But it being contrary to his conscience to attend the church, I suppose all his other graces did but lay him more open to injury, and we were soon warned of mischief hatching against us and him, and that by one from whom we never expected it.
HOW MR. TRUELOCKE AND MRS. GOLDING LEFT US.
Mr. Poole being gone, there came in his place as curate an oldish man, grey-haired and meagre; a great adorer of Archbishop Laud and of King Charles the First, ‘the Royal Martyr,’ as he would say; but for all his half Popish notions, he was blameless, nay, austere in his life; and he had thriven so ill in the gay new world of London, that he deemed it great good luck to have the curate’s place at West Fazeby.
We had half feared that this poor Mr. Stokes would feel bound in conscience to torment and harass Mr. Truelocke into conformity; so when he came to the Grange one day, very earnest to see Aunt Golding and the former Vicar, and that in private, we were on thorns while he stayed; and when we heard the door shut after him, we hurried to our aunt, asking what his errand had been.
She answered us not directly, but, gazing after Mr. Stokes, whom Mr. Truelocke was conducting out through the garden, ‘Well, my girls,’ said she, ’if the tree may be known by its fruits, yon is a right honest man and a true Christian;’ and she went on to say how he had only come to warn her and hers of evil that was designed against them. ‘I fear,’ she said, smiling, ’the good man’s conscience pulled him two ways; yet his heart has proved wiser than his head. I am right glad now that Andrew is away, though I was vexed before; yet I knew his was a charitable journey.’
Then she told us of new crueller devices intended against the Friends, and, indeed, against all Nonconforming folks. ‘And there be some,’ she said, ’who have spoken very evil things of us here at the Grange. I warrant you it will not be long that we shall be suffered to have family worship if our labouring men share in it as they are used to do; nor can Mr. Truelocke so much as expound a Psalm to us and them, but it shall straight be said we hold a conventicle here.’
‘Surely,’ says Althea, very pale, ’the gentlemen who now rule the country are too proud-spirited, too noble, to intermeddle with such matters; what is it to them how we say our prayers in our own houses? Abroad, there may be need of a decent face of uniformity, and some open outrageous follies may require to be put down strongly’—She stopped, and Aunt Golding said,—
’Ah, child, thou little knowest. I have not yet heard of any outrageous follies that our poor Andrew has run into; yet I am told, and I fear it’s true, that if he were to show his face openly in West Fazeby to-morrow, his next lodging might be in York Castle, where he should lie in the foulest den they could find for him, and have the worst company to boot. Nor will it be very safe here for our good Mr. Truelocke, who now talks of taking his journey to certain worthy kinsfolk of his that are farmers in the Dale country, there he may live in a peaceful obscurity; but his chief aim is to avoid bringing troubles on our house.’