Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 6/9

chapter one of Janet's repentance from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter 1 know said lawyer Dempster in the loud rasping oratorical tone struggling against chronic huskiness as long as my maker grants me power of voice and power of intellect I will take every legal means to resist the introduction of demoralizing Methodist achill doctrine into this parish I will not sue finally suffer an insult to be inflicted on our venerable pastor who has given us sound instruction for half a century it was very warm everywhere that evening but especially in the bar of the Red Lion at Mill B where Mr Dempster was seated mixing his third glass of brandy and water he was a tall and rather massive man and the front half of his large surface was so well dredged with snuff that the cat having inadvertently come near him had been seized with a severe fit of sneezing an accident which being cruelly misunderstood had caused her to be driven continously from the bar mr. Dempster habitually held his chin tucked in and his head hanging forward weighed down perhaps by a preponderant oxy pot and a bulging forehead between which his closely clipped coronal surface lay like a flat and new mountain tableland the only other observable features were puffy cheeks and a protruding yet lipless mouth of his nose I can only say that it was Snuffy and as mr. Dempster was never caught in the act of looking at anything in particular it would have been difficult to swear to the color of his eyes well I'll not stick at giving myself trouble to put down such hypocritical can't said mr. Tomlinson the rich Miller I know well enough what your Sunday evening lectures are good for for wenches to meet their sweethearts and brew mischief there's work enough with the servant maids as it is such as I never heard the like of in my mother's time and it's all along on your schooling and newfangled plans give me a servant as can neither read nor write I say and doesn't know the year of the Lord as she was born in I should like to know what good those Sunday schools have done now why the boys used to go a birds nesting of a Sunday morning and a capital thing to ask any farmer and very pretty it was to see the strings of eggs hanging up in poor people's houses you'll not see him nowhere now who said mr. Luke biles who peeked himself on his reading and was in the habit of asking casual acquaintances if they knew anything of Hobbs it is right enough that the lower orders should be instructed but this sectarianism within the church ought to be put down in point of fact these evangelicals are not churchmen at all they're no better than Presbyterians Presbyterians what are they inquired mr. Tomlinson who often said his father had given him no education and he didn't care who knowed it he could buy up most of the educated men he'd ever come across the Presbyterians said Mr Dempster in rather a louder tone than before holding that every appeal for information must naturally be addressed to him are a sect founded in the reign of Charles the first by a man named John pres Peter who hatched all the brood of dissenting vermin that crawl about in dirty alleys and circumvent the lord of the manor in order to get a few yards of ground for their pigeon house conventicle 'he's no know Dempster said mr. Luke biles you're out there Presbyterianism is derived from the word press Peter meaning an elder don't contradict me sir stormed Dempster I say the word Presbyterian is derived from John press Peter a miserable fanatic who wore a suit of leather and went about from town to village and from village to hamlet inoculating the vulgar with the asinine virus of dissent come miles that seems a diva more likely said mr. Tomlinson in a conciliatory tone apparently of opinion that history was a process of ingenious guessing it's not a question of likelihood it's a known fact I could fetch you my encyclopedia and show it you this moment I don't care a Strasser either for you or your encyclopedia said Mr Dempster a farrago of false information of which you picked up an imperfect copy in a cargo of waste paper will you tell me sir that I don't know the origin of Presbyterianism I sir a man known through the county entrusted with the affairs of half a score parishes while you sir are ignored by the very fleas that infest the miserable alley in which you were bred a loud and general laugh with you'd better let him alone vials you'll not get the better of Dempster in a hurry drowned the retort of the two well informed mr. biles who white with rage rose and walked out of the bar a meddlesome upstart chukka binnacle fellow gentleman continued mr. Dempster I was determined to be rid of him what does he mean by thrusting himself into our company a man was about as much principle as he has property which to my knowledge is considerably less than none an insolvent atheist gentleman and a listicle praetor fit to sit in the chimney corner of a pot house and make blasphemous comments on the one greasy newspaper fingered by beer-swilling tinker's I will not suffer in my company a man who speaks lightly of religion the signature of a fellow like biles would be a blot on our protest and how do you get on with your signatures said mr. pilgrim the doctor who had presented his large top booted person within the bar while mr. Dempster was speaking mr. pilgrim had just returned from one of his long day's rounds among the farmhouses in the course of which he had sat down to two hearty meals that might have been mistaken for dinners if he had not declared them to be snaps and as each snap had been followed by a few glasses of mixture containing a less liberal proportion of water than the Articles he himself labeled with that broadly generic name he was in that condition which his groom indicated with poetic ambiguity by saying that master had been in the sunshine under these circumstances after a hard day in which he had really had no regular meal it seemed a natural relaxation to step into the bar of the red lion whereas it was Saturday evening he should be sure to find dempster and hear the latest news about the protest against the evening lecture have you hooked Ben Lander yet he continued as he took two chairs one for his body and the other for his right leg no said mr. bud the church warden shaking his head Ben Lander has a way of keeping himself neutral in everything and he doesn't like to oppose his father old blender is a regular try a knight but we haven't got your name yet pilgrim tut-tut bud said Mr Dempster sarcastically you don't expect pilgrim to sign he's got a dozen try a knight livers under his treatment nothing like Canton Methodism for producing a superfluity of bile oh I thought his prat had declared himself a try a knight we should be sure to get pilgrim on our side mr. pilgrim was not a man to sit quiet under a sarcasm nature having endowed him with a considerable share of self-defense of wit in his most sober moments he had an impediment in his speech and as copious gin-and-water stimulated not the speech but the impediment he had time to make his retort sufficiently bitter all right to tell you the truth bud he sputtered there's a report all over the town that Deb Trotter swears you shall take her with you as one of the delegates and they say there's to be a fine crowd at your door the morning you start to see the Rao knowing your tenderness for that member of the fair sex I thought you might find it impossible to deny her I hang back a little from signing on that account as Prendergast might not take the protest well if Deb Tranter went with you mr. Bert was a small sleek headed bachelor of five-and-forty whose scandalous life had long furnished his more moral neighbors with an after-dinner joke he had no other striking characteristic except that he was a courier of choleric temperament so that you might wonder why he had been chosen as clergyman's churchwarden if I did not tell you that he had recently been elected through mr. Dempster's exertions in order that his zeal against the threatened evening lecture might be backed by the dignity of office come come pilgrim said Mr Tomlinson covering mr. buntz retreat you know you like to wear the Criers coat green on one side and red of the other you've been to here try and preach at patty Fred come and you know you have to be sure I have and a Capitol sermon too it's a pity you were not there it was addressed to those void of understanding no no you'll never catch me there returned mr. Tomlinson not in the least stung he preaches without book they say just like a dissenter it must be a rambling sort of a concern that's not the worst said mr. Dempster he preaches against good works says good works are not necessary to salvation a sectarian antinomian and a Baptist doctrine tell a man he is not to be saved by his works and you opened the floodgates of all immorality you see it in all these canting innovators they're all bad ones on the sly smooth-faced drawling hypocritical fellows who pretend ginger isn't hot in their mouths and cry down all innocent pleasures their hearts are all the blacker for their sanctimonious outsides haven't we been warned against those who make clean the outside of the cup and the there's this tryin now he goes about praying with old women and singing with charity children but what has he really got his eye on all the while a domineering ambitious jesuit gentleman all he wants is to get his foot far enough into the parish to step into crews shoes when the old gentleman dies depend upon it whenever you see a man pretending to be better than his neighbors that man has either some cunning ends to serve or his heart is rotten with spiritual pride as if to guarantee himself against this awful sin mister Dempster seized his glass of brandy and water and tossed off the contents with even greater rapidity than usual have you fixed on your third delegate yet said mr. pilgrim whose taste was for detail rather than for dissertation that's the man answered Dempster pointing to mr. Tomlinson we start for Elm Stoke rectory on Tuesday morning so if you mean to give us your signature you must make up your mind pretty quickly pilgrim mr. pilgrim did not in the least mean it so he only said I shouldn't wonder if tryin turns out too many for you after all he's got a well-oiled tongue of his own and as perhaps talked over Prendergast into a determination to stand by him very little fear of that said Dempster in a confident tone I'll soon bring him round Tryon has got his match I've plenty of rods in pickle for tryin at this moment boots entered the bar and put a letter into the lawyers hands saying there's trousers man just come into the yard where gig sir and he's brought this here letter mr. Dempster read the letter and said tell him to turn the gig I'll be with him in a minute here run to groobees and get this snuff box filled quick showers worse I suppose say Dempster wants you to alter his will he said mr. pilgrim business business business I don't know exactly what answered the cautious Dempster rising deliberately from his chair thrusting on his low crowned hat and walking with a slow but not unsteady step out of the bar I never see Dempster's equal if I did I'll be shot said mr. Tomlinson looking after the lawyer admiringly why he's drunk the best part of a bottle of brandy since here we've been sitting and I'll bet a Guinea when he's got two trousers his head will be as clear as mine he knows more about law when he's drunk than all the rest on him when they're sober I and other things – besides law said – mr. bud did you notice how he took up biles about the Presbyterians bless your heart he knows everything Dempster does he studied very hard when he was a young man end of chapter one of Janet's repentance chapter two of Janet's repentance from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter two the conversation just recorded is not I am aware remarkably refined or witty but if it had been it could hardly have taken place in mill B when mr. Dempster flourished there and old mr. Crewe the cure it was yet alive more than a quarter of a century has slipped by since then and in the interval Mill B has advanced at as rapid a pace as other market towns and Her Majesty's dominions by