On the third night after his visit, the spirit rent her sore, and came out of her, or, in the phrase of to-day, she had a fierce paroxysm, after which the violence of the conflict ceased, and she might be called convalescent so far as that was concerned.
But all this series of nervous disturbances left her in a very impressible and excitable condition. This was just the state to invite the spiritual manipulations of one of those theological practitioners who consider that the treatment of all morbid states of mind short of raving madness belongs to them and not to the doctors. This same condition was equally favorable for the operations of any professional experimenter who would use the flame of religious excitement to light the torch of an earthly passion. So many fingers that begin on the black keys stray to the white ones before the tune is played out!
If Myrtle Hazard was in charge of any angelic guardian, the time was at hand when she would need all celestial influences; for the Rev. Joseph Bellamy Stoker was about to take a deep interest in her spiritual welfare.’
“So the Rev. Joseph Bellamy Stoker has called upon you, Susan Posey, has he? And wants you to come and talk religion with him in his study, Susan Posey, does he? Religion is a good thing, my dear, the best thing in the world, and never better than when we are young, and no young people need it more than young girls. There are temptations to all, and to them as often as to any, Susan Posey. And temptations come to them in places where they don’t look for them, and from persons they never thought of as tempters. So I am very glad to have your thoughts called to the subject of religion. ‘Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.’
“But Susan Posey, my dear, I think you hard better not break in upon the pious meditations of the Rev. Joseph Bellamy Stoker in his private study. A monk’s cell and a minister’s library are hardly the places for young ladies. They distract the attention of these good men from their devotions and their sermons. If you think you must go, you had better take Mrs. Hopkins with you. She likes religious conversation, and it will do her good too, and save a great deal of time for the minister, conversing with two at once. She is of discreet age, and will tell you when it is time to come away,—you might stay too long, you know. I’ve known young persons stay a good deal too long at these interviews,—a great deal too long, Susan Posey!”
Such was the fatherly counsel of Master Byles Gridley.
Susan was not very quick of apprehension, but she could not help seeing the justice of Master Gridley’s remark, that for a young person to go and break in on the hours that a minister requires for his studies, without being accompanied by a mature friend who would remind her when it was time to go, would be taking an unfair advantage of his kindness in asking her to call upon him. She promised, therefore, that she would never go without having Mrs. Hopkins as her companion, and with this assurance her old friend rested satisfied.