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and taken off my hands without a single word about dowers and marriage portions, and likely to be the mistress of ten thousand a year some day. What d'ye say to that, Mrs. Treeby? By Jove! it's enough to send her into raptures and ecstasies, like myself, when Reefer pops. It's a case, Maria; I told you it was a case.' And our delighted parent gave vent to the joy of his heart by slapping his leg with his bootjack, and making a pivot of his heel, upon which he turned his punchy figure three times.
"Do explain, dear Augustus," implored his wife, feeling no desire to rival her husband's jubilant demonstrations.
"Explain, Mrs. Trentham! With all my soul and heart." And he narrated his interview with Austin in his own forcible style. "So it's been a case in spite of you, Maria, and your Buxton obstinacy," he added, with an ugly look at her; "and I'll tell you what's the work I've carved out for you, and you'd better do it without any demurs and tantrums, 'cause you see it's no use trying to fight against your fates and destinies. You must get hold of Kate to-morrow, and put her up to what's coming, and make her promise that when Reefer says the word, she'll give him to understand she's ready to take him then and there without any of the hanging backs and delays that his head's stuffed withrubbish and romance, by Jove !"
"But she may not be willing to listen to him at all, Augustus; she may refuse to be his wife on any conditions. I know she will if she doesn't really love him; and I don't think she can, for may say they don't know one another yet."
"If she don't, you'll have to teach her what's her duty to her natural parents, who've spent a fortune for her in board and clothing, by Jove !"
"Surely Mr. Reefer expressed no wish that I should speak to her before he did himself," returned his wife, gently.
"What does that concern you, Mrs. Treeby?" he said, glaring on her as she stood in the doorway. "You've nothing to do with Reefer's wishes, but only to do as I tell you to behave as becomes a duteous spouse, and make your daughter learn what her respects and duties are, by Jove!"
The little woman stood trembling at the door, with her face very white. She stood so in silence a moment, but her lips moved. Then she spoke out firmly, though in gentle tones, like the brave little woman she was.
"I cannot do it, Augustus; I cannot go to Katie and tell her that, if a man asks her to be his wife, she must throw herself into his arms and beg him to make her so at once. It would be shocking indelicacy for any girl to do so; and it would be most improper and most indelicate for any mother to speak of such a thing to a daughter. And if she does not love him,
Augustus, I cannot force her inclinations. My precious Katie, my own sweet child, I cannot come between her and her heart, and dictate to her what she must feel. I am her mother, it is true; but not even a mother has a right to interfere in a matter so sacred; no mother may go and command her daughter to do violence to her own heart and to feign an affection for a man which she does not feel. Don't press it, dear Augustus, I beseech you; think what you are asking me to do; it would be cruelty to her, and cruelty to him, too, because he would be deceived; it would be most unfeeling, and unprincipled, and unholy on our part. I implore you not to insist upon me doing this, because I can't do it."
She had begun quietly, but towards the end the woman and the mother had waxed strong within her; the indelicate and improper nature of the first part of her husband's injunction forced itself more and more upon her as she proceeded, and there rose before her stronger and stronger the possibility, nay, the probability, of there being no attachment whatever on Kate's part for Austin, and the vision of her daughter's despair (perhaps, too, her fury and contempt), when she should be told what was expected of her-oh, yes, and even supposing that there existed a mutual affection, the thought was agony enough to the motherly heart that her darling, her pride and comforter, her very soul's idol, would be torn from her; and so, at the end, her voice shook and faltered in passionate appeal; and when she stopped her frame was shivering with strong agitation. She grasped the door-handle to steady herself, and burst into tears. But her husband was not moved by it all; before him there rose only the vision of an obstinate and dogged resistance to the scheme which he had cherished so fondly, which had prospered beyond his expectations, and over the instant realisation of which he had been gloating all that day. His wife might bring the whole business to nought, for he had seen enough of Austin to convince him that he was a highprincipled and honourable man, that he would consent to no coercion in the matter of himself and Kate, and that, therefore, it would require Maria's private influence to adjust matters in a satisfactory manner, supposing any difficulty to arise. It was no tender figure of sympathy and compassion that the little woman beheld through her tears; the squat, punchy frame, in its shirtsleeves, gnashing upon her, with the eyes glaring from under their terrible brows, the black hair tangled over the brow, one hand grasping the boot-jack as if he meant to hurl it at her the next moment; in truth, it was more as if a fiend from the pit had suddenly sprung up before her. There came a terrible "madam !" and then I shrink from the scene that followed, and so would you from the description; let the canvas remain blank.
