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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 11
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What Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 11 Post by :Cheetaz Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :575

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What Will He Do With It - Book 11 - Chapter 11

BOOK XI CHAPTER XI

WAIFE EXACTS FROM GEORGE MORLEY THE FULFILMENT OF ONE OF THOSE PROMISES WHICH MEAN NOTHING OR EVERYTHING.

The next day George Morley visited Waife's room earlier than usual. Waife had sent for him. Sophy was seated by her grandfather--his hand in hers. She had been exerting herself to the utmost to talk cheerfully--to shake from her aspect every cloud of sorrow. But still THAT CHANGE was there--more marked than even on the previous day. A few hours of intense struggle, a single night wholly without sleep, will tell on the face of early youth. Not till we, hard veterans, have gone through such struggles as life permits not to the slight responsibilities of new recruits--not till sleepless nights have grown to us familiar will Thought seem to take, as it were, strength, not exhaustion, from unrelaxing exercise--nourish the brain, sustain the form by its own untiring, fleshless, spiritual immortality; not till many a winter has stripped the leaves; not till deep, and far out of sight, spread the roots that support the stem--will the beat of the east wind leave no sign on the rind.

George has not, indeed, so noticed, the day before, the kind of withering blight that has passed over the girl's countenance; but he did now--when she met his eye more steadfastly, and had resumed something of the open genial infantine grace of manner which constituted her peculiar charm, and which it was difficult to associate with deeper griefs than those of childhood.

"You must scold my grandfather," she said. "He chooses to fancy that he is not well enough yet to leave; and I am sure that he is, and will recover more quickly at home than here."

"Pooh!" said Waife; "you young things suppose we old folks can be as brisk as yourselves; but if I am to be scolded, leave Mr. George unawed by your presence, and go out, my dear, while the sun lasts: I know by the ways of that blackbird that the day will be overcast by noon."

As soon as they were alone, George said abruptly: "Your Sophy is looking very ill, and if you are well enough to leave, it might be better for her to move from this gloomy house. Movement itself is a great restorative," added George, with emphasis.

"You see, then, that she looks ill--very ill," said Waife deliberately; "and there is that in your manner which tells me you guess the cause."

"I do guess it from the glimpse which I caught of Lionel's face after he had been closeted a short time with Mr. Darrell at my uncle's house two days ago. I guess it also from a letter I have received from my uncle."

"You guess right--very right," said Waife, still with the same serious, tranquil manner. "I showed her this letter from young Haughton. Read it." George hurried his eye over the letter, and returned it silently. Waife proceeded:

"I was frightened yesterday by the strange composure she showed. In her face alone could be read what she suffered. We talked last night. I spoke of myself--of my old sorrows--in order to give her strength to support hers; and the girl has a heroic nature, Mr. George--and she is resolved to conquer or to die. But she will not conquer." George began the usual strain of a consoles in such trials. Waife stopped him. "All that you can say, Mr. George, I know beforehand; and she will need no exhortation to prayer and to fortitude. I stole from my room when it was almost dawn. I saw a light under the door of her chamber. I just looked in--softly--unperceived. She had not gone to bed. She was by the open window--stars dying out of the sky--kneeling on the floor, her face buried in her hands. She has prayed. In her soul, at this moment, be sure that she is praying now. She will devote herself to me--she will be cheerful--you will hear her laugh, Mr. George; but she will not conquer in this world; long before the new year is out, she will be looking down upon our grief with her bright smile; but we shall not see her, Mr. George. Do not think this is an old man's foolish terror; I know sorrow as physicians know disease; it has its mortal symptoms. Hush! hear me out. I have one hope--it is in you."

"In me?"

"Yes. Do you remember that you said, if I could succeed in opening to your intellect its fair career, you would be the best friend to me man ever had? and I said, 'Agreed, but change the party in the contract; befriend my Sophy instead of me, and if ever I ask you, help me in aught for her welfare and happiness;' and you said, 'With heart and soul.' That was the bargain, Mr. George. Now you have all that you then despaired of; you have the dignity of your sacred calling--you have the eloquence of the preacher. I cannot cope with Mr. Darrell--you can. He has a heart--it can be softened; he has a soul--it can be freed from the wither that tether it down; he has the virtues you can appeal to; and he has the pride which you, as a Christian minister, have the right to prove to be a sin. I cannot argue with him; I cannot reprove the man to whom I owe so much. All ranks of men and of mind should be equal to you, the pastor, the divine. You ministers of the gospel address yourselves unabashed to the poor, the humble, the uninstructed. Did Heaven give you power and commandment over these alone? Go, Preacher! go! Speak with the same authority to the great, to the haughty, to the wise!" The old man's look and gesture were sublime.

The Preacher felt a thrill vibrate from his ear to his heart; but his reason was less affected than his heart. He shook his head mournfully. The task thus assigned to him was beyond the limits which custom prescribes to the priest of the English Church;--dictation to a man not even of his own flock, upon the closest affairs of that man's private hearth and home! Our society allows no such privilege; and our society is right.

Waife, watching his countenance, saw at once what was passing in his mind, and resumed, as if answering George's own thought:

"Ay, if you were but the commonplace priest! But, you are something more; you are the priest specially endowed for all special purposes of good. You have the mind to reason--the tongue to persuade--the majestic earnestness of impassioned zeal. Nor are you here the priest alone; you are here the friend, the confidant, of all for whom you may exert your powers. Oh, George Morley, I am a poor ignorant blunderer when presuming to exhort you as Christian minister; but in your own words--I address you as man and gentleman, you declared that 'thought and zeal should not stammer whenever I said, Keep your promise.' I say it now--Keep faith to the child you swore to me to befriend!"

"I will go-and at once," said George, rising. "But be not sanguine. I see not a chance of success. A man so superior to myself in years, station, abilities, repute!"

"Where would be Christianity," said Waife, "if the earliest preachers had raised such questions? There is a soldier's courage--is there not a priest's?"

George made no answer, but, with abstracted eye, gathered brow, and slow, meditative step, quitted the room, and sought Guy Darrell.

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