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A Changed Man
by [?]

We now get below the surface of things. Of all who had known the dead curate, none grieved for him like the man who on his first arrival had called him a ‘lath in a sheet.’ Mrs. Maumbry had never greatly sympathized with the impressive parson; indeed, she had been secretly glad that he had gone away to better himself. He had considerably diminished the pleasures of a woman by whom the joys of earth and good company had been appreciated to the full. Sorry for her husband in his loss of a friend who had been none of hers, she was yet quite unprepared for the sequel.

‘There is something that I have wanted to tell you lately, dear,’ he said one morning at breakfast with hesitation. ‘Have you guessed what it is?’

She had guessed nothing.

‘That I think of retiring from the army.’


‘I have thought more and more of Sainway since his death, and of what he used to say to me so earnestly. And I feel certain I shall be right in obeying a call within me to give up this fighting trade and enter the Church.’

‘What–be a parson?’


‘But what should I do?’

‘Be a parson’s wife.’

‘Never!’ she affirmed.

‘But how can you help it?’

‘I’ll run away rather!’ she said vehemently;

‘No, you mustn’t,’ Maumbry replied, in the tone he used when his mind was made up. ‘You’ll get accustomed to the idea, for I am constrained to carry it out, though it is against my worldly interests. I am forced on by a Hand outside me to tread in the steps of Sainway.’

‘Jack,’ she asked, with calm pallor and round eyes; ‘do you mean to say seriously that you are arranging to be a curate instead of a soldier?’

‘I might say a curate is a soldier–of the church militant; but I don’t want to offend you with doctrine. I distinctly say, yes.’

Late one evening, a little time onward, he caught her sitting by the dim firelight in her room. She did not know he had entered; and he found her weeping. ‘What are you crying about, poor dearest?’ he said.

She started. ‘Because of what you have told me!’ The Captain grew very unhappy; but he was undeterred.

In due time the town learnt, to its intense surprise, that Captain Maumbry had retired from the —th Hussars and gone to Fountall Theological College to prepare for the ministry.


‘O, the pity of it! Such a dashing soldier–so popular–such an acquisition to the town–the soul of social life here! And now! . . . One should not speak ill of the dead, but that dreadful Mr. Sainway–it was too cruel of him!’

This is a summary of what was said when Captain, now the Reverend, John Maumbry was enabled by circumstances to indulge his heart’s desire of returning to the scene of his former exploits in the capacity of a minister of the Gospel. A low-lying district of the town, which at that date was crowded with impoverished cottagers, was crying for a curate, and Mr. Maumbry generously offered himself as one willing to undertake labours that were certain to produce little result, and no thanks, credit, or emolument.

Let the truth be told about him as a clergyman; he proved to be anything but a brilliant success. Painstaking, single-minded, deeply in earnest as all could see, his delivery was laboured, his sermons were dull to listen to, and alas, too, too long. Even the dispassionate judges who sat by the hour in the bar-parlour of the White Hart–an inn standing at the dividing line between the poor quarter aforesaid and the fashionable quarter of Maumbry’s former triumphs, and hence affording a position of strict impartiality–agreed in substance with the young ladies to the westward, though their views were somewhat more tersely expressed: ‘Surely, God A’mighty spwiled a good sojer to make a bad pa’son when He shifted Cap’n Ma’mbry into a sarpless!’

The latter knew that such things were said, but he pursued his daily’ labours in and out of the hovels with serene unconcern.