Elizabeth Missing Sewell.

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Besides, I must stop for one moment at Duff's cottage,
to ask for his child. I will send Clement to you ;
that will be the best way."

Mr. Lester demurred, but Bertha was positive, and
just in that way which made him feel that he should
annoy her if he insisted upon carrying his point.
So they said good-b'ye ; and Bertha walked across
the little garden, and Mr. Lester returned to his study
to wait for Clement.

One thing could not but strike him, as he recurred
to what had passed : the very matter-of-f\ict way in
which all had been said and arranged, not in the least
as if great interests were at stake, or there were
grounds for unusual uneasiness. Throughout the whole
of the conversation, Bertha's rather monotonous voice


had scarcely been raised above its usual low pitch ;
she had seldom laid any peculiar emphasis on her
words, or, in fact, in any way betrayed that the topics
discussed were of importance to her.

Accustomed though he was to her, Mr. Lester
marvelled. Perhaps in his heart he felt pained. It
was very difficult to work with such a person, to give
or receive the sympathy necessary for support in
doubt and difficulty. And then with Mr. Vivian and
the children! What was to be the end? Could
they possibly live together ? Would Bertha ever
really obtain a right influence in her own family ? —
Yet the uncomfortable misgiving partially vanished
when he remembered how she had given him her
hand at parting, and said very timidly: "I don't
know how to say, thank you, as I ought." There was
something so humble, simple, child-like, and true in
her ; such a consciousness of her own deficiencies !

That unfortunate, early education, — nipping,
blighting, as it had been ; what a noble nature it
had marred!



" Mr. Lester wants to see you, Clement." The
words broke most uncomfortably upon Clement's
slumber, as, having finished his writing, he estab-
lished himself in an arm-chair, opposite to his grand-

" Wants to see me, does he ? " and he rubbed his
eyes. " It's awfully late and cold."

" It won't take you two minutes to run across the
garden, and you must not keep him."

Clement delayed, and Bertha was obliged to repeat
the message.

" Mr. Lester will be very much annoyed, Clement,
if you don't make haste."

" Going, Aunt Bertha, going." He went out into
the passage, but came back again. " AVhere on earth
can that girl have put my great coat ? "

"Your greatcoat, Clement? nonsense. It is not
a hundred yards to the Rectory."

" Enough to feel the cold. Aunt Bertha ; I must
have my coat." He rang the bell ; Bertha left tho
room, called out to the servant not to answer the bell.
and went herself to the closet where she knew that
the missing coat was to be found.

Clement looked ashamed. With all his fiiults, he had
the feeling of a gentleman. " I beg your pardon, Aunt

VOL. u. c


Bertha ; I really didn't mean to give you the trouble,
but that girl is so intolerably careless."

" And a boy ought to be ashamed to be dependent
upon her. She has enough to do without waiting
upon you, Clement."

" Then I wish she wouldn't meddle with my things
at all/' muttered Clement, determined to have the
last word. He drew on his coat very slowly. Bertha
looked at him with that evident self-control, which
shows that impatience is on the point of bursting
forth. Clement, however, did not see this. He
buttoned his coat up to the chin, preparing, as it
might have seemed, for a walk of ten miles ; and set
forth as leisurely as if he had felt quite at his ease.

He was shown at first into the room where Rachel
was sitting at work. A poor man had just come up
from the village, having business with Mr. Lester ;
and a message w^as therefore sent, begging him to

Clement's heart sank. " What are you doing there,
Iwachel?" he said, drawing near to Rachel's chair,
and watching her busy fingers. He said it merely to
distract his thoughts. Any thing was better than that
wretched standing by the fire, waiting for the door
to open again.

" iSIaking a warm coat for Barney Wood," replied
Rachel. " Won't it be comfortable ? " and she held it
up for him to see.

Clement looked at it carelessly, and Rachel, a little
disappointed at receiving no admiration of her per-
formance, returned to her work in silence.

Clement still finding his own meditations uncom-


fortable, spoke again : — "I thought Barney Wood
was worse."

" Yes, so he is, a great deal ; that is the reason he
wants something specially to keep him warm. Who
do you think is going to give the coat ? " she added,
her face brightening with pleasure.

" You are, I suppose," he replied.

" Oh, no ; I haven't half money enough. I am
making it for Ronald to give. It was so kind of him
to think of it."

