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Father Eustace thinks for me. I do not presume to form opinions.” “It is astonishing how few, in the present day, take that trouble on any subject,” said Lord Iona, in his usual animated tone. “The newspapers think for us on politics, and the magazines on books, therefore if you can also be religious by deputy, that relieves your great mind from all mental effort. In my opinion—but I may be mistaken—a conscientious person will always act according to the dictates of his conscience, which, Miss Turton, you dare not do now. You must not presume to have a conscience 1 That is a stout wholesome monitor which is put to sleep for you by the priest, or it would never let you feel satisfied with a religion of delirious reveries, of fanatical rites, and of blasphemous processions.” Lord Iona shot a hasty glance from his brilliant" intellectual eyes towards Lady Anne, with an evident desire that she should listen, and speaking in a tone of solemn irony, added, “Your newly adopted religion seems one of forms and of sentiment, but not of vitality. We must suppose that to Protestants, basking in the sunshine of Scriptural knowledge, a blindfold superstition like yours appears but a mournful spectacle. It is, in fact, a lifeless religion lying in state, and surrounded by the silent pomp of death !” Lady Anne had requested that a room might be prepared for Beatrice, after Lady Edith's departure, next to her own, with the secret hope of signalising herself by making a conversion, and she seemed to
have no idea that there ever is a moment when people like to be alone. At all hours and every minute she darted into that room full of some important nothing, endeavouring to throw Beatrice off her guard, while she sometimes spoke with dignified triumph of wishing others would resign, like her, all the gaieties and frivolities of life; but she had certainly taken up in exchange the frivolities of superstition. “Ah!” said she one day in her own boudoir, after having shown to Beatrice her large collection of painted missals and prints, “you are looking at this red silk curtain and trying to guess what is behind?” “Indeed, Lady Anne, I have no female curiosity, —none whatever! but I am dying to know,” said Beatrice, smiling; “I have no objection to be told what you have so mysteriously concealed there.” Lady Anne, silently, and with rather more gravity than usual, drew aside the curtain, and displayed a small image of St. Veronica. A prieDieu chair stood before it, and Lady Anne, having opened a neatly-formed lid over the summit, drew up from this concealed recess in the chair two candlesticks. She then lighted the candles, and from the same concealed receptacle on the top of the chair, she raised up a beautifully carved little ebony crucifix, thus making a sort of extempore altar. “You see,” said Lady Anne, gravely, “to a person like me, only in the middle classes of intellect, what an advantage it is to have no exercise of mind required. I go over my rosary twice a-day, and am not required to understand a syllable of it. The rest of my devotional time is filled up with incessantly repeated Ave Marias. I sometimes fall asleep, for the continual sameness of these words is like the rocking of a cradle to the mind, but so easy! I would not have the labour of thinking for worlds.” “But you may lose worlds by not thinking for yourself,” observed Beatrice, with friendly earnestness. “Dear Lady Anne! can you breathe, or eat, or sleep by proxy? and how much less can you exercise the nobler functions of thought and prayer by deputyl Oh! think, read, and pray for yourself.” It appeared now, as if the only object of those around was to make Beatrice forget that there is anything serious in life at all, while they beset her with every imaginable indulgence. Lady Eaglescairn spoke of poverty as if it were not only the worst of misfortunes, but the worst of crimes, and also the most contemptible, so that Beatrice could not but smile to think how very little had hitherto been necessary to make her in Lady Edith's home both happy and respected. Miss Farinelli was surprised one evening when she entered her room to prepare for dinner, to find conspicuously laid on her toilette the most splendid dressing-box, mounted in gold and lined with crimson velvet, that she had ever seen. A card lay on the top, which bore this inscription in large letters, “The gift of an unknown relative.” Beatrice felt half afraid to touch this unaccountable apparition, its arrival seemed so like magic, and her amazement increased the longer she examined it. Everything was there which the most elaborate toilet could require, and many things for which she could scarcely devise a use at all. The most delicious perfumes and cosmetics were included, ivory-handled brushes, and even a pretty little casket of jewels, which seemed to the admiring eyes of Beatrice unsurpassably beautiful, especially a Geneva watch, studded with diamonds, scarcely larger than a shilling, with a small gold chain of the most exquisite workmanship, for suspending it round her neck. Beatrice had been seated for several minutes in astonished contemplation of all these glittering ornaments when she suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder, while the smiling face of Lady Anne, looking somewhat flushed and excited with pleasure, appeared. “How I should like to have such unknown relatives l’” she exclaimed, in a tone of frolicsome vivacity, and dropping into the easiest chair she could discover; “Father Eustace and Lady Eaglescairn will not tell me all their secrets, but what I do know is, that you are surrounded with good fairies, who all wish you well and intend to multiply their gifts to you from day to day.” “Certainly Cinderella's god-mother has been at my toilet this morning!” said Beatrice, with amazement: “I am in a state of dumb surprise !” “And I am in a state of clairvoyance! I see a vision before me of Beatrice Farinelli, with a shower of prosperity falling on her graceful head, —the admired of all admirers, and surrounded by every luxury. Much has been, I am told, unfairly
Exchequer receiving arrears of taxes and con-
prepare your mind to be tried with a flood of prosperity.'
" It seems likely to be very necessary,” replied Beatrice, with a mixture of gaiety and gravity that became her well. “I hope never to be wanting on the score of gratitude to new friends, without forgetting old ones, but this gift is so very splendid, Lady Anne, that I long to thank the giver, probably not very far off, in person.”
“ Do not shake your gory locks at me! I am only entrusted with the task of guessing and selecting what you might probably like best,” said Lady Anne, in a tone of good-humoured self-applause. “Let me clasp on this beautiful bracelet! I merely act as chancellor to a very large exchequer. If you have a great deal of superfluous gratitude to dispose of, however, you may give me some for the exquisite taste with which I have executed the commission of your unknown relative."
“ But why should he remain unknown?” asked Beatrice, almost impatiently. “I shall be worn to a thread-paper with trying to guess who sent these ! Had such splendid gifts come from yourself I might more easily have welcomed them, but surely I ought not to accept any presents from those who seem afraid or ashamed to acknowledge me. Lady Anne, what do you think—what do you advise?"
" Have I lived to be asked for advice! That