[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
THAT Sunday afternoon, inasmuch as Wade and Osborne, the local preacher, were Mrs. Molvurra's guests, Miss Gawn had also been asked to tea at Creg Awin. To have a local to tea soothed the widow's heart, and was of the general nature of a spiritual consolation.
"And my lady is at the Cairnmore to tea?" said Miss Gawn.
"Aw, I'm thankful it's there she is, even if he's there as well," said Charlotte.
"She and Enos has got well acquainted," said Wade. " I saw her riding past on the road with him,"
"And what's Enos like? I haven't seen him, but just passing," said Miss Gawn.
"Aw, bless you, Miss Gawn ! Enos is still walking in the way, and ought to be asked to preach at the chapel," said Charlotte. " But it's like he won't be; for Arrosey has got money in the place, and has took the pick against him already."
"But if the heir takes the young one, that'll be squared easy enough," said Wade.
"Take her! They ought to have been married already, Mr. Wade; and it's you that knows it. But take her or not take her, I've told Ellen enough to open her eyes, anyway," said Charlotte.
"My goodness, mistress! And what did you say?" said Wade.
" Say! it's what did she say, Mr. Wade? I'm praying to God to help me to forgive her. She's calling me mother, but I'm afraid she don't mean it at all. She's got a tongue that would open a lock or cut glass like a diamond."
"And, bless my soul, was she wild?" asked the roadman. "Wild! She opened the Prayer-Book and pointed to the Ninth Commandment. 'Read that, mother,' she said, and went and played the piano."
"I wonder, now," said Miss Gawn, after a sigh of affected astonishment, "if there's a chance of Enos taking a fancy to her."
"Aw, well, he's a good man, a religious man, and has the higher gift. It'll be well for her if it is so; and I hope it is so. For he'll lead her in the right way. And her and me couldn't live long under the same roof, anyway. No, we couldn't, Miss Gawn," said Charlotte.
"But Enos isn't a Methodist, is he?" said the local.
"A Methodist? No; but as good, or, I wouldn't trust, better," said Wade.
"Aw, bless you, he's got entire sanctification!" said the mistress.
" I've heard him on the subject of faith, and I never heard clearer," said Wade.
" But are they sound in America, now? " said Osborne.
" As sound as us - if anything, sounder ! " said Wade decisively.
" There's nothing wrong with Lizzie at all," said Miss Gawn.
" She'd hide it, hide it till the last minute, would that one," said Charlotte,
" Well, she was at church this morning," continued Miss Gawn. " Her complexion is good, we know; but I had a look at her. She hasn't much colour, but she's got a fine skin ; and maybe it's hard to judge, but she never looked better at all." "Chut ! there's nothing in that," said Wade, with a sweep of his hand down his beard. "I'll defy you to tell!"
"Aw, well, 'be sure your sins will find you out,' will come true there; that is, if there's any truth in it," said the local sententiously.
" Aw, 'deed it will, and I hope it will," said the mistress, pouring out another cup.
" I'm sorry for Enos, though," said the local. " For Arrosey is hard about money; and if Enos has got him to deal with, and wishing to do right, it's trying. What views does Enos hold principally, Mr. Wade?"
" Well, he's ahead of us," said Wade. "We're right enough as far as we go, but we don't go far enough. We're afraid of the higher gifts. We're shrinking back from them, he's saying. The outpouring is got in baptism. It lies to reason, he's saying; and of course the Bible to prove it, he's saying."
"Are thou agreeing with him in that now, Wade?" said the local doubtfully.
" I'm listening to him, anyway. I won't go not further tel' that at present," said the roadman. "He's telling me," he continued, "they're for making roads out West now, scores and even hundreds of miles of roads; and have got the stone, and the roads marked out; but good workmen is scarce, he's saying-men that understands roads, such as overseers, he's saying.
" Bless me ! is he asking thee to go, Mr. Wade? " said the mistress.
