“No, no,” said Dick earnestly and simply, “I didn’t think so badly of you as that. I only thought that—if you had been going away, I shouldn’t have tried new attractions for the eyes of other people. But then of course you and I are different, naturally.”
“Well, perhaps we are.”
“Whatever will the vicar say, Fancy?”
“I don’t fear what he says in the least!” she answered proudly. “But he won’t say anything of the sort you think. No, no.”
“He can hardly have conscience to, indeed.”
“Now come, you say, Dick, that you quite forgive me, for I must go,” she said with sudden gaiety, and skipped backwards into the porch. “Come here, sir;—say you forgive me, and then you shall kiss me;—you never have yet when I have worn curls, you know. Yes, just where you want to so much,—yes, you may!”
Dick followed her into the inner corner, where he was probably not slow in availing himself of the privilege offered.
“Now that’s a treat for you, isn’t it?” she continued. “Good-bye, or I shall be late. Come and see me to-morrow: you’ll be tired to-night.”
Thus they parted, and Fancy proceeded to the church. The organ stood on one side of the chancel, close to and under the immediate eye of the vicar when he was in the pulpit, and also in full view of the congregation. Here she sat down, for the first time in such a conspicuous position, her seat having previously been in a remote spot in the aisle.
“Good heavens—disgraceful! Curls and a hat and feather!” said the daughters of the small gentry, who had either only curly hair without a hat and feather, or a hat and feather without curly hair. “A bonnet for church always,” said sober matrons.
That Mr. Maybold was conscious of her presence close beside him during the sermon; that he was not at all angry at her development of costume; that he admired her, she perceived. But she did not see that he loved her during that sermon-time as he had never loved a woman before; that her proximity was a strange delight to him; and that he gloried in her musical success that morning in a spirit quite beyond a mere cleric’s glory at the inauguration of a new order of things.
The old choir, with humbled hearts, no longer took their seats in the gallery as heretofore (which was now given up to the school-children who were not singers, and a pupil-teacher), but were scattered about with their wives in different parts of the church. Having nothing to do with conducting the service for almost the first time in their lives, they all felt awkward, out of place, abashed, and inconvenienced by their hands. The tranter had proposed that they should stay away to-day and go nutting, but grandfather William would not hear of such a thing for a moment. “No,” he replied reproachfully, and quoted a verse: “Though this has come upon us, let not our hearts be turned back, or our steps go out of the way.”