this time it has a handsome railway station where the drowsy London traveler may look out by the brilliant Gaslight and see perfectly sober Papa's and husbands alighting with their leather bags after transacting their day's business at the county town there is a resident rector who appeals to the conscience 'as of his hearers with all the immense advantages of a divine who keeps his own carriage the church is enlarged by at least 500 sittings and the grammar school conducted on reformed principles has its upper forms crowded with the genteel youth of Milby the gentlemen their fallen to no other excess at dinner parties than the perfectly well-bred and virtuous excess of stupidity and though the ladies are still said sometimes to take too much upon themselves they are never known to take too much in any other way the conversation is sometimes quite literary for there is a flourishing book club and many of the younger ladies have carried their studies so far as to have forgotten a little German in short Mill B is now our refined moral and enlightened town no more resembling the mill B of former days than the huge long skirted drab great coat that embarrassed the ankles of our grandfathers resembled to the light pallet o in which we tread jauntily through the muddiest streets or than the bottle-nosed Britons rejoicing over a tankard in the old sign of the two travellers a TLB resembled the severe-looking gem manin straps and high collars whom a modern artist has represented as sipping the imaginary port of that well-known commercial house but pray reader dismissed from your mind all the refined and fashionable ideas associated with this advanced state of things and transport your imagination to a time when Milby had no gas lights when the male drove up dusty or bespattered to the door of the Red Lion when old mr. Crewe the curate in a brown Brutus wig delivered inaudible sermons on a Sunday and on a weekday imparted the education of a gentleman that is to say an arduous in acquaintance with Latin through the medium of the Eton grammar 2/3 pupils in the upper grammar school if you had passed through mill be on the coach at that time you would have had no idea what important people lived there and how very high a sense of rank was privileged to mem it was a dingy looking town with a strong smell of tanning up one Street and a great shaking of hand looms up another and even in that focus of aristocracy friars gate the houses would not have seemed very imposing to the hasty and superficial glance of a passenger you might still less have suspected that the figure in light fustian and large grey whiskers leaning against the grocer's door post in High Street was no less a person than mr. loam one of the most aristocratic men in Mill be said to have been brought up a gentleman and to have had the gay habits accordant with that station keeping his Harriers and other expensive animals he was now quite an elderly lothario reduced to the most economical sins the prominent form of his gaiety being this of lounging at mr. Gruber's door embarrassing the servant maids who came for grocery and talking scandal with the rare passers-by still it was generally understood that mr. loam belonged to the highest circle of Milby society his sons and daughters held up their heads very high indeed and in spite of his condescending way of chatting and drinking with inferior people he would himself have scorned any closer identification with them it must be admitted that he was of some service to the town in this station at mr. Gruber's door for he and mr. Landers Newfoundland dog who stretched himself and gaped on the opposite causeway took something from the lifeless air that belonged to the High Street on every day except Saturday certainly in spite of three assemblies and a charity ball in the winter the occasional advent of a ventriloquist or a company of itinerant players some of whom were very highly thought of in London and the annual three days fair in June Milby might be considered dull by people of a hypochondriacal temperament and perhaps this was one reason why many of the middle-aged inhabitants male and female often found it impossible to keep up their spirits without a very abundant supply of stimulants it is true there were several substantial men who had a reputation for an exceptional sobriety so that Milby habits were really not as bad as possible and no one is warranted in saying that old mr. crews flock could not have been worse without any clergyman at all the well-dressed parishioners generally were very regular churchgoers and to the younger ladies and gentlemen I am inclined to think that the Sunday morning service was the most exciting event of the week for a few places could present a more brilliant show of outdoor toilette than might be seen issuing from Milby church at one o'clock there were the four tall miss Pitman's old lawyer Pitman's daughters with cannon curls surmounted by large hats and long drooping ostrich feathers of parrot green there was miss Phipps with a crimson bonnet very much tilted up behind and a cockade of stiff feathers on the summit there was miss land or the Bell of mill be clad regally in purple and ermine with a plume of feathers neither drooping nor erect but maintaining a discrete medium there were the three mists Tomlinson's who imitated abyss land are and also war ermine and feathers but their beauty was considered of a course order and their square forms were quite unsuited to the round Tippett which fell with such remarkable grace on miss Landers sloping shoulders looking at this point procession of ladies you would have formed rather a high idea of Milby wealth yet there was only one close carriage in the place and that was old mr. Landers the banker who I think never drove more than one horse for these sumptuously attired ladies flashed past the vulgar eye in one horse chaises by no means of a superior build the young gentleman to were not with her bare little sunday displays of costume of a limited masculine kind mr. Eustace Lander being nearly of age had recently acquired a diamond ring together with the habit of rubbing his hand through his hair he was tall and dark and thus had an advantage which mr. Alfred Phipps who like his sister was blond and stumpy found it difficult to overtake even by the Severus attention to shirt studs and the particular shade of brown that was best relieved by gilt buttons the respect for the Sabbath manifested in this attention to costume was unhappily counterbalanced by considerable levity of behavior during the prayers and sermon for the young ladies and gentlemen of Milby were of a very satirical turn miss slander especially being considered remarkably clever and a terrible quiz and the large congregation necessarily containing many persons inferior interests and demeanor to the distinguished aristocratic minority divine service offered irresistible temptations to joking through the medium of telegraphic communications from the galleries to the aisles and back again I remember blushing very much and thinking miss Lander was laughing at me because I was appearing in coattails for the first time when I saw her look down slyly towards where I sat and then turned with a titter to handsome mr. Bob loam who has such beautiful whiskers meeting under his chin but perhaps she was not thinking of me after all for our Pugh was near the pulpit and there was almost always something funny about old mr. Crewe his brown wig was hardly ever put on quite right and he had a way of raising his voice for three or four words and lowering it to gain to a mumble so that we could scarcely make out a word he said though as my mother observed that was of no consequence in the prayers since everyone had a prayer book and as for the sermon she continued with some Kostis 'ti we all of us heard more of it than we could remember when we got home this youthful generation was not particularly literary the young ladies who frizzed their hair and gathered it all into large barricades in front of their heads leaving their occipital region exposed without ornament as if that being a back view was of no consequence dreamed as little that their daughters would read a selection of German poetry and to be able to express an admiration for Schiller as that they would turn all their hair the other way that instead of threatening us with barricades in front they would be most killing in retreat and like the Parthian wound us as they fly those charming well phrased ladies spoke French indeed with considerable facility unshackled by any timid regard to idiom and were in the habit of conducting conversations in that language in the presence of their less instructed elders for according to the standard of those backward days their education had been very lavish such young ladies as miss Lander miss Phipps and the Miss Pitman's having been finished at distant and ex of schools old lawyer Pittman had once been a very important person indeed having in his earlier days managed the affairs of several gentlemen in those parts who had subsequently been obliged to sell everything and leave the country in which crisis mr. Pittman accomodating Lee stepped in as a purchaser of their estates taking on himself the risk and trouble of a more leisurely sale which however happened to turn out very much to his advantage such opportunities occur quite unexpectedly in the way of business but I think mr. Pittman must have been unlucky in his later speculations for now in his old age he had not the reputation of being very rich and though he rode slowly to his office in Mill B every morning on an old white Hackney he had to resign the chief profits as well as the act of business of the firm to his younger partner Dempster no one in Mill be considered old Pittman a virtuous man and the elder townspeople were not at all backward in narrating the least advantageous portions of his biography in a very round unvarnished manner yet I could never observe that they trusted him any the less or liked him any of the worse indeed Pittman and Dempster were the popular lawyers of Mill B and its neighbourhood and mr. Benjamin landowner whom no one had anything particular to say against had a very meager business in comparison hardly a landholder hardly a farmer hardly a parish within 10 miles of melb whose affairs were not under the legal guardianship of Pittman and Dempster and I think the clients were proud of their lawyers unscrupulousness as the patrons of the fancy are proud of their champions condition it was not to be sure the thing for ordinary life but it was the thing to be bet on in a lawyer Dempster's talent in bringing through a client was a very common topic of conversation with the farmers over an incidental glass of grog at the Red Lion he's a long headed fellow dempster why it shows your what a headpiece Dempster has as he can drink a bottle of brandy at a sittin and yet see further through a stone wall when he's done that other folks will see through a glass window even mr. Jerome chief member of the congregation at Salem Chapel an elderly man a very strict life was one of Dempster's clients and had quite an exceptional indulgence for his attorneys phobos perhaps attributing them to the inevitable incompatibility of law and gospel the standard of morality at will be you perceive was not inconvenient Lehi in those good old times and an ingenuous face or two was what every man expected of his neighbor old mr. Crewe the curate for example was allowed to enjoy his avarice in comfort without fear of sarcastic parish demagogues and his flock liked him all the better for having scraped together a large fortune out of his school and curacy and the proceeds of the three thousand pounds he had with his little deaf wife it was clear he must be a learned man for he had once had a large private school in connection with the grammar school and had even numbered a young nobleman or two among his pupils the fact that he read nothing at all now and that his mind seemed absorbed in the Communists matters was doubtless due to his having exhausted the resources of Airy addition earlier in life it is true he was not spoken of in terms of high respect and old crews stingy housekeeping was a frequent subject of justing but this was a good old-fashioned characteristic