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´╗┐Title: Clara Maynard - The True and the False - A Tale of the Times
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Clara Maynard - The True and the False - A Tale of the Times" ***

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Clara Maynard; The True and the False--A Tale of the Times, By W.H.G.
Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________
This is a short book, about a quarter of the length of a typical
Kingston novel.  Clara is the daughter of a retired Royal Navy Captain,
who owns a large yacht, a cutter.  She can take a large number of guests
to sea, even more than the cutter in Marryat's "The Three Cutters".
They use the yacht as a means of getting to a picnic spot on a beach,
where they are met by even more people, including the new incumbent of
the local parish, the family who own the presentation to the living, and
a couple of Roman priests who are staying with them.

In chapter two Clara's father dies after a series of strokes.  Her
betrothed young man, who had been at the picnic, returns on Army service
to India, and she falls under the influence of the new vicar of the
parish, who persuades her to enter a nunnery.  This is an absolute
disaster, as the cruelty and lack of goodness and charity of what went
on in that nunnery is quite intolerable.

Eventually she breaks free, and is reunited with her fa
ily.  Her betrothed comes back, she marries him and all is well.
________________________________________________________________________

CLARA MAYNARD; THE TRUE AND THE FALSE--A TALE OF THE TIMES, BY W.H.G.
KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

The blue waters of the British Channel sparkled brightly in the rays of
the sun, shining forth from a cloudless sky, as a light breeze from the
northward filled the sails of a small yacht which glided smoothly along
the southern coast of England.  At the helm of the little vessel stood
her owner, Captain Maynard, a retired naval officer.  Next to his fair
young daughter, Clara, the old sailor looked upon his yacht as one of
the most beautiful things in existence.  Though her crew consisted but
of two men and a boy, and she measured scarcely five-and-twenty tons, he
declared that if it were necessary he would sail round the world in her
without the slightest hesitation.

"Flatten in the jib, and take a pull at the main-sheet, my lads, and we
shall run into the bay without a tack, if the wind holds as it does
now," he sang out.

The men, as they came aft to execute the latter order, had to disturb
some of the passengers, of whom there were several, seated on cloaks
round the skylight, or standing up holding on to the weather rigging, or
leaning against the main-boom.  Clara Maynard, accustomed to yachting,
promptly moved to windward, aided by Harry Caulfield, a young military
officer, who had ridden over that morning to Luton, for the pleasure of
making a trip on board the yacht; but her aunt, Miss Sarah Pemberton,
looked somewhat annoyed at being asked to shift her seat.  Harry,
however, came to her assistance, and placed a camp-stool for her against
the weather bulwarks.

"I am sorry, Sarah, to inconvenience you," said the captain,
good-naturedly, "but we haven't as much room on board the _Ariadne_ as
on the deck of a line-of-battle ship."

The captain had called his yacht after the first ship in which he went
to sea.

The cutter having rounded a lofty point, a small and beautiful bay
opened out ahead; and the wind remaining steady, without making another
tack, she stood in directly for it.

"We could not have chosen a more lovely spot for our picnic," exclaimed
Clara.  "See, Aunt Sarah--I am sure you will be pleased when you get
there.  Watch those picturesque cliffs, ever changing in shape as we
sail along--and see those breezy downs above them, and the fine yellow
sands below, and that pretty valley with the old fisherman's cottage on
one side, and the clear stream running down its centre, and leaping over
the rocks in a tiny cascade."

"I shall be very glad to get safe on shore," answered Miss Pemberton,
who had been persuaded, much against her will, to venture for the first
time on board the little _Ariadne_.

She had been invited, on the death of Clara's mother, her younger
sister, to take up her abode with her widowed brother-in-law, and had
only lately accepted his frequently repeated offer.  Whatever good
qualities she might have possessed, she was certainly not attractive in
appearance, being tall and thin, with a cold and forbidding manner.
Clara treated her aunt with due respect, and did all she could to win
her affections, though she tried in vain to bestow that love she would
willingly have given.  Miss Pemberton presented a strong contrast to her
niece, who was generally admired.  Clara was very fair, of moderate
height, and of a slight and elegant figure, with regular features and a
pleasing smile; though a physiognomist might have suspected that she
wanted the valuable quality of firmness, which in her position was
especially necessary; for she already possessed a good fortune, and
would inherit a considerable one.  Her father, although a sailor of the
old school, was not destitute of discernment, and thoroughly
understanding her character, earnestly wished to see her married to a
sensible, upright man, who would protect her and take good care of her
property.  He had therefore given every encouragement to Harry
Caulfield, son of his old and esteemed friend, General Caulfield.  He
had known and liked Harry from his boyhood, and fully believed that he
possessed those sterling qualities which would tend to secure his
daughter's happiness.  Harry had met her when staying with some friends
at Cheltenham, and admired her before he knew that she possessed a
fortune.  He had thus the satisfaction of feeling that his love was
purely disinterested.  Of this she was aware, and it had greatly
influenced her in returning his affection.  When Clara wrote to her
father, from whom she had no concealments, to tell him of the attention
she was receiving from Captain Caulfield, his reply was, "I am very glad
indeed to hear it; nothing could give me greater pleasure.  Tell him to
come down to Luton, and that I shall be delighted to see him."

Clara shortly afterwards returned home with her Aunt Sarah, and Harry of
course followed, accompanied by his father, the general, who, finding a
house in the neighbourhood vacant, engaged it for the sake of being near
Captain Maynard, and thus enabling the young people to be together
without depriving himself of his son's society.  Harry's regiment was in
India, and he was under orders to rejoin it.  Though fond of his
profession, in which he had gained distinction, and had every prospect
of rising, he at first thought of selling out; but to this his father
objected, and even Captain Maynard agreed that, as Clara was very young,
they might wait a couple of years till he had obtained another step in
rank, and that he would then consent to her accompanying him back, if
necessary, to India.  The course of true love in this instance appeared
to run smoothly enough.  Harry was most devoted in his attentions, and
admired Clara more and more every day he spent with her--while she was
satisfied that it would be impossible for her to love any one more; and
had not she felt that it was her duty to remain with her father, she
would willingly have married at once, and gone out to India.  She saw
clearly, however, that her Aunt Sarah was not suited to take her place
or attend to her father, as she had observed of late that his health was
failing, so that even for Harry's sake she could not bring herself to
quit him.  She had therefore consented to Harry's leaving her, though
not without a severe struggle.  It was the first shadow which had come
over her young and hitherto happy life since the loss of her beloved
mother.  She was convinced that Harry was in every way worthy of her
affections.  He was a fine, handsome fellow, with frank agreeable
manners, and a large amount of good sense and judgment.  He had managed
even to win the good opinion of Miss Sarah Pemberton, who was not in
general inclined to think well of young men especially of officers in
the army, whom she designated generally as an impudent, profligate set,
with fluent tongues and insinuating manners, whose chief occupation in
life was to break the hearts of young girls foolish enough to trust
them.

Among the rest of the company on board the yacht was Mary Lennard, a
girl of about fourteen years old, a sweet young creature, and a great
favourite of Clara's.  She was the daughter of the Reverend John
Lennard, who had been for some years vicar of the parish of
Luton-cum-Crosham, but only as _locum tenens_, he having been requested
to take charge of it by the patron, Sir Richard Bygrave, who had
promised to bestow it on his young relative, Dick Rushworth, as soon as
Dick was of an age to take orders.  The said Dick Rushworth, however,
having lately unexpectedly come into a fortune, had quitted the
university, and declined becoming a clergyman; and Sir Reginald,
influenced by his wife, had bestowed the living on her cousin, the
Reverend Ambrose Lerew, who had graduated at Oxford, and had been for
some time a curate in that diocese.  He had lately married a lady
somewhat older than himself, possessed of a fair fortune, who had been
considered a belle during two or three London seasons, but had failed to
secure such a matrimonial alliance as she and her friends considered
that she ought to make when she first came out.  At length, awakening to
the fact that her youth was passing away and her beauty fading, she had
consented to give her hand, and as much of a heart as she possessed, to
the fashionable-looking and well-connected young curate, an especial
favourite of her friend, Lady Bygrave.

Mr Lennard had held the living longer than he had expected, and to the
best of his ability had done his duty to his parishioners.  He was a
genial, warm-hearted man, of good presence; his manners urbane and
courteous; fond of a joke, hospitable and kind, being consequently a
favourite with all classes.  The more wealthy liked him for his pleasant
conversation and readiness to enter into all their gaieties and
amusements, and the poorer for the kind way in which he spoke to them,
and the assistance he afforded on all occasions when they were in
distress.  He had lost his wife two or three years after he became vicar
of Luton-cum-Crosham.  She had left two children, his dear little Mary,
and a son, Alfred, a tall, pale-faced youth, who was now on board the
yacht.  The young gentleman had been with a tutor, and was about to go
up to Oxford.  He was considered very well-behaved; but as he seldom
gave expression to his opinions, no one could ascertain much about his
character, or how he was likely to turn out.  His father always spoke of
him as his good boy, who had never given him any trouble, and he fully
believed never would cause him a moments' anxiety.  His tutor had sent
him home with a high character for diligence in his studies, and
attention to his religious duties, which consisted in a regular
attendance at church and at the morning and evening prayers of the
family; and his father was happy in the belief that he would do very
well in the world as a clergyman, or at the bar, or in any other
profession he might select.  Still, Mary was undoubtedly his favourite,
and on her he bestowed the full affection of a father's heart.  She was
indeed a most loveable little creature.  Clara was especially fond of
her.  Mary was so clever and sensible, that she was always a welcome
guest at Luton.  Besides the persons already mentioned on board the
yacht, there was Lieutenant Sims, of the coastguard, with his wife and
daughter; a Mrs and Miss Prentiss, the latter young and pretty; Tom
Wesby, a friend of Alfred Lennard's, very like him in appearance and
manner; and an artist engaged in sketching in the neighbourhood, who had
brought a letter of introduction to Captain Maynard.

As the cutter rounded the headland before spoken of, most of the party
evinced their admiration of the scenery by expressions of delight, and
the artist exhibited his skill by making a faithful sketch in a few
minutes.  The wind freshening, the cutter made rapid progress towards
the bay.  Harry had taken the telescope, and was directing it towards
the shore.

"Some of our party are there already," he exclaimed; "I see my father
and Mr Lennard, and I conclude that the other people must be the new
vicar and his wife, from the unmistakable cut of the gentleman's coat,
and the lady's irreproachable costume.  There are several more, though I
cannot exactly make out who they are; I see, however, that the servants
are bringing down the baskets of provisions, so we need have no fear of
starving."

"I did not expect that they would arrive so soon.  The wind has been
light, and we have had the tide against us," observed Captain Maynard.
"It will run long enough, however, to take us home again, if you young
people are on board in good time.  I must trust to you, Harry, to
collect all our passengers; or, should the wind drop, we may find
ourselves drifting down Channel for the best part of the night."

"Oh! that will be capital fun," cried Mrs Sims.  "Mary, you'd like it
amazingly.  We can sit on deck, and look at the stars, and sing songs,
and have our tea, and listen to the sailors' yarns--"

"And have the chance of being run down and sunk by one of those big
blundering iron steam-kettles," growled the lieutenant, who had the
antipathy long felt by old sailors to all the modern innovations, as he
considered them, in the navy.

As the cutter glided up towards the shore, the party standing on the
beach waved their handkerchiefs, and the ladies on board waved theirs.
The jib was taken in, the foresail hauled down, and the yacht rounding
to, the anchor was let drop at a short distance from the beach.

"Haul the boat up alongside, Tom," said Captain Maynard.  "Now, Mr
Sims, I must get you to take charge of the first party for the shore."

"With the greatest pleasure in the world; I am always at the service of
the ladies," answered the lieutenant, bowing round to them, "but my
difficulty is to know who is to go first, unless I select by seniority.
Miss Sarah Pemberton, suppose I ask you--age before honesty, you know."

"You do not wish to insult me, Mr Sims?" answered the lady, bridling
up.

"Come, come, Sally, Sims never thought of such a thing; he was only
joking, or rather, let the words slip out of his mouth without knowing
what he was saying," said Captain Maynard.

"I am not fond of joking," replied Miss Sarah; "but if you wish me to go
first, I shall be very glad to get on shore, I assure you."

"Pardon me, madam," said the lieutenant, looking very penitent, and
offering his hand.  "I wouldn't say a word to ruffle your sensitive
feelings, I do assure you."  Miss Pemberton, being appeased, gave her
hand to the lieutenant, and though she at first showed some signs of
trepidation, stepped without difficulty into the sternsheets of the
boat.  She was followed by Mrs and Miss Sims.

"Come, young Lennard, you get into the bows, and help to trim the boat,"
said Mr Sims; and shoving off, they pulled for the shore.

The boat soon reached the beach, when Mr Alfred, jumping out, wetted
his shoes, greatly to his annoyance, and went running off without
stopping to offer his assistance to the ladies.  Some of the rest of the
party, however, came down to welcome them, and Mrs and Miss Sims,
being, accustomed to boating, having jumped out, the lieutenant was able
to aid Miss Pemberton in performing that, to her, hazardous operation.

"Trust to me, my good lady," he said in an encouraging tone; "now step
on this thwart--now on the next--now on the gunwale."

"What's that?" asked Miss Pemberton.

"The side of the boat, I should have said," answered the lieutenant.
"Now spring with all the agility you possess."  At which the lady gave a
bound which nearly overset the gallant officer, and would have ended by
bringing her down on the sand, had not General Caulfield caught her in
his arms.

"I hope you are not hurt, my dear madam!" he exclaimed.

"I have nearly dislocated my ankle, I believe," answered Miss Pemberton.
"It is the first time I have ventured on board a yacht, and I intend
that it shall be the last, with my own good pleasure."

On this the Reverend Mr Lerew stepped forward and expressed his
sympathy to Miss Pemberton, offering her his arm to conduct her up to a
rock under the cliff, where she could sit and rest her injured foot.

"I feel grieved for you, my dear madam, that what was intended to be a
party of pleasure should commence with so untoward an event," he said.
"Do allow my wife to examine your injured ankle--she is all tenderness
and sympathy, and a gentle rubbing may perhaps restore it to its wonted
elasticity."

"I hope that I shall recover after a little rest, without giving Mrs
Lerew the trouble," answered Miss Pemberton, touched with the interest
exhibited by the new vicar.  "I am deeply grateful to you.  But those
sea-officers, though well-intentioned, including my poor dear
brother-in-law, are dreadfully rough and unmannerly, and have not ceased
to alarm and annoy me since I got on board that horrible little vessel,
misnamed a pleasure yacht."

"True charity would make me wish to gloss over their faults--though I
must confess I agree with you, my dear lady; but we must consider it the
result of their early education, or rather, want of education," observed
Mr Lerew, in a soft voice; "I fear, too, that their religious training
is as defective as their manners--we must, however, use our best
endeavours to correct the former, though it may be hopeless to attempt
an improvement in the latter--indeed, it is of so infinitely less
consequence, that provided we are successful in imparting the true
faith, we must rest satisfied."

"Oh, yes, I daresay I do," answered Miss Pemberton, who was thinking
more about her ankle than of what Mr Lerew was saying to her; catching
one of his words, she added, "but I don't accuse my brother-in-law of
being irreligious; I assure you, he reads prayers every morning as the
clock strikes half-past eight, and every evening at ten, with a chapter
from the Old and New Testaments, with Ryle's expositions."

"Pray, what prayers does he use?" asked Mr Lerew, in a tone which
showed that he considered the matter of great importance.

"He generally uses Bickersteth's prayers," answered Miss Pemberton.

"Sad! sad!" exclaimed Mr Lerew, in a tone of horror, "thus to neglect
the Prayer-Book and submit to the teaching of men the most deadly
enemies of the catholic faith.  Do let me entreat you to beg that he
will banish Ryle and Bickersteth from his library, or rather, commit
them--I should say their works--to the flames at once, lest they should
fall into the hands of other ignorant people."

"I never thought there was any harm in them," answered Miss Pemberton,
somewhat astonished at the vehemence with which the new vicar condemned
his two brother divines, whom she had hitherto considered sound,
trustworthy teachers.  "I will mention what you say to my
brother-in-law, but I suspect that he will not be easily induced to do
as you advise.  I know that he considers Canon Ryle a very sensible and
pious man, and I have often heard him say that he could understand his
writings better than those of any one else he ever met with."

"Blind leaders of the blind," said Mr Lerew.  "The pernicious
principles of such men are calculated to produce the overthrow of our
Holy Church, and to undermine all catholic doctrines."

"Dear me, Mr Lerew, I always thought Ryle and Bickersteth very sound
churchmen and firm advocates of the truth," said Miss Pemberton.

"Alas! alas! my dear lady; I fear there are many wolves in sheep's
clothing who have long beguiled their flocks by teaching them to rely on
their own judgment, instead of seeking for counsel and advice from those
pastors who, knowing themselves to be duly appointed from on high to
administer the holy sacraments, and grant absolution to humble
penitents, feel the importance of their sacred office," replied Mr
Lerew.

Miss Pemberton did not quite understand Mr Lerew's meaning; but as he
exhibited so much feeling and sympathy for her sprained ankle, she sat
and listened, and thought that, though he was less agreeable than Mr
Lennard, he at all events must be a very pious and excellent young
clergyman, and that since the vicar, who had been so generally liked,
was compelled to resign his office, it was fortunate for the
parishioners that they had obtained so _superior_ a _minister_.

In the meantime the boat had returned to the yacht for another freight,
Captain Maynard, with Harry, Clara, and Mary, being the last to land.
By this time most of the party had collected on the beach to welcome
them.  General Caulfield, after shaking hands with the captain, led off
Clara, for the sake, as he said, of having a little talk with her.  He
was very fond of his future daughter-in-law, who was exactly the girl he
desired as a wife for his son.  While they were absent, the captain
chose a shady spot under the cliff for spreading the tablecloth.  The
younger members of the party, under the superintendence of Mrs Sims,
were busily engaged in unpacking the hampers and baskets, and arranging
their contents.

"Alfred, ahoy! bear a hand, and place the knives and forks alongside the
plates; I like to see young men making themselves useful, instead of
throwing all the work upon the ladies," exclaimed Captain Maynard, as he
saw young Lennard sauntering off by himself, to avoid the trouble of
speaking to any one.  Thus summoned, Alfred was compelled to return,
when Mary, with a merry laugh, put a bundle of knives and forks into his
hands, and told him to go and arrange some on the opposite side of the
cloth.  The picnic had been got up by some of the principal people in
the parish, as a compliment to their former vicar, as also for the
purpose of enabling his successor to become acquainted with them in an
easy and pleasant way.  Sir Reginald and Lady Bygrave had been invited,
but had not yet arrived, and it would, of course, have been uncourteous
to commence luncheon, hungry as everybody was, till they appeared.  The
party had, in the meantime, to amuse themselves according to their
tastes; some of the ladies had brought their sketch-books, others their
work--though the greater number preferred doing nothing.

The ever busy Lieutenant Sims had sent off to the yacht for an iron pot,
which he filled up with potatoes and salt water, and having called some
of the young gentlemen to assist him in collecting a quantity of dry
wood which was seen scattered along the beach, he made a large fire, and
put on the pot to boil.  "Now, by boys, take a lesson from an old tar,"
he observed.  "Whenever you want to cook potatoes to perfection, boil
them in salt water if you can get it, or if not, put in plenty of salt,
and let them remain till the water has evaporated.  You will then have
them come out like lumps of meal, as these will, you'll see, before
long."

Harry had soon stolen off, and joined Clara and his father.  The latter
shortly after left the young people to themselves, while he went back to
meet Captain Maynard and Mr Lennard, who were strolling along the
beach.

"I feel perfectly satisfied with my successor, as far as I am able at
present to judge," observed Mr Lennard.  "He is a wonderfully zealous
and earnest man.  He shows an evident desire to make himself popular,
and to win the affections of the people; and I cannot blame him if he
seems surprised that I have not introduced some of the more modern
improvements in churches."

"For my part, I hope that what he calls improvements will not follow the
direction of the changes which have been made in some parishes,"
observed General Caulfield.  "There are many who would object to them,
as I should myself, and they can produce no real good."

"New brooms sweep clean," said Mr Lennard.  "He naturally wishes to be
doing something, and I shall not be jealous.  It is all-important to
have peace and good-will in the parish."

"It may be bought at too dear a price," said General Caulfield, "but we
will hope for the best.  Here comes Mrs Lerew; she was, I understand, a
good deal in London society, and is an elegant and fashionable-looking
person, though she is somewhat older than Lerew, I suspect."

"She may not make the worse wife for that," observed Captain Maynard.

Harry and Clara had wandered away from the rest of the party, and were
seated on a rock, at some distance off.  She had brought her
sketch-book, and was endeavouring to make a drawing of the bay, with the
headland to the eastward, round which they had come, and the little
yacht at anchor off the beach; but anxious as she was to produce a
satisfactory sketch, a duplicate of which Harry had begged her to give
to him, her hand trembled, and her heart felt very sad.  It was the last
day they were to be together, and she thought of the long, long months
which must elapse before he was to return.

"My memory will often fly back to this spot when I am far away," said
Harry; "and though leagues of land and ocean divide us, we shall here
meet in spirit and talk to each other, shall we not, dearest?"

"I am sure of it," said Clara, looking into his handsome, honest
countenance.  "I wish that I could make a better sketch, but I will try
to improve it at home."

"Oh! no, no! leave it just as it is; I wish to think of you as you are
now," said Harry, "my own dear girl; and I would rather see every line
as you have traced it on the paper before my eyes."

"Well, then, I will keep the copy for myself," said Clara; "or I can
come here with papa in the yacht, and take it over again."

The sketch was finished, and seeing their friends assembling, and Mrs
Sims beckoning vehemently to them, they rose to return.

"I hope that my father will remain at Updown till I come back," said
Harry.  "You will always trust to him, Clara, as to one who loves you as
his daughter; and it will be a happiness to me to know that he will be
near you, should Captain Maynard's health fail."

Clara sighed.  "I much fear that is likely to happen--indeed, I have
been unable to conceal from myself that he has greatly altered lately."

Harry, wishing to avoid melancholy thoughts, changed the subject.

"I am not quite satisfied with your new vicar," he observed; "I am
afraid that he belongs to a school of which I have the utmost possible
dread.  Believe me, dearest, I was most thankful to find, when I first
came down to Luton, that Captain Maynard held the opinions I do, and
that your parish was free from any of the ritualistic practices of the
day.  Much as all must like Mr Lennard for his pleasant manners and
kind heart, he is not exactly what I should wish a clergyman to be, but
he is at all events thoroughly sound in practice.  Believe me, Clara,
that however much I might admire a girl, and be inclined to love her, I
would not risk my domestic happiness by marrying, should I find that she
was enslaved by those plotting the overthrow of the Protestant
principles of our Church.  You know, dearest, how strongly I feel on the
subject, and I trust that you will, for your own sake, as well as mine,
withstand all the allurements and artifices which either lay or clerical
ritualists may use to induce you to support or take a part in their
practices."

