Neither his persuasions, nor his sneer, “Because it is Sunday, perhaps!” would induce Wilfrid to be guilty of another attempt. The ladies tried sisterly cajoleries on him fruitlessly, until Mr. Pole, seeing the desperation of his guest, said: “Why not have her up here, toon and all, some week-day? Sunday birds won’t suit us, you know. We’ve got a piano for her that’s good enough for the first of ’em, if money means anything.”
The ladies murmured meekly: “Yes, papa.”
“I shall find her for you while you go to your charch,” said Mr. Pericles. And here Wilfrid was seized with a yawn, and rose, and asked his eldest sister if she meant to attend the service that morning.
“Undoubtedly,” she answered; and Mr. Pole took it up: “That’s our discipline, my boy. Must set an example: do our duty. All the house goes to worship in the country.”
“Why, in ze country?” queried Mr. Pericles.
“Because”—Cornelia came to the rescue of her sire; but her impetuosity was either unsupported by a reason, or she stooped to fit one to the comprehension of the interrogator: “Oh, because—do you know, we have very select music at our church?”
“We have a highly-paid organist,” added Arabella.
“Recently elected,” said Adela.
“Ah! mon Dieu!” Mr. Pericles ejaculated. “Some music sound well at afar--mellow, you say. I prefer your charch music mellow.”
“Won’t you come?” cried Wilfrid, with wonderful briskness.
“No. Mellow for me!”
The Greek’s grinders flashed, and Wilfrid turned off from him sulkily. He saw in fancy the robber-Greek prowling about Wilson’s farm, setting snares for the marvellous night-bird, and it was with more than his customary inattention to his sisters’ refined conversation that he formed part of their male escort to the place of worship.
Mr. Pericles met the church-goers on their return in one of the green bowery lanes leading up to Brookfield. Cold as he was to English scenes and sentiments, his alien ideas were not unimpressed by the picture of those daintily-clad young women demurely stepping homeward, while the air held a revel of skylarks, and the scented hedgeways quickened with sunshine.
“You have missed a treat!” Arabella greeted him.
“A sermon?” said he.
The ladies would not tell him, until his complacent cynicism at the notion of his having missed a sermon, spurred them to reveal that the organ had been handled in a masterly manner; and that the voluntary played at the close of the service was most exquisite.
“Even papa was in raptures.”
“Very good indeed,” said Mr. Pole. “I’m no judge; but you might listen to that sort of playing after dinner.”
Mr. Pericles seemed to think that was scarcely a critical period, but he merely grimaced, and inquired: “Did you see ze player?”
“Oh, no: they are hidden,” Arabella explained to him, “behind a curtain.”