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parently, when Elsworthy went to the railway for the evening papers, a time when the errand-boys were generally rampant in the well-conducted shop. Mrs Elsworthy, for her part, had seized that moment to relieve her soul by confiding to Mrs Hayes next door how she was worrited to death with one thing and another, and did not expect to be alive to tell the tale if things went on like this for another month; but that Elsworthy was infatuated like, and wouldn't send the hussy away, his wife complained to her sympathetic neighbour. When Elsworthy came back, however, he was struck by the silence in the house, and sent the reluctant woman up-stairs—“To see if she's been and made away with herself, I suppose," the indignant wife said, as she obeyed, leaving Mrs Hayes full of curiosity on the steps of the door. Mrs Elsworthy, however, uttered a great shriek a moment after, and came down, with a frightened face, carrying a large pincushion, upon which, skewered through and through with the biggest pin she could find, Rosa had deposited her letter of leavetaking. This important document was read over in the shop by an ever-increasing group, as the news got abroad-for Elsworthy, like his wife, lost his head, and rushed about hither and thither, asking wild questions as to who had seen her last. Perhaps, at the bottom, he was not so desperate as he looked, but was rather grateful than angry with Rosa for solving the difficulty. This is what the poor little runaway said
"DEAR UNCLE AND AUNT,-I write a line to let you know that them as can do better for me than any belonging to me has took me away for good. Don't make no reflections, please, nor blame nobody; for I never could have done no good, nor had any 'appiness at Carlingford after all as has happened. I don't bear no grudge, though aunt has been so unkind;
but I forgive her, and uncle also. My love to all friends; and you may tell Bob Hayes as I won't forget him, but will order all my physic regular at his father's shop.Your affectionate niece, "ROSA.
"P. S.-Uncle has no occasion to mind, for them as has took charge of me has promised to make a lady of me, as he always said I was worthy of; and I leave all my things for aunt's relations, as I can't wear such poor clothes in my new station of life."
Such was the girl's letter, with its natural impertinences and natural touch of kindness; and it made a great commotion in the neighbourhood, where a few spasmodic search-parties were made up with no real intentions, and came to nothing, as was to be expected. It was a dreadful thing, to be sure, to happen to a respectable family; but when things had gone so far, the neighbours, on the whole, were inclined to believe it was the best thing Rosa could have done; and the Elsworthys, husband and wife, were concluded to be of the same opinion. When Carlingford had exhausted this subject, and had duly discussed the probabilities as to where she had gone, and whether Rosa could be the lady in a veil who had been handed into the express night-train by two gentlemen, of whom a railway-porter bore cautious testimony, the other mysterious rumour about Mr Wentworth had its share of popular attention. It was discussed in Masters's with the solemnity becoming the occasion, everybody being convinced of the fact, and nobody knowing how it was to be. One prevailing idea was, that Mr Wentworth's brother, who had succeeded to his mother's fortune (which was partially true, like most popular versions of family history, his mother's fortune being now Gerald's sole dependance), intended to establish a great brotherhood, upon the Claydon model, in Carlingford, of which the Perpetual Curate was
to be the head. This idea pleased the imagination of the town, which already saw itself talked of in all the papers, and anticipated with excitement the sight of English brothers of St Benedict walking about in the streets, and people from the 'Illustrated News' making drawings of Grange Lane. To be sure, Gerald Wentworth had gone over to the Church of Rome, which was a step too far to be compatible with the English brotherhood; but popular imagination, when puzzled and in a hurry, does not take time to master all details. Then, again, opinion wavered, and it was supposed to be the Miss Wentworths who were the agents of the coming prosperity. They had made up their mind to endow St Roque's, and apply to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to have it erected into a parochial district, rumour reported; and the senior assistant in Masters's, who was suspected of Low-Church tendencies, was known to be a supporter of this theory. Other ideas of a vaguer character floated through the town, of which no one could give any explanation; but Carlingford was unanimous in the conviction that good fortune was coming somehow to the popular favourite, who a week ago had occupied temporarily the position of the popular bête noire and impersonation of evil. "But the real sort always triumphs at the last," was the verdict of Wharfside, which, like every primitive community, believed in poetic justice; and among the bargemen and their wives much greater elevation than that of a district church or the headship of a brotherhood was expected for "the clergyman." If the Queen had sent for him immediately, and conferred upon him a bishopric, or at least appointed him her private chaplain, such a favour would have excited no surprise in Wharfside, where indeed the public mind was inclined to the opinion that the real use of queens and other such dignitaries was to find out and reward merit. Mr Wentworth himself laughed
