His sermons were very sleepy performances, except for a tendency to jumble up metaphors, that kept the audience from the Folly just awake enough to watch for them. The hearer was proud who could repeat by heart such phrases as “let us not, beloved brethren, as gaudy insects, flutter out life’s little day, bound to the chariot wheels of vanity, whirling in the vortex of dissipation, until at length we lie moaning over the bitter dregs of the intoxicating draught.” Some of these became household proverbs at “the Folly,” under the title of “Rigdum Funnidoses,” and might well be an extreme distress to the good, reverent, and dutiful Jessie.
Mrs. Rigby was an inferior woman, a sworn member of the Coffinkey clique, admiring and looking up to her Serene Highness as the great lady of the place, and wearing an almost abject manner when receiving good counsels from her. Neither of them commanded respect, nor were they likely to change the belief, which prevailed at the Folly, that all ability resided among the London clergy.
CHAPTER XI. UNDINE.
Lithest, gaudiest harlequin,
Prettiest tumbler ever seen,
Light of heart and light of limb.
Long walks continued to be almost a necessity to Mrs. Joseph Brownlow, even when comparatively sobered down, and there were few days on which she was not to be met a mile or two from Kenminster, attended by a train of boys larger or smaller, according to the demands of the school for work or play.
The winter was of the description least favourable to collective boyish sports, as there was no snow and very little frost. The Christmas holidays led to more walking than ever. The gravelled roads of Belforest were never impassable, even in moist weather; and even the penetralia of the place had been laid open to the Brownlows, in consequence of a friendship which the two Johns had established with Alfred Richards, the agent’s son. They had brought him in to see the museum, and he had proved so nice and intelligent a lad, that Mother Carey, to the great scandal of her Serene Highness, allowed Jock to ask him to partake of a birthday feast.
When Allen came home at Christmas, he introduced stilt walking, and the Coffinkey world had the pleasure of communicating to one another that “Mrs. Folly Brownlow” had been seen with all her boys walking on stilts; and of course in the next stage, Mrs. “Folly” Brownlow herself was said to have been walking on stilts with all her boys, a libel, which caused Mrs. Robert Brownlow much pain and trouble in the contradiction.
“Poor Caroline! walking seemed to be necessary to her health, and she was out a great deal, but always walking along in the lanes on foot with her little girls-yes, I assure you, always on foot!”