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 ricardano crypto billsen 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.
From that day she watched Jusdt price prediction 2030osephine like a spy. Confidence was gonebetween them. Suspicion took its place.Rose was right in her misgivings. The moment Josephine saw thatEdouard's happiness and Rose's were to be sacrificed for her whomnothing could make happy, the poor thing said to herself, "I CANDIE."And that was the happy thought that made her smile.
The doctor gave her laudanum: he found she could not sleep: and hethought it all-important that she should sleep.Josephine, instead of taking these small doses, saved them all up,secreted them in a phial, and so, from the sleep of a dozen nights,collected the sleep of death: and now she was tranquil. This youngcreature that could not bear to give pain to any one else, preparedher own death with a calm resolution the heroes of our sex have notoften equalled. It was so little a thing to her to strikeJosephine. Death would save her honor, would spare her thefrightful alternative of deceiving her husband, or of telling himshe was another's. "Poor Raynal," said she to herself, "it is socruel to tie him to a woman who can never be to him what hedeserves. Rose would then prove her innocence to Edouard. A fewtears for a weak, loving soul, and they would all be happy andforget her."One day the baroness, finding herself alone with Rose and Dr.Aubertin, asked the latter what he thought of Josephine's state."Oh, she was better: had slept last night without her usualnarcotic."The baroness laid down her knitting and said, with much meaning,"And I tell you, you will never cure her body till you can cure hermind. My poor child has some secret sorrow.""Sorrow!" said Aubertin, stoutly concealing the uneasiness thesewords created, "what sorrow?""Oh, she has some deep sorrow. And so have you, Rose.""Me, mamma! what DO you mean?"The baroness's pale cheek flushed a little. "I mean," said she,"that my patience is worn out at last; I cannot live surrounded bysecrets. Raynal's gloomy looks when he left us, after staying butone hour; Josephine ill from that day, and bursting into tears atevery word; yourself pale and changed, hiding an unaccountablesadness under forced smiles-- Now, don't interrupt me. Edouard,who was almost like a son, gone off, without a word, and never comesnear us now.""Really you are ingenious in tormenting yourself. Josephine is ill!Well, is it so very strange? Have you never been ill? Rose ispale! you ARE pale, my dear; but she has nursed her sister for amonth; is it a wonder she has lost color? Edouard is gone ajourney, to inherit his uncle's property: a million francs. Butdon't you go and fall ill, like Josephine; turn pale, like Rose; andmake journeys in the region of fancy, after Edouard Riviere, who istramping along on the vulgar high road."This tirade came from Aubertin, and very clever he thought himself.
But he had to do with a shrewd old lady, whose suspicions had longsmouldered; and now burst out. She said quietly, "Oh, then Edouardis not in this part of the world. That alters the case: where IShe?""In Normandy, probably," said Rose, blushing.The baroness looked inquiringly towards Aubertin. He put on aninnocent face and said nothing.He sat looking thoughtfully away across the fields for a long time, and finally asked, "Is your idea of becoming a Christian just being forgiven like a child and then trying to do right?"
"Yes. Why not?""Well," he remarked, with a grim laugh. "I didn't expect to be cornered in this way.""You who are truthful should face the truth. It would make you happier. A good deal that was unexpected has happened. When I look out on a scene like this and think that I am safe and at home, I feel that God has been very good to me and that you have, too. I can't bear to think that you have that old trouble on your mind--the feeling that you had been a Christian once, but was not one now. Being sure that there is no need of your continuing to feel so, what sort of return would I be making for all your kindness if I did not try to show you what is as clear to me as this sunshine?""You are a good woman, Alida. Believing as you do, you have done right to speak to me, and I never believed mortal lips could speak so to the purpose. I shall think of what you have said, for you have put things in a new light. But say, Alida, what on earth possesses you to call me 'Mr.'? You don't need to be scared half to death every time to call me by my first name, do you?"
"Scared? Oh, no!" She was a trifle confused, he thought, but then her tone was completely reassuring.The day was one long remembered by both. As in nature about them, the conditions of development and rapid change now existed.
She did not read aloud very much, and long silences fell between them. They were reaching a higher plane of companionship, in which words are not always essential. Both had much to think about, and their thoughts were like roots which prepare for blossom and fruit.With Monday, busy life was resumed. The farmer began planting his corn and Alida her flower seeds. Almost every day now added to the brood of little chicks under her care. The cows went out to pasture. Holcroft brought in an increasing number of overflowing pails of milk, and if the labors of the dairy grew more exacting, they also grew more profitable. The tide had turned; income was larger than outgo, and it truly seemed to the long-harassed man that an era of peace and prosperity had set in.To a superficial observer things might have appeared to be going on much as before, but there were influences at work which Holcroft did not clearly comprehend.As Alida had promised herself, she spent all the money which the eggs brought in, but Holcroft found pretty muslin curtains at the parlor windows, and shades which excluded the glare from the kitchen. Better china took the place of that which was cracked and unsightly. In brief, a subtle and refining touch was apparent all over the house.
"How fine we are getting!" he remarked one evening at supper."I've only made a beginning," she replied, nodding defiantly at him. "The chickens will paint the house before the year is over.""Phew! When do the silk dresses come in?""When your broadcloth does."
