[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]


THE summer and the autumn of 48 passed away. That Christmas John Molroy didn't come home to Arrosey. He hadn't been at Arrosey since Easter, and was not expected till the ensuing summer. Soon after Christmas a Methodist revival broke out at Arrosey Chapel. Religion had got yery low. Like a clock it had run down, and it was the revivalist's function to wind it up. His coming was the talk of the country. The profane took refuge in Matt's ; the unconverted trembled ; backsliders shuddered ; the professors affected to rejoice. All were powerless and in acute suspense. He was the wonder-worker, the necromancer. "Arrosey" had no more hand in it than to permit the use of the chapel. Mrs. Molvurra boldly affected to rejoice in respect of many that would experience the great change; but in particular she prayed that, of all others, Ellen Molvurra might be brought in.

The meetings at first were not promising. The people were slow. But in a week news went round that the revival had taken. It was accepted with passive fatalism. They came over the hills, by road, and lane, and across country; drawn by irresistible magnetism to the lights glimmering in the darkness on the edge of Arrosey brow. Chapel and enclosure were filled. They spoke in low tones. It was hardihood to light a pipe; scarce possible to escape pious reproof for such a deed. Inside the chapel, under a low roof with three old wooden chandeliers filled with tallow candles, was crammed an immense audience. The revivalist knew his business. He was a little man from England, possibly five-and-fifty, physically a deteriorated type of clerk or millworker of the third generation, his complexion pale but clear, his forehead large, rounded, glossy, his hair once jet black, now mingled with grey, and sweeping in long moist curls over his ears. He wore a threadbare black preacher garb and a white tie. But chiefly noticeable were his eyes, small, beady, black, and with an expression by the force of which most of his necromancy was wrought. They fixed themselves on you with mingled pity, yearning reproof, condemnation, and a dogged determination to clutch your soul and capture it. He was a veritable little basilisk. He produced the sensation of a snake which will pursue its prey persistently day and night to twine its slimy folds around-it, and strike it with triumphant fang at last. His voice, moreover, had an emotional tremor hardly less potent than his eye. After a sermon, thrilling, rousing, harrowing in the highest degree, in which hell was made to open close underneath them, they sank on their knees in solemn suspense. It was the prelude to the true business. He called on a brother to pray. The brother began in conventional terms and in measured phrase, but soon his emotion became visible in the broken tones of his voice. Then effort was no longer necessary. Carried away by a torrent of emotion, his utterance rose and fell in stormy cadence, uncontrolled, involuntary, uncontrollable. He shouted, he stormed, he yelled in impassioned eloquence. Meanwhile the revivalist came from the pulpit into the aisle with serene and slow step. Ere the first brother's prayer was ended, he had set on another, and another, till half-a-dozen together were yelling as if to shake earth and the walls of heaven with their mere voices. Anon a clear penetrating voice of higher note indicated that a woman was praying with pathos irresistible. The women's emotion outdid the men's. They tore off their bonnets and scarves And flung them far away, as if an impediment to deeper emotions, till they sank 'exhausted and subsided into sobbing as if in extreme agony.

Meanwhile the revivalist, going from form to form and pew to pew, bent down and whispered in the ears of the kneeling people. He was joined by others, who paraded the aisle casting about for some one to settle on, and with an air of abstraction, as if confidently expecting divine inspiration to lead them in their choice.

At the front was the penitent form. Young men and young women left their places and pressed forward, joined by converted brothers to lead them in their wrestlings. When the penitents found pardon, they rose to their feet with shouts of violent physical ecstasy. " Glory! Hallelujah ! Praise the Lord! Yes!" were the stock terms. All who rose converted signalled it in the same unvarying and indispensable formula. Each new convert was the signal for a hymn sung on their knees, and full of a strange pathos was the strain sung with a jerky swing and a passionate sense of deep relief.

"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."

Thus hour after hour the emotion surged in sobs and'groanings and music. Long after midnight the meeting broke up, when to the revivalist's practised eye the tide of emotion was visibly on the ebb. Quiet and calm again, they sought their homes by highroads and rutted lanes, speculating on the possible progress of the work on the ensuing evening, or rejoicing over conversions already attained.

The revivalist not only preached; he visited the houses all over the district, not excepting the parsonage, where he attempted to corner the parson in a discussion on entire sanctification. Thus he came to Creg Awin. The mistress was spinning, and Ellen was baking at the long table before the window. The mistress placed him in old Mr. Molvurra's chair at the end of the table. Ellen glanced at him, nodded, and without remark went on with her work. He looked at her again and again, and seemed to be engaged in ejaculatory prayer. She beard him sigh the name of Jesus; the rest inaudible. At last he spoke.

"You haven't been to our meetings, Miss Ellen," in a voice trembling with emotion, his habitual and unvarying tone, his little black beads of eyes fixed on her with mesmeric determination. Miss Molvurra," she said, without looking at him.

"Beg your pardon, Miss Molvurra.," he said, with a quiver. "I never go to chapel," she said, without emotion in a clear resonant voice.

"Do you belong to the Church, Miss Molvurra?" "Yes, I do; why do you ask? "

" But your mother goes to chapel," he said.

"Mother, you go to chapel, do you not?" said Ellen, without turning, and slowly rolling and kneading her mass of dough. "My own mother is dead," she continued to the revivalist; "she went to church."

"I think she went to chapel sometimes, did she not ?" he replied, fixing his look on her face.