when the gossip reached his ears. "My people have given away all they had to give," he said to somebody who asked the question ; and I know no prospect I have of being anything but a Perpetual Curate, unless the Queen sends for me and appoints me to a bishopric, as I understand is expected in Prickett's Lane. If I come to any advancement," said the Curate of St Roque's, "it must be in social estimation, and not in worldly wealth, which is out of my way; and he went down to Wharfside rather cheerfully than otherwise, having begun to experience that pertinacity carries the day, and that it might be possible to goad Lucy into the experiment of how much her housekeeping talents were good for, and whether, with a good wife, even a Perpetual Curate might be able to live without any particular bother in respect to the grocer's bill. Mr Wentworth being at present warmly engaged in this business of persuasion, and as intent as ever on having his own way, was not much affected by the Carlingford gossip. He went his way to Wharfside all the same, where the service was conducted as of old, and where all the humble uncertain voices were buoyed up and carried on by the steady pure volume of liquid sound which issued from Lucy Wodehouse's lips into the utterance of such a Magnificat as filled Mr Wentworth's mind with exultation. It was the woman's part in the worship-independent, yet in a sweet subordination; and the two had come back-though with the difference that their love was now avowed and certain, and they were known to belong to each other-to much the same state of feeling in which they were before the Miss Wentworths came to Carlingford, or anything uncomfortable had happened. They had learned various little lessons, to be sure, in the interim, but experience had not done much more for them than it does for ordinary human creatures, and the chances are that Mr Wentworth would have conducted him
self exactly in the same manner another time had he been placed in similar circumstances; for the lessons of experience, however valuable, are sometimes very slow of impressing themselves upon a generous and hasty temperament, which has high ideas of honour and consistency, and rather piques itself on a contempt for self-interest and external advantages-which was the weakness of the Curate of St Roque's. He returned to the " great work" in Wharfside with undiminished belief in it, and a sense of being able to serve his God and his fellowcreatures, which, though it may seem strange to some people, was a wonderful compensation to him for the loss of Skelmersdale. "After all, I doubt very much whether, under any circumstances, we could have left such a work as is going on here," he said to Lucy as they came up Prickett's Lane together, where the poor woman had just died peaceably in No. 10, and got done with it, poor soul; and the Sister of Mercy, in her grey cloak, lifted towards him the blue eyes which were full of tears, and answered with natural emphasis, "Impossible! it would have been deserting our post," and drew a step closer to him in the twilight with a sense of the sweetness of that plural pronoun which mingled so with the higher sense that it was impossible to disjoin them. And the two went on under the influence of these combined sentiments, taking comfort out of the very hardness of the world around them, in which their ministrations were so much needed, and feeling an exaltation in the "duty," which was not for one, but for both, and a belief in the possibility of mending matters, in which their love for each other bore a large share; for it was not in human nature thus to begin the ideal existence, without believing in its universal extension, and in the amelioration of life and the world.
"That is all they think of," said poor Miss Wodehouse, who, be
Perhaps something will turn up, my dear," said old Mrs Western, who had an idea that Providence was bound to provide for two good young people who wanted to marry; and thus the two ladies were forced to leave the matter, where, indeed, the historian of events in Carlingford would willingly leave it also, not having much faith in the rewards of virtue which come convenient in such an emergency. But it is only pure fiction which can keep true to nature, and weave its narrative in analogy with the ordinary course of life-whereas history demands exactness in matters of fact, which are seldom true to nature, or amenable to any general rule of exist
Before proceeding, however, to the narrative of the unexpected advancement and promotion which awaited the Perpetual Curate, it may be as well to notice that the Miss Wentworths, who during the summer had kindly given their house at Skelmersdale to some friends who had returned in the spring from India, found themselves now in a position to return to their own proper dwelling-place, and made preparations accordingly for leaving Carlingford, in which, indeed, they had no further occupation; for, to be sure, except to the extent of that respect which a man owes to his aunts, they had no special claim upon Frank Wentworth, or right to supervise his actions, save on account of Skelmersdale, which was now finally disposed of and given away.
