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Elias's attention was now caught, and he, too, saw Sir John, and received his salutation. Before these two could speak or determine whether they should speak to each other at that moment, the minister plucked his friend by the sleeve, and said something in a low tone, which Cunliff only partially heard, but which was enough to send the blood in a rush to his cheek. The words he heard were these :
As I expected, friend Elias, a mere juggle! An imposi. tion, for what purpose she best knows—though thou too mayest guess.'
Then with some difficulty the minister reduced his voice to a whisper, a tone he neither loved nor was accustomed to, and Cunliff could hear no more, except the phrase "spoiling the Egyptians,' which seemed to be uttered by the minister with great unction, and produced a grim smile on Elias's face..
But he saw them glance at him, and felt certain his trick about the five hundred pounds had been discovered
"Well, what could they make of it?' he thought defiantly, but felt horribly annoyed.
The two men moved away as if to evade him.
Presently he saw a considerable portion of the congregation gathering once more together about the Martyr's Oak, and lo! on the pillar or pulpit, stood the big, unlovely, but not unmajestic figure of the Rev. Ephraim Jones.
Friends and brethren,' he said in a voice of portentous strength, it is not my purpose to-day to weaken by diluting the admirable address that I hear friend Morgan has given you. I shall have another opportunity to talk to you, but I should like to give you yet something more to carry home before you go. Have you not had to-day joyful tidings respecting God? I know you have. I hope your hearts are full with it; but you must make room there for yet one crumb of com. fort more relating to God's house--yonder chapel!
'It is not for me to tell you its history; you know it even better than I do. Are there not among you many who, poor as the Scripture widow herself, have given their mites in and for it? Are there not among you men who, after toiling the whole day for bread for their families, have come here into the dark night, and toiled to make a place where yet another kind of bread should be always found ? But I am not here to praise you, I have little gift that way. I want to tell you how God has raised up for us in his own manner,—do you hear me? in his own manner, which is often not our manner -succour sufficient to finish the good work. All its debt will now be paid off; friend Elias will have the mill-stone taken from his neck, nor that only, for I have the satisfaction to inform you that there will be left, after its entire completion, enough money to form a permanent fund for its repair.'
He was interrupted by the usual Welsh hum of approbation, then by cheers which the English understood better than hums, and then by cries of
"How ? how ? how?'.
*Five hundred pounds have been sent anonymously—ah, brethen, how sweet charity can exhibit itself!-to our friend Elias Morgan ; who, knowing no other just or manly purpose for which it could be sent, accepts, on my advice, the idea that it is for our chapel ! hurrah !!
The minister perhaps forgot himself when he waved his hat, and gave that loud hurrah, which set off the whole body of listeners; or perhaps he thought he had a right once to forget ministerial formalism in sheer enjoyment of the punishment he inflicted.
‘Name! name! name!'
“Don't give it; there's enough done,' said Elias in a low but earnest tone, as he saw Hirell pale as death, and felt her trembling hand resting on his arm for support.
'Not give it!' said the minister looking grandly round, while there was a rich twinkle of light in his eye: 'Not give it! I would not omit it for the world. Does not our benefactor deserve the gratitude of his fellow-men? At least,' and here suddenly he changed his tone, do we not know he ought ? Brethren, put up your prayer this night for our benefactor, Sir John Cunliff, Baronet; and pray as heartily as I do, that whatever he may need in this life, or in the life to come, will be vouchsafed him in measure as abundant as his practical generosity to us. Sir John Cunliff, Baronet. Amen.'
There was a pause, and Cunliff breathed again as he found there was no intention to make known his presence.
But he was furious, and moved about uneasily for a few seconds, wondering whether or no he ought and dared to disclaim the gift and the honour.
No, he saw that was too dangerous; he was tied hand and foot by the past, a helpless captive of the bow and spear of the Reverend Ephraim.
"You are pleased to make merry with me, gentlemen!'he
• Why not, sir ? The Lord loves a cheerful giver; he can hardly be wroth with one who also receives cheerfully,' was the minister's response.
"Mr. Morgan,' said Cunliff, will you favour me with a few minutes' conversation ? ' “May I first ask, Sir John, if this visit is an accidental one?' No. I come now from London expressly to see you.'
Then you are welcome to Bod Elian, Sir John Cunliff. We are ready to turn homeward with you now. Hirell !'
