done to get her out of the clutches of these tormentors,
who were, evidently to me, consuming her in the slow fire
of her own affections, when I heard a faint noise, a rapid
foot in the house so quiet before ; heard doors open and
shut, then a dull sound of conflict of some sort Pre-
sently a quick step came up the oak-stair. The face of
my patient flushed, and her eyes gleamed as if her soul
would come out of them. Weak as she was she sat up
in bed, almost without an effort, and the two women
darted from the room, one after the other.
" ' My husband ! ' said the girl for indeed she was
little more in age, turning her face, almost distorted with
eagerness, towards me.
" ' Yes, my dear/ I said, ' I know. But you must be
as still as you can, else you will be very ill. Do keep
" ' I will, I will,' she gasped, stuffing her pocket-hand-
kerchief actually into her mouth to prevent herself from
screaming, as it' that was what would hurt her. ' But go
to him. They will murder him.'
DR DUNCAN'S STORY. 319
" That moment I heard a cry, and what sounded like
an articulate imprecation, but both from a woman's voice ;
and the next a young man as fine a fellow as I ever
saw dressed like a game-keeper, but evidently a gentle-
man, walked into the room with a quietness that strangely
contrasted with the dreadful paleness of his face and with
his disordered hair; while the two women followed, as
red as he was white, and evidently in fierce wrath from a
fruitless struggle with the powerful youth. He walked
gently up to his wife, whose outstretched arms and face
followed his face as he came round the bed to where she
was at the other side, till arms, and face, and head, fell
into his embrace.
" I had gone to the mother.
u ' Let us have no scene now,' I said, ' or her blood
will be on your head.'
" She took no notice of what I said, but stood silently
glaring, not gazing, at the pair. I feared an outburst,
and had resolved, if it came, to carry her at once from
the room, which I was quite able to do then, Mr Wal-
ton, though I don't look like it now. But in a moment
more the young man, becoming uneasy at the motion-
lessness of his wife, lifted up her head, and glanced in
her face. Seeing the look of terror in his, I hastened
to him, and lifting her from him, laid her down dead.
Disease of the heart, I believe. The mother burst into
a shriek not of horror, or grief, or remorse, but of
" ' Look at your work ! ' she cried to him, as he stood
gazing in stupor on the face of the girl. ' You said she
32O ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
was yours, not mine ; take her. You may have her now ;
you have killed her.'
" ' He may have killed her ; but you have murdered
her, madam,' I said, as I took the man by the arm, and
led him away, yielding like a child. But the moment I
got him out of the house, he gave a groan, and, break-
ing away from me, rushed down a road leading from the
back of the house towards the home-farm. I followed,
but he had disappeared. I went on ; but before I could
reach the farm, I heard the gallop of a horse, and saw
him tearing away at full speed along the London road.
I never heard more of him, or of the story. Some
women can be secret enough, I assure you."
I need not follow the rest of our conversation. I
could hardly doubt whose was the story I had heard.
It threw a light upon several things about which I had
been perplexed. What a horror of darkness seemed to
hang over that family ! What deeds of wickedness !
But the reason was clear : the horror came from within ;
selfishness, and fierceness of temper were its source no
unhappy doom. The worship of one's own will fumes out
around the being an atmosphere of evil, an altogether
abnormal condition of the moral firmament, out of which
will break the very flames of hell. The consciousness
of birth and of breeding, instead of stirring up to deeds
of gentleness and " high emprise," becomes then but
an incentive to violence and cruelty; and things which
seem as if they could not happen in a civilized country
and a polished age, are proved as possible as ever where
the heart is unloving, the feelings unrefined, self the
DUNCAN'S STORY. 331
centre, and God nowhere in the man or woman's vision.
The terrible things that one reads in old histories, or in
modern newspapers, were done by human beings, not
I did not let my friend know that I knew all that he
concealed ; but I may as well tell my reader now, what
I could not have told him then. I know all the story
now, and, as no better place will come, as far as I can
see, I will tell it at once, and briefly.
