully tied up his reins 
and so arranged them as to leave no danger of 
their getting loose ; then giving his steed a 
slight cut with his riding-whip, the obedient 
animal set off at an easy trot for Oakley. 

66 He knows his way, at least, as well as I 
do,” said the colonel. “ It is my father’s old 
hunter, and I selected him on purpose, that 
if I were lucky enough to meet you, I might 
have no trouble about getting rid of him. And 


WREXHILL. 


213 


now tell me, Helen, how did your mother bear 
the answer my father sent to her note ?” 

“ An answer from Sir Gilbert ?—and to a 
note from my mother ?” said Helen. 44 Alas ! it 
was kept secret from me; and therefore, Colo¬ 
nel Harrington, I had rather you should not 
talk of it to me.” 

44 It is hardly reasonable that you should 
insist upon my keeping secret what I have to 
tell you, Helen, because others are less com¬ 
municative. The letters he receives and writes 
are surely my father’s business either to im¬ 
part or conceal, as he thinks best; and he is 
extremely anxious to learn your opinion re¬ 
specting your mother’s letter, and his answer 
to it. He certainly did not imagine that they 
had been kept secret from you.” 

44 Indeed I have never heard of either.” 

44 Do you suppose, then, that she has men¬ 
tioned them to no one ?” 

Helen did not immediately reply, but Rosa¬ 
lind did. 44 I am very particularly mistaken, 
Colonel Harrington,” said she, 44 if the Re- 


214 


THE VICAR OF 


verend William Jacob Cartwright, vicar of 
Wrexhill, and privy counsellor at Mowbray 
Park, did not superintend the writing of the 
one, and the reading of the other.” 

44 Do you really think so, Miss Torrington ? 
What do you say, Helen ? do you believe 
this to have been the case ?” 

44 He is very often at the Park,” replied 
Helen. 

44 But do you think it possible that Mrs. 
Mowbray would communicate to him what she 
would conceal from you ?” said Colonel Har¬ 
rington. 

This question was also left unanswered by 
Helen; but Rosalind again undertook to reply. 
44 You will think me a very interfering per¬ 
son, I am afraid, Colonel Harrington,” said she; 
44 but many feelings keep Helen silent which 
do not influence me; and as far as I am capa¬ 
ble of judging, it is extremely proper, and per¬ 
haps important, that Sir Gilbert should know 
that this holy vicar never passes a day without 
finding or making an excuse for calling at the 
Park. I can hardly tell how it is, but it cer- 




WREXHILL. 


215 


tainly does happen that these visits generally 
take place when we—that is, Helen and I—are 
not in the house; but ... to confess my sins 
and make a clear breast at once, I will tell you 
what I have never yet told Helen, and that is, 
that I have ordered my maid to find out, if she 
can, when Mr. Cartwright comes. He slipped 
in, however, through the library window twice 
yesterday, so it is possible that he may some¬ 
times make good an entry without being ob¬ 
served ; for it is impossible that my Judy can be 
always on the watch, though she is so fond of 
performing her needlework in that pretty trel- 
lised summer-house in the Park.” 

“ What an excellent vidette you would make, 
Miss Torrington,” said the young man, laugh¬ 
ing. 66 But will you tell me, sincerely and 
without any shadow of jesting, why it is that you 
have been so anxious to watch the movements 
of this reverend gentleman ?” 

66 If I talk on the subject at all,” she replied, 
“ it will certainly be without any propensity to 
jesting ; for I have seldom felt less inclined to 
be merry than while watching the increasing 



216 


THE VICAR OF 


influence of Mr. Cartwright over Mrs. Mowbray 
and Fanny. It was because I remarked that 
they never mentioned his having called, when 
I knew he had been there, that I grew anxious 
to learn, if possible, how constant his visits had 
become; and the result of my espionage is, that 
no day passes without a visit.” 

44 But what makes you speak of this as of 
an evil, Miss Torrington ?” 

44 That is more than I have promised to tell 
you,” replied Rosalind ; 44 but, as we have be¬ 
come so very confidential, I have no objection 
to tell you all—and that, remember, for the espe¬ 
cial use of Sir Gilbert, who perhaps, if he knew 
all that I guess, would not think he was doing 
right to leave Mrs. Mowbray in such hands.” 

44 And what then, Miss Torrington, is there, 
as you guess , against this gentleman ?” 

Rosalind for an instant looked puzzled ; but, 
by the rapidity with which she proceeded after 
she began, the difficulty seemed to arise solely 
from not knowing what to say first. 44 There 
is against him,” said she, 44 the having hurried 
away from hearing the will read to the pre- 


WREXHILL. 


217 


sence of Mrs. Mowbray, and not only announ¬ 
cing its contents to her with what might well 
be called indecent haste, considering that there 
were others to whom the task more fitly belong¬ 
ed, and who would have performed it too, had 
they not been thus forestalled ;—not only did 
he do this, but he basely, and I do believe 
most falsely, gave her to understand that her 
son, the generous, disinterested, warm-hearted 
Charles Mowbray, had manifested displeasure 
at it. Further, he has turned the head of poor 
little Fanny, by begging copies of her verses to 
send — Heaven knows where; and he more¬ 
over has, I am sure, persuaded Mrs. Mowbray 
to think that my peerless Helen is in fault for 
something — Heaven knows what. He has 
likewise, as your account of those secret letters 
renders certain, dared to step between an affec¬ 
tionate mother and her devoted child, to destroy 
their dear and close union by hateful and poi¬ 
sonous mystery- He has also fomented the 
unhappy and most silly schism between your 
pettish father and my petted guardian; and 
moreover, with all his far-famed beauty and 


VOL. i. 


L 


218 


THE VICAR OF 


saint-like benignity of aspect, his soft crafty 
eyes dare not look me in the face. And twelfth¬ 
ly and lastly, I hate him” 

“After this, Miss Torrington,” said the 
colonel, laughing, c< no man assuredly could 
be sufficiently hardy to say a word in his de¬ 
fence;— and, all jesting apart,” he added very 
seriously, “ I do think you have made out a 
very strong case against him. If my good 
father sees this growing intimacy between the 
Vicarage and the Park with the same feelings 
that you do, I really think it might go farther 
than any other consideration towards inducing 
him to rescind his refusal—for he has positively 
refused to act as executor—and lead him at 
once and for ever to forget the unreasonable 
cause of anger he has conceived against your 
mother, Helen.” 

“ Then let him know it without an hour’s 
delay,” said Helen. e£ Dear Colonel Harrington ! 
why did you let your horse go ? Walk you 
must, but let it be as fast as you can, and 
let your father understand exactly everything 
that Rosalind has told you; for though I 


WREXHILL. 


219 


should hardly have ventured to say as much 
myself, I own that I think she is not much 
mistaken in any of her conclusions.” 

cc And do you follow her, Helen, up to 
her twelfthly and lastly ? Do you too hate 
this reverend gentleman ?” 

Helen sighed. 66 1 hope not, Colonel Har¬ 
rington,” she replied^; <c I should be sorry to 
believe myself capable of hating, but surely I 
do not love him.” 

The young ladies, in their eagerness to set 
the colonel off on his road to Oakley, were un¬ 
consciously, or rather most obliviously, guilty 
of the indecorum of accompanying him at least 
half the distance; and at last it was Rosalind, 
and not the much more shy and timid Helen, 
who became aware of the singularity of the 
proceeding. 

66 And where may we be going, I should like 
to know ?” she said, suddenly stopping short. 
“ Helen ! is it the fashion for the Hampshire 
ladies to escort home the gentlemen they chance 
to meet in their walks ? We never do that in 
my country.” 

l 2 


220 


THE VICAR OF 


Colonel Harrington looked positively angry, 
and Helen blushed celestial rosy red, but soon 
recovered herself, and said, with that species of 
frankness which at once disarms quizzing, 

66 It is very true, Rosalind; we seem to be 
doing a very strange thing: but we have had a 
great deal to say that was really important; yet 
nothing so much so, as leading Colonel Har¬ 
rington to his father with as little delay as 
possible.—But now I think we have said all. 
Good-b’ye, Colonel Harrington : I need not tell 
you how grateful we shall all be if you can 
persuade Sir Gilbert to restore us all to fa¬ 
vour.” 

“ The all is but one, Helen; but the doing 
so I now feel to be very important. Farewell! 
Take care of yourselves ; for I will not vex 
you, Helen, by turning back again. Fare¬ 
well r 

The letter which interrupted the tete-a-tete 
between Mrs. Mowbray and the vicar was an 
immediate consequence of this conversation, 
and was as follows :— 




WREXHILL. 


22 1 


44 Madam, 

44 Upon a maturer consideration of the pos¬ 
sible effects to the family of my late friend which 
my refusal to act as his executor may produce, 
I am willing, notwithstanding my repugnance 
to the office, to ^perform the duties of it, and 
hereby desire to revoke my late refusal to 
do so. 

(Signed) 

44 Gilbert Harrington. 

“ Oakley, July 12th, 1833 /” 

44 Thank Heaven,” exclaimed Mrs. Mowbray 
as soon as she had read the note,— 64 Thank 
Heaven that I have no longer any occa¬ 
sion to submit myself to the caprices of any 
man! — And yet,” she added, putting the 
paper into Mr. Cartwright’s hands, 44 1 suppose 
it will be best for me to accept his reluctant 
and ungracious offer ?” 

Mr. Cartwright took the paper and perused 
it with great attention, and more than once. 
At length he said, 

44 I trust I did not understand you. What 


222 


THE VICAR OF 


was it you said, dearest Mrs. Mowbray, re¬ 
specting this most insulting communication ?” 

44 1 hardly know, Mr. Cartwright, what I 
said,” replied Mrs. Mowbray, colouring. 44 How 
can I know what to say to a person who can 
treat a woman in my painful situation with such 
cruel caprice, such unfeeling inconsistency ?” 

44 Were I you, my valued friend, I should 
make the matter very easy, for I should say 
nothing to him.” 

44 Nothing ?—Do you mean that you would 
not answer the letter ?” 

44 Certainly: that is what I should recom¬ 
mend as the only mode of noticing it, con¬ 
sistently with the respect you owe yourself.” 

44 1 am sure you are quite right,” replied 
Mrs. Mowbray, looking relieved from a load of 
difficulty. 

44 It certainly does not deserve an answer,” 
said she, 44 and I am sure I should not in the 
least know what to say to him.” 

44 Then let us treat the scroll as it does 
deserve to be treated,” said the vicar with 
a smile. 44 Let the indignant wind bear it back 


WREXHILL. 


223 


to the face of the hard-hearted and insulting 
writer!” 

And so saying, he eagerly tore the paper 
into minute atoms, and appeared about to con¬ 
sign them to the conveyance he mentioned, but 
suddenly checked himself, and with thoughtful 
consideration for the gardener added, 

44 But no ! we will not disfigure your beauti¬ 
ful lawn by casting these fragments upon it: 
I will dispose of them on the other side of the 
fence. 



224 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER XIII. 


mrs. mowbray's departure for town.—an extem¬ 
porary PRAYER. 

It was about nine o’clock in the evening of 
this same day, that Mr. Cartwright was seen 
approaching across the lawn towards the draw¬ 
ing-room windows,—and that not only by Judy, 
but by the whole family, who were assembled 
there and preparing to take their tea. His 
daughter Henrietta was on his arm ; yet still 
she rather followed than walked with him, so 
evidently did she hang back, while he as evi¬ 
dently endeavoured to quicken his pace and 
draw her forward. 

The eyes of the whole party were attracted 
to the windows. Mrs. Mowbray and Fanny, 
approaching different sashes, each stepped out 
to welcome them; while Miss Torrington and 


WREXHILL. 


m 

Helen were content to watch the meeting from 
their places on a sofa. 

44 Did you ever see a man drive a pig to 
market, Helen ?” said Rosalind. 44 In my 
country they do it so much more cleverly ! 
for, look you, if that man were half as clever 
as he thinks himself, he would just go behind 
the young lady and pull her backwards.” 

44 lam not quite sure that the scheme would 
answer in this case,” replied Helen. 44 Look at 
the expression of her face, and I think you 
will perceive that nothing but a very straight¬ 
forward pull could induce her to approach 
at all.” 

44 Perhaps she is disgusted at her odious 
father’s presumption and forwardness ?” cried 
Rosalind, starting up. 44 If that be so, I will 
patronise her.—Poor thing ! look at her eyes; 
I am positive she has been weeping.” 

With this impression, Miss Torrington 
stepped forward, and, as the party entered, 
greeted the young lady very kindly : though 
she hardly appeared to perceive that her father 
entered with her. 


226 


THE VICAR OF 


She received in return a look which, with all 
her acuteness, she found it extremely difficult 
to interpret. There was a strong and obvious 
expression of surprise in it; and then, in the 
faint attempt at a smile about the corners of 
the mouth, — which attempt, however, was 
finally abortive, — Rosalind fancied that she 
traced a movement of gratitude, though not 
of pleasure; but over every feature a settled 
gloom seemed to hang, like a dark veil, ob¬ 
scuring, though not quite hiding every emo¬ 
tion. 

The difficulty of understanding why and 
wherefore she looked as she did, was quite 
enough, with such a disposition as Rosalind’s, 
to make her an object of interest; and there¬ 
fore, when Mrs. Mowbray made her the speech 
that she was expressly brought to hear, express¬ 
ive of hope that she would have the great 
kindness to console that part of her family who 
were to remain at home by affording them the 
pleasure of her company, Rosalind relieved 
her from the immediate necessity of reptying, 
by saying gaily, 


WREXHILL. 


m 


66 She will and she must, Mrs. Mowbray, for 
we will take her prisoner; but I will promise, 
as far as I am concerned, that her durance shall 
be as gentle as possible.” 