" So odd, you mean," replied Clement.

" Odd ! why ? " She turned round quickly, and
looked at him with wonder.

" It's a queer thing for a fellow like him to think
about a child's coat. That's a woman's business."

" Not to think about it, is it ? " said Rachel. " It's
a woman's business to make it, and that is why I am
working for him. But Ronald is odd, I suppose," she
added, thoughtfully.

" Have you found that out for the first time to-day,
eh, Rachel ? " and Clement laughed a little satirically.

" I don't think I ever should find it out myself,"
replied Rachel. " People say Ronald is odd, and so
I suppose he is, but he never seems so to me."

"Much experience you must have had of him,
little woman," said Clement, patronisingly, as lie
patted her on the shoulder.

Rachel drew back with an air of annoyance. She
could not endure familiarity, and answered, rather
coldly, that she certainly did not see Ronald often ;
but when she did she liked him very much, and
thought him very good.

c 2


Clement laughed. " A doughty champion Ronald
will have," he said, " when it comes to a fight for his
character. But Rachel, you will have no one else on
your side. I don't think Ronald's goodness is what
the world admires him for."

" He is good, though," said Rachel, resolutely.

" Then he must make you his confidante, and tell
you all his virtues," said Clement. " You wouldn't
discover them yourself."

" I think I should," said Rachel ; " I do indeed,
for he never praises himself. That is one thing I
like him for."

" Virtue the first ; and what next?"

" He doesn't think about himself," continued Ra-
chel ; " 1 mean he will take any trouble for any one,
and he is always civil ; and, — I can't tell exactly every-
thing, — but I am sure he is to be trusted."

" Trusted ! yes, I suppose he wouldn't steal."

Rachel's eyes kindled. " I should think not, in-
deed," she exclaimed, laying down her work, and
turning to Clement, with a flushed cheek ; " but it
wasn't that I meant ; being trusted doesn't mean
money, but honour. He wouldn't tell a story or de-
ceive ; or pretend any thing that wasn't true ; and he
keeps his word. When you look at him you feel that
lie is to be trusted."

Clement bit his lip, and answered coolly : — " No
great praise after all. Most persons speak truth."

" Yes ; but it is not speaking truth," replied Rachel,
her musical voice becoming deeply earnest ; " it is
feeling truth. Clement, don't you know what I
mean ? "


" Perhaps I do, only you express yourself so oddly ;
you always do."

"Do I ? 1 didn't know it ; " and in a moment slie
was tlie humble child receiving a reproof, as she
added, " I will try and be clear, but I don't quite
know how."

Perhaps Clement had no wish for her definition of
truth, for he gave her no encouragement to continue.
Yet, in her simplicity, Rachel did not perceive this,
and thinking that he was waiting for her to explain
herself, she went on with a blush on her cheek, and a
little hesitation in her voice : — " I mean that Ronald
never seems to be two persons, or to mean two things.
When he promises any thing he does it, and when he
says he likes any body, you always see that he really
does. Sometimes I have heard him say he dislikes
what papa thinks he ought not to dislike, parts of
books and such things ; but that doesn't prevent his
being true. Papa says " — she continued, and she
glanced at Clement doubtfully, in the fear that she
might be relapsing into odd expressions — " that truth
is formed of two halves, fitting into each other, and
making one whole. I am sure Ronald's words and
his actions always fit ; and I dare say his heart and
his words fit too, only I can't tell so much about that,
and it is so much more difficult to make them fit."

" You are desperately given to metaphysics, Ra-
chel," said Clement.

" Am I ? I only say what papa says. But Clement,
I am sure you know what I mean about Ronald."

" He's a very good-hearted, honest fellow," replied


Clement ; " but I can't tell how you seem to know so
much about him, Rachel."

" He comes to talk to papa about his Latin," said
Rachel, " and about Barney Wood, too ; and some-
times we have met him when we have been to see
Barney. I don't know much about him, really,

" And so he means to pay for that wonderful coat
you are making ? "

" Yes ; he asked Miss Campbell and me to get it ;
and we went to Cleve, the other day, and chose it."

" Barney Wood is fortunate in having so many per-
sons to look after him," said Clement, carelessly.

