Mrs. Magdalen Graham was getting ready to die--not that she had not, for very many years, been making her preparations for this, which she knew must come; but now she knew that, without doubt, it was very near at hand. The clergyman of the Parish, the good Mr. Smithett, had been called away, and as there was no priest nearer than Dorchester, she had not had, excepting once, the blessing of the Holy Communion, and the Visitation of the Sick. The quiet stillness of a heart at peace with God and man, had been somewhat disturbed by her anxiety for Robert, an anxiety greatly increased by the story Mr. Stebbins, poured into her ears, and his evident belief in Robert's guilt. Robert had heard it all. He had been so shocked-at the change in his grandmother's appearance, and her evident weakness, that he was like one stunned. He could not interrupt Mr. Stebbins, and, indeed, the facts were all as he stated them, except the one thing only, that he knew ht was not guilty. When his uncle had finished, he had only been able to kneel down by the bedside, and, lifting up his face to his grandmother, with the clear, blue eyes dimmed by tears he could not restrain, exclaim, "Grand-mama, it looks as if I were guilty--it is all against me, but I did not do it; I am very wicked, I know, but I did not steal. Grandmother, won't you believe me, if nobody else does? If you will only tell me that you do, I will not care what they do to me."
His grandmother fixed his eyes upon him. She put her hand upon his head, although it trembled so as to shake the bed, as she did so, and said--"Robert, I am soon to die--I shall go to God who reads all hearts, and from whom no secrets are hid--I charge you to tell me whether you have committed this sin. If you have, dreadful as it is, by confession, restitution and earnest effort, you may yet be saved; but, if you do not own it, though I may never know it here the wrath of God will abide on you, and your sin will find you out. My child! my child!" she said, 'Hell me, if you have done it." She clasped her hands together, as if she felt all exhortations were of little avail, and prayed aloud--"O, loving Jesus, who didst stretch forth Thine hands in agony upon the cross, help and save this Thy child, that he may confess his sin, if he has been guilty, and that Thou knowest."
The room was still--not a sound could be heard except the low ticking of a watch, on a stand by the bedside, as she paused.
Mr. Stebbins, awed in spite of himself, gazed first at Mrs. Graham, and then at Robert.
Mrs. Dorothy, standing at the foot of the bed, with a wine glass in her hand, held her breath in a kind of terror
"Grandmother," said Robert, and he fixed upon her that look which none but the innocent can give--a look which, when once seen on the face of a child, can never be mistaken by any one, who has the heart to read it aright.
"Grandmother, I did not do it." He did not say any He did not repeat it. He only looked at his Grandmother, with that look inexpressible, and the sun, just then, through the half opened curtain, cast a gleam upon his face, as if God were smiling upon him. A triumphant smile lighted up the face of Mrs. Graham, and, lifting up her eyes to heaven, she only said, "Thank God, who has never forsaken me;" and fell back upon her pillow. Mr. Stebbins, who had recovered from his momentary awe, at hearing the prayer and the Name which is above every name, spoken by one who believed in Him, had not in the least perceived the meaning of the look on Robert's face.
When Mrs. Graham was somewhat recovered, Mr. Stebbins said he would like to speak to her, and, having dismissed Robert from the room, sate down by the bedside. Neither spoke for a moment. Mrs. Graham was full of thoughts, she knew Mr. Stebbins would not understand, and Mr. Stebbins felt it was an unpleasant subject. At last, Mrs. Graham said, "I am so glad and thankful." "Oh!" answered Mr. Stebbms.
He was just about to add he did not see what there was to be glad about, when it suddenly dawned upon him that she thought Robert innocent. He pitied her from the bottom of his heart, feeling, as he did, quite sure of his guilt. "He is a very clever boy," he said to himself, "and makes believe in a remarkable way; few old knaves could equal him. Still the poor old lady can't live many weeks, let her believe it if she can, I won't undeceive her.'' So he said, aloud, "Yes, yes, the only difficulty is, that the evidence is so very strong against him, and there is nothing but his word and our belief on the other side. If it goes before the Grand Jury, they are sure to commit him for trial, and there is the public disgrace. He need not go to jail, for we can bail him out; but the boy is ruined for life. and we are ail disgraced. Indeed," he added, "we ought to do something, at once, for unless it is settled within a day or so, Dr. Neverasole informed me he should be compelled to complain. And the Sheriff may corne for him, at any time."