It was now the vicar’s turn to look asto¬ 
nished, which he certainly did in no small de¬ 
gree, and ran some risk of destroying the 
favourable impression which his daughter’s 
look of misery had created, by saying, in the 
sweet tone that Miss Torrington relished so 
little, 

“ Henrietta, my love—I trust you will be 
sensible of, and grateful for, the amiable and 
condescending kindness of this young lady.” 

What the gloomy Henrietta answered, Rosa¬ 
lind did not stay to hear; for by a movement 
of that impatience with which she always list¬ 
ened to all that Mr. Cartwright spoke, she 
turned from him and walked out of the win¬ 
dow. She only stayed, however, long enough to 
gather a bunch of geranium blossoms, which 
she put into the hand of Henrietta as she 
placed herself beside her on re-entering. 

6t Are they not superb, Miss Cartwright ?” 


228 THE VICAR OF 

Miss Cartwright again answered by a look 
which once more set all Rosalind’s ingenuity 
at defiance. It now spoke awakened interest, 
and an almost eager desire to look at and 
listen to her; but the heavy gloom remained, 
while her almost total silence gave her an ap¬ 
pearance of reserve greatly at variance with 
the expression which, for a moment at least, 
she had read in her eyes. 

Helen was now, in full assembly, informed 
for the first time that she was to attend her 
mother to town. Had this been told her, as 
everything was wont to be, in the dear seclu¬ 
sion of her mother’s dressing-room, she would 
have hailed the news with joy and gratitude, 
and believed that it predicted a return of all the 
happiness she had lost: but now the effect was 
wholly different; and though she mastered her¬ 
self sufficiently to send back the tears before 
they reached her eyes, and to declare, in the 
gentle voice of genuine unaffected obedience, 
that she should be delighted if she could be 
useful to her, the manner of the communica¬ 
tion sank deeply and painfully into her heart. 



WREXHILL. 


m 


An answer having arrived by return of 
post from Stephen Corbold, Esq. solicitor, 
stating that commodious apartments were se¬ 
cured in Wimpole-street, and himself ready, 
body and spirit, to do the lady’s bidding, Mrs. 
Mowbray fixed on the following day for her 
journey. Miss Cartwright gave one mutter 
beyond a tacit consent to remain at the Park 
during her absence, and the party separated ; 
Fanny however declaring, as she wrapped a 
shawl of her mother’s about her head, that she 
must enjoy the delicious moonlight by accom¬ 
panying the vicar and his daughter as far as 
the Park gates. 

(e And return alone, Fanny ?” said her mother. 

46 Why not, dear lady ?” replied Mr. Cart¬ 
wright. “ Her eye will not be raised to the 
lamp of night without her heart’s rising also in 
a hymn to her Lord and Saviour; and I am 
willing to believe that her remaining for a 
few moments beside her pastor and her friend, 
while under its soft influence, will not be 
likely to make her thoughts wander in a wrong 
direction.” 


230 


THE VICAR OF 


“ Oh no, Mr. Cartwright,” replied the mo¬ 
ther ; “ I am sure, if you think it right, she 
shall go.” 

At this moment Miss Torrington was giving 
a farewell shake of the hand to Henrietta; 
when, instead of receiving from her an answer¬ 
ing 44 Good night!” something very like a 
groan smote her ear. 

44 How very strange !” she exclaimed aloud, 
after a silence that lasted till the vicar, with 
Fanny leaning on his arm, and his sulky 
daughter following, had half traversed the 
lawn towards the gate that opened upon the 
drive. 

44 What is strange, Miss Torrington ?” said 
Mrs. Mowbray. 

44 Almost everything I see and hear, ma’am,” 
replied the young lady. 

46 At what hour are we to set off to-morrow, 
mamma ?” inquired Helen. 

44 At ten o’clock, my dear. You had better 
give your orders to Curtis to-night, Helen, as to 
what she is to put up for you. I hope we shall 
not be obliged to remain in town above two 
or three days.” 


WREXHILL. 


231 


44 If you have anything to do in your room 
to-night, Helen, it is time to betake yourself 
to it,” observed Rosalind ; 44 for,” looking at 
her watch, 44 it is very near midnight, though 
Miss Fanny Mowbray is walking in the Park. 
— Good night, Mrs. Mowbray.” Rut Mrs. 
Mowbray did not appear to hear her. 

44 Good night, mamma,” said Helen, ap¬ 
proaching to kiss her. 

She received a very cold salute upon her 
forehead, and a 44 Good night, Helen,” in a tone 
that answered to it. 

Rosalind took the arm of her friend within 
hers as they left the room together, and a silent 
pressure spoke her sympathy; but neither of 
them uttered a word that night, either concern¬ 
ing Mr. Cartwright’s increasing influence, or 
Mrs. Mowbray’s continued coldness to Helen. 
They both of them felt more than they wished 
to speak. 

The following morning brought Mr. Cart¬ 
wright and his daughter again to the Park a 
few minutes before the post-horses arrived for 
Mrs. Mowbray’s carriage, and in a few minutes 


232 


THE VICAR OF 


more everything was ready for the departure of 
the travellers. Helen gave a farewell embrace 
to Fanny and Rosalind; while the attentive 
vicar stepped into the carriage before Mrs. 
Mowbray entered it, to see that as many win¬ 
dows were up and as many windows down as 
she wished, and likewise for the purpose of 
placing a small volume in the side pocket next 
the place she was to occupy. He then returned 
to her side, and as he handed her in, whispered, 
while he pressed her hand, 

“ Do not fatigue yourself with talking, my 
dear friend : it is a great while since you have 
taken a journey even so long as this. In the 
pocket next you I have placed a little volume 
that I wish — oh, how ardently ! — that you 
would read with attention. Will you promise 
me this ?” 

u I will,” replied Mrs. Mowbray, deeply 
affected by his earnestness. — 66 God bless 
you !” 

<e The Lord watch over you!” responded 
Mr. Cartwright with a sigh. He then retreated 
a step, and Helen sprang hastily into the car- 


WREXHILL. 


233 


riage without assistance ; the door was closed, 
and before the equipage reached the lodges, 
Mrs. Mowbray had plunged into a disquisition 
on regeneration and faith — the glory of the 
new birth—and the assured damnation of all 
who cannot, or do not, attain thereto. 

Meanwhile the party left under the shade of 
the portico looked at each other as if to inquire 
what they were to do next. On all occasions 
of morning departure there is generally a cer¬ 
tain degree of desamvrement left with those who 
remain behind. In general, however, this is 
soon got over, except by a desperate idler or 
a very mournful residuary guest; but on the 
present occasion the usual occupations of the 
parties were put completely out of joint, and 
Rosalind, at least, was exceedingly well dis¬ 
posed to exclaim — 

-“ Accursed spite, 

That ever I was born to set it right!” 

She remained stationary for a few minutes, 
hoping and expecting that the reverend gentle¬ 
man would depart: but as this did not happen, 



234 


THE VICAR OF 


she quietly re-entered the house and retired to 
her own dressing-room. 

Fanny then made a motion to enter also, but 
took very hospitable care that it should include 
both her companions. Mr. Cartwright spoke 
not of going—he even led the way to the library 
himself, and having closed the door and put 
down the ever-open sash windows, he turned to 
Fanny, and, with a smile that might have ac¬ 
companied a proposal to sing or dance, said, 

<e My dear Miss Fanny! does not your 
heart feel full of kind and tender wishes for the 
safety of your beloved mother during her ab¬ 
sence from you ?” 

fi< It does indeed !” said Fanny, shaking back 
her chesnut ringlets. 

66 Then should we not,” rejoined the vicar, 
assisting her action by gently putting back her 
redundant curls with his own hand,—“ should 
we not, my dear child, implore a blessing upon 
her from the only source from whence it can 
come?—should we not ask of her Lord and 
Saviour to take her into his holy keeping, and 
guard her from every ill ?” 



WREXHILL. 


235 


“Oh yes,” replied Fanny, with affectionate 
earnestness, but by no means understanding 
his immediate purpose,—“ Oh yes, Mr. Cart¬ 
wright ; 1 am sure I never pray so heartily as 
when praying for mamma.” 

“ Then let us kneel before the throne of Jesus 
and the Lamb !” said he, placing a chair before 
her, and kneeling down himself at the one that 
was next to it. Fanny instantly obeyed, co¬ 
vering her face with her hands, while her 
young heart beat with a timid and most 
truly pious feeling of fear lest the act was not 
performed with suitable deference; for hitherto 
her private devotions had been performed in 
strict obedience to the solemn and explicit 
words of Scripture—“ When thou prayest, enter 
into thy closet , and when thou hast shut thy 
door , pray to thy Father which is in secret; and 
thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward 
thee openly 

But though conscious that the mode of 
prayer in which she was now so unexpectedly 
invited to join was very unlike what she was 
used to, her unbounded love and admiration 


236 


THE VICAR OF 


for Mr. Cartwright rendered it absolutely im¬ 
possible for her to conceive it wrong, and she 
prepared herself to pray with all the fervour of 
her young and ardent spirit. 

There was a moment’s pause, during which 
a look was exchanged between the father and 
daughter unseen by Fanny ; but had it met 
her eye, it would only have appeared to her as 
a mystery that she was incapable of compre¬ 
hending. Had Rosalind caught a sight of it, 
she might perhaps have fancied that the glance 
of the father spoke command, accompanied by 
direful threatenings, while that of his daughter 
betrayed disgust and bitterest contempt, min¬ 
gled with fear. 

Mr. Cartwright began, almost in a whisper, 
to utter his extemporary prayer. It first in¬ 
voked a blessing on the little knot of united 
hearts that now offered their homage to the 
Lord, and then proceeded to ask, in flowing 
periods, for exemption from all dangers likely 
to beset travellers by land for “ our beloved 
sister in the Lord who is this day gone forth.” 
In a tone somewhat more loud, he went on to 


WREXHILL. 


237 


implore especial grace for the not yet awakened 
soul of the child she led with her; and then, 
his rich and powerful voice resounding through 
the room, his eyes raised to the ceiling, and his 
clasped and extended hands stretched out be¬ 
fore him, he burst into an ecstasy of enthusias¬ 
tic ran tings, in which he besought blessings on 
the head of Fanny. 

It is impossible to repeat such language as 
Mr. Cartwright and those who resemble him 
think fit to use in their extemporary devotions, 
without offending against that sensitive horror 
of profanation which happily still continues to 
be one of the strongest feelings in the minds 
of Christians not converted— i. e. perverted 
from the solemn reverence our church enjoins 
in the utterance of every word by which we 
venture to approach the Deity. To such, the 
unweighed flippant use of those momentous 
words “ Let us pray,” followed, as they often are, 
by turgid rantings, and familiar appeals to the 
most High God, in volumes of rapid, careless 
wordiness, is perhaps the most offensive outrage 
to which their religious feelings can be exposed. 



238 


THE VICAR OF 


One might be almost tempted to believe that 
the sectarians who, rejecting the authorised 
forms in which the bishops and fathers of our 
church have cautiously, reverently, and suc¬ 
cinctly rehearsed the petitions which the Scrip¬ 
tures permit man to offer to his Creator ;—one 
might, I say, almost be tempted to believe that 
these men have so misunderstood the Word of 
God, as to read: — Use vain repetitions as the 
Heathen do, for they shall be heard for their 
much speaking. But this “ much speaking,'” 
with all its irreverent accompaniments of fa¬ 
miliar phraseology, is an abomination to those 
who have preserved their right to sit within the 
sacred pale of our established church; and 
as it is among such that I wish to find my 
readers, I will avoid, as much as possible, 
offending them by unnecessary repetitions of 
Mr. Cartwright’s rhapsodies, preserving only 
so much of their substance as may be neces¬ 
sary to them aking his character fully under¬ 
stood. 

While imploring Heaven to soften the heart 
of poor Fanny, who knelt weeping beside him 


WREXHILL. 


239 


like a Niobe, he rehearsed her talents and good 
qualities, earnestly praying that they might not 
be turned by the Prince of Darkness into a 
snare. 

“ Let not her gift—her shining gift of poesy, 
O Lord ! lead her, as it has so often done 
others, to the deepest pit of hell ! Let not the 
gentle and warm affections of her heart cling to 
those that shall carry her soul, with their own, 
down to the worm that dieth not, and to the fire 
that cannot be quenched ! Rather, O Lord 
and Saviour, fix thou her love upon those who 
will seek it in thy holy name. May she, O 
Lord! know to distinguish between the true 
and the false, the holy and the unholy !” 

66 Amen !” was here uttered by Henrietta, 
but in so low a whisper that only her father’s 
ear caught it. He paused for half a moment, 
and then continued with still-increasing zeal, so 
that his voice shook and tears fell from his 
eyes. 

Fanny was fully aware of all this strong emo¬ 
tion ; for though she uncovered not her own 
streaming eyes, she could not mistake the trem- 



240 


THE VICAR OF 


bling voice that pronounced its fervent blessing 
on her amidst sobs. 

Meanwhile Miss Torrington, who had seated 
herself before a book in her dressing-room, 
began to think that she was not acting very 
kindly towards Fanny, who, she knew, was so 
nearly childish in her manners as to render 
the entertaining company a very disagreeable 
task to her. 

“ Poor little soul!” she exclaimed ; fi{ between 
the manna of the father, and the crabbishness 
of the daughter, she will be done to death if I 
go not to her rescue.” So she closed her book 
and hastened to the library. 

The sound she heard on approaching the 
door startled her, and she paused to listen a 
moment before she entered; for not having 
the remotest idea that it was the voice of 
prayer, she really believed that some one had 
been taken ill,—and the notion of convulsions, 
blended with the recollection of Henrietta's 
sickly appearance, took possession of her fancy. 
She determined, however, to enter; but turned 
the lock with a very nervous hand,—and on 


WREXHILL. 


