Ernest could not deny this, and admitted that Paul would almost certainly have condemned tobacco in good round terms if he had known of its existence. Was it not then taking rather a mean advantage of the Apostle to stand on his not having actually forbidden it? On the other hand, it was possible that God knew Paul would have forbidden smoking, and had purposely arranged the discovery of tobacco for a period at which Paul should be no longer living. This might seem rather hard on Paul, considering all he had done for Christianity, but it would be made up to him in other ways.

These reflections satisfied Ernest that on the whole he had better smoke, so he sneaked to his portmanteau and brought out his pipes and tobacco again. There should be moderation he felt in all things, even in virtue; so for that night he smoked immoderately. It was a pity, however, that he had bragged to Dawson about giving up smoking. The pipes had better be kept in a cupboard for a week or two, till in other and easier respects Ernest should have proved his steadfastness. Then they might steal out again little by little - and so they did.

Ernest now wrote home a letter couched in a vein different from his ordinary ones. His letters were usually all common form and padding, for as I have already explained, if he wrote about anything that really interested him, his mother always wanted to know more and more about it - every fresh answer being as the lopping off of a hydra's head and giving birth to half a dozen or more new questions - but in the end it came invariably to the same result, namely, that he ought to have done something else, or ought not to go on doing as he proposed. Now, however, there was a new departure, and for the thousandth time he concluded that he was about to take a course of which his father and mother would approve, and in which they would be interested, so that at last he and they might get on more sympathetically than heretofore. He therefore wrote a gushing, impulsive letter, which afforded much amusement to myself as I read it, but which is too long for reproduction. One passage ran: `I am now going towards Christ; the greater number of my college friends are, I fear, going away from Him; we must pray for them that they may find the peace that is in Christ even as I have myself found it.' Ernest covered his face with his hands for shame as he read this extract from the bundle of letters he had put into my hands - they had been returned to him by his father on his mother's death, his mother having carefully preserved them.

`Shall I cut it out?' said I, `I will if you like.'

`Certainly not,' he answered, `and if good-natured friends have kept more records of my follies, pick out any plums that may amuse the reader, and let him have his laugh over them.' But fancy what effect a letter like this - so unled up to - must have produced at Battersby! Even Christina refrained from ecstasy over her son's having discovered the power of Christ's word, while Theobald was frightened out of his wits. It was well his son was not going to have any doubts or difficulties, and that he would be ordained without making a fuss over it, but he smelt mischief in this sudden conversion of one who had never yet shown any inclination towards religion. He hated people who did not know where to stop, Ernest was always so outré and strange; there was never any knowing what he would do next, except that it would be something unusual and silly. If he was to get the bit between his teeth after he had got ordained and bought his living, he would go a long way to steady him, and if he married, his wife must see to the rest; this was his only chance and, to do justice to his sagacity, Theobald in his heart did not think very highly of it.

When Ernest came down to Battersby in June, he imprudently tried to open up a more unreserved communication with his father than was his wont. The first of Ernest's snipe-like flights on being flushed by Mr Hawke's sermon was in the direction of ultra-Evangelicalism. Theobald himself had been much more Low than High Church. This was the normal development of the country clergyman during the first years of his clerical life, between, we will say, the years 1825 to 1850; but he was not prepared for the almost contempt with which Ernest now regarded the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and priestly absolution (Hoity- toity, indeed, what business had he with such questions?), nor for his desire to find some means of reconciling Methodism and the Church. Theobald hated the Church of Rome, but he hated Dissenters too, for he found them as a general rule troublesome people to deal with; he always found people who

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