in a person who had been part his Milby life for half a century it was like the dense and disfigurements in an old family tankard which no one would like to part with for a smart new piece of plate fresh from Birmingham the parishioners saw no reason at all why it should be desirable to venerate the parson or anyone else they were much more comfortable to look down a little on their fellow-creatures even the dissent in Melb was then of elack's and in different kind the doctrine of adult baptism struggling under a heavy load of debt had let off half its chapel area as a ribbon shop and Methodism was only to be detected as you detect curious larvae by diligent search in dirty corners the independence were the only dissenters of whose existence Milby gentility was at all conscious and it had a vague idea that the salient points of their Creed were prayer without book red brick and hypocrisy the independent chapel known as Salem stood red and conspicuous in a broad street more than one pew holder kept a breath bound gig and mr. Jerome a retired corn-factor and the most eminent member of the congregation was one of the richest men in the parish but in spite of this apparent prosperity together with the usual amount of extemporaneous preaching mitigated by furtive notes salem belied its name and was not always the abode of peace for some reason or other it was unfortunate in the choice of its ministers the Reverend mr. Horner elected with brilliant hopes was discovered to be given to tippling and quarreling with his wife the Reverend mr. roses doctrine was a little too high verging on antinomianism the river and mr sztyc nice gift as a preacher was found to be less striking on a more extended acquaintance and the Reverend mr. Smith a distinguished minister much sought-after in the iron districts with the talent for poetry became objectionable from an inclination to exchange verses with the young ladies of his congregation it was reasonably argued that such verses as mr. Smith's must take a long time for their composition and the habit alluded to might entrench seriously on his pastoral duties these Reverend gentlemen one and all gave it as their opinion that the Salem church members were among the least enlightened of the Lord and that mil B was a low place where they would have founded a severe lot to have their lines fall for any long period though to see the smart and crowded congregation assembled on occasion of the annual charity sermon anyone might have supposed that the Minister of Salem had rather a brilliant position in the ranks of dissent several churched families used to attend on that occasion for mill be in those uninstructed days had not yet heard that the schismatic ministers of salem were obviously typify by Korah Dathan and Abraham and many church people there were of opinion that dissent might be a weakness but after all had no great harm in it these locks the Pisgah pelean she fleet raids people who held that in as much as Congregationalism consumed candles it ought to be supported and accordingly made a point of presenting themselves at Salem for the afternoon charity sermon with the expectation of being asked to hold a plate mr. pilgrim too was always there with his half sovereign for as there was no dissenting doctor in Mill be mr. pilgrim looked with great tolerance on all shades of religious opinion that did not include a belief in cures by miracle on this point he had the concurrence of mr. Pratt the only other medical man of the same standing in mill B otherwise it was remarkable how strongly these two clever men were contrasted Pratt was middle-sized insinuating and silvery voiced pilgrim was tall heavy rough mannered and spluttering both were considered to have great powers of conversation but Pratt's anecdotes were of the fine old crusted quality to be procured only of Joe Miller pilgrims had the full fruity flavor of the most recent scandal Pratt elegantly referred all diseases to debility and with the proper contempt for symptomatic treatment went to the root of the matter with port wine and bar pilgrim was persuaded that the evil principle in the human system was plethora and he made war against it with cupping blistering and cathartics they had both been long established in Wilby and as each had a sufficient practice there was no very malignant rivalry between them on the contrary they had that sort of friendly contempt for each other which is always conducive to good understanding between professional men and when any new surgeon attempted in an ill-advised hour to settle himself in the town it was strikingly demonstrated how slight and trivial our theoretic differences compared with the broad basis of common human feeling there was the most perfect unanimity between Pratt and pilgrim in the determination to drive away the obnoxious and to probably unqualified intruder as soon as possible whether the first wonderful cure he effected was on a patient of Pratt's or of pilgrims one was as ready as the other to pull the interloper by the nose and both alike directed their remarkable powers of conversation towards making the town too hot for him but by their respective patience these two distinguished men were pitted against each other with great virulence mrs. loam could not conceal her amazement that mrs. Phipps should trust her life in the hands of Pratt who let her feed herself up to that degree it was really shocking to hear how short her breath was and mrs. Phipps had no patience with mrs. loam living as she did on tea and broth and looking as yellow as any crow flower and yet letting pilgrim bleed and blister her and give her lowering medicine till her clothes hung on her like a scarecrows on the whole perhaps mr. pilgrims reputation was at the higher pitch and when any lady under mr. Pratt's care was doing ill she was half disposed to think that a little more active treatment might suit her better but without very definite provocation no one would take so serious a step as to part with the family doctor for in those remote days there were few varieties of human hatred more formidable than the medical the doctors estimate even of a confiding patient was apt to rise and fall with the entries in the de book and I have known mr. pilgrim discover the most unexpected virtues in a patient seized with a promising illness at such times you might have been glad to perceive that there were some of mr. pilgrims fellow creatures of whom he entertained a high opinion and that he was liable to the amiable weakness of a to admiring estimate a good inflammation fired his enthusiasm and a lingering dropsy dissolved him into charity doubtless this crescendo of benevolence was partly due to feelings not at all represented by the entries in the de book for in mr. pilgrims heart – there was a latent store of tenderness and pity which flowed forth at the sight of suffering gradually however as his patients became convalescent his view of their characters became more dispassionate when they could relish muttonchops he began to admit that they had foibles and by the time they had swallowed their last dose of tonic he was alive to their most inexcusable faults after this the thermometer of his regard rested at the moderate point of friendly backbiting which sufficed to make him agreeable in his morning visits to the amiable and worthy patients who were yet far from convalescent perhaps patients were profoundly uninteresting to pilgrim they're very diseases were despicable and he would hardly have thoughts of their bodies worth dissecting but of all Pratt's patients mr. Jerome was the one on whom mr. pilgrim heaped the most unmitigated contempt in spite of the surgeons wise tolerance descent became odious to him in the person of mr. Jerome perhaps it was because that will gentleman being rich and having very large yearly bills for medical attendants on himself and his wife nevertheless employed Pratt neglected all the advantages of active treatment and paid away his money without getting his system lowered on any other ground it is hard to explain a feeling of hostility to mr. Jerome who was an excellent old gentleman expressing a great deal of goodwill towards his neighbors not only in imperfect English but in loans of money to the ostensibly rich and in sacks of potatoes to the obviously poor assuredly Milby had that salt of goodness which keeps the world together in greater abundance than was visible on the surface innocent babes were born there sweetening their parents hearts with simple joys men and women withering in disappointed worldliness or bloated with sensual ease had better moments in which they pressed the hand of suffering with sympathy and were moved to deeds of neighborly kindness in church and in Chapel there were honest hearted worshipers who strove to keep a conscience void of offense and even up the dimmest alleys you might have found here and there a Wesleyan to whom Methodism was the vehicle of peace on earth and goodwill to men to a superficial glance Milby was nothing but dreary prose a dingy town surrounded by flat fields lopped Elms and sprawling manufacturing villages which crept on and on with their weaving shops till they threatened to graft themselves on the town but the sweet spring came to mell be notwithstanding the Elm tops were red with buds the churchyard was starred with daisies the Lark showered his love music on the flat fields the rainbows hung over the dingy town clothing the very roofs and chimneys in a strange transfiguring beauty and so it was with the human life there which at first seemed a dismal mixture of griping world nice vanity ostrich feathers and the fumes of brandy looking closer he found some purity gentleness and unselfishness as you might have observed a scented geranium giving forth its wholesome odors amidst blasphemy and gin in a noisy pot house little death mrs. crew would often carry half her own spare dinner to the sick and hungry miss Phipps with her cockade of red feathers had a filial heart and lighted her father's pipe with a pleasant smile and there were gray-haired men in drab gaiters not at all noticeable as you passed them in the street whose integrity had been the basis of their rich neighbours wealth such as the place was the people there were entirely contented with it they fancied life must be but a dull affair for that large portion of mankind who were necessarily shut out from an acquaintance with milvey families and that it must be an advantage to London and Liverpool that Milby gentlemen occasionally visited those places on business but to the inhabitants became more intensely conscious of the value they set upon all their advantages when innovation made its appearance in the person of the Reverend mr. Tryon the new curate at the chapel of ease on Patti furred common it was soon notorious in Melb that Mr Tryon held peculiar opinions that he preached extemporary that he was founding a religious lending library in his remote corner of the parish that he expounded the scriptures in cottages and that his preaching was attracting the dissenters and filling the very aisles of his church the rumor sprang up that evangelicalism had invaded to Milby parish a marine or blight all the more terrible because its nature was but dimly conjectured perhaps Milby was one of the last spots to be reached by the wave of a new movement and it was only now when the tide was just on the turn that the limpets there got a sprinkling mr. Tryon was the first evangelical clergyman who had risen above the Milby horizon hitherto that obnoxious adjective had been unknown to the townspeople of any gentility and there were even many dissenters who considered evangelical simply a sort of baptismal name to the magazine which circulated among the congregation of Salem Chapel but now at length the disease had been imported when the parishioners were expecting it as little as the innocent Red Indians expected smallpox as long as mr. Tryon's hearers were confined to paddy furred common which by the by was hardly recognizable as a common at all but was a dismal district where you heard the rattle of the handloom and breathed the smoke of coal pits the canting parson could be treated as a joke not so when a number of single ladies in the town appeared to be infected and even one or two men