This catalogue of ills nearly stunned Deborah and Amilly West. They had none too much of life’s great need, gold, for themselves; and the burden of keeping Sibylla would be sensibly felt. A tolerably good table it was indispensable to maintain, on account of Jan, and that choice eater, Master Cheese; but how they had to pinch in the matter of dress, they alone knew. Sibylla also knew, and she read arightly the drooping of their faces.
“Never mind, Deborah; cheer up, Amilly. It is only for a time. Ere very long I shall be leaving you again.”
“Surely not for Australia!” returned Deborah, the hint startling her.
“Australia? Well, I am not sure that it will be quite so far,” answered Sibylla, in a little spirit of mischief. And, in the bright prospect of the future, she forgot past and present grievances, turned her laughing blue eyes upon her sisters, and, to their great scandal, began to waltz round and round the room.
By the light of a single tallow candle which flared aloft on a shelf in Peckaby’s shop, consecrated in more prosperous days to wares, but bare now, a large collected assemblage was regarding each other with looks of eager interest. There could not have been less than thirty present, all crammed together in that little space of a few feet square. The first comers had taken their seats on the counters; the others stood as they could. Two or three men, just returned from their day’s labour, were there; but the crowd was chiefly composed of the weaker sex.
The attention of these people was concentrated on a little man who faced them, leaning against the wall at the back of the shop, and holding forth in a loud, persuasive tone. If you object to the term “holding forth,” you must blame Mrs. Duff; it is borrowed from her. She informed us, you may remember, that the stranger who met, and appeared to avoid, Lionel Verner, was no other than a “missionary from Jerusalem,” taken with an anxiety for the souls of Deerham, and about to do what he could to convert them—“Brother Jarrum.”
Brother Jarrum had entered upon his work, conjointly with his entry upon Peckaby’s spare bedroom. He held nightly meetings in Peckaby’s shop, and the news of his fame was spreading. Women of all ages flocked in to hear him—you know how impressionable they have the character of being. A sprinkling of men followed out of curiosity, of idleness, or from propensity to ridicule. Had Brother Jarrum proved to be a real missionary from Jerusalem—though, so far as my knowledge goes, such messengers from that city are not common—genuinely desirous of converting them from wrath to grace, I fear his audience would, after the first night or two, have fallen off considerably. This missionary, however, contrived both to keep his audience and to increase it; his promises partaking more of the mundane nature than do such promises in general. In point of fact, Brother Jarrum was an Elder from a place that he was pleased to term “New Jerusalem”; in other words, from the Salt Lake city.