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Hoole's Inquiry into S. Peter's Visit to
Woodhouse's Counsels of Perfection,
Arnold's Literature and Dogma, 158.
Waiting a Mail, 1, 81, 161.
It is always a relief to come from the dusty hot streets of London in summer into a fresh cool room, where by means of blinds drawn down, and a thorough draught, the oppressive heat of the great city has been in a measure excluded.
So felt Virginia Randall, as she entered her home in — Square, Hyde Park, after a long ride in Rotten Row. The month of June had set in with such heat might only be rivalled by an Italian summer, and though it was now seven in the evening, it had not abated.
Here I am, Aunt Isabelle, and I have had such a pleasant ride," she exclaimed to a middle-aged lady, who was watering some ferns in a window; "a friend of Joan Staley's with Reggie joined us after we had been out a short time, and made it so pleasant,—but it was dreadfully hot,” she continued, seating herself. “Oh, now I have sat down I don't think I shall ever get up again.”
“I am glad you enjoyed yourself, my dear,” said her aunt, looking at her fondly. “But I have some news for
do not anticipate ; run off and dress quickly for dinner, I shall not tell you till you are ready."
“I wish there was no such thing as dinner,” sighed Virginia as she gathered up her riding-habit reluctantly; "a little salad and some iced water is all I require."
“Aunt Cicely would not agree with you, my dear, nor should I. But make haste, and do not keep the despised meal waiting."
Virginia mounted the stairs slowly to her own room, but the force of curiosity quickened her usually slow movements, and soon she was seated in the dining-room opposite her aunt, eagerly demanding the promised news. “Is it about Evered, or Nina, or Miss Hardinge? Can't your
dear friend wait till the 22nd to be married ?"
“It has something to do both with Evered, Cornelia, and Miss Hardinge ; but I will not keep you in suspense any longer. First of all, Evered writes to me, saying, he proposes coming up next Monday, which is most unfortunate, as I shall not be here to greet him. Miss Hardinge says I must start on that day, and shall not get into Inverness-shire till Tuesday morning, travelling all night. The wedding is fixed, all well, for Thursday, so that if I do not start on the Monday, I shall have no time to rest before the great event takes place. I wish people would not live in such out-of-the-way places ; when I reach Mealfourvourny I shall have to drive twelve miles."
“Soon I shall expect to hear you wishing Miss Hardinge had nego? met Colonel Martin,” said Virginia, a little maliciously. “For my part, I don't think women ought to marry after they are forty. I can't help saying so, even though Maria is your bosom friend, auntie.”
“Well, that is not the question now,” returned Miss Brereton. What troubles me is, that Evered should be coming up to town ill, and I am unable to receive him. I don't half like it. To be sure there is Cicely, but she is as bad as no one, -and if your
brother should be taken seriously ill while I am away, there will be no one but a mere baby to see after him.”
“You forget, Aunt Isabelle,” interrupted Virginia, “I am no longer an infant in the eyes of the law, since I was twenty-one yesterday."
“Still I cannot disappoint Maria,” continued her aunt ; she has counted all along upon my being at her wedding. I should not mind nearly so much if I thought Evered would not think me unkind—”
"He is the last person to think that,” said Virginia, kindly, seeing her aunt looked really distressed. “I am quite sure he will see the urgency of the case; and I will do my best to take care of him and Aunt Cicely too,-so do rest satisfied, dear aunt.”
“I must be satisfied, I suppose,” said Miss Brereton ; “ though I shall not feel comfortable all the time I am away. Well, about Cornelia,
,-a case of scarlet fever has appeared in the school, and Mrs. Dudley writes to say that she is sending all the girls home to be out of
the way of infection, therefore Nina will be here to-morrow.
but sorry she should lose even this short time of her last term. You don't look particularly pleased, my dear."
Virginia certainly did not look pleased, and she crumbled her bread in silence for some moments before answering frankly, “No, I don't feel glad, Aunt Isabelle. I never did look forward to Nina's coming home with pleasure, and now we are to be troubled with her sooner than we expected, -I am quite sorry."
“And yet, Virginia, we have kept her at Brighton a whole year longer than we did you. You really should remember that at eighteen and a half one naturally desires to be on a par with others of one's own age.” “Yes, I suppose so," said Virginia, unwillingly, “only—"
Well, my dear child, it cannot be helped, what must be, must," and with this philosophical declaration Miss Brereton ascended to the Irawing-room.
Virginia and Cornelia Randall had lost both father and mother at an early age, and since the death of the latter, (who survived her husband but a few months,) they had lived in London with their two maiden aunts, Cicely and Isabelle Brereton, to whom they were devot. edly attached. If Aunt Isabelle called forth their love as a mother, Aunt Cicely came in for a full share of devotion, chiefly excited by compassion. Two years ago, by one stroke of paralysis, the use of every limb had been destroyed, and since then Miss Cicely Brereton had never left her sofa. If Aunt Isabelle could act for her nieces, Aunt Cicely was ever ready with passive sympathy to comfort in little troubles; and perhaps this it was which helped to make her specially dear to them. Her patience and resignation called forth their admiration, for they had known her as full of life and as active as her sister. And yet no word of complaint as to her trial ever fell from her lips, all she seemed to fear was giving trouble to others.
Evered Randall, the only brother of these children, was a Priest, he was eleven or twelve years older than Virginia, and in consequence of having been adopted by an elder brother of his father, had seen very little of either of his sisters. This uncle, the Rector of a living in Essex, had trained Evered for the priesthood, imparting to him all his own reverence for the Church, and helping him as he grew to maturity to lead a life almost ascetic in its simplicity. Evered had been Mr. Randall's curate from the time of his ordination, till about three months before the present period, when his uncle died suddenly from bronchitis, caught one bleak March day when going to administer the last Sacraments to a dying parishioner. During the delay which followed the death of Mr. Randall and the instalment of a new Rector, (for the Patron of Ardleigh was travelling in Palestine at that time,) Evered was left in sole charge of the parish, and though apparently a strong man, yet the hard work and responsibility single-handed of so large a place, added to the shock of his uncle's sudden death, told so much upon his constitution, that soon Evered's health entirely gave way, and a violent attack of inflammation on the lungs utterly incapacitated him from continuing his work. It was then that he became aware that his constitution was by no means so strong as he had supposed, and his recovery was so slow, that the village doctor, becoming anxious, and unable to find out the true seat of the disease, advised him to go to London for advice, assuring him that all thought of continuing at Ardleigh must be given up.
Thoroughly bound up as Evered's heart was in his work, this suspension of active service was a great trial, but being reminded by his increasing weakness that something should be done, he determined to seek a home for a time with his aunts and sisters in Square, where he could place himself under the care of an experienced physician. Accordingly he wrote to Miss Brereton, explaining his state of health, and making his request; in reply to which he received a most cordial letter saying how happy they would all be to see him, though concerned at the
So Evered fixed the following Monday for his departure from Ardleigh, meanwhile bracing himself up to say farewell to the place which had been his home from childhood, the rectory, the village, the people, and, above all, the church, -he must part with all these, never perhaps to see them again. His uncle's grave, where the earthly remains of him who had been as his father were laid, must be left to the care of others, while strangers would fill his place. But in the midst of these regrets Evered would not allow himself to wish the beloved one back, nor grudge him his rest, believing that he had been taken away from the evil to come. But he shrank, (and perhaps naturally,) from having to enter his family as a mere stranger, for so it would be in reality. To any one this would have been a trial, and to Evered it was specially 80. Naturally reserved, he always found it difficult to get on with those whom he did not know well; moreover he imagined that between