George MacDonald.

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more about himself than about his children. His own
shame outweighed in his estimation the sadness of their
guilt. It was a less matter that they should be guilty,
than that he, their father, should be disgraced.

Thinking over alTthis, and forgetting how late it was, I


found myself half-way up the avenue of the HalL I
wanted to find out whether young Weir's fancy that the
ladies he had failed in serving, or rather whom he had
really served with honesty, were Mrs and Miss Old-
castle, was correct. What a point it would be if it was !
I should not then be satisfied except I could prevail on
Miss Oldcastle to accompany me to Thomas Weir, and
shame the faithlessness out of him. So eager was I
after certainty, that it was not till I stood before the
house that I saw clearly the impropriety of attempting
anything further that night One light only was burn-
ing in the whole front, and that was on the first floor.

Glancing up at it, I knew not why, as I turned to go
down the hill again, I saw a corner of the blind drawn
aside and a face peeping out whose, I could not tell.
This was uncomfortable for what could be taking me
there at such a time ? But I walked steadily away, cer-
tain I could not escape recognition, and determining to
refer to this ill-considered visit when I called the next
day. I would not put it off till Monday, I was re-

I lingered on the bridge as I went home. Not a light
was to be seen in the village, except one over Catherine
Weir's shop. There were not many restless souls in my
parish not so many as there ought to be. Yet gladly
would I see the troubled in peace not a moment,
though, before their troubles should have brought them
where the weary and heavy-laden can alone find rest to
their souls finding the Father's peace in the Son the
Father himself reconciling them to Himself.


How still the night was ! My soul hung, as it were,
suspended in stillness ; for the whole sphere of heaven
seemed to be about me, the stars above shining as clear
below in the mirror of the all but motionless water. It
was a pure type of the " rest that remaineth" rest, the
one immovable centre wherein lie all the stores of might,
whence issue all forces, all influences of making and
moulding. " And, indeed," I said to myself, " after all
the noise, uproar, and strife that there is on the earth,
after all the tempests, earthquakes, and volcanic outbursts,
there is yet more of peace than of tumult in the world.
How many nights like this glide away in loveliness, when
deep sleep hath fallen upon men, and they know neither
how still their own repose, nor how beautiful the sleep of
nature ! Ah, what must the stillness of the kingdom be 1
When the heavenly day's work is done, with what a gentle
wing will the night come down ! But I bethink me, the
rest there, as here, will be the presence of God ; and if
we have Him with us, the battle-field itself will be it
not quiet, yet as full of peace as this night of stars." So
I spoke to myself, and went home.

I had little immediate comfort to give my young guest,
but I had plenty of hope. I told him he must stay in
the house to-morrow ; for it would be better to have the
reconciliation with his father over before he appeared in
public. So the next day neither Weir was at church.

As soon as the afternoon service was over, I went once
more to the Hall, and was shown into the drawing-room
a great faded room, in which the prevailing colour was a
dingy gold, hence called the yellow drawing-room when


the house had more than one. It looked down upon the
lawn, which, although little expense was now laid out on
any of the ornamental adjuncts of the Hall, was still kept
very nice. There sat Mrs Oldcastle reading, with her
face to the house. A little way farther oft", Miss Old-
castle sat, with a book on her knee, but her gaze fixed
on the wide-spread landscape before her, of which, how-
ever, she seemed to be as inobservant as of her book. I
caught glimpses of Judy flitting hither and thither among
the trees, never a moment in one place.

Fearful of having an interview with the old lady alone,
which was not likely to lead to what I wanted, I stepped
from a window which was open, out upon the terrace,
and thence down the steps to the lawn below. The ser-
vant had just informed Mrs Oldcastle of my visit when I
came near. She drew herself up in her chair, and evi-
dently chose to regard my approach as an intrusion.

" J did not expect a visit from you to-day, Mr Walton,
you will allow me to say."

" I am doing Sunday work," I answered. " Will you
kindly tell me whether you were in London on Thursday
last ? But stay, allow me to ask Miss Oldcastle to join

Without waiting for answer, I went to Miss Oldcastle,
and begged her to come and listen to something in which
I wanted her help. She rose courteously though without
cordiality, and accompanied me to her mother, who sat
with perfect rigidity, watching us.

