For once her intuition was at fault, and she misjudged Holcroft in some respects. He did think he was through with sentiment; he could not have talked deliberately to Alida or to any other about his old life and love, and he truly felt that she had no part in that life. It had become a sad and sacred memobuy bitcoin with paypal anonymouslyry, yet he wished to feel that he had the right to dwell upon it as he chose. In his downright sincerity he wished her to know that he could not help dwelling on it; that for him some things were over, and that he was not to blame. He was profoundly grateful to her that she had so clearly accepted the facts of his past, and of their own present relations. He HAD feared, it is true, but she had not realized his fears, and he felt that it was her due that he should acknowledge her straightforward carrying out of the compact made under circumstances which might well excuse her from realizing everything fully.
"And now," said Aubertin, "you will excuse me. I must go to my poorbitcoin payment in egyptfriend the baroness. She had a mother's love for him who is nomore: well she might."Aubertin went away, and left Dujardin standing there like a statue,his eyes still glued to the ground at his feet.The doctor was no sooner out of sight, than Camille raised his eyesfurtively, like a guilty person, and looked irresolutely this wayand that: at last he turned and went back to the place where he hadmeditated suicide and murder; looked down at it a long while, thenlooked up to heaven--then fell suddenly on his knees: and soremained till night-fall. Then he came back to the chateau.
He whispered to himself, "And I am afraid it is too late to go awayto-night." He went softly into the saloon. Nobody was there butRose and Aubertin. At sight of him Rose got up and left the room.But I suppose she went to Josephine; for she returned in a fewminutes, and rang the bell, and ordered some supper to be brought upfor Colonel Dujardin."You have not dined, I hear," said she, very coldly."I was afraid you were gone altogether," said the doctor: thenturning to Rose, "He told me he was going this evening. You hadbetter stay quiet another day or two," added he, kindly."Do you think so?" said Camille, timidly.
He stayed upon these terms. And now he began to examine himself."Did I wish him dead? I hope I never formed such a thought! Idon't remember ever wishing him dead." And he went twice a day tothat place by the stream, and thought very solemnly what a terriblething ungoverned passion is; and repented--not eloquently, butsilently, sincerely."I was taught to read and love it," she replied simply. Then her eyes dropped and she faltered, "I've reproached myself bitterly that I rushed away so hastily that I forgot the Bible my mother gave me."
"No, no," he said heartily, "don't reproach yourself for that. It was the Bible in your heart that made you act as you did."She shot him a swift, grateful glance through her tears, but made no other response.Having returned the Bible to the parlor, she put the breakfast on the table and said quietly, "It looks as if we would have a rainy day.""Well," said he, laughing, "I'm as bad as the old woman--it seems that women can run farms alone if men can't. Well, this old dame had a big farm and employed several men, and she was always wishing it would rain nights and Sundays. I'm inclined to chuckle over the good this rain will do my oats, instead of being sorry to think how many sinners it'll keep from church. Except in protracted-meeting times, most people of this town would a great deal rather risk their souls than be caught in the rain on Sunday. We don't mind it much week days, but Sunday rain is very dangerous to health."
"I'm afraid I'm as bad as the rest," she said, smiling. "Mother and I usually stayed home when it rained hard.""Oh, we don't need a hard storm in the country. People say, 'It looks threatening,' and that settles it; but we often drive to town rainy days to save time."
"Do you usually go to church at the meeting house I see off in the valley?" she asked."I don't go anywhere," and he watched keenly to see how she would take this blunt statement of his practical heathenism.She only looked at him kindly and accepted the fact."Why don't you pitch into me?" he asked.
"That wouldn't do any good.""You'd like to go, I suppose?""No, not under the circumstances, unless you wished to. I'm cowardly enough to dread being stared at."He gave a deep sign of relief. "This thing has been troubling me," he said. "I feared you would want to go, and if you did, I should feel that you ought to go."
"I fear I'm very weak about it, but I shrink so from meeting strangers. I do thank God for his goodness many times a day and ask for help. I'm not brave enough to do any more, yet."His rugged features became very somber as he said, "I wish I had as much courage as you have."