"I hope so," said Clara, "though Lady Bygrave, when last she called on
us, told me that there are many true and devoted men who are called
ritualists; and I cannot say that I see any objection to good music and
elegantly built churches, which it is their chief aim to introduce for
the purpose of forwarding the cause of religion and devotion.  Many
people are dissatisfied with the untrained attempts at harmony in our
too often unsightly churches."

Harry was going to reply, but he found that the last remark had been
made unintentionally in the hearing of Mr Lerew.  That gentleman
watched his opportunity, and while Harry had left Clara's side for a
moment, he observed in a low, soft voice, "I see, Miss Maynard, that you
are a young lady of good taste, and above the vulgar prejudices of the
Calvinistic school, who stubbornly refuse to dedicate the best of their
substance and talents to God, and rest satisfied with offering to Him
the ugliest buildings their imaginations can devise, and the refuse of
their possessions."

He stopped on seeing Harry, who quickly rejoined Clara.

"Here they come! here they come!" exclaimed several of the most hungry
of the party, as a tall gentleman and lady, accompanied by two sombre,
well-dressed persons, were seen descending the hill.  "Who can those
people be with Sir Reginald and Lady Bygrave, I wonder?" cried Mrs
Sims; "they look to me for all the world like Jesuit priests."

Mr Lerew's countenance brightened, and Master Alfred Lennard showed
more interest than he had hitherto exhibited in any of the proceedings
of the day.

"So I fear they are," observed General Caulfield.  "What can have
induced Sir Reginald and his wife to bring them here?"

Mr Lerew, however, with several other persons, hurried up the pathway,
to greet the chief people of that part of their county.  Lady Bygrave,
escorted by one of the priests, who gave her his hand at the steeper
parts of the path, came first, and at once introduced their friend
Monsieur l'Abbe Henon, who with his companion, Father Lascelles, had
arrived only that morning, and had begged leave to accompany them.  They
had come to see Sir Reginald on the subject of forming a new settlement
in South America, as it was well known he was deeply interested in the
subject of colonisation, and they hoped to obtain his influence and
support.

"They are most delightful people," whispered Lady Bygrave to Miss
Pemberton, who met her ladyship at the bottom of the descent; "everybody
will be pleased with them, they are so full of information, and so free
from prejudices--they will disabuse all our minds of the vulgar notion
that Catholic priests can talk of nothing but masses and penances; and
they are so noble-minded and philanthropic."

The abbe, who overheard what was said, smiled blandly, and addressed
himself to Miss Pemberton.  He spoke English perfectly, with only a
slight foreign accent, in a melodious voice, attractive and soothing to
his hearers.  He and Father Lascelles bowed politely as they were
introduced to the company, and at once made themselves at home, uttering
not a word to which even the most prejudiced could object.

Lady Bygrave was still young, with a decidedly aristocratic appearance,
and very pleasant manners when she had to be condescending.  Sir
Reginald was a tall, good-looking man, who seldom expressed an opinion,
his florid countenance not exhibiting any large amount of intellect; but
as he was considered straightforward and honest, he was generally liked.

With as little delay as possible, not to show the last comers too much
that they had been waited for, the party assembled round the ample
repast; and while the older gentlemen were employed in carving, the
younger ones, aided by Mrs Sims, busied themselves in carrying round
the plates.  The usual conversation at picnics then became general.  The
abbe and his companion, having glanced round the company, and carefully
noted each person present, were soon enabled to take part in it.  They
said nothing very remarkable, but managed, notwithstanding, to draw out
the opinions of most of those to whom they addressed themselves.  The
abbe was especially attentive to Mr and Mrs Lerew, and both seemed
highly flattered with what he said.  He fixed his glance on Master
Alfred, and having ascertained who he was, spoke to him in a gentle,
encouraging tone.  Mr Lennard himself seemed pleased with Sir
Reginald's visitors, and remarked to General Caulfield that he had
seldom met more agreeable foreigners.  "I don't trust them," answered
the general; "the more pleasant and insinuating they are, the more
necessary it is to avoid them.  I would never allow such men to enter my
house or become intimate with any of my family."

Captain Maynard entertained much the same feeling as his friend.
Lieutenant Sims never did care about foreigners, and thought the idea of
getting Englishmen to emigrate to such a country as they talked of was
all humbug.  The abbe and his friends might have heard many of the
observations made; but whether complimentary or not, they did not allow
a muscle of their countenances to change.  Lady Bygrave happened to
upset her wineglass, and soon afterwards the abbe did exactly the same
thing; on which he turned with a bow to her ladyship, observing, "I am
sure whatever Lady Bygrave does is the right thing, and cannot therefore
be reproved."

"I am thankful, Monsieur l'Abbe," said Lady Bygrave, smiling.  "I am
sure that I can always rely upon you for support."

"Ah, yes, madam, in spiritual matters as in temporal," whispered the
abbe.

The conversation was, however, generally of a lively character, and all
agreed that the picnic was a success, and that they had enjoyed
themselves amazingly.  Captain Maynard, however, looking at his watch,
declared that those who intended to return in the yacht must come on
board without delay.  Miss Pemberton declined, if she could possibly get
a conveyance, and Lady Bygrave offered to take her in her carriage;
Father Lascelles begging leave to return in a pony-carriage which had
brought the hampers, if some one who knew the way would drive him--on
which Alfred Lennard requested to be allowed the honour of doing so.
Harry and Clara of course went back in the yacht, as did the rest of the
party who had come in her.

"Mr Lennard must take care that that Jesuit priest does not get hold of
his son," observed Harry to Clara; "you might get Mary to speak to her
father and warn him, for he seemed as much pleased with the strangers as
Sir Reginald and Lady Bygrave.  I hold with my father about them; and I
would as soon trust a couple of serpents within my doors."

"Are you not rather severe on the poor men?" asked Clara.

"Knowing their principles and their great object--to bring under
subjection the minds of their fellow-creatures, and thus to amass wealth
for the purpose of raising their order above all the ruling powers on
earth--I cannot say anything too severe.  To attain their ends they will
allow nothing to stand in their way; they will hesitate at no crime, no
deceit; they will assume any character which suits them, and will
undertake the lowest offices, and will employ the vilest means, or will
pretend to the most exalted piety."

"Surely, Harry, the men we saw to-day could not be guilty of such
conduct," said Clara.

"Every Jesuit is trained in the same school, and I therefore make no
exceptions," answered Harry.  "We shall find that even those gentlemen,
fascinating as they appeared, had some object in visiting Sir Reginald,
ulterior to that of presenting him with a scheme of colonisation.  He is
wealthy; and depend on it, they were informed of the proclivities of
Lady Bygrave."

Clara was not quite convinced.  It was not likely, however, that the
abbe and his companion would pay a visit to Luton.



CHAPTER TWO.

Harry had gone.  Clara felt very sad; her eye was constantly at the
telescope in the drawing-room, looking out for the steamer which was
conveying him to Alexandria.  She at length caught sight of a long white
line and a puff of grey smoke above it, which she believed must belong
to the ship.  She was still watching it as it was growing less and less
distinct, when her aunt, entering the room, said, "I am afraid that your
father is very ill.  I went into his study just now; when I spoke to
him, he was unable to answer me."

Clara flew to the study, and found her father seated in his arm-chair.
There was a pained expression in his eyes, and he was speechless.  He
had been seized with a paralytic stroke.  The servant was immediately
despatched to bring the doctor, who was found not far off, and quickly
came.  He pronounced the captain to be in considerable danger.  Clara,
ever dutiful and affectionate, was constant in her attendance on her
father.  Even Miss Pemberton's manner softened, and she did her best to
comfort her niece.  In the course of two or three days, Captain Maynard
had somewhat recovered, and was able to speak without much difficulty.
General Caulfield, who had heard of his illness, came over to see him.
The brave sailor believed himself to be dying.

"It is a knock at my door to which I am bound to attend, General," he
said.

"I have no fear for myself, for I trust in One `mighty to save;' but I
am anxious about my gentle Clara, so ill able to battle with the
troubles of life.  I wish that we had not let Harry go; I could have
left her with confidence in his care.  Would that he could be recalled!"

"His ship is across the bay by this time.  We acted for the best, and
must trust to Him who ever cares for the orphan and widow.  While I
live, I will be a father to your child, and assist her aunt in watching
over her," answered the general; "but cheer up, my friend, I do not
speak to one ignorant of the truth, and therefore I can say that God may
still preserve your life for her sake, though you will undoubtedly be
the gainer by going hence, as all are who die in the Lord.  We can pray
to Him to protect her."  And the gallant old soldier knelt down by the
side of his friend, as by that of a beloved brother, and together they
lifted up their voices to Him in whom they trusted.  Though Captain
Maynard could but faintly repeat the words uttered by the general, his
heart spoke with the fervency of a true Christian who expects soon to be
in the presence of his Saviour.  He pressed the general's hand.  "And
whatever happens, my dear friend, I feel confident that you will fulfil
your promise," he said.

Before the general left the house, he spoke for some time to Miss
Pemberton, who was fully convinced that her brother-in-law had not many
hours to live.  The captain, however, the next day had greatly
recovered; and while Miss Pemberton was seated in the drawing-room,
Clara being with her father, Mr and Mrs Lerew were announced.  Mrs
Lerew advancing, took Miss Pemberton's hand, and sank into a seat, her
husband following with the most obsequious of bows and blandest of
smiles.

"My dear lady, I rejoice to find you within," he said, "as I am anxious
to have some earnest conversation with you, while perhaps, if I may
venture to make the request, your niece will show the garden to Mrs
Lerew."

"Clara is with her father, who is still, I regret to say, very ill,"
answered Miss Pemberton; "but I will summon her, that she may have the
pleasure of seeing Mrs Lerew."

"Not for the world," answered the vicar: "the present opportunity is
propitious.  I was aware of Captain Maynard's serious illness; indeed, I
am most desirous to speak to him on the subject of his soul's welfare.
From what his medical attendant tells me, I fear that his days are
numbered; and you will pardon me when I say it, I grieve to hear that he
has been sadly neglectful of his religious duties."

"I hope you are mistaken," answered Miss Pemberton, somewhat astonished
at the remark; "though I have not resided long with him, I have always
understood that he was specially attentive to them."

"Not to some of the most important," said Mr Lerew: "he has not once
been to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist since I became vicar of
the parish, nor has he attended matin-song or even-song, which I have
performed daily; and I regret to observe that neither you nor your niece
have been present."

"My brother-in-law has not been in the habit of attending any but Sunday
services, nor have I, I confess," said Miss Pemberton; "but I shall be
very happy, if he gets better, to drive over with my niece, should you
think it right."

"Right!" exclaimed Mr Lerew in a tone of amazement; "I consider it a
great sin to neglect such means of grace, and by neglecting them you
encourage others to do so likewise; whereas if people of position set a
good example, it will be followed by their inferiors.  But, my dear
lady, I fear that I have said what may sound harsh in your ears.  One of
my great objects to-day is to see your brother-in-law alone, and I must
ask you to enable me to do so while Mrs Lerew is paying her respects to
your niece."

Miss Pemberton, seeing no objection to this, undertook to send Clara
down, and to beg Captain Maynard to receive the vicar.  She went
upstairs for this purpose.  Of course the sick man could not decline the
vicar's visit, and Clara having very unwillingly left her father, Mr
Lerew was ushered into his room.  The new vicar spoke softly and gently,
and expressed his sorrow to hear of the captain's serious illness.  He
then went on to speak of the importance of being prepared for death.

"I would urge you, therefore, my dear sir, to confess your sins to me,
that I may absolve you from them, as I have authority from my office."

"Yes, sir, I have many sins to confess, and I have already with hearty
repentance done so to my God," answered the captain, sitting up in bed.
"I am very sure, too, that they are all washed away in the blood of
Jesus Christ."

The vicar gave a suppressed hem.  He at once saw that he must drop the
point of confession.  "Then, my dear sir," he added, "I should have no
hesitation in administering to you the Holy Eucharist, which, knowing
your dangerous state, I reserved for you on Sunday last, and have now
brought in my pocket."

"I do not exactly understand you, sir," answered the captain, wondering
what his visitor could mean.

"You would surely wish to enjoy the benefit of that Holy Sacrament,"
said the vicar, "and I have brought the consecrated elements with me,
the wafer and the wine mingled with water, which latter it is lawful in
the Anglican Church to administer."

"I understand you now, and am much obliged to you for your kind
intentions," said the captain, "but the truth is, I should prefer taking
the sacrament with my old friends, Mr Lennard and General Caulfield,
with my daughter, and sister-in-law, and the members of my household.
We have always an ample supply of bread and wine for the purpose."

"Of my predecessor I say nothing, and hope that he will be brought ere
long to the knowledge and practice of the truth," exclaimed Mr Lerew.
"General Caulfield--pardon me for saying it--is, I understand, a
schismatic with whom we are bound to hold no communion.  He has for
several Sundays attended a dissenting conventicle, and actually takes
upon himself to preach and to attempt to teach his ignorant
fellow-creatures; for ignorant and benighted those must be who listen to
him.  It will be at the peril of your soul, I am bound to tell you,
Captain Maynard, should you invite him to be present at the awful
ceremony you propose to hold."

"I will be responsible for the risk I may run," answered Captain
Maynard, the spirit of the old sailor rising within him.  "I cannot
allow my dearest friend, in whose truly religious character I have
unbounded confidence, to be so spoken of without protest.  In my state,
especially, I would quarrel with no man.  You made a mistake, Mr Lerew,
in thus speaking of that excellent man."

"I deeply regret it," said the vicar.  "I must not longer intrude on
you, but I am bound to tell you, Captain Maynard, that I consider your
soul in imminent danger, and I earnestly pray that another day, ere it
be too late, a benign influence may induce you more willingly to receive
my ministrations.  Farewell."  And Mr Lerew, rising with a frowning
brow, walked to the door, while the captain, sinking back on his pillow,
rang his bell.  Soon after Mr Lerew had returned to the drawing-room,
the servant entered to say that the captain wished to see Miss Clara,
and she, without even stopping to say good-bye to her guests, hurried
upstairs.  The vicar's manner was calm as usual.  Miss Pemberton had
scarcely time to ask whether he had had a satisfactory interview with
her brother-in-law, when Lieutenant and Mrs Sims entered the room.
Miss Pemberton was compelled to shake hands with them, as the lieutenant
advanced in his usual hearty fashion, but she showed that their arrival
caused her no great satisfaction.  Mr Lerew and his wife received them
in a stiff manner, and the former held out two fingers, which Sims
nearly dislocated as he grasped them in his rough palm.  The lieutenant,
having enquired after Captain Maynard, and being informed by Miss
Pemberton that he was as well as she could hope, found himself compelled
to relapse into silence, as Mr Lerew, giving a hint to his wife to
attend to Mrs Sims, requested a few moments conversation with Miss
Pemberton in the bay window.  Leading the lady to it, he spoke in so low
a voice, that even Mrs Sims, much as she might have wished to do so,
could not catch a word--while the honest lieutenant, who did not trouble
himself about the matter, endeavoured to make amends for the somewhat
unintelligible replies which his wife gave to Mrs Lerew.

The first portion of the vicar's conversation had reference to Clara; he
then continued in the same suppressed tone, "The General, also, is not a
man on whose religious opinions you should place reliance, my dear
madam, and I would especially urge you to prevent him, by every means in
your power, from coming here.  He can only lead your poor brother-in-law
from the right path, and may induce him to refrain from taking advantage
of the sacred offices I am so anxious to render."

In a few minutes Mr Lerew and Miss Pemberton returned to their seats,
the former observing in a voice which he intended should be heard,
"General Caulfield may be a very worthy soldier, but I unhesitatingly
say, and I wish it to be known, that I consider any person, whatever his
rank, is to be greatly blamed who enters a dissenting chapel, and
without authority pretends to preach to the ignorant populace."

"But, sir, I can say I once listened to as good a sermon preached by the
general as I ever heard from parson or bishop, begging your pardon,"
exclaimed Mr Sims, the colour mounting to his honest cheeks as he
spoke; "he preaches simply from the Bible, and just says what the Bible
says; and that, I hold, is the best test of a good sermon."

"The Bible, Mr Sims, is a very dangerous book, if read by the laity,
without the proper interpretation of those deputed by Holy Church to
explain its meaning," emphatically replied Mr Lerew.

The lieutenant gave an involuntary whew.  "Then I suppose that you mean
the Bible should not be read by us laity," he exclaimed.

"Certainly, not without the written or verbal explanation of the priests
of our Church," answered Mr Lerew.

"And that is your opinion?" asked the lieutenant, resolving then and
there that he would never allow the vicar an opportunity of explaining
the Bible to him or any of his family according to his interpretation;
"and you wish this to be known in the parish, Mr Lerew?"

"Certainly, I do not desire to conceal my opinions--I speak with
authority," answered the vicar.

"But, my dear, the people may misunderstand you," observed Mrs Lerew,
who reflected that her husband had made an acknowledgment which some of
his parishioners might take up, and perhaps cause him annoyance; but the
vicar was not a man to be withheld from expressing his opinion by any
such fears.  He was aware that he would be supported by Sir Reginald and
Lady Bygrave, and he secretly held such persons as Lieutenant Sims and
the rest of his parishioners of inferior rank in the utmost contempt.

"I will take good care that your opinion is known, though I do not agree
with it, I can tell you, Mr Lerew," exclaimed the lieutenant, rising.
"I am sorry, Miss Pemberton, that I cannot see my excellent friend this
morning.  I served under him six years or more--there is no man I more
esteem, and I know what his opinion is of General Caulfield.  Give him
my love and respects, and say I hope to have a talk with him another day
when he is better.  Come, my dear, it is time we should be jogging
home."

This was said to his wife; and the two rising, took their departure,
receiving the most freezing of looks from the vicar and the two ladies.
At that instant a servant girl entered, to beg that Miss Pemberton would
come up immediately into her master's room.

"We didn't like to interrupt you, marm, but I am afraid the captain's in
a bad way," she said, "I will attend you," exclaimed Mr Lerew: "a
priest is ever in his proper place beside the bed of the dying."

Without waiting for permission, he followed Miss Pemberton into Captain
Maynard's room.  Clara was at her father's bedside, holding his hand.
She had found him, when she returned from the drawing-room after his
interview with the vicar, speechless.  He had endeavoured to say
something to her, but his tongue refused its office; his mind was,
however, it was evident, unimpaired.  He looked up with a pained
expression, and tried to show that he wished to write; but when a slate
was brought him, his fingers were unable to hold the pencil Clara had
immediately sent off for the doctor, and was now endeavouring, by
chafing her father's hands, to restore their power.

On seeing the vicar in the doorway a peculiar expression passed over
Captain Maynard's countenance, and he made another desperate effort to
utter a few words in his daughter's ear, but in vain--no articulate
sounds proceeded from his lips.

"I feel the deepest sympathy and compassion for you, my dear young
lady," said the vicar in a gentle tone.  "We will pray for the soul of
the departing--join me, I beseech you--induce your niece to kneel with
us," he whispered to Miss Pemberton, who nodded, and placing a chair by
the bedside, almost compelled Clara to kneel on it, while she continued
the act of filial affection in which she had been engaged.  The vicar
then taking from his pocket a book, read a service, of which poor Clara,
agitated as she was, did not comprehend a word.  Captain Maynard all the
time was looking into her fair face with the same pained expression in
his eyes which they had assumed on the entrance of the vicar.  Doctor
Brown, a worthy and excellent man, arrived just as the vicar had
concluded; and exercising his authority, requested him and Miss
Pemberton to leave the room, observing that perfect quiet was necessary
for his patient.

"You may stay," he whispered to Miss Maynard, as he felt the captain's
pulse.  "The captain has had another attack--very slight, I assure you--
he'll rally from it, I hope, but we must allow nothing to agitate him.
There, there, he understands what we say.  Don't be cast down, Captain;
God will take care of her, and she has many true friends.  It is about
you, my dear, he is thinking--I know it by the way his eyes turn towards
you."

Clara could no longer restrain her tears, though she tried to conceal
them from her father.  The doctor's predictions were in part verified:
Captain Maynard again rallied sufficiently to make signs for everything
he wanted, and showed that his intellect was perfectly clear.  With the
doctor's permission he received several visits from General Caulfield,
though no one else was allowed to see him.  Mr Lerew called frequently.
On each occasion he had an interview with Miss Pemberton, and twice he
saw Clara, when she was not in attendance on her father.  He did his
best, as he well knew how, to ingratiate himself with both ladies.  He
was making way with Miss Pemberton, and hoped that he was gradually
winning over Clara.  He took good care in her presence to say nothing
harsh of General Caulfield, though what he did say was calculated to
undermine him in her opinion, but he so cautiously expressed himself
that she had no suspicion of the object of his remarks.  He managed also
never to call when the general was likely to be at the house, as he
especially wished to avoid meeting him in the presence of Clara or her
aunt.  The vicar on three occasions ventured to speak much more openly
to Miss Pemberton than he did to Clara.

"What a blessed thing it is, my dear lady, that our Holy Church
possesses divinely appointed priests who can unerringly guide and direct
their flock; who can rightly administer all the sacraments and interpret
the Scriptures! and how sad it is that any should obstinately refuse to
take full advantage of all these spiritual blessings!" he remarked.
"You and your sweet niece will, I trust, not be among those who thus
risk the loss of their souls."

"I hope not," answered Miss Pemberton, becoming somewhat alarmed.  "I am
sure that I wish to do everything which religion requires."

"There is one great omission of which you have been guilty," continued
Mr Lerew.  "I wish to speak with all love and gentleness.  You have
never yet come to confession."

"Is that necessary?" asked Miss Pemberton, feeling more than ever
uneasy, "I did not know that it was required by the Church of England."

"You have read your Prayer-Book to little purpose, if you think so,"
said Mr Lerew, with more sternness than he had hitherto shown.  "Only
think of the unspeakable comfort obtained through priestly absolution,
which will be thus afforded you.  You will then know that your sins are
put away.  You will feel so holy, and clean, and pure.  Let me, with all
loving earnestness, urge you and your sweet niece to come without delay
to that holy ordinance, too long ignored and neglected in our Church;
and let me assure you that I believe every true daughter of that Church,
were she aware of the blessed advantages to be gained, would avail
herself of the opportunities now being offered throughout the kingdom."

