BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

The Bhagavad Gita


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

The house in Dormer Forest

by Mary Gladys Meredith Webb


Soon Sarah appeared with an unwonted cup of tea for Ruby, and Ruby's happiness increased. For she loved a cup of tea, strong and creamy, and a picture book and a soft pillow; and at the back of her mind was the thought that Ernest would certainly "speak" to-day. She raised her beautiful and indolent body sufficiently to drink.

"Has Miss Catherine had some?" she asked.

"'s Catherine's not," was the reply. "For she's gone to the seven o'clock, and when 'er goes to that 'er clems. Though why 'im above should take it unkind if she went full, is more than Sarah Jowel knows. I'm as earnest after religion as most, but my stomach's my own."

So saying, she flung back the curtains, and there was Ruby in a flood of yellow sunshine, friendly to her young splendor, but cruel to Amber, who was leaning from her window drinking the golden day.

Ernest also was up, looking very pink and clean, reading in a new little manual he had brought with him, which was a service of prayer for those contemplating marriage. It began with a prayer before the proposal, and went straight on, as it were, on the crest of the wave, to the banns, the wedding, and the children. What happened if "the answer was no," as Enoch would say, did not appear. Only the successful were catered for. To do Ernest justice, he meant very well in reading this book. He nearly always did mean well. He wished to do right and he wished others to do right in his way. What would have happened if his church, instead of telling him that what he wanted was right, had told him that what he wanted was wrong, it is not easy to say. Fortunately, it had never yet happened. Ernest knew it was right for him to marry Ruby, and rear a large family. Ruby's point of view never occurred to him.

"Well, 's Ruby," said Sarah, "you do take the eye!" She felt romance tingling in the air. Romance, to her, did not depend on anything so ephemeral as love. So long as the dresses, the cake, and some sort of a bridegroom were got together, what else mattered?

And Ruby, sipping her tea, basking in the sunshine, idly admiring the texture of her skin under the light, and the full curve of her breast, was of very much the same opinion.

That which Sarah had prophesied duly came to pass. After the service Ernest hurried out of the vestry in his cassock and detained Ruby, who was lingering rather expectantly. They wandered beneath the swart yews, which canopied the churchyard mournfully, shadowing the grotesquely shaped tombs—obelisks and sarcophagi, needles of stone, an immense triple-tiered round erection of fluted marble, like a wedding cake, and a stout stone boy, apparently of negroid extraction. All these tombs were greened over by lichen, and as Ruby and Ernest walked under the trees their faces took a greenish tint, as if upon them also it had gathered. Keturah Cantlop's grave was smothered with waxen wreaths in glass cases. for Mrs. Cantlop added a new one every Easter. She thought them far more beautiful than real flowers. The little mound, thus decorated, lying so darkly by the water under the heavy yews, had given Ruby a great distaste for white flowers.

When they came to it she shivered and turned away. Ernest did not notice. He was flushed and heated with the service and with the consciousness of having preached a successful sermon. As Sarah would have said, he was "flown with words." Mrs. Cantlop, who enjoyed many a half-hour's nap under the mellifluous ebb and flow of Ernest's self-expression, said, when Ernest's preaching was criticized in her presence: "Ah, well! He has a gift for imparting knowledge." To this Catherine had rather tartly replied: "If only he had any to impart 1"

Ernest was, therefore, pleased with himself, Ruby and their background of the world in general. He was only waiting to gravitate again to the scene of his triumph until Solomon and Mr. Arkinstall had gone. These two found the vestry convenient for their weekly talk. Before church they argued. During the service they seethed. Afterwards they quarrelled bitterly.

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