On Monday morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Elizabeth and Katherine
went to the school to receive the penny-club money, and to change the lending
library books. They were occupied in this manner for about half an hour; and on
their return, Elizabeth went to Mrs. Woodbourne's dressing-room, to put away the
money, and to give her an account of her transactions. While she was so
employed, her father came into the room with a newspaper in his hand.
'Look here, Mildred,' said he, laying it down on the table before his wife, 'this is
what Walker has just brought me.'
Mrs. Woodbourne glanced at the paragraph he pointed out, and exclaimed, 'O
Lizzie! this is a sad thing!'
Elizabeth advanced, she grew giddy with dismay as she read as follows:
'On Friday last, a most interesting and instructive lecture on the Rise and
Progress of the Institution of Chivalry was delivered at the Mechanics' Institute, in
this city, by Augustus Mills, Esq. This young gentleman, from whose elegant
talents and uncommon eloquence we should augur no ordinary career in
whatever profession may be honoured with his attention, enlarged upon the
barbarous manners of the wild untutored hordes among whom the proud
pageantry of pretended faith, false honour, and affected punctilio, had its rise. He
traced it through its gilded course of blood and carnage, stripped of the fantastic
and delusive mantle which romance delights to fling over its native deformity, to
the present time, when the general civilization and protection enjoyed in this
enlightened age, has left nought but the grim shadow of the destructive form
which harassed and menaced our trembling ancestors. We are happy to observe
that increasing attendance at the Mechanics' Institute of Abbeychurch, seems to
prove that the benefits of education are becoming more fully appreciated by all
classes. We observed last Friday, at the able lecture of Mr. Mills, among a
numerous assemblage of the distinguished inhabitants and visitors of
Abbeychurch, Miss Merton, daughter of Sir Edward Merton, of Merton Hall,
Baronet, together with the fair and accomplished daughters of the Rev. H.
Woodbourne, our respected Vicar.'
'I shall certainly contradict it,' continued Mr. Woodbourne, while Elizabeth was
becoming sensible of the contents of the paragraph; 'I did not care what Higgins
chose to any of my principles, but this is a plain fact, which may be believed if it
is not contradicted.'
'O Mamma, have not you told him?' said Elizabeth faintly.