Adele left the room, and soon returned, accompanied by the two individuals, of whom she had gone in search.
She placed Mr. Brown, who looked quite superb in his brilliantly flowered dressing-gown, in a corner of a sofa. Having examined the missal with interest, for a time, he handed it to Mr. Norton, and was soon engaged in an animated conversation with Mrs. Dubois, respecting various works of ancient art, they had both seen in Europe.
Adele watched with pleasure the light kindling in her mother’s eyes, as she went back, in memory and thought, to other days.
Mr. Norton gazed at his friend Brown, transfigured suddenly from the despairing invalid, who had lost all interest in life, to the animated being before him, with traces indeed of languor and disease upon his person, but glowing now with life, thought, and emotion. “A precious jewel gathered for the crown of Him, who sits on the throne above”, he whispered to himself.
Felicitating himself with this thought, he divided his attention between the conversation of Mrs. Dubois and Mr. Brown, and the marvels of skill, labor, and beauty traced by the old monk upon the pages before him.
“I must say, Miss Adele, that these lines and colors are put on most ingeniously. But I cannot help thinking those ancient men might have been better employed in tracing the characters of divine truth upon the hearts of their fellow-beings”.
“True”, said Adele, “had they been free to do it. But they were shut up from the world and could not. Illuminating missals was far better than to pass their lives in perfect idleness and inanition”.
“Don’t you think, my dear”, said the missionary, who had wisely never before questioned any member of the family on the points of religious faith, “that the cloister life was a strange one to live, for men who professed to have the love of God in their hearts, with a whole world lying in sin around them, for a field to labor in?”
“Yes, I do, and I think too many other things are wrong about the Roman Church, but it pains my mother to hear me speak of them”, said Adele, in a low tone, glancing at her mother.
“Is it so?” exclaimed the good man. His face lighted up with a secret satisfaction. But he fixed his eyes upon the book and was silent.
Just then, some one knocked on the parlor door. Adele opened it and beheld Mrs. McNab,—her broad figure adorned with the brilliant chintz dress and yellow bandanna handkerchief, filling up the entire doorway, and her face surrounded by the wide, full frill, its usual framework, expressing a curious mixture of shyness and audacity.
It was her first call at the house, since Adele’s summary process of ejection had been served upon her, and it was not until that young lady had welcomed her cordially and invited her to come in, that she ventured beyond the threshold. She then came forward, made a low courtesy, and seating herself near the door, remarked that Bess was not below, and hearing voices in the picture parlor, wishing to hear from the patient, she had ventured up.