SHE watered her couch with her tears, poor soul! through the early hours of that night. Her heart was wrung with anguish because of the grievous and terrible things-falling like sharp arrows on her sensitive spirit-that had been said to her, because of the bitter things that might be in store, not for herself only, but, what was far worse, for the daughter of her love. She knew her savage consort too well to believe that he would stand any opposition to his plans on the part of Kate. If Kate should refuse Austin, or if not absolutely refusing him, should give him no encouragement, conclude matters in the summary way that her father wished, it was certain that she would subject herself to a great deal of trying persecution, if not to something worse. For, furious at having his schemes baffled on the very eve of success, there was no telling what Mr. Treeby might not do. Long ago he had once threatened to send Kate to a cheap boarding-school, the managers of which had the reputation of under-feeding their pupils, and ruling them, metaphorically, with a rod of iron. He might put the ancient threat into execution now, and thus cause an agonising separation between mother and daughter. He might even go the length of repudiating the natural relationship between himself and Kate-not at all an unlikely event-and banish her from her home for ever. It would be sore enough if Kate should consent to marry Austin, and there had to be the parting which that event would necessitate; but a separation without the hope of reunion, or even a temporary separation which placed her daughter in circumstances of suffering and wretchedness-these were contingencies which it was agony for the poor woman to contemplate. And so "the soft dews of kindly sleep" refused to steep her eye-lids, and, conjuring up before her the vague and bitter phantoms of the future, her tears continued to fall silently on the pillow, while he who caused them snored his loudest at her side. Yet it was not all bitterness, and all foreboding, and all despair; the gloom was but momentary, resting on her spirit as a passing cloud rests upon the face of the sun, shadowing its brightness for an instant, only to let its shining appear the clearer afterwards. For through the many years of her married life, the strength in which trial had taught her to trust, the prop upon which trial had driven her to lean, had never failed her, though the flesh would cry out at times under the sharp discipline to which it was subjected. She knew that "the everlasting arms" were around her, though for an instant she might be unconscious of
their pressure; she knew that the eye of the Father who had taken her up and received her into His family in the extremity of her youthful desolation and distress was sleeplessly resting upon her with an exhaustless interest and love, though for a moment she might fail to realise its presence. But it was only for a moment for a small moment, that even a sense of His having hid himself oppressed her; for immediately there came such an overpowering consciousness of the great mercies with which she was gathered that she knew His countenance had never really been withdrawn, but that more than ever, with every fresh trial which He called her to bear for His sake, He was watching her with unutterable tenderness, waiting to see His own glorious image more clearly reflected in the gold which he sat over to refine and purify. She had learned to know Him-she had learned to love Him during these these thirty years as a covenant-keeping God, whose affection never varied, and whose promises never failed. She had learned, too, to love His blessed messenger Affliction, stern and harsh as his countenance appeared, for was it not he who had in the first place led her to the Father, and who, as often as he visited her, left on her a deeper dew of the Father's own peace? So does He educate His children--so does He fashion in them a likeness to Himself up to a point at which it cannot be carried farther, but by bringing them face to face with His own divine person. "But we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." It had been real and actual education with Maria. Her God was to her the most living, and present, and apprehended being that she knew on earth, and had been so from the time that He revealed to her the secret of His Fatherhood, and taught her to cast off worship in a mere empty name, in an unvital and intangible image, representing a certain number of incomprehensible attributes; and, therefore, recognised her as, in truth, a child and no bastard, she had been received, and, while received, scourged. I conceive she was an exception to the majority of her sisters in the spiritual fold. You gentle lady Christians-Christians so called-I know how you love to get together and compare spiritual notes, to descant on experiences," to whine over your "trials," to work each other into the belief that you have been showing such a brave front to your ghostly enemy, offering such determined and uncompromising resistance to the world, the flesh, and the devil, bearing your many crosses with such exemplary patience. And, of course, this is all very encouraging and all very delightful, only it so often happens that, when narrowly inspected, these "experiences," and "trials," and "crosses" of yours turn out to be very small affairs after all— creatures for the most part generated by imagination, and fed on fancy. Oh! good people practically living in, and permeated to
the very core by an atmosphere of selfishness and worldliness, we know how you like to sit and theorise about what you call the discipline of believers, to elongate your streaming faces, and, shaking your solemn old heads, to talk in subdued tones about the mysterious dispensations of Providence and the Lord's chastenings, of which you absolutely know no more than the unconscious infant who may be playing at your feet. But let me tell you that all that pleasing delusion, that all those refuges of lies-for such they are will have to be swept away, if ever you are to know such positive and substantial peace as that which flowed like a river in Maria Treeby's heart. Before you can understand and realise the secret of the Sonship, before you can receive the faintest impress of that glory to which you hope some day to be changed, you will have to have that vile dross and husk of worldliness and self-complacent sentimentality utterly burnt out of you—you will have to receive such a measure of sound chastisement as you never dreamed of.
With the peace with gradually stole over Maria from the consciousness of her divine Friend's sympathy, there came also a feeling of satisfaction that she had been enabled to do her duty by Him as a faithful servant-to take the course which in her heart she believed would be most pleasing and honouring to Him. And thus she became conscious not only of sympathy, but of an approving smile. Dead of night though it was, and midwinter into the bargain, she must rise and commune with Him; she must pour out all her grief to Him; she must bless Him for His tender love, and supporting grace. Getting softly out of bed, she sat down at the dressing-table by the window, and began to draw water at the wells of consolation. She needed no candle to see the words, for the full moon shone in at the window and poured an almost noon-day brightness on the sacred pages. She read on for some time, and tears dropped occasionally on the leaves, but they were tears begot of a quiet joy for the many precious words that she read.
"Thy Maker is thine husband." Were not words like these enough for tears? And then she fell on her knees before the Eternal, and poured her case into His fatherly ear, nor omitted long and importunate intercession for the poor brutalised wretch whose heavy breathing was the only sound that broke the stillness of the room; and the calm moon looked on at the dear saint as she knelt, and made silver halos on her head, as if it surely knew a soul as bright and pure was at that moment holding high communion with its Maker. When she had risen she went round to her husband's side of the bed. A beam of moonlight was upon his face also. Was it a pitying beam that touched the rude singraven features, which betrayed somewhat of the inward workings