cannot be said that Miss Leonora had ever fully recovered the remarkable indisposition which her
nephew Jack's final address had brought upon her. The very next morning she fulfilled her pledges as a woman of honour, and bestowed Skelmersdale positively and finally upon Julia Trench's curate, who indeed made a creditable enough rector in his way; but after she had accomplished this act, Miss Leonora relapsed into one unceasing watch upon her nephew Frank, which was far from dispelling the tendency to headache which she showed at this period for the first and only time in her life. She watched him with a certain feeling of expiation, as she might have resorted to self-flagellation had she lived a few hundred years before, and perhaps suffered more acute pangs in that act of discipline than could be inflicted by any physical scourge. The longer she studied the matter the more thoroughly was Miss Leonora convinced not only that the Perpetual Curate was bent on doing his duty, but that he did it with all the force of high faculties, and a mind much more thoroughly trained, and of finer material than was possessed by the man whom she had made rector of Skelmersdale. The strong-minded woman bore quietly, with a kind of defiance, the sharp wounds with which her self-esteem was pierced by this sight. She followed up her discovery, and made herself more and more certain of the mistake she had made, not sparing herself any part of her punishment. As she pursued her investigations, too, Miss Leonora became increasingly sensible that it was not his mother's family whom he resembled, as she had once thought, but that he was out and out a Wentworth, possessed of all the family features; and this was the man whom by her own act she had disinherited of his natural share in the patronage of the family, substituting for her own flesh and blood an individual for whom, to tell the truth, she had little respect! Perhaps if she had been able to sustain herself with the thought that it was entirely a question of "principle," the retro
spect might not have been so hard upon Miss Leonora ; but being a woman of very distinct and uncompromising vision, she could not conceal from herself either Julia Trench's cleverness or her own mixed and doubtful motives. Having this sense of wrong and injustice, and general failure of the duty of kindred towards Frank, it might have been supposed a little comfort to Miss Leonora to perceive that he had entirely recovered from his disappointment, and was no longer in her power, if indeed he had ever been so. But the fact was, that if anything could have aggravated her personal smart, it would have been the fact of Frank's indifference and cheerfulness, and evident capability of contenting himself with his duty and his favourite district, and his Lucywhom, to be sure, he could not marry, being only a Perpetual Curate. The spectacle came to have a certain fascination for Miss Wentworth. She kept watching him with a grim satisfaction, punishing herself, and at the same time comforting herself with the idea that, light as he made of it, he must be suffering too. She could not bear to think that he had escaped clean out of her hands, and that the decision she had come to, which produced so much pain to herself, was innoxious to Frank; and at the same time, though she could not tolerate his composure, and would have preferred to see him angry and revengeful, his evident recovery of spirits and general exhilaration increased Miss Leonora's respect for the man she had wronged. In this condition of mind the strong-minded aunt lingered over her preparations for removal, scorning much the rumour in Carlingford about her nephew's advancement, and feeling that she could never forgive him if by any chance promotion should come to him after all. 'He will stay where he is. He will be a perpetual curate," Miss Leonora said, uttering what was in reality a hope under the shape of a taunt; and
things were still in this position when Grange Lane in general and Miss Dora in particular (from the window of the summer-house) were startled much by the sight of the Rector, in terribly correct clerical costume, as if he were
going to dine with the bishop, who walked slowly down the road like a man charged with a mission, and, knocking at Mrs Hadwin's door, was admitted immediately to a private conference with the Curate of St Roque's.
It was the same afternoon that Mr Wentworth failed to attend, as he had never been known to fail before, at the afternoon school which he had set up in Prickett's Lane for the young bargemen, who between the intervals of their voyages had a little leisure at that hour of the day. It is true there was a master provided, and the presence of the Perpetual Curate was not indispensable; but the lads, among whom, indeed, there were some men, were SO much used to his presence as to get restless at their work on this unprecedented emergency. The master knew no other resource than to send for Miss Lucy Wodehouse, who was known to be on the other side of Prickett's Lane at the moment, superintending a similar educational undertaking for the benefit of the girls. It was, as may be supposed, embarrassing to Lucy to be called upon to render
ing their work to stare at her. "Mr Wentworth would be grieved to think that his absence did his scholars any injury." Lucy looked one of the ringleaders in the eyes as she spoke, and brought him to his senses-all the more effectually, to be sure, because she knew all about him, and was a familiar figure to the boy, suggesting various little_comforts, for which, in Prickett's Lane, people were not ungrateful. when she went back again to her girls, the young lady found herself in a state of excitement which was half annoyance and half a kind of shy pleasure. To be sure, it was quite true that they did belong to each other; but at the same time, so long as she was Lucy Wodehouse, she had no right to be called upon to represent "the clergyman," even in the "district" which was so important to both. And then it occurred to her to remember that if she remained Lucy Wodehouse that was not the Curate's fault-from which thought she went on to reflect that going away with Mr and Mrs Proctor when they were married was not a charming prospect, not to say that it involved a renunciation of the district for the present at least, and possibly for ever; for if Mr Wentworth could not marry as long as he was a Perpetual Curate, it followed of necessity that he could not marry until he had left Carlingford-an idea which Lucy turned over in her mind very seriously as she walked home, for this once unattended. A new light seemed to be thrown upon the whole matter by this thought. To consent to be married simply for her own happiness, to the disadvantage in any respect of her hus