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Templedale, Constance, and St. Edmunds, in a body.
“Oh! here is the runaway," cried the former; “I thought that we should find her pouring over some dusty volume. We have a question to ask of your Saintship.”
“What may that be?” inquired the unsuspecting Cécile.
“ Simply, whether or not, you believe in this winking Virgin, that the foreign papers are so full of ?”
“ Indeed, Lady Templedale, I cannot say : I am not sufficiently aware of the circumstances,” answered the Saint, calmly resuming her book.
“This won't do, my dear,” rejoined Lady Templedale, taking forcible possession of the volume. “ I give you fair warning: we are come here to have what Edward calls a wrangle—and a wrangle we will have.”
“You are most welcome,” said Cécile, laughing; “but you must allow me to retire, as I could only be in the way.”
"Don't pretend to misunderstand us, you little hypocrite; you know very well that you are already retained on the other side. Stop her, Lord St. Edmunds; don't let her presume to run away. Ah! Now, that we have caught you, you will be pleased to sit down again immediately; and mind that you don't stir a step, or we shall have to tie you to your chair."
“But this is actual persecution, my dear Lady Templedale."
". And pray, why not, my dear Saint Cecilia ? We, Protestants, have a long arrear to work out; and it is high time that we should have a little inquisition of our own.”
“Ah! but Lady Templedale," urged Cécile, more seriously, “I do beseech you to remember that I am under a solemn promise to Lady Helen not to discuss religious questions in her house. Am I not, dearest Conny ?”
“ Not that I am aware of,” replied her laughing cousin ; “the only engagement, I believe, is, that you should not attempt to convert any of us.”
“Any of you, perhaps," resumed the determined Lady Templedale ; “ but no provision whatever was made for me, or for Lord St. Edmunds. The fact is, my dear, that there are certain questions, respecting your faith,
which I am anxious to have solved for me. I beg your pardon; I know, what you are going to say. There are plenty of books upon the subject, of course, but I have neither time nor attention for the study of them. There are, also, many learned men, who could enlighten me, but it so happens that I am by no means desirous of losing my fair fame, and perhaps my heart also, by closeting myself with them. No, no; you need not appeal again to Conny. It was she herself who told me that you should prove to me how the self-same person can be a sensible and a sincere Roman Catholic. This demonstration you are now to afford forthwith, as it was for no other purpose, than fully to arouse the Popish spirit within you, that I lent you your new Cardinal's appeal, which, by-thebye, I have not yet had time to read. Come, tell us at once, do you believe in the blinking Virgin or not? You know that I am sure to carry my point in the end.”
"I know it, indeed, my dear Lady Templedale," answered Cécile, smiling despite her unfeigned anxiety ; " but I have already replied, that I really have no opinion on the subject.”
“Nonsense, child; you must have some standard by which to test these questions.”
“ I trust I have.”
“May I first ask, Lady Templedale, what is yours.”
“Certainly not ; you will have quite enough to do, I can tell you, to vindicate your own little idolatrous self, without attempting to perplex others. Come, what is your standard, respecting the credibility of miracles ?”
“The decision of the Church in each special case.”
“So that if the Pope were to declare that the eyes winked, you would believe that they did wink ?”
“And you say, Conny, that we are not to call that superstition ?”
"I say nothing, dear Lady Templedale,” replied the afore-named little personage, somewhat perplexed.
“Superstition !" resumed Cécile, pensively ; “ will you define that term, at least, Lady Templedale ?”
“No; but you may.”
“If I say that it is the belief in what may not be proved to our own senses by their natural and customary evidences, will that do ?”
“I suppose the definition may pass, for want of a better."
“Well then, Lady Templedale, should not we all, who are not absolute and professed rationalists, be careful how we invidiously apply the term to our neighbours' faith? You reverently adhere to a religion which has its mysteries, as obscure, as supernatural as our own; you reject, as absolutely as we do, the test of human and individual reason ; you are assailed, as bitterly as we are, by its votaries. Can you show too much indulgence to a principle which is the very groundwork of your belief, as of ours ?”
“Take care, my dear, take care," observed Lady Templedale. “Remember that we have forsworn, as unworthy of reverence, those very points which we have regarded as unduly and immoderately taxing the credulity of the laity.”
“Which you, as a sect, have considered as such, dear Lady Templedale ; but how will you preserve those very articles of faith which you