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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 20. The Blood-Hound
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Thomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 20. The Blood-Hound Post by :wordsworth Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :1471

Click below to download : Thomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 20. The Blood-Hound (Format : PDF)

Thomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 20. The Blood-Hound

VOLUME III CHAPTER XX. THE BLOOD-HOUND

I need not follow the steps by which the inquiry-office became able so far to enlighten the mother of Emmeline concerning the person and habits of the visitor to the deserted shaft, that she had now come to Glaston in pursuit of yet farther discovery concerning him. She had no plan in her mind, and as yet merely intended going to church and everywhere else where people congregated, in the hope of something turning up to direct inquiry. Not a suspicion of Leopold had ever crossed her. She did not even know that he had a sister in Glaston, for Emmeline's friends had not all been intimate with her parents.

On the morning after her arrival, she went out early to take a walk, and brood over her cherished vengeance; and finding her way into the park, wandered about in it for some time. Leaving it at length by another gate, and inquiring the way to Glaston, she was directed to a footpath which would lead her thither across the fields. Following this, she came to a stile, and being rather weary with her long walk, sat down on it.

The day was a grand autumnal one. But nature had no charms for her. Indeed had she not been close shut in the gloomy chamber of her own thoughts, she would not thus have walked abroad alone; for nature was to her a dull, featureless void; while her past was scarcely of the sort to invite retrospection, and her future was clouded.

It so fell that just then Leopold was asleep in his chair,--every morning he slept a little soon after being carried out,--and that chair was in its usual place in the meadow, with the clump of trees between it and the stile. Wingfold was seated in the shade of the trees, but Helen, happening to want something for her work, went to him and committed her brother to his care until she should return, whereupon he took her place. Almost the same moment however, he spied Polwarth coming from the little door in the fence, and went to meet him. When he turned, he saw, to his surprise, a lady standing beside the sleeping youth, and gazing at him with a strange intentness. Polwarth had seen her come from the clump of trees, and supposed her a friend. The curate walked hastily back, fearing he might wake and be startled at sight of the stranger. So intent was the gazing lady that he was within a few yards of her before she heard him. She started, gave one glance at the curate, and hurried away towards the town. There was an agitation in her movements which Wingfold did not like; a suspicion crossed his mind, and he resolved to follow her. In his turn he made over his charge to Polwarth, and set off after the lady.

The moment the eyes of Emmeline's mother fell upon the countenance of Leopold, whom, notwithstanding the change that suffering had caused, she recognized at once, partly by the peculiarity of his complexion, the suspicion, almost conviction, awoke in her that here was the murderer of her daughter. That he looked so ill seemed only to confirm the likelihood. Her first idea was to wake him and see the effect of her sudden presence. Finding he was attended, however, she hurried away to inquire in the town and discover all she could about him.

A few moments after Polwarth had taken charge of him, and while he stood looking on him tenderly, the youth woke with a start.

"Where is Helen?" he said.

"I have not seen her. Ah, here she comes!"

"Did you find me alone then?"

"Mr. Wingfold was with you. He gave you up to me, because he had to go into the town."

He looked inquiringly at his sister as she came up, and she looked in the same way at Polwarth.

"I feel as if I had been lying all alone in this wide field," said Leopold, "and as if Emmeline had been by me, though I didn't see her."

Polwarth looked after the two retiring forms, which were now almost at the end of the meadow, and about to issue on the high road.

Helen followed his look with hers. A sense of danger seized her. She trembled, and kept behind Leopold's chair.

"Have you been coughing much to-day?" asked the gate-keeper.

"Yes, a good deal--before I came out. But it does not seem to do much good."

"What good would you have it do?"

"I mean, it doesn't do much to get it over. Oh, Mr. Polwarth, I am so tired!"

"Poor fellow! I suppose it looks to you as if it would never be over. But all the millions of the dead have got through it before you. I don't know that that makes much difference to the one who is going through it. And yet it is a sort of company. Only, the Lord of Life is with you, and that is real company, even in dying, when no one else can be with you."

"If I could only feel he was with me!"

"You may feel his presence without knowing what it is."

"I hope it isn't wrong to wish it over, Mr. Polwarth?"

"I don't think it is wrong to wish anything you can talk to him about and submit to his will. St. Paul says, 'In everything let your requests be made known unto God.'"

"I sometimes feel as if I would not ask him for anything, but just let him give me what he likes."

"We must not want to be better than is required of us, for that is at once to grow worse."

"I don't quite understand you."

"Not to ask may seem to you a more submissive way, but I don't think it is so childlike. It seems to me far better to say, 'O Lord, I should like this or that, but I would rather not have it if thou dost not like it also.' Such prayer brings us into conscious and immediate relations with God. Remember, our thoughts are then, passing to him, sent by our will into his mind. Our Lord taught us to pray always and not get tired of it. God, however poor creatures we may be, would have us talk to him, for then he can speak to us better than when we turn no face to him."

"I wonder what I shall do the first thing when I find myself out--out, I mean, in the air, you know."

"It does seem strange we should know so little of what is in some sense so near us! that such a thin veil should be so impenetrable! I fancy the first thing I should do would be to pray."

"Then you think we shall pray there--wherever it is?"

"It seems to me as if I should go up in prayer the moment I got out of this dungeon of a body. I am wrong to call it a dungeon, for it lies open to God's fair world, and the loveliness of the earth comes into me through eyes and ears just as well as into you. Still it is a pleasant thought that it will drop off me some day. But for prayer--I think all will pray there more than here--in their hearts and souls I mean."

"Then where would be the harm if you were to pray for me after I am gone?"

"Nowhere that I know. It were indeed a strange thing if I might pray for you up to the moment when you ceased to breathe, and therewith an iron gate close between us, and I could not even reach you through the ear of the Father of us both! It is a faithless doctrine, for it supposes either that those parted from us can do without prayer, the thing Jesus himself could not do without, seeing it was his highest joy, or that God has so parted those who are in him from these who are in him, that there is no longer any relation, even with God, common to them. The thing to me takes the form of an absurdity."

"Ah, then, pray for me when I am dying, and don't be careful to stop when you think I am gone, Mr. Polwarth."

"I will remember," said the little man.

And now Helen had recovered herself, and came and took her usual seat by her brother's side. She cast an anxious glance now and then into Polwarth's face, but dared not ask him anything.

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VOLUME III CHAPTER XIX. RACHEL AND LEOPOLDEvery day after this, so long as the weather continued warm, it was Leopold's desire to be carried out to the meadow. Once at his earnest petition, instead of setting him down in the usual place, they went on with him into the park, but he soon wished to be taken back to the meadow. He did not like the trees to come between him and his bed: they made him feel like a rabbit that was too far from its hole, he said; and he was never tempted to try it again. Regularly too
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