George MacDonald.

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side of it Nothing, I repeat, so much as humble min-
istration to your neighbours, will help you to that perfect
love of God which casteth out fear ; nothing but the love


of God that God revealed in Christ will make you
able to love your neighbour aright ; and the Spirit of
God, which alone gives might for any good, will by these
loves, which are life, strengthen you at last to believe in
the light even in the midst of darkness ; to hold the
resolution formed in health when sickness has altered
the appearance of everything around you ; and to feel
tenderly towards your fellow, even when you yourself
are plunged in dejection or racked with pain. But," I
'said, " I fear I have transgressed the bounds of all pro-
priety by enlarging upon this matter as I have done. I
can only say I have spoken in proportion to my feeling
of its weight and truth."

" I thank you heartily," returned Mr Stoddart, rising.
" And I promise you at least to think over what you
have been saying I hope to be in my old place in the
organ-loft next Sunday."

So he was. And Miss Oldrastle was in the pew with
her mother. Nor did she go any more to Addicchead
to church.



j|S the winter went on, it was sad to look on
the evident though slow decline of Catherine
Weir. It seemed as if the dead season was
dragging her to its bosom, to lay her among
the leaves of past summers. She was still to be found
in the shop, or appeared in it as often as the bell sus-
pended over the door rang to announce the entrance of
a customer; but she was terribly worn, and her step
indicated much weakness. Nor had the signs of rest-
less trouble diminished as these tide-marks indicated
ebbing strength. There was the same dry fierce fire in
her eyes; the same forceful compression of her lips;
the same evidences of brooding over some one absorb-
ing thought or feeling. She seemed to me, and to Dr
Duncan as well, to be dying of resentment. Would
nobody do anything for her ? I thought. Would not her
father help her? He had got more gentle now; whence


I had reason to hope that Christian principles and feel-
ings had begun to rise and operate in him ; while surely
the influence of his son must, by this time, have done
something not only to soften his character generally, but
to appease the anger he had cherished towards the one
ewe-lamb, against which, having wandered away into the
desert place, he had closed and barred the door of the
sheep-fold. I would go and see him, and try what could
be done for her.

I may be forgiven here if I make the remark that I
cannot help thinking that what measure of success I had
already had with my people, was partly owing to this,
that when I thought of a thing and had concluded it
might do, I very seldom put off the consequent action.
I found I was wrong sometimes, and that the particular
action did no good ; but thus movement was kept up in
my operative nature, preventing it from sinking towards
the inactivity to which I was but too much inclined.
I'esides, to find out what will not do, is a step towards
finding out what will do. Moreover, an attempt in itself
unsuccessful may set something or other in motion that
will help.

My present attempt turned out one of my failures,
though I cannot think that it would have been better
left unmade.

A red rayless sun. which one mL'ht have imagined
sullen and disconsolate because he could not make the
dead earth smile into flowers, was looking through :'u
frosty fog of the winter morning as I walked arrows the
bridge to find Thomas Weir in his workshop. The


poplars stood like goblin sentinels, with black heads,
upon which the long hair stood on end, all along the
dark cold river. Nature looked like a life out of which
the love has vanished. I turned from it and hastened

Thomas was busy working with a spoke -sheave at
the spoke of a cart-wheel. How curiously the smallest
visual fact will sometimes keep its place in the memory,
when it cannot with all earnestness of endeavour recall
a thought a far more important fact ! That will come
again only when its time comes first.

" A cold morning, Thomas," I called from the door.

" I can always keep myself warm, sir," returned
Thomas, cheerfully.

"What are you doing, Tom?" I said, going up to
him first.

"A little job for myself, sir. I'm making a few

" I want to have a little talk with your father. Just
step out in a minute or so, and let me have half-an-

" Yes, sir, certainly."

I then went to the other end of the shop, for, curi-
ously, as it seemed to me, although father and son were
on the best of terms, they always worked as far from each
other as the shop would permit, and it was a very large

" It is not easy always to keep warm through and
through, Thomas," I said.

