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And an hour later, not to have to hurry old Diamond, the pair drove away; and the other four home daughters stood and watched them off, all with interest ; and perhaps Isa spoke something of the feeling of all the others in saying, “Well, I call that too bad of Kathleen, to get him all to herself.”
“ He asked her to take him," said Amy.
"Oh, yes, you scrupulous goose, we know how it came about,” said Freda, laughing; “ Kitty has no underband ways with her, whatever her other faults-doesn't care enough for either the good or ill opinion of her fellow-countrymen for that!--still the result's the same, got him, we've lost him! And I declare he isn't out of the house half-an-hour but life seems different—all flat and stupid.”
Well, Freda, we often don't know for hours whether he is in or out of it," began Isabel; "this morning for instance”
“ Didn't you feel he was only just across the hall ? I did," said Friedeswide impatiently. “I love to hear him lock that door regularly 9.45 A.M. Saturday, and only unlock it 12.45. At any rate he is not one of your lazy old Hereford clergy, who give to their people stones instead of bread on Sunday, because they've grudged one hour of their idle week in preparation. Come, Isa, bring your book, and we'll lie out in the hayfield and read under the trees.”
The cathedral was indeed a pleasant shelter from a great heat that afternoon. To Kathleen's critical ear the anthem was much spoilt by the flatness of an alto, but here her father's lack of stricter early training stood to his advantage, and the whole service was so delightful to him that his daughter would not mar his satisfaction by trying to awaken him to any imperfection. Then they went across the Close to the “White House," and found the doors open, a Saturday halfholiday making a larger idle crowd at liberty to loiter about the principal rooms, in idle or curious inspection, than either had anticipated. They went from cellar to attic, and Mr. Erle delighted his daughter by telling her any memories transmitted to him about the owner of her Stradivarius. Then opening a door leading to an unexpected stair, leading in its turn to one isolated room remarked,
“ This was my grandmother's own bedroom as a girl.”
“ But she could not have heard the cathedral organ from this side, remarked musical Kitty, who had leant some time against the white shutter of the front parlour window enjoying a long after-voluntary.
“ No, but she was not musical, not in the least; and although my grandfather was, and so had become intimate with her father, he married her not because she possessed a kindred musical soul, but because she was both a good and beautiful woman."
“ Beautiful ought to have come first, sir, I expect.”
“Yes, I dare say; after all beauty does draw us by a single hair. Well, now, here is your lot 132-a tremendous lot," and Mr. Erle surveyed it rather ruefully, “ perhaps"
to the Grants now." “No, but I think I might run down to the post-office for the letters and join you here to read the result. No one seems to know of this room but ourselves. Shall you—“
“Mind ! oh, not in the least,” and when he returned within ten minutes, Kathleen's search was not over.
“I have found treasures, such treasures !” said the girl under her breath ; " you will come in and bid for this lot for me on Monday, won't you ? and ever so many of the oldest pieces have ‘N. B.' on
I shall play them to his violin and fancy I am he. And then look at this curious hair trunk with that strangely shaped convex excrescence in the centre."
“Oh, ignorant Miss Kitty, have you never seen that convex excrescence for a cocked hat on another great-grandfather's trunk in the lumber-room at home?"
No, and if there is such a trunk there isn't one with ‘N. B.' in brass nails on it, is there, look ? and then the lining paper inside an uncut copy of Johnson's “Tour in the Hebrides,' dappled over with the most primitive indigo-blue and orange-red spots; you'll bid for that also, father ?”
“But I don't think it's to be sold, there is no label.”
“But it's part of lot 130,-yes, 'a fourpost bed, one post wanting, a warming-pan, a hair trunk,'—that's it,-—two broken chairs, and a hand candlestick.' “My dear child !"
Oh, bid for it, father, we can give the other things away. Oh, you must, you must indeed.”
“What is Miss Kitty so eager about P” cried Canon Grant, stumbling in upon
them over the music-scattered floor. Here was an unexpected and an unwelcome visitor to Miss Kitty herself—a rival antiquary, a good musician to boot : she hastily collected the scattered music together and put it away into the shabby, cobwebby portfolio out of which her treasures had come.
“Stop a moment,” said the Canon, “ can you help me to the lot I am in search of for my sister? You know this modern mania for old brass and copper," but here others entered, having seen the Canon turn up this curious stair, and Kitty and her father alike finding their retreat invaded, and hearing the cathedral clock chime five, bade the Canon farewell and came away.
“Why didn't you ask him not to bid against you for the music at any rate ?" said her father.
“Because antiquarians are so selfish, so perverse, and they never half value a thing unless some one else is wanting it also ; it was better to come away, or all those country louts who came in as I was packing it up again, would have been turning it over and thinking that they wanted it also.”
“Well ! shall I really go to Harley's and tell him to bid for lots 130 and 132.-And up to what price ?"