241 


beholding the scene which the opening door 
displayed, felt startled, awed, and uncertain 
whether to advance or retreat. 

She immediately met Henrietta’s eye, which 
turned towards her as she opened the door, 
and its expression at once explained the na¬ 
ture of the ceremony she so unexpectedly 
witnessed. Contempt and bitter scorn shot 
from it as she slowly turned it towards her 
father; and a smile of pity succeeded, as she 
mournfully shook her head, when, for a mo¬ 
ment, she fixed her glance upon the figure 
of Fanny. Had the poor girl for whose espe¬ 
cial sake this very unclerical rhapsody was 
uttered—had she been a few years older, and 
somewhat more advanced in the power of 
judging human actions, she must have been 
struck by the remarkable change which the 
entrance of Rosalind produced in the language 
and manner of the vicar. He did not for an 
instant suspend the flow of his eloquence, but 
the style of it altered altogether. 

44 Bless her, Lord ! bless this lovely and 


VOL. i. 


M 


242 


THE VICAR OF 


beloved one ! ” were the words which preceded 
the opening of the door, accompanied by the 
sobbings of vehement emotion. — “ Bless all 
this worthy family, and all sorts and conditions 
of men; and so lead them home” .... &c. were 
those which followed,—uttered, too, with very 
decent sobriety and discretion. 

Rosalind, however, was not quite deceived 
by this, though far from guessing how per¬ 
fectly indecent and profane had been the 
impassioned language and vehement emotion 
which preceded her appearance. 

After the hesitation of a moment, she closed 
the door, and walking up to the side of Fanny, 
stood beside her for the minute and a half which 
it took Mr. Cartwright to bring his harangue 
to a conclusion. He then ceased, rose from 
his knees, and bowed to the intruder with an 
air so meek and sanctified, but yet with such 
a downcast avoidance of her eye withal, that 
Rosalind shrank from him with ill-concealed 
dislike, and would instantly have left the room, 
but that she did not choose again to leave 
Fanny, who still continued kneeling, beside 


WREXHILL. 


243 


her, to a repetition of the scene she had inter¬ 
rupted. 

e< Fanny ! ” she said, in an accent a little 
approaching to impatience. 

But Fanny heeded her not. Vexed and 
disgusted at this display of a devotion so 
unlike the genuine, unaffected, well-regulated 
piety in which she had been herself brought 
up, she repeated her call, — adding, as she laid 
her hand lightly on her shoulder, 

66 This is not the sort of worship which 
your excellent father, or good Mr. Wallace 
either, would have approved.” 

Fanny now rose from her knees, and the 
cause of her not doing so before became evi¬ 
dent. Her face was as pale as ashes, and 
traces of violent weeping were visible on her 
swollen eyelids. 

<c Good Heaven, Fanny ! what can have af¬ 
fected you thus ? — What, sir, have you 
been saying to produce so terrible an effect 
on Miss Mowbray ? The prayers of the 
church, in the discipline of which she has 
been most carefully bred up, produce no such 

m 2 


244 


THE VICAR OF 


paroxysms as these, Mr. Cartwright.—Come 
with me, Fanny, and do endeavour to conquer 
this extraordinary vehemence of emotion.” 

Fanny took her arm; but she trembled so 
violently that she could scarcely stand. 

c4 Mr. Cartwright,” said Rosalind with a 
burst of indignation that she could not con¬ 
trol, 44 I must beg of you not to repeat this 
species of experiment on the feelings of this 
voung lady during the absence of her mother. 
At her return, she will of course decide upon 
your continuance, or discontinuance, in the 
office you have been pleased to assume; but, 
till then, I must beg, in her name, that we may 
have no more of this.” 

44 Oh ! Rosalind!” exclaimed Fanny, while 
a fresh shower of tears burst from her eyes, 
44 how can you speak so ! ” 

44 Tell me, my dear young lady,” said Mr. 
Cartwright, addressing Miss Torrington in a 
voice of the gentlest kindness, 44 did good 
Mrs. Mowbray, on leaving home, place Miss 
Fanny under your care ?” 

44 No, sir, she did not,” replied Rosalind, 


WREXHILL. 


245 


a crimson flush of anger and indignation 
mounting to her cheeks; “ but, being consider¬ 
ably older than Fanny, I deem it my duty to 
prevent her if possible from again becoming 
an actor in such a scene as this.” 

Fanny withdrew her arm, and clasping her 
hands together, again exclaimed, “ Oh ! Rosa¬ 
lind!” 

“ Do not agitate yourself, my good child,” 
said the vicar; “ I shall never suspect you of 
that hardening of the heart which would lead 
you to be of those who wish to banish the 
voice of prayer from the roof that shelters you. 
Nor shall I,” he continued meekly, but firmly, 
— “ nor shall I consider myself justified in 
remitting that care and attention which I pro¬ 
mised your excellent mother to bestow on you, 
because this unhappy young person lifts her 
voice against the holy duties of my calling. 
I shall return to you in the evening, and then, 
I trust, we shall again raise our voices together 
in praise and prayer.” 

So saying, Mr. Cartwright took his hat and 
departed. 


246 


THE VICAR OF 


The three young ladies were left standing, 
but not in one group. Miss Cartwright, as 
soon as released from her kneeling position, 
had approached a window, and was assiduously 
paring her nails; Rosalind fixed her eyes upon 
the floor, and seemed to be revolving some 
question that puzzled her; and Fanny, after 
the interval of a moment, left the room. 

Miss Torrington approached the window, 
and said coldly, but civilly, “ I am sorry, Miss 
Cartwright, to have spoken so sternly to your 
father,—or rather, for the cause which led me 
to do so, — but I really considered it as my 
duty.” 

c< Oh ! pray, ma’am, do not apologise to me 
about it.” 

“ I do not wish to offer an apology for do¬ 
ing what I believe to be right; but only to 
express my sorrow to a guest, in the house that 
is my home, for having been obliged to say 
anything that might make her feel uncomfort¬ 
able.” 

“ I do assure you, Miss Torrington,” replied 
the vicar’s daughter, 66 that my feelings are 


WREXHILL. 


247 


very particularly independent of any circum¬ 
stance, accident, or event that may affect Mr. 
Cartwright .... my father.” 

44 Indeed!” said Rosalind, fixing on her a 
glance that seemed to invite her confidence. 

44 Indeed !” repeated Henrietta, quietly con¬ 
tinuing the occupation furnished by her fingers 1 
ends, but without showing any inclination to 
accept the invitation. 

Rosalind was disconcerted. The singularity 
of Miss Cartwright’s manner piqued her curi¬ 
osity, and though by no means inclined to 
form a party with her against her father, she 
had seen enough to convince her that they were 
far from being on very affectionate terms to¬ 
gether. A feeling of pity too, though for 
sorrows and sufferings suggested chiefly by her 
own imagination, gave her a kind-hearted in¬ 
clination for more intimate acquaintance; but 
she began to suspect that the wish for this was 
wholly on her side, and not shared in any de¬ 
gree by her companion. 

Chilled by this idea, and out of spirits from 
the prospect of being daily exposed to Mr. 


THE VICAR OF 


248 

Cartwright’s visits, Rosalind prepared to leave 
the room ; but good-nature, as was usual with 
her, prevailed over every other feeling, and 
before she reached the door, she turned and 
said, 

44 Is there anything, Miss Cartwright, that 
I can offer for your amusement? The books 
of the day are chiefly in our dressing-rooms, I 
believe—and I have abundance of new music 
— and in this room I can show you where to 
find a very splendid collection of engravings.” 

44 I wish for nothing of the kind, I am much 
obliged to you.” 

44 Shall I send Fanny to you ? Perhaps, 
notwithstanding the ocean of tears you have 
seen her shed, she would prove a much more 
cheerful companion than I could do at this 
moment.” 

44 1 do not wish for a cheerful companion,” 
said Henrietta. 

44 Is there anything, then, that I can do,” 
resumed Rosalind, half smiling, 44 that may 
assist you in getting rid of the morning ?” 

44 You may sit with me yourself.” 



WREXHILL. 


249 


“ May IP — Well, then, so I will. I as¬ 
sure you that I only thought of going be¬ 
cause it appeared to me that you did not par¬ 
ticularly desire my company.” 

“ To say the truth. Miss Torrington, I do 
not think there is anything on earth particu¬ 
larly worth desiring; but your conversation 
may perhaps be amongst the most endurable. 
Besides, it is agreeable to look at you.” 

“ You are very civil,” replied Rosalind, 
laughing. “ Perhaps you would like me to 
hold a nosegay in my hand, or to put on a 
bonnet and feathers, that I might be still better 
worth looking at.” 

“ No.—If I had a bunch of flowers before 
my eyes, I should not want you: no woman 
can be so beautiful as a collection of flowers. 
But I shall do very well, I dare say. Nothing, 
you know, lasts very long.” 

“ Your father, then, I presume, has taught 
your thoughts, Miss Cartwright, to fix them¬ 
selves altogether on a future and a better 
world.” 

“ As to a future world, Miss Torrington, I 

m 5 


250 


THE VICAR OF 


must have better authority than Mr. Cart¬ 
wright’s before I pretend to know anything 
about it: but if there be another, I have very 
little doubt, I confess, that it must be a better 
one.” 

“We are taught by the highest authority to 
believe it will be so, for those who deserve it. 
But I hope your distaste for that which we 
enjoy at present does not arise from its having 
been unkind to you ?” 

“ When I was a child,” answered Henrietta, 
“ I had a kind of sickly longing for kindness; 
but now that I am older and wiser, I cannot 
say that I think kindness or unkindness are 
matters of much consequence.” 

“ That indeed is a feeling that must put one 
speedily either above or below sorrow.” 

66 I am below it.” 

“ It would be just as easy to say, above, Miss 
Cartwright; and if you really have reached to 
a state of such stoical indifference, I rather 
wonder you should not feel that it sets you 
above all the poor sensitive souls whom you 




WREXHILL. 


251 


must see longing for a smile, and trembling 
at a frown.’ 1 

64 Because, Miss Torrington, I have con¬ 
stantly felt that in approaching this state of 
mind I have been gradually sinking lower and 
lower in my own estimation. I am become so 
hatefully familiar with sin and wickedness, that 
I perfectly loathe myself—though assuredly it 
has ended by giving me a very pre-eminent de¬ 
gree of indifference concerning all that may 
hereafter happen to me. ,J 

44 Is it in your own person,' 1 said Rosalind 
jestingly, 44 that you have become thus familiar 
with sin P 11 

44 No. It is in that of my father. 1 ’ 

Rosalind started. 44 You talk strangely to 
me, Miss Cartwright,” said she gravely ; 44 and 
if you are playing upon my credulity or curio¬ 
sity, I must submit to it. But if there be any 
serious meaning in what you say, it would be 
more generous if you would permit me to un¬ 
derstand you. I believe you are aware that 
I do not esteem Mr. Cartwright; an avowal 


252 


THE VICAR OF 


which delicacy would have certainly prevented 
my making to you, had you not given me 
reason to suspect-” 

44 — That I do not very greatly esteem him 
either,” said Henrietta, interrupting her. 

44 Exactly so: and as I am deeply interested 
for the welfare and happiness of the family 
amongst whom he seems disposed to insinuate 
himself upon terms of very particular intimacy, 
I should consider it as a great kindness if you 
would tell me what his character really is.” 

44 The request is a very singular one, con¬ 
sidering to whom it is addressed,” said Miss 
Cartwright; 44 and besides, I really cannot per¬ 
ceive any reason in the world why I should be 
guilty of an indecorum in order to do you a 
great kindness” 

44 The indecorum, Miss Cartwright, has been 
already committed,” said Rosalind. “You 
have already spoken of your father as you 
should not have spoken, unless you had some 
strong and virtuous motive for it. 

44 How exceedingly refreshing is the un¬ 
wonted voice of truth !” exclaimed Henrietta. 



WREXHTLL. 


253 


“ Rosalind Torrington, you are an honest girl, 
and will not betray me; for I do fear him — 
coward that I am—I do fear his cruelty, even 
while I despise his power. I think but lightly,” 
she continued, <c of the motes that people this 
paltry world of ours; yet there are gradations 
amongst us, from the pure-hearted kind fool, 
who, like you, Rosalind, would wish to spend 
their little hour of life in doing good, down to 
the plotting knave who, like my father, Miss 
Torrington, cares not what mischief he may do, 
so that his own unholy interest, and unholy 
joys, may be increased thereby : and so, look 
you, there are gradations also in my feelings 
towards them, from very light and easy in¬ 
difference, down, down, down to the deepest 
abyss of hatred and contempt. I know not 
what power you may have here — not much, 
I should fear; for though you are rich, the 
Mowbrays are richer: yet it is possible, I think, 
that if the energy which I suspect makes part of 
your character be roused, you may obtain some 
influence. If you do, use it to keep Mr. Cart¬ 
wright as far distant from all you love as you 


254 THE VICAR OF 

can. Mistrust him yourself, and teach all others 
to mistrust him. — And now, never attempt to 
renew this conversation. I may have done you 
some service — do not let your imprudence 
make me repent it. Let us now avoid each 
other, if you please : I do not love talking, 
and would not willingly be led into it again.” 

Miss Cartwright left the room as soon as 
these words were spoken, leaving Rosalind in a 
state of mind extremely painful. Through all 
the strange wildness of Henrietta’s manner she 
thought that she could trace a friendly intention 
to put her on her guard ; but she hardly knew 
what the mischief was which she feared, and 
less still perhaps what she could do to guard 
against it. The most obvious and the most de¬ 
sirable thing, if she could achieve it, was the 
preventing Mr. Cartwright’s making the con¬ 
stant morning and evening visits which he 
threatened ; but she felt that her power was 
indeed small, and, such as it was, she knew 
not well how to use it. 