I suppose my tone revealed to his quick perceptions


that " more was meant than met the ear." He looked
up from his work, his tool filled with an uncompleted

" And when the heart gets cold," I went on, " it is
not easily warmed again. The fire 's hard to light there,

Still he looked at me, stooping over his work, appar-
ently with a presentiment of what was coming.

" I fear there is no way of lighting it again, except
the blacksmith's way."

" Hammering the iron till it is red-hot, you mean,

" I do. When a man's heart has grown cold, the
blows of affliction must fall thick and heavy before the
fire can be got that will light it When did you see
your daughter Catherine, Thomas?"

His head dropped, and he began to work as if for
bare life. Not a word came from the form now bent
over his tool as if he had never lifted himself up since
he first began in the morning. I could just see that
his face was deadly pale, and his lips compressed like
those of one of the violent who take the kingdom of
heaven by force. But it was for no such agony of effort
that his were thus closed. He went on working till the
silence became so lengthened that it seemed settled
into the endless. I felt embarrassed. To break a silence
is sometimes as hard as to break a spell. What Thomas
would have done or said if he had not had this safety-
valve of bodily exertion, I cannot even imagine.

" Thomas," I said, at length, laying my hand on his


shoulder, " you are not going to part company with me,
I hope?"

" You drive a man too far, sir. I Ve given in more
to you than ever I did to man, sir ; and I don't know
that I oughtn't to be ashamed of it. But you don't
know where to stop. If we lived a thousand years you
would be driving a man on to the last. And there 's
no good in that, sir. A man must be at peace some-

" The question is, Thomas, whether I would be driving
you on or back. You and I too must go on or back.
I want to go on myself, and to make you go on too. I
don't want to be parted from you now or then."

" That 's all very well, sir, and very kind, I don't
doubt ; but, as I said afore, a man must be at peace

"That's what I want so much that I want you to go
on. Peace ! I trust in God we shall both have it one
day, somew/ien, as you say. Have you got this peace
so plentifully now that you are satisfied as you are?
You will never get it but by going on."

" I do not think there is any good got in stirring a
puddle. Let by-gones be by-gones. You make a mis-
take, sir, in rousing an anger which I would willingly
let sleep."

" Better a wakeful anger, and a wakeful conscience
with it, than an anger sunk into indifference, and a
sleeping dog of a conscience that will not bark. To
have ceased to be angry is not one step nearer to your
daughter. Better strike her, abuse her, with the chance


of a kiss to follow. Ah, Thomas, you are like Jonas
with his gourd."

" I don't see what that has to do with it."

" I will tell you. You are fierce in wrath at the
disgrace to your family. Your pride is up in arms.
You don't care for the misery of your daughter, who,
the more wrong she has done, is the more to be pitied
by a father's heart. Your pride, I say, is all that you
care about. The wrong your daughter has done, you
care nothing about ; or you would have taken her to
your arms years ago, in the hope that the fervour of
your love would drive the devil out of her and make
her repent I say it is not the wrong, but the disgrace
you care for. The gourd of your pride is withered, and
yet you will water it with your daughter's misery."

" Go out of my shop," he cried ; " or I may say what
I should be sorry for."

I turned at once and left him. I found young Tom
round the corner, leaning against the wall, and reading
his Virgil.

" Don't speak to your father, Tom," I said, " for a
while. I 've put him out of temper. He will be best
left alone."

He looked frightened.

" There 's no harm done, Tom, my boy. I 've been
talking to him about your sister. 1 Ie must have time to
think over what I have said to him."

' I see, sir ; I see."

