’Well, I shall try my skill with him by and by. I shall be very cunning, and say nothing to him till all is ready. You and I and mother, when she comes home, will set to work directly and get the house in order, and then we’ll get you snugly settled in it. I shall see Mr. Pittman today, and I will tell him what I mean to do. I shall say I wish to have you for a tenant. Everybody knows I’m very fond of that naughty person, Mrs. Pettifer; so it will seem the most natural thing in the world. And then I shall by and by point out to Mr. Tryan that he will be doing you a service as well as himself by taking up his abode with you. I think I can prevail upon him; for last night, when he was quite bent on coming out into the night air, I persuaded him to give it up.’
’Well, I only hope you may, my dear. I don’t desire anything better than to do something towards prolonging Mr. Tryan’s life, for I’ve sad fears about him.’
’Don’t speak of them—I can’t bear to think of them. We will only think about getting the house ready. We shall be as busy as bees. How we shall want mother’s clever fingers! I know the room upstairs that will just do for Mr. Tryan’s study. There shall be no seats in it except a very easy chair and a very easy sofa, so that he shall be obliged to rest himself when he comes home.’
That was the last terrible crisis of temptation Janet had to pass through. The goodwill of her neighbours, the helpful sympathy of the friends who shared her religious feelings, the occupations suggested to her by Mr. Tryan, concurred, with her strong spontaneous impulses towards works of love and mercy, to fill up her days with quiet social intercourse and charitable exertion. Besides, her constitution, naturally healthy and strong, was every week tending, with the gathering force of habit, to recover its equipoise, and set her free from those physical solicitations which the smallest habitual vice always leaves behind it. The prisoner feels where the iron has galled him, long after his fetters have been loosed.
There were always neighbourly visits to be paid and received; and as the months wore on, increasing familiarity with Janet’s present self began to efface, even from minds as rigid as Mrs. Phipps’s, the unpleasant impressions that had been left by recent years. Janet was recovering the popularity which her beauty and sweetness of nature had won for her when she was a girl; and popularity, as every one knows, is the most complex and self-multiplying of echoes. Even anti-Tryanite prejudice could not resist the fact that Janet Dempster was a changed woman—changed as the dusty, bruised, and sun-withered plant is changed when the soft rains of heaven have fallen on it—and that this change was due to Mr. Tryan’s influence. The last lingering sneers against the Evangelical curate began to die out; and though much of the feeling that