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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES





THOMAS WINGFOLD

CUR A TE



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.



EACH COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.

MALCOLM.

THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.

DONAL GRANT.

CASTLE WARLOCK.

WHAT'S MINE'S MINE.

ST GEORGE AND ST MICHAEL.

ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

THE SEABOARD PARISH: a Sequel to "Annals

of a Quiet Neighbourhood."
WILFRED CUMBERMEDE, CURATE.
PAUL FABER, SURGEON.
THOMAS WINGFOLD.
HOME AGAIN.
THE ELECT LADY.
THERE AND BACK.
FLIGHT OF THE SHADOW.



LONDON : KKGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & Co. I/rn.



THOMAS WINGFOLD

CURATE .



BY



GEORGE MAC DONALD, LL.D.

AUTHOR OF

" PAUL FABER, SURGEON," "WHAT'S MINES MINE,
ETC.



NEW EDITION



LONDON

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO. LTD.
1906






CONTENTS.



CHAl fAGP

I. Helen Lingard, ... , I

II. Thomas WingfoM, . , , , . 6

III. The Diners, . , . , .10

IV. Their Talk, . ... 15
V. A Staggering Question, . . , .21

VI. The Curate in the Churchyard, . . .27

VII. The Cousins, . . . . .31

VIII. The Garden, ..... 36

IX. The Park, . ... 41

X. The Dwarfs, ..... 45

XI. The Curate at Home, .... 50

XT I. An Incident, 55

XIII. A Report of Progress, . 60

XIV. Jeremy Taylor, . , .63

XV. The Park Gate, ..... 66
XVI. The Attic, . .70

XVII. Polwarth's Plan, . , 75

XVIII. Joseph Polwarth, . . 81

XIX. The Conclusion of the whole Matter. . . 89



vi COWENTS,

CH\P. PAGP

XX. A Strange Sermon, . . , -93

XXI. A Thunderbolt, .... 99

XXII. Leopold, . . .104

XXIII. The Refuge, . . . . .108

XXIV. Helen with a Secret, . . . 115
XXV. A Daylight Visit, . . .119

XXVI. Leopold's Story, . . .124

XXVII. Leopold's Story Concluded, . . ,128

XXVIII. Sisterhood, . . . . .134

XXIX. The Sick-Chamber, . . . .138

XXX. The Curate's Progress, . . , .144

XXXI. The Curate makes a Discovery, . ,149

XXXII. Hopes, . .155

XXXIII. The Ride, . . , . 1 59

XXXIV. Rachel and her Uncle 166

XXXV. A Dream, . , . . . 1 70

XXXVI. Another Sermon, , , . . '77

XXXVII. Nursing, . . . . .182

XXXVIII. Glaston and the Curate. , . ,187

XXXIX. The Linen- Draper, . . . .192

XL. Rachel, ..... 201

XLI. The Butterfly, . 208

XLII. The Commonplace, . . .211

XLIII. Home again, . , , 217

XLIV. The Sheath, ... .220

XLV. Invitation, , . 226

XLVI. A Sermon to Helen, . . , 22



CONTENTS. vii

CHAP. FAGR

XLVII. A Sermon to Himself, . .235

XLVIII. Criticism, . . . , .238

XLIX. A Vanishing Glimmer, . , . .242

L. Let us Pray, .... 247

LI. Two Letters, . . . . 251

LII. Advice in the Dark, . 254

LI 1 1. Intercession, . . : .259

LIV. Helen alone, . . . 261

LV. A Haunted Soul, . . . . .265

LVI. Compelled Confidence, . 270

LVII. Willing Confidence, . , . .276

LVIII. The Curate's Counsel, , . , .280

LIX. Sleep, . . ... 285

LX. Divine Service, ..... 289

LXI. A Shop in Heaven, . .296

LXH. Polwarth and Lingard, , . 304

LXIII. The Strong Man, . . . . 314

LXIV. George and Leopold, . 319

LXV. Wingfold and Helen, . , . .323

LXVI. A Review, . . , 329

LXVII. A Sermon to Leopold, .... 330

LXVI II. After the Sermon, . . . 343

LXIX. Bascombe and the Magistrate, . , , 348

LXX. The Confession, . 352

LXXI. The Mask, . . 356

LXXII. Further Decision, . . . . .361

LXXI II. The Curate and the Doctor, . . 365



viii CONTENTS.

CHAP. IAGH

LXXIV. Helen and the Curate, . . 371

LXXV. An Examination, . . . 376

LXXVI. Immortality, ..... 370

LXXVII. Passages from the Autobiography of the

Wandering Jew, . . .

LXXVIII. The Wandering Jew, . .

LXXIX. Do. . . , .

LXXX. Remarks, .....

LXXXI. Struggles, ... .

LXXXII. The Lawn, . . . . .

LXXXIII. How Jesus spoke to Women, . .

LXXXIV. Deliverance, ...

LXXXV. The Meadow, . . , . -

LXXXVI. Rachel and Leopold, . . . -

LXXXVJI. The Blood-hound, . . . -44^

LXXXVI II. The Blood-hound traversed . -45'

LXXXIX. The Bedside, ... -459

XC. The Garden, . . 466

XCI. The Departure, , . 469

XCII. The Sunset, ... -474

XXCIII. An honest Spy, . ,480

XCIV. What Helen heard, . . . .484

XCV. What Helen heard more, . , 488

XCVI. The Curate's Resolve, . , . 494

XCVII. Helen awake, ..... 500

XC VIII. Thou didst not leav^, , 506



CHAPTER I.




HELEN LINGARD.

SWIFT gray November wind had taken every
chimney of the house for an organ-pipe, and
was roaring in them all at once, quelling the
more distant and varied noises of the woods,
which moaned and surged like a sea. Helen
Lingard had not been out all day. The morning, indeed,
had been fine, but she had been writing a long letter to her
brother Leopold at Cambridge, and had put off her walk in
the neighbouring park till after luncheon, and in the mean-
time the wind had risen, and brought with it a haze that
threatened rain. She was in admirable health, had never
had a day's illness in her life, was hardly more afraid of
getting wet than a young farmer, and enjoyed wind, especially
when she was on horseback. Yet as she stood looking from
her window, across a balcony where shivered more than one
autumnal plant that ought to have been removed a week
ago, out upon the old-fashioned garden and meadows
beyond, where each lonely tree bowed with drifting garments
I was going to say like a suppliant, but it was away from
its storming enemy she did not feel inclined to go out.
That she was healthy was no reason why she should be un-
impressible, any more than that good temper should be ?
reason for indifference to the behaviour of one's friend. She
always felt happinr in a new dress, when it was made to her



a THOMAS WINGFOLD, CURATE.

mind and fitted her body ; and when the sun shone she was
lighter-hearted than when it rained : I had written merrier,
but Helen was seldom merry, and had she been made aware
of the fact and questioned why, would have answered
Because she so seldom saw reason She was what all her
friends called a sensible girl ; but, as I say, that was no
reason why she should be an insensible girl as well, and be
subject to none of the influences of the weather. She did
feel those influences, and therefore it was that she turned
away from the window with the sense, rather than the con-
viction, that the fireside in her own room was rendered even
more attractive by the unfriendly aspect of things outside and
the roar in the chimney, which happily was not accompanied
by a change in the current of the smoke.

The hours between luncheon and tea are confessedly
dull, but dulness is not inimical to a certain kind of com-
fort, and Helen liked to be that way comfortable. Nor
had she ever yet been aware of self-rebuke because of the
liking. Let us see what kind and degree of comfort she had
in the course of an hour and a half attained. And in dis-
covering this, I shall be able to present her to my reader
with a little more circumstance.

She sat before the fire in a rather masculine posture, i
would not willingly be rude, but the fact remains a posture
in which she would not, I thinkj have sat for her photo-
graph leaning back in a chintz-covered easy-chair, all the
lines of direction about her parallel with the lines of the
chair, her arms lying on its arms, and the ringers of each
hand folded down over the end of each arm square, straight,
right-angled gazing into the fire, with something of the look
of a sage, but one who has made no discovery.

She had just finished the novel of the day, and was suffer-
ing a mild reaction the milder, perhaps, that she was not
altogether satisfied with the consummation. For the
heroine had, after much sorrow and patient endurance, at
length married a man whom she could not help knowing to
be not worth having. For the author even knew it, only
such was hi ; reading of life, and sucli his theory of artistic



HELEN LINGARD. 3

duty, that what it was a disappointment to Helen to peruse,
it seemed to have been a comfort to him to write. Indeed
her dissatisfaction went so far, that, although the fire kept
burning away in perfect content before her, enhanced by the
bellowing complaint of the wind in the chimney, she yet
came nearer thinking than she had ever been in her life.
Now thinking, especially to one who tries it for the first
time, is seldom or never a quite comfortable operation, and
hence Helen was very near becoming actually uncomfort-
able. She was even on the borders of making the unpleasant
discovery that the business of life and that not only for
north-pole expeditions, African explorers, pyramid-inspec-
tors, and such like, but for every man and woman born into
the blindness of the planet, is to discover after which dis-
covery there is little more comfort to be had of the sort with
which Helen was chiefly conversant. But she escaped for
the time after a very simple and primitive fashion, although
it was indeed a narrow escape.

Let me not be misunderstood, however, and supposed to
imply that Helen was dull in faculty, or that she contributed
nothing to the bubbling of the intellectual pool in the social
gatherings at Glaston. Far from it. When I say that she
came near thinking, I say more for her than any but the few
who know what thinking is will understand, for that which
chiefly distinguishes man from those he calls the lower
animals is the faculty he most rarely exercises. True, Helen
supposed she could think like other people, because the
thoughts of other people had passed through her in tolerable
plenty, leaving many a phantom conclusion behind ; but this
was tJieir thinking, not hers. She had thought no more than
;vas necessary now and then to the persuasion that she saw
*hat a sentence meant, after which her acceptance or rejec-
tion of what was contained in it, never more than lukewarm,
depended solely upon its relation to what she had somehow
or other, she could seldom have told how, come to regard as
the proper style of opinion to hold upon things in general.

The social matrix which up to this time had ministered to
her development, had some relations with Mayfair, it is true,



4 THOMAS WINGF01.D, CURATE.

but scanty ones indeed with the universe ; so that her present
condition was like that of the common bees, every one of
which Nature fits for a queen, but its nurses prevent from
growing one by providing for it a cell too narrow for the un-
rolling of royalty, and supplying it with food not potent
enough for the nurture of the ideal with this difference,
however, that the cramped and stinted thing comes out, if
no queen, then a working bee, and Helen, who might be
both, was neither yet. If I were at liberty to mention the
books on her table, it would give a few of my readers no
small help towards the settling of her position in the " valued
file " of the young women of her generation ; but there are
reasons against it.

She was the daughter of an officer, who, her mother dying
when she was born, committed her to the care of a widowed
aunt, and almost immediately left for India, where he rose to
high rank, and somehow or other amassed a considerable
fortune, partly through his marriage with a Hindoo lady, by
whom he had one child, a boy some three years younger
than Helen. When he died, he left his fortune equally
divided between the two children.

Helen was now three-and-twenty, and her own mistress.
Her appearance suggested Norwegian blood, for she was
tall, blue-eyed, and dark-haired but fair-skinned, with
regular features, and an over still some who did not like her
said hard expression of countenance. No one had ever
called her Nelly ; yet she had long remained a girl, lingering
on the broken border-land after several of her school com-
panions had become young matrons. Her drawing master,
a man of some observation and insight, used to say Miss
Lingard would wake up somewhere about forty.

The cause of her so nearly touching the borders of thought
this afternoon, was that she became suddenly aware of
feeling bored. Now Helen was even seldomer bored than
merry, and this time she saw no reason for it, neither had
any person to lay the blame upon. She might have said it
was the weather, but the weather had never done it before.
Nor could it be want of society, for George Bascombe was



HELRtf LINGARD* S

to dine with them. So was the curate, but he did not count
for much. Neither was she weary of herself. That, indeed,
might be only a question of time, for the most complete
egotist, Julius Caesar, or Napoleon Buonaparte, must at
length get weary of his paltry self ; but Helen, from the slow
rate of her expansion, was not old enough yet. Nor was she
in any special sense wrapt up in herself ; it was only that she
had never yet broken the shell which continues to shut in so
many human-chickens, long after they imagine themselve?
citizens of the real world.

Being somewhat bored then, and dimly aware that to be
bored was to be out of harmony with something or other,
Helen was on the verge of thinking, but, as I have said,
escaped the snare in a very direct and simple fashion : she
went fast asleep, and never woke till her maid brought her
the cup of kitchen-tea from which the inmates of some house.-
denve the strength to prepare, for dinner.




CHAPTER II.

THOMAS WINGFOLD.

;HE morning, whose afternoon W.MS thus stormy,
had been fine, and the curate went out for a
walk. Had it been just as stormy, however, he
would have gone all the same. Not that he
was a great walker, or indeed fond of exercise of any sort,
and his walking, as an Irishman might say, was half-sitting
on stiles and stones and fallen trees. He was not in bad
health, he was not lazy, or given to self-preservation, but he
had little impulse to activity of any sort. The springs in his
well of life did not seem to flow quite fast enough.

He strolled through Osterfield park, and down the deep
descent to the river, where, chilly as it was, he seated him-
self upon a large stone on the bank, and knew that he was
there, and that he had to answer to Thomas Wingfold; but
why he was there, and why he was not called something else,
he did not know. On each side of the stream rose a steeply
sloping bank, on which grew many fern-bushes, now half-
withered, and the sunlight upon them, this November morn-
ing, seemed as cold as the wind that blew about their golden
and green fronds. Over a rocky bottom the stream went
talking rather than singing down the valley towards the
town, where it seemed to linger a moment to embrace the
old abbey church, before it set out on its leisurely slide
through the low level to the sea Its talk was chilly, and its



THOMAS WINGFOLD 7

ripples, which came half from the obstructions in its channel
below, and half from the wind that ruffled it above, were not
smiles, but wrinkles rather even in the sunshine. Thomas
felt cold himself, but the cold was of the sort that comes from
the look rather than the feel of things. He did not, however,
much care how he felt not enough certainly to have made
him put on a great coat : he was not deeply interested in
himself. With his stick, a very ordinary bit of oak, he kept
knocking pebbles into the water, and listlessly watching them
splash. The wind blew, the sun shone, the water ran, the
ferns waved, the clouds went drifting over his head but he
never looked up, or took any notice of the doings of Mother
Nature at her housework : everything seemed to him to be
doing only what it had got to do, because it had got it to do,
and not because it cared about it, or had any end in doing
it. For he, like every other man, could read nature only by
his own lamp, and this was very much how he had hitherto
responded to the demands made upon him.

His life had not been a very interesting one, although early
passages in it had been painful. He had done fairly well
at Oxford : it had been expected of him, and he had answered
expectation ; he had not distinguished himself, nor cared to
do so. He had known from the first that he was intended
for the church, and had not objected, but received it as his
destiny had even, in dim obedience, kept before his mental
vision the necessity of yielding to the heights and hollows
of the mould into which he was being thrust. But he had
taken no great interest in the matter.

The church was to him an ancient institution of such
approved respectability that it was able to communicate it,
possessing emoluments, and requiring observances. He had
entered her service ; she was his mistress, and in return for
the narrow shelter, humble fare, and not quite too shabby
garments she allotted him, he would perform her hests in
the spirit of a servant who abideth not in the house for ever.
He was now six-and-twenty years of age, and had never
dreamed of marriage, or even been troubled with a thought of
its unattainable remoteness. He did not philosophise much



8 THOMAS Wf JVC FOLD, CURATE.

upon life, or his position in it, taking everything with a cold,
hopeless kind of acceptance, and laying no claim to courage,
devotion, or even bare suffering. He had a certain dull
prejudice in favour of honesty, would not have told the
shadow of a lie to be made archbishop of Canterbury, and
yet was so uninstructed in the things that constitute practical
honesty that some o\ his opinions would have considerably
astonished St. Paul. He liked reading the prayers, for the
making of them vocal in church was pleasant to him, and
he had a not unmusical voice. He visited the sick with
some repugnance it is true, but without delay, and spoke to
them such religious commonplaces as occurred to him,
depending mainly on the prayers belonging to their condition
for the right performance of his office. He never thought
about being a gentleman, but always behaved like one.

I suspect at this time there lay somewhere in his mind,
seeping generally well out of sight however, that is, below
the skin of his consciousness, the unacknowledged feeling
Lhat he had been hardly dealt with. But at no time even
when it rose plainest, would he have dared to add by Pro-
vidence. Had the temptation come, he would have banished
it and the feeling together.

He did not read much, browsed over his newspaper at
breakfast with a polite curiosity, sufficient to season the
loneliness of his slice of fried bacon, and took more interest in
some of the naval intelligence than in anything else. Indeed
it would have been difficult for himself even to say in what
he did take a large interest. When leisure awoke a question
as to how he should employ it, he would generally take up
his Horace and read aloud one of his more mournful odes
with such attention to the rhythm, I must add, as, although
plentiful enough among scholars in respect of the dead letter,
is rarely found with them in respect of the living vocal
utterance.

Nor had he now sat long upon his stone, heedless of
the world's preparation for winter, before he began repeat-
ing to himself the poet's +Equaui memento r thus in ardnis,
which he had been trying much, but with small success, to



THOMAS W7NGFOLD. 9

reproduce in similar English cadences, moved thereto in
part by the success of Tennyson in his O mighty -mouthed
inventor of harmonies a thing as yet alone in the language,
so far as I know. It was perhaps a little strange that the
curate should draw the strength of which he was most con-
scious from the pages of a poet whose hereafter was chiefly
serviceable to him in virtue of its unsubstantiality and
poverty, the dreamlike thinness of its reality in enhancing
the pleasures of the world of sun and air, cooling shade and
songful streams, the world of wine and jest, of forms that
melted more slowly from encircling arms, and eyes that did
not so swiftly fade and vanish in the distance. Yet when
one reflects but for a moment on the poverty-stricken
expectations of Christians from their hereafter, I cease to
wonder at Wingfold ; for human sympathy is lovely and
pleasant, and if a Christian priest and a pagan poet fee!
much in the same tone concerning the affairs of the universe,
why should they not comfort each other by sitting down
together in the dust ?

" No hair it boots thee whether from Inachus
Ancient descended, or, of the poorest born,
Thy being drags, all bare and roofless-
Victim the same to the heartless Orcus.

All are on one road driven ; for each of us
The urn is tossed, and, later or earlier,
The lot will drop and all be sentenced
Into the boat of eternal exile."

Having thus far succeeded with these two stanzas, Wing-
fold rose, a little pleased with himself, and climbed the
bank above him, wading through mingled sun and wind and
ferns so careless of their shivering beauty and their coming
exile that a watcher might have said the prospect of one
day leaving behind him the shows of this upper world
could have no uart in the curate's sympathy with Horace.




CHAPTER III.

THF DINERS.

, RS. RAMSHORN, Helen's aunt, was past the
middle age of woman ; had been handsome
and pleasing ; had long ceased to be either ;
had but sparingly recognised the fact, yet had
recognised it, and felt aggrieved. Hence in
part it was that her mouth had gathered that peevish and
wronged expression which tends to produce a moral nausea
in the beholder. It she had but known how much uglier in
the eyes of her own fellow-mortals her own discontent had
made her, than the severest operation of the laws of mortal
decay could have done, she might have tried to think less of
her wrongs and more of her privileges. As it was, her own
face wronged her own heart, which was still womanly, and
capable of much pity seldom exercised. Her husband had
been dean of Halystone, a man of sufficient weight of char-
acter to have the right influence in the formation of his wife's.
He had left her tolerably comfortable as to circumstances,
but childless. She loved Helen, whose even imperturbability
had by mere weight, as it might seem, gained such a power
over her that she was really mistress in the house without
either of them knowing it.

Naturally desirous of keeping Helen's fortune in the
family, and having, as 1 say, no son of her own, she had yet
not far to look to find a cousin capable, as she might well



THE DINERS. \ i

imagine, of rendering himself acceptable to the heiress. He
was the son of her younger sister, married, like herself, to a
dignitary of the church, a canon of a northern cathedral.
This youth, therefore, George Bascombe by name, whose
visible calling at present was to eat his way to the bar, she
often invited to Glaston ; and on this Friday afternoon he was
on his way from London to spend the Saturday and Sunday
with the two ladies. The cousins liked each other, had not
had more of each other's society than was favourable to their
aunt's designs, who was far too prudent to have made as yet
any reference to them, and stood altogether in as suitable a
relative position for falling in love with each other as Mis.
Ramshorn could well have desired. Her chief, almost her
only, uneasiness arose from the important and but too evident
fact that Helen Lingard was not a girl of the sort to fall
readily in love. That, however, was of no consequence, pro-
vided it did not come in the way of her marrying her cousin,
who, her aunt felt confident, was better fitted to rouse her
dormant affections than any other youth she had ever seen
or was ever likely to see. Upon this occasion she had asked
Thomas Wingfold to meet him, partly with the design that
he should act as a foil to her nephew, partly in order to do
her duty by the church, to which she felt herself belong not
as a lay member, but in some undefined professional capacity,
in virtue of her departed dean. Wingfold had but lately come
to the parish, and, as he was merely curate, she had not been
in haste to invite him. On the other hand, he was the only
clergyman officiating in the abbey church, which was grand
and old, with a miserable living and a non-resident rector.
He, to do him justice, paid nearly the amount of the tithes
in salary to his curate, and spent the rest on the church
material, of which, for certain reasons, he retained the incum-
bency, the presentation to which belonged to his own family.
The curate presented himself at the dinner-hour in Mrs.
Ramshorn's drawing-room, looking like any other gentleman,
satisfied with his share in the administration of things, and
affecting; nothing of the professional either in dress, manner,
or tone. Helen saw him for the first time in private life, and.



12 THOMAS WTNGFOLD, C17RATR.

as she had expected, saw nothing remarkable a man who
looked about thirty, was a little over the middle height, and
well enough constructed as men go, had a good forehead, a
questionable nose, clear grey eyes, long, mobile, sensitive



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