Having remained for above an hour exactly 
in the place where Miss Cartwright had left 




WREXHILL. 


255 


her, inventing and rejecting a variety of 
schemes for keeping Mr. Cartwright from the 
house during the absence of Mrs. Mowbray, 
she at length determined to write to him, and 
after a good deal of meditation produced the 
following note: 

6i Miss Torrington presents her compliments 
to Mr. Cartwright, and begs to inform him, 
that having been very strictly brought up by 
her father, a clergyman of the established 
church, she cannot, consistently with her ideas 
of what is right, continue to make her residence 
in a house where irregular and extempore 
prayer-meetings are held. She therefore takes 
this method of announcing to Mr. Cartwright, 
that if he perseveres in repeating at Mowbray 
Park the scene she witnessed this morning, 
she shall be obliged to leave the house of her 
guardian, and will put herself under the pro¬ 
tection of Sir Gilbert Harrington till such 
time as Mrs. Mowbray shall return. 

Mowbray Park, 13th July, 1833.” 


256 


THE VICAR OF 


This note she immediately despatched to the 
Vicarage by her own footman, who was ordered 
to wait for an answer, and in the course of an 
hour returned with the following short epistle : 

“ Mr. Cartwright presents his compliments 
to Miss Torrington, and respectfully requests 
permission to wait upon her for a few minutes 
to-morrow morning. 

“ Wrexhill Vicarage, July 13th, lSSS/' 

Nothing could be less like the answer she 
expected than this note, and she might possi¬ 
bly have been doubtful whether to grantt he 
audience requested, or not, had she not per¬ 
ceived, with very considerable satisfaction, that 
she had already obtained a remission of the 
evening rhapsody he had threatened in the 
morning, which inspired her with reasonable 
hope that her remonstrance would not prove 
altogether in vain. She determined therefore to 
receive Mr. Cartwright on the morrow, but did 
not deem it necessary to send another express 
to say so, feeling pretty certain that the not 



WREXHILL. 


257 


forbidding his approach would be quite suffi¬ 
cient to ensure its arrival. 

The evening passed in very evident and very 
fidgety expectation on the part of Fanny, who 
more than once strolled out upon the lawn, 
returning with an air of restlessness and dis¬ 
appointment. But Rosalind was in excellent 
spirits, and contrived to amuse Miss Cart¬ 
wright, and even elicit an expression of plea¬ 
sure from her, by singing some of her sweetest 
native melodies, which she did with a delicacy 
and perfection of taste and feeling that few 
could listen to without delight. 


258 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER XIV. 

AN INTERVIEW.-THE LIME TREE.-ROSALIND’S LETTER 

TO MR. MOWBRAY. 

At about eleven o’clock the following morn¬ 
ing, Miss Torrington was informed that Mr. 
Cartwright requested to speak to her for a few 
minutes in the drawing-room. Henrietta was 
with her when the message was delivered, 
and seemed to await her reply with some 
curiosity. 

“ I will wait upon him immediately,” was 
the civil and ready answer; and as Rosalind 
gave it, and at the same moment rose from her 
chair to obey the summons, she looked in the 
face of her companion to see if there were any 
wish expressed there that the silence so strictly 
enjoined should be broken. But Miss Cart¬ 
wright was occupied by a volume of engrav- 






WREXHILL. 259 

ings which lay before her, and Rosalind left 
the room without having met her eye. 

It is impossible to imagine a demeanour or 
address more perfectly gentlemanlike and re¬ 
spectful than those of Mr. Cartwright as he 
walked across the room to receive Miss Tor- 
rington. Strong as her feelings were against 
him, this still produced some effect; and as 
she seated herself and motioned to him to do 
the same, her mental soliloquy amounted to 
this:—“ At any rate, I will listen patiently to 
what he has to say.” 

“ I have taken the liberty of requesting to 
speak to you, Miss Torrington, because I feel 
persuaded that my conduct and principles have 
from some accident been misunderstood; and 
I cannot but hope that it may be in my power 
to explain them, so as in some degree to re¬ 
move the prejudice which I fear you have con¬ 
ceived against me.” 

66 It is my duty, sir, both as a matter of 
courtesy and justice, to hear whatever you 
wish to say in justification or excuse of the 
scene I witnessed yesterday morning. Miss 


260 


THE VICAR OF 


Fanny Mowbray is not yet recovered from the 
effects of the agitation into which she was 
thrown by it; and I have no objection, Mr. 
Cartwright, to repeat to you in person my 
fixed determination not to continue in the 
house if that scene be repeated.” 

fi< It is impossible,” replied Mr. Cartwright 
iC to find a lady of your age so steadfast in 
adhering to what she believes to be right, 
without feeling both admiration and respect 
for her; and I should think—forgive me if I 
wound you—I should think that such an one 
cannot altogether condemn the offering of 
prayer and thanksgiving to God ?” 

“ Mr. Cartwright,” replied Rosalind, her 
colour rising, and her voice expressive of great 
agitation, “ you talk of having been misunder¬ 
stood ; but it is I, sir, who have reason to 
make this complaint. From which of my 
words, either written or spoken, do you pre¬ 
sume to infer that I contemn the offering of 
prayer and thanksgiving to God ?” 

“ I beseech you to bear with me patiently,” 
said Mr. Cartwright with a look and tone 




WREXHILL. 


261 


of the most touching mildness; 66 and be as¬ 
sured that by doing so, we shall not only be 
more likely to make ourselves mutually under¬ 
stood, but finally to arrive at that truth 
which, I am willing to believe, is equally the 
object of both. And the theme, my dear 
young lady, on which we speak should never 
be alluded to,—at least, I think not,—with 
any mixture of temper.” 

Poor Rosalind! Honest as her vehemence 
was, she felt that she had been wrong to show 
it, and with an effort that did her honour 
she contrived to say, “ You are quite right, 
sir. As far as manner is concerned, you 
have greatly the advantage of me by your self- 
possession and calmness. Herein I will en¬ 
deavour to imitate you, and assure you, with a 
sangfroid as perfect as your own, that I con¬ 
sider the offering of prayer and thanksgiving to 
God as the first duty of a Christian. It is in 
consequence of the reverence in which I hold 
this sacred duty, that I shrink from seeing 
it performed irreverently. I have been taught 
to believe, sir, that the deepest learning, the 


262 


THE VICAR OF 


most deliberative wisdom, and the most grave 
and solemn meditation given to the subject by 
the fathers and founders of our church, were 
not too much to bestow on the sublime and 
awful attempt to address ourselves suitably to 
God in prayer. Prayers so framed, and fitted 
for every exigency that human nature can 
know, have been prepared for us with equal 
piety and wisdom ; and while such exist, I will 
never join in any crude, unweighed, unautho¬ 
rised jargon addressed to the Deity, however 
vehement the assumption of piety may be in the 
bold man who uses it.” 

44 It is seldom that so young a lady,” re¬ 
plied the vicar with a kind and gentle smile, 
64 can have found time to give this important 
question so much attention as you appear to 
have done. Yet, perhaps,—yet, perhaps, Miss 
Torrington, when a few years more of deep 
consideration have been given by you to the 
subject, you may be led to think that fervour 
of feeling may more than atone for imperfec¬ 
tion in expression.” 

44 If you imagine, sir,” replied Rosalind, in a 


I 



WREXHILL. 


263 


voice as tranquil and deliberate as his own, 
“ that I have dared to regulate my conduct 
and opinions on such a point as this by any 
wisdom of my own, you do me great injustice. 
Such conduct, if general, would make as many 
churches upon earth as there are audacious 
spirits who reject control. My father, Mr. 
Cartwright, was one whose life was passed in 
the situation which, perhaps, beyond all others 
in the world, taught him the value of the es¬ 
tablishment to which he belonged. To those 
of another and an adverse faith he was a kind 
friend and generous benefactor; but he could 
not be insensible, nor did he leave me so, of the 
superior purity and moral efficacy of his own ; 
—and I hope not to live long enough to forget 
the reverence which he has left impressed upon 
my mind for all that our church holds sa¬ 
cred.” 

66 Not for worlds, my excellent young lady,” 
exclaimed Mr. Cartwright with warmth, 
“ would I attempt to shake opinions so evi¬ 
dently sustained by a sense of duty ! Respect 
for such will assuredly prevent my again at- 


264 


THE VICAR OF 


tempting to perform the office which offended 
your opinions this morning, as long as you con¬ 
tinue, what you certainly ought to be at this 
time, the mistress of this family. I will only 
ask, Miss Torrington, in return for the sin¬ 
cere veneration I feel for your conscientious 
scruples, that you will judge me with equal 
candour, and will believe that however we 
may differ in judgment, I am not less anxious 
to be right than yourself.” 

Rosalind answered this appeal by a silent 
bow. 

“ May I, then, hope that we are friends ?” 
said he, rising and presenting his hand; u and 
that I may venture to call, as I promised 
Mrs. Mowbray I would do, on yourself, Miss 
Fanny, and my daughter, without driving you 
from the house ?” 

“ Certainly, sir,” was Rosalind’s cold reply. 
The request appeared as reasonable in itself, as 
it was politely and respectfully made, and to 
refuse it would have been equally churlish, 
presumptuous and unjust. Nevertheless, there 
was something at the bottom of her heart that 


WREXHILL. 


265 


revolted against the act of shaking hands with 
him; and feigning to be occupied by arranging 
some flowers on the table, she suffered the 
offered hand to remain extended, till at length 
its patient owner withdrew it. 

Though well pleased that her remonstrance 
had put a stop to the vicar’s extempore pray¬ 
ings at the house, Rosalind was not altoge¬ 
ther satisfied by the result of the interview. 
“ We are still upon infinitely too civil terms,” 
thought she ; “ but I see that just at present it 
would be an Herculean labour to quarrel with 
him:—if I smite him on one cheek, he will 
turn himself about as unresistingly as a suck¬ 
ing pig upon the spit, and submit to be basted 
all round without uttering a single squeak. But 
when Mrs. Mowbray returns, I suspect that it 
will be my turn to be basted :— n’importe —I 
am sure I have done no more than my father 
would have thought right.” 

With this consolation she returned to her 
dressing-room and applied herself to her usual 
occupations. Henrietta was no longer there; 
but as the fashion of the house was for every 


VOL. i. 


N 


266 


THE VICAR OF 


one to find employment and amusement for 
themselves during the morning, she did not 
think it necessary to pursue her in order to 
prove her wish to be agreeable. 

At luncheon the three young ladies met as 
usual in the dining-room: Fanny appeared to 
have recovered her spirits and good-humour, 
and Henrietta seemed to wish to be more con¬ 
versable than usual. They then strolled into 
the gardens, visited the hothouses, and finally 
placed themselves in a shady and fragrant 
bower, where they discoursed of poetry and 
music for an hour or two. 

When these subjects seemed to be well- 
nigh exhausted, Miss Cartwright rose and 
slowly walked towards the house without in¬ 
timating to her companions what it was her 
purpose to do next. 

Rosalind and Fanny being thus left tete-a- 
tete, the former said, “ What do you think of 
our new acquaintance, Fanny ?—How do you 
like Miss Cartwright ?” 

“ I do not think she seems at all an amiable 
girl/’ replied Fanny. “ With such advantages 


WREXHILL. 267 

as she has, it is quite astonishing that her man¬ 
ners are so little agreeable.” 

44 She is not remarkably conversable, cer¬ 
tainly,” said Rosalind; 44 but I suspect that she 
has very bad health. How dreadfully sallow 
she is !” 

44 I suspect that she has a worse infirmity 
than bad health,” answered Fanny ;— 44 she has, 
I fear, an extremely bad temper.” 

44 She has not a violent temper, at any rate,” 
observed Rosalind ; 44 for I never remember to 
have seen any one who gave me a greater idea 
of being subdued and spirit-broken.” 

44 That is not at all the impression she makes 
upon me,” said Fanny: 44 I should call her ra¬ 
ther sullen than gentle, and obstinate instead 
of subdued. But this gossiping is sad idle 
work, Rosalind: as Miss Henrietta has fortu¬ 
nately taken herself off, I may go on with what 
I was doing before luncheon.” 

# * * # * 

Late in the evening, Mr. Cartwright and his 
son Jacob paid the young ladies a visit. The 
vicar’s conversation was chiefly addressed to 

n 2 


268 


THE VICAR OF 


Miss Torrington; and if she had never seen 
him before, she must have agreed with Fanny 
in thinking him one of the most agreeable per¬ 
sons in the world, — for he spoke fluently and 
well upon every subject, and with a person and 
voice calculated to please every eye and every 
ear. There were probably, indeed, but few 
who could retain as steady a dislike to him as 
our Rosalind did. 

The young man got hold of a purse that 
Fanny was netting, and did his best to entan¬ 
gle her silks; but his chief amusement was 
derived from attempts to quiz and plague his 
sister, who treated him much as a large and 
powerful dog does a little one,—enduring his 
gambols and annoying tricks with imperturb¬ 
able patience for a while, and then suddenly 
putting forth a heavy paw and driving him off 
in an instant. 

The following day passed very nearly in the 
same manner,—excepting that the three girls 
separated immediately after breakfast, and did 
not meet again till luncheon-time. On the 
third, Fanny was the first to leave the break- 


WREXHILL. 


269 


fast-room; and Miss Cartwright and Rosalind 
being left together, the former said, 

66 I suppose we owe our repose from morn¬ 
ing and evening ranting to you, Miss Torring- 
ton?” 

“ I certainly did not approve it, Miss Cart¬ 
wright, and I took the liberty of telling your 
father so.” 

“ You were undoubtedly very right and 
very wise, and I dare say you feel some in¬ 
ward satisfaction at your success. Mr. Cart¬ 
wright has really shown great deference to your 
opinion, by so immediately abandoning, at 
your request, so very favourite an occupa¬ 
tion.” 