" He won't want care very long," replied Rachel ;
" so it is right to make him as comfortable as we can
whilst he is here. I can't think how he comes to be
such a nice child, when he is Goff's grandchild."

" Oh ! you hate GoiF, like the rest of the world,
do you ?" said Clement.

" I don't hate — I don't hate any one ; but I don't like
him ; and I know papa thinks he does a great deal
of mischief, and I am sure he is afraid that Barney's
father is going to be like him."

" And Ronald, too, then," said Clement, " as they
are always together."

He said it merely to tease her ; but she could not
see this, and fancying him in earnest, she threw down
her work, and starting up, exclaimed, " Oh ! Clement,
you don't know any thing about Ronald ; you are very
unkind to him ; and I used to think you were fond of
him," she added, more gently, but still very reproach-


"Perhaps I am just as fond of him as you are,
Rachel ; only I see more of him, and know more of
his ways."

" You don't know more than papa does," continued
Rachel, taking up her work, and evidently trying
not to speak as if she was annoyed ; " and he thinks
that if Ronald has good persons about him he will be
a very good man."

"Possibly. I wouldn't for the world dispute it ;
only I don't see where the people are to come from
who are to make him good. His father won't do much
in that way."

" I don't know any thing scarcely about Captain
Yivian," replied Rachel ; " but I am afraid of him."

" He's a good sort of fellow enough," was Clement's
off-hand reply ; " only not very pretty company for

" Then I shouldn't think he could be good for boys,"
observed Rachel, with a quick glance at Clement,
which made him a little ^ngry.

" I should be glad, Rachel, if you would decide for
yourself, not for me," he said. " You can't possibly
be a judge."

Rachel looked distressed. " Did I vex you, Cle-
ment ? I didn't mean to do it. I only thought that
papa is so sorry when you have been with Captain

" I can't help being with him sometimes."

" Can't you really ? Then I suppose it won't do
you any harm."

The remark was made with such apparent childish
Bimplicity, that Clement began to laugh,
c 4


"Was it anything very odd that I said?" con-
tinued Rachel. "I thought nothing could do us
harm which we couldn't help."

" What an absurd child you are ! " exclaimed Cle-
ment. *' You take up one's words as if you were
weighing them. Can't help, doesn't really mean,
can't help."

" Papa won't let me say I can't help a thing," re-
plied Rachel, " unless I really can't. He says that
people teach themselves self-deceit by their words.
And you know, Clement, nothing can be wrong which
we really can't help."

"Then I am quite sure I am the most virtuous
being in existence," exclaimed Clement ; " for I can't
help half — no, not three quarters — of the wrong
things I do."

" But if we ought to say, I don't try to help it,"
persisted Rachel, " that would be a great mistake."

" I don't read learned books, and study metaphysics,
as you do, Rachel," said Clement, sarcastically. " And,
happily for me ! My head would get addled in a
month. You are enough to perplex a saint with
your quibbles."

" It is no quibble ; and I don't learn it from books,
nor from any thing," exclaimed Rachel, her naturally
quick temper being roused by the taunt ; " I learn it
from my own heart. When I say I can't help a thing,
and I really can help it, it is something inside that

tells me it is untrue. But " she paused, her tone

changed, and she added humbly, " I ought not to
speak out so, Clement ; please, forgive me."

Clement murmured something in reply, which was


scarcely audible. He glanced at the door, feeling, he
did not know why, that the interview with Mr.
Lester would have been more endurable than this
conversation with the open-hearted, true-minded
child, whose every word was a reproach to him.

Rachel fancied she had deeply offended him, and
again begged for forgiveness. She knew, she said,
that it was her way to speak out, and she did try to
keep her temper under ; only not so much as she
ought. " You will forgive me, won't you, Clement ? "
she added, in her most pleading voice.

It must have been a very hard heart that could
refuse ; and Clement was naturally good-tempered,
and really liked Rachel, only he took pleasure in
shocking what he called her matter-of-factness. He
pretended to hold out a little, for the purpose of hear-
ing her again beg for pardon in that very sweet,
humble tone ; and then suddenly changing and start-
ling her by a laugh, he exclaimed — " Why, Rachel,
you are more silly than I took you to be ! I never
said I was angry, did I ? "

" I didn't know. I very often do speak out when
I ought not," was the answer ; and there was rather
an awkward silence, which perhaps neither of them
was sorry to have broken by the entrance of the ser-
vant, who summoned Clement to Mr. Lester's study.


