[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
THE time fixed by Apostle Milvartin for the departure of the saints to the paradise on the shores of Salt Lake City was close at hand, and the activity of the apostle was incessant in visiting, encouraging, and advising those who had joined the "Church" and were "being gathered into the Zion of the saints." There was still a stray convert and a stray baptism, but the wave of religious excitement was spent, and the mission of the Dippers for that time was over. Milvartin was well aware of the cessation of the movement. He addressed himself to confirming, counselling, and gathering in. After a Sunday filled up with meetings many miles apart in the glens and hamlets within the horizon of Inchport, he arrived at Creg Awin, and found Ellen no more preoccupied than usual. Just a week more was all that remained for her on the Island. The emigration was to sail on the following Monday. This night he would spend at Cairnmore, and it would be the last.
During the ensuing week he had appointments all over the north, and would not be at Creg Awin again till the end of the week, probably on Sunday, to say good-bye to the old people and Lizzie. Consequently, time being precious, he asked Ellen to walk with him into the home-field to talk over final arrangements about things at home.
" I have told you already, Enos, that I will have that arrangement and no other," she said, speaking of their marriage.
"I am willing to accede to anything, at least anything fairly reasonable, Ellen. You must be married in church. You would not hear of Inchport any more than of Arrosey Church. Why not in Douglas or Liverpool? All I ask is why it cannot be before we sail?"
" Sylvester is in St. Louis. We pass through that town. Indeed, I shall stay a little while there. But he must be present."
" But you do not see the inconvenience of our travelling all that way unmarried."
"No inconvenience whatever to me, Enos. I shall have Mrs. Cannon's company all the way."
" But your brother may make difficulties at the last moment." " How, Enos ? " she said, with a look of surprise. " He has nothing to do with me in that."
" Then you have made up your mind? "
"Yes," she said, meeting his glance, not with a smile of love, but with a look of firm scrutiny.
" I wish you wouldn't see your friend up the hill any more, Ellen," he said. " He was here yesterday, I believe."
"Yes, and Lizzie," she said, regarding him with a grave compression of brow and eye and lip. "I shall not go out of my way, but there is no reason why I should not see him again. He is an old friend, and I value his friendship more now just on the eve of going," she said calmly.
" His bigotry has set him utterly against me," said Enos, and paused. Ellen made no answer. " I know you feel going away; that is natural. I am only anxious for your happiness," he resumed. " Don't you think you might ask Mrs. Pratt up to stay till the end of the week? She wishes to travel in our company. If you had not been going out, I should not have taken the responsibility of it. But she would be company for you, you know."
"No, Enos, I am not going to have anybody here; Lizzie is all the company I want. But you want to speak of the arrangements you are making for her, and for your father and mother."
"I wish Lizzie wasn't such a fool," he said, with a tone of grave regret.
"A fool, Enos?"
" Ellen, you are innocent and good, but Molroy has made a fool of her-with her constantly, and not a word said about marriage. Now he's throwing her over. She ought to have made him speak."
"They are still friends, Enos. There is no throwing over."
"I am sorry to have to speak plainly, Ellen. It has grieved me in secret too long, and it is better to speak, for I can trust you," said Enos, in a tone of confidence. It was the tone and manner that gave his words force.
Ellen looked at him in simple expectation.
"If he does not marry her, what will she do with her reputation gone?"
He spoke as if he were the victim of injustice endeavouring to bear it righteously and patiently, and Ellen started in undisguised perplexity.
"Do, Enos ? What do you mean?"
"Alas! Ellen," he said, with an air of conviction beyond the possibility of doubt. " I have used plain words. I should have liked to be going back to America knowing that things were different here. You do not understand, Ellen?" he said, looking fixedly at her.
"No, Enos, I do not.'' "You mean, you doubt." "No, I do not understand."
"She has allowed Molroy to betray her," he said, with unmistakable meaning.
