There seemed to be nothing to be done but to bear patiently with them while they lasted, to console the victim afterwards, lead her to prayer and resolute efforts, and above all to pray for her, as well as to avoid occasions of bringing them on; but this was not possible, since no one could live without occasional contradiction, and Sophy could sometimes bear a strong remonstrance or great disappointment, when at others a hint, or an almost imperceptible vexation, destroyed her peace for days.
Mr. Kendal bore patiently with her variations, and did his best to amuse away her gloom. It was wonderful how much of his own was gone, and how much more alive he was. He had set himself to attack the five public-houses and seven beer-shops in Tibbs’s Alley, and since his eyes had been once opened, it seemed as if the disorders became more flagrant every day. At last, he pounced on a misdemeanour which he took care should come before the magistrates, and he was much annoyed to find the case dismissed for want of evidence. One Sunday he beheld the end of a fray begun during service-time; he caused an information to be laid, and went himself to the petty sessions to represent the case, but the result was a nominal penalty. The Admiral was a seeker of popularity, and though owning that the town was in a shocking state, and making great promises when talked to on general points, yet he could never make up his mind to punish any ‘poor fellow,’ unless he himself were in a passion, when he would go any length. The other magistrates would not interfere; and all the satisfaction Mr. Kendal obtained was being told how much he was wanted on the bench.
One of the few respectable Tibbs’s Alleyites told him that it was of no use to complain, for the publicans boasted of their impunity, snapped their fingers at him, and drank Admiral Osborn’s health as their friend. The consequence was, that Mr. Kendal took a magnanimous resolution, ordered a copy of Burn’s Justice, and at the September Quarter Sessions actually rode over to Hadminster, and took the oaths.
On the whole, the expectation was more formidable than the reality. However much he disliked applying himself to business, no one understood it better. The value of his good sense, judgment, and acuteness was speedily felt. Mr. Nugent, the chairman, depended on him as his ally, and often as his adviser; and as he was thus made to feel himself of weight and importance, his aversion subsided, and he almost learnt to look forward to a chat with Mr. Nugent; or whether he looked forward to it or not, there could be no doubt that he enjoyed it. Though still shy, grave, silent, and inert, there was a great alteration in him since the time when he had had no friends, no interests, no pursuits beyond his study; and there was every reason to think that, in spite of the many severe shocks to his mauvaise honte, he was a much happier man.