Dorothy a wonderful name, the gift of God, to be so
treated, faring in this, however, like many other of God's
gifts Dorothy Oldcastle was the eldest daughter of
Jeremy and Sibyl Oldcastle, and the sister therefore of
Ethelwyn. Her father, who was an easy-going man,
entirely under the dominion of his wife, died when she
was about fifteen, and her mother sent her to school,
with especial recommendation to the care of a clergyman
in the neighbourhood, whom Mrs Oldcastle knew ; for,
somehow and the fact is not so unusual as to justify
especial inquiry here though she paid no attention to
what our Lord or His apostles said, nor indeed seemed
to care to ask herself if what she did was right, or what
she accepted (I cannot say believed} was true, she had
yet a certain (to me all but incomprehensible) leaning
to the clergy. I think it belongs to the same kind of
superstition which many of our own day are turning to.
Offered the Spirit of God for the asking, offered it by
the Lord himself, in the misery of their unbelief they
betake themselves to necromancy instead, and raise
the dead to ask their advice, and follow it, and will find
322 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
some day that Satan had not forgotten how to dress like
an angel of light. Nay, he can be more cunning with
the demands of the time. We are clever : he will be
cleverer. Why should he dress and not speak like an
angel of light ? Why should he not give good advice if
that will help to withdraw people by degrees from re-
garding the source of all good ? He knows well enough
that good advice goes for little, but that what fills the
heart and mind goes for much. What religion is there
in being convinced of a future state ? Is that to worship
God? It is no more religion than the belief that the
sun will rise to-morrow is religion. It may be a source
of happiness to those who could not believe it before,
but it is not religion. Where religion comes that will
certainly be likewise, but the one is not the other. The
devil can afford a kind of conviction of that. It costs
him little. But to believe that the spirits of the departed
are the mediators between God and us is essential pagan-
ism to call it nothing worse ; and a bad enough name
too since Christ has come and we have heard and seen
the only-begotten of the Father. Thus the instinctive
desire for the wonderful, the need we have of a revela-
tion from above us, denied its proper food and nourish-
ment, turns in its hunger to feed upon garbage. As a
devout German says I do not quote him quite correctly
" Where God rules not, demons will." Let us once
see with our spiritual eyes the Wonderful, the Coun-
sellor, and surely we shall not turn from Him to seek
elsewhere the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Those who sympathize with my feeling in regard to
DK DUNCAN'S STORY.
this form of the materialism of our day, will forgive this
divergence. I submit to the artistic blame of such as
do not, and return to my story.
Dorothy was there three or four years. I said I would
be brief. She and the clergyman's son fell in love with
each other. The mother heard of it, and sent for her
home. She had other views for her. Of course, in
such eyes, a daughter's fancy was, irrespective of its ob-
ject altogether, a thing to be sneered at. But she found,
to her fierce disdain, that she had not been able to keep
all her beloved obstinacy to herself: she had transmitted
a portion of it to her daughter. But in her it was com-
bined with noble qualities, and, ceasing to be the evil
thing it was in her mother, became an honourable firm-
ness, rendering her able to withstand her mother's stormy
importunities. Thus Nature had begun to right herself
the right in the daughter turning to meet and defy the
wrong in the mother, and that in the same strength of
character which the mother had misused for evil and
selfish ends. And thus the bad breed was broken. She
was and would be true to her lover. The consequent
scent* were dreadful. The spirit but not the will of the
girl was all but broken. She felt that she could not
sustain the strife long. By some means, unknown to
mv informant, her lover contrived to communicate with
her. He had, through means of relations who had great
influence with Government, procured a good appoint-
ment in India, whither he must sail within a month.
The end was that she left her mother's house. Mr
Gladwyn was waiting for her near, and conducted her
3*4 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
to his father's, who had constantly refused to aid Mrs
Oldcastle by interfering in the matter. They were mar-
ried next day by the clergyman of a neighbouring parish.
But almost immediately she was taken so ill, that it was
impossible for her to accompany her husband, and she
was compelled to remain behind at the rectory, hoping
to join him the following year.
