She smiled and thought that she was more than content. She had begun to detect symptomswhy did xrp price drop in her husband which her own heart enabled her to interpret. In brief, it looked as if he were drifting on a smooth, swift tide to the same haven in which she was anchored.
"That settles everything. solana crypto how to buyYou'll like me a little better for it, too, won't you?" he asked hesitatingly.She laughed outright at this question and answered, "It won't do to take too much self-sacrifice out of your act. There's something which does us all good. She ought to have a spelling and a writing book also."
Holcroft was assuredly falling under the sway of the little blind god, for he began at once to misunderstand Alida. "You are very fond of self-sacrifice," he said, rather stiffly. "Yes, I'll get everything on your list," and he took it from her hand. "Now I must be off," he added, "for I wish to get back before night, and it's so warm I can't drive fast. Sorry I have to go, for I can't say I dote on self-sacrifice."Alida but partially understood his sudden change of mood, nor was the farmer much better enlightened himself in regard to his irritation. He had received an unexpected impression and it seemed to fit in with other things and explain them. She returned slowly and dejectedly to the house, leaving unsaid the words she meant to speak about Jane's relations to her. Now she wished that she had imitated Jane, and merely nodded to the farmer's questions. "If he knew how far I am beyond the point of liking, I don't know what he'd do or say," she thought, "and I suppose that's the reason I couldn't answer him frankly, in a way that would have satisfied him. It's a pity I couldn't begin to just LIKE a little at first, as he does and have everything grow as gradually and quietly as one of his cornstalks. That's the way I meant it should be; but when he stood up for me and defended me from those men, my heart just melted, and in spite of myself, I felt I could die for him. It can't be such an awful thing for a woman to fall in love with her husband, and yet--yet I'd rather put my hand in the fire than let him know how I feel. Oh, dear! I wish Jane hadn't been born, as she says. Trouble is beginning already, and it was all so nice before she came."In a few moments Holcroft drove up. Alida stood in the door and looked timidly at him. He thought she appeared a little pale and troubled, but his bad mood prevailed and he only asked briefly, "Can't I get something for you?"She shook her head."Well, goodbye, then," and he drove away with Jane, who was confirmed in her line of policy. "She's afraid of 'im too," thought the child. "Mind her! Guess not, unless he says so." She watched the farmer furtively and concluded that she had never known him to look more grim or be more silent even under her mother's blandishments. "He's married this one, I s'pose, to keep house for 'im, but he don't like her follerin' 'im up or bein' for'ard any more'n he did mother. Shouldn't wonder if he didn't keep her, either, if she don't suit better. She needn't 'a' put on such airs with me, for I'm goin' to stick to him."
Chapter 29 Husband and Wife in TroubleLike many others with simple, strong natures, Holcroft could not be wrong-headed moderately, and his thoughts, once started in a direction were apt to carry him much farther than the cause warranted. Engrossed in painful and rather bitter musings, he paid no heed to Jane and almost forgot his errand to town. "I was a fool to ask that question," he thought. "I was getting silly and sentimental with my talk about the picture and all that. She laughed at me and reminded me I was wasting time. Of course she can't like an old, hard-featured man like me. I'm beginning to understand her now. She made a business marriage with me and means to live up to her agreement. She's honest; she feels I've done her a real kindness in giving her a home, and she's willing to be as self-sacrificing as the day is long to make it up to me. I wish she wasn't so grateful; there's no occasion for it. I don't want her to feel that every pleasant word and every nice act is so much toward paying a debt. If there was any balance in my favor it was squared up long ago, and I was willing to call it even from the start. She's made me like her for her own sake and not on account of what she does for me, and that's what I had in mind. But she's my superior in every way; she's growing to be a pretty as a picture, and I suppose I appear like a rather rough customer. Well, I can't help if, but it rather goes against me to have her think, 'I've married him and I'm going to do my duty by him, just as I agreed.' She'll do her duty by this Jane in the same self-sacrificing spirit, and will try to make it pleasant for the child just because it's right and because she herself was taken out of trouble. That's the shape her religion takes. 'Tisn't a common form, I know--this returning good for good with compound interest. But her conscience won't let her rest unless she does everything she can for me, and now she'll begin to do everything for Jane because she feels that self-sacrifice is a duty. Anybody can be self-sacrificing. If I made up my mind, I could ask Mrs. Mumpson to visit us all summer, but I couldn't like her to save my life, and I don't suppose Alida can like me, beyond a certain point, to save her life. But she'll do her duty. She'll be pleasant and self-sacrificing and do all the work she can lay her hands on for my sake; but when it comes to feeling toward me as I can't help feeling toward her--that wasn't in the bargain," and he startled Jane with a sudden bitter laugh.Camille darted furiously round it in the same direction. Rose triedto stop him, but was too late. The next moment Raynal's wife was inhis arms.