Rosalind was about to reply, when Miss 
Cartwright changed the conversation by ab¬ 
ruptly saying, 

“ Will you take a stroll with me this morn¬ 
ing, Miss Torrington?” 

“ Yes, certainly, if you wish it; — but I 
think we shall find it very warm.” 

“ Oh! no. I will lead you a very nice 
shady walk to the prettiest and most sheltered 


THE VICAR OF 


270 

little thicket in the world. Let us put on our 
bonnets directly ;—shall we?” 

“ I will not delay you a moment,” said 
Rosalind. fiC Shall I ask Fanny to go with 
us? 

, | 

“ Why, no,” replied Miss Cartwright; “ I 
think you had better not;—the chances are ten 
to one against her finding it convenient. You 

know she is so fond of solitary study-” 

<c I believe you are right,” said Rosalind; 
and the young ladies parted, to meet again a 
few minutes after, with bonnets and parasols, 
at the hall-door. j 

6i And which way are we to go to find this 
welcome shade ?” said Rosalind, holding her 
parasol low down to shelter her pretty face. 
u The sun is almost intolerable.” 

“ This way,” said Henrietta, turning aside 
from the drive in a direction which soon 
brought them to a thickly-planted ride that 
surrounded the Park. “ We shall find it de¬ 
lightful here.” 

It was an hour which, in the month of July, 



WREXHILL. 


271 


few ladies would choose for walking; but Miss 
Torrington politely exerted herself to converse, 
though she secretly longed to be lying silent 
and alone on the sofa in her own dressing-room, 
with no greater exertion than was necessary 
for the perusal of— 

“ The dear pages of some new romance/’ 
Henrietta, however, only answered her dryly 
and shortly, and presently said, 

“ I should be really very much obliged to 
you, Miss Torrington, if you would not speak 
to me any more. Just listen to the blackbirds, 
will you ? — depend upon it we can neither 
of us express ourselves one half so well as they 
do” 

Rosalind willingly submitted to this request; 
and the young ladies walked onward, produ¬ 
cing no other sound than the occasional brushing 
of their dresses against the underwood, which 
at every step became thicker, rendering the 
path almost too narrow for two to walk 
abreast. 

“ Now, let us just turn down through this 


272 


THE VICAR OF 


little opening,” said Henrietta in a whisper ; 
“ and pray, do not speak to me.” 

Rosalind, who began to believe that she 
must have some meaning for her strange manner 
of proceeding, followed her in perfect silence; 
and they had not gone far into the intricacies 
of the tangled copse, before she heard the 
sound of a human voice at no great distance 
from her. Henrietta, who was in advance, 
turned round and laid her finger on her lips. 
The caution was not needed : Rosalind had 
already recognised the tones of Mr. Cart¬ 
wright, and a few more silent steps brought 
them to a spot thickly surrounded on all 
sides, but from whence they could look out 
upon a small and beautiful opening, in the 
centre of which a majestic lime-tree stretched 
its arms, in all directions over the soft green 
turf. 

Rosalind instantly recognised the spot as 
one frequently resorted to in their evening 
rambles, for the sake of its cool and secluded 
beauty, and also because a bench, divided into 
commodious stalls, surrounded the capacious 



































WREXHILL. 


273 


tree, from whence opened a vista commanding 
a charming view across the Park. 

On the turf before this bench, and with 
their backs turned towards the spot where 
Rosalind and Henrietta stood, knelt Mr. Cart¬ 
wright and Fanny. His eyes were fixed upon 
her with passionate admiration, and the first 
words they distinctly heard were these, spoken 
with great vehemence by the vicar 

“ Persecuted—trampled on — turned forth 
from every other roof, O Lord ! let thy blue 
vault spread over us, and while I struggle 
to snatch this precious brand from the eternal 
fire of thy wrath, pour upon our heads the dew 
of thy love ! Grant me power, O Lord ! to 
save this one dear soul alive, though it should 
seem good in thy sight that millions should 
perish round her ! Save her, O Lord ! — save 
her from the eternal flame that even now rises 
to lick her feet, and if not stayed by prayer 
—the prayer of thy saints, O Lord! — will 
speedily envelope and consume her ! ” 

Rosalind remained to hear no more. Heart¬ 
sick, indignant, disgusted, and almost terrified 

n 5 


274 


THE VICAR OF 


by what she saw and heard, she retreated 
hastily, and, followed by Henrietta, rapidly 
pursued her way to the house. 

Her companion made an effort to overtake 
her, and, almost out of breath by an exertion 
to which she was hardly equal, she said, 

“ I have shown you this, Miss Torrington, 
for the sake of giving you a useful lesson. If 
you are wise, you will profit by it, and learn to 
know that it is not always safe to suppose you 
have produced an effect, merely because it may 
be worth some one’s while to persuade you into 
believing it. Having said thus much to point 
the moral of our walk in the sun, you may go 
your way, and I will go mine. I shall not 
enter upon any more elaborate exposition of 
Mr. Cartwright’s character.” 

So saying, she fell back among the bushes, 
and Rosalind reached the house alone. 

On entering her dressing-room, Miss Tor¬ 
rington sat herself down, with her eau de Co¬ 
logne bottle in one hand and a large feather 
fan in the other, to meditate — coolly, if she 
could, but at any rate to meditate—upon what 


WREXHILL. 


215 


she ought to do in order immediately to put a 
stop to the very objectionable influence which 
Mr. Cartwright appeared to exercise over the 
mind of Fanny. 

Had she been aware of Sir Gilbert Harring¬ 
ton’s having written to recal his refusal of the 
executorship, she would immediately have had 
recourse to him ; but this fact had never tran¬ 
spired beyond Mrs. Mowbray and the vicar ; 
and the idea that he had resisted the represen¬ 
tation which she felt sure his son had made to 
him after the conversation Helen and herself 
had held with him, not only made her too angry 
to attempt any farther to soften him, but natu¬ 
rally impressed her with the belief that, do or 
say what she would on the subject, it must be 
in vain. 

At length it struck her that Charles Mow- 
bray was the most proper person to whom she 
could address herself; yet the writing such a 
letter as might immediately bring him home, 
was a measure which, under all existing cir¬ 
cumstances, she felt to be awkward and disa¬ 
greeable. But the more she meditated, the 


276 


THE VICAR OF 


more she felt convinced, that, notwithstanding 
the obvious objections to it, this was the safest 
course she could pursue : so, having once made 
up her mind upon the subject, she set about it 
without farther delay, and, with the straight¬ 
forward frankness and sincerity of her charac¬ 
ter, produced the following epistle :— 

“ Dear Mr. Mowbray, 

“ Your last letter to Helen, giving so 
very agreeable an account of the style and 
manner of your Little-go , makes it an ungra¬ 
cious task to interrupt your studies — and yet 
that is what I am bent upon doing. You will 
be rather puzzled, I suspect, at finding me as¬ 
suming the rights and privileges of a corre¬ 
spondent, and moreover of an adviser, or rather 
a dictator: but so it is—and you must not 
blame me till you are quite sure you know all 
my reasons for it. 

(C Mrs. Mowbray is gone to London, accom¬ 
panied by Helen, for the purpose of proving 
(I think it is called) your father’s will; a busi¬ 
ness in which Sir Gilbert Harrington has, most 



WREXHILL. 


277 


unkindly for all of you, refused to join her. 
This journey was so suddenly decided upon, 
that dear Helen had no time to write to you 
about it: she knew not she was to go till 
about nine o’clock the evening preceding. 

<c The Vicar of Wrexhill was probably ac¬ 
quainted with the intended movement earlier; 
for no day passes, or has passed for some weeks, 
without his holding a private consultation with 
your mother. 

44 Oh ! that vicar, Charles ! I think I told 
you that I hated him, and you seemed to smile 
at my hatred as a sort of missish impertinence 
and caprice; but what was instinct then has 
become reason now, and I am strangely mis¬ 
taken if your hatred would not fully keep pace 
with mine had you seen and heard what I 
have done. 

“When I decided upon writing to you, I 
intended, I believe, to enter into all particulars; 
but I cannot do this—you must see for your¬ 
self, and draw your own inferences. My dis¬ 
like for this man may carry me too far, and 
you must be much more capable of forming a 


278 


THE VICAR OF 


judgment respecting his motives than I can be. 
Of this however I am quite sure,—Fanny 
ought at this time to have some one near her 
more capable of protecting her from the mis¬ 
chievous influence of this hateful man than I 
am. I know, Mr. Charles, that you have no 
very exalted idea of my wisdom’; and I am not 
without some fear that instead of coming home 
immediately, as I think you ought to do, you 
may write me a very witty, clever answer, with 
reasons as plenty as blackberries to prove that 
I am a goose. Do not do this , Mr. Mowbray. 
I do not think that you know me very well, 
but in common courtesy you ought not to be¬ 
lieve that any young lady would write you 
such a summons as this without having very 
serious reasons for it. 

66 As one proof of the rapidly-increasing in¬ 
timacy between the family of the vicar and 
your own, you will, on your arrival, find the 
daughter, Miss Cartwright, established here to 
console us for your mother’s (and Helen’s!) 
absence. She is a very singular personage: but 
on her I pass no judgment, sincerely feeling 


WREXHILL. 


279 


that I am not competent to it. If my opinion 
be of sufficient weight to induce you to come, 
Mr. Mowbray, I must beg you to let your ar¬ 
rival appear the result of accident; and not to 
let any one but Helen know of this letter. 

“ Believe me, very sincerely, 

66 Your friend, 

“ Rosalind Torrington.” 


280 


THE VICAR OF 


CHAPTER XV. 

Rosalind’s conversation with miss Cartwright.— 

MRS. SIMPSON AND MISS RICHARDS MEET THE VICAR 
AT THE PARK.—THE HYMN.—THE WALK HOME. 

In the course of the morning after this letter 
was despatched, Miss Cartwright and Rosalind 
again found themselves t£te-a-tete. The nature 
of Rosalind Torrington was so very completely 
the reverse of mysterious or intriguing, that far 
from wishing to lead Henrietta to talk of her 
father in that style of hints and innuendos to 
which the young lady seemed addicted, she 
determined, in future, carefully to avoid the 
subject; although it was very evident from the 
preconcerted walk to the lime-tree, that, not¬ 
withstanding her declaration to the contrary, 
Miss Cartwright was desirous to make her ac¬ 
quainted with the character and conduct of her 
father. 


WREXHILL. 


281 


Whether it were that spirit of contradiction 
which is said to possess the breast of woman, 
or any other more respectable feeling, it may 
be difficult to decide, but it is certain that 
the less Rosalind appeared disposed to speak of 
the adventure of yesterday, the more desirous 
did Henrietta feel to lead her to it. 

44 You were somewhat disappointed, I fancy, 
Miss Torrington,” said she, 44 to discover that 
though you had contrived to banish the con¬ 
venticle from the house, it had raised its voice 
in the grounds.” 

44 Indeed I was,” replied Rosalind. 

44 1 rather think that you are addicted to 
speaking truth, — and perhaps you pique 
yourself upon it,” resumed Miss Cartwright. 
44 Will you venture to tell me what you think 
of the scene you witnessed ?” 

44 You are not the person I should most 
naturally have selected as the confidant of my 
opinions respecting Mr. Cartwright,” said Ro¬ 
salind ; 44 but since you put the question plain¬ 
ly, I will answer it plainly, and confess that I 
suspect him not only of wishing to inculcate 


282 


THE VICAR OF 


his own Calvinistic doctrines on the mind of 
Fanny Mowbray, but moreover, notwithstand¬ 
ing his disproportionate age, of gaining her 
affections.” 

“ Her affections ?” repeated Henrietta. “ And 
with what view do you imagine he is endeavour¬ 
ing to gain her affections ?” 

<c Doubtless with a view to making her his 
wife; though, to be sure, the idea is prepos¬ 
terous.” 

“ Sufficiently. Pray, Miss Torrington, has 
Miss Fanny Mowbray an independent for¬ 
tune?” 

“ None whatever. Like the rest of the fa¬ 
mily, she is become by the death of her father 
entirely dependent upon Mrs. Mowbray.” 

“ Your fortune is entirely at your own dis¬ 
posal, I believe.” 

Rosalind looked provoked at the idle turn 
Miss Cartwright was giving to a conversation 
which, though she had not led to it, interested 
her deeply? 

“Do not suspect me of impertinence,” said 


WREXHILL. 


283 


Henrietta in a tone more gentle than ordinary. 
“ But such is the case, is it not ?” 

“ Yes, Miss Cartwright,” was Rosalind’s 
grave reply. 

“ Then, do you know that I think it infi¬ 
nitely more probable Mr. Cartwright may have 
it in contemplation to make you his wife.” 

“ I beg your pardon, Miss Cartwright,” said 
Rosalind, “but I really thought that you were 
speaking of your father seriously ; and it seems 
you are disposed to punish me for imagining 
you would do so, to one so nearly a stranger.” 

“ I never jest on any subject,” replied the 
melancholy-looking girl, knitting her dark 
brows into a frown of such austerity as almost 
made Rosalind tremble. “ A reasoning being 
who has nothing to hope among the realities on 
this side the grave, and hopes nothing among 
the visions on the other, is not very likely to 
be jocose.” 

“ Good God ! Miss Cartwright,” exclaimed 
Rosalind, “ what dreadful language is this ? 
Are you determined to prove to me that there 


284 


THE VICAR OF 


may be opinions and doctrines more terrible 
still than those of your father ?” 