"Your remarks take me, I own, by surprise," answered Miss Pemberton.
"None of my acquaintance, that I am aware of, have ever been in the
habit of confessing."

"`Wide is the gate and broad is the way which leadeth to destruction;
many there be that go in thereat.'  Think of that text, Miss Pemberton;
join the privileged few, and I shall be most thankful to receive you as
a penitent," answered Mr Lerew.  "Endeavour, also, by all means to
induce your niece to follow your pious example.  My dear friends, Sir
Reginald and Lady Bygrave, and many other persons of distinction, come
regularly to confession; and I trust that by degrees the whole of my
flock will take advantage of the opportunity, which I shall have the
happiness of offering them, of being absolved from sin."

Miss Pemberton did not exactly say that she would go to confession, as
she felt rather doubtful whether Clara would accompany her, but she
promised that she would consider the matter; and the vicar on leaving
felt satisfied with the way he had made.  As yet, however, he had not
got so far as to set up a confessional box in his church.  He intended,
in the first instance, to employ the vestry for that purpose.  He had
his doubts whether Mr Lennard might not withdraw the support he was now
affording him; still, he had made considerable progress.  His first step
was to select a dozen of the schoolboys of the parish to form a choir,
and to clothe them in surplices; the instruments which had hitherto led
the parishioners in their singing being banished, an organ, presented by
Lady Bygrave, was put up, and an organist with high ritualistic
proclivities appointed.  The hymn-books with the good old tunes which
all the parish knew by heart were discarded, and Hymns Ancient and
Modern were introduced.  The communion-table was next raised and adorned
with a richly embroidered cover, and on the following Sunday four
magnificent branch candlesticks appeared upon it.  Mr Lennard had
hitherto not made any remarks on the alterations going forward; but when
he saw the candlesticks, he enquired of Mr Lerew, who was calling on
him, what funds he possessed for the purchase of such articles, and what
was their object, as he feared that they would not be appreciated by the
parishioners at large.

"I have ample funds for all such purposes; and ignorant as the people
are at present, we will so educate them that by degrees they will see
the value and significance of the improvements we are introducing,"
answered Mr Lerew; "I contemplate having a reredos erected, which will
add greatly to the beauty of the church; as it will be expensive, I own,
I trust that you and other friends will contribute from your means
towards the important work.  I wish to ornament those blank spaces along
the aisle with appropriate pictures.  I should prefer having them
painted on the walls, of medallion shape; but as it may be difficult to
get an artist down here, we must be content to have them in moveable
frames.  I purpose also having a large picture of the Crucifixion, or
perhaps one of the Holy Virgin, put up over the altar, instead of the
Ten Commandments, which greatly offend my eye; while I confess that I
cannot consider the altar complete without the symbol of our faith
placed on it.  I should have preferred a crucifix of full size, and I
think that the cross might be so arranged that the figure can at any
time be added; but I fear that at present some of the parishioners in
their ignorance might raise objections which would cause us some
trouble."

"I should think, indeed, that they would object!" exclaimed Mr Lennard.
"Are you not going on too fast?  I do not complain that your
improvements cast some reflection on me; as being a mere _locum tenens_,
I could not have made the alterations you propose, even had I wished to
do so; but others might find very great fault with you."

"You will come over fully to agree with me, as my kind friends Sir
Reginald and Lady Bygrave have done," said the vicar, and with a gentle
smile he bid his host good-bye.

Scarcely had Mr Lerew gone than a note was brought to Mr Lennard, from
Lady Bygrave, requesting him, with his son and daughter, to spend a few
days at Swanston Hall.  Lady Bygrave was a very charming person, and
pleasant people were generally to be met with at the Hall.  He gladly
accepted the invitation.  Alfred was delighted; Mary would rather have
gone back to stay with Clara.  Mr Lennard was somewhat surprised to
find that the abbe and Father Lascelles were still there.  "The friends
to whom they were going were unable to receive them, and Sir Reginald
requested them to stay on as long as they found it convenient," remarked
Lady Bygrave.  Mr Lennard was disappointed at finding no one else at
the house, with the exception of a young lady rather older than Mary, of
grave and sedate manners.  As she was dressed in black, Mr Lennard
concluded that she was in mourning for a parent or some other near
relative, which accounted for the gravity of one so young.  She,
however, smiled very sweetly when Mary was introduced to her, and said
in a gentle voice, "I know that we shall become good friends, so pray
let us begin at once, and talk to each other without reserve."

Mr Lennard, who had often wished that Mary could enjoy the
companionship of a girl of her own age, was glad to find so apparently
amiable a young lady in the house.  The abbe, on entering the room,
expressed his pleasure at seeing Mr Lennard, and certainly did his best
to make amends for the want of other society.  Father Lascelles,
observing that Alfred did not know what to do with himself, proposed
taking a turn round the grounds.  "I am not much of a sportsman," he
said as they walked on, "but I am fond of fishing, as I dare say you
are, and we will fish together to-morrow, if you like."  He had
discovered that angling--an art in which he was an adept in more ways
than one--was the only amusement which suited Alfred's tastes.

The few days spent at the Hall went rapidly by.  At first the abbe
carefully avoided any but secular subjects, and being a remarkably
well-informed man, he made himself very agreeable.  Even when Sir
Reginald or Lady Bygrave seemed inclined to speak on religion, he
quickly turned the conversation, but by degrees he, with apparent
unwillingness, entered into matters of faith.  Mr Lennard, who had
never given any attention to the Papal system, was surprised to find how
little, according to the abbe's showing, the Church of England differed
from that of Rome in all matters of importance.

"Ah," remarked the abbe, with a smile, "your Church is like a wandering
child--though you have gone away from the parent, you retain all your
main features and doctrines, and have but to own obedience to the chief
head, and you would again be one with us.  What a happy consummation!
Would that it were brought about!  Why should those of the same kindred
be divided?"

"It is sad that it should be so," remarked Lady Bygrave, "perhaps, if
His Holiness, the Pope, were not so exigeant in his demands, the
glorious union might soon be accomplished."

"It is there that you are in error, my dear lady," remarked the abbe,
blandly; "His Holiness is too loving a parent to be exigeant without
good reason.  Think of the parable of the Prodigal Son--what a warm
welcome! what rich treasures the father had for him, who was willing to
return! such as all will experience who, having eaten of the husks of
Protestantism, fly back to the bosom of the mother-Church."

Mr Lennard above all things hated an argument, and would always rather
side with a companion than oppose him; still he was not won by the
sophisms of the abbe; but he did not, unhappily, reflect on the effect
they might produce on Alfred and Mary.  He had studied the Thirty-nine
Articles when he had taken his ordination vows, and he saw that the
opinions expressed by Lady Bygrave, and occasionally by Sir Reginald,
who was even more open than his wife, could not be reconciled to them.
The abbe never uttered a word which showed that he considered there were
any material differences in the two creeds, with the exception of the
single one of want of obedience to the heads of the Church.

"You have simplified your services; you have eliminated several
doctrines which we consider of importance; but such doctrines are, I
rejoice to see, in the course of being rapidly restored to their proper
position, as are many of the practices and observances of our Holy
Church," said the abbe, "and all you have now to say is, I will return,
I will obey, and the union is complete."

"You make the matter certainly very easy," said Mr Lennard; "but having
been for forty years of my life accustomed to consider that there is a
much wider gap between our Churches than that you have so quickly passed
over, you must not be surprised if I hesitate to take the leap; but I
will consider the subject."

"Far be it from me to advise you to do what your conscience might
disapprove," observed the abbe.

Father Lascelles found that he could be more open with Alfred.  His
chief aim was to impress upon the young man's mind that there was but
one true Church, and that of Rome being the most ancient and most
powerful, and holding out unspeakably greater advantages to its
followers, must be that true one.  Still, Alfred was neither very
impressive not communicative; the Jesuit priest could draw no positive
conclusion as to the effect his remarks had produced, though he felt
sure that, could he obtain time to play the fish he had hooked, he
should land him safe at last.

Mary's friend, Emmeline Tracy, was unexpectedly called away from the
Hall.  Even to Mary she did not say where she was going, as she bid her
good-bye, but she hoped, she said, ere long to see her again.  Mr
Lennard observed that his daughter looked more thoughtful and in less
good spirits than usual; it reminded him of his often expressed
determination of sending her to a finishing school, that she might have
the benefit of young companions, and form pleasant friendships.  He
mentioned his idea to Lady Bygrave.  "By all means, Mr Lennard; it is
what I should strongly recommend," answered her ladyship.  "It is
curious that I was thinking of the same thing.  There is a school at
Cheltenham exactly of the character you would wish for your daughter.
Mrs Barnett, the mistress, is a lady of high attainments and amiable
disposition, and she receives only girls of the first families; so that
Mary would be certain of forming desirable acquaintances.  I shall have
great pleasure in writing to Mrs Barnett, saying who you are, and
requesting her to receive your daughter directly she has a vacancy."

Mr Lennard returned home; and a few days afterwards Lady Bygrave sent
him a letter from Mrs Barnett, who said, that in consequence of the
very satisfactory account her ladyship had written of Mr Lennard and
his daughter, she should be happy to receive the young lady as an inmate
immediately, to fill up the only vacancy in her establishment, and which
she regretted that she could not keep open beyond a week or so.

"Let me earnestly advise you to send Mary at once," added her ladyship.
"It would be a grievous pity to lose so favourable an opportunity of
placing her in a satisfactory school; for good schools are, I know, rare
enough."

Mr Leonard accordingly made up his mind to take his daughter to
Cheltenham.  Mary had only time to drive over and pay a short visit to
Clara.

"I hope you will be happy," said Clara.  "As I never was at school, I
don't know what sort of life you will have to lead, but I should think
with the companionship of a number of nice girls it must be very
cheerful.  You can never for a moment feel out of spirits for want of
society, as I do too often here, now that I am unable to converse with
my poor father, and you know that Aunt Sarah is not the most
entertaining of persons."

Mary went away in good spirits, promising to write to Clara, and tell
her all about the school.  Mr Lennard and his daughter arrived safely
at Cheltenham, and reached Mrs Barnett's handsome mansion.  Everything
about it appeared to be as he could desire; the sitting-rooms were well
furnished, and the bedroom his daughter was to occupy with several other
girls looked remarkably comfortable, the walls being adorned with
pictures, of which, however, he did not take much notice, though he saw
by a glance he gave at them that they were Scripture subjects.  As they
were passing along a passage, the mistress hastily closed a door, but
not until he observed at the farther end of the room a table, on which
stood vases of flowers and candlesticks surmounted by what looked very
like a crucifix; but he was too polite to interrogate Mrs Barnett on
the subject, and she evidently did not intend that he should look into
the room.  To most of his inquiries he received satisfactory answers:
the young ladies attended church regularly, and were visited and
catechised periodically by a clergyman in whose judgment and piety Mrs
Barnett said she had the most perfect confidence.  Poor Mary threw her
arms round her father's neck as he was taking his leave, and burst into
tears.

"I wish that I had not come, papa," she whispered.  "I don't know why,
but I can't bear the thoughts of parting from you."

He endeavoured to comfort her, and consoled himself that he had acted
for the best, though it cost him much to leave his little girl in the
hands of strangers.

He had another duty to perform, less trying to his feelings, however.
It was to take Alfred up to Oxford.  Alfred had specially requested to
be allowed to go to--College, which, though not enjoying the fame of
older institutions, Alfred averred that he should feel more at home at
than in any other.  He was duly introduced to the head of his college,
where rooms were allotted to him, and forthwith matriculating, he became
an undergraduate.  Mr Lennard, believing that he had performed his
duty, left his son to make his way as thousands of young men have had to
do before him.



CHAPTER THREE.

Clara was seated in the drawing-room.  She had just written a long
letter to Harry, in which she told him of the various events which had
taken place in the neighbourhood.  She wrote unreservedly, describing,
among other persons, Mr and Mrs Lerew, and the constant attention and
kindness they had shown her.  She naturally spoke of the church, and of
the various improvements, as she called them, which had been introduced.
"Nothing can be more elegant than the reredos which our excellent vicar
has erected at his own expense," she wrote.  "The altar, too, is
beautifully adorned, and the music, considering the performers, is
wonderfully good; for Mrs Lerew has taken great pains to instruct the
choir, and we occasionally have a first-rate musician from London to
lead them; while an air of solemnity pervades the service, both on
Sundays and week-days, very different to anything we have before had in
this neighbourhood."  She did not say that she went to confession, but
she remarked that she derived great comfort from the spiritual advice of
the vicar.  The letter was closed ready for the post, when General
Caulfield was announced.  He came to bid her and her father a hurried
farewell, as he had just been summoned by telegram to the north of
England, to the bedside of a dying brother, whose executor he was, and
he greatly feared that some time might elapse before he should be able
to return.

"I wish to suggest to you, my dear Clara, before I go," he said, "that
it will be well, in the position in which you are placed, to avoid too
great an intimacy with the vicar and his wife, of whose constant visits
to you I have heard.  He may be, according to his own notions, a
religious man, but he is not acting faithfully to the Church of which he
is a minister.  He has already made many innovations in this parish
which are contrary to the spirit and practice of that Protestant Church,
and, from what I hear and observe, he intends to make others; while he
has openly pleached several Romish doctrines, and I see his name among
the members of the Church Union, which avowedly repudiates Protestant
principles.  I am sure that Harry would give you the advice I do, and I
deeply regret that I cannot remain to afford you any assistance you may
require."

A blush rose on Clara's brow.  She could not openly express any
disagreement with the general, but she thought he was harsh and
illiberal in the opinion he had uttered.  She replied that she had
already written to Harry, and told him all about the church and the
vicar, and hoped that he would not find any great fault with her.

The general appeared satisfied.  He remained but a short time with his
poor friend, whom he believed that he should never again see on earth;
for he remarked, what Clara had failed to do, the great change in her
father's countenance since his last visit.  He took an affectionate
farewell of his intended daughter-in-law and, not being aware of the
influence the vicar had already obtained over her and her aunt, he did
not further warn her against him.  Still, he left her with some anxious
forebodings, regretting the stern necessity which compelled him to be
away from her at the time when his advice might be of so much
importance.  The general's absence was felt by others in the parish; he
was looked upon as the person best calculated, from his position and
truly Christian character, to lead those desirous of opposing the
ritualistic practices introduced by the new vicar, which were already
making rapid progress.  The general had been faithfully attached to the
establishment; he had gone, as usual, to the parish church, in spite of
the introduction of the surpliced choir, of "Hymns Ancient and Modern,"
the richly adorned communion-table, and several other additions which
had been cautiously introduced; but when he heard from the lips of the
vicar the doctrine of transubstantiation clearly and unmistakably
enounced, and afterwards saw him habited in a robe resembling that of a
Romish priest elevate the elements, he felt compelled to absent himself,
and on the next Sunday to attend the service at a Congregational chapel.
He had, in in the meantime, expostulated with Mr Lerew, both
personally and by letter, but had received only a curt and
unsatisfactory reply.  He had afterwards heard, from undoubted
authority, that the doctrine of purgatory was taught to the
schoolchildren; that prayers for the dead were offered up, as also
prayers to the Virgin Mary; that the saints were invoked; that a font
had been placed at the entrance of the church for the reception of holy
water.  A considerable number of the parishioners had for some time
withdrawn themselves from the church; Lieutenant Sims had declared that
he would never enter it to listen to Mr Lerew, after he had heard him
say that the Bible was a dangerous book.  Many sided with the
lieutenant; others asserted that he must have misunderstood the vicar--
he could not have uttered such an opinion; some even went so far as to
say Mr Sims had through envy, hatred, and malice stated what he knew to
be a falsehood.  The lieutenant, supported by his wife, boldly adhered
to what he had said; the parishioners were by the ears on the subject.
Miss Pemberton had been appealed to, but declared she could not
understand what Mr Lerew had said, and her evidence went rather against
Mr Sims; but when candles and flowers appeared on the altar, and a rich
cross rose above it, and the vicar, habited in new-fangled robes, turned
his back on the congregation, the partisans of the gallant lieutenant
increased, and each innovation introduced by the vicar brought Mr Sims
a fresh accession of supporters.  They talked seriously of building
another church, and made arrangements to apply to the bishop; but it was
found that both parties were so scattered over the two parishes, which
were of very considerable extent, that their object was unattainable.
While General Caulfield remained among them, he prevented the flame of
discord from bursting forth.  He allowed no angry word to escape his
lips, but contented himself with simply preaching the Gospel, either in
the Congregational Chapel on a week-day evening, or in a large barn he
had hired and fitted up for the purpose of holding meetings.  It was
always full, and many came from the farther end of the parish.  Calm and
calculating as Mr Lerew generally was, he became excessively indignant
on hearing of this; but he considered the general too important a person
to be attacked personally, though he spoke everywhere in the strongest
terms of his unwarrantable conduct, denominating him as a schismatic of
the worst description.  Great was his satisfaction when he heard that
the general had gone away.  He now fancied that he could carry on his
proceedings without opposition.  He was mistaken, however; for
Lieutenant Sims and his party ceased not to protest against all he did;
and petitions were sent to the bishop, who, however, if he did not
encourage Mr Lerew's proceedings, took no steps to put a stop to them.
Mr Lennard was appealed to, but he declined to interfere, declaring
that he saw nothing so very objectionable in the changes which had been
made; and as to doctrines, the vicar of the parish was more likely to
know what was right or wrong than the parishioners whom he came to
teach.

"In my opinion, our late vicar is as bad as the present one," exclaimed
Lieutenant Sims; "but how the poor man, whom all thought so much of, has
been so completely bamboozled is more than I can tell."

Mr Lerew had lately, by the advice of Lady Bygrave, designed a grand
scheme.  It was the establishment of a college or school for eighty
young ladies in the parish, for whose accommodation handsome buildings
were to be erected; and Lady Bygrave, with other ladies of consequence
in the county, undertook to be patronesses.  In his prospectus Mr Lerew
dwelt especially on the importance of young ladies being carefully
trained in religious principles, and removed from the pernicious
influence of unauthorised instructors; whereas at Saint Agatha's they
would be placed under the direct superintendence of their lawful
priests, and instructed in catholic doctrine.  Lady Bygrave had already
recommended as mother superior a lady of great piety and experience, and
the teachers were to be sisters of the community of Saint Mary the
Virgin, in the neighbouring town of Bansfield, who were celebrated for
their truly religious and self-denying lives.  The young ladies, thus
judiciously trained, would, it was hoped, become the mothers of
England's future legislators, and materially contribute to the
establishment of catholic principles throughout the land.  Mr Lerew
had, however, another prospectus more generally circulated among those
of whose principles he was uncertain, and in which he simply set forth
that an excellent first-class school was about to be established for the
benefit of their own and neighbouring counties, and asking for
subscriptions and support to so desirable an institution.
Subscriptions, however, did not come in with the same rapidity as he had
hoped, and he saw that he must employ other means for raising the
necessary funds.  Mrs Lerew wrote to all her more wealthy
acquaintances, and Lady Bygrave was, as usual, most liberal.  Few of the
parishioners would subscribe, with the exception of some of the
principal tradesmen, who hoped to do business with the new
establishment, Mr Rowe, an apothecary, who expected to be employed as
medical attendant, and the solicitor who had been engaged in making the
legal arrangements.

People had begun to grow suspicious of the vicar, and even of Lady
Bygrave, in consequence of the long stay at the Hall of the abbe and
Father Lascelles.  Lady Bygrave did her utmost to maintain her
popularity by incessantly driving about and visiting the houses of the
better-to-do people and the cottages of the poor, much as she would have
done on an electioneering canvass.  She was, of course, politely
received by all classes; but though she won over some, a large number of
people were too sound Protestants to be influenced by her plausible and
attractive manners.  It would have been happy for poor Clara and her
Aunt Sarah, had they been equally on their guard.  Miss Pemberton,
indeed, declared that whatever so charming a person as Lady Bygrave did
must be right, and she now not only attended all the services at the
church on Sundays and week-days, but induced Clara to accompany her.
Though Clara went, she often felt that it was her duty to be watching by
the bedside of her father; she, indeed, sometimes begged on that plea to
remain at home.

"But, my dear, your duties to God and the commands of our Holy Church
are superior to those you owe to a human parent, and you should
therefore not allow yourself to be influenced by the natural affections
of your heart," observed Miss Pemberton, using the argument she had
previously learned from Mr Lerew.

Clara had been absent at one of these week-day services, and the vicar
had promised to call and have some conversation with her and her aunt,
when on her return she observed an expression of subdued sorrow and
alarm on the countenances of the servants.

"Is my father worse?" she asked anxiously; and before any one could stop
her, she rushed upstairs, and entered Captain Maynard's room.  She
approached the bed.  There was no movement--his eyes were closed, and
the nurse was standing by the bedside--her father was dead.  She knew it
at once, and as she leant over him, she sank fainting on his inanimate
body.  Miss Pemberton, having learned the truth, quickly followed, and
directed that she should be carried from the room.  On the application
of restoratives Clara revived; but scarcely had she returned to
consciousness than Mr Lerew drove up to the door.  Though he was told
what had happened, he insisted on seeing Miss Maynard.

"As a priest, I can afford her spiritual comfort and support," he said,
almost forcing his way in.  Miss Pemberton, not daring to decline his
visit, ushered him into Clara's room.  He took a seat by her side.  He
spoke softly and gently.

"We must look at what has happened as a dispensation of heaven," he
remarked; "but though, unhappily, your father to the last refused the
ordinances of our Church, I am fain to believe that he did so under
malign influence, and from weakness of mind induced by sickness.  It is
a consolation to know that prayers continually offered in his behalf by
a true votaress to the loving Mother of God can in time release him from
the condition in which I fear he is placed.  With what thankfulness you
should receive this glorious doctrine, my dear Miss Maynard! what calm
should it bring to your troubled heart!  I will not fail, believe me, to
offer the prayers of the Church for the same object; and if you did but
consider their efficacy, you would cease to mourn as you now do."

Poor Clara was too completely overwhelmed by grief to understand the
meaning of what the vicar said, though she heard the words issuing from
his mouth.

"I will relieve you," he continued, "from all the painful arrangements
connected with the funeral, in conjunction with your aunt, whom I will
now join in the drawing-room."

"Oh! thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Clara, between her sobs.  "I shall
be most grateful--do whatever you think best."

Mr Lerew retired; and after a conversation of some length with Miss
Pemberton he drove away.  Clara--so absorbing was her grief--could with
difficulty regain her power of thought.  She felt alone in the world.
Had General Caulfield been at home, she would have had him to consult;
but she had no confidence in her Aunt Sarah's judgment, though she had
of late been more guided by her than she was aware of.