" Again let me ask," I said, " if you were in London
on Thursday."


Though I addressed the old lady, the answer came
from her daughter.

" Yes, we were."

"Were you in & Co.'s, in Street?"

But now before Miss Oldcastle could reply, her mother

" Are we charged with shoplifting, Mr Walton? Really,
one is not accustomed to such cross-questioning except
from a lawyer."

" Have patience with me for a moment," I returned.
M I am not going to be mysterious for more than two or
three questions. Please tell me whether you were in that
shop or not."

" I believe we were," said the mother.

" Yes, certainly," said the daughter.

" Did you buy anything?"

" No. We " Miss Oldcastle began.

" Not a word more," I exclaimed eagerly. " Come
with me at once."

"Whatdb you mean, Mr Walton?" said the mother,
with a sort of cold indignation, while the daughter looked
surprised, but said nothing.

" I beg your pardon for my impetuosity ; but much is
in your power at this moment. The son of one of my
parishioners has come home in trouble. His father,
Thomas Weir "

" Ah !" said Mrs Oldcastle, in a tone considerably at
strife with refinement. But I took no notice.

" His father will not believe his story. The lad thinks
you were the ladies in serving whom he got into trouble.


I am so confident he tells the truth, that I want Miss
Oldcastle to be so kind as to accompany me to Weir's
house "

u Really, Mr Walton, I am astonished at your making
such a request ! " exclaimed Mrs Oldcastle, with suitable
emphasis on every salient syllable, while her white face
flushed with anger. " To ask Miss Oldcastle to accom-
pany you to the dwelling of the ringleader of all the
canaille of the neighbourhood !"

" It is for the sake of justice," I interposed.

" That is no concern of ours. Let them fight it out
between them. I am sure any trouble that comes of it
is no more than they all deserve. A low family men
and women of them."

" I assure you, I think very differently."

" I daresay you do."

" But neither your opinion nor mine has anything to
do with the matter."

Here I turned to Miss Oldcastle and went on

" It is a chance which seldom occurs in one's life,
Miss Oldcastle a chance of setting wrong right by a
word; and as a minister of the gospel of truth and
love, I beg you to assist me with your presence to that

I would have spoken more strongly, but I knew that
her word given to me would be enough without her pre-
sence. At the same time, I felt not only that there
would be a propriety in her taking a personal interest in
the matter, but that it would do her good, and tend to
create a favour towards each other in some of my flock


between whom at present there seemed to be nothing in

But at my last words, Mrs Oldcastle rose to her feet,
no longer red now whiter than her usual whiteness
with passion.

" You dare to persist ! You take advantage of your
profession to persist in dragging my daughter into a vile
dispute between mechanics of the lowest class against
the positive command of her only parent ! Have you
no respect for her position in society? for her sex?
Mister Walton, you act in a manner unworthy of your

I had stood looking in her eyes with as much self-
possession as I could muster. And I believe I should
have borne it all quietly, but for that last word.

If there is one epithet I hate more than another, it
is that execrable word cloth used for the office of a
clergyman. I have no time to set forth its offence
now. If my reader cannot feel it, I do not care to
make him feel it. Only I am sorry to say it overcame
my temper.

" Madam," I said, " I owe nothing to my tailor. But
I owe God my whole being, and my neighbour all I
can do for him. ' He that loveth not his brother is a
murderer,' or murderess, as the case may be."

At that word murderess, her face became livid, and she
turned away without reply. By this time her daughter
was half way to the house. She followed her. And
here was I left to go home, with the full knowledge that,
partly from trying to gain too much, and partly from