<C I had no meaning of the kind, I assure 
you/’ replied Henrietta, in her usual quiet 
manner, which always seemed to hover be¬ 
tween the bitterness of a sneer, and the quietude 
or indifference of philosophy. 6i Pray do not 
trouble yourself for a moment to think about 
me or my opinions. You might, perhaps, 
as you are a bold-spirited, honest-minded girl, 
do some good if you fully comprehended all 
that was going on around you; though it is 
very doubtful, for it is impossible to say to 
what extent the besotted folly of people may 
go. But don’t you think it might on the whole 
be quite as probable that Mr. Cartwright may 
wish to marry the mother, as the daughter ?” 

“ Mrs. Mowbray !—Good gracious ! no.” 

“ Then we differ. But may I ask you why 
you think otherwise ?” 

“ One reason is, that Mrs. Mowbray’s recent 
widowhood seems to put such an idea entirely 
out of the question; and another, that he ap¬ 
pears to be positively making love to Fanny.” 


WREXHILL. 


285 


“ Oh ! — is that all ? I do assure you there is 
nothing at all particular in that. He would tell 
you himself, I am sure, if you were to enter 
upon the subject with him, that it is his duty 
to influence and lead the hearts of his flock 
into the way he would have them go, by every 
means in his power.” 

u Then you really do not think he has been 
making love to Fanny ?” 

“ I am sure, Miss Torrington,” replied Hen¬ 
rietta very gravely, “ I did not mean to say 
so.” 

“ Indeed ! indeed ! Miss Cartwright,” said 
Rosalind with evident symptoms of impa¬ 
tience, these riddles vex me cruelly. “ If your 
father does make love to this dear fanciful 
child, he must, I suppose, have some hope that 
she will marry him ?” 

“ How can I answer you ?” exclaimed Hen¬ 
rietta with real feeling. “You cannot be above 
two or three years younger than I am, yet 
your purity and innocence make me feel my¬ 
self a monster.” 

“ For God’s sake do not trifle with me !” 


286 


THE VICAR OF 


cried Rosalind, her face and neck dyed with 
indignant blood; “ you surely do not mean 
that your father is seeking to seduce this un¬ 
happy child ?” 

“ Watch Mr. Cartwright a little while, Ro¬ 
salind Torrington, as I have done for the six 
last terrible years of my hateful life, and you 
may obtain perhaps some faint idea of the 
crooked, complex machinery—the movements 
and counter-movements, the shiftings and the 
balancings, by which his zig-zag course is 
regulated. Human passions are in him for ever 
struggling with, and combating, what may be 
called in their strength, superhuman avarice 
and ambition. 

“ To touch, to influence, to lead, to rule, to 
tyrannise over the hearts and souls of all he 
approaches, is the great object of his life. He 
would willingly do this in the hearts of men, 
—but for the most part he has found them 
tough; and he now, I think, seems to rest all 
his hopes of fame, wealth, and station on the 
power he can obtain over women.—I say not/’ 



WREXHILL. 


28 7 


she added after a pause, while a slight blush 
passed over her pallid cheek, “ that I believe 
his senses uninfluenced by beauty;—this is 
far, hatefully far from being the case with Mr. 
Cartwright;—but he is careful, most cunningly 
careful, whatever victims he make, never to 
become one in his own person. 

“ You would find, were you to watch him, 
that his system, both for pleasure and profit, 
consists of a certain graduated love-making to 
every woman within his reach, not too poor, 
too old, or too ugly. But if any among them 
fancy that he would sacrifice the thousandth 
part of a hair’s breadth of his worldly hopes 
for all they could give him in return—they 
are mistaken.” 

“ The character you paint,” said Rosalind, 
who grew pale as she listened, “ is too terrible 
for me fully to understand, and I would turn 
my eyes from the portrait, and endeavour to 
forget that I had ever heard of it, were not 
those I love endangered by it. Hateful as all 
this new knowledge is to me, I must still ques- 


288 


THE VICAR OF 


tion you further, Miss Cartwright: What do 
you suppose to be his object in thus working 
upon the mind of Fanny Mowbray ?” 

64 His motives, depend upon it, are mani¬ 
fold. Religion and love, the new birth and 
intellectual attachment—mystical sympathy of 
hearts, and the certainty of eternal damnation 
to all that he does not take under the shadow 
of his wing;—these are the tools with which he 
works. He has got his foot—perhaps you may 
think it a cloven one, but, such as it is, he 
seems to have got it pretty firmly planted within 
the paling of Mowbray Park. He made me 
follow him hither as a volunteer visiter, very 
much against my inclination ; but if by what I 
have said you may be enabled to defeat any of 
his various projects among ye,—for he never 
plots single-handed,—I shall cease to regret 
that I came.” 

66 My power of doing any good,” replied Ro¬ 
salind, 46 must, I fear, be altogether destroyed 
by my ignorance of what Mr. Cartwright's in¬ 
tentions and expectations are. You have hinted 
various things, but all so vaguely, that I own 


WREXHILL. 


289 


I do not feel more capable of keeping my 
friends from any danger which may threaten 
them, than before this conversation took 
place.” 

44 I am sorry for it,” said Henrietta coldly, 
44 but I have really no information more accu¬ 
rate to give.” 

44 I truly believe that you have meant very 
kindly,” said Rosalind, looking seriously dis¬ 
tressed. 44 Will you go one step farther, and 
say what you would advise me to do, Miss 
Cartwright ?” 

44 No, certainly, Miss Torrington, I will not. 
But I will give you a hint or two what not to 
do. Do not appear at all better acquainted 
with me than I show myself disposed to be 
with you. Do not make the slightest alteration 
in your manner of receiving Mr. Cartwright; 
and do not, from any motive whatever, repeat 
one syllable of this conversation to Fanny 
Mowbray. Should you disobey this last in¬ 
junction, you will be guilty of very cruel and 
ungrateful treachery towards me.” Having 
said this, with the appearance of more emotion 


VOL. i. 


o 


290 the vicar of 

than she had hitherto manifested, Henrietta 
rose and left the room. 

“ At length,” thought Rosalind, “ she has 
spoken out; yet what are we likely to be the 
better for it? It seems that there is a great 
net thrown over us, of which we shall feel and 
see the meshes by-and-by, when he who has 
made prey of us begins to pull the draught to 
shore; but how to escape from it, the oracle 
sayeth not!” 

# * # # # 

On the evening of that day, Mrs. Simpson 
and the eldest Miss Richards walked over 
from Wrexhill to pay a visit at the Park. 
They were not aware of the absence of Mrs. 
Mowbray, and seemed disposed to shorten their 
visit on finding she was not at home; but Ro¬ 
salind, who for the last hour had been sitting on 
thorns expecting Mr. Cartwright to make his 
evening call, most cordially and earnestly in¬ 
vited them to stay till after tea, feeling that 
their presence would greatly relieve the embar¬ 
rassment which she feared she might betray on 
again seeing the vicar 



WREXHILL. 


291 


“ But it will be so late !” said Mrs. Richards. 
“ How are we to get home after it is dark ? 
Remember, Mrs. Simpson, there is no moon.” 

“ It is very true,” said Mrs. Simpson. 66 I 
am afraid, my dear Miss Torrington, that we 
must deny ourselves the pleasure you offer;— 
but I am such a nervous creature ! It is very 
seldom that I stir out without ordering a man¬ 
servant to follow me; and I regret excessively 
that I omitted to do so this evening.” 

“ I think,” said Rosalind, colouring at her 
own eagerness, which she was conscious must 
appear rather new and rather strange to Mrs. 
Simpson, with whom she had hardly ever ex¬ 
changed a dozen words before,—I think Mr. 
Cartwright will very likely be here this even¬ 
ing, and perhaps he might attend you home. 
Bo you not think. Miss Cartwright,” she 
added, turning to Henrietta, “ that it is very 
likely your father will call this evening ?” 

“ Good gracious ! — Miss Cartwright — I 
beg your pardon, I did not know you. I 
hope you heard that I called; — so very 
happy to cultivate your acquaintance ! — Oh 

o 2 


292 


THE VICAR OF 


dear ! I would not miss seeing Mr. Cartwright 
for the world ! — Thank you, my dear Miss 
Torrington ; — thank you, Miss Fanny : I 
will just set my hair to rights a little, if you 
will give me leave. Perhaps, Miss Fanny, you 
will permit me to go into your bed-room ?” 
Such was the effect produced by the vicar’s 
name upon the handsome widow. 

Miss Richards coloured, smiled, spoke to 
Henrietta with very respectful politeness, and 
finally followed her friend Mrs. Simpson out 
of the room, accompanied by Fanny, who will¬ 
ingly undertook to be their gentlewoman 
usher. 

“ Mr. Cartwright has already made some 
impression on these fair ladies, or I am greatly 
mistaken,” said Henrietta. “ Did you remark, 
Miss Torrington, the effect produced by his 
name ?” 

“ I did,” replied Rosalind, “ and my reason¬ 
ings upon it are very consolatory; for if he 
has already found time and inclination to pro¬ 
duce so great effect there, why should we fear 






WREXH1LL. £93 

that his labours of love here should prove more 
dangerous in their tendency ?” 

“ Very true. Nor do I see any reason in 
the world why the Mowbray is in greater 
peril than the Simpson, or the Fanny than 
the Louisa, — excepting that one widow is 
about twenty times richer than the other, and 
the little young lady about five hundred times 
handsomer than the great one.” 

At this moment the Mr. Cartwrights, father 
and son, were seen turning off from the regular 
approach to the house, towards the little gate 
that opened from the lawn; a friendly and 
familiar mode of entrance, which seemed to 
have become quite habitual to them. 

Rosalind, who was the first to perceive them, 
flew towards the door, saying, 46 You must ex¬ 
cuse me for running away, Miss Cartwright. 
I invited that furbelow widow to stay on pur¬ 
pose to spare me this almost t£te-a-t£te meeting. 
I will seek the ladies and return with them.” 

“ Then so will I too,” said Henrietta, 
hastily following her. “ I am by no means 


294 


THE VICAR OF 


disposed to stand the cross-examination which 
I know will ensue if I remain here alone.” 

The consequence of this movement was, that 
the vicar and his son prepared their smiles 
in vain ; for, on entering the drawing-room, 
sofas and ottomans, foot-stools, tables and 
chairs, alone greeted them. 

Young Cartwright immediately began peep¬ 
ing intO' the work-boxes and portfolios which 
lay on the tables. 

66 Look here sir,” said he, holding up a cari¬ 
cature of Lord B-m. “ Is not this sin¬ 

ful?” 

“ Do be quiet, Jacob !—we shall have them 
here in a moment;—I really wish I could teach 
you when your interest is at stake to make the 
best of yourself. You know that I should be 
particularly pleased by your marrying Miss 
Torrington ; and I do beg, my dear boy, that 
you will not suffer your childish spirits to put 
any difficulties in my way.” 

“ I will become an example unto all men,” 
replied Jacob, shutting up his eyes and mouth 




WREXHILL. 


295 


demurely, and placing himself bolt upright 
upon the music-stool. 

“ If you and your sister could but mingle 
natures a little,” said Mr. Cartwright, “ you 
would both be wonderfully improved. Nothing 
with which I am acquainted, however joyous, 
can ever induce Henrietta to smile; and no¬ 
thing, however sad, can prevent your being 
on the broad grin from morning to night. 
However, of the two, I confess I think you are 
the most endurable.” 

“ A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, 
and a rod for the fool’s back,” said Jacob in a 
sanctified tone. 

6< Upon my honour, Jacob, I shall be very 
angry with you if you do not set about this 
love-making as I would have you. Don’t 
make ducks and drakes of eighty thousand 
pounds: — at least, not till you have got 
them.” 

“ Answer not a fool according to his folly, 
lest he be wise in his own conceit,” said 
Jacob. 


296 


THE VICAR OF 


Mr. Cartwright smiled, as it seemed against 
his will, but shook his head very solemnly. 
tc I ’ll tell you what, Jacob,” said he,—“ if I 
see you set about this in a way to please 
me, I ’ll give you five shillings to-morrow 
morning.” 

“ Wherefore is there a price in the hand of 
a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart 
to it ?” replied Jacob. “ Nevertheless, father, I 
will look lovingly upon the maiden, and receive 
thy promised gift, even as thou sayest.” 

“ Upon my word, Jacob, you try my pa¬ 
tience too severely,” said the vicar; yet there 
was certainly but little wrath in his eye as 
he said so, and his chartered libertine of a 
son was preparing again to answer him in the 
words of Solomon, but in a spirit of very 
indecent buffoonery, when the drawing-room 
door opened, and Mrs. Simpson, Miss Rich¬ 
ards, and Fanny Mowbray entered. 

It appeared that Rosalind and Miss Cart¬ 
wright on escaping from the drawing-room 
had not sought the other ladies, but taken 
refuge in the dining-parlour, from whence they 





WREXHILL. 


297 


issued immediately after the others had passed 
the door, and entering the drawing-room with 
them, enjoyed the gratification of witnessing 
the meeting of the vicar and his fair parish¬ 
ioners. 

To the surprise of Rosalind, and the great 
though silent amusement of her companion, 
they perceived that both the stranger ladies 
had contrived to make a very edifying and 
remarkable alteration in the general appearance 
of their dress. 

Miss Richards had combed her abounding 
black curls as nearly straight as their nature 
would allow, and finally brought them into 
very reverential order by the aid of her ears, 
and sundry black pins to boot,—an arrange¬ 
ment by no means unfavourable to the display 
of her dark eyes and eyebrows. 

But the change produced by the castigato 
toilet of the widow was considerably more im¬ 
portant. A transparent blond chemisette , rather 
calculated to adorn than conceal that part of 
the person to which it belonged, was now com¬ 
pletely hidden by a lavender-coloured silk 

o 5 


298 


THE VICAR OF 


handkerchief, tightly, smoothly, and with care¬ 
ful security pinned behind, and before, and 
above, and below, upon her full but graceful 
bust. 

