“Be the praise,” he said, devoutly, “given to Him who, according to the purpose of his own will, maketh and destroyeth. The insensible block of ice and I were only instruments in His hands.” He turned away, and walking rapidly was soon out of sight.
Constable Basset, who was present, had just sense enough to understand that this was no occasion for his interference, and although he followed the retreating figure of the Solitary with longing eyes, while his hands clutched at the writ, ventured on no attempt to exercise his authority.
We talk of love and pleasure—but
A tale of falsehood. Life’s made up of gloom:
The fairest scenes are clad in ruin’s pall,
The loveliest pathway leads but to the tomb.
After the event just recorded, it may well be supposed that all further legal proceedings against the Recluse were abandoned. They had been commenced only to gratify the wounded pride of Davenport, and since the preservation of the life of his son by Holden, the community would have cried shame on him had the matter been pursued further. But no such public sentiment was needed in order to induce Davenport to give the justice and Basset a hint to do nothing more. He was really grateful, though feeling no compunction for his conduct, easily persuading himself that it had been prompted by a love of justice, and a desire to protect the interests of religion.
Holden could, therefore, without fear of the consequences, resume openly his usual visits to the village. Of late they had been more than usually frequent at the house of Mr. Armstrong, by whom he seemed almost as much attracted as by Faith. With the former the conversation usually turned upon points of theology that every day appeared to assume with Armstrong deeper importance, with the latter on the effects produced by the teachings of Holden among the Indians. For since his exile at the Patmos of the Indian village, a new subject had engaged the attention of the Solitary, to which with characteristic energy he had devoted the powers of his soul—the conversion of the poor wretches who had kindly harbored and protected him. To his sanguine expectations, expressed in the impassioned language of Scripture he loved to use, the enthusiastic girl would listen, with the warmest interest. Accustomed to assign every event to an overruling Providence, she thought she now saw clearly the hand of a superior Power in the occurrences which had compelled Holden, in the first instance, to take up his temporary residence among them. Temporary residence, we say, because the Solitary had since returned to his hut, which was at the distance of only two or three miles from the cabins of his former protectors. Solitude he found was necessary in order to enable him the better to perform his new duties, and the distance was too slight to interpose any serious obstacle, or even inconvenience.