In spite of the selfishness of this theory, which condemned so many souls to perdition, Marchurst was a kindly natured man, and his religion was more of an hallucination than anything else. He was very clever at giving advice, and Madame Midas esteemed him highly on this account. Though Marchurst had often tried to convert her, she refused to believe in the shallow sophistries he set forth, and told him she had her own views on religion, which views she declined to impart to him, though frequently pressed to do so. The zealot regretted this obstinacy, as, according to his creed, she was a lost soul, but he liked her too well personally to quarrel with her on that account, consoling himself with the reflection that sooner or later, she would seek the fold. He was more successful with M. Vandeloup, who, having no religion whatever, allowed Marchurst to think he had converted him, in order to see as much as he could of Kitty. He used to attend the Sunday services regularly, and frequently came in during the week ostensibly to talk to Marchurst about the doctrines of ‘The Elect’, but in reality to see the old man’s daughter.
On this bright afternoon, when everything was bathed in sunshine, Mr Marchurst, instead of being outside and enjoying the beauties of Nature, was mewed up in his dismal little study, with curtains closely drawn to exclude the light, a cup of strong tea, and the Bible open at ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’. His room was lined with books, but they had not that friendly look books generally have, but, bound in dingy brown calf, looked as grim and uninviting as their contents, which were mostly sermons and cheerful anticipations of the bottomless pit. It was against Marchurst’s principles to gratify his senses by having nice things around him, and his whole house was furnished in the same dismal manner.
So far did he carry this idea of mortifying the flesh through the eyes that he had tried to induce Kitty to wear sad-coloured dresses and poke bonnets; but in this attempt he failed lamentably, as Kitty flatly refused to make a guy of herself, and always wore dresses of the lightest and gayest description.
Marchurst groaned over this display of vanity, but as he could do nothing with the obdurate Kitty, he allowed her to have her own way, and made a virtue of necessity by calling her his ’thorn in the flesh’.
He was a tall thin man, of a bleached appearance, from staying so much in the dark, and so loosely put together that when he bowed he did not as much bend as tumble down from a height. In fact, he looked so carelessly fixed up that when he sat down he made the onlooker feel quite nervous lest he should subside into a ruin, and scatter his legs, arms, and head promiscuously all over the place. He had a sad, pale, eager-looking face, with dreamy eyes, which always seemed to be looking into the spiritual world. He wore his brown hair long, as he always maintained a man’s hair was as much his glory as a woman’s