CHAP. xxxn.

It is a marvellous and fearful subject, that of uncon-
scious influence. It might almost paralyse us with
its enormous responsibility, if it were not for the
fact, which becomes obvious to any person who studies
the formation of character, that the weight of indirect
good always in the end preponderates over indirect
evil. We advise, and warn, and reprove, and —
either from some defect of manner, some deficient
mode of expression, or perhaps some latent vanity or
temper — we neutralise our own words ; and the
person whom we are attempting to lead in the right
way, leaves us to follow the wrong ; but, if we are
not called upon to give counsel, and yet are in a
position to act, each deed of self-denial, self-control,
thoughtful kindness, — each word or tone which
may tend to reveal our secret motives, comes un-
marred from Him who has enabled us to serve Him,
and brings with it a power which is, in its very
nature, necessarily victorious over evil. A child
brought up by two persons — neither attempting to
direct in words, but the one practically earnest and
good, and the other practically careless and indifferent,
will cling to the former, and reject the latter. But
a child receiving excellent advice from one person,
and very bad advice from another will, in nine cases


out of ten, listen to the bad, and reject the good.
Who has not felt the indirect influence of a cliild's
goodness ? Who would not have felt, as Clement did
when he left Rachel Lester, that those few uncon-
scious warnings, the result of her own honest, sim-
ple, high-minded spirit of truth and obedience, had
a power which even impressive eloquence might
have failed to exercise. Clement was in a dif-
ferent frame of mind, when he appeared before Mr.
Lester, from that in which he had left the Lodge :
then he had quietly made up his mind to say nothing ;
now, on the contrary, he was inclined towards can-
dour and sincerity ; and when Mr. Lester addressed
him with his usual kindness, and told him he was
sorry to have kept him waiting, it seemed as if he
could at once have acknowledged his offence, and
made reparation by promises for the future. But he
was still trusting to himself, unaware cf the weakness
of his own resolution.

Mr. Lester began the conversation cautiously.
" You went to the Hall this evening, Clement ? "

" Yes, sir."

" And you returned late, and met Goff?"

« Yes, sir."

Mr. Lester paused, hoping for something besides
the monosyllable ; but Clement's courage was not
equal to the confession, without help.

" Were you with him long ? "

" I don't know the exact time, sir."

" Did he force himself upon you ?"

" He came and walked by my side, sir." A keen
pang of conscience, and a recollection of Kachel,


and Clement added : — " He said he was going ray
way, and so we went together."

Mr. Lester's countenance brightened. There was
a tone of candour in this, which was cheering. He
thought that Clement had told all. " I suppose you
came straight home ? " he said.

" No, sir ; we went round by — the fields." An-
other pang of conscience, worse than the first. He
had almost corrected himself as before, and added, —
by the Grange. But he waited for another question.

" Oh, by the fields. I suppose, then, that was what
made you so late."

Alas for Clement ! the almost right was changed,
as so often happens, into quite wrong ; and, seizing on
the suggested excuse, he replied, — " It was a good
way round — farther than I thought."

Something in his countenance and tone struck
Mr. Lester painfully. " Clement," he said, " you are
above suspicion, — I cannot possibly doubt your word ;
but if there is any thing in this which I ought to
know beyond the fact of your having been with Goff,
I trust to your honour to tell me."

A minute before Clement would have responded to
the appeal, by at once acknowledging his visit ; but
the first equivocation, contrary to the voice of con-
science, had done its work. He had not spoken out
at first, — he was ashamed to confess his evasion, —
and so he covered it by another, still intending to
say the whole presently.

" I don't think any thing GofF said could have done
me much harm, sir. He talked about the loss of
the steamer off the L'ish coast, most of the time."


" What he talked about, Clement, is not the ques-
tion. If he had been giving you the most excellent
advice all the time, I should still have objected to
your being with him."

That was an unfortunate speech for Clement's
courage. If Mr. Lester so strongly objected even to
a walk and an innocent conversation, what would he
say to the visit to the Grange! The old excuses
suggested themselves again, but the pang of con-
science was intensely keen. Eachel's voice and
words were ringing in his ears. To resist now would
be a more wilful sin.

