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“But that's very wrong,” resumed the young Viscount, “ very wrong indeed. You, as a good Englishwoman, should be in arms and ready to repel this foreign invader wherever you can encounter him.”
"Perhaps you don't know that I am–I am-”
“A Puseyite ! and you venture to own it !” “No; something worse."
“ Worse !” said St. Edmunds, smiling ; “ what can be worse at present, except—” .
“Except being a Catholic, which I am.” .."A Catholic ? indeed! I beg you a thousand pardons !” exclaimed St. Edmunds, much concerned, “and I do trust that I have said nothing that could hurt your feelings. Why did you not tell me so before ?"
“Because I have always understood that, according to the law of England, no one is obliged to criminate himself.”
“ Criminate ? You do not surely think that it can be considered criminal to adhere to the religion of all our forefathers ?”
“Take care what you say,” was the reply ; "for every day, of late, we have heard of some ancient statute, by no means obsolete, and
which renders treasonable, if not the profession of our faith, at least the accomplishment of its most elementary duties.”
.“ And very excellent statutes they are too, old though they be,” interposed Sir Charles, “ and I trust that before next session ends, we shall see them enforced, wherever it may be required to vindicate the supremacy of our Queen, God bless her! in every part and parcel of her dominions. But what are you nibbling on at that dry potato for? Are you fasting for the conversion of England from its present Paganism? Have a slice of this mutton with it. You will find it none so bad, I can tell you, though it has been fed upon right Protestant grass.”
“I am sure that it is excellent, as usual, Sir Charles ; but you know that—that this is Friday," was the soft answer.
“Friday !” exclaimed Constance, clasping her hands, “and I very much fear that there is nothing for her. Dear mamma, it was you who ordered the dinner; surely, you cannot have forgotten her!”
"I am afraid that I have,” replied Lady Helen ; " but she can ask for anything she chooses, of course."
“ You are very kind, Lady Helen,” answered the fair Papist, “but I really am taking very good care of myself. Besides I am quite happy to think, that for to-day, at least, no evil suspicion, such as you most dread, should rest upon your household.”
“Come, better have some mutton, after all,” resumed the Baronet. “If it is a mortal sin to enjoy so much as we may require of God's gifts, you will be in good company to-day at all
“The case is not similar between us, Sir Charles, for I should be doing what I have been taught and what I believe to be wrong."
“Wrong!” cried Lady Helen, raising her hands and eyes. " It is trial enough for a saint to hear such nonsense seriously spoken.”
“But, dear mamma,” said Constance, “we are enjoined to fast also, are we not, by the ordinances of our Church, as well as by our Saviour's example and precept ?”
“I suppose that is her reason for doing it too,” interposed the Baronet with a loud laugh. “ Come, say something, Mademoiselle, to keep up conversation. What are your motives for fasting ?”
Church so prescribes
nd perhaps we might expect some
asm on this point, at least, borne out by your own authori
. Whereby she means the Holy Bible, I
se” observed Lady Helen, " which, we w is an authority with us, though none with
“ Ha! ha! ha!. very good,” replied the Baronet. “What do you say to that, Saint Cecilia ?”
“ Well," answered she, smiling, “I say that, as Sir Charles Basinstoke objects, and very properly too, to religious controversy in his family, perhaps he should not provoke it, and I, unquestionably, should not promote it.”
“No, no, no, that won't do," resumed the master of the house, dispatching, like a trueborn Briton, his fifth glass of port, “ that won't do at all. I shall have to express my private opinion on Popery at our County-meeting, next month, and I should be sorry to state anything which was not accurate and just. Come, out with it at once : do you or do you not consider the Bible as of divine authority ?”
: “That is not a fair question, it really is not, my dear,” interposed Lady Helen, in her most sarcastic tone. “They cannot help themselves there; for if they affirm the proposition, how can they justify their conduct in withholding the Holy Scriptures from their laity; and to deny it, would be rather stronger blasphemy than they like to utter, at least in England.”
“ Exactly ; very good indeed so far," replied Sir Charles. “Now, neighbour, what have you to say to that?”
“Only to repeat my former answer.”
“ Perhaps I ought to add, that being no theologian, I should less than any other venture to intrust so great a cause as ours to the skill of so poor an advocate.”
“ Tut, tut, tut; that won't do neither What are you always poring over every religious book in my library and out of it for, Mademoiselle, if you are unable to answer a question so simple as this? But it is all right, and seeing that it is such a regular puzzler, I can draw my own conclusions for my grand
By this time the domestics had retired, and