The Parson's Daughter of Oxney Colne HTML version

paramount on all others. A pretty girl was Patience Woolsworthy at the time of which I
am writing, and one who possessed much that was worthy of remark and admiration, had
she lived where beauty meets with admiration, or where force of character is remarked.
But at Oxney Colne, on the borders of Dartmoor, there were few to appreciate her, and it
seemed as though she herself had but little idea of carrying her talent further afield, so
that it might not remain for ever wrapped in a blanket.
She was a pretty girl, tall end slender, with dark eyes and black hair. Her eyes were
perhaps too round for regular beauty, and her hair was perhaps too crisp; her mouth was
large and expressive; her nose was finely formed, though a critic in female form might
have declared it to be somewhat broad. But her countenance altogether was wonderfully
attractive--if only it might be seen without that resolution for dominion which
occasionally marred it, though sometimes it even added to her attractions.
It must be confessed on behalf of Patience Woolsworthy, that the circumstances of her
life had peremptorily called upon her to exercise dominion. She had lost her mother when
she was sixteen, and had had neither brother nor sister. She had no neighbours near her fit
either from education or rank to interfere in the conduct of her life, excepting always
Miss La Smyrger. Miss Le Smyrger would have done anything for her, including the
whole management of her morals and of the parsonage household, had Patience been
content with such an arrangement. But much as Patience had ever loved Miss Le
Smyrger, she was not content with this, and therefore she had been called on to put forth
a strong hand of her own. She had put forth this strong hand early, and hence had come
the character which I am attempting to describe. But I must say on behalf of this girl, that
it was not only over others that she thus exercised dominion. In acquiring that power she
had also acquired the much greater power of exercising rule over herself.
But why should her father have been ignored in these family arrangements? Perhaps it
may almost suffice to say, that of all living men her father was the man best conversant
with the antiquities of the county in which he lived. He was the Jonathan Oldbuck of
Devonshire, and especially of Dartmoor, without that decision of character which enabled
Oldbuck to keep his womenkind in some kind of subjection, and probably enabled him
also to see that his weekly bills did not pass their proper limits. Our Mr. Oldbuck, of
Oxney Colne, was sadly deficient in these. As a parish pastor with but a small cure, he
did his duty with sufficient energy, to keep him, at any rate, from reproach. He was kind
and charitable to the poor, punctual in his services, forbearing with the farmers around
him, mild with his brother clergymen, and indifferent to aught that bishop or archdeacon
might think or say of him. I do not name this latter attribute as a virtue, but as a fact. But
all these points were as nothing in the known character of Mr. Woolsworthy, of Oxney
Colne. He was the antiquarian of Dartmoor. That was his line of life. It was in that
capacity that he was known to the Devonshire world; it was as such that he journeyed
about with his humble carpet-bag, staying away from his parsonage a night or two at a
time; it was in that character that he received now and again stray visitors in the single
spare bedroom--not friends asked to see him and his girl because of their friendship--but
men who knew something as to this buried stone, or that old land-mark. In all these
things his daughter let him have his own way, assisting and encouraging him. That was