Before the time arrived, she gave birth to my little
friend Judy; and her departure was again delayed by a
return of her old complaint, probably the early stages of
the disease of which she died. Then, just as she was
about to set sail for India, news arrived that Mr Gladwyn
had had a sunstroke, and would have leave of absence
and come home as soon as he was able to be moved ;
so that instead of going out to join him, she must wait
for him where she was. His mother had been dead for
some time. His father, an elderly man of indolent habits,
was found dead in his chair one Sunday morning soon
after the news had arrived of the illness of his son, to
whom he was deeply attached. And so the poor young
creature was left alone with her child, without money,
and in weak health. The old man left nothing behind
him but his furniture and books. And nothing could be
done in arranging his affairs till the arrival of his son, of
whom the last accounts had been that he was slowly
recovering. In the meantime his wife was in want of
money, without a friend to whom she could apply. I
presume that one of the few parishioners who visited
at the rectory had written to acquaint Mrs Oldcastle
with the condition in which her daughter was lei'c, for,
OR DUNCAN'S STORY. 39)
influenced by motives of which I dare not take upon me
to conjecture an analysis, she wrote, offering her daughter
all that she required in her old home. Whether she
ibre-intended her following conduct, or old habit re-
turned with the return of her daughter, I cannot tell ,
but she had not been more than a few days in the house
before she began to tyrannise over her, as in old times,
and although Mrs Gladwyn's health, now always weak,
was evidently failing in consequence, she either did not
see the cause, or could not restrain her evil impulses.
At length the news arrived of Mr Gladwyn's departure
ibr home. Perhaps then for the first time the tempta-
tion entered her mind to take her revenge upon him, by
making her daughter's illness a pretext for refusing him
admission to her presence. She told her she should
not see him till she was better, for that it would make
her worse ; persisted in her resolution after his arrival ;
and effected, by the help of Sarah, that he should not
gain admittance to the house, keeping all the doors
locked except one. It was only by the connivance of
Kthelwyn, then a girl about fifteen, that he was ad-
mitted by the underground way, of which she unlocked
the upper door for his entrance. She had then guided
him as far as she dared, and directed him the rest of the
way to his wife's room.
My reader will now understand how it came about in
the process of writing these my recollections, that I have
given such a long chapter chiefly to that one evening spent
with my good friend, Dr Duncan ; for he will see, as I have
said, tlut what he told me opened up a good deal to me.
326 ANNALS OF A QUIKT NKIOHBOURHOOD.
I had very little time for the privacy of the church
that night. Dark as it was, however, I went in before I
went home : I had the key of the vestry-door always in
my pocket. I groped my way into the pulpit, and sat
down in the darkness, and thought. Nor did my per-
sonal interest in Dr Duncan's story make me forget poor
Catherine Weir and the terrible sore in her heart, the
sore of unforgivingness. And I saw that of herself she
would not, could not, forgive to all eternity; that all the
pains of hell could not make her forgive, for that it was
a divine glory to forgive, and must come from God.
And thinking of Mrs Oldcastle, I saw that in ourselves
we could be sure of no safety, not from the worst and
vilest sins ; for who could tell how he might not stupify
himself by degrees, and by one action after another,
each a little worse than the former, till the very fires of
Sinai would not flash into eyes blinded with the incense
arising to the golden calf of his worship 1 A man may
come to worship a devil without knowing it. Only by
being filled with a higher spirit than our own, which,
having caused our spirits, is one with our spirits, and is
in them the present life principle, are we or can we be
sale from this eternal death of our being. This spirit
was fighting the evil spirit in Catherine Weir : how was
I to urge her to give ear to the good? If will would
but side with God, the forces of self, deserted by their
leader, must soon quit the field ; and the woman the
kingdom within her no longer torn by conflicting forces
would sit quiet at the feet of the Master, reposing in
that rest which He offered to those who could come to
DR DUNCAN'S STORY. 327
Him. Might she not be roused to utter one feeble cry
to God for help ? That would be one step towards the
forgiveness of others. To ask something for herself
would be a great advance in such a proud nature as
hers. And to ask good heartily is the very next step to
giving good heartily.
Many thoughts such as these passed through my mind,
chiefly associated with her. For I could not think how
to think about Mrs Oldcastle yet. And the old church
gloomed about me all the time. And I kept lifting up
my heart to the God who had cared to make me, and
then drew me to be a preacher to my fellows, and had
surely something to give me to say to them ; for did
He not choose so to work by the foolishness of preach-
ing] Might not my humble ignorance work His will,
though my wrath could not work His righteousness?
