Weeks went by and I did not see her again. Having done as much as I had, I felt absolved from doing more, and let Ernest alone as thinking that he and I should only bore one another.

He had now been ordained a little over four months, but these months had not brought happiness or satisfaction with them. He had lived in a clergyman's house all his life, and might have been expected perhaps to have known pretty much what being a clergyman was like, and so he did - a country clergyman; he had formed an ideal, however, as regards what a town clergyman could do, and was trying in a feeble tentative way to realize it, but somehow or other it always managed to escape him.

He lived among the poor, but he did not find that he got to know them. The idea that they would come to him proved to be a mistaken one. He did indeed visit a few tame pets whom his rector desired him to look after. There was an old man and his wife who lived next door but one to Ernest himself; then there was a plumber of the name of Chesterfield; an aged lady of the name of Gover, blind and bed- ridden, who munched and munched her feeble old toothless jaws as Ernest spoke or read to her, but who could to little more; a Mr. Brookes, a rag and bottle merchant in Birdsey's Rents in the last stage of dropsy, and perhaps half a dozen or so others. What did it all come to, when he did go to see them? The plumber wanted to be flattered, and liked fooling a gentleman into wasting his time by scratching his ears for him. Mrs Gover, poor old woman, wanted money; she was very good and meek, and when Ernest got her a shilling from Lady Anne Jones's bequest, she said it was `small but seasonable,' and munched and munched in gratitude. Ernest sometimes gave her a little money himself, but not, as he says now, half what he ought to have given.

What could he do else that would have been of the smallest use to her? Nothing indeed; but giving occasional half-crowns to Mrs Gover was not regenerating the universe, and Ernest wanted nothing short of this. The world was all out of joint, and instead of feeling it to be a cursed spite that he was born to set it right, he thought he was just the kind of person that was wanted for the job, and was eager to set to work, only he did not exactly know how to begin, for the beginning he had made with Mr Chesterfield and Mrs Gover did not promise great developments.

Then poor Mr Brookes - he suffered very much, terribly indeed; he was not in want of money; he wanted to die and couldn't, just as we sometimes want to go to sleep and cannot. He had been a serious-minded man, and death frightened him as it must frighten anyone who believes that all his most secret thoughts will be shortly exposed in public. When I read Ernest the description of how his father used to visit Mrs Thompson at Battersby, he coloured and said - `That's just what I used to say to Mr Brookes.' Ernest felt that his visits, so far from conforting Mr Brookes, made him fear death more and more, but how could he help it?

Even Pryer, who had been curate a couple of years, did not know personally more than a couple of hundred people in the parish at the outside, and it was only at the houses of very few of these that he ever visited, but then Pryer had such a strong objection on principle to house visitations. What a drop in the sea were those with whom he and Pryer were brought into direct communication in comparison with those whom he must reach and move if he were to produce much effect of any kind, one way or the other. Why there were between fifteen and twenty thousand poor in the parish, of whom but the merest fraction ever attended a place of worship. Some few went to dissenting chapels, a few were Roman Catholics; by far the greater number, however, were practically infidels, if not actively hostile, at any rate indifferent to religion, while many were avowed Atheists - admirers of Tom Paine, of whom he now heard for the first time; but he never met and conversed with any of these.

Was he really doing everything that could be expected of him? It was all very well to say that he was doing as much as other young clergymen did; that was not the kind of answer which Jesus Christ was likely to accept; why, the Pharisees themselves in all probability did as much as the other Pharisees did. What he should do was to go into the highways and byways, and compel people to come in. Was he doing this? Or were not they rather compelling him to keep out - outside their doors at any rate? He

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