of substantial property with old mr. Lander the banker at their head seemed to be giving in to the new movement when mr. Tryon was known to be well received in several good houses where he was in the habit of finishing the evening with exhortation and prayer evangelicalism was no longer a nuisance existing merely in by corners which any well clad person could avoid it was invading the very drawing rooms mingling itself with the comfortable fumes of port wine and brandy threatening to deaden with its murky breath all the splendor of the ostrich feathers and to stifle Milby ingenuous nests not pretending to be better than its neighbours with a cloud of can't and lugubrious hypocrisy the alarm reached its climax when it was reported that mr. Tryon was endeavoring to obtain authority from mr. Prendergast the non-resident rector to establish a Sunday evening lecture in the parish church on the ground that old mr. Crewe did not preach the gospel it now first appeared how surprisingly high of you'll be in general set on the ministrations of mr. crew how convinced it was that mr. crew was the model of a parish priest and his sermons the soundest and most edifying that had ever remained unheard by a church-going population all allusions to his brown wig were suppressed and by a rhetorical figure his name was associated with venerable gray hairs the attempted intrusion of mr. Tryon was an insult to a man deep in years and learning moreover it was an insolent effort to thrust himself forward in a parish where he was clearly distasteful to the superior portion of its inhabitants the town was divided into two zealous parties the Tryon i'ts and Auntie Tryon nights and by the exertions of the eloquent dempster the anti Troy Knight virulence was soon developed into an organized opposition a protest against the meditated evening lecture was framed by that orthodox attorney and after being numerously signed was to be carried to mr. prenderghast by three delegates representing the intellect morality and wealth of Milby the intellect you perceive was to be personified in mr. Dempster the morality in mr. bud and the wealth in mr. Tomlinson and the distinguished triad was to set out on its great mission as we have seen on the third day from that warm Saturday evening when the conversation recorded in the previous chapter took place in the bar of the Red Lion end of chapter two of Janet's repentance you Chapter three of Janet's repentance from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter three it was quite as warm on the following Thursday evening when mr. Dempster and his colleagues were to return from their mission to Elm Stowe corrector II but it was much pleasanter in mrs. Lynette's parlor than in the bar of the Red Lion through the open window came the scent of mignonette and honeysuckle the grass-plot in front of the house was shaded by a little plantation of gelt or roses syringes and laburnums the noise of looms and carts and unmolested reached the ear simply as an agreeable murmur for mrs. Lynette's house was situated quite on the outskirts of paddy furred common and the only sound likely to disturb the serenity of the feminine party assembled there was the occasional buzz of intrusive wasps apparently miss taking each ladies head for a sugar basin no sugar Basin was visible in mrs. Lynette's parlour for the time of tea was not yet and the round table was littered with books which the ladies were covering with black canvas as a reinforcement of the new patty furred lending library miss Linnet whose manuscript was the neatest type of zigzag was seated at a small table apart writing on green paper tickets which were to be pasted on the covers miss Linnet had other accomplishments besides that of a neat manuscript and an index to some of them might be found in the ornaments of the room she had always combined a love of serious and poetical reading with her skill in fancy work and the neatly bound copies of Dryden's Virgil Hannah Morris sacred dramas falconers shipwreck Mason on self-knowledge restless and Burke on the sublime and beautiful which were the chief ornaments of the bookcase were all inscribed with her name and had been bought with her pocket money when she was in her teen it must have been at least 15 years since the latest of those purchases but Miss Lynette's skill in fancy work appeared to have gone through more numerous phases than her literary taste for the japanned boxes the alum and sealing-wax baskets the fan dogs the transferred landscapes on the fire screens and the recent bouquets of wax flowers showed a disparity in freshness which made them referral to widely different periods wax flowers presupposed delicate fingers and robust patience but there are still many points of mind in person which they leave vague and problematic so I must tell you that miss Lynette had dark ringlets a sallow complexion and an amiable disposition as to her features there was not much to criticise in them for she had little nose less lip and no eyebrow and as to her intellect her friend mrs. Pettyfer often said she didn't know a more sensible person to talk to than Mary Linnet there was no one she liked better to come and take a quiet cup of tea with her and read a little of clop stalks Messiah Mary Linnet had often told her a great deal of her mind when they were sitting together she said there were many things to bear in every condition of life and nothing should induce her to marry without a prospect of happiness once when mrs. Pettyfer admired her wax flowers she said ha ha mrs. Pettyfer think of the beauties of nature she always spoke very prettily did Mary Linnet very different indeed from Rebecca miss Rebecca Linnet indeed was not a general favorite while most people thought it a pity that a sensible woman like Mary had not found a good husband and even her female friends said nothing more ill-natured of her then that her face was like a piece of putty with two Scotch pebbles stuck in it Rebecca was always spoken of sarcastically and it was a customary kind of banter with young ladies to recommend her as a wife to any gentleman they happened to be flirting with her fat her finery and her thick ankles sufficing to give piquancy to the joke notwithstanding the absence of novelty miss Rebecca however possessed the accomplishment of music and her singing of oh no we never mention her and the soldiers tier was so desirable an act session to the pleasures of a tea party that no one cared to offend her especially as Rebecca had a high spirit of her own and in spite of her expensively rounded contour had a particularly sharp tongue her reading had been more extensive than her sisters embracing most of the fiction in mr. Proctor's circulating library and nothing but an acquaintance with the course of her studies could afford a clue to the rapid transitions in her dress which were suggested by the style of beauty whether sentimental sprightly or severe possessed by the heroine of the three volumes actually in perusal a piece of lace which drooped around the edge of her white bonnet one week had been rejected by the next and her cheeks which on whitsunday illumined through a turn Aryan haze of network were on Trinity Sunday seen reposing in distinct red outline on her shelving bust like the Sun on a fog bank the black velvet meeting with a crystal clasp which one evening and circled her head head on another descended to her neck and on a third to her waist suggesting to an active imagination either a magical contraction of the ornament or a fearful ratio of expansion in miss Rebecca's person with this constant application of art to dress she could have had little time for fancy work even if she had not been destitute of her sister's taste for that delightful and truly feminine occupation and here at least you perceive the justice of the Milby opinion as to the relative suitability of the to miss limits for matrimony when a man is happy enough to win the affections of a sweet girl who can sue his cares with crochet and respond to all his most cherished ideas with beaded urn rugs and chair covers in German wall he has at least a guarantee of domestic comfort whatever trials may await him out of doors what a resource it is under fatigue and irritation to have your drawing-room well supplied with small mats which would always be ready if you ever wanted to set anything on them and what styptic for a bleeding-heart can equal copious squares of crochet which are useful for slipping down the moment you touch them how our fathers managed without crochets the wonder but I believe some small and feeble substitute existed in their time under the name of tanning Rebecca Linnet however had neglected tapping as well as other forms of fancy work at school to be sure she had spent a great deal of time in acquiring flower painting according to the ingenious method then fashionable of applying with shapes of leaves and flowers cut out in cardboard and scrubbing a brush over the surface thus conveniently marked out but even the spill cases and hand screens which were her last half years performances in that way were not considered eminently successful and had long been consigned to the retirement of the best bedroom thus there was a good deal of family unlike nasaw Becca and her sister and I am afraid there was also a little family disliked but Mary's disapproval had usually been kept imprisoned behind her thin lips for Rebecca was not only of a headstrong disposition but was her mother's pet the old lady being herself stout and preferring a more showy style of CAP than she could prevail on her daughter Mary to make up for her but I have been describing mr. Rebecca as she was in former days only for her appearance this evening as she sits pasting on the green tickets is in striking contrast with what it was three or four months ago her plain gray gingham dress and plain white collar could never have belonged to her wardrobe before that date and though she is not reduced in size and her brown hair will do nothing but hang in crisp ringlets down her large cheeks there is a change in her air and expression which seems to shed a thought and light over her person and make her look like a peony in the shade instead of the same flower flaunting in a part hair in the hot sunlight no one could deny that evangelicalism had wrought a change for the better in Rebecca Lynette's person not even miss Pratt the thin stiff lady in spectacles seated opposite to her who always had a peculiar repulsion for females with a gross habit of body miss Pratt was an old maid but that is a no more definite description than if I had said she was in the autumn of life was it autumn when the orchards are fragrant with apples or autumn when the Oaks are brown or autumn when the last yellow leaves are fluttering in the chill breeze the young ladies in Milby would have told you that the Miss limits were old maids but the miss limits were – miss Pratt what the apple-scented September is – the bear nipping days of late November the miss limits were in that temperate zone of old maid ism when a woman will not say but that if a man of suitable years and character were to offer himself she might be induced to tread the remainder of life's veil in company with him miss Pratt was in that arctic region where a woman is confident that at no time of life would she have consented to give up her Liberty and that she has never seen the man whom she would engage to honor and obey if the Miss limits were old maids they were old maids with natural ringlets in Ambon play not to say obesity miss Pratt was an old maid with a cap a braided front a backbone and appendages miss Pratt was the one blue stocking of mil be possessing she said no less than five hundred volumes competent Esther brother the doctor often observed to conduct a conversation on any topic whatever and occasionally dabbling a little in authorship though it was understood that she had never put forth the full powers of her mind in print her letters to a young man on his entrance into life and the kursi or the rash promise a tale for youth were mere trifles which she had been induced to publish because they were calculated for popular utility but they were nothing to what she had for years had by her in manuscript her latest production had been six stanzas