“I cannot make myself a prisoner on parole, you know, Miss Talbot. You must leave me my liberty.”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Sutherland. Take your liberty. You’ll go the way of all the rest. It’s no use trying to save any of you.”
“But I’m not aware that I am in any particular want of saving, Miss Talbot.”
“There it is! — Well, till a sinner is called and awakened, of course it’s no use. So I’ll just do the best I can for you. Who can tell when the Spirit may be poured from on high? But it’s very sad to me, Mr. Sutherland, to see an amiable young man like you going the way of transgressors, which is hard. I am sorry for you, Mr. Sutherland.”
Though the ice was not gone yet, it had begun to melt under the influences of Hugh’s good-temper, and Miss Talbot’s sympathy with his threatening fate. Conscience, too, had something to do with the change; for, much as one of her temperament must have disliked making such a confession, she ended by adding, after a pause:
“And very sorry, Mr. Sutherland, that I showed you any bad temper last night.”
Poor Miss Talbot! Hugh saw that she was genuinely troubled about him, and resolved to offend but seldom, while he was under her roof.
“Perhaps, when you know me longer, you will find I am steadier than you think.”
“Well, it may be. But steadiness won’t make a Christian of you.”
“It may make a tolerable lodger of me, though,” answered Hugh; “and you wouldn’t turn me into the street because I am steady and nothing more, would you?”
“I said I was sorry, Mr. Sutherland. Do you wish me to say more?”
“Bless your kind heart!” said Hugh. “I was only joking.”
He held out his hand to Miss Talbot, and her eyes glistened as she took it. She pressed it kindly, and abandoned it instantly.
So all was right between them once more.
“Who knows,” murmured Miss Talbot, “but the Lord may save him? He’s surely not far from the kingdom of heaven. I’ll do all I can to make him comfortable.”
A Sunday’s dinner.
Some books are lies frae end to end,
And some great lies were never penned:
Even ministers, they hae been kenned,
In holy rapture,
Great lies and nonsense baith to vend,
And nail’t wi’ Scripture.
To the great discomposure of Hugh, Sunday was inevitable, and he had to set out for Salem Chapel. He found it a neat little Noah’s Ark of a place, built in the shape of a cathedral, and consequently sharing in the general disadvantages to which dwarfs of all kinds are subjected, absurdity included. He was shown to Mr. Appleditch’s pew. That worthy man received him in sleek black clothes, with white neck-cloth, and Sunday face composed of an absurd mixture of stupidity and sanctity. He stood up, and Mrs. Appleditch stood up, and Master Appleditch stood up, and Hugh saw that the ceremony of the place required that he should force his way between the front of the pew and the person of each of the human beings occupying it, till he reached the top, where there was room for him to sit down. No other recognition was taken till after service.