‘There, Lucy, you see,’ said Harriet; ’come along, there’s a good girl.’
Here Mrs. Turner’s page opened the door, and answered that his mistress was at home.
‘Dora, my dear,’ said Elizabeth, ’this is too late an affair for you; we shall not be at home till after you are gone to bed. Good-night— run after Helen.’
Dora obeyed, and Lucy also turned away; Katherine lingered. ’Come, Kate,’ said Harriet, mounting the steps. —’Lucy, you nonsensical girl, come back; everyone can see you out of the window; it is very rude, now; if Mrs. Turner sees you, what will she think? Mamma would be very angry to see you so silly. Come back, I tell you!’
Lucy only looked back, and shook her head, and then hastened away; but Katherine, fearing that her friends would be irrecoverably offended if she turned away from their house, thinking that she had gone too far to recede, and trusting to Elizabeth to shield her from blame, followed the others up-stairs.
Helen turned back, much surprised, as Lucy and Dora overtook her; and they hastened to give explanations.
‘Lizzie said I had better come home,’ said Dora.
‘And I thought it would be the safest thing to do,’ said Lucy.
‘I am very glad of it,’ said Helen; ’I am sure it is not right to go, but when Lizzie has once set her mind on anything, she will listen to no one.’
‘Then do you think Papa and Mamma will be displeased?’ said Dora; ‘I do not think Lizzie thinks so.’
‘I cannot be quite sure,’ said Helen; ’but I do not think Lizzie chooses to believe that they will.’
‘But let me understand you, Helen,’ said Lucy; ’I only know that you think that Uncle Woodbourne would not approve of your going. What are your reasons for thinking so? I did not clearly understand you. Church-people and Dissenters put themselves on a level in almost every public place.’
’They do not meet in every public place on what they agree to call neutral ground,’ said Helen, ’or profess to lay aside all such distinctions, and to banish religion in order to avoid raising disputes. You know that no subject can be safely treated of, except with reference to the Christian religion.’
‘How do you mean?’ said Lucy.
‘Why,’ said Helen, hesitating a little, ’how many people run wild, and adopt foolish and wicked views of politics, for want of reading history religiously! And the astronomers and geologists, without faith, question the possibility of the first chapter of Genesis; and some people fancy that the world was peopled with a great tribe of wild savages, instead of believing all about Adam and Eve and the Patriarchs. Now if you turn religion out, you see, you are sure to fall into false notions; and that is what these Mechanics’ Institute people do.’
‘Yes,’ said Lucy, ’I have heard what you say about those things before, but I never saw them in connection with each other.’