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body, and though personally no more than the very least of its little fingers, unable any longer to act or move of himself, he belonged to a Cardinal in red stockings, and to a Pope who carried the talisman of infallibility.
Lady Edith proceeded anxiously to chapel, where she had not been for several weeks, owing to her absence at Eaglescairn, and her arduous attendance subsequently on Lady Anne; but now she entered the sacred edifice with feelings of deep solicitude. To her surprise, the congregation, formerly so numerous and devout, was now reduced to one or two persons, who were gazing around with looks of vacant surprise, or of irreverent curiosity. It was no wonder they did 80, for Lady Edith was thunderstruck at the entire alteration in the quiet little chapel, and she scarcely identified her old place of resort, now entirely re-modelled. It had become a miserable imitation of Romanism. A high rood-screen divided the congregation from a new stone altar, which had replaced the ancient communion table, formerly covered, as the rubric directs, “with a white cloth, and placed in some convenient part of the church ;" a tawdry picture of St. Bridget, in the very worst theatrical taste of the French school, which Lady Edith had always observed in the collection at Eaglescairn with dislike, was now hung over the altar. In front of this stood a large gilt cross, nearly three feet high, and that was flanked by two tall wax candles, which, in spite of a scorching sun blazing in at every window, were lighted.
A superb altar-cloth of blue velvet was there, studded over with crosses and crowns. Each little gas-burner throughout the church was surmounted by a small iron cross; and the old Prayer-books, which Sir Evan had presented to the chapel, were all adorned by large gold crosses. New bookmarkers had also been placed in them of variously coloured ribbons, at the end of which little gilt images of the saints, about the size of a fourpenny piece, were suspended. Each of these ribbons had its own emblematical meaning, which, to young people fond of religious foppery, was mysteriously interesting. White ribbons were placed in the service for Baptism, red for the Communion office, and black for the Burial of the dead. The church was as full of flowers as Covent Garden market on the 1st of June; and a new readingdesk was placed about the middle of the small chapel. Before Lady Edith had at all recovered her senses from the surprise of all this metamorphosis, she found herself listening to the prayers being intoned, a custom originating in very large overgrown cathedrals of old, where it was supposed to carry the sound further, but quite out of proportion to the miniature chapel at Clanmarina. Mr. Clinton, before the service begun, had stood, looking much excited, in the aisle, wearing a long black dress, reaching almost to the ground, and a black cap, which gave him quite the air of a grand inquisitor. He studiously turned his back towards the scanty congregation, and read the
first lesson in a strange mumbling tone, as if his only object were, not to be understood. His numerous genuflections, turning always to the east, reminded Lady Edith of the Grand Mufti ; and he seemed determined to show the congregation that they had no part in the service, and no right to hear it. Every time he entered within the rood-screen, Mr. Clinton made a sign of the cross and bowed; and once or twice he knelt as immoveably before the centre of the altar, as if turned into one of the wooden images he worshipped.
When Lady Edith saw such a vision of Protestant Romanism within the quiet homely chapel which had so long witnessed the simple solemnities of a well-ordered Episcopal service, she asked herself if she were actually awake. When she thought of Mrs. Clinton's grief on this account, tears sprang into her own eyes, and she considered it no wonder that her friend had felt unwilling to accompany the congregation into such a scene. It was indeed evident that Mr. Clinton, already looking and acting so like a Popish priest, would soon be led on by Father Eustace to disown his marriage vow, and his Protestant faith; and though Lady Edith had intended to remain for the Holy Communion, she dared not now venture to stay for its sacred consolations, not knowing what extraordinary innovations contrary to her own faith and feelings might have been made in the solemn rite.
Lady Edith was leaving the house of a poor
woman she had visited on her way home at the very moment when Mr. Clinton was passing on his road homewards, so that it became almost an inevitable piece of mutual politeness that they should walk along the road together, which accordingly they did, though both, for the first time, equally unwilling to associate. They shook hands at first in silence, while Mr. Clinton tried to assume as matter-of-fact an aspect as he could command; but, nevertheless, he looked undeniably abashed. Lady Edith was, however, the most agitated of the two ; but after a pause to recover herself, she said, in a low accent, and with a penetrating look that nothing could evade, “Mr. Clinton, I am desirous neither to mistake, nor to be mistaken; tell me, then, is it to a clergyman still in the Church of England that I speak, or to a deserter and apostate * “Judge me, Lady Edith, with your wonted candour,” answered Mr. Clinton, evasively, and twirling his spectacles with nervous energy; “I have too long been a mere lukewarm Christian, or at best with the chill taken off. I am now greatly changed; and there may be much, perhaps, to startle and alarm your rather puritanical notions. My perplexities of mind have of late become a torture beyond bearing; and within the last few weeks, suddenly, without any remarkable addition to my store of facts or principles, it seems to me as if I could not any longer hold myself back from— from—” “I understand you, Mr. Clinton. I am not unprepared for this fearful acknowledgment, mournful as it is. From the time of Mrs. Lorraine's arrival at Clanmarina, Protestantism has become a mere dead deposit in your mind, not existing in your heart. You have for some weeks appeared to me a would-if-I-could-be Papist, and now you are one. You preached to-day the infallibility of human dictation in spiritual things, and the Divine authority of the visible Church; therefore, whether you apostatize sooner or later, you are sliding down an inclined plane, with nothing to stop your descent short of that superstition which prostrates your reason, your judgment, your principles, and every earthly tie of affection or duty.” “Lady Edith,” replied Mr. Clinton, with an appearance of more solemn regret than he had before testified, “my regard for friends such as yourself, to whom I owe a lifetime of gratitude and esteem, has been one of the chief impediments to my entire conversion, or, at least, to my declaring it. Without repining, though with lasting sorrow, I could prepare to relinquish all hitherto precious to my heart, my Protestant parish, my domestic habits, my former opinions, my ancient prejudices, all but my old friendships, unless you are bigot enough to desire it. Let us, then, be better friends than ever for the future, and perhaps at last you may think as I do, and be as happy as I am.” “I know well the trick of your new associates, Mr. Clinton,” said Lady Edith, with a melancholy