“I care nothing about coming up or coming down,” John said simply. “I long only for an honest mode of life, in which, instead of dwelling solitary, and seeing no one from year to year save at our Sabbath meetings, I may mix with others and take part in a more active and busy life. In itself, I do not suppose that the trade of a currier is a very pleasant one; but that matters little if, when work is done, one has leisure for some sort of communication with others, and for improving one’s mind. It will be to me something like what going to court in London would be to you, Walter. I am most grieved about my mother. She will miss me sorely.
“She said to me last night, ’I fear somewhat, John, that the course I have taken with you has greatly unfitted you for settling down here, as we have done before you; but although I shall miss you sadly, I do not blame myself for what I have done. I think myself, my son, that there are higher lives than that spent in tilling the soil from boyhood to old age. It is true the soil must be tilled. There must be ever hewers of wood and drawers of water; but God has appointed for each his place, and I think, my son, that you have that within you which would render the life with which your father and grandfather have been well contented an irksome one for you.
“’I have no fear that we shall be always separated. Your grandfather is an old man, and when the Lord pleases to take him, your father and I will be free to do as we choose, and can, if we like, dispose of this land and quit this troubled country, and settle in England or elsewhere, near where you may be. It is true that we shall get little for the land; for, broad as are its acres, who will give much for a doubtful title? But there is ample laid by for our old age, and I see not the sense of labouring incessantly, as does your grandfather, merely to lay up stores which you will never enjoy. Did I see any signs of a decrease in the bitter animosity which parties feel towards each other here, I might think differently; but there is no prospect of peace and goodwill returning in your time, and therefore, no object in your father and I toiling on for the rest of our lives, when the return of our labour will be of little worth to you. Such being so, I do not regret that your thoughts turn to the world of which you have read in books. The world is but a secondary consideration to us, ’tis true, but I can see no special goodness in a life of dull monotony.’”
“I wonder where your mother got hold of her ideas, John. She is so different from most of your people.”
“She is indeed,” John agreed. “It was from her mother that she received her teaching. I know she was not happy with her husband, who was as gloomy and fanatical as is my grandfather, and she ever looked back to the happy days of her girlhood in England. I think she did for my mother just what my mother has done for me, only the difference is that she never had sufficient influence with her husband to enable her to carry out her views for her daughter, while my mother—”