Page images
PDF
EPUB

region behind us, and entered upon a country, where there was nothing but rich pasture lands, and swelling corn-fields, and bright gleaming waters, and village churches nestling among tall trees; and even the canal, which held its course

near the turnpike-road, was clear and smooth between the reedy banks; and the bridges were of picturesque grey stone, bright with the red stains and leaves of the “shining crane's bill," and with manycoloured lichens. On the horizon, too, were hills ; and ever and anon, as we came to an open elevation, there floated past us the odour of salt sea-breezes. I knew, from various indications, that we could not be very far from Lunechester.

A little before seven o'clock we entered the town, and the coach stood before the gateway of an ancient inn, in the principal street, called Marketstreet. Not only the inn, but all the houses about it, had an old-world look; the windows were low and wide, and composed of little panes ; and in some of them I saw relics of stained glass, and coats of arms; the door-posts were generally carved, and story after story projected till the garret floors seemed ready to topple over on to the pavement beneath. The town seemed to lie in a hole, for we came into it down hill; and looking up as I alighted from the coach, I saw high ground rising around in every direction, and, to the north and east, dark moors that seemed to shut us in from the rest of the world.

Mrs. Ryland's chariot was in waiting, and so was

7

her mail, sa ii . Eminis En on.

She eam paremzat, 1 renascat 31 OUT IT Miss Keadnick upon Vs. Sasca I i Tie in Biet me of thin rinegi ve zenges. Si no me that she is deur IT ITAC2 Tea at the coach othee, mi se me my future residente

I inquired sta Y Sat 1 mL told that she is 2-amer sidering that, I ai nostet ir mie was of roles காட்டப்பட பா ie Tim1 T. of nine years' stang: I mi 101. i that perhaps it is

I VIITIS and tempers of her 1 TIH countenance imesed me a me e mi more unfavorably.

In a short time it Te Ti usis11 the green chariot, si I * * Die 1157 days was, “remenjeni se snima" "le le well-kept greys bezan La Lung, their own pace, rza sin tetane besser slow, for we were asen19 1 teen HIS the pitching and parago vi me i 191 contrived for the team meg Up Ł last, turning the commer of a IngLut that looked strong enoug ai i k ne siege, we came saiat sie Cattito pud old pile of feadal das see saat á keng and magnificence, trga DIF Stores into a

county gaol. On one side of the Castle-yard was a broad green, with a double row of elms down one side of it, then a palisade fence, and then the street, or terrace, which went by the name of Castle Green.

Castle Green, however, consisted apparently of only four houses; but these were mansions--or, rather, they had been mansions, for, with the exception of one, they presented a rather forlorn and dilapidated appearance; that one, large, antiquated, and gloomy, was my aunt's house. I looked up at the many windows, high and narrow, and smallpaned; at the imposing front door with its wonderful architrave; at the grey parapet on the roof, which took the shape of battlements; and my heart failed me, so chill, and dark, and dead, looked the home which was henceforth to be mine.

But there was little time to indulge in dreary presentiments; the carriage drew up, the front door flew open with a. flourish, and a footman, whose modern aspect scarcely accorded with the old Plantagenet Castle, and the venerable air of the Castle, Green, hastened to let down the steps of the carriage with a rapidity, a dash, and an air, quite worthy of the precincts of Belgravia.

The servants busied themselves with my luggage, and I slowly passed into the house. I found myself in a spacious hall, paved with black and white marble, and a ceiling all carved and groined like the roof of a church. In the sober evening lightthe windows of coloured glass, all, but one towards the north—it looked and felt a little like a crypt. Many doors opened into this wide, stately hall, but at the opposite side from the entrance rose a broad flight of oaken stairs, with heavy carved balustrades -all the oak about the house was nearly black with age. The stairs, however, were thickly covered with rich carpeting, and on the first landing was a beautiful stained window, evidently of very recent date. But I was led across the hall into an antechamber, and thence into a drawing-room, luxuriously furnished, where sat my aunt, Mrs. Ryland.

She rose as I entered, and there stood before me a tall majestic woman, whose faded beauty and haughty bearing were quite in keeping with the grand old mansion over which she presided. I accosted her with a beating heart, and then she drew me towards her, and saying, in peculiarly quiet tones, “My niece, Millicent," kissed me gravely on my forehead.

Her manner

was rather proud than cold; rather stately than reserved; she was, as the Honourable Mrs. Norton graphically says, “cordial, yet unfamiliar." One glance at Mrs. Ryland was quite sufficient to convince the most audacious person in existence that it would be quite impossible to take a liberty with her. And how unlike my father! Was this queenlike lady really his own and only sister—the Alice of past years, the companion and playmate of his boyish days?

I felt like one in a dream, as she kindly placed me in a softly-cushioned chair, and asked if I were very much fatigued after my long journey, and how

I said this with an air that I can scarcely recall now without blushing. What a self-opinionated little puss

I was, with my seventeen years' experience!

“But, my dear child"-he spoke in such a fatherly tone I could not be annoyed—"going to church and saying prayers—no, nor even the reading the Bible daily-does not constitute religion-not the religion that will serve you, when that time comes that we were talking of at the inn yonder.”

I looked my astonishment; and if my lips did not, I am sure my eyes asked the question, “What in the world, then, does constitute religion ?"

He continued—“It is possible to say prayers morning and night, to read your Bible reverently, to peruse many devout books, to go to church three times on Sunday—nay, every day of the week, as regularly as the sun rises towards and declines from his meridian-you may be confirmed, and participate in all the ordinances of the Established Church; or you may be a Dissenter, and go to prayer-meetings morning, noon, and night; and yet have no true religion. In one word, you may do all this, and not be saved."

I looked incredulous, and I wondered what sort of sermons Mr. Clarenham preached, and I asked, very composedly, "How, then are we to be saved ?"

I think he wished me to ask him this question ; for his kind face lighted up, and he replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »