And in pursuance of this resolution, he retired to his study.
"There's a damnable combination," said Sampson drily. "Truth is sairtainly more wonderful than feckshin. Here's my fathom o' good sense in love with a wax doll, and her brother jilting his sister, and her father pillaging his mother. It _beats_ hotch-potch."
Mrs. Dodd denied the wax doll: but owned Miss Hardie was open to vast objections: "An inestimable young lady; but so odd; she is one of these uneasy-minded Christians that have sprung up: a religious egotist, and _malade imaginaire,_ eternally feeling her own spiritual pulse----"
"I know the disorrder," cried Sampson eagerly: "the pashints have a hot fit (and then they are saints): followed in due course by the cold fit (and then they are the worst of sinners): and so on in endless rotation: and, if they could only realise my great discovery, the perriodicity of all disease, and time their sintiments, they would find the hot fit and the cold return chronometrically, at intervals as rigular as the tide's ebb and flow; and the soul has nothing to do with either febrile symptom. Why Religion, apart from intermittent Fever of the Brain, is just the caumest, peaceablest, sedatest thing in all the world."
"Ah, you are too deep for me, my good friend. All I know is that she is one of this new school, whom I take the liberty to call 'THE FIDGETY CHRISTIANS.' They cannot let their poor souls alone a minute; and they pester one day and night with the millennium; as if we shall not all be dead long before that. But the worst is, they apply the language of earthly passion to the Saviour of mankind, and make one's flesh creep at their blasphemies; so coarse, so familiar: like that rude multitude which thronged and pressed Him when on earth. But, after all, she came to the church, and took my Julia's part; so that shows she has _principle;_ and do pray spare me her feelings in any step you take against that dishonourable person her father. I must go back to his victim, my poor, poor child--I dare not leave her long. Oh, Doctor, such a night! and, if she dozes for a minute, it is to wake with a scream and tell me she sees him dead: sometimes he is drowned; sometimes stained with blood, but always dead."
This evening Mr. Hardie came along in a fly with his luggage on the box, returning to Musgrove Cottage as from Yorkshire: in passing Albion Villa he cast it a look of vindictive triumph. He got home and nodded by the fire in his character of a man wearied by a long journey. Jane made him some tea, and told him how Alfred had disappeared on his wedding-day.
"The young scamp," said he; he added, coolly, "It is no business of mine. I had no hand in making the match, thank Heaven." In the conversation that ensued, he said he had always been averse to the marriage; but not so irreconcilably as to approve this open breach of faith with a respectable young lady. "This will recoil upon our name, you know, at this critical time," said he.
Then Jane mustered courage to confess that she had gone to the wedding herself: "Dear papa," said she, "it was made clear to me that the Dodds are acting in what they consider a most friendly way to you. They think--I cannot tell you what they think. But, if mistaken, they are sincere: and so, after prayer, and you not being here for me to consult, I did go to the church. Forgive me, papa: I have but one brother; and she is my dear friend."