On awakening to the light of this Sabbath morning, Mrs. Mumpson had thought deeply and reasoned everything out again. She felt that it must be an eventful day and that there was much to be accomplished. In the first place there was Mrs. Wiggins. She disapproved of her decidedly. "She isn't the sort of person that I would prefer to superintend," she remarked to Jane while making a toilet which she deemed befitting the day, "and the hour will assuredly come when Mr. Holcroft will look upon her in the light that I do. He will eventually realize that I cannot be brought in such close relationship with a pauper. Not that the relationship is exeth usdt futureactly close, but then I shall have to speak to her--in brief, to superintend her. My eyes will be offended by her vast proportions and uncouth appearance. The floor creaks beneath her tread and affects my nerves seriously. Of course, while she is here, I shall zealously, as befits one in my responserble position, try to render useful such service as she can perform. But then, the fact that I disapprove of her must soon become evident. When it is discovered that I only tolerate her, there will be a change. I cannot show my disapproval very strongly today for this is a day set apart for sacred things, and Mrs. Viggins, as she called herself,--I cannot imagine a Mr. Viggins for no man in his senses could have married such a creature,--as I was saying, Mrs. Viggins is not at all sacred, and I must endeavor to abstract my mind from her till tomorrow, as far as posserble. My first duty today is to induce Mr. Holcroft to take us to church. It will give the people of Oakville such a pleasing impression to see us driving to church. Of course, I may fail, Mr. Holcroft is evidently a hardened man. All the influences of his life have been adverse to spiritual development, and it may require some weeks of my influence to soften him and awaken yearnings for what he has not yet known."
"Oh! if I thought that!" cried Rose.bitcoin koers juni 2021"Well, then, it is so, I assure you.""Doctor," said Rose, "do you remember, one day you said healthyblood could be drawn from robust veins and poured into a sickperson's?""It is a well-known fact," said Aubertin.
"I don't believe it," said Rose, dryly."Then you place a very narrow limit to science," said the doctor,coldly."Did you ever see it done?" asked Rose, slyly."I have not only seen it done, but have done it myself.""Then do it for us. There's my arm; take blood from that for dearJosephine!" and she thrust a white arm out under his eye with such abold movement and such a look of fire and love as never beamed fromcommon eyes.A keen, cold pang shot through the human heart of Edouard Riviere.
The doctor started and gazed at her with admiration: then he hunghis head. "I could not do it. I love you both too well to draineither of life's current."Rose veiled her fire, and began to coax. "Once a week; just once aweek, dear, dear doctor; you know I should never miss it. I am sofull of that health, which Heaven denies to her I love.""Let us try milder measures first," said the doctor. "I have mostfaith in time.""What if I were to take her to Frejus? hitherto, the sea has alwaysdone wonders for her.""Frejus, by all means," said Edouard, mingling suddenly in theconversation; "and this time I will go with you, and then I shallfind out where you lodged before, and how the boobies came to saythey did not know you."Rose bit her lip. She could not help seeing then how much dearEdouard was in her way and Josephine's. Their best friends are inthe way of all who have secrets. Presently the doctor went to hisstudy. Then Edouard let fall a mock soliloquy. "I wonder," saidhe, dropping out his words one by one, "whether any one will everlove me well enough to give a drop of their blood for me.""If you were in sickness and sorrow, who knows?" said Rose, coloringup."I would soon be in sickness and sorrow if I thought that.""Don't jest with such matters, monsieur.""I am serious. I wish I was as ill as Madame Raynal is, to be lovedas she is.""You must resemble her in some other things to be loved as she is."I am a respecterble woman and most respecterbly connected. My character and antercedents render me irrerproachful.--This could not be said of a hussy, and a hussy he'll probably bring--some flighty, immerture female that will tax even MY patience to train."
Another hour passed, and the frown on Mrs. Mumpson's brow grew positively awful. "To think," she muttered, "that a man whom I have deemed it my duty to marry should stay out so and under such peculiar circumstances. He must have a lesson which he can never forget." Then aloud, to Jane, "Kindle a fire on the parlor hearth and let this fire go out. He must find us in the most respecterble room in the house--a room befitting my station.""I declare, mother, you aint got no sense at all!" exclaimed the child, exasperated beyond measure."I'll teach you to use such unrerspectful language!" cried Mrs. Mumpson, darting from her chair like a hawk and pouncing upon the unhappy child.With ears tingling from a cuffing she could not soon forget, Jane lighted the parlor fire and sat down sniffling in the farthest corner.
"There shall be only one mistress in this house," said Mrs. Mumpson, who had now reached the loftiest plane of virtuous indignation, "and its master shall learn that his practices reflect upon even me as well as himself."At last the sound of horses' feet were heard on the wet, oozy ground without. The irate widow did not rise, but merely indicated her knowledge of Holcroft's arrival by rocking more rapidly.
"Hello, there, Jane!" he shouted, "bring a light to the kitchen.""Jane, remain!" said Mrs. Mumpson, with an awful look.Holcroft stumbled through the dark kitchen to the parlor door and looked with surprise at the group before him,--Mrs. Mumpson apparently oblivious and rocking as if the chair was possessed, and the child crying in a corner."Jane, didn't you hear me call for a light?" he asked a little sharply.
Mrs. Mumpson rose with great dignity and began, "Mr. Holcroft, I wish to remonstrate--""Oh, bother! I've brought a woman to help you, and we're both wet through from this driving rain.""You've brought a strange female at this time of--"Holcroft's patience gave say, but he only said quietly, "You had better have a light in the kitchen within two minutes. I warn you both. I also wish some hot coffee."
Mrs. Mumpson had no comprehension of a man who could be so quiet when he was angry, and she believed that she might impress him with a due sense of the enormity of his offense. "Mr. Holcroft, I scarcely feel that I can meet a girl who has no more sense of decorum than to--" But Jane, striking a match, revealed the fact that she was speaking to empty air.Mrs. Wiggins was at last so far aroused that she was helped from the wagon and came shivering and dripping toward the kitchen. She stood a moment in the doorway and filled it, blinking confusedly at the light. There was an absence of celerity in all Mrs. Wiggins' movements, and she was therefore slow in the matter of waking up. Her aspect and proportions almost took away Mrs. Mumpson's breath. Here certainly was much to superintend, much more than had been anticipated. Mrs. Wiggins was undoubtedly a "peculiar female," as had been expected, but she was so elderly and monstrous that Mrs. Mumpson felt some embarrassment in her purpose to overwhelm Holcroft with a sense of the impropriety of his conduct.
Mrs. Wiggins took uncertain steps toward the rocking chair, and almost crushed it as she sat down. "Ye gives a body a cold velcome," she remarked, rubbing her eyes.Mrs. Mumpson had got out of her way as a minnow would shun a leviathan. "May I ask your name?" she gasped.
"Viggins, Mrs. Viggins.""Oh, indeed! You are a married woman?""No, hi'm a vidder. What's more, hi'm cold, and drippin', an' 'ungry. Hi might 'a' better stayed at the poor-us than come to a place like this.""What!" almost screamed Mrs. Mumpson, "are you a pauper?""Hi tell ye hi'm a vidder, an' good as you be, for hall he said," was the sullen reply."To think that a respecterbly connected woman like me--" But for once Mrs. Mumpson found language inadequate. Since Mrs. Wiggins occupied the rocking chair, she hardly knew what to do and plaintively declared, "I feel as if my whole nervous system was giving way."
"No 'arm 'll be done hif hit does," remarked Mrs. Wiggins, who was not in an amiable mood."This from the female I'm to superintend!" gasped the bewildered woman.
Her equanimity was still further disturbed by the entrance of the farmer, who looked at the stove with a heavy frown."Why in the name of common sense isn't there a fire?" he asked, "and supper on the table? Couldn't you hear that it was raining and know we'd want some supper after a long, cold ride?"
"Mr. Holcroft," began the widow, in some trepidation, "I don't approve--such irregular habits--""Madam," interrupted Holcroft sternly, "did I agree to do what you approved of? Your course is so peculiar that I scarcely believe you are in your right mind. You had better go to your room and try to recover your senses. If I can't have things in this house to suit me, I'll have no one in it. Here, Jane, you can help."
Mrs. Mumpson put her handkerchief to her eyes and departed. She felt that this display of emotion would touch Holcroft's feelings when he came to think the scene all over.Having kindled the fire, he said to Jane, "You and Mrs. Wiggins get some coffee and supper in short order, and have it ready when I come in," and he hastened out to care for his horses. If the old woman was slow, she knew just how to make every motion effective, and a good supper was soon ready."Why didn't you keep up a fire, Jane?" Holcroft asked."She wouldn't let me. She said how you must be taught a lesson," replied the girl, feeling that she must choose between two potentates, and deciding quickly in favor of the farmer. She had been losing faith in her mother's wisdom a long time, and this night's experience had banished the last shred of it.
Some rather bitter words rose to Holcroft's lips, but he restrained them. He felt that he ought not to disparage the mother to the child. As Mrs. Wiggins grew warm, and imbibed the generous coffee, her demeanor thawed perceptibly and she graciously vouchsafed the remark, "Ven you're hout late hag'in hi'll look hafter ye."Mrs. Mumpson had not been so far off as not to hear Jane's explanation, as the poor child found to her cost when she went up to bed.
