Графични страници
PDF файл

vicar had ever fallen in love with any of their daughters! Catherine Parkinson, who had refused Sir Robert Bosanquet! Henry Wellford, who might have had rich Miss Trotter for asking! So unadvised of both parties-nobody was surprised at old Mr. Parkinson's shutting his doors for ever against the young couple; or wasted much thought on the fate of the fine young man and the beautiful girl after the first excitement of astonishment was over, except Dr. Pennington, the rector of Stoke Barton; and he was second cousin to Henry Wellford, so no wonder!

Miss Hannah, having exhausted her spleen on the subject of her sister Kate's imprudent match, found herself in her twenty-ninth year on the verge of old-maidism, with

“Nobody coming to marry her,
Nobody coming to woo;'-

not even a poor vicar; and the subject was beginning to give her considerable uneasiness, when her father's heir-at-law, Mr. James Parkinson, who for many years had regularly visited Park Place in the shooting season, came down for the express purpose of making her an offer. He was



only too good for her, being cheerful, personable, and easy-tempered. The gentleman was cepted, the marriage celebrated with all convenient speed; and the wedded pair went steadily through all the gradations customary in the hymeneal state-exactly in the inverse order of those to be found in a sonata. First they were “brillante," and even when the wedding clothes grew dirty, continued “allegro," then sank into “allegretto," next to “moderato”—then came priccio," and at length a monotonous andante," enlivened only by a few of Mr. James Parkinson's bursts" a furore."

a furore.” To say truth, if it had not been for the gentleman's imperturbable good humour, her peevish, fractious temper would have been unbearable; and as it was, they went on like two performers on the piano-forte playing separate airs by way of duet-he, in calm serenity, jogging on with “ Just like Love” in the bass, while she in another key, and with shrill vehemence, was running up and down the indignant scales of “ Trifler, forbear!” in the treble.

The mind turns with pleasure from this matrimonial concert to the neglected young pair in Summerfield vicarage. Catherine Wellford, per

fectly satisfied with the companion and station she had chosen for life, yet felt a little natural compunction at having dared to make herself happy in opposition to the will of those whom nature had constituted her arbiters. She endeavoured, therefore, to atone for her breach of filial obedience by humble letters to her parents; but as they remained true to that inflexibility of purpose which, exercised in daily minutiæ, had in a great measure driven their daughter from her home, she at length abstained from appeals which she found to be useless.

Nothing could be much less inviting than the first appearance of Summerfield vicarage. It was a small, dull-looking, red-brick building, such as may often be seen inhabited by the curés of the French provinces, having a little inverted battlement-like brickwork ornament,-stay, what is the architectural word? dentilsa row of square teeth, as it were, running along the front; a tiled roof, and heavy latticed windows with deep seats; an ungainly looking house, in short, but one which like some plain women, might be rendered attractive by dress and decoration. A smoky parlour on one side of the hall or passage, a small study

on the other, kitchen and et ceteras behind, stairs up and down at every corner, and four oddly shaped bedrooms above. The garden, separated from the churchyard by a ruinous paling, was filled on one side with potatoes, on the other with cauliflowers run to seed ; and the walks were verdant with moss. Such was the home to which Henry Wellford, who had only been presented to the vicarage just before his marriage, brought the young

bride who had hitherto been accustomed to every comfort except that of kindness. Without complaining of their lot, they immediately set about the improvement of the face of things around them. The parlour chimney was cured of smoking, the walls were papered, book-shelves and curtains put up, the garden walks cleared, evergreens planted, and the palings mended and painted. Having made this promising beginning, Mr. and Mrs. Wellford had leisure to study each other's characters and those of their neighbours. Henry found his wife possessed of an ardent, enquiring mind which had hitherto been little cultirated, and a disposition which not even constant irritation had been able to spoil, prone to repent of its hasty errors, and full of charity and


melting kindness. In each other's society they felt no weariness, but neither of them was of a temper so fastidious as to turn with distaste from those among whom Providence had placed them, because their habits were less refined than their

Almost immediately opposite the church, in a residence known as Okely Park, and which only required better keeping up to make it rank as a handsome country seat, lived old Lady Wor. ral. The only two houses with sash windows in the village were tenanted, the one by Mr. Good the apothecary, the other by Mr. Greenway, a retired schoolmaster. Farmer Holland, the happy parent of three bouncing daughters, occupied a substantial dwelling in the midst of his corn-fields, about half a mile from Summerfield.

The remaining population consisted of tradespeople and peasantry, who received the conciliatory visits of the new vicar and his wife with civility and gratitude. On nearer acquaintance with the superior class of their neighbours, they discovered that old Lady Worral was busy and interfering, eccentric in her dress and blunt in her manners; Mr. and Mrs. Good the best people in the world ; Mr. Greenway a martyr to the rheumatism, and his

« ПредишнаНапред »