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put up there, the stranger alighted, the vehicle turned round very deliberately, as if the horse thought seriously of the matter, and the few loiterers who had crossed the road to stare at the proceedings, walked off again, each of them with his hands in his pockets.
It was with some difficulty that the gentleman procured the necessary assistance, for the house was full of business, and every one, from the principal to poor Boots himself, engaged in some way or other. The ostler, however, took charge of his luggage, which was not very considerable, and the stranger himself walked into a comfortable room, which he was not sorry to find deserted; and having relieved himself of some of his wrappers, and put himself in walking trim, gave a few instructions respecting his return to rest there for the night.
He was preparing to leave the house, when the sound of music
up stairs attracted his attention, At first it was the mere clink, clink, clink, thrum, thrum, of a harp; but soon the full orchestra burst forth into some lively tune, and he heard the feet of dancers keeping time to it over head. With such frivolities he had little sympathy, so he left the house, and crossed the street, without making farther enquiry. The foot-pavement opposite the house was crowded (if “ crowd " be a term applicable to country towns) with rude fellows staring up at the house he had just quitted.
“'Nother pa'ason, Tom,” said a rude fellow on the kerbstone.
“Hold y'r tongue, can't ye,” said his companion, thrusting his elbow rudely against him.
“Can't ye be quiet," said a third; "he ain't a going to the dance, he ain't.”
The gentleman took no notice of this rudeness, but stepped quietly into the road, turning his eyes unconsciously towards the inn opposite. The long range of windows on the first floor appeared to be almost blazing through the gloom, the rest of the front being in shade. The blinds were down, but there was a dance of Chinese shadows'checquering the blank surface-heads, and feathers, and half-length figures, passing and repassing, now slowly, and now more rapidly, apparently at the pleasure of the orchestra, for the room being lighted by one immense chandelier in the centre, the company, as they swept to and fro, were completely between that light and the darkness out of doors.
We will not say what reflections this exhibition occasioned in the mind of the stranger. Perhaps, he thought, as many others do, that dancing by rule, and as a matter of necessity, was very like eating to create an appetite, but as he said nothing, we must follow his example.
He walked on, apparently absorbed in thought, till he had left the town a long mile behind him, and was proceeding down a quiet lane leading to a neighbouring village, when he paused before an old fashioned house of red brick, with stone dressings, not unlike those quaint Dutch mansions which you see in pictures, with a church in the distance, and a heavy rustic skating solemnly in the foreground. The moon's light enabled him to see that the house had been recently repaired, but these later touches were evidently in country work, wanting that neatness and finish which distinguish our London houses. There were, however, capping the piers on either side the entrance, a pair of choice ornaments, evidently of metropolitan manufacture. These were two lions, in artificial stone-work, with square heads, tongues hanging out of their mouths, and eyes rolling from their sockets, in the purest style of mediæval art. Each of these lions was what the heralds would call sejant, or sitting, with the forepaws stretched out, and holding what appeared to be a heart between them; and they formed, we will presume, the crest, or bearing, of the proprietor of this old fashioned mansion. There it stood, in the faint moon-light, stolid and gloomy, as it could have looked in Holland itself, the snow which covered its high roof, aiding innocently in the deception. The gate was open, and our friend, who was a stranger there, gave a somewhat loud and formal knock. A light, stealing from one of the side windows, and which might have escaped observation had it not rested on the glittering leaves of an arbutus just before it, instantly disappeared, and in a few seconds gleamed from a casement up stairs. The door was not very speedily opened, for it was quite clear that the inmates did not expect visitors at that hour. But after a few enquiries, the gentleman was admitted, and shewn into the room from which the light, as we have just said, had been withdrawn. The servant placed her candle on the table, and the gentleman, after making a few enquiries, took out his card, engraved in a neat hand, with the name of the Rev. William L. Singleton.
At that late hour, and in a lonely situation, where he thought there could be but little congenial society, Mr. Singleton had calculated on finding the whole household at home. In this, however, he had been deceived. The only individual in that rambling house, besides one of the servants, was a young lady, apparently about twenty years of age, or probably a little older. In order rightly to understand who this was, we must make a somewhat lengthy digression.
