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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar's Daughter - Chapter 43. A Little More About Roger, And About Mr. Blackstone
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The Vicar's Daughter - Chapter 43. A Little More About Roger, And About Mr. Blackstone Post by :djkirk Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :1282

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The Vicar's Daughter - Chapter 43. A Little More About Roger, And About Mr. Blackstone


After telling me the greater part of what I have just written, Roger handed me this letter to read, as we sat together that same Sunday evening.

"It seems final, Roger?" I said with an interrogation, as I returned it to him.

"Of course it is," he replied. "How could any honest man urge his suit after that,--after she says that to grant it would be to destroy the whole of her previous life, and ruin her self-respect? But I'm not so miserable as you may think me, Wynnie," he went on; "for don't you see? though I couldn't quite bring myself to go to-night, I don't feel cut off from her. She's not likely, if I know her, to listen to anybody else so long as the same reasons hold for which she wouldn't give me a chance of persuading her. She can't help me loving her, and I'm sure she'll let me help her when I've the luck to find a chance. You may be sure I shall keep a sharp lookout. If I can be her servant, that will be something; yes, much. Though she won't give herself to me--and quite right, too!--why should she?--God bless her!--she can't prevent me from giving myself to her. So long as I may love her, and see her as often as I don't doubt I may, and things continue as they are, I sha'n't be down-hearted. I'll have another pipe, I think." Here he half-started, and hurriedly pulled out his watch, "I declare, there's time yet!" he cried, and sprung to his feet. "Let's go and hear what she's got to say to-night."

"Don't you think you had better not? Won't you put her out?" I suggested.

"If I understand her at all," he said, "she will be more put out by my absence; for she will fear I am wretched, caring only for herself, and not for what she taught me. You may come or stay--_I_'m off. You've done me so much good, Wynnie!" he added, looking back in the doorway. "Thank you a thousand times. There's no comforter like a sister!"

"And a pipe," I said; at which he laughed, and was gone.

When Percivale and I reached Lime Court, having followed as quickly as we could, there was Roger sitting in the midst, as intent on her words as if she had been, an old prophet, and Marion speaking with all the composure which naturally belonged to her.

When she shook hands with him after the service, a slight flush washed the white of her face with a delicate warmth,--nothing more. I said to myself, however, as we went home, and afterwards to my husband, that his case was not a desperate one.

"But what's to become of Blackstone?" said Percivale.

I will tell my reader how afterwards he seemed to me to have fared; but I have no information concerning his supposed connection with this part of my story. I cannot even be sure that he ever was in love with Marion. Troubled he certainly was, at this time; and Marion continued so for a while,--more troubled, I think, than the necessity she felt upon her with regard to Roger will quite account for. If, however, she had to make two men miserable in one week, that might well cover the case.

Before the week was over, my husband received a note from Mr. Blackstone, informing him that he was just about to start for a few weeks on the Continent. When he returned I was satisfied from his appearance that a notable change had passed upon him: a certain indescribable serenity seemed to have taken possession of his whole being; every look and tone indicated a mind that knew more than tongue could utter,--a heart that had had glimpses into a region of content. I thought of the words, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High," and my heart was at rest about him. He had fared, I thought, as the child who has had a hurt, but is taken up in his mother's arms and comforted. What hurt would not such comforting outweigh to the child? And who but he that has had the worst hurt man can receive, and the best comfort God can give, can tell what either is?

I was present the first time he met Marion after his return. She was a little embarrassed: he showed a tender dignity, a respect as if from above, like what one might fancy the embodiment of the love of a wise angel for such a woman. The thought of comparing the two had never before occurred to me; but now for the moment I felt as if Mr. Blackstone were a step above Marion. Plainly, I had no occasion to be troubled about either of them.

On the supposition that Marion had refused him, I argued with myself that it could not have been on the ground that she was unable to look up to him. And, notwithstanding what she had said to Roger, I was satisfied that any one she felt she could help to be a nobler creature; must have a greatly better chance of rousing all the woman in her; than one whom she must regard as needing no aid from her. All her life had been spent in serving and sheltering human beings whose condition she regarded with hopeful compassion: could she now help adding Roger to her number of such? and if she once looked upon him thus tenderly, was it not at least very possible, that, in some softer mood, a feeling hitherto unknown to her might surprise her consciousness with its presence,--floating to the surface of her sea from its strange depths, and leaning towards him with the outstretched arms of embrace?

But I dared not think what might become of Roger should his divine resolves fail,--should the frequent society of Marion prove insufficient for the solace and quiet of his heart. I had heard how men will seek to drown sorrow in the ruin of the sorrowing power,--will slay themselves that they may cause their hurt to cease, and I trembled for my husband's brother. But the days went on, and I saw no sign of failure or change. He was steady at his work, and came to see us as constantly as before; never missed a chance of meeting Marion: and at every treat she gave her friends, whether at the house of which I have already spoken, or at Lady Bernard's country-place in the neighborhood of London, whether she took them on the river, or had some one to lecture or read to them, Roger was always at hand for service and help. Still, I was uneasy; for might there not come a collapse, especially if some new event were to destroy the hope which he still cherished, and which I feared was his main support? Would his religion then prove of a quality and power sufficient to keep him from drifting away with the receding tide of his hopes and imaginations? In this anxiety perhaps I regarded too exclusively the faith of Roger, and thought too little about the faith of God. However this may be, I could not rest, but thought and thought, until at last I made up my mind to go and tell Lady Bernard all about it.

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