HERE AND THERE.
The rain had ceased, and the flood was greatly diminished. It was possible, she judged, to reach the Old House, and after a hasty breakfast, she set out, leaving her father to Mrs. Roberts’s care. The flood left her no choice but go by the high road to Polwarth’s gate, and then she had often to wade through mud and water. The moment she saw the gatekeeper, she knew somehow by his face that Juliet was in the lodge. When she entered, she saw that already her new circumstances were working upon her for peace. The spiritual atmosphere, so entirely human, the sense that she was not and would not be alone, the strange talk which they held openly before her, the food they coaxed her to eat, the whole surrounding of thoughts and things as they should be, was operating far more potently than could be measured by her understanding of their effects, or even consciousness of their influences. She still looked down upon the dwarfs, condescended to them, had a vague feeling that she honored them by accepting their ministration—for which, one day, she would requite them handsomely. Not the less had she all the time a feeling that she was in the society of ministering spirits of God, good and safe and true. From the Old House to the cottage was from the Inferno to the Purgatorio, across whose borders faint wafts from Paradise now and then strayed wandering. Without knowing it, she had begun already to love the queer little woman, with the wretched body, the fine head, and gentle, suffering face; while the indescribable awe, into which her aversion to the kobold, with his pigeon-chest, his wheezing breath, his great head, and his big, still face, which to such eyes as the curate’s seemed to be looking into both worlds at once, had passed over, bore no unimportant part in that portion of her discipline here commenced. One of the loftiest spirits of the middle earth, it was long before she had quite ceased to regard him as a power of the nether world, partly human, and at once something less and something more. Yet even already she was beginning to feel at home with them! True, the world in which they really lived was above her spiritual vision, as beyond her intellectual comprehension, yet not the less was the air around them the essential air of homeness; for the truths in which their spirits lived and breathed, were the same which lie at the root of every feeling of home-safety in the world, which make the bliss of the child in his mother’s bed, the bliss of young beasts in their nests, of birds under their mother’s wing. The love which inclosed her was far too great for her—as the heaven of the mother’s face is beyond the understanding of the new-born child over whom she bends; but that mother’s face is nevertheless the child’s joy and peace. She did not yet recognize it as love, saw only the ministration; but it was what she sorely needed: she said the sort of thing suited her, and at once