Emma Singleton, for she bore the same name, and was, in fact, related to the gentleman just introduced to the reader, was, to use a term fearfully abused in the present day, a really interesting girl, in many senses of the word. Trustful, simpleminded, and warm-hearted, she possessed also a winning elegance of manners ; and real kindness showed itself in all her words and actions. Measuring her attainments by the amount of her halfyearly bills, she had been “highly educated;" but looking at them in reference to common sense, or Christian usefulness, they were found sadly wanting. To borrow the idea of an elegant and powerful writer, she had been taught " to think that the entering a room gracefully was more important than the entering into heaven ; and that the grand thing for which God had sent a child into the world was, that it might catch the Italian accent, and be quite at home in every note of the gamut.” There had been no solid ground-work laid on which to build a healthy, and efficient, and useful system of action-the prettinesses and accomplishments of life had been substituted for that severe, and ever-active, and watchful discipline of the mind, which can alone fit us for living in a world of such stern realities as those by which we are surrounded. The Misses Mendham, under whom she had “completed” her education, had certainly taught her that she had a mind; for on no subject were they more fluent than on mental and moral philosophy. Every thing they heard or read was with them, so intellectual—so metaphysical-so great,” if it only touched on these matters ; and, “What a mind that girl has !" was, in their language, equivalent to that loftiest of all encomiums—" He went about doing good.”
But it must not be supposed that the minds of their pupils really formed the object of their study and solicitude. They were, nevertheless, a little in advance of their competitors in the
educational world. The writings of Stewart, of Reid, and Abercrombie, had opened up to them a new field of enquiry, and they were no longer like those little children with some pet animal, of whose economy and habits they are altogether ignorant, and who kill it with mistaken kindness, by supplying it with all that it does not want, and withholding all it does. They knew that the mind required to be fed, and that this mental food was to be elaborated by a variety of processes, till it produced healthy and vigorous action, and built up a sound system. But they seemed hardly to be aware of the fact, that reason was to be vicegerent, and revelation, sole monarch, of this inner kingdom. In many instances, the imagination was allowed to rule; and when this was not the case, the judgment was seldom submitted to the dictates of inspiration; they fell into the error, too widely prevalent, that reason was made to teach, rather than to learn ;
and they consequently did not think that, in this case, the apostle was wiser than themselves, when he directed that every thought should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Thus tutored, Emma Singleton grew up to womanhood. Her uncle, called abroad by professional engagements some years ago, had placed her, after leaving school, in the family of a clergyman; of whom, it must be confessed, he knew but little, but of whom he had heard a good report. The views of this clergyman had undergone a change; and, in the course of about two years, he had become a confirmed Puseyite. Whispers of this change had reached Mr. Singleton, at Venice, and as soon as he could arrange matters, he hastened home to England, with a view of ascertaining the exact position of his niece. Not many hours ago he had hastened from the railway station to the town, at which we have described his arrival, and now he was in the very house at which his niece was domiciled,—the rectory of Springclose, -of which the Reverend Silenus Glosenfane was at present incumbent.
In far less time than we have occupied upon this little episode, the servant had carried to her young mistress the card of Mr. Singleton. A suppressed scream announced that it had been placed in her hands, and the next moment she had flown down stairs, and was in the arms of her uncle. The meeting was a warm, and, in some senses, a joyful one ; for Emma had always looked upon her relative as a child looks upon a parent. He was
almost the only one she had whose opinion she much valuedher adviser and best friend-though he had, of late, had but little direct communication with her. Shifting from place to place on the continent, as he was compelled to do in his office of travelling tutor to a young nobleman, her letters had not always reached him; and his own, owing to his multifarious engagements, had been but few. In these limited communications, moreover, as far as Emma was concerned, there had been little of a religious character. The school in which she was now learning Christianity, if it deserved so high and holy a name, was not the best for stimulating that intercourse of soul, of which such letters as pass between friend and friend, are properly the vehicles. It was essentially a creed of form-an importable thing-not to be talked about, not to be felt, not to be enjoyed—but simply to be seen. It was, in truth, limited and local; though misnamed, catholic and universal.
As the first impulse of affection in the breast of Emma Singleton subsided, and she began to realize all the circumstances and possible consequences of the meeting, the color mounted to her face; she became confused, and seriously affected, and at last burst into tears. Her uncle was moved too ; and anxious to divert her mind, though he scarcely guessed the cause of her emotion, he asked after the rest of the household.
They are all out,” sobbed Emma; “not a soul in the house but Baker and myself ; nor do I expect them home for some hours : they are all at the county ball.”
Mr. Singleton started, as if under the influence of an electric shock. He, however, said nothing audibly, though his manner spoke far more eloquently than words could do, and it required no very clever physiognomist to see that he was deeply pained by the disclosure. It was, however, some source of consolation to him, to find that his own affectionate Emma was not with them.
Forcing a smile, Mr. Singleton looked affectionately at Emma, and said pleasantly, “Well then, my dear child, we shall have a quiet evening all to ourselves; and I have little doubt we shall find plenty to talk about. How tong has your friend been a patron of balls, Emma?
“Oh! uncle,” she replied, endeavoring to quiet her conflicting feelings, “ many of the clergy in this part of the country are