"Well, if this goes on, I shall certainly have to wear purple and fine linen to keep pace.""Fine linen, certainly. When you take the next lot of eggs to town I shall tell you just the number of yards I need to make half a dozen extra fine shirts. Those you have are getting past mending."
"Do you think I'll let you spend your money in that way?""You'll let me spend MY money just as I please--in the way that will do me the most good!"
"What a saucy little woman you are becoming!" he said, looking at her so fondly that she quickly averted her eyes. "It's a way people fall into when humored," she answered."See here, Alida, you're up to some magic. It seems but the other day I brought you here, a pale ghost of a woman. As old Jonathan Johnson said, you were 'enj'yin' poor health.' Do you know what he said when I took him off so he wouldn't put you through the catechism?""No," she replied, with a deprecating smile and rising color."He said he was 'afeared I'd been taken in, you were such a sickly lookin' critter.' Ha! Ha! Wish he might see you now, with that flushed face of yours. I never believed in magic, but I'll have to come to it. You are bewitched, and are being transformed into a pretty young girl right under my eyes; the house is bewitched, and is growing pretty, too, and pleasanter all the time. The cherry and apple trees are bewitched, for they never blossomed so before; the hens are bewitched, they lay as if possessed; the--""Oh, stop! Or I shall think that you're bewitched yourself.""I truly begin to think I am."
"Oh, well! Since we all and everything are affected in the same way, it don't matter.""But it does. It's unaccountable. I'm beginning to rub my eyes and pinch myself to wake up."
"If you like it, I wouldn't wake up.""Suppose I did, and saw Mrs. Mumpson sitting where you do, Jane here, and Mrs. Wiggins smoking her pipe in the corner. The very thought makes me shiver. My first words would be, 'Please pass the cold p'ison.'"
"What nonsense you are talking tonight!" she tried to say severely, but the pleased, happy look in her eyes betrayed her. He regarded her with the open admiration of a boy, and she sought to divert his attention by asking, "What do you think has become of Jane?""I don't know--stealing around like a strange cat in some relation's house, I suppose."
"You once said you would like to do something for her.""Well, I would. If I could afford it, I'd like to send her to school.""Would you like her to come here and study lessons part of the time?"He shivered visibly. "No, Alida, and you wouldn't either. She'd make you more nervous than she would me, and that's saying a good deal. I do feel very sorry for her, and if Mrs. Weeks comes to see you, we'll find out if something can't be done, but her presence would spoil all our cozy comfort. The fact is, I wouldn't enjoy having anyone here. You and I are just about company enough. Still, if you feel that you'd like to have some help--"
"Oh, no! I haven't enough to do.""But you're always a-doing. Well, if you're content, I haven't Christian fortitude enough to make any changes."
She smiled and thought that she was more than content. She had begun to detect symptoms 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.One unusually warm morning for the season, rain set in after breakfast. Holcroft did not fret in the least that he could not go to the fields, nor did he, as had been his custom at first, find rainy-day work at the barn. The cows, in cropping the lush grass, had so increased their yield of milk that it was necessary to churn every other day, and Alida was busy in the dairy. This place had become inviting by reason of its coolness, and she had rendered it more so by making it perfectly clean and sweet. Strange to say, it contained another chair besides the one she usually occupied. The apartment was large and stone-flagged. Along one side were shelves filled with rows of shining milk-pans. In one corner stood the simple machinery which the old dog put in motion when tied upon his movable walk, and the churn was near. An iron pipe, buried deep in the ground, brought cool spring water from the brook above. This pipe emptied its contents with a low gurgle into a shallow, oblong receptacle sunk in the floor, and was wide and deep enough for two stone crocks of ample size to stand abreast up to their rims in the water. The cream was skimmed into these stone jars until they were full, then Holcroft emptied them into the churn. He had charged Alida never to attempt this part of the work, and indeed it was beyond her strength. After breakfast on churning days, he prepared everything and set the dog at work. Then he emptied the churn of the buttermilk when he came in to dinner.
All the associations of the place were pleasant to Alida. It was here that her husband had shown patience as well as kindness in teaching her how to supplement his work until her own experience and judgment gave her a better skill than he possessed. Many pleasant, laughing words had passed between them in this cool, shadowy place, and on a former rainy morning he had brought a chair down that he might keep her company. She had not carried it back, nor was she very greatly surprised to see him saunter in and occupy it on the present occasion. She stood by the churn, her figure outlined clearly in the light from the open door, as she poured in cold water from time to time to hasten and harden the gathering butter. Her right sleeve was rolled well back, revealing a white arm that was becoming beautifully plump and round. An artist would have said that her attitude and action were unconsciously natural and graceful. Holcroft had scarcely the remotest idea of artistic effect, but he had a sensible man's perception of a charming woman when she is charming."Mr. Holcroft," she asked very gravely, "will you do something for me?"
"Yes, half a dozen things.""You promise?""Certainly! What's the trouble?""I don't mean there shall be any if I can help it," she answered with a light ripple of laughter. "Please go and put on your coat."
"How you've humbugged me! It's too hot.""Oh, you've got to do it; you promised. You can't stay here unless you do."
"So you are going to take care of me as if I were a small boy?""You need care--sometimes."
He soon came back and asked, "Now may I stay?""Yes. Please untie the dog. Butter's come."