Had Mrs. Ridgeley received a letter recently from Henry? She had. Would Barton probably go and study with his brother? She thought that would be pleasant for both. Mrs. Markham was very kind to inquire about the boys. Would Mrs. Ridgeley permit Mrs. Markham to send her home in her new buggy? It stood at the door. Mrs. Ridgeley thanked her; she was going up by Coe’s, and so out across the bit of woods, home. Did not Mrs. Ridgeley fear the animal that had been heard to scream in these woods? Mrs. Ridgeley did not in the least, and she doubted if there was one.
The ladies separated. Mrs. Markham decided that Barton had not told his mother of meeting Julia the day before, nor of their adventure afterwards, and she was relieved from the duty of explaining anything; and she thought well of the young man’s discretion, or pride.
Mrs. Ridgeley thought that Mrs. Markham was talking at her for a purpose, perhaps to find out what Barton told her; and it was some little satisfaction, perhaps, to know that Julia did not feel like being out,—but then Julia was a noble girl, and would feel regret at inflicting pain. Poor Bart! Generous Mrs. Ridgeley! It also occurred to Mrs. Ridgeley that Mrs. Markham did not return to the subject of the goods, and she was really afraid that Julia might lose her dress.
The marvellous power of Christianity to repeat itself in new forms apparently variant, and reveal itself under new aspects, or rather its wonderful fulness and completeness, that enables the different ages of men, under ever-varying conditions of culture and development, to find in it their greatest needs supplied, and their highest civilization advanced, may be an old observation. A change in the theological thought and speculation of New England was beginning to make its way to the surface at about the time of the migration of its sons and daughters to the far-off Ohio wilderness, and many minds carried with them into the woods a tinge of the new light. Theodore Parker had not announced the heresy that there was an important difference between theology and religion, and that life was of more consequence than creed. But Calvinism had come to mean less to some minds, and there was another turning back to the great source by strong new seekers, to whom the accepted formulas had become empty, dry shells, to be pulverized, and the dead dust kneaded anew with the sweet waters of the ever fresh fountain. Those who bore the germs of the new thought to the wild freedom of nature, in the woods, found little to restrain or direct it; and, as is usual upon the remoulding of religious thought, while the strong religious nature questions only as to the true, many of different temperament boldly question the truth of all. The seeds and sources of a religious revolution are remote, and its apparent results a generation of heretics and infidels. Heresy sometimes becomes orthodoxy in its turn, and in its career towards that, and in its days of zeal and warfare, the infidel often becomes its convert.