Chapter 10 A Night of TerrorAs poor, dazed, homeless Alida passed out into the street after the revelation that she was not a wife and never had been, she heard a voice say, "Well, Hanner wasn't long in bouncing the woman. I guess we'd better go up now. Ferguson will need a lesson that he won't soon forget."
The speaker of these words was Mrs. Ferguson's brother, William Hackman, and his companion was a detective. The wife had laid her still sleeping child down on the lounge and was coolly completing Alida's preparations for dinner. Her husband had sunk back into a chair and again buried his face in his hands. He looked up with startled, bloodshot eyes as his brother-in-law and the stranger entered, and then resumed his former attitude.Mrs. Ferguson briefly related what had happened, and then said, "Take chairs and draw up."
"I don't want any dinner," muttered the husband.Mr. William Hackman now gave way to his irritation. Turning to his brother, he relieved his mind as follows: "See here, Hank Ferguson, if you hadn't the best wife in the land, this gentleman would now be giving you a promenade to jail. I've left my work for weeks, and spent a sight of money to see that my sister got her rights, and, by thunder! she's going to have 'em. We've agreed to give you a chance to brace up and be a man. If we find out there isn't any man in you, then you go to prison and hard labor to the full extent of the law. We've fixed things so you can't play any more tricks. This man is a private detective. As long as you do the square thing by your wife and child, you'll be let alone. If you try to sneak off, you'll be nabbed. Now, if you aint a scamp down to your heel-taps, get up out of that chair like a man, treat your wife as she deserves for letting you off so easy, and don't make her change her mind by acting as if you, and not her, was the wronged person."At heart Ferguson was a weak, cowardly, selfish creature, whose chief aim in life was to have things to suit himself. When they ceased to be agreeable, he was ready for a change, without much regard for the means to his ends. He had always foreseen the possibility of the event which had now taken place, but, like all self-indulgent natures, had hoped that he might escape detection.Alida, moreover, had won a far stronger hold upon him than he had once imagined possible. He was terribly mortified and cast down by the result of his experiment, as he regarded it. But the thought of a prison and hard labor speedily drew his mind away from this aspect of the affair. He had been fairly caught, his lark was over, and he soon resolved that the easiest and safest way out of the scrape was the best way. He therefore raised his head and came forward with a penitent air as he said: "It's natural I should be overwhelmed with shame at the position in which I find myself. But I see the truth of your words, and I'll try to make it all right as far as I can. I'll go back with you and Hannah to my old home. I've got money in the bank, I'll sell out everything here, and I'll pay you, William, as far as I can, what you've spent. Hannah is mighty good to let me off so easy, and she won't be sorry. This man is witness to what I say," and the detective nodded.
"Why, Ferguson," said Mr. Hackman effusively, "now you're talking like a man. Come and kiss him, Hannah, and make it all up.""That's the way with you men," said the woman bitterly. "These things count for little. Henry Ferguson must prove he's honest in what he says by deeds, not words. I'll do as I've said if he acts square, and that's enough to start with."
"All right," said Ferguson, glad enough to escape the caress. "I'll do as I say."He did do all he promised, and very promptly, too. He was not capable of believing that a woman wronged as Alida had been would not prosecute him, and he was eager to escape to another state, and, in a certain measure, again to hide his identity under his own actual name.
Meanwhile, how fared the poor creature who had fled, driven forth by her first wild impulse to escape from a false and terrible position? With every step she took down the dimly lighted street, the abyss into which she had fallen seemed to grow deeper and darker. She was overwhelmed with the magnitude of her misfortune. She shunned the illumined thoroughfares with a half-crazed sense that every finger would be pointed at her. Her final words, spoken to Ferguson, were the last clear promptings of her womanly nature. After that, everything grew confused, except the impression of remediless disaster and shame. She was incapable of forming any correct judgment concerning her position. The thought of her pastor filled her with horror. He, she thought, would take the same view which the woman had so brutally expressed--that in her eagerness to be married, she had brought to the parsonage an unknown man and had involved a clergyman in her own scandalous record.--It would all be in the papers, and her pastor's name mixed up in the affair. She would rather die than subject him to such an ordeal. Long after, when he learned the facts in the case, he looked at her very sadly as he asked: "Didn't you know me better than that? Had I so failed in my preaching that you couldn't come straight to me?"She wondered afterward that she had not done this, but she was too morbid, too close upon absolute insanity, to do what was wise and safe. She simply yielded to the wild impulse to escape, to cower, to hide from every human eye, hastening through the darkest, obscurest streets, not caring where. In the confusion of her mind she would retrace her steps, and soon was utterly lost, wandering she knew not whither. As it grew late, casual passers-by looked after her curiously, rough men spoke to her, and others jeered. She only hastened on, driven by her desperate trouble like the wild, ragged clouds that were flying across the stormy March sky.