If the mothers among my readers are shocked at the want of decorum in my friend Judy, I would just say, that valuable as propriety of demeanour is, truth of conduct is infinitely more precious. Glad should I be to think that the even tenor of my children’s good manners could never be interrupted, except by such righteous indignation as carried Judy beyond the strict bounds of good breeding. Nor could I find it in my heart to rebuke her wherein she had been wrong. In the face of her courage and uprightness, the fault was so insignificant that it would have been giving it an altogether undue importance to allude to it at all, and might weaken her confidence in my sympathy with her rectitude. When I joined her she put her hand in mine, and so walked with me down the stair and out at the front door.
“You will take cold, Judy, going out like that,” I said.
“I am in too great a passion to take cold,” she answered. “But I have no time to talk about that creeping creature.—Auntie doesn’t like Captain Everard; and grannie keeps insisting on it that she shall have him whether she likes him or not. Now do tell me what you think.”
“I do not quite understand you, my child.”
“I know auntie would like to know what you think. But I know she will never ask you herself. So I am asking you whether a lady ought to marry a gentleman she does not like, to please her mother.”
“Certainly not, Judy. It is often wicked, and at best a mistake.”
“Thank you, Mr Walton. I will tell her. She will be glad to hear that you say so, I know.”
“Mind you tell her you asked me, Judy. I should not like her to think I had been interfering, you know.”
“Yes, yes; I know quite well. I will take care. Thank you. He’s going to-morrow. Good night.”
She bounded into the house again, and I walked away down the avenue. I saw and felt the stars now, for hope had come again in my heart, and I thanked the God of hope. “Our minds are small because they are faithless,” I said to myself. “If we had faith in God, as our Lord tells us, our hearts would share in His greatness and peace. For we should not then be shut up in ourselves, but would walk abroad in Him.” And with a light step and a light heart I went home.
Old Mrs Tomkins.
Very severe weather came, and much sickness followed, chiefly amongst the poorer people, who can so ill keep out the cold. Yet some of my well-to-do parishioners were laid up likewise—amongst others Mr Boulderstone, who had an attack of pleurisy. I had grown quite attached to Mr Boulderstone by this time, not because he was what is called interesting, for he was not; not because he was clever, for he was not; not because he was well-read, for he was not; not because he was possessed of influence in the parish, though he had that influence; but simply because he was true; he was what he appeared, felt what he professed, did what he said; appearing kind, and feeling and acting kindly. Such a man is rare and precious, were he as stupid as the Welsh giant in “Jack the Giant-Killer.” I could never see Mr Boulderstone a mile off, but my heart felt the warmer for the sight.