addressed to the Reverend Edgar Tryon printed on glazed paper with a neat border and beginning forward young wrestler for the truth miss Pratt having kept her brother's house during his long widowhood his daughter miss Eliza had had the advantage of being educated by her aunt and thus of imbibing a very strong antipathy to all that remarkable woman's tastes and opinions the silent handsome girl of two and twenty who is covering the memoirs of Felix Neff is miss Eliza Pratt and the small elderly lady in dowdy clothing who is also working diligently is mrs. Pettyfer a superior minded widow much valued in mill B being such a very respectable person to have in the house in case of illness and of quite too good a family to receive any money payment you could always send her garden stuff that would make her ample amends miss Pratt has enough to do in commenting on the heap of volumes before her feeling it a responsibility entailed on her by her great powers of mind to leave nothing without the advantage of her opinion whatever was good it must be sprinkled with the chrism of her approval whatever was evil must be blighted by her condemnation upon my word she said in a deliberate high voice as if she were dictating to an amanuensis it is a most admirable selection of works for popular reading this that our excellent mr. Tryon has made I do not know whether if the task had been confided to me I could have made a selection combining in a higher degree religious instruction and edification with a Jew admixture of the pure species of amusement this story of father Clement is a library in itself on the errors of Romanism I have ever considered fiction a suitable form for conveying moral and religious instruction as I have shown in my little work to Kersey which as a very clever writer in the Crompton Argos said at the time of its appearance is the light vehicle of a weighty moral wanted think said mrs. Leonard who also had her spectacles on but chiefly for the purpose of seeing what the others were doing they didn't want much to drive people away from our religion as makes him walk barefoot over stone floors like that girl in father Clement sending the blood up to the head frightful anybody might see that was an unnatural Creed yes said miss Pratt but asceticism is not to the root of the error as mr. Tryon was telling us the other evening it is the denial of the great doctrine of justification by faith much as I had reflected on all subjects in the course of my life I am indebted to mr. Tryon for opening my eyes to the full importance of that cardinal doctrine of the Reformation from a child I had a deep sense of religion but in my early days the gospel light was obscured in the English church not withstanding the possession of our incomparable liturgy then which I know no human composition or faultless and sublime as I tell Eliza I was not blessed as she is at the age of two and twenty in knowing a clergyman who unites all that is great and admirable in intellect with the highest spiritual gifts I am no contemptible judge of a man's acquirements and I assure you I have tested mr. Trion's by questions which are a pretty severe touchstone it is true I sometimes carry him a little beyond the depth of the other listeners profound learning continued miss Pratt shutting her spectacles and tapping them on the book before her has not many to estimate it in Milby miss Pratt said Rebecca the you please give me Scots force of truth there that small book lying against the life of Lee Richmond that's a book I'm very fond of the life of Lee Richmond said mrs. Linnet she found out all about that woman at tuck burry has pretended to live without eating stuffin nonsense mrs. Linnet had become a reader of religious books since mr. Trion's Advent and as she was in the habit of confining her perusal to the purely secular portions which bore a very small proportion to the whole she could make rapid progress through a large number of volumes on taking up the biography of a celebrated preacher she immediately turned to the end to see what disease he died of and if his legs swelled as her own occasionally did she felt a stronger interest in ascertaining any earlier facts in the history of the dropsical divine whether he had ever fallen off a stagecoach whether he had married more than one wife and in general any adventures or repartees recorded of him previous to the epoch of his conversion she then glanced over the letters and diary and wherever there was a predominance of Zion the river of life and notes of exclamation she turned over to the next page but any passage in which she saw such promising nouns as smallpox pony or boots and shoes at once arrested her it is half said miss Linnet looking at her watch as the servant appeared with the tea-tray I suppose the delegates are come back by this time if mr. Tryon had not so kindly promised to call and let us know I should hardly rest with it walking to mill be myself to know what answer they have brought back it is a great privilege for us mr. Tryon living at mrs. Wagstaff's for he is often able to take us on his way backwards and forwards into the town I wonder if there's another man in the world who has been brought up as mr. Tryon has that would choose to live in those small closed rooms on the common among heaps of dirty cottages for the sake of being near the poor people said mrs. Pettyfer I'm afraid he hurts his health by it he looks to me far from strong ah said Miss Pratt I understand he is of a highly respectable family indeed in Huntington sure I heard him myself speak of his father's carriage quite incidentally you know and Eliza tells me what very fine cambric handkerchief she uses my eyes are not good enough to see such things but I know what breeding is as well as most people and it is easy to see that mr. Tryon is quite calm alpha-2 use a French expression I should like to tell him better in our use fine cambric of this place where there's such washing it's ashamed to be seen said mrs. Linnet he'll get him tore to pieces good LAN I'd be far better I saw what a colour his linen looked at the sacrament last Sunday Mary's making him a black silk case to hold his bans but I told her she'd more need wash them for him Oh mother said Rebecca with the solemn severity pray don't think of pocket handkerchiefs and linen when we are talking of such a man and at this moment to when he is perhaps having to bear a heavy blow we have more need to help him by prayer as Aaron and her held up the hands of Moses we don't know but a wickedness may have triumphed and mr. Prendergast may have consented to forbid the lecture there have been dispensations quite as mysterious and Satan is evidently putting forth all his strength to resist the entrance of the gospel into Milby church you never spoke a truer word than that my dear said mrs. Linnet who accepted all religious phrases but was extremely rationalistic in her interpretation for if ever old Harry appeared in a human form it's that dempster it was all through him as we got cheated out of PI's Croft making out as the title wasn't good such lawyers villainy as if paying good money wasn't title enough to anything if your father is as dead and gone had been worthy to know it but he'll have a fall someday Dempster will mark my words ah out of his carriage you mean said miss Pratt who in the moment occasioned by the clearing of the table had lost the first part of mrs. Lynette's speech it certainly is alarming to see him driving home from rather be flogging his galloping horse like a madman my brother has often said he expected every Thursday evening to be called in to set some of Dempster's bones but I suppose he may drop that expectation now for we are given to understand from good authority that he has forbidden his wife to call my brother in again either to herself or her mother he swears no try a night doctor shall attend his family I have reason to believe that pilgrim was called in to mrs. Dempster's mother the other day poor mrs. Rayner she's glad to do anything for the sake of peace and quietness said mrs. Pettyfer but his no trifle at her time of life to part with a doctor who knows her Constitution what trouble that poor woman has to bear in her old age said Mary Linnet to see her daughter leading such a life an only daughter to that she dotes on yes indeed said miss Pratt we of course know more about it than most people my brother having attended the family so many years for my part I never thought well of the marriage and I endeavoured to dissuade my brother when mrs. Rayner asked him to give Janet away at the wedding if you will take my advice Richard and I said you will have nothing to do with that marriage and he has seen the justice of my opinion since mrs. Rayner herself was against the connection at first but she always spoiled Janet and I fear too she was won over by a foolish pride in having her daughter marry a professional man I fear it was so no one but myself I think foresaw the extent of the evil well said mrs. Pettyfer Janet had nothing to look forward to but being a governess and it was hard for mrs. Raynor to have to work at milliner ring a woman well brought up and her husband a man who held his head as high as any man in Thurston and it isn't everybody that sees everything 15 years beforehand Robert Dempster was the cleverest man in Mill B and there weren't many young men fit to talk to Janet it is a thousand pities said Miss Pratt choosing to ignore mrs. pett AFER's slight sarcasm for I certainly did consider Janet Raynor the most promising young woman of my acquaintance a little too much lifted up perhaps by her superior education and too much given to satire but able to express herself very well indeed about any book I recommended to her perusal there is no young woman in Mill B now who can be compared with what Janet was when she was married either in mind or person i consider miss Lander far far below her indeed I cannot say much for the mental superiority of the young ladies in our first families they are superficial very superficial she made the handsomest bride did the differ came out of Milby church too said mrs. pett refer such a very fine figure and it showed off her white poplin so wow and what a pretty smile Janet always had poor thing she keeps that now for all her old friends I never see her but she has something pretty to say to me living in the same streets you know I can't help seeing her often though I've never been to the house since Dempster broke out on me in one of his drunk Fitz she comes to me sometimes poor thing looking so strange anybody passing her in the street may see plain enough what's the matter but she's always got some little good-natured plan in her head for all that only last night I met her I saw five yards off she wasn't fit to be out but she had a basin in her hand full of something she was carrying too Sally Martin that deformed girl that's in a consumption but she is just as bitter against mister try and as her husband is I understand said Rebecca her heart is very much set against the truth for I understand she bought mr. Tryon sermons on purpose to ridicule them to mrs. Crewe well poor thing said mrs. Pettyfer you know she stands up for everything her husband says and does she never will admit to anybody that he is not a good husband that is her pride said Miss Pratt she married him in opposition to the advice of her best friends and now she is not willing to admit that she was wrong why even to my brother and a medical attendant you know can hardly fail to be acquainted with family secrets she has always pretended to have the highest respect for her husband's qualities poor mrs. Rainier however is very well aware that everyone knows the real state of things latterly she has not even avoided the subject with me the very last time I called on her she said have you been to see my poor daughter and burst into tears pride or no pride said mrs. Pettyfer I shall always stand up for Janet Dempster she sat up with me night after night when I had that attack of rheumatic fever six years ago there's great excuses for her when a woman can't think of her husband coming home without trembling it's enough to make her drink something to blunt her feelings and no children either to keep her from it you and me might do the