"Our excellent vicar and I have arranged everything," said Miss
Pemberton, on entering the room some time afterwards; "so do not further
trouble yourself about the matter."

Clara expressed her thanks to her aunt.  Completely prostrate, she
remained in bed.  Workmen sent by the vicar came to the house, and were
employed for some time in her father's room.  She dared not inquire what
they were about.  At length she arose and dressed.  She felt a longing
desire once more to gaze on those dear features.  She inquired whether
she might go to the room.

"Oh, yes, miss," was the answer.  "It's all done up on purpose, and
looks so grand."

She hurried on, and, entering, what was her astonishment to find the
room draped in black, the windows closed, and several long wax candles
arranged round the bed on which her father's body lay, dressed in his
naval uniform.  She approached, and leant over the bed, on which, after
standing gazing at his features for some minutes, she sank down with her
arms extended, almost fainting.  At that instant the vicar appeared at
the doorway.

"What a lovely picture!" he whispered, as if to himself; "can anything
surpass it?"

Clara heard him, and had still strength sufficient to rise.

"We have done what we can to do honour to your father," he said,
advancing and taking her hand.  "Had General Caulfield been present, we
should have been prevented from making these arrangements; and I lay all
the blame of Captain Maynard's neglect of the sacred ordinances on him,
as I am sure it will be laid at the day of judgment; therefore, my sweet
young lady, I would urge you to mourn not as those without hope.  I come
to console and sympathise with you.  Let me lead you from the room, as
others are anxious to pay their last respects to your parent; it will be
trying to your feelings to receive them."

Clara submitted, and was led by the vicar into the drawing-room, where
she found her aunt.  Mr Lerew now became more cheerful in his
conversation, and spoke of his new college, and of a society of Anglican
sisters of mercy, in which he was deeply interested.  He enlarged on
their pious, self-denying labours, so admirably adapted to distract the
minds of the sorrowing from worldly cares and the thoughts of the past,
and the charming qualities of the lady superior, and of the calm
happiness enjoyed by all under her rule.

"You will find subjects for consideration in these volumes," said Mr
Lerew, taking two books from his pocket; "the one describes fully the
joys of a religious life, and the other points out to you rules for your
daily government.  Your aunt has already several works I left with her
some time ago, to which I would also draw your attention; and may they
prove a blessing to your soul."

Saying this, the vicar took his leave.  In the meantime several persons
had come to the house; and scarcely had the vicar left the room than the
voice of Mr Sims was heard exclaiming, "By whose authority, I should
like to know, has the death-bed of my poor friend been surrounded by
those popish play-acting mummeries which I witnessed just now?  He was
one of the last men on earth who would have sanctioned such
proceedings."

"Sir, sir!" exclaimed Mr Lerew in an angry tone, "I scarcely understand
your meaning; but if you allude to the arrangements in the chamber of
death above, I have to inform you that they were made by those who had
ample authority for doing as they thought right; and I have to add that
I consider your remarks indecorous and highly impertinent."

"I differ with you on that point," answered the lieutenant, restraining
his anger; "and I only hope my poor friend's daughter has had nothing to
do with the matter.  It signifies very little to him, or I believe he'd
get up and capsize all the candles, and cut down the black cloth rigged
round his bed.  Why, I'm as sure as I am of my own existence that he
died like a true Christian, and is now in the glorious realms of the
blest, or I don't know what the Gospel means.  What does he want with
all that black stuff round him?  It's just robbing the orphan to put
money in the pockets of the undertakers.  And now you've got my opinion,
I'll wish you good morning;" and Mr Sims walked out of the house,
leaving the vicar fuming and boiling with unwonted rage.

Mr Sims had intended leaving a message expressive of his and his wife's
sympathy for poor Clara; but his indignation at what he had witnessed
very naturally threw everything else out of his head.  He
notwithstanding attended Captain Maynard's funeral, which was conducted
with more ceremonies than had ever yet taken place in the parish.
Numerous carriages followed the hearse, and the procession formed in the
church walked after the coffin, the individuals forming it surrounding
the grave, chanting a requiem as the coffin was committed to its last
resting-place.

The vicar had kept secret the last interview he had had with Captain
Maynard, who, he let it be supposed, had gone through all the required
ordinances of the Church before the last seizure, which had deprived him
of the power of speech.  Those who knew the captain best averred that he
would never have consented to the performance in his presence of any
Romish ceremony, and that the vicar had some object in view in allowing
the idea to get abroad.  The parish became more divided than ever, but
the original cause of dispute held its ground, and those who sided with
the vicar would no longer visit or speak to those who believed that he
had declared the Bible to be a dangerous book.

Clara's grief for the loss of her father was sincere and deep.  Her
nature was one requiring such consolation as a sympathising friend could
afford.  Her aunt was never sympathising or gentle, and she had become
still less so since she had attended the frequent services of the
Church.  Early rising did not suit her constitution; but though she
thoroughly disliked it, she considered it her duty to induce her niece
to accompany her.

Thus time went on at Luton.  General Caulfield was detained in the
North; he wrote frequently to Clara.  Not aware of the influences to
which she was exposed, he did not mention the vicar, and failed to
caution her, as he otherwise would have done.  She, knowing his
opinions, did not venture to tell him all that was occurring, though he
saw by the tone of her letters that she was unhappy and ill at ease from
some cause or other, besides the natural grief she felt for the loss of
her father, and her anxiety about Harry.  She had heard of his arrival,
and that his regiment was ordered up the country, but she had received
no answer to the letter she wrote, describing the services at the
church, and the various changes introduced by the vicar.  Her aunt had,
in the meantime, become less agreeable and communicative even than
before.  She was constantly absorbed in the books lent her by Mr Lerew,
and she very frequently drove over to the Vicarage to see him.  Clara
had at first felt but little interest in the two works he had presented
to her; she had glanced over their pages, and was somewhat startled at
the language used and the advice given in them, so different to that to
which she had been accustomed.  On one of his visits he inquired whether
she had studied them, and she had to confess the truth.  He then
entreated her not to risk her spiritual welfare by any longer neglecting
to read the works so calculated to advance it.  She promised to follow
his advice.  Had Clara known more of the world, and possessed more
self-reliance, her eyes might have been opened by what she read; but she
wanted some one to lean on, and on her aunt's judgment she had no
reliance.  The vicar appeared, from his position and serious manner, to
be the person in whom she ought to confide.  Had the general been at
Luton, she would have gone to him; but she could not write what she
might have spoken; and she finally gave herself up to the guidance of
Mr Lerew, as her aunt had long since done.

The following Sunday the communion was to be held, or, as the vicar
expressed it, the Holy Eucharist was to be celebrated; "But," he added,
"I have made it a rule that I will administer it to none who have not
made confession and received that absolution I am authorised to grant."

"I was not aware of that," said Clara; "how long has that rule existed?"

"I have only lately made it," he replied, "and from it I cannot depart."

Clara hesitated; but her aunt, who had several times gone to confession,
assured her that there was nothing in it very terrible, and overcame her
scruples.  Clara promised to go.  It was held in the vestry, one person
at a time only being admitted.  The questions asked and the answers
given cannot be repeated.  Clara, as she knelt leaning on a chair in
front of the priest, could with difficulty support herself; her heart
felt bursting; she was nearly fainting; the colour mounted to her cheeks
and brow; she could not lift her eyes from the ground towards the man
who was questioning her.  More than once she was inclined to rise and
flee from the room rather than continue to undergo the mental torture
she was suffering.  Never afterwards did she look the vicar in the face.
At length the ordeal was over, the _Te absolvo_ was pronounced, and
she, with trembling knees, hanging down her head, tottered to her pew by
the side of her aunt, where she knelt to conceal her features, while
uncontrollable sobs burst from her bosom.

"What's the matter?" whispered Miss Pemberton.  "Take my
smelling-bottle.  Don't let people hear you; they'll fancy there must be
something very dreadful."

The music that day was unusually good.  Several first-rate performers
had been engaged to attend, with three or four clergymen from various
parts of the county.  They, in their richest robes, glittering with
embroidery, walked round the church.  There were the acolytes with
lighted candles, the thurifer, with the cross-bearer, and others
carrying banners; while the organ played, and the fumes of incense
filled the church.  Clara's agitation ceased, but no peace was brought
to her soul.  She returned home with her aunt, humbled and more wretched
than she had ever before felt in her life.



CHAPTER FOUR.

Monday morning brought Clara Harry's looked-for letter.  She hurried
with it to her room.  It was full of love and tenderness, but Harry
expressed his regret at hearing of the changes which had been made in
the church, and still more of the ritualistic practices of the new
vicar.

"I need scarcely urge you, dearest, not to be inveigled by them," he
continued, "as I have often said I cannot conceive a man in his senses
marrying a girl who has submitted to the abominable confession--it must
ultimately deprave her mind, and prevent her from placing that
confidence in her husband which he has a right to expect; while it
proves her ignorance of one of the most vital truths of our holy faith,
that we have a High Priest in heaven, who knows our infirmities, and is
touched by our sorrows, and who is more tender and loving than any human
being, and is ever ready to receive those who come to Him.  Oh! do warn
any girls of your acquaintance not to yield to the sophistries which
would persuade them that Christ allows a human being to stand in His
stead between Himself and the sinner.  It is one of the numberless
devices of Satan to rob Him of the honour and love which are His due.
We are told when we have offended a fellow mortal to confess our fault,
and to ask pardon; but we are emphatically charged to confess our sins
to God alone, trusting to the all-sufficient atonement made once for all
for us by Christ on Calvary, and through His mediation we are assured of
perfect forgiveness.  These impious sacerdotalists, for the sake of
gaining influence over the minds of those they hope to deceive, step in,
and daringly arrogate to themselves the position which our loving Lord
desires alone to hold.  But I must not continue the subject--I know that
it is not necessary to say this to you.  Should you ever be perplexed,
or require assistance, I am sure that you will apply to my kind and
excellent father, who is ever anxious to treat you as a beloved
daughter."

Clara read the letter with burning cheek.

"Oh, what have I done!" she exclaimed; "I am unworthy of the confidence
he places in me."  Directly afterwards she tried to find an excuse for
herself.  "Perhaps he is mistaken in his ideas; and Mr Lerew says that
the general is a schismatic, and Harry has imbibed his views.  I dare
not refuse to obey the voice of the Church, and Mr Lerew tells me that
that insists on confession before absolution can be granted, and without
absolution we cannot partake of the Holy Eucharist."

Such was her line of thought, and she determined to try and persuade
Harry to agree with her.  She sat down and wrote to him, quoting several
passages from the books lent to her by the vicar.  She implored him
seriously to consider the matter, and not to imperil his soul by
refusing obedience to the Church.  So eager did she become as she warmed
in her subject, that she forgot to put in those affectionate expressions
which her previous letter had contained.  No sooner had the epistle been
despatched than she began to regret having said some things in it and
omitted others.  She tried to think over its contents; as she did so she
became more and more dissatisfied.  At last she resolved to write
another, to confess that she was sorry she had written the first, to
tell Harry of her difficulties, and to ask his advice.  Her aunt came in
just as she had closed it, and offered to post it for her.  That letter
never reached its destination.

Poor Clara, agitated by conflicting emotions, and all her previous
opinions upset, at last thought of writing to General Caulfield, telling
him of all her doubts and troubles, that perhaps he might see things in
the light in which the vicar presented them.  Miss Pemberton found the
letter on the hall table, and suspecting its contents, took it to the
vicar, who advised that it should not be forwarded.  Clara in vain
waited for a reply; no letters reached her from the general, and she
ultimately came to the conclusion that he was so much offended with her
for what she had said, that he would write no more.

Week after week passed by, and no letter came from Harry.

"Can he have cast me off because I show an anxiety about my spiritual
welfare?" she exclaimed, somewhat bitterly to herself.  "Mr Lerew must
be right when he speaks of the bigotry of the Evangelical party."

Mr Lerew called the next day, and spoke pathetically of the trials to
which the true sons and daughters of the Church must expect to be
exposed; and left some tracts, which especially pointed out the holy
delights of a convent life; one, indeed, declared that the only sure way
by which a woman could avoid the trials and troubles of the present evil
world and gain eternal happiness was by entering a convent and devoting
herself to the service of religion.  Clara read them over and over, and
sighed often.  Miss Pemberton expressed her high approval of them.

"I am, indeed, my dear niece, contemplating myself becoming a Sister of
Charity, and only regret that I was not led in early life to do so--how
many wasted days of idleness and frivolity I might have avoided."  Miss
Pemberton did not like to speak of years.

The vicar, who had now become an almost daily visitor, just then
appeared.  He held forth eloquently on the subject of which the ladies
had been speaking; a friend of his, a most charming, delightful person,
was the Lady Superior of one of the oldest and most devoted sisterhoods
which had been established in England since, as he expressed it, true
Catholic principles had been revived in the Church, He was sure that no
lady could do otherwise than rejoice to the end of her days, who should
become a member of her community.  The Sisters were employed in numerous
meritorious works of charity; he had hoped that Miss Maynard would take
an active part in Saint Agatha's College; but some time must probably
elapse before more than a very limited number of teachers could find
occupation, and he besides doubted whether she would find the duties of
an instructress suited to her taste.

"I should not, I fear, find my powers equal to them," answered Clara,
humbly; "and yet I have a longing for some occupation in the service of
the Church.  Such means as I possess, however, I would gladly devote to
the establishment of Saint Agatha's."

"Ah, my dear young lady, I rejoice to hear you say that," exclaimed Mr
Lerew.  "Whatever you give, you give to the Church, remember, and she
has promised to repay you a hundredfold."

Mrs Lerew frequently called on Clara, as also did Lady Bygrave.  Both
spoke enthusiastically of the holy and happy life of Sisters of Mercy,
and still more so of those nuns who gave themselves up to religious
meditation.  Lady Bygrave, especially, warmly pressed the subject on
Clara's consideration.

"Were I young, I should certainly devote myself to a religious life; but
as I am married, my husband might raise objections," she remarked.

Clara thought and thought on all she heard, and became more and more
interested in the books her advisers put into her hands.  She resolved,
however, to wait before deciding till she received a letter from Harry.
She could not easily give him up; and she hoped, when she should be his
wife, to win him over to support the cause of the Church, which she
persuaded herself would be as acceptable to Heaven as should she become
a nun.

While Clara had gone one day to return a visit from Lady Bygrave, Miss
Pemberton received and opened the postbag.  It contained a letter for
Clara from India.  She saw that it was from Harry.  She turned it over
several times.

"I must obey my spiritual adviser," she said to herself; "it can do the
child no harm."

Replacing several other letters for Clara, she took this one up into her
own room.  She had been instructed how carefully to open letters by the
vicar, for he had been at an English school, and having been taught in
his boyhood to consider breaking the seal of another person's letter a
disgraceful act, was glad to escape it.  After a little time she
succeeded in reaching the enclosure.  She glanced over the first
portion.

"A part of your letter, dearest one, though I delight in hearing from
you, gave me great pain.  I had hoped and believed that you were better
grounded in the fundamental truths of the Gospel than to express
yourself as you have done.  You speak of Holy Church as if there were
one visible establishment on earth which all are bound to obey, when
Christ founded only one spiritual Church, on the great truth enunciated
by Peter, that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  From that
time forward, throughout the whole of the New Testament, no other Church
is spoken of.  Churches or assemblies existed, founded by the apostles,
but they were independent of each other, and were solely united by
having one faith and one allegiance to one great head, Jesus Christ; but
in such simple forms as were introduced for the convenience of public
worship they materially differed from each other.  Under the new
covenant no material temple or worldly sanctuary exists; the old
covenant had ordinances of divine service and of worldly sanctuary, but
these, the apostle tells us, have waxed old and vanished away, Christ
being come, the High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and
more perfect tabernacle not made with hands; and he assures us that the
only temple now existing is the spiritual Church of the living God.
`Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you? ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual
house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by
Jesus Christ, whose house are ye, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief
cornerstone;' and our Lord Himself tells us that where two or three are
gathered together, even there is He in their midst.  The priest, the
sacrifice, the altar, and the temple of the old covenant were only types
of the good things to come under the Gospel.  When Christ ascended on
high, all human priesthood was abolished; our only priestly mediator or
intercessor is Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and men, who
is the one righteous Advocate, the one ever-living Intercessor, and His
glory will He not give to another, He who has once suffered for sinners,
the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.  The apostles
themselves never assumed the character of priests; they pointed to the
Great High Priest, Jesus Christ the righteous, and would have looked
upon it as blasphemy for any man to presume to act as such.  To our
Great High Priest alone must we confess our sins; He is faithful and
just to forgive all those their sins, who put faith in the all-cleansing
power of His blood to absolve them.  He, too, is One who knows our
infirmities, and can sympathise with us, having been tempted as we are.
With the Scriptures in our hands, we need no mortal man to declare this
glorious truth to us; and knowing it, we can come boldly to the throne
of grace, and He is ever ready to receive all who come to Him.  All the
forms and ceremonies, the embellishments which you describe, are but
imitations of those of the Church of Rome, which are themselves taken
from the ceremonies of the old heathen temples, with large admixtures
from those of the Jews.  From the earliest times, Satan has induced men
to assume the character of priests, for the purpose of deceiving their
fellow-creatures.  The same spirit exists at the present day; and as he
can become an angel of light in appearance, so may those men who thus
blasphemously take the name of priests appear pure and holy in the sight
of those whom they deceive.  Let me entreat you, my beloved Clara, to
break from the chains which have been thrown around you.  Seek for grace
and strength from above, and consult my kind father.  Tell him frankly
all that the vicar has endeavoured to teach you to believe, and I feel
assured that he will thoroughly satisfy your mind."

Harry said more to the same effect.

"It will never do for Clara to see this letter," thought Miss Pemberton;
"I must take it to Mr Lerew, and ascertain what he thinks."

She set off at once, that she might get to the vicarage and back before
Clara's return.  The vicar read it with knitted brow.

"You did right, my dear sister," he said; "it might defeat all our
plans.  Far better commit it to the flames.  Let me think--will you
permit me to take possession of the letter? good may result from it; the
end, as you know, my dear lady, sanctifies the means."

"Whatever you consider right, I of course will do," said Miss Pemberton,
giving the letter, which with the envelope the vicar put into his desk;
and the lady hastened home.

"It is the aunt's doing, not mine," he muttered to himself; "but were
the poor girl to receive this abominable production, it might destroy
the result of all the training I have given her.  No priest! no
sacrifice! no confession! no power of absolution!  What would become of
the Church--what of us--if such principles were to regain their
ascendancy over the minds of the people?  These abominable evangelical
notions must be crushed by every means in our power, or the efforts
which for years we have made to introduce Catholic doctrine would be
utterly lost.  We must get the girl without delay to enter a convent,
and the sooner she is induced to do so the better."

Mr Lerew waited for some days before he paid Clara another visit.  She
had discovered that the Indian post had come in, and had brought her, as
she supposed, no letter from Harry.  She began to imagine all sorts of
things; she saw that there were accounts of engagements with the
hill-tribes--could he have gone up the country with a detachment of his
regiment? or perhaps her letter had so offended him that he would not
again write.  Mr Lerew, when he called, perceived that she was very
unhappy, and having drawn from her the cause of her grief, he assured
her that there was but one way by which she could regain peace of mind,
and insinuated that so bigoted a person as Captain Caulfield would in
all probability discard her when he found that she was anxious to serve
the Church.  "It will prove a great trial to you, my dear sister," he
said; "but for such you must be prepared; and I would urge you to seek
in the duties of a religious life that comfort and consolation you are
sure to find."

Several weeks more went by, during which the vicar's influence over poor
Clara increased.  No letter came from Harry or from his father.

"He has discarded me," exclaimed Clara.  "I must seek for that peace and
rest where alone, Mr Lerew assures me, I can find it, or I shall die."

The very next day, accompanied by Mr Lerew and his wife, Clara set off
to the town of --, in the neighbourhood of which was situated Saint
Barbara's, as the convent was called.  It had originally been a
religious house, as the term is, and was encircled by a high wall, which
enclosed the garden and outhouses.  It was a dark, red brick, sombre
pile, and the additions lately made to it had given it a thoroughly
conventual appearance.  The carriage drove under an archway in front of
the entrance, closed on the outside, Mr Lerew got out and tugged at a
large iron bell-pull, when a slide in the door was pulled back, and the
face of a female, who narrowly scrutinised the visitors, appeared at the
opening.  Mr Lerew quickly explained their object; no further words
were exchanged, and after a short delay the bars and bolts were
withdrawn, and the door was opened sufficiently to allow him and his
wife and Clara to pass through into a small hall, where they were left
standing, while the portress by signs summoned two serving Sisters
dressed in dark blue, with brass crosses at their necks, to bring in
Clara's luggage.  The same person then beckoning the visitors to follow,
led them into a waiting-room on one side.  All the time she had kept her
eyes fixed on the ground, not once looking at the vicar's countenance.
Having by signs desired them to be seated on some antique-looking
chairs, which with a table and writing materials were the sole furniture
of the room, she retired.  Poor Clara felt dreadfully oppressed, and
very much inclined to beg that her trunks might be put back again into
the carriage, as she wished to return home; but pride, not unmixed with
fear of the remarks Mr Lerew would make, prevented her.  She sat with
her hand on her sinking heart, wondering whether all the members of the
sisterhood would be expected to keep a perpetual silence.

"This reminds me much of the convents I have visited in France and
Belgium," observed Mr Lerew, turning to his wife.  "Our young friend
will soon learn the rules of the house, and see how suitable they are,
and calculated to advance the religious feelings."

He spoke in a low tone, as if afraid of disturbing the solemn silence
which reigned in the building.  Some time passed away, when the door
slowly opened, and a lady habited in grey, with a large cross inlaid
with ivory on her breast, glided into the room.  She was of commanding
figure, and, in spite of her unbecoming head-dress and the white band
across her brow, she had evidently once been handsome.  She smiled
benignantly as she glanced at Mrs Lerew and Clara, and advancing to the
vicar, bowed gracefully to him, and taking his hand, raised it to her
lips; then retiring without further noticing her other guests, sank into
a seat.  "I have come with my wife to introduce a young friend who is
desirous of commencing, and I trust continuing, the life of a
_religieuse_," said Mr Lerew; "and from my knowledge of your admirable
sisterhood, I feel confident that she will here obtain all she desires."

The Lady Superior now turned a piercing glance on Clara, which made her
involuntarily shrink and cast down her eyes on the ground.  The former
did not speak till she had finished her scrutiny; she then said slowly--

"If you truly desire to embrace our holy calling, you will be gladly
received, understanding that you must conform to the rules of our order
in all respects.  You will in the first instance enter as a postulant
for a short time, during which you will wear your secular habit; after
which you will become a probationer, and then, as I trust, we shall
receive you as a confirmed Sister on your vowing obedience to the three
fundamental rules of our order.  Are you prepared to remain with us at
once?"