He paused, to see if she understood; but her eye was fixed upon him, and she only said, "What can be done?" "My point is this. As his guardian, I do not like to pay so large a sum, for such a reason, without his consent. I desired him to acknowledge the wrong, and give me a paper to that effect, authorizing me to pay the money."
"Acknowledge a wrong he has not done," said Mrs. Graham; own himself a thief, when he is not one; was that your plan, Mr. Stebbins?"
"Of course, of course," said Mr. Stebbins, "I do not mean that there need be any acknowledgment of the guiit; but let him authorize me to pay the money; or can you pay it for him, Mrs. Graham? I should do it myself, but my means and claims of my family will not permit."
"He cannot do it, and I cannot do it, and you must not do it," answered Mrs. Graham, firmly. '''.However paid, with whatever reservation and protests, it is an acknowledgment of guilt. What would be his duty had he stolen it, becomes a sin and a dishonor when he is innocent."
"What do you mean to do, then?" said Mr. Stebbins, angrily. "Will you make him go to jail, among villains, stand the refuse of the earth, to save a paltry two thousand dollars?"
"Money is nothing to me, Mr. Stebbins," she said, not heeding his angry tone. "Indeed, I have twenty-five hundred dollars in the bank, which I have saved for Robert, it matters little to one who is so near the end as I am; but if that money be paid, Robert would be, in the eyes of men an acknowledged thief. Never!" she added emphatically, "never!"
"Shall he go to jail, then?" said Mr. Stebbins. "God, who loves us, will help him," answered Mrs. Graham, "but better that than one real spot or stain upon his honor."
Mr. Stebbins was about to say something angry, in reply, when the sight of Mrs. Graham's white face and exhausted appearance, made him bite his lips, and he only said, "Then I am to understand that Robert may go to jail on the charge of theft, and that the name of Robert Graham," he dwelt upon the name, for it was the name of her son as well as grandson, "shall be seen in all the newspapers, and be bandied from mouth to mouth, as the name of a thief. Can you do nothing to prevent this?" "Nothing, but pray," answered Mrs. Graham. "Pray," said Mr. Stebbins, contemptuously, "you are as bad as a Presbyterian elder."
"Prayer, Mr. Stebbins--you do not know its power. God grant, that one day, you may learn its blessings and its victories."
He knew well how firm she was when her mind was made up, and that no further arguing would be of any avail; so he said, "there is nothing to be done; he had better stay here till the Sheriff comes for him," and he could not help adding, "I hope your prayers will save him." He looked at his watch, said, "the stage leaves at ten. Goodbye, Mrs. Graham. I hope you will soon be better;" and bowing to Mrs. Dorothy, left the room.
Mrs. Graham was trembling greatly; but controlling herself as well as she could, she bade Mrs. Dorothy bring her writing materials, and, with a shaking hand, wrote as follows:
To the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Dorchester.
RT. REV. FATHER.--A long time ago, you told me, that if the day ever came when you could be of service to me, you would gladly help me. That time has come, for I am in sore need, with death near at hand. Come to me if you can, and as soon as may be.
Respectfully and affectionately
Your Daughter in Christ,
"Hurry!" she said to Mrs. Dorothy, as she folded the letter; "hand it to the stage driver, and ask him to leave it at the Bishop's house. You can pay him for his trouble. The Bishop will get it this afternoon, and, perhaps, can come in the morning."
So, Mrs. Dorothy hurried, as fast as she could, noticing as she did so, that Mr. Stebbms was still in the parlor, talking with Robert. A plan that he had thought of, and partly matured before, occurred to Mr. Stebbins, as he left Mrs. Graham's room. It was worth trying, at least. It was this plan that he was suggesting to Robert.
"The clipper ship, Flying Cloud, sails from Dorchester to-morrow morning, at nine o'clock, for Ceylon. I have an interest in her. You can go as a passenger, and see foreign countries, and return when the truth has come to fight, if you have not stolen the money, as I, young man"--for he did not choose to have Robert suppose that he had been imposed upon--"am sure you did. Your trunk is yet unpacked, the stage leaves at ten. Only say you will go, and your Grandmother, on her dying bed, will be spared the pain of a terrible distress. If you have nothing to trust to, but prayer, to save you,"--he added sarcastically--"that will be as effectual, when you are in Ceylon, as if you were in Danville."