"No," she said, in a deep tone of repudiation, "that is not true; it is a lie." And she paused and faced him. "I am going to ask you one question, Enos, and between us there must be no misunderstanding."
"Yes, Ellen," he said gently.
" How do you know this? who told you? " "I would rather you did not ask, Ellen," he said.
"I do ask, and I must know," she said unflinchingly.
"It is altogether too painful," he said. " I entreat of you, Ellen, that, for my sake and our own happiness, it may remain my own secret."
"No, Enos, not in this case. I must know. If it is a mere report, it is not the first false slander I have heard, nor that you have listened to either."
"Since you persist," he said solemnly. "It was my own mother who told me."
Ellen trembled with emotion. She looked at him in acute distress, and saw only a dispassionate observant look, as if he understood her grief but could not help the inexorable fact.
' "It is a bad business, Ellen," he said soothingly. She made no answer; she was overwhelmed.
"I cannot understand it," she said at last.
"But that is surely not hard to understand; you know what I have told you about Molroy."
"What you have told me about Mr. Molroy is not true," she' said sternly.
"But, Ellen" he protested gently.
"I know him better, Enos-that is sufficient," she said, in the same tone.
"You have his word, perhaps?" he said, looking across the glen. " No, it was not needed for me. I think we had better talk of something else. These arrangements, what are they? The Cairnmore is sold. What is to become of your father and mother? Have they any means to live on?" "Not a farthing in the world, Ellen."
" But you are well off."
"Oh, yes; but my land and stock in America are not ready money in the Isle of Man," he said.
" I see," she said abstractedly, as if her thought were still of Lizzie.
Enos concentrated all his self-possession to face the situation. His suavity and grave conviction of manner were his mainstay for every occasion such as this.
"Besides, property out West is subject to all sorts of risks," he said.
"Yes, Enos, that I understand, too."
" I think it's a pity your father gave your stepmother so large an interest in Creg Awin, so that your own independence might have been more amply secured in the event of anything happening to me," he said slowly.
" I have no fear about myself, Enos."
"That sudden snap was unlucky for you. I should have had the will altered, Ellen."
" My father would not have altered it," she said convincedly.
"Oh, Ï think he would, Ellen, if he had been taken on the right side," said Enos, with an air of conviction. "However, as to the arrangement, they will be moving out of Cairnmore. I calculate that when you are settled down in America it would be a pleasure to you to think of old friends being still here in the old place, instead of entire strangers, Ellen. It's not much room they want, and Lizzie could be with them." A look of astonishment was on Ellen's face.
"Yes, Enos. Lizzie shall come here; and they shall come too ! " she said instantly.
He saw her look. He proceeded with a concentration of gentle abstraction
"You are a dear good girl, Ellen; you have lifted a weight off my mind."
Everything that pained her now she interpreted in one way. She did not love him, and therefore she did not blame him, but laid it to the account of that unalterable fact. She did not love him, but she had given herself to him irrevocably; and with a conception of duty and sacrifice deep as the profound depth of her heart she received each new unpleasantness. She found in herself, not one, but two selves-one her own, the other given to Enos-one sincere, and frank, and true to her secret self, the other sincere, and frank, and honest to him.
"Living is very cheap here," he continued. "I am astonished how comfortably they have managed to live at Cairnmore." "They have not lived very comfortably, Enos."
"Ah ! well, now with Lizzie's earnings they will be no worse off, at any rate."
"But you will settle something to be paid to them regularly?" "I cannot do anything for Lizzie," he said gravely.
"That is not necessary; she can support herself-I mean your father and mother."
" Oh, yes ; certainly-certainly. I'm merely saying they will be no burden to me-not affecting me seriously, you know. I've got a tenant for Creg Awin who will take it for Hollantide, if the matter can be squared with the mistress."
" That is already settled, Enos. Mr. Molroy has taken the place."
"Mr. Molroy ! But you did not consult me, Ellen," he said half-reproachfully.
