Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > Scenes of Clerical Life > Chapter 26
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter 26
 That was the last terrible crisis of temptation Janet had to pass through. The goodwill1 of her neighbours, the helpful sympathy of the friends who shared her religious feelings, the occupations suggested to her by Mr. Tryan, concurred2, with her strong spontaneous impulses towards works of love and mercy, to fill up her days with quiet social intercourse3 and charitable exertion4. Besides, her constitution, naturally healthy and strong, was every week tending, with the gathering5 force of habit, to recover its equipoise, and set her free from those physical solicitations which the smallest habitual6 vice7 always leaves behind it. The prisoner feels where the iron has galled8 him, long after his fetters9 have been loosed.  
There were always neighbourly visits to be paid and received; and as the months wore on, increasing familiarity with Janet’s present self began to efface10, even from minds as rigid11 as Mrs. Phipps’s, the unpleasant impressions that had been left by recent years. Janet was recovering the popularity which her beauty and sweetness of nature had won for her when she was a girl; and popularity, as every one knows, is the most complex and self-multiplying of echoes. Even anti-Tryanite prejudice could not resist the fact that Janet Dempster was a changed woman—changed as the dusty, bruised12, and sun-withered plant is changed when the soft rains of heaven have fallen on it—and that this change was due to Mr. Tryan’s influence. The last lingering sneers13 against the Evangelical curate began to die out; and though much of the feeling that had prompted them remained behind, there was an intimidating14 consciousness that the expression of such feeling would not be effective—jokes of that sort had ceased to tickle15 the Milby mind. Even Mr. Budd and Mr. Tomlinson, when they saw Mr. Tryan passing pale and worn along the street, had a secret sense that this man was somehow not that very natural and comprehensible thing, a humbug—that, in fact, it was impossible to explain him from the stomach and pocket point of view. Twist and stretch their theory as they might, it would not fit Mr. Tryan; and so, with that remarkable16 resemblance as to mental processes which may frequently be observed to exist between plain men and philosophers, they concluded that the less they said about him the better.
Among all Janet’s neighbourly pleasures, there was nothing she liked better than to take an early tea at the White House, and to stroll with Mr. Jerome round the old-fashioned garden and orchard17. There was endless matter for talk between her and the good old man, for Janet had that genuine delight in human fellowship which gives an interest to all personal details that come warm from truthful18 lips; and, besides, they had a common interest in good-natured plans for helping19 their poorer neighbours. One great object of Mr. Jerome’s charities was, as he often said, ‘to keep industrious20 men an’ women off the parish. I’d rether given ten shillin’ an’ help a man to stand on his own legs, nor pay half-a-crown to buy him a parish crutch21; it’s the ruination on him if he once goes to the parish. I’ve see’d many a time, if you help a man wi’ a present in a neeborly way, it sweetens his blood—he thinks it kind on you; but the parish shillins turn it sour—he niver thinks ’em enough.’ In illustration of this opinion Mr. Jerome had a large store of details about such persons as Jim Hardy22, the coal-carrier, ‘as lost his hoss,’ and Sally Butts23, ‘as hed to sell her mangle24, though she was as decent a woman as need to be’; to the hearing of which details Janet seriously inclined; and you would hardly desire to see a prettier picture than the kind-faced white-haired old man telling these fragments of his simple experience as he walked, with shoulders slightly bent25, among the moss-roses and espalier apple-trees, while Janet in her widow’s cap, her dark eyes bright with interest, went listening by his side, and little Lizzie, with her nankeen bonnet26 hanging down her back, toddled27 on before them. Mrs. Jerome usually declined these lingering strolls, and often observed, ‘I niver see the like to Mr. Jerome when he’s got Mrs. Dempster to talk to; it sinnifies nothin’ to him whether we’ve tea at four or at five o’clock; he’d go on till six, if you’d let him alone—he’s like off his head.’ However, Mrs. Jerome herself could not deny that Janet was a very pretty-spoken woman: ‘She al’ys says, she niver gets sich pikelets as mine nowhere; I know that very well—other folks buy ’em at shops—thick, unwholesome things, you might as well eat a sponge.’
The sight of little Lizzie often stirred in Janet’s mind a sense of the childlessness which had made a fatal blank in her life. She had fleeting28 thoughts that perhaps among her husband’s distant relatives there might be some children whom she could help to bring up, some little girl whom she might adopt; and she promised herself one day or other to hunt out a second cousin of his—a married woman, of whom he had lost sight for many years.
But at present her hands and heart were too full for her to carry out that scheme. To her great disappointment, her project of settling Mrs. Pettifer at Holly29 Mount had been delayed by the discovery that some repairs were necessary in order to make the house habitable, and it was not till September had set in that she had the satisfaction of seeing her old friend comfortably installed, and the rooms destined30 for Mr. Tryan looking pretty and cosy31 to her heart’s content. She had taken several of his chief friends into her confidence, and they were warmly wishing success to her plan for inducing him to quit poor Mrs. Wagstaff’s dingy32 house and dubious33 cookery. That he should consent to some such change was becoming more and more a matter of anxiety to his hearers; for though no more decided34 symptoms were yet observable in him than increasing emaciation35, a dry hacking36 cough, and an occasional shortness of breath, it was felt that the fulfilment of Mr. Pratt’s prediction could not long be deferred37, and that this obstinate38 persistence39 in labour and self-disregard must soon be peremptorily40 cut short by a total failure of strength. Any hopes that the influence of Mr. Tryan’s father and sister would prevail on him to change his mode of life—that they would perhaps come to live with him, or that his sister at least might come to see him, and that the arguments which had failed from other lips might be more persuasive41 from hers—were now quite dissipated. His father had lately had an attack of paralysis42, and could not spare his only daughter’s tendance. On Mr. Tryan’s return from a visit to his father, Miss Linnet was very anxious to know whether his sister had not urged him to try change of air. From his answers she gathered that Miss Tryan wished him to give up his curacy and travel, or at least go to the south Devonshire coast.
‘And why will you not do so?’ Miss Linnet said; ‘you might come back to us well and strong, and have many years of usefulness before you.’
‘No,’ he answered quietly, ‘I think people attach more impor............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved