The Rector of St. Marks (Chapter 4, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 4

It was to all intents and purposes "blue Monday" with the rector of
St. Mark's, for, aside from the weariness and exhaustion which always
followed his two services on Sunday, and his care of the Sunday
school, there was a feeling of disquiet and depression, occasioned
partly by that _rencontre_ with pretty Lucy Harcourt, and partly by
the uncertainty as to what Anna's answer might be. He had seen the
look of displeasure on her face as she stood watching him and Lucy,
and though to many this would have given hope, it only added to his
nervous fears lest his suit should be denied. He was sorry that Lucy
Harcourt was in the neighborhood, and sorrier still for her tenacious
memory, which had evidently treasured up every incident which he could
wish forgotten. With Anna Ruthven absorbing every thought and feeling
of his heart, it was not pleasant to remember what had been a genuine
flirtation between himself and the sparkling belle he had met among
the Alps.

It was nothing but a flirtation, he knew, for in his inmost soul he
absolved himself from ever having had a thought of matrimony connected
with Lucy Harcourt. He had admired her greatly and loved to wander
with her amid the Alpine scenery, listening to her wild bursts of
enthusiasm, and watching the kindling light in her blue eyes, and the
color coming to her thin, pale cheeks, as she gazed upon some scene of
grandeur, nestling close to him as for protection, when the path was
fraught with peril.

Afterwards, in Venice, beneath the influence of those glorious
moonlight nights, he had been conscious of a deeper feeling which, had
he tarried longer at the siren's side, might have ripened into love.
But he left her in time to escape what he felt would have been a most
unfortunate affair for him, for, sweet and beautiful as she was, Lucy
was not the wife for a clergyman to choose. She was not like Anna
Ruthven, whom both young and old had said was so suitable for him.

"And just because she is suitable, I may not win her, perhaps," he
thought, as he paced up and down his library, wondering when she would
answer his letter, and wondering next how he could persuade Lucy
Harcourt that between the young theological student, sailing in a
gondola through the streets of Venice, and the rector of St. Mark's,
there was a vast difference; that while the former might be Arthur
with perfect propriety, the latter should be Mr. Leighton, in Anna's
presence, at least.

And yet the rector of St. Mark's was conscious of a pleasurable
emotion, even now, as he recalled the time when she had, at his own
request, first called him Arthur, her bird-like voice hesitating just
a little, and her soft eyes looking coyly up to him, as she said: "I am afraid that Arthur is hardly the name by which to call a
clergyman."

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