Half a dozen men followed, while those on the wharf cast off the fasts. But all at once stood still when the parson, with bowed head, began a prayer for the powder, for the adventurers who took it, and for the general and army it was designed to serve. Sternly yet eloquently he prayed until the boat had drifted with the tide out of hearing, and the creak of the blocky came across the water, showing that those on board were making sail. Then, as the men on the wharf dispersed, he mounted the horse Evatt had ridden.
“Janice Meredith,” he said sternly,” I propose to occupy this ride with a discourse upon the doctrine of total depravity, from which downward path you have been saved this night, deducing therefrom an illustration of the workings of grace through foreordination,—the whole with a view to the saving of your soul and the admonishment of your sinful nature.”
It was daylight when the parson and Janice rode through the gate of Greenwood, and the noise of hoofs brought both the girl’s parents to the window of their bedroom in costumes as yet by no means completed. Yet when, in reply to the demand of the squire as to what was the meaning of this arrival, it was briefly explained to him that his daughter had attempted to elope with his guest, he descended to the porch without regard to scantiness of clothing.
A terrible ten minutes for Janice succeeded, while the squire thundered his anger at her, and she, overcome, sobbed her grief and mortification into Daisy’s mane. Then, when her father had drained the vials of his wrath, her mother appeared more properly garbed, and in her turn heaped blame and scorn on the girl’s bowed head. For a time the squire echoed his wife’s indignation, but it is one thing to express wrath oneself and quite another to hear it fulminated by some one else; so presently the squire’s heart began to soften for his lass, and he attempted at last to interpose in palliation of her conduct. This promptly resulted in Mrs. Meredith’s ordering Janice off the horse and to her room. “Where I’ll finish what I have to say,” announced her mother; and the girl, helped down by Mr. Meredith, did as she was told, longing only for death.
The week which succeeded was a nightmare to Janice, her mother constantly recurring to her wickedness, the servants addressing her with a scared breathlessness which made her feel that she was indeed declassed for ever, while the people of the neighbourhood, when she ventured out-of-doors, either grinned broadly or looked dourly when they met her, showing the girl that her shame was town property.
Mrs. Meredith also took frequent occasion to insist on the girl’s marriage with Mr. McClave, on the ground that he alone could properly chasten her; but to this the squire refused to listen, insisting that such a son-in-law he would never have, and that he was bound to Philemon. “We’ll keep close watch on her for the time he’s away, and then marry her out of hand the moment he’s returned,” he said.