And I descended from the pulpit thinking with myself,
" Let Him do as He will. Here I am. I will say what
I see : let Him make it good."
And the next morning, I spoke about the words of our
"l! ye then, being evil, know how to give good gi.ts
to your children, how much more shall your heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him ! "
And I looked to sec. And there Catherine Weir
gat, looking me in the face.
There likewise sat Mrs Oldcastle, looking me in the
And Judy sat there, also looking me in the fa.-e, as
serious as man could wish grown woman to look.
NE little matter I forgot to mention as having
been talked about between Ur Duncan and
myself that same evening. I happened to
refer to Old Rogers.
" What a fine old fellow that is !" said Dr Duncan.
" Indeed he is," I answered. " He is a great comfort
and help to me. I don't think anybody but myself has
an idea what there is in that old man."
" The people in the village don't quite like him,
though, I find. He is too ready to be down upon them
when he sees things going amiss. The fact is, they are
afraid of him."
" Something as the Jews were afraid of John the Bap-
tist, because he was an honest man, and spoke not merely
his own mind, but the mind of God in it."
"Just so. I believe you're quite right. Do you
know, the other day, happening to go into Weir's shop,
THK OR.r. AM. 329
to get him to do a job for me, I found him and Old
Rogers at close quarters in an argument ? I could not
well understand the drift of it, not having been present
at the beginning, but I soon saw that, keen as Weir was,
and far surpassing Rogers in correctness of speech, and
precision as well, the old sailor carried too heavy metal
for the carpenter. It evidently annoyed Weir ; but such
was the good humour of Rogers, theft he could not, for
very shame, lose his temper, the old man's smile again
and again compelling a response on the thin cheeks of
" I know how he would talk exactly," I returned.
" He has a kind of loving banter with him, if you will
allow me the expression, that is irresistible to any man
with a heart in his bosom. I am very glad to hear thorc
is anything like communion begun between them. Weir
will get good from him."
" My man-of-all-work is going to leave me. I wonder
if the old man would take his place ?"
" I do not know whether he is fit for it. But of one
thing you may be sure if Old Rogers does not honestly
believe he is fit for it, he will not take it. And he will
tell you why, too."
" Of that, however, I think I may be a better judge
than he. There is nothing to which a good sailor cannot
turn his hand, whatever he may think himself. You see.
Mr Walton, it is not like a routine trade. Things are
never twice the same at sea. The sailor has a thousand
chance^ of using his judgment, if he has any to use ; and
that Old Rogers has in no common degree. So I should
330 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
have no fear of him. If he won't let me steer him, you
must put your hand to the tiller for me."
" I will do what I can," I answered ; " for nothing
would please me more than to see him in your service.
It would be much better for him, and his wife too, than
living by uncertain jobs as he does now."
The result of it all was, that Old Rogers consented to
try for a month ; but when the end of the month came,
nothing was said on either side, and the old man re-
mained. And I could see several little new comforts
about the cottage, in consequence of the regularity of his
Now I must report another occurrence in regular
To my surprise, and, I must confess, not a little to my
discomposure, when I rose in the reading-desk on the
day after this dinner with Dr Duncan, I saw that the
Hall-pew was full. Miss Oldcastle was there for the first
time, and, by her side, the gentleman whom the day be-
fore I had encountered on horseback. He sat carelessly,
easily, contentedly indifferently; for, although I never
that morning looked up from my Prayer-book, except
involuntarily in the changes of posture, I could not help
seeing that he was ahvays behind the rest of the congre-
gation, as if he had no idea of what was coming next, or
did not care to conform. Gladly would I, that day, have
shunned the necessity of preaching that was laid upon
me. ' But," I said to myself, " shall the work given me
to do fare ill because of the perturbation of my spirit?