"Well, I daresay he may; but still it's more on religious subjects be is," said Wade.
"Is it true that Dan Creer has had a vision, do you know, Miss Gawn ? " said the local.
"Vision! Dan! him! What vision could he have? He's the most darkened man, I suppose, on the whole island this very day," said Wade.
"Aw, 'deed you've heard that, Mr. Osborne?" said the mistress. "I've heard it myself. What was it you heard, now? "
"Aw, well, Dan was working late at night at the shoes, and heard a voice, 'Flee from the city of wrath,' says the voice. Dan was frightened out of his senses. ' Flee to the New Jerusalem,' says the voice. Well, it came next night the same way, and next night, and Dan shaking and dubious whether to go to bed or go on with the job. But the third night there was a sound of knocking, and Dan took to his knees and prayed out of mercy. It's coming still. Aw, Dan is afraid, though ! "
"Creer was praying?" said Wade. "Praying? Aw, aye, praying out of mercy."
"I'm rejoiced! I'm rejoiced to hear it," said the overseer triumphantly. "I wonder, now, has Bell seen anything?" he continued.
"Aw no, not yet at all; but backing up Creer to hold out against it," said the local.
"And what is it?" said Miss Gawn half anxiously, half sceptically.
"Aw, it's a sign! it's a sign sure enough, Miss Gawn ! and time enough for something to come in that quarter," said the mistress.
" But it's my belief he'll resist it yet," said Wade. " Shoe leather on the lapstone isn't an article of the same hardness as the heart that's in Creer. Aw, he'll never be changed at all. Never !"
" But still a voice that way, for all, Mr. Wade? " said the mistress doubtfully.
"Aw, it's no matter, Charlotte; the man is that way. A voice might frighten him, but twenty wouldn't change him. Still, if he was praying, I'm rejoiced, I'll admit I'm rejoiced," said Wade. "I'm thinking thou're a bit bigoted against Enos," the overseer resumed, addressing Osborne.
"Aw no, he isn't, Mr. Wade. Don't think that, Mr. Wade," interposed Charlotte.
"No, but against the Church, maybe?" said Miss Gawn. " Aw no, no, Miss Gawn ; he isn't," said Charlotte.
" Well, now, speaking of the Church," said Wade loftily. " I would be bigoted against the Church myself, only I'm acquainted with more tel' a dozen parsons."
"But, Mr. Wade, do you reckon ? " said the local. " Wouldn't that make you against them, knowing the men are not converted men?"
" It don't have that effect on me at all," said the overseer, leaning back in his chair.
"Is Enos preaching, Mr. Wade? I didn't hear," said Miss Gawn.
" Preaching! Aw, no. A private gentleman, with his fortune made. He's just home on a visit to the old people and the old place, he says; for the last time, he says. Let the Manx emigrate, he says," said Wade.
"But isn't he saying the Dippers is the right religion?" said Miss Gawn.
"Allowing! But he's not one himself. He's telling what they're doing in America. He says they're right so far, that he wouldn't stand in the way of any man joining them. If they've got the truth, why not? he says."
"Aw, well, he knows if they're doing a good work out in America, for it's there he has been," said the local. "But what is be himself, Mr. Wade?"
"He's not calling himself anything but just a religious man. That's all I've heard," said Wade loftily.
"And if he has taken a fancy to Miss Molvurra, well now, she's not exactly what a pious man would think too suitable; but for him, with his fortune made, it may be different," said Osborne.
"Aw, there's only one thing that I'm thinking of. If she had only experienced the great change. If that was so, she would fall to his lot, I believe," said Charlotte.
"Still Arrosey wouldn't suffer Lizzie, you would think, and nothing at her," said Miss Gawn.
"That's what he'll come to, for all, it's my belief," said ' Wade.
- "Aw, well, we'll see," said Charlotte. "It'll be a fine come down for his pride, with his big name and his big word; and that's a day I would like in my heart to see."