« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
“ Will you sketch out the Bill, wiseacre ?”
“No; but I should hope that the Parliament of England is competent to do so.”
“We shall see ; some difficulties are insoluble in their nature, and this, I fear, is one. So complicated is the question, in all its bearings, and through all its antecedents, that I do not foresee how we can give any substantial satisfaction to the cry which we are now promoting and fostering, without contradicting the whole of our recent policy, and this, I am not prepared to do. England should not legislate in vain !"
“In short,” cried his mother, “you are willing to plead every one's cause, and to enter into every one's sentiments but our own.”
“Not so, dear my Lady; but when I see that the Cardinal's Pastoral has actually prevented you, a rational woman, in the enjoyment of excellent health, and of a splendidly endowed clergy, from closing your eyes during three whole weeks, I cannot but reflect upon the tortures which you would endure, were you to see his Eminence actually installed on the Archbishop of Canterbury's throne, the latter reverend prelate branded as a traitor and an impostor, and you yourself called upon to pay for the due support of his rival's dignity.
If you will just reverse the question, you will see that this is precisely the cup which a considerable portion of our countrymen, and countrywomen, too, are daily constrained to dra n, and I must own that I do not wish to add to its bitterness.”
"If these were the sentiments which you expounded to-day,” interposed the laughing Constance, “I should suppose that the sooner we prepared for our foreign journey the better.'
“Oh! no; I was very far from being so imprudent-I began, I can assure you, in a strain of the most orthodox bigotry, and was most rapturously cheered, until I grew still more ashamed of myself than of my audience. I then hazarded a few very guarded words of moderation and Christian charity, and thus prepared Charles Angerstein's triumph. I am sorry that you did not hear him, by the bye, Miss Conny, you, who voted him an idiot, or something of the kind, after a few minutes' conversation. He really spoke remarkably well for a beginner, and he will make a very fair member for the County.”
"I wish you had found that out three years ago," growled out Sir Charles, “ that's all.
I could have made much better use of my two thousand five hundred pounds, I can tell you, than squandering them in attempting to keep up, for no purpose, the family interest.”
“Yes, indeed," echoed Lady Helen, as she arose to withdraw.
After the departure of the ladies, the subject of the foregoing discourse was not resumed, but no sooner had Edward Basinstoke entered the drawing-room, than, seating himself at Cécile's side, he whispered to her :
“Well, you allowed me to fight your battle all alone.”
“I am not at all sure that it was my battle," replied she.
“None will ever be fought more directly in your cause; or I should rather say, Cécile, for your sake.”
She who was thus addressed coloured slightly, and slowly raising her anxious eyes, answered, in a tone of gentle reproach :
“I had hoped that any sacrifices you may have made, Edward, were inspired by your conscience alone.”
“Say rather by my feelings, Cécile, and you will be nearer the truth. If a Senate even, and
not a constituency, had been applauding me to day, still would I have seen one pure, one heavenly glance fixed upon me with an expression of calm but thrilling reproach, that would have silenced the voice of Ambition herself. Cécile, do you know whose glance that is the light of my heart—the beacon of my path ?”.
Saint Cecilia sighed deeply as one grieved and perplexed in the extreme, and then, looking in the direction of Lady Helen, she said, with an attempted smile :
“ That one, I suppose, which is so intently scrutinizing you now; but I must go to Conny, and ask her in what colour she wishes me to ground these roses of her's.”
The ensuing day brought with it no fresh tribulation to the inmates of Redburn Hall, but it was not so with its successor, for the “ Lincoln Chronicle," when opened by Sir Charles, after his breakfast, was found to contain, in very prominent type, the following paragraph:
"IMPORTANT RESPECTING THE BASINSTOKES.
“We have adverted somewhat severely, in another part of our impression, to the zealously ultramontane sentiments advocated by our present member at the County Meeting. Some