He looked very angry, and a shade came over Ernest’s face, like that which comes upon the face of a puppy when it is being scolded without understanding why. The child saw well what was coming now, was frightened, and, of course, said “tum” once more.
“Very well, Ernest,” said his father, catching him angrily by the shoulder. “I have done my best to save you, but if you will have it so, you will,” and he lugged the little wretch, crying by anticipation, out of the room. A few minutes more and we could hear screams coming from the dining-room, across the hall which separated the drawing-room from the dining-room, and knew that poor Ernest was being beaten.
“I have sent him up to bed,” said Theobald, as he returned to the drawing-room, “and now, Christina, I think we will have the servants in to prayers,” and he rang the bell for them, red-handed as he was.
The man-servant William came and set the chairs for the maids, and presently they filed in. First Christina’s maid, then the cook, then the housemaid, then William, and then the coachman. I sat opposite them, and watched their faces as Theobald read a chapter from the Bible. They were nice people, but more absolute vacancy I never saw upon the countenances of human beings.
Theobald began by reading a few verses from the Old Testament, according to some system of his own. On this occasion the passage came from the fifteenth chapter of Numbers: it had no particular bearing that I could see upon anything which was going on just then, but the spirit which breathed throughout the whole seemed to me to be so like that of Theobald himself, that I could understand better after hearing it, how he came to think as he thought, and act as he acted.
The verses are as follows—
“But the soul that doeth aught
presumptuously, whether he be born in
the land or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul
shall be cut off from among his people.
“Because he hath despised
the word of the Lord, and hath broken His
commandments, that soul shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall
be upon him.
“And while the children of
Israel were in the wilderness they found a
man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day.
“And they that found him gathering
sticks brought him unto Moses and
Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
“And they put him in ward
because it was not declared what should be
done to him.
“And the Lord said unto Moses,
the man shall be surely put to death;
all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
“And all the congregation
brought him without the camp, and stoned him
with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,