" lie as attentive to him as you can."

u 1 will, sir "


It was not alone resentment at my interference that
had thus put the poor fellow beside himself, I was cer-
tain : I had called up all the old misery set the wound
bleeding again. Shame was once more wide awake and
tearing at his heart. That his daughter should have
done so ! For she had been his pride. She had been
the belle of the village, and very lovely; but having
been apprenticed to a dressmaker in Addicehead, had,
after being there about a year and a half, returned home,
apparently in a decline. After the birth of her child,
however, she had, to her own disappointment, and no
doubt to that of her father as well, begun to recover.
What a time of wretchedness it must have been to both
of them until she left his house, one can imagine. Most
likely the misery of the father vented itself in greater
unkindness than he felt, which, sinking into the proud
nature she had derived from him, roused such a resent-
ment as rarely if ever can be thoroughly appeased until
Death comes in to help the reconciliation. How often
has an old love blazed up again under the blowing of
his cold breath, and sent the spirit warm at heart into
the regions of the unknown ! She never would utter a
word to reveal the name or condition of him by whom
she had been wronged. To his child, as long as he
drew his life from her, she behaved with strange alterna-
tions of dislike and passionate affection ; after which
season the latter began to diminish in violence, and the
former to become more fixed, till at length, by the time
I had made their acquaintance, her feelings seemed to
have settled into what would have been indifference but


for the constant reminder of her shame and her wrong
together, which his very presence necessarily was.

They were not only the gossips of the village who
judged that the fact of Addicehead's being a garrison
town had something to do with the fate that had befallen
her; a fate by which, in its very spring-time, when its
flowers were loveliest, and hope was strongest for its
summer, her life was changed into the dreary wind-
swept, rain-sodden moor. The man who can accept such
a sacrifice from a woman, I say nothing of wiling it
from her is, in his meanness, selfishness, and dishon-
our, contemptible as the Pharisee who, with his long
prayers, devours the widow's house. He leaves her
desolate, while he walks off free. Would to God a man
like the great-hearted, pure-bodied Milton, a man whom
young men are compelled to respect, would in this our
age, utter such a word as, making " mad the guilty," if
such grace might be accorded them, would " appal the
free," lest they too should fall into such a. mire of selfish
dishonour 1



this time my father was taken ill, and
several journeys to London followed. It is
only as vicar that I am writing these memo-
rials for such they should be called, rather
than annals, though certainly the use of the latter word
has of late become vague enough for all convenience
therefore I have said nothing about my home-relations ;
but I must just mention here that I had a half-sister,
about half my own age, whose anxiety during my father's
illness rendered my visits more frequent than perhaps
they would have been from my own. But my sister was
right in her anxiety. My father grew worse, and in
December he died. I will not eulogize one so dear to
me. That he was no common man will appear from
the fact of his unconventionality and justice in leaving
his property to my sister, saying in his will that he had
done all I could require of him in giving me a good


education ; and that, men having means in their power
which women had not, it was unjust to the latter to
make them, without a choice, dependent upon the for-
mer. After the funeral, my sister, feeling it impossible
to remain in the house any longer, begged me to take
her with me. So, after arranging affairs, we set out, and
reached Marshmallows on New Year's Day.

My sister being so much younger than myself, her
presence in my house made very little change in my
habits. She came into my ways without any difficulty,
so that I did not experience the least restraint from
having to consider her. And I soon began to find her
of considerable service among the poor and sick of my
flock, the latter class being more numerous this winter,
on account of the greater severity of the weather.

I now began to note a change in the habits of Cather-
ine Weir. As far as I remember, 1 had never up to this
time seen her out of her own house, except in church,
at which she had been a regular attendant for many
weeks. Now, however, I began to meet her when and
where I least expected I do not say often, but so often
as to make me believe she went wandering about fre-
quently. It was always at night, however, and always
in stormy weather. The marvel was, not that a sick
woman could be there for a sick woman may be able
to do anything ; but that she could do so more than once
that was the marvel. At the same time, I began to
miss her from church.