"Does Grandmother think I ought to go? Is it her plan?" said Robert.
"I have not proposed it to her. You are very dear to her, of course, and I have no doubt, sick as she is, she would crawl to Dorchester, if she could save you from the disgrace of a trial."
"Dear Grandmother," said Robert, his eyes filling with tears.
"Yes," said Mr. Stebbins, perceiving his advantage, "and if you love her, as you ought to, agree to this."
"I will go and ask her what she thinks," answered Robert.
"No!" said Mr. Stebbins; "she has got some romantic notions, and would not let you do it. The only way, is to go without even saying good-bye. I will see you off, and explain it to her afterwards. I have no doubt it will lengthen her life for years. After a year or so, the whole thing will be forgotten, and you can return. Will you go?" he continued.
"Uncle," said Robert, starting up, "pray don't ask me. It would be all the same as saying I did it, if I ran away. Who would believe me afterwards? Uncle, I would do anything to save Grandmother pain, but I cannot, I cannot."
He broke down into great sobs.
"The fool," said Mr. Stebbins, under his breath, anti started out of the door, almost tumbling over Mrs. Dorothy, who was just coming in.
All day long, Robert sat by Mrs. Graham's bedside, doing as well as he could, such little offices as were necessary. Little could be done or said, for she lay, very much exhausted, with her lips moving now and then, as though she were praying. Several times in the day, she made Robert read the fourteenth and the two following chapters of St. John, and when he came to the words, "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full," she made him read them over and over again.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Dorothy took the opportunity of Robert's presence in the sick room, to be very busy about something.
First, she had a long conference with the old Widow Jones, who mumbled out long speeches in reply, which nobody but Mrs. Dorothy could understand.
Then she carefully locked and double locked the front door, and placed the widow at the window, with the strictest injunctions, that nobody was to be admitted without first finding out who he was; "And if it is a Sheriff," said Mrs. Dorothy in a whisper, "call me at once."
In the course of the afternoon, she beckoned Robert from the sick room, and bade him follow her to the garret. "See there!" she exclaimed.
"I don't see anything," said Robert.
"I knew you wouldn't," she cried triumphantly. She moved over to the wall, and commenced fumbling about, as if to find something on the wall. As she did so, what seemed to be a closet door opened.
"There it is," she said in a whisper.
Robert looked in; there was a chair, a table, with a lamp on it, some bread and butter, a story book, and a pie.
"What is it for?" said Robert.
"For you," said Mrs. Dorothy with a shower of winks "when the Sheriff comes; he can't find you for a month and it will be just, like the Christians in the times of persecution."
"Oh, Mrs. Dorothy, Mrs. Dorothy!" said Robert, half laughing, half crying; I might as well have gone to Ceylon.
The morning mail brought a letter, directed in a large, scrawling hand, to Mr. Robert Graham, Esq., with the post mark of Hubville. Robert opened it, and read it to his Grandmother, who was much easier, and, indeed, able to sit up in bed. It was as follows:
"DEAR FRIEND.--This is to inform you that I am very well, and so are all the boys. I hope you are well.
"Guffins did not know his arithmetic, and got an awful going over from old Poggers, this morning.
"I won six marbles and an agate from Snippers, but you don't play for keeps. I'd like to know what the harm of it is, for there is no fun in playing for fun.
"Jollipop gave us a buster of a breakfast this morning. She feels mighty bad to have you away.
"They say Whooney's girl has come over after him, and won't Hetty Neverasole give her fits.
"Durkey's sick, and something's the matter with him, I guess, besides. If he don't know something about that money, my name's not John Popkins. A fellow, with a black patch over one eye, has been 'round to see him. I heard them talking together out in the road, when they didn't see me. The fellow said, 'when are you going to pay the other hundred?' Says Durkey, 'I've had trouble enough about that last.' That's all I heard, but Ned Stebbins knows lots about Durkey, and he says he knows you didn't take it; I do not believe you did, either.
"I had a letter from mother, yesterday. She wants me to study for the ministry. If I was as good as mother, I would, but I mean to be captain of a clipper ship.
"I hope you will soon come back.
