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morning.’ He took it. ‘You give it up very gleefully,’ said he; ‘I
don’t quite understand your light-heartedness, because I cannot
tell what employment you propose to yourself as a substitute for
the one you are relinquishing. What aim, what purpose, what
ambition in life have you now?’ ‘My first aim will be to clean down
(do you comprehend the full force of the expression?)- to clean
down Moor House from chamber to cellar; my next to rub it up
with bees-wax, oil, and an indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters
again; my third, to arrange every chair, table, bed, carpet, with
mathematical precision; afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in
coals and peat to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the
two days preceding that on which your sisters are expected will be
devoted by Hannah and me to such a beating of eggs, sorting of
currants, grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes,
chopping up of materials for mince-pies, and solemnising of other
culinary rites, as words can convey but an inadequate notion of to
the uninitiated like you. My purpose, in short, is to have all things
in an absolutely perfect state of readiness for Diana and Mary
before next Thursday; and my ambition is to give them a beau-
ideal of a welcome when they come.’ St. John smiled slightly: still
he was dissatisfied.

‘It is all very well for the present,’ said he; ‘but seriously, I trust
that when the first flush of vivacity is over, you will look a little
higher than domestic endearments and household joys.’ ‘I mean,
on the contrary, to be busy.’ ‘Jane, I excuse you for the present: two
months’ grace I allow you for the full enjoyment of your new
position, and for pleasing yourself with this late-found charm of
relationship; but then, I hope you will begin to look beyond Moor
House and Morton, and sisterly society, and the selfish calm and
sensual comfort of civilised affluence. I hope your energies will
then once more trouble you with their strength.’ I looked at him
with surprise. ‘St. John,’ I said, ‘I think you are almost wicked to
talk so. I am disposed to be as content as a queen, and you try to
stir me up to restlessness! To what end?’ ‘To the end of turning to
profit the talents which God has committed to your keeping; and of
which He will surely one day demand a strict account. Jane, I shall
watch you closely and anxiously-I warn you of that. And try to
restrain the disproportionate fervour with which you throw
yourself into commonplace home pleasures. Don’t cling so
tenaciously to ties of the flesh; save your constancy and ardour for
an adequate cause; forbear to waste them on trite transient objects.
Do you hear, Jane?’ ‘Yes; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel I
have adequate cause to be happy, and I will be happy. Good-bye!’
Happy at Moor House I was, and hard I worked; and so did
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