“Why! ain’t they the same?” cried the rector, half aghast, as he stopped and faced round on the curate.
“Yes,” answered Wingfold; “and all will be well when the Church of England really recognizes the fact. Meantime its idea of God is such as will not at all fit the God of the whole earth. And that is why she is in bondage. Except she burst the bonds of her own selfishness, she will burst her heart and go to pieces, as her enemies would have her. Every piece will be alive, though, I trust, more or less.”
“I don’t understand you,” said the rector. “What has all that to do with the consecration of my chapel?”
“If you don’t consecrate it,” answered Wingfold, “it will remain a portion of the universe, a thoroughfare for all divine influences, open as the heavens to every wind that blows. Consecration—”
Here the curate checked himself. He was going to say—“is another word for congestion,”—but he bethought himself what a wicked thing it would be, for the satisfaction of speaking his mind, to disturb that of his rector, brooding over a good work.
“But,” he concluded therefore, “there will be time enough to think about that. The scheme is a delightful one. Apart from it, however, altogether—if you would but read prayers in your own church, it would wonderfully strengthen my hands. Only I am afraid I should shock you sometimes.”
“I will take my chance of that. If you do, I will tell you of it. And if I do what you don’t like, you must tell me of it. I trust neither of us will find the other incapable of understanding his neighbor’s position.”
They walked to the spot which the rector had already in his mind as the most suitable for the projected chapel. It was a bit of gently rising ground, near one of the gates, whence they could see the whole of the little village of Owlkirk. One of the nearest cottages was that of Mrs. Puckridge. They saw the doctor ride in at the other end of the street, stop there, fasten his horse to the paling, and go in.
THE GARDEN AT OWLKIRK.
No sooner had Faber left the cottage that same morning, than the foolish Mrs. Puckridge proceeded to pour out to the patient, still agitated both with her dream and her waking vision, all the terrible danger she had been in, and the marvelous way in which the doctor had brought her back from the threshold of death. Every drop of the little blood in her body seemed to rush to her face, then back to her heart, leaving behind it a look of terror. She covered her face with the sheet, and lay so long without moving that her nurse was alarmed. When she drew the sheet back, she found her in a faint, and it was with great difficulty she brought her out of it. But not one word could she get from her. She did not seem even to hear what she said. Presently she grew restless, and soon her flushed cheek and bright eye indicated an increase of fever. When Faber saw her, he was much disappointed, perceived at once that something had excited her, and strongly suspected that, for all her promises, Mrs. Puckridge had betrayed the means by which he recovered her.