[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
ON Saturday afternoon, it being market-day, Ellen was from home, and the mistress was alone in Creg Awin. The hum of her wheel stole out into the summer air like the buzz of some migbty fly. Enos Milvartin, crossing the glen, came to Creg Awin by way of the home-field. He knocked at the door, and, without pausing for an answer, entered the kitchen, and having saluted the mistress with easy gravity, sat down in the big arm-chair by the window-table.
" I heard your wheel, Mrs. Molvurra. It was like old times. I hadn't heard that sound for a dozen years till the night I came home," he began.
"Dear me, Enos ! and is it a dozen years ? 'Deed there's been changes since that day," and Charlotte put her apron to her eyes with a sigh.
" Yes, indeed, Mrs. Molvurra-and sorrow."
"Aw, sorrow enough-nothing but sorrow, in this house, anyway." Charlotte continued to wipe her eyes for some minutes, the silence broken only by her sighs. " And are you home for good, Enos?" she said at last.
"Oh, no, only on a visit, mainly to see the old people and put their affairs in a satisfactory position. The fact is, there's a heavy mortgage, Mrs. Molvurra."
" Bless me ! And are you paying it off?"
"Well, that depends. I've no doubt I shall, unless difficulties are put in the way."
"And how did you find them at the Cairnmore?" said the mistress with a sigh.
"The old people are just the same, and the place unchanged ; but Lizzie has grown out of all knowledge," he said, with his eyes on Charlotte's face.
" Aw, aye, she has grown enough, it's like," said the mistress.
" I suspect she owes something to Miss Molvurra's friendship," said Enos insinuatingly.
"Aw, well, maybe, maybe 1" said the mistress drily.
He saw that there were some strong opinions behind this dry reserve.
" I fear, however, that Lizzie has not come under conviction," he said abstractedly.
" Conviction ! aw, no; no, she hasn't. You're thinking right enough in that. You were in the way once yourself, Enos."
" Oh, yes, Mrs. Molvurra, that is so ; and I have kept in the way, and have gone on to perfection," he said solemnly. He had the air of a man fully initiated into a secret, certain and unconcerned.
" What ? entire sanctification? Bless my heart, and have you got it ? " she said.
"Yes, oh yes, Mrs. Molvurra," he said blandly.
" It's the one thing I've been striving and praying for long enough. What's hindering me I don't know. I'm asking myself, is it my sins? or is it the enemy ? or what is it?"
"Is it not want of faith?" said Enos, in a solemn and unquestioning tone. " Are you trusting to self ?-to works ?to the arm of flesh? " he went on, with a pause between each question.
" Aw, well, that's sound, anyway. Aw, aye, that's sound enough," said the mistress, with a sigh.
" Believe me, Mrs. Molvurra, if you have been seeking, you are not far from the blessing."
He rose, his head in air, and muttered to himself, then his soliloquy became audible.
" Oh, to receive that higher gift in its fulness! The Lord has it prepared for all such as can lay hold on it. I think a word of intercession at the throne of grace may not be out of season," he said, fixing his eye on the mistress, who sat cowering and fascinated. She rose from her seat at the wheel, and promptly knelt down with several deep and emotional sighs; and Enos, having spread a yellow silk handkerchief on the flags with a graceful flourish and deliberateness, prayed with discretion, directing his petitions on behalf of the mistress and the higher gift. The prayer concluded, he rose with the grave and patient air of a man who has no cares and no uncertainties ; the mistress, who had worked herself into a fervour of sobs, wiped her eyes with her apron, and sat looking at the smouldering fire on the hearth. "And is Miss Molvurra walking in the narrow way too?" began Enos, in his gentlest tone.
" Aw, no, no-no, she's not. Her heart is set in the world. I'll allow she's not so light and giddy as some, if it wasn't for the company she keeps. But him up the hill here is a bad influence-aw, aye, a bad influence, Enos."
" You mean young Molroy ? But I thought Lizzie and he were-"
"Aw, 'deed, it would be just as well if Lizzie and him was married, anyway. It's like enough you've heard ; but if you haven't, I'm afraid you'll hear."