losing my temper, I had at best but a mangled and un-
satisfactory testimony to carry back to Thomas Weir.
Of course I walked away round the end of the house
and down the avenue ; and the farther I went the more
mortified I grew. It was not merely the shame of losing
my temper, though that was a shame and with a woman
too, merely because she used a common epithet ! but I
saw that it must appear very strange to the carpenter
that I was not able to give a more explicit account of
some sort, what I had learned not being in the least
decisive in the matter. It only amounted to this, that
Mrs and Miss Olclcastle were in the shop on the very
day on which Weir was dismissed. It proved that so
much of what he had told me was correct nothing
more. And if I tried to better the matter by explaining
how I had offended them, would it not deepen the very
hatred I had hoped to overcome 1 In fact, I stood con-
victed before the tribunal of my own conscience of
having lost all the certain good of my attempt, in part
at least from the foolish desire to produce a conviction
0/"Weir rather than in Weir, which should be triumphant
after a melodramatic fashion, and must I confess itl
should punish him for not believing in his son when /
did ; forgetting in my miserable selfishness that not to
believe in his son was an unspeakably worse punish-
ment in itself than any conviction or consequent shame
brought about by the most overwhelming of stage -effects.
I assure my reader, I felt humiliated.

Now I think humiliation is a very different condition
of mind from humility. Humiliation no man can de-


sire : it is shame and torture. Humility is the true,
right condition of humanity peaceful, divine. And yet
a man may gladly welcome humiliation when it comes,
if he finds that with fierce shock and rude revulsion it
has turned him right round, with his face away from
pride, whither he was travelling, and towards humility,
however far away upon the horizon's verge she may sit
waiting for him. To me, however, there came a gentle
and not therefore less effective dissolution of the bonds
both of pride and humiliation ; and before Weir and I
met, I was nearly as anxious to heal his wounded spirit,
as I was to work justice for his son.

I was walking slowly, with burning cheek and down-
cast eyes, the one of conflict, the other of shame and
defeat, away from the great house, which seemed to be
staring after me down the avenue with all its window-
eyes, when suddenly my deliverance came. At a some-
what sharp turn, where the avenue changed into a wind-
ing road, Miss Oldcastle stood waiting for me, the glow
of haste upon her cheek, and the firmness of resolution
upon her lips. Once more I was startled by her sudden
presence, but she did not smile.

" Mr Walton, what do you want me to do ? I would
not willing refuse, if it is, as you say, really my duty to
go with you."

" I cannot be positive about that," 1 answered. " I
think I put it too strongly. But it would be a consider-
able advantage, I think, if you would go with me and let
me ask you a few questions in the presence of Thomas
Weir. It will have more effect if I am able to tell him


that I have only learned as yet that you were in the
hop on that day, and refer him to you for the rest.**

" I will go."

" A thousand thanks. But how did you manage
to T

Here I stopped, not knowing now to finish the ques-

" You are surprised that I came, notwithstanding
mamma's objection to my going ?"

" I confess I am. I should not have been surprised
at Judy's doing so, now."

She was silent for a moment.

" Do you think obedience to parents is to last for
ever ] The honour is, of course. But I am surely old
enough to be right in following my conscience at least."

" You mistake me. That is not the difficulty at all.
Of course you ought to do what is right against the
highest authority on earth, which I take to be just the
parental. What I am surprised at is your courage."

" Not because of its degree, only that it is mine !"

And she sighed. She was quite right, and I did not
know what to answer. But she resumed.

" I know I am cowardly. But if I cannot dare, I can
bear. Is it not strange ? With my mother looking at
me, I dare not say a word, dare hardly move against her
will. And it is not always a good will. I cannot hon-
our my mother as I would. But the moment her eyes
are off me, I can do anything, knowing the consequences
perfectly, and just as regardless of them ; for, as I tell
you, Mr Walton, I can endure ; and you do not know


what that might come to mean with my mother. Once
she kept me shut up in my room, and sent me only bread
and water, for a whole week to the very hour. Not that
I minded that much, but it will let you know a little of
my position in my own home. That is why I walked
away before her. I saw what was coming."

And Miss Oldcastle drew herself up with more expres-
sion of pride than I had yet seen in her, revealing to me
that perhaps I had hitherto quite misunderstood the
source of her apparent haughtiness. I could not reply
for indignation. My silence must have been the cause
of what she said next.

" Ah ! you think I have no right to speak so about my
own mother ! Well 1 well ! But indeed I would not have
done so a month ago."

"If I am silent, Miss Oldcastle, it is that my sym-
pathy is too strong for me. There are mothers and
mothers. And for a mother not to be a mother is too

She made no reply. I resumed.

