"You are a good deal casterracoin cryptocurrencyt down, Alida," he said, watching her closely.
Rose, though sheada cardano goguen did not like him, had now declared on his side.She refused to show him the least attention. This threw him onJosephine: and when Josephine begged her to help reduce Camille toreason, her answer would be,--"Hypocrite!" with a kiss: or else she would say, with a half comicpetulance, "No! no! I am on his side. Give him his own way, or hewill make us all four miserable."Thus Josephine's ally went over to the enemy.
And then this coy young lady's very power of resistance began togive way. She had now battled for months against her own heart:first for her mother; then, in a far more terrible conflict forRaynal, for honor and purity; and of late she had been battling,still against her own heart, for delicacy, for etiquette, thingsvery dear to her, but not so great, holy, and sustaining as honorand charity that were her very household gods: and so, just when themotives of resistance were lowered, the length of the resistancebegan to wear her out.For nothing is so hard to her sex as a long steady struggle. Inmatters physical, this is the thing the muscles of the fair cannotstand; in matters intellectual and moral, the long strain it is thatbeats them dead.Do not look for a Bacona, a Newtona, a Handella, a Victoria Huga.Some American ladies tell us education has stopped the growth ofthese.
No! mesdames. These are not in nature.They can bubble letters in ten minutes that you could no moredeliver to order in ten days than a river can play like a fountain."No, Jane, not in this case. Unless your impressions are all mistaken I may have to thank you all my life. I'm not one to forget those who are true to me. Now, begin at the beginning and go right through to the end; then I may understand better than you can."
Jane did as she was told, and many "says he's" and "says she's" followed in her literal narrative. Holroft again dropped his face into his hands, and before she was through, tears of joy trickled through his fingers. When she finished, he arose, turned away, and hastily wiped his eyes, then gave the girl his hand as he said, "Thank you, Jane. You've tried to be a true friend to me today. I'll show you that I don't forget. I was a fool to get in such a rage, but you can't understand and must forgive me. Come, you see I'm quiet now," and he untied the horses and lifted her into his wagon."What yer doin' to do?" she asked, as they drove away."I'm going to reward you for watching and listening to that scoundrel, but you must not watch me or Mrs. Holcroft, or listen to what we say unless we speak before you. If you do, I shall be very angry. Now, you've only one thing more to do and that is, show me where this man is hiding.""But you won't go near him alone?" inquired Jane in much alarm.
"You must do as I bid you," he replied sternly. "Show me where he's hiding, then stay by the wagon and horses.""But he same as said he'd kill you."
"You have your orders," was his quiet reply.She looked scared enough, but remained silent until they reached a shaded spot on the road, then said, "If you don't want him to see you too soon, better tie here. He's around yonder, in a grove up on the hill."Holcroft drove to a tree by the side of the highway and again tied his horses, then took the whip from the wagon. "Are you afraid to go with me a little way and show me just where he is?" he asked."No, but you oughtn' ter go."
"Come on, then! You must mind me if you wish to keep my good will. I know what I'm about." As in his former encounter, his weapon was again a long, tough whipstock with a leather thong attached. This he cut off and put in his pocket, then followed Jane's rapid lead up the hill. Very soon she said, "There's the place I saw 'im in. If you will go, I'd steal up on him.""Yes. You stay here." She made no reply, but the moment he disappeared she was upon his trail. Her curiosity was much greater than her timidity, and she justly reasoned that she had little to fear.Holcroft approached from a point whence Ferguson was expecting no danger. The latter was lying on the ground, gnawing his nails in vexation, when he first heard the farmer's step. Then he saw a dark-visaged man rushing upon him. In the impulse of his terror, he drew his revolver and fired. The ball hissed near, but did no harm, and before Ferguson could use the weapon again, a blow from the whipstock paralyzed his arm and the pistol dropped to the ground. So also did its owner a moment later, under a vindictive rain of blows, until he shrieked for mercy."Don't move!" said Holcroft sternly, and he picked up the revolver. "So you meant to kill me, eh?"
"No, no! I didn't. I wouldn't have fired if it hadn't been in self-defense and because I hadn't time to think." He spoke with difficulty, for his mouth was bleeding and he was terribly bruised."A liar, too!" said the farmer, glowering down upon him. "But I knew that before. What did you mean by your threats to my wife?"