"You don't understand me--" she began gently."No, I suppose not. It's all become a muddle to me. I mean this church and religious business."
She looked at him wistfully, as if she wished to say something, but did not venture to do so. He promptly gave a different turn to the conversation by quoting Mrs. Mumpson's tirade on churchgoing the first Sunday after her arrival. Alida laughed, but not in a wholly mirthful and satisfied way. "There!" he concluded, "I'm touching on things a little too sacred for you. I respect your feelings and beliefs, for they are honest and I wish I shared in 'em." Then he suddenly laughed again as he added, "Mrs. Mumpson said there was too much milking done on Sunday, and it's time I was breaking the Fourth Commandment, after her notion."Alida now laughed outright, without reservation."'By jocks!' as Watterly says, what a difference there is in women!" he soliloquized on his way to the barn. "Well, the church question is settled for the present, but if Alida should ask me to go, after her manner this morning, I'd face the whole creation with her."When at last he came in and threw off his waterproof coat, the kitchen was in order and his wife was sitting by the parlor fire with Thomson's "Land and the Book" in her hand."Are you fond of reading?" he asked."Yes, very."
"Well, I am, too, sort of; but I've let the years slip by without doing half as much as I ought.""Light your pipe and I'll read to you, if you wish me to."
"Oh, come now! I at least believe in Sunday as a day of rest, and you need it. Reading aloud is about as hard work as I can do.""But I'm used to it. I read aloud to mother a great deal," and then there passed over her face an expression of deep pain.
"What is it, Alida? Don't you feel well?""Yes, oh, yes!" she replied hastily, and her pale face became crimson.
It was another stab of memory recalling the many Sundays she had read to the man who had deceived her. "Shall I read?" she asked."Alida," he said very kindly, "it wasn't the thought of your mother that brought that look of pain into your face."She shook her head sadly, with downcast eyes. After a moment or two, she raised them appealingly to him as she said simply, "There is so much that I wish I could forget.""Poor child! Yes, I think I know. Be patient with yourself, and remember that you were never to blame."
Again came that quick, grateful glance by which some women express more than others can ever put in words. Her thought was, "I didn't think that even he was capable of that. What a way of assuring me that he'll be patient with me!" Then she quietly read for an hour descriptions of the Holy Land that were not too religious for Holcroft's mind and which satisfied her conscience better than much she had read in former days to satisfy a taste more alien to hers than that of her husband.Holcroft listened to her correct pronunciation and sweet, natural tones with a sort of pleased wonder. At last he said, "You must stop now."
"Are you tired?" she asked."No, but you are, or ought to be. Why, Alida, I didn't know you were so well educated. I'm quite a barbarous old fellow compared with you."
"I hadn't thought of that before," she said with a laugh."What a fool I was, then, to put it into your head!"
"You must be more careful. I'd never have such thoughts if you didn't suggest them.""How did you come to get such a good education?""I wish I had a better one. Well, I did have good advantages up to the time I was seventeen. After I was old enough I went to school quite steadily, but it seems to me that I learned a little of everything and not much of anything. When father died and we lost our property, we had to take to our needles. I suppose I might have obtained work in a store, or some such place, but I couldn't bear to leave mother alone and I disliked being in public. I certainly didn't know enough to teach, and besides, I was afraid to try.""Well, well! You've stumbled into a quiet enough place at last."
"That's what I like most about it, but I don't think I stumbled into it. I think I've been led and helped. That's what I meant when I said you didn't understand me," she added hesitatingly. "It doesn't take courage for me to go to God. I get courage by believing that he cares for me like a father, as the bible says. How could I ever have found so kind a friend and good a home myself?""I've been half inclined to believe there's a Providence in it myself--more and more so as I get acquainted with you. Your troubles have made you better, Alida; mine made me worse. I used to be a Christian; I aint any more."
She looked at him smilingly as she asked, "How do you know?""Oh! I know well enough," he replied gloomily. "Don't let's talk about it any more," and then he led her on to speak simply and naturally about her childhood home and her father and mother.
"Well," he said heartily, "I wish your mother was living for nothing would please me better than to have such a good old lady in the house."She averted her face as she said huskily, "I think it was better she died before--" But she did not finish the sentence.