Chapter 10Josephine wrestled long and terribly with nature in that old oak-tree. But who can so struggle forever? Anguish, remorse, horror,despair, and love wrenched her to and fro; and O mysterious humanheart! gleams of a mad fitful joy shot through her, coming quick aslightning, going as quickly, and leaving the despair darker. Andthen the fierce struggle of the soul to make itself heard! Morethan once she had to close her mouth with her hand: more than onceshe seized her throat not to cry out. But as the struggle endured,she got weaker and weaker, and nature mightier and mightier. Andwhen the wounded hero fell on his knees so close to her; when he whohad resisted death so bravely for her, prepared to give up lifecalmly for her, her bosom rose beyond all control: it seemed to fillto choking, then to split wide open and give the struggling soulpassage in one gasping sob and heart-stricken cry. Could she havepent this in she must have died.It betrayed her. She felt it had: so then came the woman'sinstinct--flight: the coward's impulse--flight: the chaste wife'sinspiration--flight. She rushed from her hiding-place and madewildly for the house.But, unluckily, Camille was at that moment darting round the tree:
she ran right into the danger she meant to flee. He caught her inhis arms. He held her irresistibly. "I have got her; I have gother," he shouted in wild triumph. "No! I will not let you go. Nonebut God shall ever take you from me, and he has spared you to me.You are not dead: you have kept faith as I have: you have lived.
See! look at me. I am alive, I am well, I am happy. I told Rosethat I suffered. If I had suffered I should remember it. It is allgone at sight of you, my love! my love! Oh, my Josephine! my love!"His arm was firm round her waist. His glowing eyes poured love uponher. She felt his beating heart.All that passed in her then, what mortal can say? She seemed twowomen: that part of her which could not get away from his strong armlost all strength to resist, it yielded and thrilled under hisembrace, her bosom heaving madly: all that was free writhed awayfrom him; her face was averted with a glare of terror, and both herhands put up between his eyes and it."You turn away your head. Rose, she turns away. Speak for me.Scold her; for I don't know how to scold her. No answer fromeither; oh, what has turned your hearts against me so?""Camille," cried Rose--the tears streaming down her cheeks--"my poorCamille! leave Beaurepaire. Oh, leave it at once."Returned towards her with a look of inquiry.
At that Josephine, like some feeble but nimble wild creature on whoma grasp has relaxed, writhed away from him and got free: "Farewell!Farewell!" she cried, in despair's own voice, and made swiftly forthe house.Camille stood aghast, and did not follow her.Now ere she had gone many steps who should meet her right in frontbut Jacintha.
"Madame Raynal, the baroness's carriage is just in sight. I thoughtyou'd like to know." Then she bawled proudly to Rose, "I was thefirst to call her madame;" and off went Jacintha convinced she haddone something very clever.This blow turned those three to stone.
Josephine had no longer the power or the wish to fly. "Better so,"she thought, and she stood cowering.The great passions that had spoken so loud were struck dumb, and adeep silence fell upon the place. Madame Raynal's quivering eyeturned slowly and askant towards Camille, but stopped in terror ereit could see him. For she knew by this fearful stillness that thetruth was creeping on Camille. And so did Rose.
At last Camille spoke one word in a low whisper."Madame?"Dead silence."White? both in white?"Rose came between him and Josephine, and sobbed out, "Camille, itwas our doing. We drove her to it. O sir, look how afraid of youshe is. Do not reproach her, if you are a man."He waved her out of his way as if she had been some idle feather,and almost staggered up to Josephine."It is for you to speak, my betrothed: are you married?"The poor creature, true to her nature, was thinking more of him thanherself. Even in her despair it flashed across her, "If he knewall, he too would be wretched for life. If I let him think ill ofme he may be happy one day." She cowered the picture of sorrow andtongue-tied guilt."Are you a wife?""Yes."He winced and quivered as if a bullet had pierced him."This is how I came to be suspected; she I loved was false.""Yes, Camille.""No, no!" cried Rose; "don't believe HER: she never suspected you.
We have brought her to this, we alone.""Be silent, Rose! oh, be silent!" gasped Josephine."I lived for you: I would have died for you; you could not even waitfor me."A low moan, but not a word of excuse.
"What can I do for you now?""Forget me, Camille," said she despairingly, doggedly."Forget you? never, never! there is but one thing I can do to showyou how I loved you: I will forgive you, and begone. Whither shallI go? whither shall I go now?""Camile, your words stab her.""Let none speak but I," said Camille; "none but I have the right tospeak. Poor weak angel that loved yet could not wait: I forgiveyou. Be happy, if you can; I bid you be hap-py."The quiet, despairing tones died away, and with them life seemed toend to her, and hope to go out. He turned his back quickly on her.
He cried hoarsely, "To the army! Back to the army, and a soldier'sgrave!" Then with a prodigious effort he drew himself haughtily upin marching attitude. He took three strides, erect and fiery andbold.At the next something seemed to snap asunder in the great heart, andthe worn body that heart had held up so long, rolled like a dead logupon the ground with a tremendous fall.
