Chapter 162363246

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleTHE REVEREND JAMES.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162363246
Full Date1896-10-03
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count1842
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Ducies of Dulverton
article text

CHAPTER IV,

TUB ItlEVIiWIND JAMBS.

TIio booming of tho groat gong warned Cissy that it was time to descend. Who ever heard of a lady-help dressing for dinner? Henceforward, she would exist with a dual consciousness. But it was too late to work out the situation now. Sho must fare Miss Dorothea and "James."

It wasn't very difficult work. Miss Doro thea was inclined to bo stately, and evidently looked upon Mis3 Frissy as too much a crea ture of impulse.

It wanted somebody with an impulso to give an aspect of life to tho gloomy old house. 'Die Rev. James was exactly like tho portrait of his ancostorin Cissy's bedroom, curl and all. This hyaciuthine lock hung down over his brow, and declined to consort with its fellows, very much in the way the scalp lock of an Indian, or a Chinaman's pig-tail refuses to associate with mere ordinary hair.

Cissy found herself, whilst mechanically swallowing her soup, tracing his historic fore lock back to tho Crusades and accompanying it down to its present owner, after it had endured sundry hairbreadth escapes from tho battle-axes of fierce Sir Hugo and bold De Vere, and'many another gallant freebooter of the days of old. It was rather an interesting face beneath this pendent curl. The eyes were blue and clear, the forehead high, tho mouth and nose well modelled, and the upper lip destitute of moustacho. Ho seemed to lie about thirty-five, and there wa3 an evident struggle in Miss Friscilla's mind as to whether he was to be treated as just grown up or whether his sacred office entitled him to tho attention and doferenoo generally claimed as tho attributes of old ago.

As for tho ltev. James, ho didn't seem to think about himself. He chatted with his elderly sisters, but said very little to Cissy as the dinner dragged its weary length along.

At length, Miss Dorothea made a stately inclination of her head, the sleepy butler actually woke up and opened tho door, and tho Rev. Jamc3 was left alone.

When they reached the drawing-room, Miss Priseilla sat down in a huge armchair by the fireplace and went to sleep. Soon a gentle sigh from Miss Dorothea botokc.ned that she had followed her sister's example.

Cissy wandered aimlessly about in tho quaint, old-fashioned room until sho came to a massive grand piano. She sat down on the music-stool and began to improvise, drcain ingly changing from one episode to another as

she went back to her girlhood and that brief delight under tho apple blossoms.

She thought she had forgotten it all, but the old pain insisted on making it-.elf felt. .

"You may call yourself some one else, it seemed to say; "you may call yourself some one el so and go away from the old haunt", but I am with you still. I atn Dame Care, who will sit by your bedside and bring her knitting. You can't escape mo. Yonder is the same moon which gar.ed in upon yon last nig)it. You cannot forgot your tears because you see it through this oriel window. She has seen you, and her calm, steadfast light will seek you out and shine upon your sorrow. You and I will have many a fight in the days to com'', and if you yield one inch then will f cling more i closely to you until all your days and .all your

nights shall be the san.e, and the turd'ui of lost love bear you down, down, down, and rob you of your youth, and print deep wrinkles on

your brow,and some day your glass will tell you that you are—

But the chords ended with a crash- Miss Priscilla still slept the sleep of the righteous; Miss Dorothea continued to emit her little sibilant snore; but some one else was in the

room.

As Cissy looked out from, the dim recess in whioh the piano etood, she Was aware of a folaok-coated form sitting quietly a little way

off.

When the music ceased, the black-coated form rose and came towards her. The fair-* headed curl shone for a moment, and sho recog nised the Rev. James.

"Thank you," he said, sitting downberide thopiano; "it is not often I hear personal

music."

"Personal!" she echoed, rather taken aback, . and with an increased respeot for tho Rey. James's perceptive faoultios. " Personal 1".

"Yes, personal. When one sits in the shadows dreamily playing, and the music un consciously interprets all that is passing in the mind, isn't that personal?"

" Yes," sho said, "Isuppose it is."

" I am very much obliged to you," ho said, "But you mustn't think I was taking an unfair advantage by listening. I was en deavouring to draw my own conclusions."

"Your own conclusions!"

"Yos, respecting this freak of yours, for it is nothing' else. Only I am inclined to take it seriously. I think you aro trying to escape from yourself."

Oissy drew back.

Ho didn't say it intrusively, but with the air of a man who had been working out liis theory from practical observation.

"Pray, don't misunderstand me," ho said reassuringly. " You come to us in the dual capacity or visitor and worker. I—I think work would be good for you."

"It is for most of us," she said; "only some people aro so incorrigibly lazy that they wont accept the remedy."

