The next moment the poker cambitcoin bank edmontone down hard on the hand that held her, and she was free.
"Will you deign to write to me at my new post? once a month? inanswer to my letters?""Yes, dear. But you will ride over sometimes to see us.""Oh, yes; but for some little time I shall not be able. The dutiesof a new post.""Perhaps in a month--a fortnight?""Sooner perhaps; the moment I hear that man is out of the house."Edouard went away, dogged and sad; Rose shut herself up in herroom and had a good cry. In the afternoon Josephine came andremonstrated with her. "You have not walked with him at all to-day.""No; you must pet him yourself for once. I hate the sight of him;it has made mischief between Edouard and me, my being so attentiveto him. Edouard is jealous, and I cannot wonder. After all, whatright have I to mystify him who honors me with his affection?"Then, being pressed with questions by Josephine, she related to herall that had passed between Edouard and her, word for word.ethereum classic short interest"Poor Camille!" sighed Josephine the just.
"Oh, dear, yes! poor Camille! who has the power to make us allmiserable, and who does it, and will go on doing it until he ishappy himself.""Ah! would to Heaven I could make him as happy as he deserves tobe.""You could easily make him much happier than that. And why not doit?""O Rose," said Josephine, shocked, "how can you advise me so?"She then asked her if she thought it possible that Camille could beignorant of her heart."Josephine," replied Rose, angrily, "these men are absurd: theybelieve only what they see. I have done what I can for you andCamille, but it is useless. Would you have him believe you lovehim, you must yourself be kind to him; and it would be a charitableaction: you would make four unhappy people happy, or, at least, putthem on the road; NOW they are off the road, and, by what I haveseen to-day, I think, if we go on so much longer, it will be toolate to try to return. Come, Josephine, for my sake! Let me go andtell him you will consent--to all our happinesses. There, the crimeis mine." And she ran off in spite of Josephine's faint andhypocritical entreaties. She returns the next minute looking allaghast. "It is too late," said she. "He is going away. I am surehe is, for he is packing up his things to go. I spied through theold place and saw him. He was sighing like a furnace as he strappedhis portmanteau. I hate him, of course, but I was sorry for him. Icould not help being. He sighed so all the time, piteously."Josephine turned pale, and lifted her hands in surprise and dismay."Depend on it, Josephine, we are wrong," said Rose, firmly: "thesewretches will not stand our nonsense above a certain time: they arenot such fools. We are mismanaging: one gone, the other going; bothlosing faith in us."Josephine's color returned to her cheek, and then mounted high.Presently she smiled, a smile full of conscious power and furtivecomplacency, and said quietly, "He will not go."Rose was pleased, but not surprised, to hear her sister speak soconfidently, for she knew her power over Camille. "That is right,"said she, "go to him, and say two honest words: 'I bid you stay.'""O Rose! no!""Poltroon! You know he would go down on his knees, and staydirectly.""No: I should blush all my life before you and him. I COULD not. Ishould let him go sooner, almost. Oh, no! I will never ask a manto stay who wishes to leave me. But just you go to him, and sayMadame Raynal is going to take a little walk: will he do her thehonor to be her companion? Not a word more, if you love me.""I'll go. Hypocrite!"Josephine received Camille with a bright smile. She seemed inunusually good spirits, and overflowing with kindness and innocentaffection. On this his high gloomy brow relaxed, and all hisprospects brightened as by magic. Then she communicated to him anumber of little plans for next week and the week after. Among therest he was to go with her and Rose to Frejus. "Such a sweet place:I want to show it you. You will come?"He hesitated a single moment: a moment of intense anxiety to thesmiling Josephine.
"Yes! he would come: it was a great temptation, he saw so little ofher.""Well, you will see more of me now.""Shall I see you every day--alone, I mean?""Oh, yes, if you wish it," replied Josephine, in an off-hand,indifferent way.He seized her hand and devoured it with kisses. "Foolish thing!"murmured she, looking down on him with ineffable tenderness.Watterly was greatly relieved when he saw Holcroft drive up with the fugitive. "I was just going out to your place," he said, "for the girl's mother insisted that you had enticed the child away," and the man laughed, as if the idea tickled him immensely.
Holcroft frowned, for he was in no mood for his friend's rough jests. "Go to your mother till I send for you," he said to Jane."The fact that you had taken two other females from the house gave some color to Mrs. Mumpson's views," pursued Watterly, who could take only the broadest hint as to his social conduct.He received one now. "Tom Watterly," said the farmer sternly, "did I ever insult your wife?""By jocks! No, you nor no other man. I should say not."
"Well, then, don't you insult mine. Before I'd seen Mrs. Holcroft, you told me she was out of the common run,--how much out, you little know,--and I don't want her mixed up with the common run, even in your thoughts.""Well, now, I like that," said Watterly, giving Holcroft his hand. "You know I didn't mean any offense, Jim. It was only one of my foolish jokes. You were mighty slow to promise to love, honor, and obey, but hanged if you aint more on that line than any man in town. I can see she's turning out well and keeping her agreement."