She was standing still by the oak with Kezia and some other women, who had come about her, praising her, some to her comfort and pleasure, some to her humiliation and annoyance. But during that last minute or two, she had had but scant attention to give to any of their praises.
When her father called her, she turned a little paler, set her lips close, and with a quick imploring look at Kezia, glided to him and stood at his side, acknowledging and stopping Sir John's eager advance towards her by a slight bend of the head.
‘Hirell,' said her father, ' go home with Kezia, and prepare to welcome Sir John Cunliff with what hospitality is within our power.'
They hurried on in advance of Sir John and Elias, who followed.
Without either mentioning his name, both looked round for Robert, and saw that he had disappeared.
He had waited till he was certain as to whether Sir John was going to be permitted to enter Bod Elian and then took himself off to the Abbey Farm, to wait there till the visitor should be gone. He had no wish to receive Sir John's thanks, or to let him see by his behaviour how little he cared about his gratitude. So he thought it on the whole wisest to be absent.
He felt there was a time now come for him, that however long, or however brief, would contain the most bitter moments of suspense he had ever known.
THE BITTER CUP. HIRELL had no time to think of changing her dusty black dress or to bathe her eyes that ached with the strong sun which had shown before them so blindingly at the Martyr's Oak.
She could not even obey her father in helping Kezia to prepare some refreshment for Sir John. Directly she got into the house she went straight to her father's room and sat down between the bureau and the window-very still—so still, that Kezia, coming anxiously from her preparations, to look at her, thought she had fainted. But when she called to her and touched her, Hirell looked up with a sweet, wild kind of smile, and taking Kezia's hand, locked it tightly in both her own, then put it from her saying
Don't mind me—don't hinder.' As Kezia left the room, she met Sir John and Elias coming towards it, and turning back looked at Hirell to warn her.
She remained very still, but Kezia knew she was aware of their coming, and quickly went out.
· Hirell,' said Elias, “Sir John has said that to me, which I think entitles him to say it also to you. Hear him patiently. My child, I leave you in God's hands. Whatever you do, be sure of His blessing, and I have nothing more to ask.'
She turned her head then, and looking at Elias, answered almost in a whisper
Then she heard him go out and close the door, and knew that Sir John was close to her, one hand on the back of her chair, the other on the table before her.
• Hirell !'
Oh, Hirell, forgiveness has come for me, at last, has it not?' “Yes, Sir John; you know it.' 'Do I know it? may I trust that I know it?' "You may.'
His hand trembled-she saw it tremble at the sound of her voice, which was cold and forced.
'I may-ah yes--I know I have your Christian forgiveness, Hirell, but it is not that I mean, it is your own heart's full forgiveness that I need.'
. And that you have.'
'If I have that, Hirell, I am blessed, indeed, for I know that you cannot give me that without giving me back with it all that was mine before. I am here to offer you all that God has given me, sincere repentance for what has been -my name -my wealth-my devoted love-my eternal care and cherishing
Sir John Cunliff !' She spoke so coldly that involuntarily he took his hand from her chair, and drew back a little way as if stung. He stood more directly facing her now, and she looked up at him with heavy, mournful eyes as she spoke.
'I can give you nothing but the free forgiveness that has long been youřs, and my heart's best wishes for your good. I can take nothing from you but your forgiveness and good wishes, which I ask for, Sir John.'
He looked at her with eyes full of passionate, tender incredulity. He said to himself that there could not be such cruel strength of purpose in such a fair, childish face-more childish now, strange to say, in its thinness and delicacy than he had ever seen it. Was Elias, after all, untruthful in telling him no one had tried to influence her against him ? He thought of her early love and its utter guilelessness and humility, and felt it was impossible she could mean indeed to refuse him.
He did not answer very soon, and his silence affected Hirell far more than any words could have done. Though her eyes were still tearless and her lips closed firmly, he saw her fingers fluttering nervously near her slender, swelling throat, as if there was rising in it words or cries she would fain repress.
Oh, Hirell,' he cried, suddenly kneeling by the table where she sat, and laying his hand on her wrist, “You haven't quite ceased to love me, have you?'
She was startled-startled into tears, but not out of her coldness.
'I have ceased to love you well enough to become your wife,' she answered, in a very low, firm voice.
'No, no,' cried Cunliff, 'give me what little love you have left, Hirell, I will be content; I will make it more. You