“He writes to me as if he suspected me of trying to carry on an intrigue with the Mother of God,” cried Lidderdale passionately to his vicar.
“Steady, steady, dear man,” said Astill. “You’ll ruin your case by such ill-considered exaggeration.”
“But, Vicar, these cursed bishops of the Establishment who would rather a whole parish went to Hell than give up one jot or one tittle of their prejudice!” Lidderdale ejaculated in wrath.
Furthermore, the Bishop wanted to know if the report that on Good Friday was held a Roman Catholic Service called the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified followed by the ceremony of Creeping to the Cross was true. When Majendie departed, the Lima Street Missioner jumped a long way forward in one leap. There were many other practices which he (the Bishop) could only characterize as highly objectionable and quite contrary to the spirit of the Church of England, and would Mr. Lidderdale pay him a visit at Fulham Palace as soon as possible. Lidderdale went, and he argued with the Bishop until the Chaplain thought his Lordship had heard enough, after which the argument was resumed by letter. Then Lidderdale was invited to lunch at Fulham Palace and to argue the whole question over again in person. In the end the Bishop was sufficiently impressed by the Missioner’s sincerity and zeal to agree to withhold his decision until the Lord Bishop Suffragan of Devizes had paid a visit to the proposed new parish. This was the visit that was expected on the day after Mark Lidderdale woke from a nightmare and dreamed that London was being swallowed up by an earthquake.
When Mark was grown up and looked back at his early childhood—he was seven years old in the year in which his father was able to see the new St. Wilfred’s an edifice complete except for consecration—it seemed to him that his education had centered in the prevention of his acquiring a Cockney accent. This was his mother’s dread and for this reason he was not allowed to play more than Christian equality demanded with the boys of Lima Street. Had his mother had her way, he would never have been allowed to play with them at all; but his father would sometimes break out into fierce tirades against snobbery and hustle him out of the house to amuse himself with half-a-dozen little girls looking after a dozen babies in dilapidated perambulators, and countless smaller boys and girls ragged and grubby and mischievous.
“You leave that kebbidge-stalk be, Elfie!”
“Ethel! Jew hear your ma calling you, you naughty girl?”
“Stanlee! will you give over fishing in that puddle, this sminute. I’ll give you such a slepping, you see if I don’t.”
“Come here, Maybel, and let me blow your nose. Daisy Hawkins, lend us your henkerchif, there’s a love! Our Maybel wants to blow her nose. Oo, she is a sight! Come here, Maybel, do, and leave off sucking that orange peel. There’s the Father’s little boy looking at you. Hold your head up, do.”