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- Thomas Wingfold, Curate V3 - 20/31 -
requests be made known unto God.'"
"I sometimes feel as if I would not ask him for anything, but just let him give me what he likes."
"We must not want to be better than is required of us, for that is at once to grow worse."
"I don't quite understand you."
"Not to ask may seem to you a more submissive way, but I don't think it is so childlike. It seems to me far better to say, 'O Lord, I should like this or that, but I would rather not have it if thou dost not like it also.' Such prayer brings us into conscious and immediate relations with God. Remember, our thoughts are then, passing to him, sent by our will into his mind. Our Lord taught us to pray always and not get tired of it. God, however poor creatures we may be, would have us talk to him, for then he can speak to us better than when we turn no face to him."
"I wonder what I shall do the first thing when I find myself out--out, I mean, in the air, you know."
"It does seem strange we should know so little of what is in some sense so near us! that such a thin veil should be so impenetrable! I fancy the first thing I should do would be to pray."
"Then you think we shall pray there--wherever it is?"
"It seems to me as if I should go up in prayer the moment I got out of this dungeon of a body. I am wrong to call it a dungeon, for it lies open to God's fair world, and the loveliness of the earth comes into me through eyes and ears just as well as into you. Still it is a pleasant thought that it will drop off me some day. But for prayer--I think all will pray there more than here--in their hearts and souls I mean."
"Then where would be the harm if you were to pray for me after I am gone?"
"Nowhere that I know. It were indeed a strange thing if I might pray for you up to the moment when you ceased to breathe, and therewith an iron gate close between us, and I could not even reach you through the ear of the Father of us both! It is a faithless doctrine, for it supposes either that those parted from us can do without prayer, the thing Jesus himself could not do without, seeing it was his highest joy, or that God has so parted those who are in him from these who are in him, that there is no longer any relation, even with God, common to them. The thing to me takes the form of an absurdity."
"Ah, then, pray for me when I am dying, and don't be careful to stop when you think I am gone, Mr. Polwarth."
"I will remember," said the little man.
And now Helen had recovered herself, and came and took her usual seat by her brother's side. She cast an anxious glance now and then into Polwarth's face, but dared not ask him anything.
THE BLOOD-HOUND TRAVERSED.
Emmeline's mother had not gone far before she became aware that she was followed. It was a turning of the tables which she did not relish. As would not have been unnatural, even had she been at peace with all the world, a certain feeling of undefined terror came upon her and threatened to overmaster her. It was the more oppressive that she did not choose to turn and face her pursuer, feeling that to do so would be to confess consciousness of cause. The fate of her daughter, seldom absent from her thoughts, now rose before her in association with herself, and was gradually swelling uneasiness into terror: who could tell but this man pressing on her heels in the solitary meadow, and not the poor youth who lay dying there in the chair, and who might indeed be only another of his victims, was the murderer of Emmeline! Unconsciously she accelerated her pace until it was almost a run, but did not thereby widen by a single yard the distance between her and the curate.
When she came out on the high road, she gave a glance in each direction, and, avoiding the country, made for the houses. A short lane led her into Pine street. There she felt safe, the more that it was market-day and a good many people about, and slackened her pace, feeling confident that her pursuer, whoever he was, would now turn aside. But she was disappointed, for, casting a glance over her shoulder, she saw that he still kept the same distance behind her. She saw also, in that single look, that he was well-known, for several were saluting him at once. What could it mean? It must be the G. B. of the Temple! Should she stop and challenge his pursuit? The obstacle to this was a certain sinking at the heart accounted for by an old memory. She must elude him instead. But she did not know a single person in the place, or one house where she could seek refuge. There was an hotel before her! But, unattended, heated, disordered, to all appearance disreputable, what account could she give of herself? That she had been followed by some one everybody knew, and to whom everybody would listen! Feebly debating thus with herself, she hurried along the pavement of Pine Street, with the Abbey church before her.
The footsteps behind her grew louder and quicker: the man had made up his mind and was coming up with her! He might be mad, or ready to run all risks! Probably he knew his life at stake through her perseverance and determination!
On came the footsteps, for the curate had indeed made up his mind to speak to her, and either remove or certify his apprehensions. Nearer yet and nearer they came. Her courage and strength were giving way together, and she should be at his mercy. She darted into a shop, sank on a chair by the counter, and begged for a glass of water. A young woman ran to fetch it, while Mr. Drew went upstairs for a glass of wine. Returning with it he came from behind the counter, and approached the lady where she sat leaning her head upon it.
Meantime the curate also had entered the shop, and placed himself where he might, unseen by her, await her departure, for he could not speak to her there. He had her full in sight when Mr. Drew went up to her.
"Do me the favour, madam," he said--but said no more. For at the sound of his voice, the lady gave a violent start, and raising her head looked at him. The wine-glass dropped from his hand. She gave a half-choked cry, and sped from the shop.
The curate was on the spring after her when he was arrested by the look of the draper: he stood fixed where she had left him, white and trembling as if he had seen a ghost. He went up to him, and said in a whisper:
"Who is she?"
"Mrs. Drew," answered the draper, and the curate was after her like a greyhound.
A little crowd of the shop-people gathered in consternation about their master.
"Pick up those pieces of glass, and call Jacob to wipe the floor," he said--then walked to the door, and stood staring after the curate as he all but ran to overtake the swiftly gliding figure.
The woman, ignorant that her pursuer was again upon her track, and hardly any longer knowing what she did, hurried blindly towards the churchyard. Presently the curate relaxed his speed, hoping she would enter it, when he would have her in a fit place for the interview upon which he was, if possible, more determined than ever, now that he had gained, so unexpectedly, such an absolute hold of her. "She must be Emmeline's mother," he said to himself, "--fit mother for such a daughter." The moment he caught sight of the visage lifted from its regard of the sleeping youth, he had suspected the fact. He had not had time to analyze its expression, but there was something dreadful in it. A bold question would determine the suspicion.
She entered the churchyard, saw the Abbey door open, and hastened to it. She was in a state of bewilderment and terror that would have crazed a weaker woman. In the porch she cast a glance behind her: there again was her pursuer! She sprang into the church. A woman was dusting a pew not far from the door.
"Who is that coming?" she asked, in a tone and with a mien that appalled Mrs. Jenkins. She had but to stretch her neck a little to see through the porch.
"Why, it be only the parson, ma'am!" she answered.
"Then I shall hide myself, over there, and you must tell him I went out by that other door. Here's a sovereign for you."
"I thank you, ma'am," said Mrs. Jenkins, looking wistfully at the sovereign, which was a great sum of money to a sexton's wife with children, then instantly going on with her dusting; "but it ain't no use tryin' of tricks with our parson. HE ain't one of your Mollies. A man as don't play no tricks with hisself, as I heerd a gentleman say, it ain't no use tryin' no tricks with HIM."
Almost while she spoke, the curate entered. The suppliant drew herself up, and endeavoured to look both dignified and injured.
"Would you oblige me by walking this way for a moment?" he said, coming straight to her.
Without a word she followed him, a long way up the church, to the stone screen which divided the chancel from the nave. There, in sight of Mrs. Jenkins, but so far off that she could not hear a word said, he asked her to take a seat on the steps that led up to the door in the centre of the screen. Again she obeyed, and Wingfold sat down near her.
"Are you Emmeline's mother?" he said.
The gasp, the expression of eye and cheek, the whole startled
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