How long Brother Jarrum’s harangue might have rung on the wide ears of his delighted listeners, it is not easy to say. But an interruption occurred, to the proceeding’s. It was caused by the entrance of Peckaby; and the meeting was terminated somewhat abruptly. While Susan Peckaby sat at the feet of the saint, a willing disciple of his doctrine, her lord and master, however disheartening it may be to record it, could not, by any means, be induced to open his heart and receive the grace. He remained obdurate. Passively obdurate during the day; but rather demonstratively obdurate towards night. Peckaby, a quiet, civil man enough when sober, was just the contrary when ivre; and since he had joined the blacksmith’s shop, his evening visits to a noted public-house—the Plough and Harrow—had become frequent. On his return home from these visits, his mind had once or twice been spoken out pretty freely as to the Latter Day Saint doctrine: once he had gone the length of clearing the shop of guests, and marshalling the saint himself to the retirement of his own apartment. However contrite he may have shown himself for this the next morning, nobody desired to have the scene repeated. Consequently, when Peckaby now entered, defiance in his face and unsteadiness in his legs, the guests filed out of their own accord; and Brother Jarrum, taking the flaring candle from the shelf, disappeared with it up the stairs.
This has been a very fair specimen of Brother Jarrum’s representations and eloquence. It was only one meeting out of a great many. As I said before, the precise tenets of his religious faith need not be enlarged upon: it is enough to say that they were quite equal to his temporal promises. You will, therefore, scarcely wonder that he made disciples. But the mischief, as yet, had only begun to brew.
A VISIT OF CEREMONY.
Whatever may have been Lionel Verner’s private sentiments, with regard to his choice of a wife—whether he repented his hasty bargain or whether he did not, no shade of dissatisfaction escaped him. Sibylla took up her abode with her sisters, and Lionel visited her, just as other men visit the young ladies they may be going to marry. The servants at Verner’s Pride were informed that a mistress for them was in contemplation, and preparations for the marriage were begun. Not until summer would it take place, when twelve months should have elapsed from the demise of Frederick Massingbird.
Deerham was, of course, free in its comments, differing in no wise on that score from other places. Lionel Verner was pitied, and Sibylla abused. The heir of Verner’s Pride, with his good looks, his manifold attractions, his somewhat cold impassibility as to the tempting snares laid out for him in the way of matrimony, had been a beacon for many a young lady to steer towards. Had he married Lucy Tempest, had he married Lady Mary Elmsley, had he married a royal princess, he and she would both have been equally cavilled at. He, for placing himself beyond the pale of competition; she, for securing the prize. It always was so, and it always will be.