“Then you did know later that he was coming?”
“Yes, Rachel West wrote to tell me so this morning, but I did not open her letter at breakfast, and I was so vexed at being late for luncheon that I forgot to mention it then. I remembered as soon as James had started, and ran after him, but he was too far off to hear me call to him.”
It cost Hester a good deal to give this explanation, as she was aware that the Bishop’s visit had been to her and to her alone.
“Come, come,” said Mr. Gresley, judicially, with the natural masculine abhorrence of a feminine skirmish.
“Don’t go on making foolish excuses, Hester, which deceive no one; and you, Minna, don’t criticise Hester’s clothes. It is the Bishop’s own fault for not writing his notes himself. He might have known that Miss West would have written to Hester instead of to me. I can’t say I think Hester behaved kindly towards us in acting as she did, but I won’t hear any more argument about it. I desire the subject should now drop.”
The last words were uttered in the same tone in which Mr. Gresley closed morning service, and were felt to be final. He was not in reality greatly chagrined at missing the Bishop, whom he regarded with some of the suspicious distrust with which a certain class of mind ever regards that which is superior to it. Hester left the room, closing the door gently behind her.
“James,” said Mrs. Gresley, looking at her priest with tears of admiration in her eyes, “I shall never be good like you, so you need not expect it. How you can be so generous and patient with her I don’t know. It passes me.”
“We must learn to make allowances for each other,” said Mr. Gresley, in his most affectionate cornet, drawing his tired, tearful little wife down beside him on the sofa. And he made some fresh tea for her, and waited on her, and she told him about the children’s boots and the sole, and he told her about a remarkable speech he had made at the chapter meeting, and a feeling that had been borne in on him on the way home that he should shortly write something striking about Apostolic Succession. And they were happy together; for though he sometimes reproved her as a priest if she allowed herself to dwell on the probability of his being made a Bishop, he was very kind to her as a husband.
“Beware of a silent dog and still water.”
If you are travelling across Middleshire on the local line between Southminster and Westhope, after you have passed Wilderleigh with its gray gables and park wall, close at hand you will perceive to nestle (at least, Mr. Gresley said it nestled) Warpington Vicarage; and perhaps, if you know where to look, you will catch a glimpse of Hester’s narrow bedroom window under the roof. Half a mile farther on Warpington Towers, the gorgeous residence of the Pratts, bursts into view, with flag on turret flying, and two tightly