same if we were in her place speak for yourself mrs. Pettyfer said to miss pratt under no circumstances can I imagine myself resorting to a practice so degrading a woman should find support in her own strength of mind I think said Rebecca who considered miss Pratt still very blind in spiritual things notwithstanding her assumption of enlightenment she will find poor support if she trusts only to her own strength she must seek aid elsewhere than in herself happily the removal of the tea-things just then created a little confusion which aided miss pratt to repress her resentment at Rebecca's presumption in correcting her a person like Rebecca Leonard whose six months ago was as flighty and vieng a woman as miss pratt had ever known so very unconscious of her unfortunate person the ladies had scarcely been seated at their work another hour when the Sun was sinking and the clouds that flecked the sky to the very zenith where every moment taking on a brighter Gold the gate of the little garden opened and Miss Linnet seated at her small table near the window saw mr. Tryon enter there is mr. Tryon she said and her pale cheek was lighted up with a little blush that would have made her look more attractive to almost anyone except miss Eliza Pratt whose fine gray eyes allowed few things to escape her silent observation Mary Linnet gets more and more in love with mr. Tryon thought miss Eliza it is really pitiable to see such feelings and a woman of her age with those old maid ish little ringlets I dare say she found herself mr. Tryon may fall in love with her because he makes her useful among the poor at the same time miss Eliza as she bent her handsome head and large cannon curls with apparent calmness over her work felt a considerable internal flutter when she heard the knock at the door Rebecca had less South Command she felt too much agitated to go on with her pasting and clutched to the leg of the table to counteract the trembling in her hand poor women's hearts heaven forbid that I should laugh at you and make cheap chests on your susceptibility towards the clerical sex as if it had nothing deeper or more lovely in it than the mere vulgar angling for a husband even in these enlightened days many accurate who considered abstractedly is nothing more than a sleek women s animal in a white neckcloth with views more or less Anglican and furtively addicted to the flute is adored by a girl who has coarse brothers or by a solitary woman who would like to be a helpmate in good works beyond her own means simply because he seems to them the model of refinement and of public usefulness what wonder then that in Milby society such as I have told you it was a very long while ago as zealous evangelical clergymen aged 33 called forth all the little agitations that belong to the divine necessity of loving implanted in the Miss limits with their seven or eight lustrum x' and their unfashionable ringlets no less than in miss Eliza Pratt with her youthful bloom and her ample cannon curls but Mr Tryon has entered the rim and the strange light from the golden sky falling on his light brown hair which is brushed high up around his head makes it look almost like an Oreo his gray eyes to shine with unwonted brilliancy this evening they were not remarkable eyes but they accorded completely in their changing light with the changing expression of his person which indicated the paradoxical character often observable in a large limbed sanguine blonde at once mild and irritable gentle and overbearing indolent and resolute self-conscious and dreamy except that the well filled lips had something of the artificially compressed look which is often the sign of a struggle to keep the dragon under and that the complexion was rather pallid giving the idea of imperfect health mr. Trion's face in repose was that of an ordinary whisker less blonde and it seemed difficult to refer a certain air of distinction about him to anything in particular unless it were his delicate hands and well shape and feet it was a great anomaly to the mill be mind that a canting evangelical parson who would take tea with trades people and make friends of vulgar women like the Leonard's should have so much the air of a gentleman and be so little like the splay-footed mr. Stickney of Salem to whom he approximated so closely in doctrine and this want of correspondence between the physique and the Creed had excited no less surprise in the larger town of laxity where mr. Tryon had formerly held accuracy for of the two other low church clergymen in the neighborhood one was a welshman of globos figure and unctuous complexion and the other man of atrabilious pecked with lank black hair and a redundance of limp cravat in fact the sort of thing you might expect in men who distributed the publication's of the religious tract society and introduced dissenting hymns into the church mr. Tryon shook hands with mrs. Leonard bowed with rather a preoccupied air to the other ladies and seated himself in the large horsehair easy-chair which had been drawn forward for him while the ladies ceased from their work and fixed their eyes on him awaiting the news he had to tell them his themes he began in a low and silvery tone I need a lesson of patience there has been something wrong in my thought or action about this evening lecture I have been too much bent on doing good to Mel B after my own plan to reliant on my own wisdom mr. Tryon paused he was struggling against inward irritation the delegates are come back then has mr. prenderghast given way has Dempster succeeded were the eager questions of three ladies at once yes the town is in an uproar as we were sitting in mr. Landers drawing-room we heard a loud cheering and presently mr. threw up the clerk at the bank who had been waiting at the Red Lion to hear the result came to let us know he said Dempster had been making a speech to the MA about the window they were distributing drink to the people and hoisting placards and great letters down with the Tryon i'ts down with can't they had a hideous caricature of me being tripped up and pitched hit for most out of the pulpit good old mr. land or would insist on sending me round in the carriage he thought I should not be safe from the mob as I got down at the crossways the Rao was evidently preconcerted by Dempster before he set out he made sure of succeeding mr. Tryon Sutter ins had been getting rather louder and more rapid in the course of this speech and he now added in the energetic chest voice which both in and out of the pulpit alternated continually with his more silvery notes but his triumph will be a short one if he thinks he can intimidate me by habla qui or threats he has mistaken the man he has to deal with mr. Dempster and his colleagues will find themselves checkmated after all mr. prenderghast has been false to his own conscience in this business he knows as well as I do that he is throwing away the souls of the people by leaving things as they are in the parish but I shall appeal to the bishop I am confident of his sympathy the bishop will be coming shortly I suppose said miss Pratt to hold a confirmation yes but I shall write to him at once and lay the case before him indeed I must hurry away now for I have many matters to attend to you ladies have been kindly helping me with your labors I see can continued mr. Tryon politely glancing at the canvas covered books as he rose from his seat then turning to Mary Lynette our library is really getting on I think you and your sister have quite a heavy task of distribution now poor Rebecca felt it very hard to bear that mr. Tryon did not turn towards her – if he knew how much she entered into his feelings about the lecture and the interest she took in the library well perhaps it was her lot to be overlooked and it might be a token of mercy even a good man might not always know the heart that was most with him but – the next moment poor Mary had a pang when mr. Tryon turned to miss Eliza Pratt and the preoccupied expression of his face melted into that beaming timidity with which a man almost always addresses a pretty woman I have to thank you – miss Eliza for seconding me so well in your visits to joseph mercer the old man tells me how precious he finds your reading to him now he is no longer able to go to church miss Eliza only answered by a blush which made her look all the handsomer but her aunt said yes mr. Tryon I have ever inculcated on my dear Eliza the importance of spending her leisure in being useful to her fellow creatures your example and instruction have been quite in the spirit of the system which I have always pursued though we are indebted to you for a clearer view of the motives that should actuate us in our pursuit of good works not that I can accuse myself of ever having had a self righteous spirit but my humility was rather instinctive than based on a firm ground of doctrinal knowledge such as you so admirably impart to us mrs. Lynette's usual entreaty that mr. Tryon would have something some wine and water and a biscuit was just here our welcome relief from the necessity of answering miss Pratt's oration not anything my dear miss Lynette thank you you forget what a wreck abate I am by the by when I went this morning to see a poor girl in butcher's Lane whom I had heard of as being in a consumption I found mrs. Dempster there I had often met her in the street but did not know it was mrs. Dempster it seems she goes among the poor a good deal she is really an interesting looking woman I was quite surprised for I have heard the worst account of her habits that she is almost as bad as her husband she went out hastily as soon as I entered but apologetically I am keeping you all standing and I must really hurry away mrs. Pettifer I have not had the pleasure of calling on you for some time I shall take an early opportunity of going your way good evening good evening end of chapter 3 of Janet's repentance you chapter four of Janet's repentance from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter 4 mr. Tryon was right in saying that the Rao in mill B had been preconcerted by Dempster the placards and the caricature were prepared before the departure of the delegates and it had been settled that Matt Paine Dempster's clerk should ride out on Thursday morning to meet them at Whitlow the last place where they would change horses that he might gallop back and prepare an ovation for the triumvirate in case of their success Dempster had determined to dine at Whitlow so that Matt Paine was in Mill B again two hours before the entrance of the delegates and had time to send a whisper up the back streets that there was a promise of a spree in the bridge way as well as to assemble two knots of picked men one to feed the flame of Orthodox zeal with gin and water at the green man near High Street the other to solidify their church principles with heavy beer at the bare and ragged staff in the bridge way the bridge way was an irregular straggling Street where the town fringed off raggedly into the width o rode rows of new red brick houses in which ribbon looms were rattling behind long lines of window alternating with old half thatched half tiled cottages one of those dismal wide streets where dirt and misery have no long shadows thrown on them to soften their ugliness here about half-past five o'clock silly Caleb an idiot well-known in dog Lane but more of a stranger in the bridge way was seen slouching along with a string of boys hooting at his heels presently another group for the most part out at elbows came briskly in the same direction looking round them with an air of expectation and that no long interval Deb Tranter in a pink flounced gown and floating ribbons was observed talking with great affability to two men in seal skin caps and fustian who formed her cortege the bridge way began to have a presentiment of something in the wind fib cook left her evening washed tub and appeared at her door in soap suds a bonnet poke and general dampness three narrow chested ribbon weavers in rusty black streaked with shreds of many colored silk sauntered out with their hands in their pockets and Molly Beale a brawny old Virago descrying wiry dame rickets peeping out from her entry seized the opportunity of renewing the morning skirmish in short the Bridgeway was in that state