"Don't be afraid; it'polygon coin price auds only me, dear," said a quavering voice.
Holcroft was sorely perplexed and pushed away his half-eaten supper. He knew himself what it was to be friendless and lonely, and his heart softened toward this worse than motherless child.rope solana airdrop"Jane," he said kindly, "I'm just as sorry for you as I can be, but you don't know the difficulties in the way of what you wish, and I fear I can't make you understand them. Indeed, it would not be best to tell you all of them. If I could keep you at all, you should stay in the house, and I'd be kind to you, but it can't be. I may not stay here myself. My future course is very uncertain. There's no use of my trying to go on as I have. Perhaps some day I can do something for you, and if I can, I will. I will pay your mother her three months' wages in full in the morning, and then I want you both to get your things into your trunk, and I'll take you to your Cousin Lemuel's."
Driven almost to desperation, Jane suggested the only scheme she could think of. "If you stayed here and I run away and came back, wouldn't you keep me? I'd work all day and all night jes' for the sake of stayin'.""No, Jane," said Holcroft firmly, "you'd make me no end of trouble if you did that. If you'll be a good girl and learn how to do things, I'll try to find you a place among kind people some day when you're older and can act for yourself.""You're afraid 'fi's here mother'd come a-visitin," said the girl keenly."You're too young to understand half the trouble that might follow. My plans are too uncertain for me to tangle myself up. You and your mother must go away at once, so I can do what I must do before it's too late in the season. Here's a couple of dollars which you can keep for yourself," and he went up to his room, feeling that he could not witness the child's distress any longer.He fought hard against despondency and tried to face the actual condition of his affairs. "I might have known," he thought, "that things would have turned out somewhat as they have, with such women in the house, and I don't see much chance of getting better ones. I've been so bent on staying and going on as I used to that I've just shut my eyes to the facts." He got out an old account book and pored over it a long time. The entries therein were blind enough, but at last he concluded, "It's plain that I've lost money on the dairy ever since my wife died, and the prospects now are worse than ever. That Weeks tribe will set the whole town talking against me and it will be just about impossible to get a decent woman to come here. I might as well have an auction and sell all the cows but one at once. After that, if I find I can't make out living alone, I'll put the place in better order and sell or rent. I can get my own meals after a fashion, and old Jonathan Johnson's wife will do my washing and mending. It's time it was done better than it has been, for some of my clothes make me look like a scarecrow. I believe Jonathan will come with his cross dog and stay here too, when I must be away. Well, well, it's a hard lot for a man; but I'd be about as bad off, and a hundred-fold more lonely, if I went anywhere else.
"I can only feel my way along and live a day at a time. I'll learn what can be done and what can't be. One thing is clear: I can't go on with this Mrs. Mumpson in the house a day longer. She makes me creep and crawl all over, and the first thing I know I shall be swearing like a bloody pirate unless I get rid of her."If she wasn't such a hopeless idiot I'd let her stay for the sake of Jane, but I won't pay her good wages to make my life a burden a day longer," and with like self-communings he spent the evening until the habit of early drowsiness overcame him."I'd rather do it," she replied.
"Oh, well!" laughing pleasantly, "you shall have your own way. Who has a better right than you, I'd like to know?""Don't speak that way," she said, almost harshly, under the tension of her feelings. "I--I can't stand it. Speak and look as you did before you went away.""Jane," said the farmer, "go and gather the eggs."As soon as they were alone, he began gently, "Alida--"
"Please don't speak so to me today. I've endured all I can. I can't keep up another minute unless you let things go on as they were. Tomorrow I'll try to tell you all. It's your right.""I didn't mean to say anything myself till after supper, and perhaps not till tomorrow, but I think I'd better. It will be better for us both, and our minds will be more at rest. Come with me into the parlor, Alida."
"Well, perhaps the sooner it's over the better," she said faintly and huskily.She sunk on the lounge and looked at him with such despairing eyes that tears came into his own."Alida," he began hesitatingly, "after I left you this noon I felt I must speak with and be frank with you.""No, no!!" she cried, with an imploring gesture, "if it must be said, let me say it. I couldn't endure to hear it from you. Before you went away I understood it all, and this afternoon the truth has been burned into my soul. That horrible man has been here--the man I thought my husband--and he has made it clearer, if possible. I don't blame you that you shrink from me as if I were a leper. I feel as if I were one."
