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- What's Mine's Mine V3 - 2/30 -


influences for her, for any woman, than those of unselfish men? what influences so good for any man as those of unselfish women? Every man that hears and learns of a worthy neighbour, comes to the Father; every man that hath heard and learned of the Father comes to the Lord; every man that comes to the Lord, he leads back to the Father. To hear Ian speak one word about Jesus Christ, was for a true man to be thenceforth truer. To him the Lord was not a theological personage, but a man present in the world, who had to be understood and obeyed by the will and heart and soul, by the imagination and conscience of every other man. If what Ian said was true, this life was a serious affair, and to be lived in downright earnest! If God would have his creatures mind him, she must look to it! She pondered what she heard. But she went always to Alister to have Ian explained; and to hear him talk of Ian, revealed Alister to her.

When Mercy left the cottage, she felt as if she were leaving home to pay a visit. The rich house was dull and uninteresting. She found that she had immediately to put in practice one of the lessons she had learned--that the service of God is the service of those among whom he has sent us. She tried therefore to be cheerful, and even to forestall her mother's wishes. But life was harder than hitherto--so much more was required of her.

The chief was falling thoroughly in love with Mercy, but it was some time before he knew it. With a heart full of tenderness toward everything human, he knew little of love special, and was gradually sliding into it without being aware of it. How little are we our own! Existence is decreed us; love and suffering are appointed us. We may resist, we may modify; but we cannot help loving, and we cannot help dying. We need God to keep us from hating. Great in goodness, yea absolutely good, God must be, to have a right to make us--to compel our existence, and decree its laws! Without his choice the chief was falling in love. The woman was sent him; his heart opened and took her in. Relation with her family was not desirable, but there she was! Ian saw, but said nothing. His mother saw it too.

"Nothing good will come of it!" she said, with a strong feeling of unfitness in the thing.

"Everything will come of it, mother, that God would have come of it," answered Ian. "She is an honest, good girl, and whatever comes of it must be good, whether pleasant or not."

The mother was silent. She believed in God, but not so thoroughly as to abjure the exercise of a subsidiary providence of her own. The more people trust in God, the less will they trust their own judgments, or interfere with the ordering of events. The man or woman who opposes the heart's desire of another, except in aid of righteousness, is a servant of Satan. Nor will it avail anything to call that righteousness which is of Self or of Mammon.

"There is no action in fretting," Ian would say, "and not much in the pondering of consequences. True action is the doing of duty, come of it heartache, defeat, or success."

"You are a fatalist, Ian!" said his mother one day.

"Mother, I am; the will of God is my fate!" answered Ian. "He shall do with me what he pleases; and I will help him!"

She took him in her arms and kissed him. She hoped God would not he strict with him, for might not the very grandeur of his character be rooted in rebellion? Might not some figs grow on some thistles?

At length came the paternal summons for the Palmers to go to London. For a month the families had been meeting all but every day. The chief had begun to look deep into the eyes of the girl, as if searching there for some secret joy; and the girl, though she drooped her long lashes, did not turn her head away. And now separation, like death, gave her courage, and when they parted, Mercy not only sustained Alister's look, but gave him such a look in return that he felt no need, no impulse to say anything. Their souls were satisfied, for they knew they belonged to each other.

CHAPTER II

A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY.

So entirely were the chief and his family out of the world, that they had not yet a notion of the worldly relations of Mr. Peregrine Palmer. But the mother thought it high time to make inquiry as to his position and connections. She had an old friend in London, the wife of a certain vice-chancellor, with whom she held an occasional correspondence, and to her she wrote, asking if she knew anything of the family.

Mrs. Macruadh was nowise free from the worldliness that has regard to the world's regard. She would not have been satisfied that a daughter in law of hers should come of people distinguished for goodness and greatness of soul, if they were, for instance, tradespeople. She would doubtless have preferred the daughter of an honest man, whatever his position, to the daughter of a scoundrel, even if he chanced to be a duke; but she would not have been content with the most distinguished goodness by itself. Walking after Jesus, she would have drawn to the side of Joanna rather than Martha or Mary; and I fear she would have condescended--just a little--to Mary Magdalen: repentance, however perfect, is far from enough to satisfy the worldy squeamishness of not a few high-principled people who do not know what repentance means.