of excitement which is understood to announce a demonstration on the part of the British public and the a flux of remote townsman increasing they were soon so large a crowd that it was time for Bill powers a plethoric Goliath who presided over the knot of beer drinkers at the bare and ragged staff to issue forth with his companions and like the initiator of the ancient myth make the assemblage distinctly conscious of the common sentiment that had drawn them together the expectation of the delegates shares added to the fight between Molly Beale and Dame Ricketts and the ill-advised appearance of a lean bull terrier were a sufficient safety valve to the popular excitement during the remaining quarter of an hour at the end of which the sheds was seen approaching along the whitlow road with oak boughs ornamenting the horses heads and to quote the account of this interesting scene which was sent to the Rother b guardian loud shears immediately testified to the sympathy of the honest fellows collected there with the public spirited exertions of their fellow townsman bill powers whose bloodshot eyes bent hat and protuberant attitude marked him out as a natural leader of the assemblage undertook to interpret the common sentiment by stopping the shares advancing to the door with raised hat and begging to know of mr. Dempster whether the rector had forbidden the canting lecture yes yes said Mr Dempster keep up a jolly good hooray no public duty could have been more easy and agreeable to mr. powers and his associates and the chorus swelled all the way to the high street where by a mysterious coincidence often observable in these spontaneous demonstrations large placards on long poles were observed to shoot upwards from among the crowd principally in the direction of Tucker's lane where the Green Man was situated one bore down with the Tryon i'ts another no can't another long live our venerable curate and one in still larger letters sound Church principles and no hypocrisy but a still more remarkable impromptu was a huge caricature of mr. Tryon in gown and band with an enormous Oriole of yellow hair and upturned eyes standing on the pulpit stairs and trying to pull down old mr. Crewe groans yells and hisses hisses yells and groans only stemmed by the appearance of another caricature representing mr. Tryon being pitched headforemost from the pulpit stairs by a hand which the artist either from subtlety of intention or want of space had left an indicated in the midst of the tremendous cheering that saluted this piece of symbolical art the shez had reached the door of the red lion and loud cries of Dempster forever with a feebler cheer now and then for Tomlinson and bud were presently responded to by the appearance of the public spirited attorney at the large upper window where also were visible a little in the background small sleek hair death mr. bird and the blinking countenance of mr. Tomlinson mr. Dempster held his hat in his hand and poked his head forward with a betting motion by way of bow a storm of cheers subsided at last into dropping sounds of silence hear him go at Dempster and the lawyers rasping voice became distinctly audible fellow townsmen it gives us the sincerest pleasure I speak for my respected colleagues as well as myself to witness these strong proofs of your attachment to the principles of our excellent church and your zeal for the honor of our venerable pastor but it is no more than I expected of you I know you well I have known you for the last twenty years to be as honest and respectable a set of ratepayers as any in this county your hearts are sound to the core no man had better try to thrust his Kant and hypocrisy down your throats you are used to wash them with liquor of a better flavor this is the proudest moment in my own life and I think I may say in that of my colleagues in which I have to tell you that our exertions in the cause of sound religion and manly morality have been crowned with success yes my fellow townsman I have the gratification of announcing to you thus formally what you have already learned indirectly the pulpit from which our venerable pastor has fed us with sound doctrine for half a century is not to be invaded by a fanatical sectarian double-faced Jesuitical interloper we are not to have our young people demoralized and corrupted by the temptations to Vice notoriously connected with Sunday evening lectures we are not to have a preacher of treating himself upon us who decries good works and sneaks into our homes perverting the faith of our wives and daughters we are not to be poisoned with doctrines which damp every innocent enjoyment and pick a poor man's pocket of the sixpence with which he might buy himself at full glass after a hard day's work under pretence of paying for Bibles to send to the chick toss but I'm not going to waste your valuable time with unnecessary words I am a man of Deeds I damned you that you are and you charge well 4m2 said a voice from the crowd probably that of a gentleman who was immediately afterwards observed with his hat crushed over his head I shall always be at the service of my fellow townsmen and whoever dares to Hector over you or interfere with your innocent pleasures shall have an account to settle with Robert Dempster now my boys you can't do better than disperse and carry the good news to all your fellow townsman whose hearts are as sound as your own let some of you go one way and some another that every man woman and child in Milby may know what you know yourselves but before we part let us have three cheers for true religion and down with Kant when the last cheer was dying mr. Dempster closed the window and that judiciously instructed placards and caricatures moved off in diverse directions followed by larger or smaller divisions of the crowd the greatest attraction apparently lay in the direction of dog lane the outlet towards paddy furred common weather the caricatures were moving and you foresee of course that those works of symbolical art were consumed with a liberal expenditure of dry gorse bushes and vague shouting after these great public exertions it was natural that mr. Dempster and his colleagues should feel more in need than usual of a little social relaxation and a party of their friends was already beginning to assemble in the large parlor of the Red Lion convened partly by their own curiosity and partly by the invaluable mad pain the most capacious Punchbowl was put in requisition and that born gentlemen mr. loam seated opposite mr. Dempster as vice undertook to brew the punch defying the Critias of the envious man out of office who with the readiness of irresponsibility ignorantly suggested more lemons the social festivities were continued till long past midnight when several friends of sound religion were conveyed home with some difficulty one of them showing a dogged determination to seat himself in the gutter mr. Dempster had done as much justice to the punch as any of the party and his friend boots though aware that the lawyer could carry his liquor like old Nick with whose social demeanor boots seemed to be particularly well acquainted nevertheless thought it might be as well to see so good a customer in safety to his own door and walked quietly behind his elbow out of the inn-yard Dempster however soon became aware of him stopped short and turning slowly round upon him recognized the well-known drab waistcoat sleaze conspicuous enough in the starlight you Tapani scoundrel what do you mean by dogging a professional man's footsteps in this way I'll break every bone in your skin if you attempt to track me like a beastly cur sniffing at one's pocket do you think a gentleman will make his way home any the better for having the scent of your blacking bottle thrust up his nostrils boots slunk back in more amusement than ill-humor thinking the lawyers run tock was doubtless part and parcel of his professional ability and mr. Dempster pursued his slow way alone his house lay in Orchard Street which opened on the prettiest outskirt of the town the church the parsonage and a long stretch of green fields it was an old-fashioned house with an overhanging upper storey outside it had a face of rough stucco and casement windows with green frames and shutters inside it was full of long passages and rooms with low ceilings there was a large heavy knocker on the green door and though mr. Dempster carried a latchkey he sometimes chose to use the knocker he chose to do so now the Thunder resounded through orchard street and after a single minute there was a second clap louder than the first another minute and still the door was not opened whereupon mr. Dempster muttering took out his latchkey and with less difficulty than might have been expected thrust it into the door when he opened the door the passage was dark Janet in the loudest rasping tone was the next sound that rang through the house Janet again before a slow step was heard on the stairs and a distant light began to flicker on the wall of the passage curse you you creeping idiot come faster can't you yet a few seconds and the figure of a tall woman holding a slant a heavy plated drawing-room candlestick appeared at the turning of the passage that led to the broader entrance she had on a light dress which sat loosely about her figure but did not disguise its liberal graceful outline a heavy mass of straight jet-black hair had escaped from its fastening and hung over her shoulders her grandly cut features pale with the natural paleness of a brunette had premature lines about them telling that the years had been lengthened by sorrow and the delicately curved nostril which seemed made to quiver with the proud consciousness of power and beauty must have quivered to the heart piercing griefs which had given that worn look to the corners of the mouth her wide open black eyes had a strangely fixed sightless gaze as she paused at the turning and stood silent before her husband I'll teach you to keep me waiting in the dark you pale staring fool he said advancing with his slow drunken step what you've been drinking again have you I'll beat you into your senses he laid his hand with a firm grip on her shoulder turned her round and pushed her slowly before him along the passage in through the dining room door which stood open on their left hand there was a portrait of Janet's mother a grey haired dark eyed old woman in a neatly fluted cap hanging over the mantelpiece surely the age at eyes take on a look of anguish as they see Janet not trembling no it would be better if she trembled standing stupidly unmoved in her great beauty while the heavy arm is lifted to strike her the blow Falls another and another surely the mother hears that cry Oh Robert pity pity poor gray-haired woman was it for this you suffered a mother's pangs in your lone widowhood five and thirty years ago was it for this you kept the little worn Morocco shoes Janet had first Runyan and kissed them day by day when she was away from you a tall girl at school was it for this you looked proudly at her when she came back to you in her rich pale beauty like a tall white Arum that has just unfolded its grand pure curves to the son the mother lies sleepless and praying in her lonely house weeping the difficult tears of age because she dreads this may be a cruel night for her child she too has a picture over her mantelpiece drawn in chalk by Janet long years ago she looked at it before she went to bed it is a head bowed beneath the cross and wearing a crown of thorns end of chapter 4 of Janet's repentence Chapter five of Janet's repentance from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter 5 it was half-past nine o'clock in the morning the midsummer Sun was already warm on the roofs and weathercocks of Milby the church bells were ringing and many families were conscious of Sunday sensations chiefly referral to the fact that the daughters had come down to breakfast in their best frocks and with their hair particularly well dressed for it was not Sunday but Wednesday and though the bishop was going to hold a confirmation and to decide whether or not there should be a Sunday evening lecture in Milby the sunbeams had the usual working daily look to the haymakers already long out in the fields and to laggard weavers just setting up their week's peace