It is needless to say that the visit was conducted with the most perfect propriety in all respects. Mrs. Hopkins was disposed to take upon herself a large share of the conversation. The minister, on the other hand, would have devoted himself more particularly to Miss Susan, but, with a very natural make-believe obtuseness, the good woman drew his fire so constantly that few of his remarks, and hardly any of his insinuating looks, reached the tender object at which they were aimed. It is probable that his features or tones betrayed some impatience at having thus been foiled of his purpose, for Mrs. Hopkins thought he looked all the time as if he wanted to get rid of her. The three parted, therefore, not in the best humor all round. Mrs. Hopkins declared she’d see the minister in Jericho before she’d fix herself up as if she was goin’ to a weddin’ to go and see him again. Why, he did n’t make any more of her than if she’d been a tabby-cat. She believed some of these ministers thought women’s souls dried up like peas in a pod by the time they was forty year old; anyhow, they did n’t seem to care any great about ’em, except while they was green and tender. It was all Miss Se-usan, Miss Se-usan, Miss Se-usan, my dear! but as for her, she might jest as well have gone with her apron on, for any notice he took of her. She did n’t care, she was n’t goin’ to be left out when there was talkin’ goin’ on, anyhow.
Susan Posey, on her part, said she did n’t like him a bit. He looked so sweet at her, and held his head on one side,—law! just as if he had been a young beau! And,—don’t tell,—but he whispered that he wished the next time I came I wouldn’t bring that Hopkins woman!
It would not be fair to repeat what the minister said to himself; but we may own as much as this, that, if worthy Mrs. Hopkins had heard it, she would have treated him to a string of adjectives which would have greatly enlarged his conceptions of the female vocabulary.
In tracing the history of a human soul through its commonplace nervous perturbations, still more through its spiritual humiliations, there is danger that we shall feel a certain contempt for the subject of such weakness. It is easy to laugh at the erring impulses of a young girl; but you who remember when_______ _________, only fifteen years old, untouched by passion, unsullied in name, was found in the shallow brook where she had sternly and surely sought her death,—(too true! too true!—ejus animae Jesu miserere!—but a generation has passed since then,)—will not smile so scornfully.
Myrtle Hazard no longer required the physician’s visits, but her mind was very far from being poised in the just balance of its faculties. She was of a good natural constitution and a fine temperament; but she had been overwrought by all that she had passed through, and, though happening to have been born in another land, she was of American descent. Now, it has long been noticed that there is something in the influences, climatic or other, here prevailing, which predisposes to morbid religious excitement. The graver reader will not object to seeing the exact statement of a competent witness belonging to a by-gone century, confirmed as it is by all that we see about us.