"I shrink from YOU!" he exclaimed."Yes. Can you think I haven't seen the repugnance growing in spite of yourself? When I thought of that man--especially when he came today--I understood WHY too well. I cannot stay here any longer. You'd try to be kind and considerate, but I'd know how you felt all the time. It would not be safe for you and it would not be right for me to stay, either, and that settles it. Be--be as kind to me--as you can a few--a few hours longer, and then let me go quietly." Her self-control gave way, and burying her face in her hands, she sobbed convulsively.In a moment he was on his knees beside her, with his arm about her waist. "Alida, dear Alida!" he cried, "we've both been in the dark about each other. What I resolved to do, when I started for town, was to tell you that I had learned to love you and to throw myself on your mercy. I thought you saw I was loving you and that you couldn't bear to think of such a thing in an old, homely fellow like me. That was all that was in my mind, so help me God!""But--but HE'S been here," she faltered; "you don't realize--"
"I don't believe I do or can, yet, Alida, dear, but that blessed Jane's spying trait has served me the best turn in the world. She heard every brave word you said and I shed tears of joy when she told me; and tears are slow coming to my eyes. You think I shrink from you, do you?" and he kissed her hands passionately. "See," he cried, "I kneel to you in gratitude for all you've been to me and are to me.""Oh, James! Please rise. It's too much."
"No, not till you promise to go with me to a minister and hear me promise to love, cherish--yes, in your case I'll promise to obey."She bowed her head upon his shoulder in answer. Springing up, he clasped her close and kissed away her tears as he exclaimed, "No more business marriage for me, if you please. There never was a man so in love with his wife."
Suddenly she looked up and said fearfully, "James, he threatened you. He said you'd never be safe a moment as long as I stayed here."His answer was a peal of laughter. "I've done more than threaten him. I've whipped him within an inch of his life, and it was the thought of you that led me, in my rage, to spare his life. I'll tell you all--I'm going to tell you everything now. How much trouble I might have saved if I had told you my thoughts! What was there, Alida, in an old fellow like me that led you to care so?"Looking up shyly, she replied, "I think it was the MAN in you--and--then you stood up for me so.""Well, love is blind, I suppose, but it don't seem to me that mine is. There never was a man so taken in at his marriage. You were so different from what I expected that I began loving you before I knew it, but I thought you were good to me just as you were to Jane--from a sense of duty--and that you couldn't abide me personally. So I tried to keep out of your way. And, Alida, dear, I thought at first that I was taken by your good traits and your education and all that, but I found out at last that I had fallen in love with YOU. Now you know all. You feel better now, don't you?""Yes," she breathed softly."You've had enough to wear a saint out," he continued kindly. "Lie down on the lounge and I'll bring your supper to you."
"No, please! It will do me more good to go on and act as if nothing had happened.""Well, have your own way, little wife. You're boss now, sure enough."
She drew him to the porch, and together they looked upon the June landscape which she had regarded with such despairing eyes an hour before."Happiness never kills, after all," she said.
"Shouldn't be alive if it did," he replied. "The birds seem to sing as if they knew."Jane emerged from the barn door with a basket of eggs, and Alida sped away to meet her. The first thing the child knew the arms of her mistress were about her neck and she was kissed again and again.
"What did you do that for?" she asked."You'll understand some day.""Say," said Jane in an impulse of good will, "if you're only half married to Mr. Holcroft, I'd go the whole figure, 'fi's you. If you'd 'a' seen him a-thrashin' that scamp you'd know he's the man to take care of you.""Yes, Jane, I know. He'll take care of me always."
The next morning Holcroft and Alida drove to town and went to the church which she and her mother used to attend. After the service they followed the clergyman home, where Alida again told him her story, though not without much help from the farmer. After some kindly reproach that she had not brought her troubles to him at first, the minister performed a ceremony which found deep echoes in both their hearts.Time and right, sensible living soon remove prejudice from the hearts of the good and stop the mouths of the cynical and scandal-loving. Alida's influence, and the farmer's broadening and more unselfish views gradually bought him into a better understanding of his faith, and into a kinder sympathy and charity for his neighbors than he had ever known. His relations to the society of which he was a part became natural and friendly, and his house a pretty and a hospitable home. Even Mrs. Watterly eventually entered its portals. She and others were compelled to agree with Watterly that Alida was not of the "common sort," and that the happiest good fortune which could befall any man had come to Holcroft when he fell in love with his wife.
The End"Well, anyway, it's no business of ours."
"It's very much my business. He was the man who drove me here. . . . I'll give you fifty pounds if you'll get me out before he comes back.""I shouldn't think it worth while. I should get sacked more likely than not. I've got a good job here."
"Suppose I say eighty?""I can see it first?""I haven't got it here. If you come with me to Grosvenor Gardens I'll give it to you at once.""We couldn't get away without being seen. And after that, money wouldn't be much use to me."
"Isn't it worth trying?"The girl stared at her with expressionless eyes. It was impossible to tell what she thought. Irene controlled herself to silence till she should hear her reply. Till she had it, she felt it hard to guess what further argument would avail.
"You're sure they killed him?" the girl asked at last."He was alive when he drove me here."
"I daresay they did. They kill beautiful dogs. Mr. Snacklit likes doing that.""We're losing time, If we're going - - "