I will not weary my readers with the conversation we had together. All my missiles of argument were lost as it were in a bank of mud, the weight and resistance of which they only increased. My experience in the attempt, however, did a little to reconcile me to his going to sleep in church; for I saw that it could make little difference whether he was asleep or awake. He, and not Mr. Stoddart in his organ sentry-box, was the only person whom it was absolutely impossible to preach to. You might preach at him; but to him?—no.
My Christmas party.
As Christmas Day drew nearer and nearer, my heart glowed with the more gladness; and the question came more and more pressingly —Could I not do something to make it more really a holiday of the Church for my parishioners? That most of them would have a little more enjoyment on it than they had had all the year through, I had ground to hope; but I wanted to connect this gladness—in their minds, I mean, for who could dissever them in fact?—with its source, the love of God, that love manifested unto men in the birth of the Human Babe, the Son of Man. But I would not interfere with the Christmas Day at home. I resolved to invite as many of my parishioners as would come, to spend Christmas Eve at the Vicarage.
I therefore had a notice to that purport affixed to the church door; and resolved to send out no personal invitations whatever, so that I might not give offence by accidental omission. The only person thrown into perplexity by this mode of proceeding was Mrs. Pearson.
“How many am I to provide for, sir?” she said, with an injured air.
“For as many as you ever saw in church at one time,” I said. “And if there should be too much, why so much the better. It can go to make Christmas Day the merrier at some of the poorer houses.”
She looked discomposed, for she was not of an easy temper. But she never acted from her temper; she only looked or spoke from it.
“I shall want help,” she said, at length.
“As much as you like, Mrs. Pearson. I can trust you entirely.”
Her face brightened; and the end showed that I had not trusted her amiss.
I was a little anxious about the result of the invitation—partly as indicating the amount of confidence my people placed in me. But although no one said a word to me about it beforehand except Old Rogers, as soon as the hour arrived, the people began to come. And the first I welcomed was Mr. Brownrigg.