"I daresay she did sometimes, out of consideration for a dear friend. I am thankful to say I am not in that position. But what have you to do with that? "

He re-collected his forces. He ejaculated as if in prayer, and returned to the attack.

"It matters little whether we go to church or chapel if we have the love of Jesus. Do you know what it is to have the love of Jesus, Miss Molvurra ? "

She raised her eyes and looked through the window serious but half smiling, as she rolled the dough over and over, kneading it with her fingers. He began again

"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."

" Have you plunged beneath that flood, Miss Molvurra ? " She blushed an indignant blush.

"I don't think you know what you are talking about. I have no guilty stains to lose."

"With unhesitating promptitude he returned to the attack, as if the battle was on his side.

"Then you are not a sinner, Miss Molvurra?" Her face was flushed with annoyance.

"Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly," said the revivalist, with a solemn intonation of quotation.

"I will not come to your meetings," she answered, suppressing her annoyance.

"But, Miss Molvurra, you can come to Jesus without coming to our meetings at the chapel."

" I never supposed they were the same thing. But what are you aiming at? You wish to get me to listen to you or to argue with you? You forget you are a stranger to me: I do not know you. Speak to mother, if she wants you to. You can have no other business in this house," said Ellen, with energy. Seemingly he did not despair.

"Well, Miss Molvurra, you will not object to our having a word of prayer together at the feet of the Saviour?


"Yes, I do object. It is utterly out of place. Besides, I have told you you are a stranger to me. I will have nothing whatever to do with you," and she looked at him impatiently and indifferently, as at a pedlar about whose wares she had no curiosity, and who had been pressing them too persistently. He was about to speak again, when she turned

"Mother, you can do the baking yourself. I have kneaded the dough."

"And dear me, Ellen! " said the mistress.

"If it is inconvenient to you, mother, I'll finish it. But this person must go to the parlour."

"And dear me, Ellen girl!" said the mistress again.

" Then I'll leave it to you, mother." She pressed the dough from her fingers, and went into the back-kitchen. Presently she came in with a jug for hot water from the kettle simmering on the hearthstone. The revivalist's eyes were fixed on her. He watched her movements, and as she went back ejaculated audibly

"The Lord have mercy on her soul ! Lord Jesu ! have mercy on such an one! "

Ellen stopped and turned to him, her face flushed with indignation.

"You forget where you are," she said. "Under this roof no man shall speak such words of me. You contemptible -you impudent man!"

She stood the figure of indignation, when a shadow darkened the door, and Lizzie Milvartin's light foot bounced into the room with the rustle and sway of a cloud of muslin.

" What ! him ?" she exclaimed, glancing from Ellen's face to the revivalist. "Ordering him out, Ellen? Won't he go?" and Lizzie laughed. " You went out of our house, didn't you ? she said to the revivalist.

He had already risen and stood gasping, and with concentrated pathos ejaculated--" The Lord have mercy on your souls !" Ellen pointed to the door. " Begone ! " she said.

"Give me the jug," said Lizzie, with a gesture.

" No, Lizzie ! " and the little man disappeared through the door without a word. Lizzie threw herself into the chair he had vacated, and Ellen resumed her baking and the mistress her spinning.

"You know, Mrs. Molvurra," said Lizzie to the mistress, who had not uttered a word, ,the little man slipped out of our house very quick. I didn't waste words. I got a can of water, and said 'Out ! "' And suiting the action to the word, she bounced from her chair and burst out laughing. The mistress's face was very solemn.

"God bless me, girl, veen ! what's doing on you? You've broke my thread."

"Didn't you want him to go, Mrs. Molvurra ? Oh, I see. You, Ellen ? "

Lizzie stayed an hour, and then went off, much to the relief of Mrs. Molvurra.

Ellen was piling her cakes and counting them. "Are you going to chapel this evening, mother? "

"Yes, girl; and I wish others would go, and be humble Christians at heart. There's a judgment-a solemn judgment in store for us all, Ellen."

And who are the others, mother?" "Aw, they know best themselves, girl."

" Is Arrosey one of them, mother? He doesn't go, you know." " Arrosey ? humph ! And what bave you got to do with Arrosey, Ellen, girl 1 "

"Yes; but he doesn't go-does he, mother?"

"Arrosey's a converted man-let me tell you that, my lady. He's been a Methodist these thirty years?"

"Why is it that he doesn't want young Arrosey to be a Methodist?" said Ellen.

"Young Arrosey ? Him! Aw, pride, girl ! pride ! "

"I'd like to know, mother, what he would say if this fellow asked him to come to his meetings at the chapel," said Ellen, smiling to herself.

"Aw, girl, veen ! He's not to mix with common people like us. I suppose there's a different heaven for them sort."

"Common people like us, mother? You don't refer to me, I hope," said Ellen.

"No, no, my lady ; aw, no. I don't refer only to myself. Aw, there'll not be the same heaven at all."

" Do you think not, mother?"

"Aw, you'd think there wasn't, anyway," said the mistress. " Well, mother, it's the other heaven I should prefer to go to. I shouldn't care much for a heaven that was full of chapel people! "

And she turned and looked fixedly at the mistress. The mistress looked up, and involuntarily stopped her wheel. Ellen crossed the kitchen and said carelessly

"No, mother, I should not like that. There are better things than that in store for some of us, I should hope."

The mistress looked at her, followed her movements, and without answering set her wheel in motion, and went on with her spinning, with a sigh of ineffable conviction that the great change was still far off.


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