’We have had some interesting—I may say very interesting—conversation, your papa and I, Miss Ruthyn,’ said my reverend vis-a-vis, so soon as nature was refreshed, smiling and shining, as he leaned back in his chair, his hand upon the table, and his finger curled gently upon the stem of his wine-glass. ’It never was your privilege, I believe, to see your uncle, Mr. Silas Ruthyn, of Bartram-Haugh?’
‘No—never; he leads so retired—so very retired a life.’
’Oh, no,—of course, no; but I was going to remark a likeness—I mean, of course, a family likeness—only that sort of thing—you understand—between him and the profile of Lady Margaret in the drawing-room—is not it Lady Margaret?—which you were so good as to show me on Wednesday last. There certainly is a likeness. I think you would agree with me, if you had the pleasure of seeing your uncle.’
‘You know him, then? I have never seen him.’
’Oh dear, yes—I am happy to say, I know him very well. I have that privilege. I was for three years curate of Feltram, and I had the honour of being a pretty constant visitor at Bartram-Haugh during that, I may say, protracted period; and I think it really never has been my privilege and happiness, I may say, to enjoy the acquaintance and society of so very experienced a Christian, as my admirable friend, I may call him, Mr. Ruthyn, of Bartram-Haugh. I look upon him, I do assure you, quite in the light of a saint; not, of course, in the Popish sense, but in the very highest, you will understand me, which our Church allows,—a man built up in faith—full of faith—faith and grace—altogether exemplary; and I often ventured to regret, Miss Ruthyn, that Providence in its mysterious dispensations should have placed him so far apart from his brother, your respected father. His influence and opportunities would, no doubt, we may venture to hope, at least have been blessed; and, perhaps, we—my valued rector and I—might possibly have seen more of him at church, than, I deeply regret, we have done.’ He shook his head a little, as he smiled with a sad complacency on me through his blue steel spectacles, and then sipped a little meditative sherry.
‘And you saw a good deal of my uncle?’
’Well, a good deal, Miss Ruthyn—I may say a good deal—principally at his own house. His health is wretched—miserable health—a sadly afflicted man he has been, as, no doubt, you are aware. But afflictions, my dear Miss Ruthyn, as you remember Doctor Clay so well remarked on Sunday last, though birds of ill omen, yet spiritually resemble the ravens who supplied the prophet; and when they visit the faithful, come charged with nourishment for the soul.
‘He is a good deal embarrassed pecuniarily, I should say,’ continued the curate, who was rather a good man than a very well-bred one. ’He found a difficulty—in fact it was not in his power—to subscribe generally to our little funds, and—and objects, and I used to say to him, and I really felt it, that it was more gratifying, such were his feeling and his power of expression, to be refused by him than assisted by others.’