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you to accept.’ He again paused: there seemed a reluctance to
continue. I grew impatient: a restless movement or two, and an
eager and exacting glance fastened on his face, conveyed the
feeling to him as effectually as words could have done, and with
less trouble.

‘You need be in no hurry to hear,’ he said: ‘let me frankly tell you, I
have nothing eligible or profitable to suggest. Before I explain,
recall, if you please, my notice, clearly given, that if I helped you, it
must be as the blind man would help the lame. I am poor; for I find
that, when I have paid my father’s debts, all the patrimony
remaining to me will be this crumbling grange, the row of scathed
firs behind, and the patch of moorish soil, with the yew-trees and
holly-bushes in front. I am obscure: Rivers is an old name; but of
the three sole descendants of the race, two earn the dependant’s
crust among strangers, and the third considers himself an alien
from his native country-not only for life, but in death. Yes, and
deems, and is bound to deem, himself honoured by the lot, and
aspires but after the day when the cross of separation from fleshly
ties shall be laid on his shoulders, and when the Head of that
church-militant of whose humblest members he is one, shall give
the word, “Rise, follow Me!”’ St. John said these words as he
pronounced his sermons, with a quiet, deep voice; with an
unflushed cheek, and a coruscating radiance of glance. He
resumed‘And since I am myself poor and obscure, I can offer you
but a service of poverty and obscurity. You may even think it
degrading-for I see now your habits have been what the world
calls refined: your tastes lean to the ideal, and your society has at
least been amongst the educated; but I consider that no service
degrades which can better our race. I hold that the more arid and
unreclaimed the soil where the Christian labourer’s task of tillage
is appointed him-the scantier the meed his toil brings-the higher
the honour. His, under such circumstances, is the destiny of the
pioneer; and the first pioneers of the Gospel were the Apostlestheir
captain was Jesus, the Redeemer, Himself.’ ‘Well?’ I said, as he
again paused-‘proceed.’ He looked at me before he proceeded:
indeed, he seemed leisurely to read my face, as if its features and
lines were characters on a page. The conclusions drawn from this
scrutiny he partially expressed in his succeeding observations.

‘I believe you will accept the post I offer you,’ said he, ‘and hold it
for a while: not permanently, though: any more than I could
permanently keep the narrow and narrowing-the tranquil, hidden
office of English country incumbent; for in your nature is an alloy
as detrimental to repose as that in mine, though of a different
kind.’ ‘Do explain,’ I urged, when he halted once more.
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