"There could be no better tenant, and he is willing to buy it if preferred," she said.
" Ah ! well, the rent will be paid regularly, at any rate," he said.
They walked on in silence, as if there was no constraint on either side.
" But, Enos, is there not a great responsibility thrown upon Lizzie till a settlement is made? "
" Well, yes-some. But you see, Ellen, they've done more for Lizzie than for any of us. We all had to shift for ourselves, you know."
" I think, Enos, that Lizzie has been doing more for them too, ever since I've known her, except, of course, your paying the interest on the mortgage."
" I ? Oh, no-that's the misfortune. I believe the old man has been saying something of that sort when he had a. glass too much at Matt's. He's always been rather soft on 'the boys,' Ellen. It's the accumulation of interest that has swamped the place. I've been completely done out of the Cairnmore. I shall not get a penny from the place I was heir to."
She looked at him in astonishment again. "Dear me, Enos, you astonish me."
" Oh, I daresay he told people about my paying the interest, as a sort of boast, you know."
"But when you first came home, didn't you mean to improve the place and set everything right? "
"I wanted, for the old man's sake, to get an increase of the mortgage, certainly ; but I couldn't raise anything," he said seriously. " Old Molroy hasn't had the best of the bargain, however. I may as well tell you, Ellen, he thought to corner me on the strength of my love for the old place ; but as my affections had been transferred to a new country, he was obliged to buy the Cairnmore or lose a few hundreds. But of course I'm being done out of everything-my inheritance, if it comes to that."
" Don't you think, Enos, that it's better to say no more about it ? It can do no good to talk of it further."
" Yes, Ellen, yes," he said, with a sigh ; " I forget myself. But I did hope to have inherited the Cairnmore. However," he continued frankly, " I'm glad you've agreed to this arrangement. We shall never regret a thing like that, Ellen."
They turned back to the house, as Enos was presently going off to keep an appointment in the neighbourhood.
"There's one thing more, Enos," said Ellen, speakingfirmly, with an effort to restrain a tremor of emotion. " If I knew that what you have said about Lizzie were true-yes, true -I would still make this arrangement, if it were only for her sake alone. But I do it believing there is no truth in it.
Listen, Enos ! John Molroy would a thousand times over marry Lizzie rather than stain her lips or his own with one kiss. I know him, Enos. They are intimate friends, I believe, as much as ever. They may have been indiscreet in some way or other. Your mother has been anxious. She had a right to be ; but she has misinterpreted their friendship, and in consequence of something-I do not care to know what-may have believed what she says. But as I am to be your wife, Enos, I do not believe it."
"Don't you think, in any case, he ought to marry her, Ellen-? "
"In any case? That is quite another matter," she said assionately.
He paused; he contracted his brows and his eyes darkened, but only for a moment. The spirit and the doctrine of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, for good or evil, had entered into his soul, and gave him a power in which he believed and trusted as the regeneration and invigoration of revealed ideas above, and therefore it was of no consequence if contrary to the ideas of the natural Gentile man. All things were lawful to him, and anything he pleased might be expedient. Faith was not, as dead Christianity supposed, a credit given to ancient facts, but a living impulse of power. This living impulse was within him, to achieve in the face of all contradiction what he, Enos Milvartin, thought good to be achieved. If faith could bring to pass things that as yet had no existence, it could bring to pass things that custom, prejudice, and lower moral notions forbad. And if faith-this living impulse of power-wrought, so also it was the supreme justification of whatever was achieved.
"Ellen," he said earnestly, " I admire you from my very soul. I have felt a profound anxiety for the welfare of Lizzie as my sister. I have allowed a certain tone of bitterness to affect me. I have been suspicious and uncharitable."
She looked at him, and believed in his sincerity; but when he added, " I will make it a matter of earnest prayer that I may be less anxious and more charitable," her eyes fell. She felt this rectitude unpleasantly different from Molroy's.