Possibly my reader may wonder how I came to have
the chance of meeting any one again and again at night


and in stormy weather. I can relieve him from the
difficulty. Odd as it will appear to some readers, I had
naturally a predilection for rough weather. I think I
enjoyed fighting with a storm in winter nearly as much
as lying on the grass under a beech-tree in summer.
Possibly this assertion may seem strange to one likewise
who has remarked the ordinary peaceableness of my
disposition. But he may have done me the justice to
remark at the same time, that I have some considerable
pleasure in fighting the devil, though none in fighting
my fellow-man, even in the ordinary form of disputation,
in which it is not heart's blood, but soul's blood, that is
so often shed. Indeed there are many controversies far
more immoral, as to the manner in which they are con-
ducted, than a brutal prize-fight. There is, however,
a pleasure of its own in conflict; and I have always
experienced a certain indescribable, though I believe
not at all unusual exaltation, even in struggling with a
well-set, thoroughly roused storm of wind and snow
or rain. The sources of this by no means unusual
delight, I will not stay to examine, indicating only
that I believe the sources are deep. I was now quite
well, and had no reason to fear bad consequences from
the indulgence of this surely innocent form of the love
of strife.

But I find I must give another reason as well, if I
would be thoroughly honest with my reader. The fact
was, that as I had recovered strength, I had become
more troubled and restless about Miss Oldcastle. I
could not see how I was to make any progress towards


her favour. There seemed a barrier as insurmountable
as intangible between her and me. The will of one
woman came between and parted us, and that will was
as the magic line over which no effort of will or strength
could enable the enchanted knight to make a single
stride. And this consciousness of being fettered by in-
sensible and infrangible bonds, this need of doing some-
thing with nothing tangible in the reach of the out-
stretched hand, so worked upon my mind, that it natur-
ally sought relief, as often as the elemental strife arose,
by mingling unconstrained with the tumult of the night.
Will my readers find it hard to believe that this dis-
quietude of mind should gradually sink away as the
hours of Saturday glided down into night, and the day
of my best labour drew nigh 1 ? Or will they answer,
" We believe it easily ; for then you could at least see
the lady, and that comforted you 1 ?" Whatever it was
that quieted me, not the less have I to thank God for it.
All might have been so different. What a fearful thing
would it have been for me to have found my mind so
full of my own cares, that I was unable to do God's
work and bear my neighbour's burden ! But even then
I would have cried to Him, and said, " I know Thee
that Thou art not a hard master."

Now, however, that I have quite accounted, as I be-
lieve, by the peculiarity both of my disposition and cir-
cumstances, for unusual wanderings under conditions
when most people consider themselves fortunate within
doors, I must return to Catherine U'eir, the eccentricity
of whose late behaviour, being in the particulars dia-


cussed identical with that of mine, led to the necessity
for the explanation of my habits given above.

One January afternoon, just as twilight was folding
her gray cloak about her, and vanishing in the night, the
wind blowing hard from the south-west, melting the snow
under foot, and sorely disturbing the dignity of the one
grand old cedar which stood before my study window,
and now filled my room with the great sweeps of its
moaning, I felt as if the elements were calling me, and
rose to obey the summons. My sister was, by this time,
so accustomed to my going out in all weathers, that she
troubled me with no expostulation. My spirits began
to rise the moment I was in the wind. Keen, and cold,
and unsparing, it swept through the leafless branches
around me, with a different hiss for every tree that bent,
and swayed, and tossed in its torrent. I made my way
to the gate and out upon the road, and then, turning to
the right, away from the village, I sought a kind of com-
mon, open and treeless, the nearest approach to a moor
that there was in the county, I believe, over which a
wind like this would sweep unstayed by house, or shrub,
or fence, the only shelter it afforded lying in the inequa-
lities of its surface.

I had walked with my head bent low against the
blast, for the better part of a mile, fighting for every
step of the way, when, coming to a deep cut in the com-
mon, opening at right angles from the road, whence at
some time or other a large quantity of sand had been
carted, I turned into its defence to recover my breath,
and listen to the noise of the wind in the fierce rush o


its sea over the open channel of the common. And I
remember I was thinking with myself: "If the air
would only become faintly visible for a moment, what a
sight it would be of waste grandeur with its thousands
of billowing eddies, and self-involved, conflicting, and
swallowing whirlpools from the sea-bottom of this com-
mon ! " when, with my imagination resting on the fancied
vision, I was startled by such a moan as seemed about
to break into a storm of passionate cries, but was fol-
lowed by the words :