Mrs. Macruadh was anxious to know that the girl was respectable, and so far worthy of her son. The idea of such an inquiry would have filled Mercy's parents with scornful merriment, as a thing ludicrous indeed. People in THEIR position, who could do this and that, whose name stood so high for this and that, who knew themselves well bred, who had one relation an admiral, another a general, and a marriage-connection with some of the oldest families in the country--that one little better than a yeoman, a man who held the plough with his own big hands, should enquire into THEIR social standing! Was not Mr. Peregrine Palmer prepared to buy him up the moment he required to sell! Was he not rich enough to purchase an earl's daughter for his son, and an earl himself for his beautiful Christina! The thing would have seemed too preposterous.

The answer of the vice-chancellor's lady burst, nevertheless, like a bombshell in the cottage. It was to this effect:--The Palmers were known, if not just in the best, yet in very good society; the sons bore sign of a defective pedigree, but the one daughter out was, thanks to her mother, fit to go anywhere. For her own part, wrote the London correspondent, she could not help smelling the grains: in Scotland a distiller, Mr. Peregrine Palmer had taken to brewing in England--was one of the firm Pulp and Palmer, owning half the public-houses in London, therefore high in the regard of the English nobility, if not actually within their circle.--Thus far the satirical lady of the vice-chancellor.

Horror fell upon the soul of the mother. The distiller was to her as the publican to the ancient Jew. No dealing in rags and marine stores, no scraping of a fortune by pettifogging, chicane, and cheating, was to her half so abominable as the trade of a brewer. Worse yet was a brewer owning public-houses, gathering riches in half-pence wet with beer and smelling of gin. The brewer was to her a moral pariah; only a distiller was worse. As she read, the letter dropped from her hands, and she threw them up in unconscious appeal to heaven. She saw a vision of bloated men and white-faced women, drawing with trembling hands from torn pockets the money that had bought the wide acres of the Clanruadh. To think of the Macruadh marrying the daughter of such a man! In society few questions indeed were asked; everywhere money was counted a blessed thing, almost however made; none the less the damnable fact remained, that certain moneys were made, not in furthering the well-being of men and women, but in furthering their sin and degradation. The mother of the chief saw that, let the world wink itself to blindness, let it hide the roots of the money-plant in layer upon layer of social ascent, the flower for which an earl will give his daughter, has for the soil it grows in, not the dead, but the diseased and dying, of loathsome bodies and souls of God's men and women and children, which the grower of it has helped to make such as they are.

She was hot, she was cold; she started up and paced hurriedly about the room. Her son the son in law of a distiller! the husband of his daughter! The idea was itself abhorrence and contempt! Was he not one of the devil's fishers, fishing the sea of the world for the souls of men and women to fill his infernal ponds withal! His money was the fungous growth of the devil's cellars. How would the brewer or the distiller, she said, appear at the last judgment! How would her son hold up his head, if he cast in his lot with theirs! But that he would never do! Why should she be so perturbed! in this matter at least there could be no difference between them! Her noble Alister would be as much shocked as herself at the news! Could the woman be a lady, grown on such a hothed! Yet, alas! love could tempt far--could subdue the impossible!

She could not rest; she must find one of them! Not a moment longer could she remain alone with the terrible disclosure. If Alister was in love with the girl, he must get out of it at once! Never again would she enter the Palmers' gate, never again set foot on their land! The thought of it was unthinkable! She would meet them as if she did not see them! But they should know her reason--and know her inexorable!

She went to the edge of the ridge, and saw Ian sitting with his book on the other side of the burn. She called him to her, and handed him the letter. He took it, read it through, and gave it her back.

"Ian!" she exclaimed, "have you nothing to say to that?"

"I beg your pardon, mother," he answered: "I must think about it. Why should it trouble you so! It is painfully annoying, but we have come under no obligation to them!"

"No; but Alister!"

"You cannot doubt Alister will do what is right!"

"He will do what he thinks right!"

"Is not that enough, mother?"

"No," she answered angrily; "he must do the thing that is right."


What's Mine's Mine V3 - 2/30

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