Thus admonished, Dolly complied, though by no means willingly; for there was a broad, bold look of admiration in Mr Chesters face, refined and polished though it sought to be, which distressed her very much. As she stood with downcast eyes, not liking to look up and meet his, he gazed upon her with an approving air, and then turned to her mother.
My friend Gabriel (whose acquaintance I only made this very evening) should be a happy man, Mrs Varden.
Ah! sighed Mrs V., shaking her head.
Ah! echoed Miggs.
Is that the case? said Mr Chester, compassionately. Dear me!
Master has no intentions, sir, murmured Miggs as she sidled up to him, but to be as grateful as his natur will let him, for everythink he owns which it is in his powers to appreciate. But we never, sirsaid Miggs, looking sideways at Mrs Varden, and interlarding her discourse with a sighwe never know the full value of some wines and fig-trees till we lose em. So much the worse, sir, for them as has the slighting of em on their consciences when theyre gone to be in full blow elsewhere. And Miss Miggs cast up her eyes to signify where that might be.
As Mrs Varden distinctly heard, and was intended to hear, all that Miggs said, and as these words appeared to convey in metaphorical terms a presage or foreboding that she would at some early period droop beneath her trials and take an easy flight towards the stars, she immediately began to languish, and taking a volume of the Manual from a neighbouring table, leant her arm upon it as though she were Hope and that her Anchor. Mr Chester perceiving this, and seeing how the volume was lettered on the back, took it gently from her hand, and turned the fluttering leaves.
My favourite book, dear madam. How often, how very often in his early lifebefore he can remember(this clause was strictly true) have I deduced little easy moral lessons from its pages, for my dear son Ned! You know Ned?
Mrs Varden had that honour, and a fine affable young gentleman he was.
Youre a mother, Mrs Varden, said Mr Chester, taking a pinch of snuff, and you know what I, as a father, feel, when he is praised. He gives me some uneasinessmuch uneasinesshes of a roving nature, maamfrom flower to flowerfrom sweet to sweetbut his is the butterfly time of life, and we must not be hard upon such trifling.
He glanced at Dolly. She was attending evidently to what he said. Just what he desired!
The only thing I object to in this little trait of Neds, is, said Mr Chester, and the mention of his name reminds me, by the way, that I am about to beg the favour of a minutes talk with you alonethe only thing I object to in it, is, that it does partake of insincerity. Now, however I may attempt to disguise the fact from myself in my affection for Ned, still I always revert to this that if we are not sincere, we are nothing. Nothing upon earth. Let us be sincere, my dear madam
and Protestant, murmured Mrs Varden.
and Protestant above all things. Let us be sincere and Protestant, strictly moral, strictly just (though always with a leaning towards mercy), strictly honest, and strictly true, and we gainit is a slight point, certainly, but still it is something tangible; we throw up a groundwork and foundation, so to speak, of goodness, on which we may afterwards erect some worthy superstructure.
Now, to be sure, Mrs Varden thought, here is a perfect character. Here is a meek, righteous, thoroughgoing Christian, who, having mastered all these qualities, so difficult of attainment; who, having dropped a pinch
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