Mrs. Graham made Robert read the part about Durkey twice, and inquired into all the particulars about the five-dollar gold pieces, and then sent Robert out of the room, for a while.
Meanwhile the Dorchester stage, freighted with a precious load, was making its way to Danville.
The news of Mrs. Graham's illness had spread in Dorchester, where she was well known in Church circles. She had been a mother in Israel, and all the clergy and devout laity had, at one time or another, either stayed at her house or at least knew of her virtues. It was as when Tabitha fell ill in Joppa, in the primitive days, and although Mrs. Graham was not yet dead, and her charities had not been in the making of coats and garments, there was muct weeping among the ecclesiastical widows of Dorchester.
"My dear," said Mrs. Gooby to her husband, "good old Mrs. Graham is very ill. She was always too High Church--a dreadful Puseyite, and I am afraid she leans too much on the Ordinances. Don't you think we had better go down and see her? Sometimes," she added, very solemnly, "those High Church people retract on their deathbeds, and get a justifying faith. We might say something to her. Let us go, Zwingle, dear," she continued, addressing Mr. Gooby by his Christian name.
"George Herbert," said Mrs. Perkins to her orthodox spouse, "a little trip into the country will do you good. You have looked very pale ever since Easter, and what would the Church do, if you were to break down? Old Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Dorothy will be glad to see us, I am sure, and we ought to bid her good bye. Besides," she added, "you know there is no clergyman down there, and I dare say nobody has administered the Holy Communion to her since she was taken ill, and what if some Roman priest were to come along, and, with her views about confession, and all that, she was to go over to Rome, on her death-bed! It is our duty to go," said Mrs. Perkins, "and I cannot answer it to my conscience not to."
So Mrs. Gooby and Mrs. Perkins prevailed, as they always did; for, fully acknowledging the apostolic precept, that wives should be subject to their own husbands, in all things, they first made their husbands command the thing they wanted to do, and then, like obedient wives, they always did it.
This, too, was a little the way with Mrs. Bishop of Dorchester, though neither she nor the Bishop were aware of it, and so it fell out that she accompanied the Bishop also.
They all met at the stage office.
"What a blessed Providence," exclaimed Mrs. Gooby, when she saw the Bishop.
"What a remarkable coincidence!" said Mrs. Perkins, at the same moment.
Dr. Perkins and Dr. Gooby exchanged the Evangelical Gazett for the Church Blusterer, and the stage started.
There were no other passengers, and with the three ladies on the back seat, and the three clergymen in front, after a little skirmishing, a good many anecdotes and some gossip, the conversation naturally turned on ecclesiastical matters.
"Standing mid-way--as we do--between Rome and Geneva; protesting, on the one hand, against the corruptions of Popery, and the negations of ultra Protestantism on the other, our position is impregnable," exclaimed Dr. Perkins.
When he said this Mrs. Perkins, as well as the joltings of the coach would permit, threw herself into an attitude of profound attention. Not that she had not heard the same sentiments expressed before. Were they not written in that admirable sermon, preached before the Convention in Dorchester, which now, bound in solemn black, lay in state upon the centre table in her parlor? Nay, did they not express her own sentiments, exactly? In some sort, did not her domestic life bear witness to their truth? Had she not named her three eldest boys, respectively Pusey, Keble and Newman, and when John Henry Newman went over to Rome, had she not ceased to call the last Newman, and reverted to Johnny? When some one had proposed to her to call her three younger boys Neale, Mackonochie and Liddon, she had said they were ugly names and she wouldn't do it. "I know just when I stopped advancing," she whispered, solemnly and confidentially, on one occasion, to Mrs. Bishop of Dorchester. "It was at lighted candles. Flowers, and altar cloths, and bows I never minded; but, when, one Christmas morning, George Herbert lit the altar candles, I blew them out, and I said, 'George Herbert, we must not go too far.' Why lighted candles should be more Roman than unlighted ones I do not know; but you must draw the line somewhere, and I drew it there."
"I do not believe in any such nonsense," said Dr. Gooby a little angrily, "as the via media. We do not stand midway between Rome and Geneva. God forbid! What! Did the glorious reformers bleed, and die, and burn, and smoke at Smithfield, just to get midway between Rome and Geneva. No, they visited, loved and communed with their brethren of other denominations, while they denounced Rome as the mother of abominations.