"Certainly, certainly," exclaimed Mr Lerew; "Miss Maynard has come with
that especial object in view.  He who puts his hand to the plough must
not turn back, nor would she, I am sure, wish to do so."

"What I would urge upon you," said the Lady Superior, "is complete
self-surrender, and strict observance of the rule of holy obedience;
without that you cannot expect to enjoy spiritual life, nor can the
affairs of the community be properly carried on."

"I will endeavour to the best of my power to observe the rules of the
order," said Clara, in a trembling voice.

"Of course she will, of course," observed Mr Lerew; "it will be her
glory and pride to do so.  Oh what a beneficent arrangement is that by
which a poor frail woman or layman can, by opening his or her heart to
the priest, obtain all the instruction or advice for which their souls
yearn!"

"You will soon be accustomed to the quiet life we lead within these
walls," observed the Lady Superior, turning to Clara, without noticing
Mr Lerew's remark; "and I will invite you now to accompany me, when I
will make you known to the Deane, who will initiate you into the rules
and observances to which you will at once conform; and you may now bid
farewell to your friends, for they will excuse me, as my official duties
require my attention."

Clara rose, and put out her hand to take that of Mr Lerew.  Instead, he
bade her kneel, and placing his hands above her head, uttered a
benediction.  She felt inclined to embrace Mrs Lerew--not that she had
any great affection for her, but it seemed as if Mrs Lerew was the only
link between her and the world she was leaving; at that moment, however,
the Lady Superior, taking her hand, led her towards the door.

"May I request an interview with Dr Catton, should he be now living
here?" asked Mr Lerew.

"Our spiritual adviser is at present in residence," answered the Lady
Superior, "and I will mention your wish to see him, should you be able
to remain till he is at leisure."

"Oh, certainly, certainly.  I must not hurry Dr Catton; but as it is a
matter of much importance, I much wish to consult him.  I will wait his
pleasure," said Mr Lerew.

Without having shown any act of courtesy to Mrs Lerew, the Lady
Superior left the room, still holding fast to Clara's hand.

"Had I expected to be so treated, I should not have come," exclaimed
Mrs Lerew, as the door closed.  "If these are conventual manners, I
hope that Clara may not adopt them.  What caused the Lady Superior to
act as she did?"

"If you insist on knowing, you must understand that she probably
considers priests ought to be celibates, and therefore looks upon you in
no favourable light," answered the vicar, with some acerbity in his
tone.

Mrs Lerew was about to retort, when the door opened, and the spiritual
adviser of the establishment, Dr Catton, entered.  He was a small thin
man, with sallow complexion, and that peculiar pucker about the mouth
which seems a characteristic of those who hold his views.  The two
gentlemen were well known to each other.

"I am anxious, my dear Doctor, to obtain your further advice regarding
my new female college," said Mr Lerew, "as I hope in a short time it
will be in a sufficient state of advancement to receive pupils."

"I would gladly afford you my assistance in so holy a work," answered
Dr Catton, "as I consider it will tend greatly to the advancement of
the Church; but--" and he looked at Mrs Lerew.

"She is discreet, and takes a deep interest in the institution," said
the vicar.

Dr Catton looked as if he considered women were better out of the way
when any matter of importance was to be discussed.  However, as the
vicar did not tell his wife to retire, he entered into the subject,
speaking more cautiously perhaps than he otherwise would have done.
Mrs Lerew sat on, her countenance expressing her dissatisfaction at the
want of confidence the Doctor placed in her.  The rules and regulations
of the new college were discussed, as well as the means for obtaining
the necessary funds.  "You will understand that the young lady who is
about to enter into this institution has a considerable fortune at her
disposal, with which I have every hope she will endow our college.  It
must be a point of honour between us that she does not bestow it on the
convent, and I beg that you will impress that on the mind of the Lady
Superior.  You will remember that I induced her to come here for that
important object, for she will not be of age for upwards of two years,
and she might in the meantime, were she to remain in the world, change
her mind and marry, and her property would be lost to the Church."

"Of course," said Dr Catton, "I am equally interested with you in the
college, which I look upon as the nursing mother of those who will do
much to forward the great cause."

After some further conversation on the subject, Mr and Mrs Lerew took
their departure, Dr Catton again promising that Clara's fortune should
be appropriated as her father confessor desired.  Clara had, in the
meantime, been introduced to the Mother Eldress, a pleasant, fair lady
of about forty, who took her round the establishment.  The chapel was
first visited.  Over the high altar stood the crucifix, with paintings
of the Virgin Mary on one side, and that of Saint John on the other, and
on it were the usual candlesticks with large wax candles and vases of
flowers; while the walls were adorned with other paintings illustrating
the lives of various saints, in which monks and nuns frequently
appeared.  The Mother Eldress drew aside a curtain which hung across a
small side-chapel, when Clara saw, with considerable astonishment, the
figure of the Virgin, richly dressed, standing on a small altar with
candles burning on it, and also vases of flowers, with which the whole
of the chapel was decked.  The Mother Eldress bowed and crossed herself.

"You should do as I do," she said, turning to Clara; "the Blessed Virgin
demands our most devoted love and adoration; we can never do her honour
enough."

"I thought," observed Clara, "that as Protestants we did not worship the
Virgin."

"Let me entreat you, my child, never to utter that odious word
Protestant," exclaimed the Mother Eldress.  "We are Catholics of the
Anglican Church; we do not worship the Virgin either; but we love to do
her honour."

Clara was puzzled; but thought it better just then to ask no further
questions.  The refectory and other public rooms were next visited; they
were neat and scrupulously clean, but were destitute of every article of
luxury, or which might conduce to comfort--no sofas, no easy arm-chairs
were found in them.

"You will now like to see the cells," said the Mother Eldress, as she
led the way upstairs.  Passing along a gallery, she opened a door, and
exhibited a long narrow room containing a camp-bedstead, covered by a
white quilt, a small table and a chair, and in one corner a desk with a
Bible and a few books of devotion on it, as also a lamp, and above it a
picture of the crucifixion.  It was lighted by a small, deep, oriel
window, with a broad sill, on which were arranged some flower-pots,
sweet-scented flowers growing in them.  No carpet covered the floor; but
it was brightly polished, as was all the woodwork in the room.

"Such will be your dormitory," observed the Mother Eldress.

"Is there no fireplace?" asked Clara.

"There are in some of the cells; but such are not allowed to novices,"
was the answer.

Clara, who had been accustomed to a fire in winter all her life,
shuddered; for even now, in the height of summer, the room felt cold.

"I will now show you the rules," said the Mother Eldress, producing a
book in manuscript.  "No letters must be written or received by the
Sisters of Saint Barbara, and any presents that may be made must be
given to the Mother Superior for the use of the community.  Sisters are
always, whether by night or day, to enter the chapel with all alacrity,
and in a perfect spirit of recollection, in order to prepare their souls
for prayer.  No Sister must be absent from the chapel without leave, and
all must recite the offices.  You see how well our time is divided,"
continued the lady; "we rise at three a.m.; there are primer,
meditation, etcetera, until seven, when we enjoy the Holy Communion.
After this we have prayers and self-examination until nine, and from
that hour till ten we work.  At ten we dine, which is the first meal we
partake of in the day.  We then take an hour for recreation, and another
till twelve for meditation.  From one till four we work, when we attend
vespers, and from half-past four to half-past five we take tea and
listen to spiritual reading.  From half-past five to six we have again
recreation, from six to seven prayers, at which hour we retire for the
night; but we rise for prayer during one hour of the night, and at
midnight on Thursdays we rise to spend an additional hour in prayer.
Thus, you see, every moment of the day is portioned out.  During the
hours of work we tend the sick and visit the dying; we also are employed
in other good undertakings, and we hope before long to establish fresh
ones.  So you see, my dear, that we work out our own salvation, though
those who have a vocation to a purely religious life can enter our
contemplative order, and devote themselves entirely to prayer and
meditation.  You will be able to judge by-and-by to which you would wish
to belong, though you will, of course, be guided by the advice of the
Mother Superior."

"Alas!" said Clara, "I do not feel myself fitted for either at present;
but I believe that I should prefer attempting to teach the young--at
least, the very young, for I should never manage big boys and girls.  I
used to teach some of the cottagers' little children in our
neighbourhood, till I had entirely to devote myself to my dying father."

"You will learn by experience," said the Mother Eldress.  "I will
mention your wish to the Mother Superior, and she will probably appoint
you to the duty you select.  She has great discernment, and will
perceive for which you are best fitted."

Clara thought that she herself could judge best of what she could do.
She expressed as much to the Mother Eldress, who smiled, and reminded
her of the rule of obedience.  Altogether, Clara was tolerably well
contented with the prospect before her.  She was afterwards introduced
to a number of the Sisters during their hour of recreation; but she
could not help remarking that whenever one addressed another, a nun, who
she was told was the Deane, instantly interfered, and reminded the
speaker that private conversation was against the rule.  She discovered
that there were to be no private intimacies, and that any conversation
must be general.

"Can I not associate with any one whom I like?" asked Clara afterwards
of the Mother Eldress.

"It is against the rule," was the answer; "private friendships would
destroy the harmony which must exist in our sisterhood."

"But cannot I express my sorrow or anxiety to a sympathising friend?"
asked Clara, ingenuously.

"Such must be poured into the ear alone of the Mother Superior or of
your father confessor," said the Mother Eldress in a stern tone;
"discipline could not be otherwise maintained."

Clara felt unusually hungry at teatime, as she had had but a slight
luncheon; but as it was Friday--dry bread alone was allowed during the
meal.  One of the Eldresses read an allegorical work, the meaning of
which Clara did not exactly comprehend, and from it therefore she did
not gain much spiritual advantage.  Another half-hour was spent in
conversation, which was anything but spiritual, and then the nuns
adjourned to the chapel, where they joined in reciting prayers, the same
being repeated over and over again; and at seven they retired to their
cells.  Clara, unaccustomed to go to bed at so early an hour, could not
sleep: the past would recur to her.  Against all rule she thought of
Harry and the way she had treated him; then she remembered all must be
given up for the sake of following Christ--but was she following Him by
entering a convent?  The conflict was severe; she burst into tears, and
sobbed as if her heart would break.  Hour after hour went by, sleep
refusing to visit her eyelids, till, long after midnight, thoroughly
worn out, she sobbed herself into forgetfulness.

The convent clock was striking three when a Sister entered her cell and
summoned her to rise and repair to the chapel.  Hastily dressing, she
followed her conductress, who had remained to assist her.  She there
found all the nuns assembled, and for four hours they remained repeating
prayers and chanting alternately, till Dr Catton entered, and after
going through a service, administered the Holy Communion, giving the
wafer instead of bread, and wine mixed with water.  Faint and weary, for
nearly two hours more Clara remained, while the nuns repeated the
prayers, or sat silent, engaged in self-examination.  Some of them who
had undertaken the duty of teachers then went into the schoolroom, where
some fifty children were assembled.  Clara begged leave to accompany
them, and gladly took charge of three or four of the youngest, though by
this time she felt so exhausted that she could with difficulty speak.
The school over, the nuns hurried to the refectory, where a frugal
dinner was placed on the table by the serving Sisters.  In silence the
nuns took their places; in silence they ate the portions served to them.
Clara, sick from hunger, had the greatest difficulty in swallowing the
coarse and unpalatable food.  It notwithstanding restored her strength,
and she went through her duties in the schoolroom with rather more
spirit than in the morning.

The following day was passed much as the first.  Clara saw but little of
the Mother Superior, who kept herself much aloof from the community, in
her own apartments, which were furnished very differently to those of
the nuns.

Several weeks passed by.  Though Clara got accustomed to the ways of the
establishment, and strictly followed the rules, she did not find herself
more at home than at first, nor was she at all more intimate with the
Sisters; yet, girl as she was, she possessed an indomitable spirit.
Although the false religious fervour which had induced her to consent to
enter a nunnery had vanished, she was determined not to give in on
account of the disagreeables she experienced.  Her aunt Sarah had
promised to write to her, and she herself had written several times; but
she received no letters, and dared not ask whether any had come for her.
She remembered that till she wrote her aunt would not know her address,
unless Mr Lerew had given it.

The short time that it was necessary to remain as a postulant had
expired, and in a formal service in the chapel she was received as a
probationer, and assumed the dress of the order.  Scarcely a day had
passed before she found herself exposed to annoyances which she had not
hitherto experienced.  During the hours of recreation the Deane, whose
duty it was to keep the Sisters in order, was continually rebuking her
for some transgression of rules, either for laughing or talking too
much, or addressing a Sister in a voice which the rest could not hear;
and she had to undergo in consequence all sorts of penalties.  She
submitted, as she considered that she was in duty bound to do, though
she felt that they were far severer than the faults demanded.  She could
discover none of the religious fervour which she had expected to find
among the Sisters, or of love or sympathy.  Her own spirit, though not
broken, was kept under a thraldom, against which her judgment rebelled.
It appeared to her that the system was far better adapted to keep in
subjection a household of people out of their minds than a collection of
ladies in their right senses, who wished to serve God and do their duty
to their fellow-creatures.  No Sister was allowed to visit another in
her cell, and sometimes for days and weeks together Clara did not see
some of the Sisters whom she had met on her first arrival.  Where they
had gone, or what they were about, she could not learn.  Little
attention was paid to those who were ill, and no sympathy was expressed.
A young Sister who had been sent out on a begging expedition for the
order, and had to trudge through the wet day after day, caught cold, and
was obliged to return.  She grew pale and thin, and the ominous red spot
appeared on her cheek.  She coughed incessantly, but still went through
her duties.  At night she suffered most; and to prevent the sound from
disturbing others, she was ordered to move to a distant cell, without a
stove by which it could be warmed.  Clara determined, against the rules,
to speak to her, and offered to come and sit by her; but she shook her
head, replying, "It must not be--you are wrong;" at the same time the
countenance of the dying girl expressed her gratitude.  Clara's
infraction of the rules being discovered, she was ordered to remain
during the hours of recreation in solitude in her own cell.

The invalid Sister had crawled into the chapel one morning, and
contrived with tottering steps to find her way back to her cell.  The
next morning she did not appear at matins, and when the Eldress went to
see what had become of her, she was found stretched on her bed, dead,
her pillow and sheets stained with blood, which had flowed from her
mouth.  She was not the only one whose life was thus sacrificed during
Clara's novitiate.

One day there was great commotion in the convent; the father of a novice
had appeared at the gate, armed with legal powers which the Lady
Superior dared not disobey, insisting on taking away his daughter.  The
young lady was told that she might go, with a warning that by so doing
she was risking her soul's welfare.  She had to take her departure in
the dress of the order, leaving behind every article she had brought in,
her own clothes having been sold for the benefit of the community.  The
dreadful fate to which she was doomed, and the fearful crime of her
father, were daily expatiated on.

Some months passed by, when her father died, and Dr Catton immediately
wrote, urging her to return, and stating that if she did not do so, he
could no longer remain her spiritual director, and thus she would lose
the benefit of absolution.  Letter after letter was sent to the same
effect, and at length the poor girl, terrified by the consequences to
which, as she supposed, her conduct had exposed her, came back to the
convent.  She was received in a stern manner by the Mother Superior, in
the presence of the community, being told that it was through love for
her soul that she had been readmitted; but that she must for a whole
year hold no intercourse with the other novices, and must remain in
solitude during the time allowed each day for recreation; while she was
pointed to as a warning to the rest.  This discipline preyed greatly on
her mind, and Clara, whose cell was next to hers, heard her weeping
night after night.  When she appeared in public, she hung down her head,
and scarcely tasted any of the meagre fare placed before her; taught to
suppose that fasting was a virtue, or else weary of the life she was
doomed to lead, she was starving herself to death.

Notwithstanding all the vigilance exercised, the novices did contrive at
times to hold communication with each other, and one young girl, who
looked very sad, and was evidently dangerously ill, confessed to Clara
that she had escaped from her home to join the convent against the
express wishes of her father, whom notwithstanding she asserted that she
loved dearly.  She had ever been among the most obedient to the commands
of the Lady Superior, and the strictest in complying with the rules of
the order.  Her illness increased; she at last received the news of the
death of that parent whose wishes she had disobeyed.  The thought that
her disobedience had deeply grieved him whom she was bound to love
preyed on her mind, and tended much to aggravate her disease; the
arguments brought forward by the Lady Superior, and Mother Eldress, and
her father confessor, that God had the first claims on her, failed to
assuage her sorrow, or to persuade her that she had acted rightly.
Clara, observing that she looked more than usually ill when they parted
in the evening, could not refrain from going into her cell.  She found
her on her bed, gasping for breath.

"Thank you for coming," whispered the poor girl; "it would have been
hard to die all alone.  My poor father! my poor father!" she murmured;
"would that I could have been with him!"

She could utter no more.  Clara, to her horror, while bending over her,
found that the poor sufferer had breathed her last.  She hurried to the
apartment of the Mother Eldress, who came somewhat agitated to the dead
Sister's cell; but instead of expressing any grief at the occurrence,
she sternly rebuked Clara for breaking the rules, and ordered her back
to her own cell.  The Sisters assembled at the usual hour in the chapel;
but not a word was said of the occurrence of the night.  The nun was
buried with ceremonies resembling those of Rome, and things went on as
usual.

The Mother Eldress, who was looked upon as a very saintly person, was at
length taken ill, and Clara was ordered to attend on her.  The medical
adviser of the sisterhood was sent for, and prescribed certain remedies
which Clara had to administer.  A small spoon had been provided for
giving some powders in preserve; Clara used it daily for some time, till
the Mother Eldress recovered, when the Lady Superior took possession of
it.  She had been in the habit of late of sending for Clara to impart
religious instruction, which, she observed, she much required; not
failing at times, however, to lecture her severely.  The day after the
Mother Eldress had recovered from her illness the Lady Superior
addressed Clara in a more serious tone even than usual.

"You will observe, my daughter," she said, "that miracles have not
ceased; but that some communions, alas! have not faith to perceive them.
We, holding the Catholic doctrine in its purity, have been more
favoured.  Let me ask of what metal you conceive that the spoon with
which you used to administer the medicine to our beloved Mother Eldress
is composed."

"It was, I should say, of silver, or rather plated," answered Clara.

"Originally it might have been; but see here, it is turned to gold,"
answered the Lady Superior, producing the spoon, which had now evidently
a yellow tinge.

"I observed that before," said Clara, "and believed that it was produced
by the nature of the medicine."

"Oh, hard of heart, and slow to believe!" exclaimed the Lady Superior;
"can you not now perceive that it is gold, pure gold?  By what other
than by miraculous power could this change have been wrought?  Let the
glorious fact be known among the Sisters, and all who desire may come
and witness it."

Clara was not convinced; she went away wondering whether the Lady
Superior was deceived herself, or desired to deceive others.  Many of
the nuns were highly delighted at hearing of the miracle, which tended
so much to prove that their establishment was under the especial
protection of Heaven.  The Mother Eldress crossed her hands on her
bosom, while she meekly bowed her head, and expressed her gratitude that
she should have been so remarkably favoured.  It was evident, however,
to Clara, that some of the Sisters were sceptical on the subject.

Clara found the life she was doomed to lead more and more irksome; but
when she compared it with that of the Sisters who belonged to the order
of the Sacred Heart, the true nuns, who were even more strictly enclosed
(as the term is) than were she and her associates, she felt that she had
no right to complain.  The nuns of the Sacred Heart, or as they were
frequently called, of the order of the Love of Jesus, were supposed to
spend their time in perpetual prayer for the living or the dead.  The
whole of the twenty-four hours, Clara learned, are divided into what are
denominated watches; the night watches being kept by the nuns in the
following manner.  The Sisters retire at seven o'clock, with the
exception of one who remains watching till eight.  She then summons
another Sister, who rises and watches till nine, the latter again
summoning a fresh watcher, and thus they continue till three o'clock,
when all assemble in the chapel for matins.  They also join in prayer
seven times in the day, at fixed periods, though they may be separated.
To the order of the Love of Jesus are attached companions who may mix in
the world, and whose real duties are to obtain proselytes.  They are
expected to join in prayer at stated hours, wherever they may be, and on
every Thursday night, from midnight till one o'clock, the companions
unite in prayer.  The Lady Superior in one of her more confidential
moods invited Clara to join the order.

"My dear child," she observed, "it is a glorious thing to be thus
constantly engaged in prayer when you may; in every service and homage
you render, call to your aid the choirs of angelic spirits, and unite
yourself to them in spiritual companionship, in order that they may
supply your deficiencies."

Clara had never before heard that it was necessary to obtain the aid of
angels for offering up prayer to God, and was somewhat startled at the
novelty of the notion; but she knew perfectly well that it would not do
to state her objections to so determined a person as her spiritual
mother.  She did not, either, feel inclined to become one of the order
of the Sacred Heart, not having formed the very highest opinion of the
nuns belonging to it whom she had met.  They appeared to her generally
weak-minded enthusiasts, and she still retained a belief that God is
best served by those who, in imitation of our blessed Lord and Master,
engage in the duties of active benevolence.  On her declining,
therefore, the Lady Superior dismissed her in a stern manner, reminding
her that those who put their hands to the plough, and look back, are not
worthy of the kingdom of heaven.

Clara, without uttering a word, left the room, and hoped to devote
herself with more zeal than ever to the duties she had actually
undertaken.  With this feeling, she repaired at the appointed hour to
the schoolroom, where she took her class of children.  They were, as it
happened, inclined to be less attentive and more unruly than was their
wont; some of them had only lately been induced to attend the school,
and were unaccustomed to the rules and regulations.  A biggish boy was
trying to see how far he could proceed in impudence and lead on the
others, when Clara, finding that appealing to him was useless, gave him
a box on the ear.  The Deane, at that moment entering, observed the act.

"Sister Clare," she exclaimed, "I must take your class; retire to your
cell."

Clara, not believing that she had done anything wrong, got up and obeyed
the order.  Had she remained, she would have seen that the Deane's
temper was tried as much as hers had been.  On reaching her cell she sat
down, wondering whether any further notice would be taken of her
conduct.  Scarcely had the convent clock announced that school was over,
than the Deane appeared, and ordered her to go to the Lady Superior.
She was met with a frowning brow.

"You have given way to temper--you require humbling, my daughter,"
exclaimed the lady; "I must take means to lower that proud and haughty
spirit of yours.  Return to your cell, and wait till the Mother Eldress
comes for you."

Clara bowed and obeyed.  After she had waited for some minutes, the
Mother Eldress appeared, and taking her hand, led her along the gallery
to an empty room, which, not having been used for many months, the floor
was covered with dust.