No harm is done, though I suffer ; but much harm if one
THE ORGAN. 331
tone fails of its force because I suffer." I therefore
prayed God to help me ; and feeling the right, because
I felt the need, of looking to Him for aid, I cast my care
upon Him, kept my thoughts strenuously away from that
which discomposed me, and never turned my eyes to-
wards the Hall-pew from the moment I entered the pul-
pit. And partly, I presume, from the freedom given by
the sense of irresponsibility for the result, I being weak
and God strong, I preached, I think, a better sermon
than I had ever preached before. But when I got into
the vestry I found that I could scarcely stand for trem-
bling ; and I must have looked ill, for when my attendant
came in he got me a glass of wine without even asking
me if I would have it, although it was not my custom to
take any there. But there was one of my congregation
that morning who suffered more than I did from the
presence of one of those who filled the Hall-pew.
I recovered in a few moments from my weakness, but,
altogether disinclined to face any of my congregation,
went out at my vestry-door, and home through the shrub-
bery a path I seldom used, because it had a separatist
look about it. When I got to my study, I threw myself
on a couch, and fell Hist asleep. How often in trouble
have I had to thank God for sleep as for one of His best
gifts ! And how often when I have awaked refreshed
and calm, have I thought of poor Sir Philip Sidney, who,
dying slowly and patiently in the prime of life and health,
was sorely troubled in his mind to know how he had
offended (iod, because, having prayed earnestly for sleep,
no sleep came in answer to his cry !
332 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
I woke just in time for my afternoon service ; and the
inward peace in which I found my heart was to myself a
marvel and a delight. I felt almost as if I was walking
in a blessed dream come from a world of serener air than
this of ours. I found, after I was already in the reading-
desk, that I was a few minutes early; and while, with
bowed head, I was simply living in the consciousness of
the presence of a supreme quiet, the first low notes of
the organ broke upon my stillness with the sense of a
deeper delight. Never before had I felt, as I felt that
afternoon, the triumph of contemplation in Handel's
rendering of " I know that my Redeemer liveth." And
I felt how through it all ran a cold silvery quiver of sad-
ness, like the light in the east after the sun is gone down,
which would have been pain, but for the golden glow of
the west, which looks after the light of the world with a
.patient waiting. Before the music ceased, it had crossed
my mind that I had never before heard that organ utter
itself in the language of Handel. But I had no time to
think more about it just then, for I rose to read the
words of our Lord, " I will arise and go to my Father."
There was no one in the Hall-pew ; indeed it was a
rare occurrence if any one was there in the afternoon.
But for all the quietness of my mind during that
evening service, I felt ill before I went to bed, and
awoke in the morning with a headache, which increased
along with other signs of perturbation of the system,
until I thought it better to send for Dr Duncan. I have
not yet got so imbecile as to suppose that a history of
the following six weeks would be interesting to my
THE ORGAN. 333
readers for during so long did I suffer from low fever ;
and more weeks passed during which I was unable to
meet my flock. Thanks to the care of Mr Brownrigg, a
clever young man in priest's orders, who was living at
Addicehead while waiting for a curacy, kindly undertook
my duty for me, and thus relieved me from all anxiety
about supplying my place.
|UT I cannot express equal satisfaction in re-
gard to everything that Mr Brownrigg took
upon his own responsibility, as my reader
will see. He, and another farmer, his neigh-
bour, had been so often re-elected churchwardens, that
at last they seemed to have gained a prescriptive right
to the office, and the form of election fell into disuse ;
so much so, that after Mr Summer's death, which took
place some year and a half before I became Vicar of
Marshmallows, Mr Brownrigg continued to exercise the
duty in his own single person, and nothing had as yet
been said about the election of a colleague. So little
seemed to fall to the duty of the churchwarden that I
regarded the neglect as a trifle, and was remiss in setting
it right. I had, therefore, to suffer, as was just. In-
deed, Mr Brownrigg was not the man to have power in
his hands unchecked.
THE CHURCH-RATE. 335
I had so far recovered that I was able to rise about
noon and go into my study, though I was very weak,
and had not yet been out, when one morning Mrs Pear-
son came into the room and said,
" Please, sir, here 's young Thomas Weir in a great
way about something, and insisting upon seeing you, if
you possibly can."
I had as yet seen very few of my friends, except the
Doctor, and those only for two or three minutes ; but
although I did not feel very fit for seeing anybody just