It is the experience of everyone, I think, that mass differs from mass, as a star (in the apostle’s words) differs from another star in glory—I do not mean in its essential effects, for that is the same always, but in the devotion which it arouses in those that hear it. This mass then seemed to me like scarcely any other that I had ever heard, except perhaps that at which I received my first communion in the country church in France. Mr. Hamerton said it with great deliberation and recollection; and, as my Cousin Tom served him, as a host should, I was not distracted by anything. My Cousin Dolly and I kneeled side by side in front, and again, side by side, to receive Holy Communion.
I was in a kind of ecstasy of delight, and not, I think unworthily; for, though much of my delight came from being there with my cousin, and receiving our Lord’s Body with her, I do not think that is any dishonour to God whom we must love first of all, to find a great joy in loving Him in the company of those we love purely and uprightly. So at least it seems to me.
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Mr. Hamerton told us he must be riding very early; and not much after seven o’clock we stood at the gate to bid him farewell. I made my man James go with him so far as Ware to set him on his road, though the priest begged me not to trouble myself.
When I came back to the house I was in a torment of indecision as to whether this would not be the best occasion I could ever find of telling my Cousin Dorothy all that was in my heart in her regard; and I even went into the Great Chamber after her, still undecided. But her manner prevented me; for I thought I saw in her something of a return of that same shyness which she had shewed to me when I had come last time back to Hare Street; and I went out again without saying one word except of the priest’s visit and of what a good man he seemed.
Even then, I think, if I had spoken, matters might have taken a very different course; but, whether through God’s appointment or my own diffidence, this was not to be; and again I said nothing to her.
Our next adventure, not unlike the last exteriorly, was very different from it interiorly; and led to very strange results in the event. It came about in this way.
It was in May that Mr. Hamerton had come to us, for Easter that year fell in that month; and the weather after that, which had been very bitter in the winter, with so much snow as I never saw before, but clearer about Eastertime, fell very wet and stormy again in June.
It was on a Thursday evening, in the first week in June, that the bad weather set in with a violent storm of rain and a high wind. We sat in the Great Chamber after supper, and had some music as usual: and between the music we listened to the gusts of wind and the rattle of the rain, which made so great a noise that Dolly said that it was no use for her to go to bed yet, for that she would not sleep if she went. Her maid went to bed; and we three sat talking till nearly half-past ten o’clock, which is very late for the country where men rise at four o’clock.