Lois the Witch HTML version

Chapter II
It was hard work for Lois to win herself a place in this family. Her aunt was a
woman of narrow, strong affections. Her love for her husband, if ever she had
any, was burnt out and dead long ago. What she did for him, she did from duty;
but duty was not strong enough to restrain that little member, the tongue; and
Lois's heart often bled at the continual flow of contemptuous reproof which Grace
constantly addressed to her husband, even while she was sparing no pains or
trouble to minister to his bodily case and comfort. It was more as a relief to
herself that she spoke in this way, than with any desire that her speeches should
affect him; and he was too deadened by illness to feel hurt by them; or, it may be,
the constant repetition of her sarcasms had made him indifferent; at any rate, so
that he had his food and his state of bodily warmth attended to, he very seldom
seemed to care much for anything else. Even his first flow of affection towards
Lois was soon exhausted; he cared for her, because she arranged his pillows
well and skilfully, and because she could prepare new and dainty kinds of food
for his sick appetite, but no longer for her as his dead sister's child. Still he did
care for her, and Lois was too glad of his little hoard of affection to examine how
or why it was given. To him she could give pleasure, but apparently to no one
else in that household. Her aunt looked askance at her for many reasons: the
first coming of Lois to Salem was inopportune; the expression of disapprobation
on her face on that evening still lingered and rankled in Grace's memory; early
prejudices, and feelings, and prepossessions of the English girl were all on the
side of what would now be called Church and State, what was then esteemed in
that country a superstitious observance of the directions of a Popish rubric, and a
servile regard for the family of an oppressing and irreligious king. Nor is it to be
supposed that Lois did not feel, and feel acutely, the want of sympathy that all
those with whom she was now living manifested towards the old hereditary
loyalty (religious as well as political loyalty) in which she had been brought up.
With her aunt and Manasseh it was more than want of sympathy; it was positive,
active antipathy to all the ideas Lois held most dear. The very allusion, however
incidentally made, to the little old grey church at Barford, where her father had
preached so long - the occasional reference to the troubles in which her own
country had been distracted when she left - and the adherence, in which she had
been brought up, to the notion that the king could do no wrong, seemed to irritate
Manasseh past endurance. He would get up from his reading, his constant
employment when at home, and walk angrily about the room after Lois had said
anything of this kind, muttering to himself; and once he had even stopped before
her, and in a passionate tone bade her not talk so like a fool. Now this was very
different to his mother's sarcastic, contemptuous way of treating all poor Lois's
little loyal speeches. Grace would lead her on - at least she did at first, till
experience made Lois wiser - to express her thoughts on such subjects, till, just
when the girl's heart was opening, her aunt would turn round upon her with some
bitter sneer that roused all the evil feelings in Lois's disposition by its sting. Now
Manasseh seemed, through all his anger, to be so really grieved by what he