NEXT Sunday was one of the gloomiest
of April days - a day of thick,
dark clouds, and heavy showers.
None of the Murrays were disposed
to attend church in the afternoon,
excepting Rosalie: she was bent
upon going as usual; so she ordered
the carriage, and I went with
her: nothing loth, of course,
for at church I might look without
fear of scorn or censure upon
a form and face more pleasing
to me than the most beautiful
of God's creations; I might listen
without disturbance to a voice
more charming than the sweetest
music to my ears; I might seem
to hold communion with that soul
in which I felt so deeply interested,
and imbibe its purest thoughts
and holiest aspirations, with
no alloy to such felicity except
the secret reproaches of my conscience,
which would too often whisper
that I was deceiving my own self,
and mocking God with the service
of a heart more bent upon the
creature than the Creator.
Sometimes, such thoughts would
give me trouble enough; but sometimes
I could quiet them with thinking
- it is not the man, it is his
goodness that I love. 'Whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things
are lovely, whatsoever things
are honest and of good report,
think on these things.' We do
well to worship God in His works;
and I know none of them in which
so many of His attributes - so
much of His own spirit shines,
as in this His faithful servant;
whom to know and not to appreciate,
were obtuse insensibility in
me, who have so little else to
occupy my heart.
Almost immediately after the
conclusion of the service, Miss
Murray left the church. We had
to stand in the porch, for it
was raining, and the carriage
was not yet come. I wondered
at her coming forth so hastily,
for neither young Meltham nor
Squire Green was there; but I
soon found it was to secure an
interview with Mr. Weston as
he came out, which he presently
did. Having saluted us both,
he would have passed on, but
she detained him; first with
observations upon the disagreeable
weather, and then with asking
if he would be so kind as to
come some time to-morrow to see
the granddaughter of the old
woman who kept the porter's lodge,
for the girl was ill of a fever,
and wished to see him. He promised
to do so.
'And at what time will you
be most likely to come, Mr. Weston?
The old woman will like to know
when to expect you - you know
such people think more about
having their cottages in order
when decent people come to see
them than we are apt to suppose.'
Here was a wonderful instance
of consideration from the thoughtless
Miss Murray. Mr. Weston named
an hour in the morning at which
he would endeavour, to be there.
By this time the carriage was
ready, and the footman was waiting,
with an open umbrella, to escort
Miss Murray through the churchyard.
I was about to follow; but Mr.
Weston had an umbrella too, and
offered me the benefit of its
shelter, for it was raining heavily.
'No, thank you, I don't mind
the rain,' I said. I always lacked
common sense when taken by surprise.
'But you don't LIKE it, I suppose?
- an umbrella will do you no
harm at any rate,' he replied,
with a smile that showed he was
not offended; as a man of worse
temper or less penetration would
have been at such a refusal of
his aid. I could not deny the
truth of his assertion, and so
went with him to the carriage;
he even offered me his hand on
getting in: an unnecessary piece
of civility, but I accepted that
too, for fear of giving offence.
One glance he gave, one little
smile at parting - it was but
for a moment; but therein I read,
or thought I read, a meaning
that kindled in my heart a brighter
flame of hope than had ever yet
'I would have sent the footman
back for you, Miss Grey, if you'd
waited a moment - you needn't
have taken Mr. Weston's umbrella,'
observed Rosalie, with a very
unamiable cloud upon her pretty
'I would have come without
an umbrella, but Mr. Weston offered
me the benefit of his, and I
could not have refused it more
than I did without offending
him,' replied I, smiling placidly;
for my inward happiness made
that amusing, which would have
wounded me at another time.
The carriage was now in motion.
Miss Murray bent forwards, and
looked out of the window as we
were passing Mr. Weston. He was
pacing homewards along the causeway,
and did not turn his head.
'Stupid ass!' cried she, throwing
herself back again in the seat.
'You don't know what you've lost
by not looking this way!'
'What has he lost?'
'A bow from me, that would
have raised him to the seventh
I made no answer. I saw she
was out of humour, and I derived
a secret gratification from the
fact, not that she was vexed,
but that she thought she had
reason to be so. It made me think
my hopes were not entirely the
offspring of my wishes and imagination.
'I mean to take up Mr. Weston
instead of Mr. Hatfield,' said
my companion, after a short pause,
resuming something of her usual
cheerfulness. 'The ball at Ashby
Park takes place on Tuesday,
you know; and mamma thinks it
very likely that Sir Thomas will
propose to me then: such things
are often done in the privacy
of the ball- room, when gentlemen
are most easily ensnared, and
ladies most enchanting. But if
I am to be married so soon, I
must make the best of the present
time: I am determined Hatfield
shall not be the only man who
shall lay his heart at my feet,
and implore me to accept the
worthless gift in vain.'
'If you mean Mr. Weston to
be one of your victims,' said
I, with affected indifference,
'you will have to make such overtures
yourself that you will find it
difficult to draw back when he
asks you to fulfil the expectations
you have raised.'
'I don't suppose he will ask
me to marry him, nor should I
desire it: that would be rather
too much presumption! but I intend
him to feel my power. He has
felt it already, indeed: but
he shall ACKNOWLEDGE it too;
and what visionary hopes he may
have, he must keep to himself,
and only amuse me with the result
of them - for a time.'
'Oh! that some kind spirit
would whisper those words in
his ear,' I inwardly exclaimed.
I was far too indignant to hazard
a reply to her observation aloud;
and nothing more was said about
Mr. Weston that day, by me or
in my hearing. But next morning,
soon after breakfast, Miss Murray
came into the schoolroom, where
her sister was employed at her
studies, or rather her lessons,
for studies they were not, and
said, 'Matilda, I want you to
take a walk with me about eleven
'Oh, I can't, Rosalie! I have
to give orders about my new bridle
and saddle-cloth, and speak to
the rat-catcher about his dogs:
Miss Grey must go with you.'
'No, I want you,' said Rosalie;
and calling her sister to the
window, she whispered an explanation
in her ear; upon which the latter
consented to go.
that eleven was the hour at
which Mr. Weston
proposed to come to the porter's
lodge; and remembering that,
I beheld the whole contrivance.
Accordingly, at dinner, I was
entertained with a long account
of how Mr. Weston had overtaken
them as they were walking along
the road; and how they had had
a long walk and talk with him,
and really found him quite an
agreeable companion; and how
he must have been, and evidently
was, delighted with them and
their amazing condescension, &c. &c.