Chapter 11The baroness and Aubertin were just getting out of their carriage,when suddenly they heard shrieks of terror in the Pleasaunce. Theycame with quaking hearts as fast as their old limbs would carrythem. They found Rose and Josephine crouched over the body of aman, an officer.Rose was just tearing open his collar and jacket. Dard and Jacinthahad run from the kitchen at the screams. Camille lay on his back,white and motionless.The doctor was the first to come up. "Who! what is this? I seem toknow his face." Then shaking his head, "Whoever it is, it is a badcase. Stand away, ladies. Let me feel his pulse."Whilst the old man was going stiffly down on one knee, Jacinthauttered a cry of terror. "See, see! his shirt! that red streak!
Ah, ah! it is getting bigger and bigger:" and she turned faint in amoment, and would have fallen but for Dard.The doctor looked. "All the better," said he firmly. "I thought hewas dead. His blood flows; then I will save him. Don't clutch meso, Josephine; don't cling to me like that. Now is the time to showyour breed: not turn sick at the sight of a little blood, like thatfoolish creature, but help me save him.""Take him in-doors," cried the baroness.
"Into our house, mamma?" gasped Rose; "no, no.""What," said the baroness, "a wounded soldier who has fought forFrance! leave him to lie and die outside my door: what would my sonsay to that? He is a soldier himself."Rose cast a hasty look at Josephine. Josephine's eyes were bent onthe ground, and her hands clenched and trembling."Now, Jacintha, you be off," said the doctor. "I can't have cowardsabout him to make the others as bad. Go and stew down a piece ofgood beef for him. Stew it in red wine and water.""That I will: poor thing!""Why, I know him," said the baroness suddenly; "it is an oldacquaintance, young Dujardin: you remember, Josephine. I used tosuspect him of a fancy for you, poor fellow! Why, he must have comehere to see us, poor soul.""No matter who it is; it is a man. Now, girls, have you courage,have you humanity? Then come one on each side of him and take handsbeneath his back, while I lift his head and Dard his legs.""And handle him gently whatever you do," said Dard. "I know what itis to be wounded."These four carried the lifeless burden very slowly and gently acrossthe Pleasaunce to the house, then with more difficulty and cautionup the stairs.
All the while the sisters' hands griped one another tight beneaththe lifeless burden, and spoke to one another. And Josephine's armupheld tenderly but not weakly the hero she had struck down. Sheavoided Rose's eye, her mother's, and even the doctor's: one gaspingsob escaped her as she walked with head half averted, and vacant,terror-stricken eyes, and her victim on her sustaining arm.The doctor selected the tapestried chamber for him as being mostairy. Then he ordered the women out, and with Dard's help undressedthe still insensible patient.
Josephine sat down on the stairs in gloomy silence, her eyes on theground, like one waiting for her deathblow.Rose, sick at heart, sat silent too at some distance. At last shesaid faintly, "Have we done well?""I don't know," said Josephine doggedly. Her eyes never left theground."We could not let him die for want of care.""He will not thank us. Better for him to die than live. Better forme."At this instant Dard came running down. "Good news, mesdemoiselles,good news! the wound runs all along; it is not deep, like mine was.He has opened his eyes and shut them again. The dear good doctorstopped the blood in a twinkle. The doctor says he'll be bound tosave him. I must run and tell Jacintha. She is taking on in thekitchen."Josephine, who had risen eagerly from her despairing posture,clasped her hands together, then lifted up her voice and wept. "Hewill live! he will live!"When she had wept a long while, she said to Rose, "Come, sister,help your poor Josephine.""Yes, love, what shall we do?""My duty," faltered Josephine. "An hour ago it seemed so sweet,"and she fell to weeping patiently again. They went to Josephine'sroom. She crept slowly to a wardrobe, and took out a gray silkdress.
"Oh, never mind for to-day," cried Rose."Help me, Rose. It is for myself as well; to remind me every momentI am Madame Raynal."They put the gray gown on her, both weeping patiently. It will beknown at the last day, all that honest women have suffered weepingsilently in this noisy world.
Camille soon recovered his senses and a portion of his strength:then the irritation of his wound brought on fever. This in turnretired before the doctor's remedies and a sound constitution, butit left behind it a great weakness and general prostration. And inthis state the fate of the body depends greatly on the mind.
The baroness and the doctor went constantly to see him, and soothehim: he smiled and thanked them, but his eager eyes watched the doorfor one who came not.When he got well enough to leave his bed the largest couch was sentup to him from the saloon; a kind hand lined the baron's silkdressing-gown for him warm and soft and nice; and he would sit orlie on his couch, or take two turns in the room leaning upon Rose'sshoulder, and glad of the support; and he looked piteously in hereyes when she came and when she went. Rose looked down; she coulddo nothing, she could say nothing.