"Enter there," she said, "and show your contrition by kneeling on your
knees, and licking with your tongue the form of the Blessed Cross on the
ground."

Clara stood aghast.

"Are you serious?" she asked.  "It is the command of the Lady Superior,
and you are bound by your vow of obedience to obey her orders--break
them at the peril of your soul, Sister Clare," was the answer.  "Go in,
and let me be able to report that you have exhibited sorrow for your
fault by performing the penance which your spiritual superior in her
wisdom has thought fit to inflict."

No sooner had Clara entered the room than the door was locked on her.
Degraded and abased in her own eyes, all her moral feelings revolting
against the abominable indignity imposed on her, yet the threat which
had been uttered made her tremble.  She had vowed implicit obedience.
With loathing at her heart, with a feeling too bitter to allow her tears
to flow, she performed the debasing act, forgetting that the marks she
was thus making on the ground was the accepted symbol of the Christian
faith.  Still, the words occurred to her, "Rend your hearts, and not
your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God."  Could the God of all
love and mercy and gentleness be pleased by such an act?  It might
degrade her in her own sight; but could it make her heart more truly
humble, more anxious to serve Him who said, "Come unto me, all ye that
labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

Clara had a Bible in her pocket.  To calm her agitation, she read a
portion, earnestly praying for instruction.  The words which brought
conviction to Luther met her sight.  Light beamed on her troubled mind.
The mists which the vicar's sophistries had gathered round her rolled
away.  "From henceforth I will look to Jesus alone, to the teaching of
His Word, the guidance of His Holy Spirit," she exclaimed.  Clara was
free.



CHAPTER FIVE.

At length General Caulfield, having arranged the affairs of his brother
who had died, returned to Luton.  He had been made very anxious and
unhappy by the letters he received from Harry, who expressed his
astonishment at not hearing from Clara.  The general, supposing that she
was still at home, and fearing that she must be ill, immediately on his
arrival set off to pay her a visit.

"Miss Maynard is away; Miss Pemberton is at home, sir," said the servant
who opened the door.

Miss Pemberton received him in a stiff and freezing manner.  He
immediately enquired for Clara.

"My niece has, for some time, left home, and has not communicated her
address to me, nor has she thought fit to write, so that I am in
ignorance of where she is," was the unsatisfactory answer.

"That is most extraordinary," cried the general; "can you not give me
any clue by which I may discover her?"

"I conclude, as she has not informed me of her abode, that she does not
wish it to be known," answered Miss Pemberton, evasively.

"Though you do not know where your niece is, is Mr Lerew, or is her
father's old friend, Mr Lennard, acquainted with her present address?"
asked the general.

"I should think that she would have informed me rather than any one
else," replied Miss Pemberton; and the general at length, finding that
he could get no information out of the lady, took his leave.

"I will try, at all events, to ascertain what either Lennard or Lerew
know," said the general to himself, as he drove off.  Though he
suspected that the vicar knew something about the matter, he decided
first to call on Mr Lennard.  He believed him to be an honest man, but
he had no great opinion of his sense.  Mr Lennard was at home; he
received the general in a kindly way.  The latter observed that his
manner was unusually subdued.  Without loss of time, the general
mentioned Miss Maynard, and expressed his regret at not finding her at
home.

"Can you tell me where she has gone to?" he asked, "for her aunt
declares that she does not know, though it was evident from her manner
that she is not anxious about her."

"I regret to say that I know no more than you do," answered Mr Lennard.
"I had been for some time absent, and on my return I was greatly
surprised to find that she had left Luton; and when I enquired of the
Lerews, they told me that she had resolved to devote herself to works of
charity, and was about to enter a sisterhood, but in what neighbourhood
they did not inform me."

"In other words, that she is about to become a nun, to discard my poor
son, and to give up her property, as soon as she has the power of
disposing of it, to the safe keeping of one of those Romish
communities," exclaimed the general, with more vehemence than he was
accustomed to exhibit; "what do you say to that, Mr Lennard?"

"I don't suppose that Miss Maynard purposes entering a Romish convent;
her intention, I conclude, is to join a sisterhood of the Anglican
Church," said Mr Lennard.

"The Church of England, of which I suppose you speak, recognises no such
institutions," replied the general; "they are contrary to the spirit of
the Reformation.  Unhappy will it be for our country if they ever gain
ground."

"I had been inclined to suppose that they would prove a great advantage,
by enabling ladies to unite together and work under a good system in
visiting the sick and poor, and in the instruction of the children, and
in other beneficent labours; and I have, when requested, subscribed
towards their support," remarked Mr Lennard.

"I do not insist that ladies should not thus employ themselves,"
observed the general; "but my objection is to the mode in which they
unite themselves in the so-called religious system under which they are
placed.  They may, in most instances, serve God far better by staying at
home and doing their duty in their families, instead of assuming the
dress and imitating the customs of the nuns of the middle ages."

"I do not look at the subject in that light," observed Mr Lennard, "and
I know that it must be a hard matter for some young ladies to be
religious at home, where the rest of the family are worldly-minded."

"Much more reason for them to stay at home and endeavour to improve the
tone of the rest of the household," answered the general.  "Those who
know what human nature is should see that with whatever good intentions
these sisterhoods are begun, they must in the end lead to much that is
objectionable.  If Miss Maynard has joined one of them, I must endeavour
to find the means of getting her out, or of ascertaining if she was
induced to join it, and remains of her own free will.  I fear that Lerew
will not afford me any assistance, as from his Romish tendencies he will
probably consider them admirable institutions, and would think that he
had done a laudable act in inducing Clara to enter one.  I must now wish
you good-bye.  I hope that you have good accounts of your young daughter
Mary, and your son at Oxford."

Mr Lennard shook his head.  "I received a letter to-day from my little
girl, saying that she was very ill, and begging me to come and take her
home; but as the mistress did not write, I do not suppose that her
illness is serious.  However, I intend to go to-morrow to Mary, and
ascertain how she is, and I trust that I shall not be obliged to take
her away from school."

The general considered whether he should call on Mr Lerew; but he first
bethought himself of paying a visit to a lawyer in the neighbouring
town, with whom he was well acquainted, and who had been a friend of
Captain Maynard's.  He was also an earnest religious man, and strongly
opposed to ritualism.  The general was not a person to let the grass
grow under his feet.  He was driving rapidly along, when he met
Lieutenant Sims, who made a sign to him to stop.  The general did so,
and invited the lieutenant to accompany him into the town.

"With all my heart, for I want to have a talk with you, general,"
answered the lieutenant, springing in.  "I have long been wishing for
your return.  We've had some extraordinary goings on in this place.
What has concerned me most is the disappearance of my old friend's
daughter, in whom you, I know, take a deep interest.  All I know is that
she went away with the vicar and his wife, and it is my belief that they
had an object in spiriting her off; but whether to shut her up in a
Romish or Ritualist convent is more than I can say.  I don't think there
is much to choose between them; the vicar might select the Ritualist, or
the Anglican, as he would call it, as he, though a Papist at heart,
would prefer keeping his living, while his lady would recommend the
former; for it is said, and I believe it to be a fact, that she herself
has turned Romanist, with her dear friend Lady Bygrave.  Haven't you
heard that both Sir Reginald and her ladyship were received last week
into the bosom of the Church of Rome, as the expression runs?"

"Is it possible!" exclaimed the general; "but I ought not to be
surprised when I saw the characters they admitted into their house.  I
thought that French abbe and Father Lascelles had some other object in
view than the establishment of a colony; but perhaps you have been
misinformed."

"I tell you, general, I haven't a doubt about the matter," answered Mr
Sims.  "They and Mrs Lerew attended the Romish church together, and I
am told had been baptised with all ceremony a few days before.  I know
that two or three priests have been staying at the Hall ever since, and
Mrs Lerew goes there regularly.  They are about to have a chapel built
in their grounds, and an architect came down from London about it; and
in the meantime they have got a room fitted up in the house.  What
surprises me is that the vicar should allow his wife to turn; but that
she has done so seems probable, for she was not at church last Sunday.
Should Lerew object to his wife's perversion, he has only himself to
thank for it; he has led her up to the door as carefully as a man could
do, and cannot be surprised at her going inside.  Of course she thinks
it safer to join what she has been taught to look upon as the true
church, and has therefore honestly gone over to it; while whatever he
may think, putting honesty and honour aside, he considers that it is
more to his advantage to retain his living, and lead others in the way
he has led his wife."

"I suspect that you are right," observed the general; "too many have set
him the example.  He, like them, has been trained in the school of the
Jesuits, who are fully persuaded that evil may be done that good may
come of it, and banish from their minds the principles which guide
honest men, and which they themselves would advocate in the ordinary
affairs of life.  I can only wish that, unless Mr Lerew's mind is
enlightened, he would go over himself; as I am afraid, while he remains
in the Church of England, he may lead others in the same direction."

"Not much fear of that," observed the lieutenant; "except a few silly
young people of the better classes, and the poor, who look out for the
loaves and fishes in the shape of coals and blankets and other creature
comforts, I don't think many are influenced by him.  He is more likely
to empty his church, and to fill the Dissenting chapels."

"Still," said the general, "he sows broadcast the germs of Romanism
through the doctrines he preaches, while he accustoms people to the
sight of the ceremonies and paraphernalia of Rome, keeping them in
ignorance at the same time of the simple truths of the Gospel, at the
bidding of those whose commands he obeys; for he and his ritualistic
brethren are but instruments in the hands of more cunning men than
themselves.  I have little doubt that he was carefully educated at the
university for the part he is now playing, though he then had no idea of
the designs of his tutor.  People laugh at the notion that a Jesuit plot
has long existed in England for the subversion of Protestantism; but I
have evidence, which receives daily corroboration, that Jesuits in
disguise matriculated at the universities for the express purpose of
perverting the minds of all whom they could bring under their influence.
The pupils in numberless instances went over to Rome, while the tutors
remained nominally in the Church of England, for the sake of trapping
others.  The scheme has succeeded, and has since been greatly enlarged;
the Jesuits have now agents in every shape--some as incumbents of
parishes, as lay supporters, men and women, guilds and sisterhoods; they
have encouraged works of charity, schools, hospitals, refuges for the
fallen and destitute, _creches_, mothers' meetings, and other
institutions, all excellent in themselves, knowing how much such would
forward their object.  Of that object, those who take part in them are,
I am ready to believe, in many instances utterly ignorant; they are
influenced by the desire to obey the commands of Christ, and to make
themselves useful to their fellow-creatures, though the idea that they
are thereby meriting heaven, and what they call working out their own
salvation, underlies all they do, as they misinterpret the passage.
They ignore the glorious truth that through simple faith in the atoning
blood of Christ salvation is gained--that it is their own, and that the
right motive of action must be through love and obedience to Him who has
already saved them.  All the forms and ceremonies in which they indulge
are but will-worship, tending to obscure their view of Him, and to
destroy their spiritual life."

"General," said the lieutenant, "I have seen a good deal of Roman
Catholic countries, where the priests have full sway, and I am very sure
that the system these Ritualists have introduced is tending in the same
direction.  I know from experience that true religion makes a man all
that can be expected of him.  We had a dozen or more such men on board
the last ship in which I served, and they were out and out the best men
we had; they could be trusted on all occasions; and if any dangerous
work had to be done, they were the first to volunteer.  They were
Dissenters of some sort, I believe, and were not in favour with our
ritualistic chaplain, who had his followers both among officers and men.
I can't say much about those officers, and as to the men who pretended
to agree with him, they were the most sneaking rascals in the ship.  He
tried to bring me over to his way of thinking, but my eyes were opened.
`No, no,' I answered; `if the ship was going down, and you had to take
your chance in one of the boats, which would you choose, the one manned
by those fellows you anathematise, or with the men you call obedient
sons of the Church?'  He couldn't answer; but one day, he being left on
shore, the heretics, as he called them, brought him off through a heavy
surf, when no other men would venture.  So you see, thanks to our
chaplain, when I found the new vicar working changes in the church, I
knew pretty well what he was about."

The general found Mr Franklin, his solicitor, at home.

"I am very glad you have come, general," said the latter.  "Miss
Maynard, as you are probably aware, has been induced to leave home, or,
rather, has been entrapped by one of those conventual establishments, to
which she will in due course, when she has the power, be persuaded to
give up her property.  Our business must be to get her out of their
hands before that time arrives; and yours, general, more especially to
point out to her the errors of the system which has thrown its glamour
over her; for, if I understand rightly, she has sacrificed an excellent
and satisfactory marriage, as well as the independence and comforts of
home.  It was not for a considerable time that I discovered her absence
from Luton, when her aunt (who, no disrespect to the lady, I consider it
a misfortune was left one of her guardians) positively declared that she
did not know where she had gone.  I, however, took steps to find out,
and lately ascertained that she is an inmate of Saint Barbara's, near
Staughton, to which place I discovered that she drove on leaving the
railway, in company with Mr and Mrs Lerew.  Convinced that Miss
Pemberton was not likely to render any willing assistance, I awaited
your return to take legal measures to obtain her release.  Our first
difficulty will be to communicate with her, for the nuns are allowed to
receive no letters till they are first seen by the Lady Superior.  It
would be as well first to ascertain whether the young lady desires of
her own free will to leave the convent; she has had some experience of
it, and may by this time perhaps have repented of the step she has
taken.  My belief is that she has been deceived and cajoled.  I know
well of what those Ritualists are capable, influenced by what they
believe the best of motives, and I strongly suspect that there is some
misunderstanding between her and your son, brought about, I say without
hesitation, by their means.  Either her letters have not been forwarded
to him, or his have not been received by her--perhaps the entire
correspondence has been intercepted--I will not go farther than that.  I
say this as I wish to plead for your ward, at whose conduct you
naturally feel deeply grieved."

"Poor girl! notwithstanding all the pain and suffering she has caused my
son, I am not angry with her," said the general; "my indignation is
directed against the system and persons by whom she has been deceived.
I suspect as you do with regard to the correspondence between her and my
son, for I am very sure she would not have given him up without
assigning any reason, or answering his letters."

"Our first object must be to open a free communication with her; letters
sent in the ordinary way are sure to be read by the Lady Superior, and
the answers dictated by her, so that we shall not be wiser than at
first," remarked Mr Franklin.

"I must try that simple plan, however, and if it fails, resort to
stronger measures," observed the general.  "I will go to Staughton
myself, and write to say that, as her guardian, I wish to have a private
interview with her on a matter of importance, and to beg that I may be
allowed to call on her at the convent, or that she will come and see me
at my hotel."

"I am afraid that means would be taken to prevent her from seeing you
alone," observed Mr Franklin.

"What course do you then advise?" asked the general.

"We must take legal proceedings, and they are very certain to have their
due effect, as the Lady Superior would be exceedingly loth to have the
internal arrangements of her convent made public, and she is well aware
that if she resists she will run the risk of that being the case.  I
have already had something to do with her ladyship, as well as with two
or three other convents, and I know how jealous the managers are that
the secrets of their prison-houses should be revealed.  Their aim is to
prove they have nothing to conceal, and that all is open as noon-day;
but the moment troublesome questions are asked, they exhibit a reticence
as to their rules and practices which shows how conscious they are that
outsiders will object to them."

Before the general took his leave, it was arranged between him and Mr
Franklin that they should go over together to Epsworth, and act
according to circumstances.  As he drove home he expressed a hope to the
honest lieutenant that he might be the means of emancipating Miss
Maynard from her present thraldom.

"She has too much sense and right feeling not to be open to conviction,"
answered Mr Sims; "what she wants is to be freed from the evil
influences to which she has of late been exposed, and to have the simple
truth placed before her; only don't let her meet her aunt or Mr Lerew
till she has thoroughly got rid of all her erroneous notions, and
understands the simple gospel as you well know how to put it."

"You may depend on my following your advice," said the general.

On reaching home, the general found a note from Mr Lennard.  He wrote
in great distress of mind.  He had received a letter from a friend at
Oxford, telling him that his son had left the university in company with
a Romish priest, and had declared his intention of seeking admission
into the Church of Rome.  Mr Lennard was anxious, if possible, to find
out his son, and prevent him from taking the fatal step, at the same
time that he wished to be with his poor little girl at Cheltenham.

"I am afraid," he continued, "that the tutor under whom I placed my boy,
by Mr Lerew's advice, has had much to do with it.  I now hear that
three or four of his previous pupils have become Romanists, and others,
by all accounts, are likely to go over.  I object to my son's becoming a
Romanist, though I consider that the Church of Rome is the mother of all
Churches, and has the advantage of antiquity on her side."

"The mother of all abominations!" exclaimed the general to himself.  "I
must endeavour to set my friend right on that subject, if he holds that
fundamental error."

The general was a man of action.  After taking a hurried meal, he drove
on to the house of Mr Lennard.  His journey to Cheltenham had been
delayed, and he was now hesitating whether first to go in search of his
son or to proceed there immediately.  The thought at once struck the
general that should he succeed in getting Clara out of the convent, he
might go on to Cheltenham with her, and that if Mary was fit to be
removed from the school, it would give Clara occupation to nurse her
friend.

"I shall indeed be most grateful to you," said Mr Lennard, with the
tears in his eyes; "I was sorely perplexed what to do, and I specially
wish that Mary should not remain longer at the school than can be
helped, as from her letter it is evident that she is not only ill, but
very miserable there.

"You must give me your written authority, and I will act upon it," said
the general.  This was done.  "Now, my friend," he continued, "I wish to
speak to you on the remark made in your letter, in which you say that
you consider the Church of Rome the mother of all Churches, and that it
has the advantage of antiquity.  You evidently go first on the
assumption that our Lord instituted a visible Church on earth, and that
that Church, though corrupted, is the Church of Rome.  Now I wish to
draw your attention to the origin of that wonderful establishment which
has for so long exerted a baneful influence over a large portion of the
human race.  For three centuries true Christians, though becoming less
and less pure in their doctrine and form of worship, existed in Rome as
a despised and subordinate class, the purity of their faith gradually
decreasing as their numbers, wealth, and influence increased.  At length
the Emperor Constantine professed himself to be a Christian, which he
did for the sake of obtaining the assistance of the Christians against
his rival Licinius, who was supported by the idolaters.  Constantine
being victorious, and Licinius slain, the idolaters saw that they could
no longer hope to be predominant.  There existed in Rome from the days
of Numa a college, or curia, the members of which, called pontiffs, had
the entire management of all matters connected with religion.  The post
of head pontiff, or Pontifex Maximus, had been assumed by Julius Caesar
and his successors.  They had probably no real belief in the idolatrous
system they supported; such secret faith as they had was centred in
Astarte, the divinity of the ancient Babylonians, whose worship had been
introduced at an early period into Etruria, as it had been previously
into Egypt and Greece.  They were, in reality, the priests of Astarte,
and from them we derive our festival of Christmas, our Lady Day, and
many other festivals with Christian names.  It had been their principle
from the first to admit any gods who had become popular, and thus were
added in rapid succession the numberless gods and goddesses of the
heathen mythology.  At length Jesus of Nazareth was added to their
pantheon.  These pontiffs, on perceiving that Christianity, patronised
by the Emperor, was likely to gain the day, saw that to maintain their
power they must themselves pretend to belong to the new faith.  This
they did, and one of their number soon managed to get himself chosen the
Bishop of Rome, while the other pontiffs by an easy transition formed
the College of Cardinals.  The title of Pontifex Maximus, being held by
the Emperor, was not assumed by the bishop of Rome till the Emperor
Gratian in 376 refused any longer to be addressed by that title.  Having
banished some of the grosser practices of idolatry, they introduced the
remainder under different names, so that the pagans might readily
conform to the new worship.  The apostles took the place of the various
gods, and the martyrs those of the inferior divinities; above them all
was raised Astarte, who, now named Mary the Mother of God and Queen of
Heaven, became the chief object of adoration.  In truth, the established
worship at Rome remained as truly idolatrous as it had ever been, while
the great aim of the pontiffs was to increase their power, amass wealth,
and strengthen their position.  From that period they acted, as might
have been expected, in direct opposition to all the principles of
Christianity.  Bloody struggles often took place between rivals aiming
at the pontificate, while they endeavoured to destroy all those who
refused to obey them.  It was not till a somewhat later period, when the
head pontiff set up a claim of superiority above all other bishops,
that, to strengthen it, it was asserted that he was in direct apostolic
succession from the apostle Peter, the pontiff who first made it being
ignorant, probably, that the Christian Church at Rome was founded
exclusively by Paul, and that the apostle Peter never was at Rome, he
having been all his life employed in founding churches in the East.  `By
their fruits ye shall know them;' and we have only to reflect on the
lives of the popes, many of them monsters of atrocity, and the fearful
acts of persecution which they encouraged and authorised, to be
convinced that paganism, the invention of Satan, had usurped the name of
Christianity, and that the Romish Church, as it is called, instead of
being the mother of all Churches, is truly the Babylon of the
Apocalypse; yet this is the system which ministers of the Church of
England are endeavouring to introduce into our country, with its
idolatrous rites and dogmas, and which you and many excellent men like
yourself look at with a lenient eye, instead of regarding it with the
abhorrence it deserves."

"My dear friend," said Mr Lennard, greatly astonished, "I certainly had
never regarded the Church of Rome in that light; I looked upon it as the
ancient Church, corrupted in the course of ages."

"It has no true claim to be a Christian Church at all," said the
general; "it is like the cuckoo, which, hatched in the nest of the
hedge-warbler, by degrees forces out the other fledglings, and usurps
their place.  So did paganism treat Christianity; although, fostered by
God, the latter was enabled to exist, persecuted and oppressed as it
was, and still to exert a benign influence in the world.  On examining
the tenets of many who are called heretics, we find that it was not the
creed they held, but the opposition they offered to the Romish system,
which was their crime, and brought down persecution on their heads.
When we read of the horrible cruelties practised on the Waldenses and
Albigenses, the followers of Huss in Bohemia, the true Protestants of
all ages down to the time of Luther, the detestable system of the
Inquisition, the treatment of the inhabitants of the Netherlands by Alva
and the Spaniards, when whole hecatombs of victims were put to death at
the instigation of the pope and his cardinals, the destruction of
thousands and tens of thousands of Huguenots in France, the martyrdoms
of the noble Protestants of Spain, the massacre of Saint Bartholomew,
and the fires of Smithfield--all these diabolical acts performed with
the concurrence and approval of the papal power--can we for a moment
hesitate to believe that that power owes its origin, not to the Divine
Head of the Church, but to that spirit of evil, Satan, the deadly foe of
the human race?  Can any system founded on it, however much reformed it
may appear, fail to partake of the evil inherent in the original itself.
It is from not seeing this that so many are led to embrace the errors--
I would rather say the abominations--of Rome; while others are taught to
look at them with lenient eyes, and to believe that the system itself is
capable of reformation.  Before true and simple faith can be established
throughout the world the whole must be overthrown and hurled into the
depths of the sea, as completely as have been the idols and idolatrous
practices of the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, where
Christianity has been established."

