The American Senator
12. Arabella Trefoil
On the Sunday the party from Bragton went to the parish church,-- and found it
very cold. The duty was done by a young curate who lived in Dillsborough, there
being no house in Bragton for him. The rector himself had not been in the church
for the last six months, being an invalid. At present he and his wife were away in
London, but the vicarage was kept up for his use. The service was certainly not
alluring. It was a very wet morning and the curate had ridden over from
Dillsborough on a little pony which the rector kept for him in addition to the 100
pounds per annum paid for his services. That he should have got over his service
quickly was not a matter of surprise,--nor was it wonderful that there should have
been no soul-stirring matter in his discourse as he had two sermons to preach
every week and to perform single-handed all the other clerical duties of a parish
lying four miles distant from his lodgings. Perhaps had he expected the presence
of so distinguished a critic as the Senator from Mickewa he might have done
better. As it was, being nearly wet through and muddy up to his knees, he did not
do the work very well. When Morton and his friends left the church and got into
the carriage for their half-mile drive home across the park, Mrs. Morton was the
first to speak. "John," she said, "that church is enough to give any woman her
death. I won't go there any more."
"They don't understand warming a church in the country," said John
"Is it not a little too large for the congregation?" asked the Senator.
The church was large and straggling and ill arranged, and on this particular
Sunday had been almost empty. There was in it an harmonium which Mrs.
Puttock played when she was at home, but in her absence the attempt made by
a few rustics to sing the hymns had not been a musical success. The whole affair
had been very sad, and so the Paragon had felt it who knew,--and was
remembering through the whole service, how these things are done in
"The weather kept the people away I suppose," said Morton.
"Does that gentleman generally draw large congregations?" asked the persistent
"We don't go in for drawing congregations here." Under the cross-examination of
his guest the Secretary of Legation almost lost his diplomatic good temper. "We
have a church in every parish for those who choose to attend it"
"And very few do choose," said the Senator. "I can't say that they're wrong."
There seemed at the moment to be no necessity to carry the disagreeable
conversation any further as they had now reached the house. Mrs. Morton
immediately went up-stairs, and the two gentlemen took themselves to the fire in
the so-called library, which room was being used as more commodious than the
big drawing-room. Mr. Gotobed placed himself on the rug with his back to the fire