Mr. Lester seemed considering deeply. Clement
stood before him in an agony of weak intention. He
delayed ; — and there are cases — many and most
common — in which delay is all that the Tempter
requires for his victory.

Presently Mr. Lester said, with a slight nervous-
ness of manner, — " You must know, Clement, some
of the reasons which make us all so anxious to pre-
vent your having any intercourse with that man

" I know people say he is a smuggler," replied

Another pause. Mr. Lester's tone was still more
uneasy, as he replied : — " There may be deeper rea-
sons than that, — family reasons; you have heard of

** Family affairs are a mystery to me," said Clement,

" That is not the exact truth, Clement. You do
know something."


"I know that my father has been very ill used,"
replied Clement ; " and that we ought all to be much
better off than we are."

" Possibly," answered Mr. Lester, drily. " But, Cle-
ment " — his voice became deeply earnest and serious —
" your father has been suffering for years from the
consequences of that same spirit of wilful independence
which will infallibly be your ruin, if you yield to it. He
was warned against companionship — against Captain
Vivian's companionship ; he saw no necessity for the
warning, and he would not take it. The result was
the loss of home, friends, and fortune — exile for him-
self, poverty for his children."

"My grandfather was unjust," exclaimed Clement,

"Let it be so. Your father erred, and has grievously
repented his error."

"If he was disinherited unjustly, I don't see what
there was to repent of," replied Clement.

" What we suffer, Clement, has nothing to do with
the extent of our offence. And there is one truth which
I would most earnestly strive to impress upon you.
It seems to be one of the marked rules of God's Provi-
dential government, that seemingly trifling offences
should, if committed wilfully, and against warning,
bring upon us irremediable punishment. One thought
of evil admitted into our hearts, by our own choice,
will do us more harm than all we are taught by
experience, without our choice, as we pass through
life. The word or suggestion of sin which Goff or
Captain Vivian may bring before you, when you
are wilfully seeking their society, or, what is the


same thing, wilfully refusing to avoid it, will liaunt
you to your dying day ; and one weak yielding to a
slight temptation to disobedience may be, with you,
as it was with your father, ruin for life. It is the
first time I have spoken in this way," continued Mr.
Lester. " It is intensely painful to me to bring up
the remembrance of faults which have been ex-
piated, as far as sorrow and amendment can expiate
any guilt ; but your father would be the first to bid
me warn you by his example and his sufferings. In
his name, Clement, I bid you remember that it is not
the amount of our offence, but the wilfulness with
which it is committed, which is our sin in the sight of
God, and which brings upon us His just vengeance."

Clement's heart beat very fast ; the words, " I have
done very wrong, sir," escaped him. He might have
added more, but Mr. Lester, seizing upon the acknow-
ledgment, — almost the first which he had made with-
out any attempt at excuse, — interrupted him by
saying in a lighter tone : — " It is all I wish, Clement,
that you should see that these little disobediences are
very wrong. I dare say you have excuses for them.
I dare say Goff thrusts himself upon you. Very
often you may have a difficulty in ridding yourself of
him. But that ought only to give you the more spirit
in resisting. Where would be — I will not say the
merit — one ought not perhaps to use the word — but
the satisfaction, of victory, if there were no struggle ? "

The expression was rather an unfortunate one, for
Clement's vanity was piqued. He answered hastily,
— " There is not much struggle, sir, I am sure, in
getting rid of a fellow like that ; I am not so des-


perately fond of liis company, after all ; only he
thrusts himself upon me, and I can't shake him off."

" Not can't, Clement ; you can if you will."

" He wouldn't go to night, sir ; I tried several times
to take short cuts."

Quite true this was, as before, in the letter ; but the
excuse had led Clement a long way from the spirit
of truth. If he were to say now that he had gone
into the Grange, it would seem as if he had spoken
an untruth, or at least something approaching to it.
Mr. Lester looked at his watch, being anxious to
close the conversation. " Well, Clement, I can only
say, what I have often said before, that I trust to
your honour. I cannot possibly tell how much or
how little you put yourself in the way of these men,
or whether they only pursue you for their own bad
purposes. They have some, you may be sure ; and if
they could lead you into serious mischief, their end
would be gained ; but in this, as in every thing else,
your only real safety is openness. If you have been
betrayed into disobedience, say it. Don't wait till
you have been tempted to great sins, but acknowledge

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