Mr Lennard leant his head on his hand.  "I must think deeply of what
you say; you put the whole matter in a new light to me.  I have had no
affection for Rome; still, I have always regarded her as a Church
founded on the apostles and prophets."

"Yet which virtually forbids its followers to study those prophets and
apostles," remarked the general.  "But what I want you to do is to look
into the subject for yourself.  I have merely given you a hint for your
guidance; by referring carefully to the Scriptures, you will find more
and more light thrown on it, till you must be convinced that the view I
have taken is the correct one; and would that every clergyman and layman
in England might do the same! these ritualistic practices would then
soon be banished from the land."

Never in his life had poor Mr Lennard been so perplexed and troubled.
He was invited to reconsider opinions which he had held, in a somewhat
lax fashion it may be granted, all his life.  He had to search for his
son, and prevent him if possible from becoming a slave to the system he
had just heard so strongly denounced, and he was painfully anxious about
the health of his dear little Mary.  While he was still in this unhappy
state of mind, the general left him to return home.  The next morning
they both set off to their respective destinations, the general to
Epsworth, having called for Mr Franklin on his way, and Mr Lennard to
London.

On reaching Epsworth, the general wrote a note to Clara, saying that as
her guardian it was necessary for him to see her at once, and that he
would either pay her a visit at the convent, or would request her to
come to his hotel.  After waiting for some time, he received a note in a
strange handwriting; it was from a lady, who signed herself Sister
Agatha.  She stated that she wrote by the command of the Lady Superior,
who was at present unwell, but would, on her recovery, reply to the
letter General Caulfield had addressed to Sister Clare, or, as she was
called in the world, Miss Clara Maynard.

"We must give her ladyship a taste of the law," said Mr Franklin; "she
fancies that she can play the same game with us which she has
successfully employed with others.  You shall write a note, stating that
your legal adviser, Mr Franklin, is with you; address it to the Lady
Superior, and say that you insist on seeing Miss Maynard at once."

As soon as the letter was despatched, Mr Franklin, observing that he
had some business to transact, went out, leaving the general engaged in
writing.  He had been for some time absent, when he hurriedly entered
the room.

"I thought it would be so," he observed.  "The Lady Superior is about to
remove Miss Maynard to some other establishment, and she will then
coolly inform you that, Sister Clare not being an inmate of the convent,
she cannot be answerable for her.  I learnt this from one of several
people I placed on the watch, and I find that one of the serving Sisters
has come in to say that a conveyance is wanted immediately at the
convent.  I have ordered our carriage, and we will follow the other; and
you can either speak to Miss Maynard as she comes out of the convent, or
meet her at whatever railway station she goes to."

The general did not quite like this plan; he had hoped to see Clara
alone, and be able to speak to her for as long as might be necessary, so
as to convince her of the fearful mistake she had made, should she at
first show an unwillingness to leave the convent; still, he had no other
course but to follow Mr Franklin's advice.  They accordingly entered
their carriage, and soon overtook another driving in the direction of
the convent.  At a short distance from it, Mr Franklin ordered the
coachman to pull up, and got out.  He and the general then walked
leisurely towards the gate, just as they got in sight of which, they
caught a glimpse of three muffled figures stepping into the carriage.

"Now is our time," exclaimed Mr Franklin; "I've bribed the coachman not
to move on till I have given him leave, so that should one of those
dames prove to be the Lady Superior--and I know her very well--we shall
have an opportunity of addressing her; and I think what I say will make
her hesitate to use force in preventing Miss Maynard from accompanying
you, should you desire her to do so."

The next instant they were alongside the carriage, just as the Lady
Superior--for she was one of those inside--had put her head out of the
window, peremptorily ordering the coachman to drive on as fast as he
could.  Though he flourished his whip, he kept his reins tight; but Mr
Franklin, putting his hand on the door said, "Madam, my friend General
Caulfield, whom I have the honour to introduce to you, desires to have
some conversation on a matter of importance with Miss Maynard, and I am
glad to see that she is here to answer for herself."

As he spoke, Clara sprang up, and though the Lady Superior and the other
Sister attempted to hold her back, she threw herself forward into the
general's arms.

"Sister Clare, remember your vow of obedience; sit quiet, I order you,"
cried the Lady Superior, in a stern tone; but Clara paid no attention to
the command.  With an imploring look for protection, she gazed into the
general's countenance.

"I wish to accompany you," she whispered; "take me, take me away! don't
scold me!"

The general recognised the features of the once bright and blooming
girl, though her dress looked strange.

"I have come on purpose to take you, my dear girl," he answered, holding
her tightly.  "I am in your good father's place--trust to me."  He then,
turning to the Lady Superior, said, "I have the right, as this young
lady's guardian, to take her away from you, as she has expressed her
wish to accompany me.  Mr Franklin will explain all that is necessary.
I bid you good morning, Madam."

"Sister Clare, remember your vows," again repeated the Lady Superior, in
a solemn voice; "the anathema--"

"I cannot allow such language to be uttered to my client," said Mr
Franklin; and he went on to explain the legal rights of guardians in a
way which was calculated to keep the Lady Superior silent.  The general,
meantime, half leading, half carrying poor Clara, reached his carriage,
which at a sign to the coachman approached to receive them.  Mr
Franklin, observing that the general had handed in Clara, followed,
having directed the coachman to drive off, leaving the Lady Superior and
her companion in a state better imagined than described.  Looking back,
the lawyer observed that they had re-entered the convent.

Clara was no sooner seated than she burst into tears.  "I have been very
miserable, but I have myself alone to blame," she said.  "I knew what
you would think, while I obstinately listened to Mr and Mrs Lerew, and
to what they had taught Aunt Sarah to say to me.  Still, I wanted to
consult you, but as you were too angry with me to write, I could not
have my doubts solved; and even Harry cast me off, and refused to have
any further correspondence with me.  I don't blame him, for I knew his
opinions, and he warned me--"

"My dear Clara, do you think it possible that I should not have written
to you, or that Harry should have neglected to do so?" interrupted the
general.  "I wrote letter upon letter, and got no answer, and Harry told
me that he had written over and over again, and at last had enclosed a
letter to your aunt, but that she had returned it, saying that she did
so at the recommendation of your spiritual adviser, who considered that
it would be highly improper for you, who had become a bride of the
Church, to receive a letter from a mortal lover."

"Then I have been deceived and betrayed," exclaimed Clara, "entirely
through my own folly, and I have caused Harry terrible pain and
annoyance."

"There is no doubt that you have been deceived and betrayed," said the
general; "but we do not blame you, except that instead of seeking
guidance and direction from the loving Father who is ever ready to
afford it, you allowed yourself to be led by fallible human beings, who
in this instance had, I suspect, an object in inducing you to follow the
line they had pointed out.  You did not distinguish between the works
which these Sisters of Charity propose undertaking and the system and
principles by which they are guided.  The works themselves are such as
all Christians are bound to engage in or support, whereas the system is
idolatrous, and encourages will-worship; the works are made to support
the system, instead of, as it should be, love and obedience to our
heavenly Master producing the works.  Our loving Father wishes His
children to be happy and to enjoy the good things with which He provides
them.  No monastic rules, no peculiar dress, no vows of obedience to
fallible mortals like ourselves, no fasts or penances are required to
enable us to obey His laws; all we need is to seek for grace and
strength from Him to do His will; and knowing that the blood of Jesus
Christ cleanseth from all sin, we can go boldly to Him in prayer,
offered up through our sole High Priest and Mediator, who ever pleads
the efficacy of that blood."

"I know you speak the truth," said Clara; "but I felt myself so
unworthy, I fancied that God would not receive me unless I made some
sacrifices in His service."

"You dishonoured Him, my dear child, by thinking so," answered the
general; "He will in no wise cast out those who come to Him, and He
desires all to come just as they are, with humble and contrite spirits;
but not under the idea that they can first put away their sins, and
merit His love by any good deeds or penances they may perform.  Such
acts as are pleasing in His sight must spring from loving obedience to
Him; all He does is of free grace; we can merit nothing, because we owe
Him everything.  When you see this clearly, you will understand more
perfectly the wrong principles on which the whole Romish and ritualistic
systems, and, believe me, they are identical, are founded."

Through the general's remarks Clara's eyes were quickly opened; it
appeared as if a thick veil had been thrown over them, which had
suddenly been removed, and she wondered how she could have been so
lamentably deceived.  She looked upon her convent life, with its rigid
rules, its senseless silence, its hours of solitude, its meagre fare,
the cold and suffering uselessly endured, its unnatural vigils, its
mockeries of religious observances, the cruelties she had seen
practised, all tending to depress the spirits and lower the physical
powers, with just abhorrence; and then a choking sensation came into her
throat, and the colour rose to her cheeks as she thought of the
abominable confessional, the questions asked her, and the answers she
had had to give.  She tried to shut them out from her thoughts.  Could
she ever be worthy of the pure, honest-minded, open-hearted, noble
Harry?

On reaching their sitting-room at the inn, the general looked at Clara's
costume.

"I suppose, my dear child, that you would like to assume the ordinary
dress of a young lady of the nineteenth century," he said with a smile,
"in lieu of those garments of the dark ages."

A smile almost rose to Clara's lips, though her cheeks were blushing and
her eyes suffused with tears as she answered, "Yes, I should very much,
and I must ask if you will be good enough to send them back to the
convent, as they belong to the community, and I have no right to keep
them."

"With all imaginable pleasure," exclaimed Mr Franklin; "and I am happy
to say that I can assist you in procuring a desirable costume.  I have a
relative residing here who is much about your height and figure, and as
she has some interest with the mantua-makers, I have no doubt that by
to-morrow morning she will induce them to supply you with a
travelling-dress and such other articles of apparel as you may require."

Clara expressed her thankfulness, and added, "Pray let it be as simple
as possible."

"Oh yes, it shall be such as will become a quakeress if you wish it; I
will lose no time about it," said Mr Franklin, hurrying out of the
room.

"Why, he has gone without taking anything to eat; he must be almost
starving," observed the general.  "I know that I am; and, my dear, I am
afraid that you must be hungry, unless you took a late luncheon."

"We had dinner at ten, though I took but little," answered Clara; "but
we are accustomed to go a long time without food."

"Your looks tell me that, my dear," exclaimed the general, ringing the
bell.  "We must take more care of you in future than you have received
lately.  I never knew starving enable a person the better to go through
the duties of life."

The waiter entered, and the general ordered luncheon to be brought up at
once, in a tone which showed that he intended to be obeyed, adding, "Let
there be as many delicacies as your cook can provide off-hand."

The lawyer had not returned when luncheon was placed on the table.
"Come, my dear, I want to see you do justice to some of these nice
things," said the general.

Poor Clara hesitated; it was a fast-day in the convent--could she at
once transgress the rule?  She was going to take simply some bread and
preserve, but the general placed a cutlet on her plate.  "I must insist
on your eating that, and taking a glass or two of good wine to give you
strength for your journey to-morrow," he said.  Clara had to explain her
difficulty.  "I know of no command of the Lord to fast," he observed,
"though He stigmatised vain fasts and oblations.  The apostles nowhere
command it, and the early Christians, until error crept in among them,
did not consider fasting a religious duty.  In your case let me assure
you that it would be a sin to fast when you require your strength
restored.  You have had much mental trial, and will have more to go
through.  The mind suffers with the body, and it is your duty to
strengthen both.  Come, come, eat up the cutlet, and take this glass of
sherry."

Clara obeyed, and in a wonderfully short time began to see matters in a
brighter light.  The general did not fail to explain that one of the
great objects of the system from which he wished to emancipate her was
that of weakening the minds of those it got into its toils to keep them
in subjection.  "Such was their aim in insisting on confession, on
fasting, and on vigils.  What is even a strong man fit for, who is
deprived of his sleep and half-starved?  How completely does a man
become the slave of the fellow mortal to whom he confides every secret
of his heart! and how much more thoroughly must a weak woman become a
slave, who is subjected to the same system!  Add to that the rule of
obedience which you tell me is so much insisted on.  Obedience to whom?
to a woman as full of faults and weaknesses as other human beings.  How
sad must be the result!  It is terrible to see the name of religion
prostituted in such a cause."

Clara ate up the cutlet without any further objection, and meekly
submitted to take some of the other delicacies the general placed before
her.

"You'll do, my dear," he said, smiling; "we shall have the roses in your
cheeks again, I hope, in a few weeks.  What I want you to do is to
distinguish between God's and man's religions.  You have erred from
confounding the two.  Our loving Father wants a joyous, willing
obedience; He allows no one to come between Him and us poor sinners, but
our one Mediator and great High Priest, to whom we must confess our
sins.  He invites us to come direct to Him in prayer.  Those dishonour
Him who fancy that either ministering angels or departed saints can
interfere with our glorious privilege.  He who said, `Rend your heart,
and not your garments,' desires no debasing penances, no fasts, nothing
which could weaken the powers of the mind.  When you come to look into
the subject, you will see that all such practices were invented by the
great enemy of souls to draw men off from their reliance on their loving
Father, who is ever ready to give grace and help in time of need."

Before luncheon was quite over Mr Franklin returned.  "You will excuse
us for not waiting for you," said the general.  "Miss Maynard was nearly
starving."

"I am glad you did not wait, indeed," answered Mr Franklin, "for I may
compliment Miss Maynard on looking much better than she did an hour ago.
I have been entirely successful in my mission; my cousin and her
milliner will be here in a few minutes.  I have a message from my aunt,
Mrs Lawson, who begs that you and Miss Maynard will stay the night at
her house, as she can there make the arrangements about her dress with
far more convenience than here."

The general, without stopping to consult Clara, at once accepted the
offer.  Clara herself was thankful to move to a quiet house.  Miss
Lawson, who was a sensible girl, understanding Clara's position and
feelings, with much thoughtfulness made every arrangement she could
require.  Having supplied her from her own wardrobe, she took away the
conventual garments, which Mr Franklin with infinite satisfaction
carefully packed up and sent with a note, couched in legal phraseology,
to the Lady Superior, requesting that Miss Maynard's property might be
sent back by return.  "I don't suppose we shall get it," he remarked to
his cousin; "but it is as well to see what her ladyship has to say about
the matter."

Late in the evening a note arrived from the Lady Superior, who had to
assure Mr Franklin that she possessed nothing belonging to Miss
Maynard, who was well aware that any articles brought into the convent
became the property of the community, and that all secular dresses were
immediately disposed of as useless to those devoted to the service of
the Church.

"I call it a perfect swindle," observed Mrs Lawson, who was not an
admirer of convents.  "Miss Maynard tells me she took two trunks full of
summer and winter clothing.  She had not a notion before she went to the
convent how she was to dress or what she was to do."

"I am afraid, notwithstanding, that we cannot indict the Lady Superior
as a swindler, whatever opinion we may secretly form of her," answered
Mr Franklin, laughing.  "I daresay that Miss Maynard will soon be able
to replace her loss.  We would rather not have her adventure made
public, except for the sake of a warning to others."

Miss Lawson, whose garments fortunately fitted Clara, begged that she
would take such as she might require until the dressmaker could forward
those which had been ordered.  The next morning, heartily thanking Mr
Franklin and his relations, Clara and the general set off for
Cheltenham.  It was not to be expected that Clara would at once recover
her spirits and serenity of mind; but fortunately they had the carriage
to themselves, and thus the general had an opportunity of further
explaining the subjects he had touched on on the previous day.  As he
never was without his Bible, he was able to refer to that, and to point
to many texts which of late Clara had heard sadly perverted, or which
had been carefully avoided.  He explained to her the origin of the whole
Romish system, and showed her how identical that of the Ritualists was
with it; the great object being to exalt and give power to a priestly
caste, who, pretending to stand between God and the sinner, thus obtain
power over the minds and property of their fellow-creatures.  "Such has
been the object of certain men imbued with a desire to rule their more
ignorant and more superstitious fellows, from the earliest ages; it was
this spirit which influenced the priests of Egypt, Greece, and Rome; it
exists throughout India, among the savages of America in their
medicine--men, in the islands of the Pacific, and indeed in every region
of the world.  It is the object of the Romish system, and is now
exhibiting itself in a more subtle form among the ministers of the
Church of England.  We properly apply the term sacerdotalism to any
system the spirit of which seeks to place a human being in any
intermediate character between God and man.  Sacerdotalism is in direct
opposition and antagonistic to the genius of the Gospel, which
enunciates the great truth that there is but one Mediator between God
and man, the Man Jesus Christ; that through the atoning blood of Christ,
man, if truly turning to Him, and heartily believing, receives directly,
and without any other agency whatever, pardon and absolution.  He, and
He alone, pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, that is,
look to Him and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel.  Christ, and Christ
alone, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life to seeking, travailing,
heavy-laden man; whereas the Romanists, as do the Ritualists, assert
that without the priestly function there is no complete remission, no
claim to all the benefit of the Passion, no assurance of God's
sanctifying grace.  There must be, say these people, contrition,
confession, and satisfaction united with the sacerdotal function, a
succession of acts, the priest being the organ of God's sanctifying
grace."

"Oh, then, of what mockery, of what sin, have I been guilty?" exclaimed
Clara.

"Turn from it, and look to Jesus, and He grants immediate forgiveness,"
answered the general.

"Would that all who are misled as I have been might receive that
glorious truth!" cried Clara.  "Oh, general, tell it everywhere, and
show me how I may help to open the eyes of others as mine have been
opened."

"God alone can open the eyes of the blind; but we can become active
instruments in His hands by conveying to them the remedy for their
blindness," said the general, taking Clara's hand.  "Your words afford
me infinite satisfaction, and remove an anxious weight from my heart on
your own account, and on that of one naturally still dearer to me.
Depend on it that, with God's grace, I will not relax in my efforts to
make known the simple Gospel, and to exhibit the sacerdotal system of
Rome, and of the so-called ritualism of England, in its true light."



CHAPTER SIX.

On reaching Cheltenham, the general took Clara to the house of his
sister-in-law, a Scotch lady, who received her with the most motherly
kindness.

"I very well know the sort of glamour which has been thrown around you,
my dear," she said, "so that I can heartily sympathise with you; and I
praise God that it has been removed.  You can now therefore look with
confidence for grace and strength from Him who is the giver of all good,
to walk forward in the enjoyment of that true happiness which God in His
mercy affords to His creatures.  There is abundance of work for our sex,
which can be carried out in a straightforward, Protestant, English
fashion."

"I shall be thankful to find it," said Clara.

"You will not have long to wait, my dear," answered Mrs Caulfield; "but
at present you require being nursed yourself: you must let me take you
in hand."

As soon as the general had deposited Clara with his sister-in-law, he
set off and paid his promised visit to Mary Lennard.  On reaching Mrs
Barnett's establishment, he was shown into a handsome drawing-room,
where that lady soon presented herself, under the belief that he had
come to place a daughter with her.  She bowed gracefully as she glided
into a seat, and smilingly enquired the object of his visit.

"I have come to see Miss Mary Lennard, daughter of my particular friend,
the Reverend John Lennard," answered he.

"She is too ill, I regret to say, to see visitors," answered the
schoolmistress.  "Had her father come, I of course should not have
objected."

"I am acting in the place of her father," said the general, "and I must
insist on seeing the young lady, who has, I understand, been made ill by
a system of fasting and penances which all right-minded people must
consider objectionable."

"Sir, you astonish me," exclaimed Mrs Barnett.  "I should suppose that
every clergyman would wish his daughter to fast on Fridays and other
days ordered by the Church; and with regard to penances, such have been
imposed by the priest to whom she has duly gone to confession."

"Why, I thought this was a Protestant school," exclaimed the general,
astonished.

"That term I repudiate," answered the lady.  "I am a daughter of the
Anglican Church, and as such I wish to bring up all my pupils."

"You may act according to your conscience, but parents may differ from
you as to whether you are right in compelling growing children to fast,
as also in allowing them to confess to a person whom you call a priest,"
answered the general.  "I regret having to act in any way which is
disagreeable to you, but I must insist, madam, with the authority given
me by Mr Lennard, on seeing his daughter alone, and judging what steps
I shall take."

The lady hesitated; the general put Mr Lennard's letter into her hand.
She still hesitated.

"Have you any reason for wishing me not to see Mary?" he asked.

"She may appear worse than she really is," said Mrs Barnett.  "Our
medical attendant has visited her daily."

"That makes it more necessary for me to see her and judge for myself,"
said the general, in a firm tone.

Mrs Barnett rang the bell, and a servant appearing, she told her to
inform Miss Lennard that a friend of her father wished to see her.

"She isn't able to get up, marm, I'm afraid," was the answer.

"Then show me her room," said the general, rising; and without waiting
to hear Mrs Barnett's remarks, he followed the servant, who led the way
upstairs to a room containing four beds.  A cough struck his ears as he
entered.  On one of the beds lay poor Mary; her once rosy cheek was pale
and thin, and her large eyes unusually bright.  She knew him at once,
and stretching out both her hands, said, "I am glad to see you; but I
thought papa would come."

The general explained that Mr Lennard was prevented from doing what he
wished.

"Then, will you take me away from this?" she asked, in a whisper; "I am
sure that papa would do so.  I am not happy here; but do not let Mrs
Barnett know I said so."

"If you can be removed without risk, I certainly will take you,"
answered the general.

"Oh, yes, yes!  I shall be well soon.  I could get up now if they will
give me my clothes," exclaimed Mary.

The day was bright and warm; and as the general felt sure that Mary
could be removed without danger, he determined to take her to his
sister-in-law's immediately.

"Take me! take me!" said Mary; "I feel quite strong enough, and the
doctor said that there was nothing particularly the matter with me."

Her eagerness to go was still further increased when she heard that she
was to be taken care of by Clara Maynard.

"I thought that she had been shut up in a convent," she exclaimed.  "The
girls here were saying that it is a very holy life, though I don't know
that there are many who wish to lead it; but I was very, very sorry to
hear of Clara's being a nun, because I thought that perhaps I might
never see her again, and of all people I wondered that she should turn
nun."

"I trust that she has given up all intention of becoming one," said the
general; "but you will see her soon, and she will tell you what she
thinks about the matter."

The general then told the servant to assist Miss Lennard in dressing,
while he went out to obtain a conveyance.  On returning to the house, he
desired again to see Mrs Barnett.  The lady was somewhat indignant, and
warned him that he must be responsible for the consequences of removing
Miss Lennard.

"Of course I am, and I am taking her where she can be more carefully
nursed than is possible in a school," answered the general.

