- CHAPTER XXI. SUNDAY AND MONDAY.
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SUNDAY AND MONDAY.
AGAIN Lilian was left alone, and the repose which, from the time of Alice's death, had insensibly stolen over her was roughly broken. She had thought that her principal trial would be the loss of her husband's affections; she had expected to meet with coolness, indifference, and it might be with contempt, but she was not prepared to find that husband abasing himself, and acting the part of the prodigal son, without his contrition. Stormy days were before her—difficulties were encompassing her path. The "roughing it," of which Mr. Brookes had spoken, seemed near at hand; the sobering process which she herself had predicted, appeared likely to be realized in its fullest sense; and Lilian felt that all her courage, all her constancy, would be required in the struggle that lay before her.| | 230
All the while that Basil was away at Hopelands—
It rained, and the wind was never weary."
She was not gathered with the great congregation; she was not joining with two or three met together in their Master's name; but she knew that the single sighing of a contrite soul would rise up from the care-laden world, and find entrance into the presence-chamber of the King of kings.
And as in he solitude she prayed, she felt herself drawn towards all those who, on sea or shore, in sanctuary or alone, beneath old minster roofs, or in | | 231 unadorned simplicity, without ritual or outward beauty, lifted up clean hands and fervent hearts to the great Head of the Holy Catholic Church. She had often repeated that clause of the beautiful Nicene Creed; now it came with new meaning, new force and sublimity. "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church!" the Church militant here upon earth, gathered from all climes, and from all the corners of the earth, and numbering among its members all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; and the Church triumphant, wearing her spotless garments, and joining in the eternal song of thanksgiving, on the other side the narrow river of death. And all one, all united in One! Some fighting the good fight, and keeping the faith—some wearing their crowns of victory, and resting from their labors—some dwelling in palaces, and walking in the high places of the earth, and clothed in fine linen and purple—sonic toiling in dismal alleys and dark courts for their scanty meal and insufficient raiment—some, wise and learned, burning with poetic fire, and filled with the glorious light of genius, and some plain in speech, rude in manners, and ignorant of all but the one great know-ledge that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; but all treading one path, holding one faith, rejoicing in one Hope, and made perfect in one love!—all members of one Head, and inheritors of one | | 232 kingdom; for He, who, in leis infinite love and mercy, gathered and still gathers the Church of the firstborn, even from the foundation of the world, said to his Father on the eve of mortal separation from his little flock, "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou. hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gayest Me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one—I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou least loved Me. Father, I will that they, also, whom Thou least given He, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me."
And so, as Lilian prayed and read these blessed words, she realized how she, too, had become one of the Church; the Church that stands upon the Rock of Ages—the Church that will tower above all the wrecks of time, when sun and moon, and all that this world contains, shall have passed away for ever.
The bells began to toll for evening service—and when the last sounds of their iron tongues died away, the wind lulled and the rain ceased. One bright gleans gilded the western sky; the sun had gone down, but a soft crimson light flushed, for a few minutes, the | | 233 domes and spires of the mighty city—a lovely type of the light that God has promised to his children when they come to "evening-time."
"At evening time there shall be light," said Lilian, as she stood at her window and watched the beautiful radiance slowly fade. "What matters the clay of storms and rain, so that the evening is calm and bright. Oh, if I may but endure to the end!"
That aspiration was a prayer, and with its unuttered ascent came the full blessedness of the promise, "My grace is sufficient for thee."—"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a hood work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
And so passed that happy, solitary Sunday.
The next clay brought its cares and perplexities.
About one o'clock Basil came back, but not alone, for his father was with him. Lilian saw that her husband was fearfully incensed, and that he did not even pretend to treat Mr. Hope with any show of deference and civility. He scarcely spoke to his wife, scolded the servants for having disarranged his letters, and finally shut himself lip in his study, and haughtily desired, in a tone loud enough to reach Mr. Hope and Lilian in the drawing-room, that no one, on any pretence, should disturb him.
