All this, however, was altered. Petronella had drawn Armine aside one way, and now that he was come back again, he did not find the same perfectly sympathetic sister as before. Bobus had not been without effect upon her, as the impersonation of common sense and antagonism to Miss Parsons. It had not shown at the time, for his domineering tone and his sneers always impelled her to stand up for her darling; but when he was “poor Bobus” gone into exile and bereft of his love, certain poisonous germs attached to his words began to grow. There was no absolute doubt-far from it-but there was an impatience of the weariness and solemnity of religion.
To enjoy Church privileges to the full, and do good works under Church direction, had in their wandering life been a dream of modern chivalry which she had shared with Sydney, much as they had talked of going on a crusade. And now she found these privileges very tedious, the good works onerous, and she viewed them somewhat as she might have regarded Coeur de Lion’s camp had she been set down in it. Armine would have gone on hearing nothing but “Remember the Holy Sepulchre,” but Barbara would soon have seen every folly and failure that spoiled the glory of the army-even though she might not question its destination-and would have been unfeignedly weary of its discipline.
So she hung back from the frequent Church ordinances of St. Cradocke’s, being allowed to do as she pleased about everything extra; she made fun of the peculiarities of the varieties of the genus Petronella who naturally hung about it, and adopted the popular tone about the curates, till Jock told her “not to be so commonplace.” Indeed both he and Armine had made friends with them, as he did with every one; and Armine’s enjoyment of the society of a new, young, bright deacon, who came at Christmas, perhaps accounted for a little of her soreness, and made Armine himself less observant that the two were growing apart.
Her mother saw it though, and being seconded by Jock, found it easier than of old to keep the tables free from sceptical and semi-sceptical literature; but this involved the loss of much that was clever, and there was no avoiding those envenomed shafts that people love to strew about, and which, for their seeming wit and sense, Babie always relished. She did not think-that was the chief charge; and she was still a joyous creature, even though chafing at the dulness of St. Cradocke’s.
“Gould and another versus Brownlow and another, to be heard on the l8th,” Mr. Wakefield writes. “So we must leave our peaceful harbour to face the world again!”
“Oh, I’m so glad!” cried Barbara. “I am fairly tingling to be in the thick of it again!”
“You ungrateful infant,” said Armine, “when this place has done every one so much good!”
“So does bed; but I feel as if it were six in the morning and I couldn’t get the shutters open!”
“I wonder if Mr. Ogilvie will think me fit to go in for matriculation for the next term?” said Armine.