[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
AFTER the love-feast Ellen walked with Mrs. Cannon up the meadow.
" That gentleman was young Molroy," said Mrs. Cannon; you know him very well, I think?"
"Yes," said Ellen.
"Of course it is known that he is attached to Miss Milvartin ; but some time ago we heard he was an admirer of yours," said Mrs. Cannon.
"I know nothing of his attachments, Mrs. Cannon." " But you know they are to be married ? "
"Miss Milvartin has never spoken of it," she said, looking full in Mrs. Cannon's eyes. "And that reminds me that she is busy, and that I ought to be helping her," she said, changing the subject as if with absolute indifference.
Mrs. Pratt came to meet them.
"Mr. Molroy would not stay, though I tried my best to persuade him. The truth is, Miss Milvartin did not want him to stay, because she's busy, and couldn't have him all to herself. I call that being really too fond-but he's the same."
" Are you asking my opinion? " said Ellen, raising her face. "Oh, my dear Miss Molvurra, I did not mean that. How apathetic you are! I was only thinking of our having somebody to talk to. She's simply perfect to-day," she continued, looking in the direction of Lizzie, "and both of them, as if keeping a deep secret. She's really delightfully young and innocent."
"Miss Milvartin is all that, I trust," said Ellen.
"Yes, Miss Molvurra; and how strangely love delights in o deception, so to speak ! "
" Why should she tell her affairs to us ?" said Ellen. "There are certainly some lofty souls quite above sympathy, even with their happiness. I daresay, in fact I am glad to infer, that she is one of them too. Is Mr. Molroy also one of them?"
" Why allude to him? " said Ellen.
One should always think tenderly of an old admirer," said Mrs. Pratt.
"Is Mr. Molroy an old admirer of mine? Why, Mrs. Cannon, you had some idea, of that sort too, hadn't you ? It's a perfectly gratuitous supposition, Mrs. Pratt."
" Oh, I beg your pardon, Miss Molvurra. If I bad been Mr. Milvartin I should have put that construction on the scene he made to-day."
" Mrs. Pratt, I am astonished," said Ellen, in a tone that made Mrs. Pratt flush to the eyes with passion. But she constrained herself. She turned her pretty head away with a smile of determination.
" Oh, I know Mr. Milvartin very well," she said ; " he has done me the honour of consulting me in some of his affairs. Do not be so contemptuous, Miss Molvurra. There are matters in which the future Mrs. Milvartin might benefit by the experience of her friends, if she would only condescend to sympathy of any kind."
" I spoke too sharply," said Ellen gråvely and kindly. "Dear Miss Molvurra, you are a perfect angel."
" I do not like suggestions and innuendoes."
"My dear Miss Molvurra, I meant nothing. You are a perfect fighter. You are in arms at once. You want everything your own way."
"I want everything I think is right, and I'll have it," said Ellen.
"It will cost you dear sometimes. You should be a man," said Mrs. Pratt quietly. " Your opinions may be very lofty and noble, but mine are only prudence; but-they do not object to revelations and reformations among the saints."
"You speak of them contemptuously, Mrs. Pratt."
" Oh, dear, no-not I. I am too prudent ; but I thought, and I still think, Miss Molvurra, that you and I might have something in common-prudence, for instance." The " for instance " had an intonation that suggested the manner of Enos, and she continued-" But if not prudence, other things." They had already reached the farm street.
"If we have any sympathies in common, it will be as much satisfaction to me as to yourself," said Ellen.
"Miss Molvurra, I am sure of it. Our temperaments are different. You are too cold, perhaps ; I am sanguine. But time tries us, and has perhaps made me bitter-at least what I am."
Ellen looked at her, and her look of kindness dissolved the impetuous Mrs. Pratt into a gush of affectionate protestation.
The evening meeting was much the- same as that of the afternoon, but without the interruption. At the end of it, numbers of country people gathered round the table, where Orson Pratt and Milvartin received names and made arrangements with regard to the forthcoming emigration, Of which Orson Pratt was business agent and Milvartin was organiser. When all had dispersed, the guests prepared to depart in their cars, and Enos was going to Inchport along with them. After sunset, in the dewy air the sounds of voices and the rattling of country carts were heard down the glen road and northwards towards the Tops. The Dippers had gone to their homes to dream new dreams of America and of new destinies.
Enos came to Ellen.
" Now, let's have a stroll. I've got this business over," he said cheerfully.
She placed her arm in his, and they went up towards the mountain-gate. It was a relief to her. She was waiting to hear all that he would say of the events of the day, and to enter on her own attitude with regard to it. He had become different to her. She did not distrust him or doubt his integrity, but he was now being regarded in comparison with Molroy in her moments of abstraction.
" I think young Molroy should have known better than to come here to make a disturbance to-day. How almighty fierce he looked ! " said Enos.
" I don't think the disturbance was premeditated," she said. " Those people-"
"Possibly!" said Enos, speaking with unusual volubility, after the strain of the day. "But how he glared at me! If it hadn't been that he hates religion, I could have sworn that he was jealous of me, Ellen. Do you think he was? "
"Certainly not, Enos. Why ask me such a question?" Her deliberate manner was not just to his humour, and made him pause to consider.