Mary was soon ready, and her box packed up.  The thoughts of going away
restored her strength, and she walked downstairs without difficulty.
The general carefully wrapped her up, and telling her to keep the shawl
over her head and mouth, lifted her into the carriage.  They had but a
short distance to go.  Clara was delighted to find that Mary was to
remain; but on perceiving how ill the poor girl evidently was, she felt
very sad.  Mary was, however, not at all the worse for being removed,
and Mrs Caulfield immediately sent for her own medical man to see her.
He looked very grave, but gave no decided opinion.  "She has been poorly
fed, and her mind overtaxed for one so young," he remarked.  "We must
see what proper care and nourishment will effect; but I must not
disguise from you that I am anxious about her."

Clara begged that Mary might be placed in her bed, while she occupied a
small camp-bed at its foot.

"But you will have no room to turn," observed Mrs Caulfield.

"It is wider and far softer than the one to which I have been
accustomed," she answered, smiling, "and I shall be much happier to be
near Mary than away from her."

Clara had now ample occupation in attending on her sick friend, though
Mrs Caulfield insisted on her driving out every day, and advised her to
receive the visits of several friends who called.  With the
consciousness that she was of essential use to Mary, her own spirits
returned and her health improved.  The rest of her time was spent in
working, or reading to Mary, or playing and singing to her.  The healthy
literature the general procured for Mary benefited Clara as much as it
did her friend; it was an invigorating change from the monastic legends
and similar works which were alone allowed to be perused in the convent.
She thought it better not to say much about her own life there; but
Mary was not so reticent with regard to her school existence.  The only
books allowed to be read were those written by priests, ritualists, or
Roman Catholics.  "The books were mostly very dull," said Mary; "but as
we had no others, we were glad to get them.  Then a clergyman came, who
told us that we were all very sinful, but that when we came to him at
confession he would give us absolution; and as we thought that very
nice, we did as he advised us; but I did not at all like the questions
he put; some of them were dreadful, and I know he said the same to the
other girls.  Still, as we were kept very strict in school, we were glad
to get out to church as often as we could; there was the walk, which was
pleasant in fine weather; and then we could look at the people who were
there, and the music was often very fine, and the sermon was never very
long; and sometimes the young gentlemen used to come and sit near us,
and talk to the elder girls when no one was looking--at least, we
thought they were young gentlemen, but, as it turned out, they were
anything but such.  One of them, especially, used to give notes to one
of the girls, and she wrote others in return, and we thought it very
romantic, and of course no one would tell Mrs Barnett of it.  At last,
one day, we thought that the girl had gone into confession; but instead
of joining us she slipped out of the church at a side door, where her
lover was waiting to receive her.  Away they went by the train to a
distance, where they were married, and could not be found for some time.
At last they came back, when it was discovered that the young man was
the son of a small tradesman in the place, though he had pretended that
he had a good fortune and excellent prospects.  Mrs Barnett was
horrified, and tried to hush matters up, and I believe the parents of
the girl did not like to expose her for their own sakes.  I know that I
and the rest were very wrong in our behaviour, and I will not excuse
myself, except to say that everything was done to make us hypocrites.
Religion was very much talked about on Sundays and saints' days; but I
have learnt more of the Gospel since I came here, from you and dear
General Caulfield, than I ever knew before."

Clara sighed as she thought how little she herself had known till
lately.

"You had better not talk any more about your school," she said; "let us
speak rather about what we read, and things of real importance."

Clara had become very much alarmed about Mary.  Wholesome and regular
food, and gentle exercise in the carriage when the weather was fine,
somewhat restored her strength; but there was the hectic spot on her
check, and the brightness of the eyes, which too surely told of
consumption.  Mr Lennard at length arrived; he looked much depressed,
and was shocked at seeing the change in his daughter.  He had a most
unsatisfactory account to give of his son, whom he had searched for for
some time in vain.  At last he discovered that the young gentleman had
been formally received into the Romish Church, and that his friend the
priest was concealing him somewhere in London.  The poor father found
out where his son was through a letter which was forwarded from Luton,
in which the youth asked for a remittance for his support, as he had
expended all his means, and could not longer, he observed, encroach on
the limited stipend of his friend, Father Lascelles.  Mr Lennard, still
hoping that it might be possible to win back the youth, wrote entreating
him to return home, and on his declining to do this, he offered to let
him continue his course at Oxford, that he might fit himself for
entering one of the learned professions.  After a delay of two or three
days, Alfred wrote saying that he had applied to his bishop, who would
not consent to his doing so, and that as he was now under his spiritual
guidance, he must obey him rather than a heretic father.

"You will pardon me for calling you so," continued Master Alfred; "but
while you remain severed from the one true Church, such you must be in
the eyes of all Catholics, one of whom I have become."

"I was too much grieved to laugh, as I might otherwise have done, at the
boy's impertinence," observed Mr Lennard to the general; "but as I look
upon him as deceived by artful men, I cannot treat him with the rigour
he deserves.  What do you recommend, general?"

"We must, if possible, get him to come home, and then put the truth
clearly before him," remarked the general.

"I am afraid that I cannot say enough to induce him to change," said Mr
Lennard, with a deep sigh.

"We must have recourse, whatever we do, to earnest prayer," observed the
general.  "I cannot suppose that your son's mind is already so
completely perverted as to be impregnable to the truth."

"Alas, it is not for so short a time," answered Mr Lennard; "the seed
was sown by the tutor with whom he spent a year or more, and finally
matured by this same Father Lascelles and his tutor at college.  He is
the very man with whom Mr Lerew read, I find.  I wonder that he was not
the means of his older pupil's perversion."

"Mr Lerew is not so honest a man as your son," answered the general;
"Mr Lerew was about to take orders, and would prove a useful tool,
while it was more prudent to secure your son at once, as he, it was
supposed, would inherit your property.  I wish that I could offer you
consolation; but I fear that you would consider me a Job's comforter at
the best."

Mr Lennard had come hoping to take Mary home; but she appeared scarcely
able to undertake so long a journey, and Clara confessed that she
herself was unwilling to return as yet to Luton.  Poor Mr Lennard was
nearly heart-broken on hearing from the doctor that he thought very
badly of Mary's case.

"Could I not take her abroad, to Madeira, or the south of France?" he
asked.

"It would be, I feel confident, useless," was the melancholy answer;
"had she strength to stand the journey, her life might possibly be
prolonged for a few weeks; but she would probably lose more by the
exertion of travelling than she would gain by the change.  Here she is
under loving care, and we may alleviate her sufferings."

Some more weeks wore by, and Mary grew worse.  Mr Lennard felt, what
some parents do not, that it was his duty, though a painful one, to tell
his daughter that her days were numbered, and at the same time to afford
her such comfort as, according to his knowledge, he could.  He gently
broke the subject.

"I know it," she answered.  "I asked Clara if she thought I was dying,
and she told me that the doctor said I could not recover; but, dear
papa, I am prepared to go away to One who loves me, though I am sorry,
very sorry, to leave you, and Clara, and the general, and those who have
been kind to me."

The tears were falling from Mr Lennard's eyes.

"You have been a dear good girl, and have enjoyed the blessing of
baptism, and have been confirmed, and have received the sacrament; you
shall receive it again if you wish, and I hope that God will take you to
heaven."

"Oh, dear, dear papa, don't speak so," answered Mary; "I know that I am
a wretched sinner; I have done nothing to merit God's love and mercy;
but I know that Jesus Christ died for me, and that His blood cleanseth
from all sin; and, trusting to Him, I am sure that He will receive me in
the place He has gone before to prepare for those who love Him.  I have
faith in Christ; that is my happiness, hope, and confidence.  I am not
afraid to die, for I know that He will be with me through the shadow of
the valley of death."

Mr Lennard gazed at her, unable to speak.  He could not ask her further
questions, but was revolving in his own mind the meaning of what she had
said.  She had no confidence in any of the objects which he had been
accustomed to present to the minds of the dying, if he believed them to
be good Churchmen, and if not, he had always urged them to repent of
their sins and to take the sacrament, in the hope that thus God might
receive them into heaven.  Mary's remarks had brought new light to his
soul; she trusted solely to the _all-finished work_ of Christ, to whom
she looked as her Saviour, with full assurance that He would welcome her
to heaven.  She thought not, she spoke not, of any of the rites and
ceremonies in which he had trusted himself, and had taught others to
trust, rather than to the blood of the Atonement.  She did not ask even
him, her father, and, as he had fancied himself, a priest, to offer a
prayer on her behalf.  No, she was resting joyfully on Christ as her
all-sufficient Saviour.

"I see it all now," he said, half aloud; "it is this of which the
general has been speaking to me lately, but which I did not comprehend."

"Yes, dear papa; Jesus did it all long ago; He saved me then, and I am
trusting in Him; that makes me so happy, so very happy," exclaimed Mary.

"I believe as you do," answered Mr Lennard; "would that I had known and
taught your poor brother the same truth! it would have prevented him
from falling into the toils of Rome."

"We can pray for him, that he may be rescued from them," said Mary.

"I wished to make him a sound Churchman, and taught him that there is
but one true Church, and that that is the Church of England; and
miserable has been the result," said Mr Lennard.

"Alfred may be brought back.  God will hear our united prayers,"
whispered Mary.

"I cannot pray with faith that my prayer will be answered," he murmured.
"I did my utmost to instil the belief into him, and he has ever since
been with those who have done their utmost to forward the same notion."

Mary now became her father's comforter.  She lingered with those who
loved her for some time longer, proving an especial blessing to Clara,
who had, as her ever-watchful nurse, constant employment and occupation
for her thoughts and feelings.  The general remained with his sister,
and afforded Clara that instruction and guidance she so much needed,
while he put into her hands such books as were best calculated to
strengthen her mind and to do away with all traces of that mysticism
which she had imbibed both before and during her life in the convent.
With clearer perceptions of truth than she had ever before enjoyed, she
was now better able to perform her duties in life.  She had written to
her aunt, saying that she hoped some day to return home, but was at
present employed in nursing her young friend Mary Lennard, whom she
could not at present leave; but she did not think it necessary to speak
of her escape from the convent, or to enter into other particulars, so
that Miss Pemberton remained in ignorance of her change of opinions.

Mr Lennard had twice gone away in the hope of meeting his son and
inducing him to attend the death-bed of his sister; but the priests, who
were well-informed of the religious opinions of those who had taken
charge of Mary, made him send various excuses, and poor Mary was
deprived of the satisfaction of seeing her brother again.  When Mr
Lennard returned, Mary had become much weaker, and she could only
whisper, "Pray for poor Alfred; don't be angry with him--he may be
brought back;" and her young spirit went to be with the Saviour in whom
she trusted.  Clara aided the general in comforting their friend.

The bereaved father found peace at last; but often before that, in the
bitterness of his heart, he would exclaim, "It was that school, that
abominable system of fasting and penance, and that accursed
confessional, which killed her; and to have my poor weak misguided boy
carried off and enslaved body and soul by those wolves in sheep's
clothing, it is more than I can bear!  It was I--I alone, who in my
blindness and ignorance and folly exposed them to the malign influences
which have caused their destruction.  I have been the murderer of my
children!"

A few days after Mary's funeral, Clara, with the general and Mr
Lennard, returned to Luton.  Miss Pemberton received her niece with a
look of astonishment.

"Why, I expected to see you dressed as a nun, Clara," she exclaimed;
"have you given up your vocation?  Dear me!  Mr Lerew will be very much
disappointed; he fully expected that you would devote your fortune to
Saint Agatha's."

"I will explain matters to you, aunt, by-and-by," answered Clara, not
wishing on her first arrival at home to enter into any discussion.  "I
hope that you have not felt yourself very solitary during my long
absence."

"As to that, I can't say I have been very lively, for the whole
neighbourhood is divided, and because I go to church and confession, all
of your father's old friends have ceased to call on me; but of late I
have begun to think that they are not altogether wrong.  I must
acknowledge that since Sir Reginald and Lady Bygrave, and Mrs Lerew,
and two or three other people turned Catholics, my confidence in the
vicar and the High Church has been a little shaken.  Mrs Lerew wanted
me to turn too; but I was not going to do that, and even the vicar did
not advise it, though he said he couldn't help his wife going over; for
if so many went, people's suspicions would be aroused, and he should be
unable to establish his college."

"I am truly thankful that you did not go over," answered Clara.  "I have
learnt a good deal about the Ritualists of late, and I am very sure that
their tendency is towards Rome.  I have one favour to ask, that is,
should Mr Lerew call, that you will not admit him, as it would be
painful to me to see him again, for I cannot receive him as a friend."

"Why, have you found out anything about him?" asked Miss Pemberton, her
conscience accusing her.

"There is much, aunt, to which, I object in him," answered Clara,
firmly.

"Well, I don't wish you to be annoyed, my dear, in any way," said Miss
Pemberton; "and, in truth, I suspect that he wanted to get hold of your
fortune for his new college.  If he finds that he has no chance of that,
I don't think he will trouble you much."

"I would rather not think about him in any way," said Clara; "and do
pray tell me how Widow Jones and Mrs Humble and her blind daughter, and
the poor Hobbies, with their idiot boy, are getting on.  I must go and
see them and my other friends as soon as possible."

Clara then went on to make further enquiries about her poorer
neighbours, and was grieved to find that her aunt had not troubled
herself about them during her absence.

"It was all my fault," she said to herself; "I was placed here to help
them, and I have neglected that very clear duty by giving way to
delusive fancies."

Clara lost no time in carrying out her intentions, and was received with
a hearty welcome wherever she went.  Very frequently remarks were made
which showed her that the poor had a clearer perception of the
tendencies of the ritualistic system than she herself had previously
possessed.

"We be main glad to see you again looking so like yourself, Miss,"
exclaimed Dame Hobby.  "They said as how the vicar had got you to go
into a monkery that he might spend your money to pay for his fripperies
in the church, his candles, and that smoky stuff, and his pictures and
gold-embroidered dresses, and flags and crosses, and all they singing
men and women, and dressing up the little boys, as if God cared for such
things, or they could make us love Him and serve Him better, for that's
my notion of what religion should do.  The Bible says we can go straight
to God through Jesus Christ, and pray to Him as our Father; and all
these things seem to me only to stand in the way; and when we want to be
praying, we are instead looking about at the goings on, and listening to
the music.  'Tisn't that I haven't a respect for the parson and the
church; but when I go to church, I go to pray and to hear God's word
read and explained from the pulpit in a way simple people can
understand."

Clara found much the same opinions expressed by all she visited.  The
general came every day to see her, to strengthen and support her.  His
conversation had a very good effect on Miss Pemberton, whose eyes having
once been opened to the tendencies of the ritualistic system, she was
enabled to see it in its true light.  She resolved to have nothing more
to say to Mr Lerew, and to refuse to receive him, should he call.  Soon
after Clara returned home he had started on a tour to collect funds for
his college, and as he was absent, Clara was saved from the annoyance
she had expected.  The general was fortunately paying a visit to Clara
and her aunt when Mr Lerew at length came to call on Miss Pemberton to
enquire why she had not during his absence attended church.  It was
agreed that it would be better to admit him.  He tried to assume his
usual unimpassioned manner as he entered the room; but the frown on his
brow and his puckered lips showed his annoyance and anger.  He had not
had the early training which enables the Jesuit priest effectually to
conceal his feelings.  He had evidently heard that Clara had left the
convent, as he showed no surprise at seeing her.  He probably would have
behaved very differently to what he did, had not the general been
present.  Shaking hands with all the party, he took a seat, and brushing
his hat with his glove, cleared his throat, and then said, "I was
afraid, Miss Pemberton, that you were ill, as you have not, I
understand, favoured the church with your presence for the last two
Sundays."

"I had my reasons for not going," answered Miss Pemberton; "and I may as
well tell you that I purpose in future not to attend your church, as I
see clearly that your preaching and the system carried on there leads
Romeward; and I have no wish to become a Romanist or to encourage others
by my presence to run the risk of becoming so either."

"Romanist!  Romanist!" exclaimed Mr Lerew; "I have no dealings with
Rome; I don't want my people to become Romanists."

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating, Mr Lerew," answered Miss
Pemberton, dryly.  "I have expressed my resolution, and I hope to adhere
to it."

Mr Lerew was not prepared with an answer; but turning to Clara, he
said, "I trust, Miss Maynard, that though you have thought fit to
abandon the sacred calling to which I had hoped you would have devoted
yourself, you will still remain faithful to the Church."

"I cannot make any promise on the subject," answered Clara, being
anxious not to say anything to irritate the vicar.  "I believe that I
was before blinded and led away from the truth, when I was induced to
enter the sisterhood of Saint Barbara, and I now desire to retrieve my
error."

"I understand you, ladies," exclaimed the vicar, losing command of his
temper.  "Remember that by deserting the Church you are guilty of the
heinous crime of schism, for which, till repented of, there is no pardon
here or hereafter.  General Caulfield, I fear that you have much to
answer for in having set the example in my parish; you will excuse me
for saying so."

"It is you and those who side with you who are guilty of the schism of
which you speak," said the general, mildly.  "The Church of England
protests clearly against the errors of Rome; and you, by adopting many,
if not all those errors, are virtually cutting yourself off from that
Church, although you retain a post in it.  But let me explain that the
schism spoken of in the New Testament is the departing from the truth of
the Gospel, and the practices it inculcates; in other words, those who
leave Christ's spiritual Church.  My great object is to draw my
fellow-creatures into that Church; to induce them to accept Christ as
the Way, the Truth, and the Life; to persuade them to grasp that hand so
lovingly stretched forth to lead them to the Father.  I ignore the
schism of which you speak, invented by the sacerdotalists to alarm the
uneducated.  You have my reply, Mr Lerew, and I wish you clearly to
understand that I purpose, with God's assistance, by every means in my
power to make known the truth of the Gospel in this parish and in every
place where false teaching prevails."

"Then I shall look upon you as a schismatic and a foe to our Church,"
exclaimed Mr Lerew, rising.

"I have already explained to you the true meaning of schism," said the
general, quietly, "and have particularly to request that all further
discussion on this subject may cease.  Miss Pemberton and her niece have
expressed their sentiments, and you have long known mine.  I trust that
none of us will change; and anything further said on the subject can
only cause annoyance."

Mr Lerew saw that he had lost his influence over Clara and her aunt,
and not wishing to remain longer than he could help in the general's
society, quickly took his departure.  He had not as yet seen Mr Lennard
since his return, nor had he heard the cause of poor Mary's death; he at
once drove over to his house.  Instead of the hearty manner Mr Lennard
usually exhibited, he received his visitor with marked coldness.  Mr
Lerew was puzzled.

"I am sorry that my absence from home has prevented me hitherto from
calling on you," he said; "but I rejoice to have you back, and I hope
that you will assist at the celebrations in my church."

"I come to a sad home, deprived of my young daughter by death, and my
son by his perversion to the Church of Rome," answered Mr Lennard,
gravely, not noticing the last remark.  "I know that my child has left
this world for a far better; but I cannot forget that the seeds of her
disease were produced by the system practised at the school you
recommended, Mr Lerew, as also that my son's perversion was much owing
to the instruction received from the tutor under whom, by your advice, I
placed him.  The daughter of my late friend Captain Maynard has happily
escaped from the toils you threw around her; and though I am ready
heartily to forgive the injuries you have inflicted on me, I feel myself
called on to expose the traitorous efforts you and others with whom you
are associated are making to uproot the Protestant principles of the
Church.  I believe that I am actuated by no hostile feeling towards
yourself personally; but I will take every means in my power to put a
stop to the practices which you pursue in your church."

"You acknowledge yourself, then, an enemy to me and to the Church!"
exclaimed Mr Lerew, who felt braver in the presence of Mr Lennard,
whom he considered a weak man, than he had in that of General Caulfield.

"I desire not to be an enemy to you personally," answered Mr Lennard,
mildly; "but to your system, which is calculated to lead your flock
fearfully astray, I am, and trust I shall ever remain, an inveterate
foe."

In vain did Mr Lerew endeavour to win back his former dupe.  Mr
Lennard had clearly seen the chasm which divides the Protestant Church
of England from the Romish system and its counterpart, Ritualism, and,
as an honest man, he was not to be drawn over.  Again defeated, the
vicar of Luton-cum-Crosham had to take his departure.  He still,
however, found dupes to subscribe sufficient funds for the establishment
of his college, and a Lady Superior of high ritualistic proclivities to
take charge of it, and masters who, provided they got their stipends,
cared nothing about the object of the institution.  By putting out his
candles and omitting some of the ceremonies at his church whenever the
bishop or rural dean came to visit it, he was able to retain his living.
By means of a plausible prospectus, he, with other ritualistic
brethren, induced the parents and guardians of a number of young ladies,
tempted by the moderate expense and advantages offered, to send them to
the college, where, with the usual superficial accomplishments they
received, their minds were thoroughly imbued with ritualistic
principles.  General Caulfield and Mr Lennard prevented several of
their friends from being thus taken in.  A good many people were
staggered when they heard that the vicar's wife and his patrons--Lady
Bygrave and Sir Reginald--had become Romanists.  They had all three
lately set off for Rome itself, under the escort of the Abbe Henon.
They were there received with due honour by the Pope, and had the
satisfaction of hearing from the infallible lips of his Holiness that
England would, ere long, be won from the power of the infidel
Protestants, and restored to the bosom of the Catholic Church; and
believing themselves to be not the least important members of the
British race, they returned home to spread the joyful intelligence among
those who were ready to believe them.  The chapel erected in their park
had almost as large a congregation as that of the parish church,
especially as winter approached, and blankets and coals were liberally
distributed among the worshippers.

Clara, meantime, had pursued the even tenor of her way.  Her aunt was
greatly changed for the better; she had become kind and considerate to
her, and frequently accompanied her in her visits among the poor and
suffering in the wide district she had taken under her charge.  Though
Clara generally drove in her pony-carriage, she occasionally, when the
distance was not too great, went on foot.  She had one day thus gone
out, carrying a basket stored with delicacies for several sick people,
when, as she was proceeding along a sheltered lane, overhung with trees,
she heard a quick footstep behind her.  She turned her head and saw
Harry.  Her first impulse was to rush towards him--then for a moment she
stopped.  He held out his arms.

"Can you forgive me for my folly, and the pain and grief I have caused
you?" she exclaimed.

"I have forgotten it all in the happiness of seeing you thus employed,
exactly as I should wish," he answered; "never let us speak about it; my
father has told me all.  You were ever dear to me, even when I thought
that I had lost you.  You have learned to distinguish the true from the
false, and I shall never for a moment, in future, have the slightest
fear that, seeking for guidance from above, you will mistake the one for
the other."

THE END.





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