" It will seem cruel, perhaps ; certainly in saying it, I
lay myself open to the rejoinder that talk is so easy ;
still I shall feel more honest when I have said it : the
only thing I feel should be altered in your conduct
forgive me is that you should dare your mother. Do
not think, for it is an unfortunate phrase, ^hat my mean-
ing is a vulgar one. If it were, I should at least know
better than to utter it to you. What I mean is, that you
ought to be able to be and do tne same before your
mother's eyes, that you are and do when she is out of


sight I mean that you should look in your mother's
eyes, and do what is right. 1 "

" I knmu that know it well" (She emphasized the
words as I do.) " But you do not know what a spell she
casts upon me ; how impossible it is to do as you say."

" Difficult, 1 allow. Impossible, not. You will never
be free till you do so."

" You are too hard upon me. Besides, though you
will scarcely be able to believe it now, I do honour her,
and cannot help feeling that by doing as I do, I avoid
irreverence, impertinence, rudeness whichever is the
right word for what I mean."

" I understand you perfectly. But the truth is more
than propriety of behaviour, even to a parent ; and in-
deed has in it a deeper reverence, or the germ of it at
least, than any adherence to the mere code of respect
If you once did as I want you to do, you would find that
in reality you both revered and lo^ed your mother more you do now."

" You may be right. But I am certain you speak
without any real idea of the difficulty."

" That may be. And yet what I say remains just as

" How could I meet violence^ for instance 1"

" Impossible !"

She returned no reply. We walked in silence for some
minutes. At length she said,

" My mother's self-will amounts to madness, I do t>e-
lieve. I have yet to learn where she would stop of herself."

" All self-will is madness," I returned stupidly enough.


For what is the use of making general remarks when you
have a terrible concrete before you 1 " To want one's
own way just and only because it is one's own way is the
height of madness."

" Perhaps. But when madness has to be encountered
as if it were sense, it makes it no easier to know that it
is madness."

" Does your uncle give you no help T

" He ! Poor man ! He is as frightened at her as I
am. He dares not even go away. He did not know
what he was coming to when he came to Oldcastle Hall.
Dear uncle ! I owe him a great deal. But for any help
of that sort, he is of no more use than a child. I believe
mamma looks upon him as half an idiot. He can do
anything or everything but help one to live, to be any-
thing. Oh me ! I am so tired !"

And the proud lady, as I had thought her, perhaps not
incorrectly, burst out crying.

What was I to do ? I did not know in the least. What
I said, I do not even now know. But by this time we
were at the gate, and as soon as we had passed the
guardian monstrosities, we found the open road an effec-
tual antidote to tears. W T hen we came within sight of
the old house where Weir lived, Miss Oldcastle became
again a little curious as to what I required of her.

" Trust me," I said. " There is nothing mysterious
about it. Only I prefer the truth to come out fresh in
the ears of the man most concerned/'

" I do trust you," she answered. And we knocked at
the house-door.


Thomas Weir himself opened the door, with a candle
in his hand. He looked very much astonished to see
his lady-visitor. He asked us, politely enough, to walk
up-stairs, and ushered us into the large room I have
already described. There sat the old man, as I had first
seen him, by the side of the fire. He received us with
more than politeness with courtesy ; and I could not
help glancing at Miss Oldcastle to see what impression
this family of " low, free-thinking republicans" made
upon her. It was easy to discover that the impression
was of favourable surprise. But I was as much surprised
at her behaviour as she was at theirs. Not a haughty
tone was to be heard in her voice ; not a haughty move-
ment to be seen in her form. She accepted the chair
offered her, and sat down, perfectly at home, by the fire-
side, only that she turned towards me, waiting for what
explanation 1 might think proper to give.

Before I had time to speak, however, old Mr Weir
broke the silence.

" I 've been telling Tom, sir, as I 've told him many
a time atore, as how he 's a deal too hard with his chil-

" Father!" interrupted Thomas, angrily.

" Have patience a bit, my boy," persisted the old
man, turning again towards me. " Now, sir, he won't
even hear young Tom's side of the story ; and I say that
boy won't tell him no lie if he 's the same boy he went

" I tell you, father," again began Thomas ; but this
tune I interposed, to prevent useless talk beforehand.