"Yes, that's just what she's doing," said the farmer gloomily. "She's a good, capable woman that'll sacrifice herself to her duty any day. But it wasn't to talk about her I came. She's a sight better than I am, but she's probably not good enough for anybody in this town to speak to.""Oh, pshaw; now, Jim!""Well, I've come on disagreeable business. I didn't know that Mrs. Mumpson and her child were here, and I wish to the Lord they could both stay here! You've found out what the mother is, I suppose?""I should say so," replied Tom, laughing. "She's talked several of the old women to death already. The first day she was here she called on my wife and claimed social relations, because she's so 'respecterbly connected,' as she says. I thought Angy'd have a fit. Her respectable connections have got to take her off my hands."
"I'm not one of 'em, thank goodness!" resumed Holcroft. "But I'm willing to take the girl and give her a chance--at least I'll do it," he corrected himself, in his strict observance of truth. "You can see she's not a child to dote on, but I was sorry for her when I sent her mother away and said I'd try and do something for her. The first thing I knew she was at the house, begging me to either take her in or kill her. I couldn't say no, though I wanted to. Now, you see what kind of a good Samaritan I am.""Oh, I know you! You'd hit a man between the eyes if he charged you with doing a good deed. But what does your wife say to adopting such a cherub?""We're not going to adopt her or bind ourselves. My wife took the child's part and plead with me in her behalf, though I could see the young one almost made her sick. She thinks it's her duty, you know, and that's enough for her.""By jocks, Holcroft! She don't feel that way about you, does she?"
"Why shouldn't she?""Why should she? I can take about anything from Angy, but it wouldn't do for her to let me see that she disliked me so that I kinder made her sick."
"Oh, thunder, Tom! You're getting a wrong impression. I was never treated better by anybody in my life than by Mrs. Holcroft. She's a lady, every inch of her. But there's no reason why she should dote on an old fellow like me.""Yes, there is. I have my opinion of a woman who wouldn't dote on a man that's been such a friend as you have."
"Oh, hang it all, Tom! Let's talk about business. She's too grateful--that's what worries me. By the way she took hold and filled the house with comfort she made everything even from the start. She's been as good a friend to me as I to her. She's done all she agreed and more, and I'll never hear a word against her. The point I've been trying to get at is this: If Mrs. Mumpson will agree never to come near us or make trouble in any way, we'll take the child. If she won't so agree, I'll have nothing to do with the girl. I don't want to see her mother, and you'd do me one of the kindest turns you ever did a man by stating the case to her.""If I do," said Watterly, laughing, "you'll have to forgive me everything in the past and the future.""I will, Tom, for I'd rather have an eye tooth pulled than face that woman. We're all right--just as we used to be at school, always half quarreling, yet ready to stand up for each other to the last drop. But I must have her promise in black and white.""Well, come to my office and we'll try to arrange it. The law is on your side, for the county won't support people that anyone will take off its hands. Besides I'm going to shame the woman's relations into taking her away, and they'll be glad there's one less to support."They drew up a brief, strong agreement, and Watterly took it to the widow to sign. He found her in great excitement and Jane looking at her defiantly. "I told you he was the one who enticed away my offspring," she began, almost hysterically. "He's a cold-blooded villain! If there's a law in the land, I'll--""Stop!" thundered Watterly. His voice was so high and authoritative that she did stop, and with open mouth stared at the superintendent. "Now, be quiet and listen to me," he continued. "Either you are a sane woman and can stop this foolishness, or else you are insane and must be treated as such. You have your choice. You can't tell me anything about Holcroft; I've known him since he was a boy. He doesn't want your girl. She ran away to him, didn't you?" to Jane, who nodded. "But he's willing to take her, to teach her something and give her a chance. His motive is pure kindness, and he has a good wife who'll--"
"I see it all," cried the widow, tragically clasping her hands. "It's his wife's doings! She wishes to triumph over me, and even to usurp my place in ministering to my child. Was there ever such an outrage? Such a bold, vindictive female--"Here Jane, in a paroxysm of indignant protest, seized her mother and began to shake her so violently that she could not speak.
"Stop that!" said Watterly, repressing laughter with difficulty. "I see you are insane and the law will have to step in and take care of you both.""What will it do with us?" gasped the widow.
"Well, it ought to put you in strait jackets to begin with--""I've got some sense if mother aint!" cried Jane, commencing to sob.