" O God ! I cannot bear it longer. Hast thou no
help for me 1 ?' 1

Instinctively almost I knew that Catherine Weir was
beside me, though I could not see where she was. In
a moment more, however, I thought I could distinguish
through the darkness imagination no doubt filling up
the truth of its form a figure crouching in such an
attitude of abandoned despair as recalled one of Flax-
man's outlines, the body bent forward over the drawn-up
knees, and the face thus hidden even from the darkness.
I could not help saying to myself, as I took a step or
two towards her, " What is thy trouble to hers !"

I may here remark that I had come to the conclusion,
from pondering over her case, that until a yet deeper
and bitterer resentment than that which she bore to her
father was removed, it would be of no use attacking the
latter. For the former kept her in a state of hostility
towards her whole race : with herself at war she had no
gentle thoughts, no love for her kind ; but ever
" She fed her wound with fresh -reneweil bole"


from every hurt that she received from or imagined to
be offered her by anything human. So I had resolved
that the next time I had an opportunity of speaking to
her, I would make an attempt to probe the evil to its
root, though I had but little hope, I confess, of doing
any good. And now when I heard her say, " Hast
thou no help for me ?" I went near her with the words :

" God has, indeed, help for His own offspring. Has
He not suffered that He might help? But you have
not yet forgiven."

When I began to speak, she gave a slight start : she
was far too miserable to be terrified at anything. Before
I had finished, she stood erect on her feet, facing me
with the whiteness of her face glimmering through the
blackness of the night.

" I ask Him fcr peace," she said, " and He sends me
more torment."

And I thought of Ahab when he said, " Hast thou
found me, O mine enemy ? "

" If we had what we asked for always, we should too
often find it was not what we wanted, after all."

" You will not leave me alone," she said. " It is too

Poor woman ! It was well for her she could pray to
God in her trouble ; for she could scarcely endure a word
from her fellow-man. She, despairing before God, was
fierce as a tigress to her fellow-sinner who would stretch
a hand to help her out of the mire, and set her beside
him on the rock which he felt firm under his own feet

" I will not leave you alone, Catherine," I said, feel-


ing that I must at length assume another tone of speech
with her who resisted gentleness. " Scorn my inter-
ference as you will," I said, " I have yet to give an
account of you. And I have to fear lest my Master
should require your blood at my hands. I did not
follow you here, you may well believe me ; but I have
found you here, and I must speak."

All this time the wind was roaring overhead. But
in the hollow was stillness, and I was so near her, that
I could hear every word she said, although she spoke
in a low compressed tone.

" Have you a right to persecute me," she said, " be-
cause I am unhappy?"

" I have a right, and, more than a right, I have a
duty to aid your better self against your worse. You, I
fear, are siding with your worse self."

" You judge me hard. I have had wrongs that '

And here she stopped in a way that let me know she
would say no more.

" That you have had wrongs, and bitter wrongs, I
do not for a moment doubt And him who has done
you most wrong, you will not forgive."

" No."

" No. Not even for the sake of Him who, hanging on
the tree, after all the bitterness of blows and whipping,
and derision, and rudest gestures and taunts, even when
the faintness of death was upon Him, cried to His Father
to forgive their cruelty. He asks you to forgive the
man who wronged you, and you will not not even foi
Him ! Oh, Catherine, Catherine !"


" It is very easy to talk, Mr Walton," she returned
with forced but coot scorn.

" Tell me, then," I said, " have you nothing to repent
of? Have you done no wrong in this same miserable

" I do not understand you, sir," she said, freezingly,
petulantly, not sure, perhaps, or unwilling to believe,
that I meant what I did mean.

I was fully resolved to be plain with her now.

" Catherine Weir," I said, " did not God give you a
house to keep fair and pure for Him 1 Did you keep it

" He told me lies," she cried fiercely, with a cry that
seemed to pierce through the storm over our heads, up
towards the everlasting justice. " He lied, and I trusted.

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