"This grieves me exceedingly, Mrs. Molvurra," said Enos gravely.
" Aw, well, don't depend on what I'm saying. Aw, no ! But when people has known the great change, and is walking in the way, it's safer for them for this world and for the next, Enos."
"Yes, indeed, Mrs. Molvurra. But there is too much friendliness between Miss Molvurra and him, you think? "
"Well, I'm not saying nothing to that. I thought once there was more between them tel' it's like there is; and she's still more friends with him tel' is suiting me or doing herself any good. But it's Lizzie he's mostly for. I have the word of a man that knows the three of them, and it's Lizzie he's taken up with."
" But isn't Miss Molvurra at all religiously disposed? I think some one-I believe it was mother-spoke of her as a serious girl."
"Aw, well, she's not like some. She's a bit high, and she's a bit wilful; but there's some that's light and giddy, you may say, in comparison with her. If she had known the great change, she couldn't have been better tel' she is in some things. Aw, no; I'll say that for her, Enos."
"Well, Mrs. Molvurra, let us hope there are strivings in her that may be effectual."
"Aw, aye, Enos, and my strivings too. I'm striving and praying for her night and day. I've done my best-aw, aye," sighed the mistress. ' "Yes; but let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season-"
"Aw,.aye, aye. The Scripture is true enough. It's the same Bible they've got in America, Enos?"
"Oh, certainly, Mrs. Molvurra. Certainly! Everything is the same."
"Aw, well, that's good too. But you can keep an eye on Lizzie, as a friend-as a Christian friend, Enos; for he's not what he ought to be, and it's like enough she has made the mistake already of thinking Arrosey will approve of her."
You have made me very anxious, Mrs. Molt' urra." Anxious ! Aw, you may well be that. If it was in my power, it's compel him by law to marry her I would; but law don't help right in this quarter. I'm praying the Lord to bring it to pass in spite of them. Arrosey ? Aye, Enos, for twenty years my foot hasn't been within the door of that house. Tea? No, bless you, not to speak of Sunday. Himself will look at me-'Good evening, Charlotte, good evening.'
I'm not a common beggar at all, .Enos. But the son ! with his fine English pretending to talk like the common Manx, and despising me in his heart with the words on his lips, ,How are you, Mrs. Molvurra ?' and your Lizzie with him, winking to him just to keep from laughing mocking me, Enos-aye, mocking ! But where will the mockers go, Enos ? Where will their portion be?"
"I understand, Mrs. Molvurra. From what you say, I fear his influence is bad," said Enos blandly.
"Bad! That they were walking together, and his arm round her waist, on the green road by the mountain-hedge, and all the country in bed, can be proved in a court of law. That's bad enough, it's like."
"But does Miss Molvurra know this? or can she know it and still-"
"Know it? She has heard plenty; but hearing is not believing with her at all. That's her way. Would seeing be believing with her, I don't know."
"But does she go with him as before?"
"Aw, well, she's still reading books that he's bringing her, and she's playing tunes still, till I'm sick and tired. Still, there's been a change. She was fond of her father; and if it's only skin deep it is, if it's only a formalist she is, as she ever was, she has turned a bit seriouser since she lost him."
"But there isn't any coolness between her and Molroy 7"
" Aw, 'deed, Enos, I wish there was. But she's her own mistress, and I'm keeping my own side of the hedge."
Enos rose to depart.
"I'm going to ask a personal favour, Mrs. Molvurra. I trust that our conversation may be considered private and in confidence."
"Aw, don't be afraid of me. It won't go no further. It's between the four walls of this house."
"Not even to Miss Molvurra !" said Enos.
"Ellen? Aw, no; for there's never any talk between us.
And as for religious conversation, it's not a thing she cares for; and if I was you, Enos, I wouldn't force it on her! Enos had listened, and had secured the goodwill of the mistress. He left Creg Awin by way of the home-field and the woods, fully aware that in the mistress he had secured an ally, and that she would serve his purposes.