" Thomas," I said, " listen to me. I have heard your
son's side of the story. Because of something he said,
I went to Miss Oldcastle, and asked her whether she
was in his late master's shop last Thursday. That is all
I have asked her, and all she has told me is that she
was. I know no more than you what she is going to
reply to my questions now, but I have no doubt her
answers will correspond to your son's story.

I then put my questions to Miss Oldcastle, whose
answers amounted to this : That they had wanted to
buy a shawl ; that they had seen none good enough ;
that they had left the shop without buying anything;
and that they had been waited upon by a young man,
who, while perfectly polite and attentive to their wants,
did not seem to have the ways or manners of a London

I then told them the story as young Tom had related
it to me, and asked if his sister was not in the house and
might not go to fetch him. But she was with her sister

" I think, Mr Walton, if you have done with me, 1
ought to go home now," said Miss Oldcastle.

" Certainly," I answered. " I will take you home at
once. I am greatly obliged to you for coming."

" Indeed, sir," said the old man, rising with difficulty,
" we 're obliged both to you and the lady more than we
can tell. To take such a deal of trouble for us ! But
you see, sir, you 're one of them as thinks a man 's got
his duty to do one way or another, whether he be clergy-
man or carpenter. God bless you, Miss. You're of


the right sort, which you'll excuse an old man, Miss,
as '11 never see ye again till ye 've got the wings as ye
ought to have."

Miss Oldcastle smiled very sweetly, and answered no-
thing, but shook hands with them both, and bade them
good-night Weir could not speak a word ; he could
hardly even lift his eyes. But a red spot glowed on
each of his pale cheeks, making him look very like his
daughter Catherine, and I could see Miss Oldcastle
wince and grow red too with the gripe he gave her
hand But she smiled again none the less sweetly.

11 1 will see Miss Oldcastle home, and then go back
to my house and bring the boy with me," I said, as we


It was some time before either of us spoke. The sun
was setting, the sky the earth and the air lovely with
rosy light, and the world full of that peculiar calm which
belongs to the evening of the day of rest. Surely the
world ought to wake better on the morrow.

" Not very dangerous people, those, Miss Oldcastle?"
I said, at last.

" I thank you very much for taking me to see them,"
she returned, cordially.

" You won't believe all you may happen to hear
against the working people now 1"

" I never did."

" There are ill-conditioned, cross-grained, low-minded,
selhsh, unbelieving people amongst them. God knows
it. But there are ladies and gentlemen amongst them


" That old man is a gentleman."

" He is. And the only way to teach them all to be
such, is to be such to them. The man who does not
show himself a gentleman to the working people why
should I call them the poor ? some of them are better
off than many of the rich, for they can pay their debts,
and do it "

I had forgot the beginning of my sentence.

" You were saying that the man who does not show
himself a gentleman to the poor "

" Is no gentleman at all only a gentle without the
man ; and if you consult my namesake old Izaak, you
will find what that is."

" I will look. I know your way now. You won't tell
me anything I can find out for myself."

" Is it not the best way?"

" Yes. Because, for one thing, you find out so much
more than you look for."

" Certainly that has been my own experience."

"Are you a descendant of Izaak Walton?"

" No. I believe there are none. But I hope I have
so much of his spirit that I can do two things like

" Tell me."

" Live in the country, though I was not brought up in
it ; and know a good man when I see him."

" I am very glad you asked me to go to-night."

"If people only knew their own brothers and sisters
the kingdom of heaven would not be far off."

I do not think Miss Oldcastle quite liked this, for she


was silent thereafter; though I allow that her silence
was not conclusive. And we had now come close to
the house.

" I wish I could help you," I said.

" In what?"

" To bear what I fear is waiting you."

" I told you I was equal to that. It is where we are
unequal that we want help. You may have to give it
me some day who knows V

I left her most unwillingly in the porch, just as Sarah
(the white wolf) had her hand on the door, rejoicing in
my heart, however, over her last words.

My reader will not be surprised, after all this, if,
before I get very much further with my story, I have to

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