Rosalind had more than once of late amused 
herself by looking over the pages of Moliere’s 
“ Tartufeand a passage now occurred to her 
that she could not resist muttering in the ear of 
Henrietta:— 

“ Ah, mon Dieu ! je vous prie, 

“ Avant que de parler, prenez-moi ce mouchoir”— &c. 

The corner of Miss Cartwright’s mouth ex¬ 
pressed her appreciation of the quotation, but 
by a movement so slight that none but Rosa¬ 
lind could perceive it. 

Meanwhile the vicar approached Mrs. Simp¬ 
son with a look that was full of meaning, and 
intended to express admiration both of her 
mental and personal endowments. She, too, 
had banished the drooping ringlets from her 
cheeks, and appeared before him with all the 
pretty severity of a Madonna band across her 
forehead. 







WREXHILL. 


299 


Was it in the nature of man to witness such 
touching proofs of his influence without being 
affected thereby ? At any rate, such indiffer¬ 
ence made no part of the character of the Vicar 
of Wrexhill, and the murmured “ God bless 
you, my dear lady !” which accompanied his 
neighbourly pressure of the widow Simpson’s 
hand, gave her to understand how much his 
grateful and affectionate feelings were gratified 
by her attention to the hints he had found an 
opportunity to give her during a t&te-&-tete 
Conversation at her own house a few’ days 
before. 

Nor was the delicate attention of Miss Rich¬ 
ards overlooked. She, too, felt at her fingers’ 
ends how greatly the sacrifice of her curls was 
approved by the graceful vicar, who now, 
in all the beauty of holiness, sat down sur¬ 
rounded by this fair bevy of ladies, smiling 
with bland and gentle sweetness on them all. 

Mr. Jacob thought of the promised five shil¬ 
lings, and displaying his fine teeth from ear to 
ear, presented a chair to- Miss Torrington. 

“ I wish you would let us have a song, 


300 


THE VICAR OF 


Miss Rosalind Torrington,” said he, station¬ 
ing himself at the back of her chair and lean¬ 
ing over her shoulder. 44 I am told that your 
voice beats all the heavenly host hollow.'” 

His eye caught an approving glance from 
his father as he took this station, and he 
wisely trusted to his attitude for obtaining 
his reward, for these words were audible only 
to the young lady herself. 

44 You are a mighty odd set of people !” said 
she, turning round to him. 44 1 cannot imagine 
how you all contrive to live together ! There 
is not one of you that does not appear to be 
a contrast to the other two. 1 ’ 

44 Then, at any rate, you cannot dislike us 
all equally” said the strange lad, with a gri¬ 
mace that made her laugh, despite her inclina¬ 
tion to look grave. 

44 I do not know that,” was the reply. 44 I 
may dislike you all equally, and yet have a 
different species of dislike for each.” 

44 But one species must be stronger and more 
vigorous than the others. Besides, I will 
assist your judgment. I do not mean to say I 



WREXHILL. 


301 


am quite perfect; but, depend upon it, I’m the 
best of the set , as you call us.” 

fiC Your authority, Mr. Jacob, is the best in 
the world, certainly. Nevertheless, there are 
many who on such an occasion might suspect 
you of partiality.” 

fiC Then they would do me great injustice, 
Miss Torrington. I am a man, or a boy, or 
something between both : take me for all in all, 
it is five hundred to one you ne’er shall look 
upon my like again. But that is a play-going 
and sinful quotation, Miss Rosalind, like your 
name: so be gracious and merciful unto me, 
and please not to tell my papa.” 

“ You may be very certain, Mr. Jacob, that 
I shall obey you in this.” 

“ Sweetest nut hath sourest rind,— 

Such a nut is Rosalind, 1 ” 

responded the youth; and probably thinking 
that he had fairly won his five shillings, he 
raised his tall thin person from the position 
which had so well pleased his father, and stole 
round to the sofa on which Fanny was sit¬ 
ting. 


302 


THE VICAR OF 


Fanny was looking very lovely, but without 
a trace of that bright and beaming animation 
which a few short months before had led her 
poor father to give her the sobriquet of “ Fire¬ 
fly He was wont to declare, and no one 
was inclined to contradict him, that whenever 
she appeared, something like a bright corusca¬ 
tion seemed to flash upon the eye. No one, 
not even a fond father, would have hit upon 
such a simile for her now. Beautiful she was, 
perhaps more beautiful than ever; but a sad 
and sombre thoughtfulness had settled itself on 
her young brow,—her voice was no longer the 
echo of gay thoughts, and, in a word, her 
whole aspect and bearing were changed. 

She now sat silently apart from the company, 
watching, with an air that seemed to hover be¬ 
tween abstraction and curiosity, Mrs. Simp¬ 
son’s manner of making herself agreeable to 
Mr. Cartwright. 

This lady was seated on one side of the 
vicar, and Miss Richards on the other : both 
had the appearance of being unconscious that 
any other person or persons were in the room, 



WREXHILL. 


SOS 


and nothing but his consummate skill in the 
art of uttering an aside both with eyes and 
lips could have enabled him to sustain his 
position. 

“ My sisters and I are afraid you have quite 
forgotten us,” murmured Miss Richards; 
“ but we have been practising the hymns you 
gave us, and we are all quite perfect, and ready 
to sing them to you whenever you come.” 

“ The hearing this, my dear young lady, 
gives me as pure and holy a pleasure as list¬ 
ening to the sacred strains could do :—unless, 
indeed,” he added, bending his head sideways 
towards her so as nearly to touch her cheek, 
66 unless, indeed, they were breathed by the 
lips of Louisa herself. That must be very like 
hearing a seraph sing!” 

Not a syllable of this was heard save by 
herself. 

. “ I have thought incessantly,” said Mrs. 
Simpson, in a very low voice, as soon as Mr. 
Cartwright’s head had recovered the perpendi¬ 
cular, — i( incessantly, I may truly say, on our 
last conversation. My life has been passed in 


304 . 


THE VICAR OF 


a manner so widely different from what I am 
sure it will be in future, that I feel as if I were 
awakened to a new existence!” 

44 The great object of my hopes is, and will 
will ever be,” replied the Vicar of Wrexhill 
almost aloud, 64 to lead my beloved flock to sweet 
and safe pastures. — And for you,” he added, 
in a voice so low that she rather felt than heard 
his words, 44 what is there I would not do ?” 
Here his eyes spoke a commentary ; and hers, a 
note upon it. 

44 Which is the hymn, Mr. Cartwright, that 
you think best adapted to the semi-weekly 
Sabbath you recommended us to institute?” 
said Miss Richards. 

44 The eleventh, I think.—Yes, the eleventh ; 
—study that, my dear child. Early and late 
let your sweet voice breathe those words,— 
and I will be with you in spirit, Louisa.” 

Not even Mrs. Simpson heard a word of 
this, beyond 44 dear child.” 

44 But when shall I see you ? — I have 
doubts and difficulties on some points, Mr. 
Cartwright,” said the widow aloud. 44 How 








WREXHILL. 


305 


shamefully ignorant—I must call it shamefully 
ignorant—did poor Mr. Wallace suffer us to re¬ 
main !—Is it not true, Louisa P Did he ever, 
through all the years we have known him, 
utter an awakening word to any of us ?” 

“ No, indeed he never did,” replied Miss 
Louisa in a sort of penitent whine. 

“ I am rather surprised to hear you say that, 
Miss Richards,” said Rosalind, drawing her 
chair a little towards them. “ I always under¬ 
stood that Mr. Wallace was one of the most 
exemplary parish priests in England. Did not 
your father consider him to be so, Fanny ?” 

“ I — I believe so, — I don’t know,” re¬ 
replied Fanny, stammering and colouring 
painfully.” 

“Not know, Fanny Mowbray!” exclaimed 
Rosalind;—“not know your father’s opinion of 
Mr. Wallace ! That is very singular indeed.” 

“ I mean,” said Fanny, struggling to recover 
her composure, “ that I never heard papa’s 
opinion of him as compared with — with any 
one else.” 

“ I do not believe he would have lost by th$ 


306 


THE VICAR OF 


comparison,” said Rosalind, rising and walking 
out of the window. 

44 Is not that prodigiously rich young lady 
somewhat of the tiger breed ?” said young Cart¬ 
wright in a whisper to Fanny. 

“ Miss Torrington is not at all a person of 
serious notions,” replied Fanny; 44 and till one 
is subdued by religion, one is often very quar¬ 
relsome.” 

44 1 am sure, serious or not, you would never 
quarrel with any one,” whispered Jacob. 

44 Indeed I should be sorry and ashamed to 
do so now,” she replied. 44 Your father ought 
to cure us all of such unchristian faults as that.” 

44 1 wish I was like my father !” said Jacob 
very sentimentally. 

44 Oh ! how glad I am to hear you say that !” 
said Fanny, clasping her hands together. 44 I 
am sure it would make him so happy !” 

44 I can’t say I was thinking of making him 
happy, Miss Fanny: I only meant that I 
wished I was like anybody that you admire 
and approve so much.” 

44 A poor silly motive for wishing to be like 



WREXHILL. 


307 


such a father !” replied Fanny, blushing ; and 
leaving her distant place, she established her¬ 
self at the table on which the tea equipage had 
just been placed, and busied herself with the 
tea-cups. 

This remove brought her very nearly op* 
posite Mr. Cartwright and the two ladies 
who were seated beside him, and from this 
moment the conversation proceeded without 
any 46 asides 1 ’ whatever. 

“At what age, Mr. Cartwright,” said Mrs. 
Simpson, ct do you think one should begin to 
instil the doctrine of regeneration into a little 
girl ?” 

“ Not later than ten, my dear lady. A very 
quick and forward child might perhaps be led 
to comprehend it earlier. Eight and three- 
quarters I have known in a state of the most 
perfect awakening; but this I hold to be rare.” 

“ What a spectacle !” exclaimed Miss Rich¬ 
ards in a sort of rapture. “ A child of eight 
and three-quarters filled with the Holy Spirit ! 
Did it speak its thoughts, Mr. Cartwright ?” 

“ The case I allude to, my dear young lady, 


308 


THE VICAR OF 


was published. I will bring you the pamphlet. 
Nothing can be more edifying than the out- 
breakings of the Spirit through the organs of 
that chosen, little vessel.” 

“ I hope, Mr. Cartwright, that I shall have 
the benefit of this dear pamphlet also. Do not 
forget that I have a little girl exactly eight 
years three-quarters and six weeks.—I beg your 
pardon, my dear Louisa, but this must be so 
much more interesting to me than it can be 
to you as yet, my dear, that I trust Mr. Cart¬ 
wright will give me the precedence in point of 
time. Besides, you know, that as the principal 
person in the village, I am a little spoiled in 
such matters. I confess to you, I should feel 
hurt if I had to wait for this till you had 
studied it. You have no child, you know.” 

66 Oh! without doubt, Mrs. Simpson, you 
ought to have it first,” replied Miss Richards. 
“ I am certainly not likely as yet to have any 
one’s soul to be anxious about but my own.— 
Is this blessed child alive, Mr. Cartwright ?” 

“ In heaven, Miss Louisa,—not on earth. It 
is the account of its last moments that have 



WREXHILL. 


309 


been so admirably drawn up by the Reverend 
Josiah Martin. This gentleman is a particular 
friend of mine, and I am much interested in the 
sale of the little work. I will have the pleasure, 
my dear ladies, of bringing a dozen copies to 
each of you ; and you will give me a very pleas¬ 
ing proof of the pious feeling I so deeply re¬ 
joice to see, if you will dispose of them at one 
shilling each among your friends.” 

“I am sure I will try all I can !” said .Miss 
Richards. 

tc My influence could not be better employed, 
I am certain, than in forwarding your wishes 
in all things,” added Mrs. Simpson. 

Young Jacob, either in the hope of amuse¬ 
ment, or of more certainly securing his five 
shillings, had followed the indignant Rosalind 
out of the window, and found her refreshing 
herself by arranging the vagrant tendrils of a 
beautiful creeping plant outside it. 

“ I am afraid, Miss Rosalind Torrington,” 
said he, u that you would not say Amen! if I 
did say, May the saints have you in their 
holy keeping ! I do believe in my heart that 


310 


THE VICAR OF 


you would rather find yourself in the keeping 
of sinners.” 

“ The meaning of words often depends upon 
the character of those who utter them,” replied 
Rosalind. “ There is such a thing as slang, 
Mr. Jacob; and there is such a thing as cant.” 

“ Did you ever mention that to my papa, 
Miss Rosalind ?” inquired Jacob in a voice of 
great simplicity. 

Rosalind looked at him as if she wished to 
discover what he was at,—whether his object 
were to quiz her, his father, or both. But, 
considering his very boyish appearance and 
manner, there was more difficulty in achieving 
this than might have been expected. Some¬ 
times she thought him almost a fool; at others, 
quite a wag. At one moment she was ready 
to believe him more that commonly simple- 
minded ; and at another, felt persuaded that he 
was an accomplished hypocrite. 

It is probable that the youth perceived her 
purpose, and felt more gratification in defeat¬ 
ing it than he could have done from any love* 
making of which she were the object. His 


WREXHILL. 


311 


countenance, which was certainly intended by 
nature to express little besides frolic and fun, 
was now puckered up into a look of solemnity 
that might have befitted one of the Newman- 
street congregation when awaiting an address 
in the unknown tongue. 

“ I am sure,” he said, “ that my papa would 
like to hear you talk about all those things very 
much, Miss Torrington. I do not think that 
he would exactly agree with you in every word 
you might say: but that never seems to vex 
him : if the talk does but go about heaven 
and hell, and saints and sinners, and reproba¬ 
tion and regeneration, and the old man and the 
new birth, that is all papa cares for. I think 
he likes to be contradicted a little ; for that, you 
know, makes more talk again.” 

