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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about Sandra Belloni Complete.

CHAPTER XLII

Up the centre aisle of Hillford Church, the Tinleys (late as usual) were seen trooping for morning service in midwinter.  There was a man in the rear known to be a man by the sound of his boots and measure of his stride, for the ladies of Brookfield, having rejected the absurd pretensions of Albert Tinley, could not permit curiosity to encounter the risk of meeting his gaze by turning their heads.  So, with charitable condescension they returned the slight church nod of prim Miss Tinley passing, of the detestable Laura Tinley, of affected Rose Tinley (whose complexion was that of a dust-bin), and of Madeline Tinley (too young for a character beyond what the name bestowed), and then they arranged their prayer-books, and apparently speculated as to the possible text that morning to be given forth from the pulpit.  But it seemed to them all that an exceedingly bulky object had passed as guardian of the light-footed damsels preceding him.  Though none of the ladies had looked up as he passed, they were conscious of a stature and a circumference which they had deemed to be entirely beyond the reach of the Tinleys, and a scornful notion of the Tinleys having hired a guardsman, made Arabella smile at the stretch of her contempt, that could help her to conceive the ironic possibility.  Relieved on the suspicion that Albert was in attendance of his sisters, they let their eyes fall calmly on the Tinley pew.  Could two men upon this earthly sphere possess such a bearskin?  There towered the shoulders of Mr. Pericles; his head looking diminished by the hugeous collar.  Arabella felt a seizure of her hand from Adela’s side.  She placed her book open before her, and stared at the pulpit.  From neither of the three of Brookfield could Laura’s observation extract a sign of the utter astonishment she knew they must be experiencing; and had it not been for the ingenuous broad whisper of Mrs. Chump, which sounded toward the verge even of her conception of possibilities, the Tinleys would not have been gratified by the first public display of the prize they had wrested from the Poles.

“Mr. Paricles—­oh!” went Mrs. Chump, and a great many pews were set in commotion.

Forthwith she bent over Cornelia’s lap, and Cornelia, surveying her placidly, had to murmur, “By-and-by; by-and-by.”

“But, did ye see ’m, my dear? and a forr’ner in a Protestant Church!  And such a forr’ner as he is, to be sure!  And, ye know, ye said he’d naver come with you, and it’s them creatures ye don’t like.  Corrnelia!”

“The service commences,” remarked that lady, standing up.

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