the notion of its being Sunday was the strongest in young ladies like Miss Phipps who was going to accompany her younger sister to the confirmation and who wear a sweetly pretty transparent bonnet with marabou feathers on the interesting occasion thus throwing into relief the suitable simplicity of her sister's attire who was of course to appear in a new white frock or in the pupils at Miss Townley's who were absolved from all lessons and were going to church to see the bishop and to hear the honourable and Reverend mr. prenderghast the rector read prayers a high intellectual treat as must only assured them it seemed only natural that a rector who was honourable should read better than old mr. Crewe who was only accurate and not honourable and when little Clara Robbins wondered why some clergymen were rector's and others not Ellen Mary had assured her with great confidence that it was only the clever men who were made rector's Ellen Marriott was going to be confirmed she was a short fair plump girl with blue eyes and sandy hair which was this morning arranged in taller cannon curls than usual for the reception of the Episcopal benediction and some of the young ladies thought her the prettiest girl in the school but others gave the preference to her rival Mariah Gardner who was much taller and had a lovely crop of dark brown ringlets and who being also about to take upon herself the vows made in her name at her baptism had oiled and twisted her ringlets with a special care as she seated herself at the breakfast table before miss Townley's entrance to dispense the weak coffee her crop excited so strong a sensation that Ellen Marriott was at length impelled to look at it and to say with suppressed but bitter sarcasm is that miss Gardner's head yes said Mariah amiable and stuttering and no match for Ellen in retort the this is my head then I don't admire it at all was the crushing rejoinder of Ellen followed by a murmur of approval among her friends young ladies I suppose exhaust to their sack of venom in this way at school that is the reason why they have such a harmless tooth for each other in afterlife the only other candidate for confirmation at Miss Townley's was Mary Dunn a Draper's daughter in Mill B and the distant relation of the Miss Leonard's her pale lanky hair could never be coaxed into permanent curl and this morning the heat had brought it down to its natural condition of lange keenest a lair than usual but that was not what made her sit melancholy and apart at the lower end of the farm her parents were admirers of mr. Tryon and had been persuaded by the Miss Lilith's influence to insist that their daughter should be prepared for confirmation by him over and above the preparation given to miss town Lee's pupils by mr. Crewe poor Mary done I am afraid she thought it too heavy a price to pay for these spiritual advantages to be excluded from every game at ball to be obliged to walk with none but little girls in fact to be the object of an aversion that nothing short of an incessant supply of plum cakes would have neutralized and mrs. Dunn was of opinion that plum cake was unwholesome the anti try a night spirit you perceive was very strong at miss town Lee's imported probably by dais scholars as well as encouraged by the fact that that clever woman was herself strongly opposed to innovation and remarked every Sunday that mr. Crewe had preached an excellent discourse poor Mary done dreaded the moment when school hours would be over for then she was sure to be the butt of those very explicit remarks which in young ladies as well as young gentlemen seminaries constitute to the most subtle and delicate form of the innuendo I'd never be a try a night would you oh here comes the lady that knows so much more about religion than we do some people think themselves so very pious it is really surprising that young ladies should not be thought competent to the same curriculum as young gentlemen I observed that their powers of sarcasm are quite equal and if there had been a genteel Academy for young gentlemen at Mill B I am inclined to think that notwithstanding Euclid and the classics the party spirit there would not have exhibited itself in more pungent irony or more incisive satire than was heard in miss Townley seminary but there was no such Academy the existence of the Grammar School under mr. Cruz superintendent's probably discouraging speculations of that kind and the genteel youths of Mill B were chiefly come home for the midsummer holidays from distant schools several of us had just assumed coattails and the assumption of new responsibilities apparently following as a matter of course we were among the candidates for confirmation I wish I could say that the solemnity of our feelings was on a level with the solemnity of the occasion but unimaginative boys find it difficult to recognize apostolic institutions in their developed form and I fear our chief emotion concerning the ceremony was a sense of sheepish Ness and our chief opinion the speculative and heretical position that it ought to be confined to the girls it was a pity you will say but it is the way with us men in other crises that come a long while after confirmation the golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand the Angels come to visit us and we only know them when they are gone but as I said the morning was sunny the bells were ringing the ladies of Milby were dressed in their Sunday garments and who is this bright looking woman walking with hasty step along Orchard Street so early with a large nosegay in her hand can it be Janet Dempster on whom we looked with such deep pity one sad midnight hardly a fortnight ago yes no other woman in Milby has those searching black eyes that tall graceful unconstrained figure set off by her simple muslin dress and black lace shawl that Massey black hair now so neatly braided in glossy contrast with the white satin ribbons of her modest cap and bonnet no other woman has that sweet speaking smile with which she nods to Jonathan lamb the old parish clerk and ah now she comes nearer there are those sad lines about to the mouth and eyes on which that sweet smile plays like sunbeams on the storm-beaten beauty of the full and ripened corn she is turning out of orchard street and making her way as fast as she can to her mother's house a pleasant cottage facing a roadside meadow from which the hay is being carried missus Rayner has had her breakfast and is seated in her armchair reading when Janet opens the door saying in her most playful voice please mother I've come to show myself to you before I go to the parsonage have I put on my pretty cap and bonnet to satisfy you mrs. Rayner looked over her spectacles and met her daughter's glance with eyes as dark and loving as her own she was a much smaller woman than Janet both in figure and feature the chief resemblance lying in the eyes and the clear brunette complexion the mothers hair had long been gray and was gathered under the neatest of caps made by her own clever fingers as all Janet's caps and bonnets were too they were well practiced fingers for mrs. Raynor had supported herself in her widowhood by keeping a millinery establishment and in this way had earned money enough to give her daughter what was then thought of first-rate education as well as to save a sum which eat out by her son-in-law suffice to support her in her solitary old age always the same clean neat old lady dressed in black silk quas mrs. Raynor a patient brave woman who bowed with resignation under the burden of remembered sorrow and bore with meek fortitude the new load that the new days brought with them your bonnet wants pulling a trifle forwarder my child she said smiling and taking off her spectacles while Janet at once knelt down before her and waited to be set to rights as she would have done when she was a child you're going straight to mrs. Cruz I suppose are those flowers to garnish the dishes no indeed mother this is the nosegay for the middle of the table I've sent up the dinner service and the ham we had cooked at our house yesterday and Betty is coming directly with the garnish and the plate we shall get our good mrs. Crew through her troubles famously dear tiny woman you should have seen her lift up her hands yesterday and prayed heaven to take her before ever she should have another collation to get ready for the bishop she said it's bad enough to have the Archdeacon though he doesn't want have so many jelly glasses I wouldn't mind Janet if it was to feed all the old hungry cripples in Milby but so much trouble and expense for people who eat too much every day of their lives we have such a cleaning and furbishing up of the sitting-room yesterday nothing will ever do away with the smell of mr. crews pipes you know but we have thrown it into the background with yellow soap and dry lavender and now I must run away you will come to church mother yes my dear I wouldn't lose such a pretty sight it does my old eyes good to see so many fresh young faces is your husband going yes Robert will be there I've made him as neat as a new pin this morning and he says the bishop will think him to buck ish by half I took him into mammy Dempster's room to show himself we here Tryon is making sure of the bishops support but we shall see I would give my crooked Guinea and all the luck it will ever bring me to have him beaten for I can't enjoy the sight of the man coming to her wrath dear old mr. and mrs. Crewe in their last days preaching the gospel indeed that is the best gospel that makes everybody happy and comfortable isn't it mother ah child I'm afraid there's no gospel we'll do that here below well I can do something to comfort mrs. crew at least so give me a kiss and goodbye till church time the mother leaned back in her chair when Janet was gone and thanked into a painful reverie when our life is a continuous trial of the moments of fresh peps seemed only to substitute the heaviness of dread for the heaviness of actual suffering the curtain of cloud seems parted an instant only that we may measure all its horror as it hangs low black and imminent in contrast with the transient brightness the water drops that visit to the parched lips in the desert bare with them only the keen imagination of thirst janet looked glad and tender now but what scene of misery was coming next she was to like the sisters flowers in the little garden before the window that with the shades of evening might lie with the delicate white and glossy dark of their petals trampled in the roadside dust when the Sun had sunk and the twilight was deepening Janet might be sitting there heated maddened sobbing out her griefs with selfish passion and wildly wishing herself dead mrs. Raynor had been reading about the lost sheep and the joy there is in heaven over the sinner that repenteth surely the eternal love she believed in through all the sadness of her lot would not leave her child to wander farther and farther into the wilderness till there was no turning the child so lovely so pitiful to others so good till she was goaded into sin by woman's bitterest sorrows mrs. Raynor had her faith and her spiritual comforts though she was not in the least evangelical and knew nothing of doctrinal zeal I fear most of mr. trans hearers would have considered her destitute of saving knowledge and I am quite sure she had no well-defined V zhan justification nevertheless she read her Bible a great deal and thought she found divine lessons there how to bear the cross meekly and be merciful let us hope that there is a saving ignorant and that mrs. Raynor was justified without knowing exactly how she tried to have hope and trust though it was hard to believe that the future would be anything else than the harvest of the seed that was being sown before her eyes but always there is seed being sown silently and unseen and everywhere there comes sweet flowers without our foresight or labor we reap what we sow but Nature has loved over and above that justice and gives us shadow and blossom and fruit that spring from no planting of ours end of chapter 5 of Janet's repentance

1 thought on “Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 6/9

  1. Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 6/9

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