Over the top of the Evangelical Gazette and the Church Blusterer, respectively, Drs. Gooby and Perkins glared at one another, and both together exclaimed, "What do you think, Bishop?"
"Indeed," said the Bishop, "I have as great a horror of the via media as you have, Dr. Gooby. It always has seemed to me that the Church did not stand midway, or any way, between Rome and Geneva; but moved on a different plane from both, being neither Protestant with Geneva, nor Papal with Rome, but Catholic with the primitive Church and the great Oriental Communion."
"Pooh!" said Dr. Perkins, rather irreverently; "I am sick of hearing about the Oriental Communions, with their ikons and prayers to the Virgin, and superstitious practices. I think they are worse than Rome."
"I did not mean to say," said the Bishop gently, "that I approved of all the practices of the Eastern Church, though I feel slow to condemn so venerable a body, but simply that our own Church and it, are at one in submitting to the authority of the Universal Church, and denying the innovations of the Protestant bodies and the supremacy of the Pope. The great principle of the Anglican Reformation, and the truth of which the Eastern Church has witnessed against the Western, are one and the same. Therefore, for the English and the Eastern Church to remain apart, because they differ on certain points, is nothing but inconsistency."
"I see," said Mrs. Perkins, "you are an advanced Churchman, Bishop."
Mrs. Bishop was about to rebuke Mrs. Perkins, when the Bishop interrupted her.
"If you had said advancing, Mrs. Perkins, instead of advanced, I would have agreed with you. American Churchmen never yet believed in, much less practiced, their own Prayer Book. Where are there daily services, weekly and festival communions, communions daily, during the octaves of the great festivals, the opportunity of confession for such as are not able to quiet their own consciences, the Churching of women, and the solemn Visitation of the Sick? Where does the ritual of the Church, in any sort, correspond to the worship of the Prayer Book? The American Church." cried the Bishop, "is eagerly grasping after her own heritage, and God grant we may all advance until she gets it. More than this--we inherited from our Step-mother, the Church of England, a dreary inheritance, as to our organization. To think of it, that she suffered us to go for one hundred and fifty years without a Bishop, without a Confirmation, without an Ordination! Is it a wonder that we still labor under the curses which the union of Church and State inflicted on her, and which we inherit? We have," said the Bishop, speaking so loud that the stage driver drew up his horses to see what was the matter, "Dioceses, that are not Dioceses; Bishops, that are not Bishops; Presbyters, that are not Presbyters; Deacons that have only a name to exist; Parishes, that are wrongly organized, and laymen that are not communicants, sometimes not even baptized. Don't think I am discouraged or frightened at all this," said the Bishop, as Mrs. Bishop was about to say, "My dear!" "It will come, though; perhaps not in my day--the See, the Cathedral, the sisterhoods the true ritual, the rightly ordered parishes, the solemn worship, the faithful laity. Then will the Church convert the land, and the belief in the Holy Catholic Church, in America, be a reality."
"Amen," said the driver, who had stopped the stage, and not hearing clearly what was said, thought that it was a Methodist prayer meeting.
"Amen," said Dr. Perkins, who was quite carried away by the Bishop's enthusiasm.
"Amen," said Mrs. Perkins.
Dr. Gooby blew his nose, and whether he said amen or not, nobody knew.
Mrs. Bishop wiped her eyes, and Mrs. Gooby tried to remember every word the Bishop had said, that she might tell it at the next meeting of the sewing society.
Mrs. Dorothy was a little overcome when they all arrived, for she had not expected so many; and in the midst of her anxiety about what ought to be done, in a spiritual way, she felt uncertain as to whether there was quite dinner enough for such a company.
Presently, she went up stairs, and returning, in a few moments, said to the amazed and astonished company, "Mrs. Graham would like to see the Bishop alone, first, before she receives the Holy Communion, that she may make her confession."
The Bishop went up stairs, and for a few moments, nobody spoke.
Mrs. Perkins was the first to break the silence. "I always thought she was a good woman; but, of course, there must have been something dreadful in her early history. Did you ever hear of anything?" she said, with a solemn curiosity, turning to Mrs. Gooby.
"I don't know what you mean," replied Mrs. Gooby. "Of course, it is not auricular confession; it is the confession of her faith. I hope she will retract her sacramental errors, and show signs of a true conversion."