" I don't think that applies to yourself. At any rate, I will do my best to prevent it."

Thauk you. You will find mo a very wil ling pupil."

Ho looked at her rather sharply,

"Most people liko to choose the form their work shall tako," ho said. "lam afraid you must loavo yourself in my hands, if you don't mind." _

His voice was \*M)fc^U3ical and sweet, with a grave oarnost ring in it which was reassuring.

"I suspect," she said tentatively, "that you look upon mo as a 'case'—a somebody to bo prescribed for, and made whole."

" And 1. am afraid that you must look upon mo as a very obtrusive individual, wholly for getful of a host's courtesy. Only in this rather primitive atmosphere §f ours wo aro

nt

apt to go direct to the point in a manner

which savours of abruptness."

"I think tho world would be a happier placo if more peoplo practised the sarno abruptness," sho said.

" All," ho replied, "you will find with ex perience that tho world is very much as wo make it. If people when thov met were to look into ono another's souls it might bo awk

ward, but would be better for them. Ono is • introduced to, say Smith; and Smith utters something about tho crops or tho weather. Now. it takes years to get beyond that with Smith. _ Ho would think it an unpardonablo liberty if lie were asked to exchange viows on certain subjoets with you. But in one's own mind, and in Smith's mind, tliero must bo many Uiing3 near tho surfaco which would bo all the better for a little ventilation. So much might be done; but I am boring yon."

"Not at all, I agree with you in thinking that there is moro to be done with individuals than masses."

"Thatis it," ho said, "when a man is a clergyman he takes upon himself an implied obligation to help the whole world, although ho may often nood help himself. And tho only way ho can help the wliolo world is to be always looking after tho units."

"And so,"sho said, smilingly, "you aro going to look after tho units by letting them nave your sermons."

"Ah, I wasn't thinking of that. They are sermonB intended for a particular class of people, and without any abstract theology in tliern. Tho people havo asked for them, and, although it is unpleasant to be looked upon as -a conceited parson for publishing theiu, 1 liavo

to do so. If a man shrank from doing any thing because lie consid_ered what people might say in bis dispraise, ho would make a very poor preacher."

"One has to bo more than human not to heed neoplc,"said Cissy, wearily.

"IiOtine get yon some tea,"said the Rev, James. " and come out of the gloom into the lamplight. My sisters must be awake by this

time."

" Really, Jaws," Raid Miss Dorothea, brid ling a little. "You ought to bo aware that I novor nloep of an evening. If I close ray eyes for the purposes of meditation"

"And then go to sloop, you cannot hclo it," Raid the Rrnr. James. " f pot very drowsy mvself downstairs somoliines, and only wake wbon Waffles tells inn it is timo to come up. I—I think T. can pi it it from Waffles. He is as bad as the fat hoy in " Pickwick,"

15nt the approach of Waffles with a telegram put, an and to the conversation.

Miss Dorothea indulged in an exclamation of alarm, and Miss Prisoiila hold her vinai grette to her rime.

" It—it is for me," she said. " I—I did not think there was anyone in the whole world who would be so thoughtless as to send me a telegram. It—it unnerves mo."

She looked at the telegram as it reposed on a silver salvor. " Would vou nnnd opening it, my dear?" she said to Cissy, " and break it to mo gently, .Tames; I am sure, something dread ful is about to happen."

" f don't think so," said tho Rev. James. "We live so much out, of the world that tho merest trifle upsets us. Telegrams aro as common as postcards nowadays. I should use them fro montly, only 1 know your rooted dis like to thorn."

" Open it, please, my dear," said Miss Prisoiila, and Cissy opened it with a steadiness of hand whioli oxcited oven Miss Dorothea's admiration. ,

"It's from the Hotel Metropole," said Cissy. " Reached Lou don safely, and await your permission to attend you. Oscar Van

Heidenstoin."

Miss Prisoiila gave a little cry of delight. " Oscar," she said, "it must bo poor Martha's hov, our nephew. James, let us go and fetch

him at once."

" I'm afraid it is too iafo to do anything to night, except telegraph," said the Rev. JamoB,

smiling.

Miss Priseilla could not rest until the tole gratn was a~t.un.llv dispatched. "Tt is my poor dead sister Mnrtha's only boy," she said ; " and lie must have come to Rngland on pur* pope to see us. She married an Attache of the Swedish Legation in Constantinople, and went to live at Smyrna, but died when Oscar was born. I—T. don't think T shall sleep at all to night. I wonder what lie is liire."

" Calm vourself. Priseilla," said Miss Doro thea. "You are so impulsive."

Hut she "looked as if the telegram had awakened thoughts of the times when she was too voipyr to."elo3C her eyo.s for the purposo

of meditation."