"Lilian," said Mr. Hope, bravely, "do you know why I am here?" Of course she did not.| | 234
"I must tell you, then; but it will be painful to you to hear, and to me to speak it. Basil has deeply, irremediably offended me; if I could, if Hopelands were not entailed, I would disown him for ever; not one Shilling of mine should he ever possess. He has been living for some months a life of extreme dissipation; the liberal allowance I made him has been long squandered; he has had recourse to Jews, to infamous usurers; he has given post-obit bonds; he has raised money at fifty per cent interest on the little money that will come to him from his mother; and, added to this, he has been insolent to the last degree. Had he been humble, had he owned his faults, and shown any desire to lead a new life, I might, I don't quite know, but I think I might have forgiven him; he is my son, my only one. But as I tell you, he defied me; he told over his debts, his engagements, and his entanglements, with a coolness I never saw surpassed. Why, Lilian, the interest he has to pay for his borrowed Money is more than his annual income. Did you know he has taken to the turf? He lost a little fortune at the last Derby, it seems; and but for an accident, none of us would have been the wiser for many a day. Well! the name of Hope must not be dishonored; while I live, men shall, in some sort, bold it in reverence. I will pay Basil's debts—pay off his Jews, as he lovingly calls them, and pay his debts of honor— | | 235 satisfy his clamorous tradesmen; I will liquidate the claim of every creditor to the uttermost farthing!"
Lilian began to thank him; to be free from debt seemed to her just then like deliverance from hopeless slavery; but he stopped her. "No! no thanks; you do not know the conditions; I have determined them, and my decision is unalterable. I shall no longer allow Basil the income which his position as my heir demands. I must impoverish the estate, take from the portions of his sisters, and inconvenience myself; in order to keep my good naive pure and unsuspected: it is meet that he who has wrought the evil should suffer; and he must and shall suffer. For your sake, I will not leave him without the means of subsistence; you shall have a settled income; but it will be so small, that without economy you will be again reduced to difficulties. You must live in strict retirement; you must lead a simple country life; and if you have children, you must nurse and educate them yourself. Basil proposed your living on the Continent, but I would not bear of that; he, with his tendencies and weaknesses, must not be exposed to the chicaneries of those of his countrymen whom misconduct and disgrace have driven from their native shorts. There are plenty of out-of-the-way places without crossing the seas, and I told him so. This furniture, and all these fine knick-knackeries, must be sold; but I, as | | 236 sole creditor, give you permission to take What you Will or your own use, and for the embellishment of your cottage home. I trust to your own good sense to select what is consistent."
Lilian calmly assented; and Mr. Hope, with a manifestation of surprise he could not entirely suppress, said, "Well the prospect of living in a cottage and renouncing your present position does not seem to fill you with dismay. Olivia was remarking that you would be broken-hearted at being forced to retire from the scene of your conquests."
"Say rather, the scene of my defeats," replied Lilian, gravely, I trust the conquests are still to come; and they can be gained more easily in seclusion than in the haunts of gaiety. It is little to me to give up a grandeur to which I Was not born. I thought once to find happiness in rank, wealth, and society, but I know now that true happiness is, to a certain extent, independent of circumstances."
"Perhaps you leave pastoral notions of love in a cottage, and fancy a thatched roof must cover a domestic paradise
"No, indeed," replied Lilian; "I think as much disquiet may prevail in a but as in a palace. If our Heart be not at peace we must carry with us, wherever we go, an unfailing source of disturbance and disappointment."| | 237
"Very true; but I cannot stay to moralize now."
"You will stay and dine with us, sir?"
"No! My son and I are not on those terms which would render it agreeable to either of us. Lilian, understand, once for all, that all intercourse is about to cease. Basil himself would not submit to be forgiven; he is sullen and resentful, as well as bitter and reckless. He professes his ability to do without any assistance at all; he hints that he means to become an author, and win a fortune, of course. What kind of books he will write I cannot divine, unless he give the world 'Confessions of a Profligate,' 'The Autobiography of a Spendthrift,' or 'The Road to Ruin,' by one who has trodden it."
Then, telling Lilian that he would arrange matters as speedily as possible, he took his departure, very much to her relief; for the bitter and sarcastic tone in which he spoke of his erring son by no means made amends to the true-hearted wife for the coldness and indifference to which she herself had been subjected, and she cared little for the approval of her own conduct, which he once or twice expressed, while her husband was alienated from the heart of his father and exiled from the home of his youth.
Henceforth Lilian had two brand aims. The one, as we have seen, was to win back the love and confidence of her husband, the other was to restore Basil | | 238 to his father's heart and home. In the present aspect of affairs, both these desires seemed most difficult of realization. There were prejudices to be removed, hardships to be endured, consistency to be maintained, strong will to be curbed as with a silken chain, and inflexible tempers to be softened and subdued. Still Lilian hoped, and resolved to bear on bravely and patiently, trusting to Almighty grace for the necessary wisdom, love, and fortitude
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