"See here, Mr. Holcroft; I'm down and at your mercy. If you'll let me off I'll go away and never trouble you or your wife again.""Oh, no!" said Holcroft with a bitter laugh. "You'll never, never trouble us again."
"What, do you mean to murder me?" Ferguson half shrieked."Would killing such a thing as you be murder? Any jury in the land would acquit me. You ought to be roasted over a slow fire."The fellow tried to scramble on his knees, but Holcroft hit him another savage blow, and said, "Lie still!"Ferguson began to wring his hands and beg for mercy. His captor stood over him a moment or two irresolutely in his white-heated anger; then thoughts of his wife began to soften him. He could not go to her with blood on his hands--she who had taught him such lessons of forbearance and forgiveness. He put the pistol in his pocket and giving his enemy a kick, said, "Get up!"The man rose with difficulty."I won't waste time in asking any promises from YOU, but if you ever trouble my wife or me again, I'll break every bone in your body. Go, quick, before my mood changes, and don't say a word."
As the man tremblingly untied his horse, Jane stepped out before him and said, "I'm a little idiotic girl, am I?"He was too thoroughly cowed to make any reply and drove as rapidly away as the ground permitted, guiding his horse with difficulty in his maimed condition.
Jane, in the exuberance of her pleasure, began something like a jig on the scene of conflict, and her antics were so ridiculous that Holcroft had to turn away to repress a smile. "You didn't mind me, Jane," he said gravely."Well, sir," she replied, "after showin' you the way to 'im, you oughter not grudge me seein' the fun."
"But it isn't nice for little girls to see such things.""Never saw anything nicer in my life. You're the kind of man I believe in, you are. Golly! Only wished SHE'D seen you. I've seen many a rough and tumble 'mong farm hands, but never anything like this. It was only his pistol I was 'fraid of."
"Will you do exactly what I say now?"She nodded."Well, go home across the fields and don't by word or manner let Mrs. Holcroft know what you've seen or heard, and say nothing about meeting me. Just make her think you know nothing at all and that you only watched the man out of sight. Do this and I'll give you a new dress.""I'd like somethin' else 'sides that."
"Well, what?""I'd like to be sure I could stay right on with you."
"Yes, Jane, after today, as long as you're a good girl. Now go, for I must get back to my team before this scamp goes by."She darted homeward as the farmer returned to his wagon. Ferguson soon appeared and seemed much startled as he saw his Nemesis again. "I'll keep my word," he said, as he drove by.
"You'd better!" called the farmer. "You know what to expect now."Alida was so prostrated by the shock of the interview that she rallied slowly. At last she saw that it was getting late and that she soon might expect the return of her husband. She dragged herself to the door and again called Jane, but the place was evidently deserted. Evening was coming on tranquilly, with all its sweet June sounds, but now every bird song was like a knell. She sunk on the porch seat and looked at the landscape, already so dear and familiar, as if she were taking a final farewell of a friend. Then she turned to the homely kitchen to which she had first been brought. "I can do a little more for him," she thought, "before I make the last sacrifice which will soon bring the end. I think I could have lived--lived, perhaps, till I was old, if I had gone among strangers from the almshouse, but I can't now. My heart is broken. Now that I've seen that man again I understand why my husband cannot love me. Even the thought of touching me must make him shudder. But I can't bear up under such a load much longer, and that's my comfort. It's best I should go away now; I couldn't do otherwise," and the tragedy went on in her soul as she feebly prepared her husband's meal.
At last Jane came in with her basket of peas. Her face was so impassive as to suggest that she had no knowledge of anything except that there had been a visitor, and Alida had sunk into such depths of despairing sorrow that she scarcely noticed the child.Chapter 33 ＂Shrink from YOU?＂Holcroft soon came driving slowly up the lane as if nothing unusual was on his mind. Having tied his horses, he brought in an armful of bundles and said kindly, "Well, Alida, here I am again, and I guess I've brought enough to last well through haying time."
"Yes," she replied with averted face. This did not trouble him any now, but her extreme pallor did and he added, "You don't look well. I wouldn't mind getting much supper tonight. Let Jane do the work.""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--"