"It's plain the law'll decide your mother's not fit to take care of you. Anyone who can even imagine such silly ridiculous things as she's just said must be looked after. You MAY take a notion, Mrs. Mumpson, that I'm a murderer or a giraffe. It would be just as sensible as your other talk.""What does Mr. Holcroft offer?" said the widow, cooling off rapidly. If there was an atom of common sense left in any of his pauper charges, Watterly soon brought it into play, and his vague threatenings of law were always awe-inspiring."He makes a very kind offer that you would jump at if you had sense--a good home for your child. You ought to know she can't stay here and live on charity if anyone is willing to take her.""Of course I would be permitted to visit my child from time to time? He couldn't be so monstrously hard-hearted as--"
"Oh, nonsense!" cried Watterly impatiently. "The idea of his letting you come to his house after what you've said about him! I've no time to waste in foolishness, or he either. He will let Jane visit you, but you are to sign this paper and keep the agreement not to go near him or make any trouble whatever.""It's an abominable--"
"Tut! Tut! That kind of talk isn't allowed here. If you can't decide like a sane woman the law'll soon decide for you."As was always the case when Mrs. Mumpson reached the inevitable, she yielded; the paper was signed, and Jane, who had already made up her small bundle, nodded triumphantly to her mother and followed Watterly. Mrs. Mumpson, on tiptoe, followed also, bent on either propitiating Holcroft and so preparing the way for a visit, or else on giving him once more a "piece of her mind."
"All right, Holcroft!" said Watterly, as he entered the office, "here's the paper signed. Was there ever such an id-----""Oh, how do you do, Mr. Holcroft?" cried the widow, bursting in and rushing forward with extended hand.
The farmer turned away and looked as if made of stone.Changing her tactics instantly, she put her handkerchief to her eyes and moaned, "You never can have the heart to say I can't come and see my child. I've signed writings, 'tis true, under threats and compulsions; but I trust there will be relentings--""There won't be one relent!" cried Jane. "I never want to see you again, and a blind post could see that he doesn't.""Jane," said Holcroft sternly, "don't speak so again. If strangers can be kind and patient with you, you can be so with your mother. She has no claims on me and has said things which make it impossible for me to speak to her again, but I shall insist on your visiting and treating her kindly. Goodbye, Watterly. You've proved yourself a friend again," and he went rapidly away, followed by Jane.
Mrs. Mumpson was so taken aback by Holcroft's final words and Watterly's stern manner as he said, "This is my office," that for once in her life she disappeared silently.Holcroft soon purchased the articles on his list, meanwhile racking his brains to think of something that he could buy for Alida, but the fear of being thought sentimental and of appearing to seek a personal regard for himself, not "nominated in the bond," restrained him.
On his way home he was again sunk in deep abstraction, but the bitterness of his feeling had passed away. Although as mistaken as before in his apprehension of Alida, his thoughts were kinder and juster. "I've no right to find fault or complain," he said to himself. "She's done all I asked and better than she agreed, and there's no one to blame if she can't do more. It must have been plain enough to her at first that I didn't want anything but a housekeeper--a quiet, friendly body that would look after the house and dairy, and she's done better than I even hoped. That's just the trouble; she's turned out so different from what I expected, and looks so different from what she did, that I'm just sort of carried away. I'd give half the farm if she was sitting by my side this June evening and I could tell her all I feel and know she was glad. I must be just and fair to her. I asked her to agree to one thing and now I'm beginning to want a tremendous sight more--I want her to like not only her home and work and the quiet life she so longed for, but I want her to like me, to enjoy my society, not only in a friendly, businesslike way, but in another way--yes, confound my slow wits! Somewhat as if she was my wife in reality and not merely in name, as I insisted. It's mighty mean business in me, who have been so proud of standing up to my agreements and so exacting of others to do the same. I went away cold and stiff this afternoon because she wasn't silly and sentimental when I was. I'm to her an unpolished, homely, middle-aged man, and yet I sort of scoffed at the self-sacrifice which has led her to be pleasant and companionable in every way that her feelings allowed. I wish I were younger and better looking, so it wouldn't all be a sense of duty and gratitude. Gratitude be hanged! I don't want any more of it. Well, now, James Holcroft, if you're the square man you supposed yourself to be, you'll be just as kind and considerate as you know how, and then you'll leave Alida to the quiet, peaceful life to which she looked forward when she married you. The thing for you to do is to go back to your first ways after you were married and attend to the farm. She doesn't want you hanging around and looking at her as if she was one of her own posies. That's something she wasn't led to expect and it would be mean enough to force it upon her before she shows that she wishes it, and I couldn't complain if she NEVER wished it."During the first hour after Holcroft's departure Alida had been perplexed and worried, but her intuitions soon led to hopefulness, and the beauty and peace of nature without aided in restoring her serenity. The more minutely she dwelt on Holcroft's words and manner, the more true it seemed that he was learning to take an interest in her that was personal and apart from every other consideration. "If I am gentle, patient, and faithful," she thought, "all will come out right. He is so true and straightforward that I need have no fears."
When he returned and greeted her with what seemed his old, friendly, natural manner, and, during a temporary absence of Jane, told her laughingly of the Mumpson episode, she was almost completely reassured. "Suppose the widow breaks through all restraint and appears as did Jane, what would you do?" he asked."Whatever you wished," she replied, smiling.