“Oh, any price! I must have them, but he may resell the bed. stead and broken candlestick. I'll drive in with the brass warming-pan and present it to Miss Grant, if I really get that lot; but I want two or three things more, there was a corner cupboard, 1680, in the kitchen, and an old high-backed chair, quite as old as little Dulcibella Burridge I am sure; I can just picture her sitting up on it to eat her bread and milk; the present kitchen was then probably the parlour ; I should like Freda to try to sketch the scene, she might be fastening her great brown eyes on her father, and he amusing the child by playing on my very Stradivarius.”
Happy power of youth, to find keen pleasure everywhere! Mr. Erle could not say her nay; and they went to Harley's and gave the needful orders; and then Mr. Erle said, " Do you know where old Nicholas Burridge lies buried, Kathleen? I believe not; you younger girls did not come much into Hereford before Aunt Winstanley swept you all away
from us !” “ Not in the cathedral ?”
“No, curiously enough the White House is in S. Gabriel's parish, once a fashionable part of the city, but now one as deserted and deadalive as the little old-fashioned church itself; his wife and sons had been buried there, and he desired by will to be laid beside them ; you must be prepared for a monument in the taste of the last half of the eighteenth century—it's years since I saw it—and old Vintner, who'd been vicar some fifty years, died only last March.”
"I never object to the real cotemporary monuments of any age, father,” said Kathleen, seriously, “only to sham brasses, and imitation altar-tombs.”
But they were already at the church; it was open, and Mr. Erle took off his hat and entered : but he looked round aghast. Alas! the modern restorer's band had at last been let loose upon it, and not only the large square Burridge family-pew, oaken and lined with faded baize, beneath the old organist's carved marble tablet, disappeared, and slight low pale varnished deal benches taken its place, but the monument itself was gone: nay, all monuments were gone ! The familiar stone slabs upon the floor uprooted, and hateful modern “so many the million” red and black lozenged tiles taken their place; well ! happily, not for long ! all modern work soon splits, or cracks, and gets out of order and use in some way, and in its turn, needs supplanting, only almost before it has itself been paid for.
"It's all gone, Kitty !" and the old man looked quite aghast ; "I used as a boy sometimes to come in and spend a few days with old Burridge the second. I remember going to church with him here, one Good Friday, when there was no organ at the cathedral, and he and his fine old wife went the head of their large family to their parish church, like any other good citizen, in the good old days of 1820. That year and thereafter till his death he was old Vintner's church warden. What goodly family bands one met doing just the same thing every Sunday, and twice a Sunday, only twenty years ago! Well, God made families, and the father and mother the head of each house, -long before made open benches ; and services at all hours, and twenty churches where there were two, with all manner of varieties of service, to attract silly gad-abouts, and break up the old wholesome sense of family duties and ties and responsibilities.—'
“But the monument—there are no monuments," said Kathleen, still looking around bewildered, “this looks like a new church, haven't we got to the wrong one after all p”
“ Alas, no !—and yet, I, a good churchman, if of a somewhat too conservative type, -ought perhaps to rejoice at some of the changes since I was last here with poor Vintner ! -Evidently the new Vicar is young and ardent, hasn't followed Dr. Arnold's wise advice to each new ruler to leave things untouched one whole year, and by this
patience learn the use of much that had originally seemed to his ignorant and prejudiced first sight useless."
“But how could any one touch the monuments without permission of the representative descendants of those whom they recorded ?" pursued Kathleen, indignantly, "you never gave any permission that your great-grandfather's should be touched, all his sons predeceased him without issue, our great-grandmamma Erle was his eldest daughter, you are her eldest son's eldest son! Insist on having it put back, father, I know the law must be on your side."
“My dear Kitty, we won't talk of the law' in a church. And we had better come out of poor old S. Gabriel's for it is too true that there is nothing old in it left to show you."
Still they did walk on towards the chancel ; and as they did so gradually hushed not only their voices but their steps. Some one was kneeling at the now rail-less and much elevated altar-steps, gazing upwards ; true, his back towards them, but even Kathleen recognized the depth of adoration, and reverential ecstasy of prayer, in which the new Vicar was offering himself, his work, his “all” to God.
They turned back gently and passed out again quickly, and only then noticed, what had escaped their observation before, a placard setting forth the morrow's services of S. Gabriel's on its re-opening after repairs and restoration.
“ Alban Hope, Vicar," said Mr. Erle, reading the signature with no bitterness and considerable interest; but Kathleen set her pretty white teeth, and said, “I shall look up the law about such wholesale restorations -I am sure such barbarisms cannot be effected without a faculty! I shall —"
“Hush, hush, Kitty! and meanwhile here is poor Burridge's monument, at least a little bit of it, I recognize that cherub, I am sure.”
There was a large heap of broken bits of mural tablets, pavingmemorial stones, old lead, and fragments of painted wainscot, (the contracting builder had had the wit to escape with all the real “old oak!") lying, not untidily, in a recess just beyond the western door. Mr. Erle was still surveying it rather ruefully; Kathleen stooping down and wiping the cherub's rain and smoke-stained face with her handkerchief, when Mr. Hope passed out, and, at first, by them; a sweet tender reverent exultation on his calm features.
“It is too bad, it is disgraceful !" cried Kathleen, with cruel purpose and distinctness.