"Oh, I wasn't serious."
" I should prefer that you were serious, Enos," she said. "Oh, well, I'll change the subject. You looked charming to-day, Ellen, and you acted very well indeed. Were you interested in the meetings?"
" I don't care what the subject is, Enos, it's how one speaks of it. Why do you say John Molroy hates religion ?" she said. "All that speaking with tongues and giving experiences he must hate; to myself it is perfectly horrible, and you ought to put a stop to it."
"Oh, Ellen, love ! I won't trouble you with things of that sort."
"If John Molroy thinks I have identified myself with that, Enos, he will hardly speak to me again. No wonder, either! " " His acquaintance will be no great loss, I suppose," he said. " However, living among them, you cannot well help being practically a Mormon-that is, in America, of course." "I don't know what a Mormon is, to begin with, but I can never be anything but what I am," she said.
" Oh, that would be useless out West. There isn't any Church there but ours. It's not so vefy different in some ways, Ellen. You'll find no difficulty. We have Baptism, and a Confession of Faith, and Breaking of Bread-something like the Church."
"I am baptized already. If the Confession of Faith is the same, it's all right, I daresay."
"Of course things are stated differently. We don't take count of Church baptism. I was christened in Arrosey Church myself, I suppose ; but that's a mere form. All the difference is that ours is reality."
"Reality! Softly, Enos , so was mine," she said quietly. "Oh, you'll think differently, Ellen. You haven't gone into the question. I must give you some of Mr. Pratt's books to read. I have written a little myself."
" You need not try to enlist my interest in religious books," she said.
"Very well, Ellen. Leave theory alone; the practice is all I ask. It would affect me very unfavourably if you were not a member. I ask nothing, but only your duty to me, Ellen."
"My duty will not involve that?"
"Well, your own influence would be greater with all the people. It would be, in fact, awkward otherwise. And you would help to make my influence greater. You'll consider it, won't you? "Enos, I certainly will not make any change, nor join any other religious body."
"I should have thought, the way you and Lizzie were treated by old Cosnahan, that you would never have darkened the door of a church again," said Enos.
"Mr. Cosnahan is not the Church, any more than I am.
He's one member, I'm another. I am not likely to go to Inchport church, certainly."
" But it should have shown you what the Church is, I mean," said Enos.
"No; merely Mr. Cosnahan. If you censured one of those people of yours-and of course you might make a mistake, Enos-would that be a reason why he should leave the LatterDay Saints, supposing they were all you and he think ?" she said.
"The cases are not at all the same, Ellen; but every one should assert his liberty."
" That is begging the question, I think, Enos ; but we mustn't argue, of course."
"My dear girl, I admire your courage; we cannot disagree. Let's talk of something else. How do you get on with Mrs. Pratt?" he said, in altered tone.
" Neither well nor ill. She's amusing and clever, and I daresay good-natured."
" Don't you think she's sensible and agreeable ? "
" She has had a good deal of experience, I suppose," said Ellen. "You ought to make her your friend. You'll find her useful to you. And I think she takes to you," said Enos.
" Is she going back to America, Enos ? "
"Oh, yes; it's her home, you know. By-the-bye, we have
a large list of emigrants who joined this evening. If young Molroy hadn't been so obstinate he could have gone with us, and found a grand sphere out West, and Lizzie of course. You would have liked that, wouldn't you, Ellen?"
" It is simply impossible," she said.
" But we want some able Manxmen out there to stand by one another. Young as he is, he is the very man for us. A seat in the United States Congress is something to live for, Ellen. What if you tried to persuade him? "
They were standing at the mountain-gate, facing the red western light beyond the darkening valley. She looked across the glen with an air of indifference. Arrosey fields were against the sky. She wondered where John Molroy had gone, and where he was just at that moment.
"I think, after to-day, Enos, there will not be much friendship between him and us," she said.
" You won't be sorry to leave the old country?" he said reflectively, a few moments later, as they looked over the landscape. He drew her nearer to him. She did not resist, but held up her face, and he kissed her on the cheek. Her modesty, her pride, and her dispassionate manner were consistent with his idea of ambition.
" Well, I must be off. I must say good-night," he said, as silence and reflection crept over them both.
His question, "You won't be sorry to leave the old country? " remained unanswered; but she placed her arm within his, and as they came down to the house she said
" You love me very much, Enos ? "
" With all my soul, from the first moment I saw you," he said. "You trust me very much to stand by you?"
" Yes, Ellen; certainly."
" We shall be very happy then, Enos ?"
" Yes, Ellen; our home will be a heaven of happiness."
" It will not change, Enos ? We shall be always the same ? "
" Why should it change? "
" Then you are perfectly happy? " she said.
" My dear girl," he said, " I am," with an approach to goodhumour.
They entered the Cairnmore house and found Lizzie sitting by the fire with her mother. She was singing in a low voice, with pauses in her song, and in the pauses speaking to her mother. Old Charley was smoking on the farm street. The car had gone on to wait for Enos across the ford, and with a brief good-night he was gone, leaving Ellen and Lizzie together; and with the weight of the day lifted and laid down, they sat and gazed at the softly flickering flames.