“ Is that the principle upon which you pro¬ 
ceed with him yourself, Mr. Jacob ? Do you 
always make a point of contradicting every¬ 
thing he says ?” 

et Pretty generally, Miss Torrington, when 
there is nobody by, and when I make it all pass 
for joke. But there is a law that even Miss 


312 


THE VICAR OF 


Henrietta has been taught to obey; and that 
is, never to contradict him in company. Per¬ 
haps you have found that out, Miss Rosalind ?” 

“ Perhaps I have, Mr. Jacob.” 

6C Will you not come in to tea, Miss Tor ring- 
ton ?” said Henrietta, appearing at the window, 
with the volume in her hand which had seem¬ 
ed to occupy her whole attention from the time 
she had re-entered the drawing-room with 
Rosalind. 

“ I wish, sister,” said Jacob, affecting to 
look extremely cross, “ that you would not 
pop out so, to interrupt one’s conversation ! 
You might have a fellow feeling, I think, for 
a young lady, when she walks out of a window, 
and a young gentleman walks after her !” 

Rosalind gave him a look from one side, and 
Henrietta from the other. 

“ Mercy on me!” he exclaimed, putting 
up his hands as if to guard the two sides of 
his face. “ Four black eyes at me at once l 
— and so very black in every sense of the 
word!” 


WREXHILL. 


313 


The young ladies walked together into the 
room, and Jacob followed, seeking the eye of 
his father, and receiving thence, as he expect¬ 
ed, a glance of encouragement and applause. 

When the tea was removed, Mr. Cartwright 
went to the piano-forte, and ran his fingers 
with an appearance of some skill over the keys. 

44 I hope, my dear Miss Fanny, that you 
intend we should have a little music this 
evening ?” 

44 If Mrs. Simpson, Miss Richards, and Miss 
Torrington will sing,” said Fanny, 44 I shall 
be very happy to accompany them.” 

44 What music have you got, my dear young 
lady ?” said the vicar. 

Miss Torrington had a large collection of 
songs very commodiously stowed beneath the 
instrument; and Helen and herself were nearly 
as amply provided with piano-forte music of all 
kinds : but though this was the first time Mr. 
Cartwright had ever approached the instru¬ 
ment, or asked for music, Fanny had a sort 
of instinctive consciousness that the collection 
would be found defective in his eyes. 


VOL. i. 


p 


314 


THE VICAR OF 


“We have several of Handel’s oratorios,” 
she replied; “ and I think Helen has got the 
c Creation.’ ” 

“ Very fine music both,” replied Mr. Cart¬ 
wright ; “ but in the social meetings of friends, 
where many perhaps may be able to raise a 
timid note toward heaven, though incapable of 
performing the difficult compositions of these 
great masters, I conceive that a simpler style 
is preferable. If you will permit me,” he con¬ 
tinued, drawing a small volume of manuscript 
music from his pocket, “ I will point out to 
you some very beautiful, and, indeed, popular 
melodies, which have heretofore been sadly dis¬ 
graced by the words applied to them. In this 
little book many of my female friends, to whom 
God has seen fit for his own especial glory 
to give some sparks of poetic power, have, 
at my request, written words fit for a Christian 
to sing, to notes that the sweet voice of youth 
and beauty may love to breathe. Miss Tor- 
rington, I have heard that you are considered 
to be a very superior vocalist:—will you use 
the power that God has given, to hymn his 
praise ?” 


WREXHILL. 


315 


There was too much genuine piety in 
Rosalind’s heart to refuse a challenge so 
worded, without a better reason for doing it 
than personal dislike to Mr. Cartwright; never¬ 
theless, it was not without putting some con¬ 
straint upon herself that she replied, 

ce I very often sing sacred music, sir, and 
am ready to do so now, if you wish it.” 

“ A thousand thanks,” said he, 66 for this 
amiable compliance! I hail it as the har¬ 
binger of harmony that shall rise from all our 
hearts in sweet accord to heaven.” 

Rosalind coloured, and her heart whispered, 
“ I will not be a hypocrite.” But she had 
agreed to sing, and she prepared to do so, seek¬ 
ing among her volumes for one of the easiest 
and shortest of Handel’s songs, and determined 
when she had finished to make her escape. 

While she was thus employed, however, Mr. 
Cartwright was equally active in turning over 
the leaves of his pocket companion ; and before 
Miss Torrington had made her selection, he 
placed the tiny manuscript volume open upon 
the instrument, saying, ee There, my dear 
young lady ! this is an air and these are words 


316 


THE VICAR OF 


which we may all listen to with equal inno¬ 
cence and delight.” 

Rosalind was provoked; but every one in 
the room had already crowded round the piano, 
and having no inclination to enter upon any 
discussion, she sat down prepared to sing what¬ 
ever was placed before her. 

The air was undeniably a popular one, being 
no other than “ Fly not yet!” which, as all 
the world knows, has been performed to mil¬ 
lions of delighted listeners, in lofty halls and 
tiny drawing-rooms, and, moreover, ground 
upon every hand-organ in Great Britain for 
many years past. Rosalind ran her eyes over 
the words, which, in fair feminine characters, 
were written beneath the notes as follow : 

Fly not yet! 'Tis just the hour 

When prayerful Christians own the power 

That, inly beaming with new light. 

Begins to sanctify the night 
For maids who love the moon. 

Oh, pray!—oh, pray! 

? Tis but to bless these hours of shade 
That pious songs and hymns are made; 

For now, their holy ardour glowing, 

Sets the soul’s emotion flowing. 

Oh, pray !—oh, pray! 



WREXHILL. 


317 


Prayer so seldom breathes a strain 
So sweet as this, that, oh ! 'tis pain 
To check its voice too soon. 

Oh, pray !—oh, pray ! 

An expression of almost awful indignation 
rose to the eyes of Rosalind. 44 Do you give 
me this, sir,” she said, 44 as a jest ? — or do 
you propose that I should sing it as an act of 
devotion towards God ?” 

Mr. Cartwright withdrew the little book 
and immediately returned it to his pocket. 

44 I am sorry, Miss Torrington, that you 
should have asked me such a question,” he 
replied with a kind of gentle severity which 
might have led almost any hearer to think him 
in the right. 44 1 had hoped that my ministry at 
Wrexhill, short as it has been, could not have 
left it a matter of doubt whether, in speaking 
of singing or prayer, I was in jest ?” 

44 Nevertheless, sir,” rejoined Rosalind, 44 it 
does to me appear like a jest, and a very inde¬ 
cent one too, thus to imagine that an air long 
familiar to all as the vehicle of words as full 
of levity as of poetry can be on the sudden 
converted into an accompaniment to a solemn 

p3 


318 


THE VICAR OF 


invocation to prayer—uttered, too, in the form 
of a vile parody.” 

44 I think that a very few words may be able 
to prove to you the sophistry of such an argu¬ 
ment,” returned the vicar. 44 You will allow, 
I believe, that this air is very generally known 
to all classes.—Is it not so ?” 

Rosalind bowed her assent. 

“Well, then, let me go a step farther, and 
ask whether the words originally set to this air 
are not likely to be recalled by hearing it.” 

44 Beyond all doubt.” 

44 Now observe, Miss Torrington, that what 
you have been pleased to call levity and poetry, 
I, in my clerical capacity, denounce as indecent 
and obscene.” 

44 Is that your reason for setting me to play 
it ?” said Rosalind in a tone of anger. 

44 That question, again, does not, I fear, 
argue an amiable and pious state of mind,” 
replied Mr. Cartwright, appealing meekly with 
his eyes to the right and left. 44 It is to sub¬ 
stitute other thoughts for those which the air 
has hitherto suggested that I conceive the sing¬ 
ing this song, as it now stands, desirable.” 



WREXHILL. 


319 


“ Might it not be as well to leave the air 
alone altogether ?” said Rosalind. 

“ Decidedly not,” replied the vicar. “ The 
notes, as you have allowed, are already fami¬ 
liar to all men, and it is therefore a duty 
to endeavour to make that familiarity fami¬ 
liarly suggest thoughts of heaven.” 

“ Thoughts of heaven,” said Rosalind, 
(( should never be suggested familiarly.” 

“Dreadful — very dreadful doctrine that, 
Miss Torrington! and I must tell you, in 
devout assurance of the truth I speak, that it 
is in order to combat and overthrow such 
notions as you now express, that God hath 
vouchsafed, by an act of his special providence, 
to send upon e’arth in these later days my 
humble self, and some others who think like 
me.” 

“ And permit me, sir, in the name of the 
earthly father I have lost,” replied Rosalind, 
while her eyes almost overflowed with the glis¬ 
tening moisture her earnestness brought into 
them,—“ permit me in his reverenced name to 
say, that constant prayer to God can in no way 
be identified with familiarity of address; and 


320 


THE VICAR OF 

that of many lamentable evils which the class 
of preachers to whom you allude have brought 
upon blundering Christians, that of teaching 
them to believe that there is righteousness in 
mixing the awful and majestic name of God 
with all the hourly, petty occurrences of this 
mortal life, is one of the most deplorable.” 

“ May your unthinking youth, my dear 
young lady, plead before the God of mercy 
in mitigation of the wrath which such senti¬ 
ments are calculated to draw down!” 

cc Oh !” sobbed Miss Richards. 

“ Alas !” sighed Mrs. Simpson. 

44 How can you, Rosalind, speak so to the 
pastor and master of our souls ?” said Fanny, 
while tears of sympathy for the outraged vicar 
fell from her beautiful eyes. 

44 My dear children ! — my dear friends !” 
said Mr. Cartwright in a voice that seemed to 
tremble with affectionate emotion, 44 think not 
of me!—Remember the words 4 Blessed are 
they which are persecuted for righteousness’ 
sake f I turn not from the harsh rebuke of 
this young lady, albeit I am not insensible 
to its injustice,—nor, indeed, blind to its inde- 





WREXHILL. 


32 1 

cency. But blessed—oh ! most blessed shall I 
hold this trial, if it lead to the awakening holy 
thoughts in you !—My dear young lady,” he 
continued, rising from his seat and approach¬ 
ing Rosalind with an extended hand, 44 it may 
be as well, perhaps, that I withdraw myself at 
this moment. Haply, reflection may soften 
your young heart.—But let us part in peace, as 
Christians should do.” 

Rosalind did not take his offered hand. 44 In 
peace, sir,” she said,— 44 decidedly I desire you 
to depart in peace. I have no wish to molest 
you in any way. But you must excuse my not 
accepting your proffered hand. It is but an 
idle and unmeaning ceremony perhaps, as things 
go; but the manner in which you now stretch 
forth your hand gives a sort of importance to 
it which would make it a species of falsehood 
in me to accept it. When it means anything, 
it means cordial liking; and this, sir, I do not 
feel for you.” 

So saying, Rosalind arose and left the room. 

Fanny clasped her hands in a perfect agony, 
and raising her tearful eyes to Heaven as if to 
deprecate its wrath upon the roof that covered 


322 


THE VICAR OF 


so great wickedness, exclaimed, c< Oh, Mr. Cart¬ 
wright ! what can I say to you !” 

Mrs. Simpson showed symptoms of being 
likely to faint; and as Mr. Cartwright and 
Fanny approached her, Miss Richards, with a 
vehemence of feeling that seemed to set lan¬ 
guage at defiance, seized the hand of the per¬ 
secuted vicar and pressed it to her lips. 

Several minutes were given to the interchange 
of emotions too strong to be described in 
words. Female tears were blended with holy 
blessings; and, as Jacob afterwards assured his 
sister, who had contrived unobserved to escape, 
he at one time saw no fewer than eight human 
hands, great and small, all mixed together in a 
sort of chance-medley heap upon the chair 
round which they at length kneeled down to 
ct speak the Lord” upon the scene that had just 
passed. 

It will be easily believed that Miss Torring- 
ton appeared no more that night; and after an 
hour passed in conversation on the persecutions 
and revilings to which the godly are exposed, 
Mrs. Simpson, who declared herself dreadfully 
overcome, proposed to Miss Richards that they 


WREXHILL. 


323 


should use such strength as was left them to 
walk home. A very tender leave was taken of 
Fanny, in which Mr. Jacob zealously joined, 
and the party set out for a star-lit walk to 
Wrexhill, its vicar supporting on each arm a 
very nervous and trembling hand. 

Mr. Cartwright soon after passing the Park- 
lodge, desired his son to step forward and order 
the clerk to come to him on some urgent parish 
business before be went to bed. The young 
man darted forward nothing loth, and the trio 
walked at a leisurly pace under the dark 
shadows of the oak-trees that lined the road to 
the village. 

They passed behind the Vicarage ; when the 
two ladies simultaneously uttered a sigh, and 
breathed in a whisper, “ Sweet spot!” Can it 
be doubted that both were thanked by a gentle 
pressure of the arm ? 

The house of Mrs. Simpson lay on the road 
to that of Mrs. Richards, and Miss Louisa 
made a decided halt before the door, distinctly 
pronouncing at the same time, 

“ Good night, my dear Mrs. Simpson !” 

But this lady knew the duties of a chaperon 


324 > THE VICAR OF WREXHILL. 

too well to think of leaving her young com¬ 
panion till she saw her safely restored to her 
mother’s roof. 

44 Oh ! no, my dear !” she exclaimed : 44 if 
your house w r ere a mile off, Louisa, I should 
take you home.” 

44 But you have been so poorly!” persisted 
the young lady, 44 and it is so unnecessary !” 

44 It is right,” returned Mrs. Simpson with 
an emphasis that marked too conscientious a 
feeling to be further resisted. So Miss Rich¬ 
ards was taken home, and the fair widow lan¬ 
guidly and slowly retraced her steps to her own 
door, with no other companion than the Vicar 
of Wrexhill. 


END OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 


LONDON: 

PRINTED BT SAMUEL BENTLEY, 

Dorset Street, Fleet Street. 


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