“You have tact enough, Walter, if you will only use it properly and prudently. The mortgage on Cedar Hall has nearly expired; I have not a solitary dollar to pay it, and the consequence will be—a foreclosure, unless some miracle occurs to redeem it. Your business must not be broken down, by drawing on your capital!” said Mrs. Jerrold, pressing the yolk of a hard-boiled egg through the gilded wires of her mocking-bird’s cage.
“I’ll move heaven and earth, mother, before Cedar Hall shall go out of the family. If I can bring things to pass with old Stillinghast, I might, on the credit of marrying one of his heiresses raise the money at a ruinous interest. At any rate, Cedar Hall, goes not from the Jerrolds,” he exclaimed.
“But, Walter, I understand that both of those girls are Catholics?”
“That’s bad; but I fancy I shall be able to put down all that sort of thing, in case I win the lady,” he said, twirling an opal seal.
“And who are they? I have a horror of low families.”
“Make yourself easy on that score, they are our equals, I imagine. I am very certain that none of them have been hung, or sent to the penitentiary; and I presume there have been more gentlemen in the family, than self-made men, from the simple fact, that both of those girls have been left quite penniless, and dependent on their uncle. I believe, however, that the father of one was a major in the army; the other, a captain in the navy,” said Mr. Jerrold, laughing.
“I am glad to hear it. I assure you that family is no unimportant consideration with me,” observed the lady.
“Dear lady mother, I had not the remotest suspicion that it was; but I must be off,” he replied, while he consulted his watch. “I got a private despatch this morning from New York, giving me the very pleasant information of a failure in the coffee crop; and I am going to attend a sale at ten o’clock, and expect to purchase largely at the present prices. At one, my investment will double its value.”
“You were fortunate, indeed,” said Mrs. Jerrold. He kissed her cheek once more, said “good-by,” and was gone. Neither mother nor son imagined they had been saying or doing any thing contrary to the laws of honor or morality. Had any one suggested such an idea, he would have felt grossly insulted; and that red spot of pride on her forehead would have glowed into a flame of resentment. They were only keeping a sharp eye on their interests. Thus, at least, they would have defined their plans. Protestants, practical and nominal, think of the judgment as an idea too remote to influence the acts of their daily life. They have no confessionals for ever reminding them of the right principles of a true rule of faith; and no spiritual guides, whose duty it is to probe the erring conscience, and heal, with divine gifts, the repentant soul. But we will leave Mrs. Jerrold’s recherche boudoir, and accompany May from the Cathedral to Father Fabian’s parlor. She was disappointed at not finding him there, but determined to wait, as the servant informed her that he had been sent for just as mass was over, to carry the Holy Viaticum to a laborer who had fallen from a scaffolding in the next square, and was dying from the effect of his injuries.