"If it were the confession of her faith," said Dr. Gooby, severely, "it would have been much more appropriate in her, to have it done before us all. I should have mentioned it in my next Sunday morning's discourse."
"Oh!" said Mrs. Perkins, persuasively, turning to the Bishop's wife, "Mrs. Bishop will know all about it by to-morrow, and she will tell it to us, in the strictest confidence. It's so long ago, since she was young, that it might have been a murder, even."
The blood of the Perker's had been boiling in Mrs. Bishop of Dorchester, for a long time. She was not afraid of any of them. There was a certain social prestige, that belonged to the Perkers, that gave her more power than her semi-ecclesiastical position, and though she was as curious as Mrs. Perkins, and as unbelieving in confession as Mrs. Gooby, she spoke out with great decision.
"Poor Mrs. Graham is dying. It is meet and right she should have pastoral counsel and advice, if she wishes it. The Bishop of Dorchester never tells his wife, or any one what he ought not to tell, and I would be the first to be ashamed of him, if he did."
"Certainly," said Dr. Perkins, "Jeremy Taylor advocated confession, and it is said that the judicious Hooker had a confessor; and although I never knew any Episcopalian who was sufficiently troubled about his sins, to need the Ordinance, if Mrs. Graham is, why--"
What he would have said, nobody knew, for just then Mrs. Dorothy summoned them up stairs.
"It couldn't have been much," thought Mrs. Perkins, as they went up stairs, "or it would not have taken so short a time."
Whether it were much or little, there was a peacefulness about the calm, venerable face of Mrs. Graham--a stillness as of one who, whatever might be the storms without, was at rest within--that awed all the party. She greeted them with a gentle 'smile, and beckoned them to her bed-side. "I am glad to see you all, once again. It was most kind in you to come," she said. "I want you all to do me one, last favor. You have heard--the Bishop tells me--of the sad trial it has pleased God to send upon me, in this false accusation of my dear grandson. There is no refuge but prayer, and what the Bishop--and she gave the good Bishop a look full of gratitude--has promised to do. "I know," she added, "we are not all quite at one in our Church views--God grant the day may come when it will be better--but the Bishop has promised to offer this Holy Communion, that it may please God to bring the truth to light, and to defend the innocent. You will join with me in the prayer, I am sure," she added, looking more especially at Dr. Gooby--"even if you cannot believe in the sacrifice."
"It is, you know, a kind of a sacrifice," whispered Dr. Perkins, in answer to a look from Mrs. Perkins, who had taken the opportunity of removing the lighted candles, which, in consequence of the darkness of the room, Mrs. Dorothy had put upon the table, prepared for the celebration, to a stand close by.
Dr. Gooby drew near to the bed. "It is not a time for theological controversy, Mrs. Graham," he said, "we have often talked over these matters; you are going where all these difficulties will be set right. If I can not believe in an offered sacrifice, I at least can pray, which I will do, with all my heart; and he wiped away an honest tear, far different from those he was wont so easily to shed in his Sunday morning's sermon, in the Church of St. Bridget.
The solemn service began. Mrs. Perkins could not help noticing Robert Graham, who was first standing, and then kneeling near her. There was something about him which reminded her of a child she had lost, long years ago; her first born, whom she had named Herbert, after his father. He had died about Robert's age, and, somehow, while she prayed for Robert, she could not help praying for the dead boy, too, though she did not believe in prayers for the dead, of course. But women's feelings are stronger than theological opinions; so she prayed for Robert and the departed Herbert in one breath, and could hardly have told which was which. The service went on. The words of consecration were uttered. The oblation began:
"Wherefore, O Lord and Heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate, and make here, before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts, which we now OFFER unto Thee, the memorial Thy Son has commanded us to make."
The Bishop paused. There was a profound silence only broken by a sob she could not control, from Mrs. Dorothy--and the awful pleading ascended to Heaven.
The whole service was hardly over, when the widow Jones put her head into the door, and shaking herself about in a most extraordinary way, beckoned to Mrs. Dorothy.
"What is it," said Mrs. Dorothy, as soon as they got inside.
"The Sheriff! the Sheriff!" exclaimed the widow, as well as her agitation and her gums would permit. "He is in the kitchen, and has already eaten up two mince pies, and is looking at another. O, lawk! what shall we do."