She moves through her duties as hostess with a pretty well-bred grace, and a childishness infinitely touching. Yet something more protects her; a certain common sense, which now and then very nearly achieves wit. For an instance—But yesterday a certain pompous lady lamented to her in my hearing (and with intention, as it seemed to me, who am grown suspicious), the rapid moral decay of Boston society. “Alas!” sighs my heroine; “but what a comfort, ma’am, to think that neither of us belongs to it!” Add to this that she has learning enough to equip ten precieuses—and hides it: has read Plato and can quote her Virgil by the page—but forbears. Yet all this while you have suspected me, no doubt, of raving over a ’Belle Sauvage, a Pocahontas.
Well, I shall watch her progress. . . . I have become so nearly a part of Vyell that I charge myself to stand for him and supply what he lacks. He loves her; she loves him to doting; but I cannot see into their future.
Vyell, by the way, charges me to request your good offices with Mr. Mann to procure him a couple of Tuscan vases. I know that your friend is infinitely obliging to all who approach him through you: and this request which my letter carries as a tag should have been its pretext, as in fact it was its occasion. Adieu! my dear sir.
Yours most sincerely,
SIR OLIVER SAILS.
Mr. Langton was right. Theologians, preaching mysteries, are helpless before the logical mind until they abandon defence and boldly attack their opponents’ capital incapacity, saying, “Precisely because you insist upon daylight, you miss discovering the stars.” The battle is a secular one, and that sentence contains the reason, too, why it will never be ended in this world. But the theologians may strengthen their conviction, if not their argument, by noting how often the more delicate shades of human feeling will oppose themselves to the logical mind as a mere wall of blindness.
Oliver Vyell loved his bride as passionately as his nature, hardened by his past, allowed him. To the women who envied her, to the gossips and backbiters, he opposed a nescience inexpugnable, unscalable as a wall of polished stone: but the mischief was, he equally ignored her sensitiveness.
Being sensitive, she understood the hostile shadows better than the hard protecting fence. To noble natures enemies are often nearer than friends, and more easily forgiven.
But Mr. Langton was also right in guessing her ignorant of the rumours set going by Silk, who, as yet, had whispered falsehoods only. The worst rumour of all—the truth—was beyond his courage.
Ruth loved her lord devoutly. To love him was so easy that it seemed no repayment of her infinite debt. She desired some harder task; and therefore, since he laid this upon her, she—who would have chosen a solitude to be happy in—rejoiced to meet these envious ladies with smiles, with a hundred small graces of hospitality; and still her bliss swallowed up their rancour, scarcely tasting its gall. He (they allowed) was the very pattern of a lover.