But by the time when the rising sun came faintly in and lighted thehaggard party, where the deceived were happy, the deceiverswretched, the supernatural strength this young girl had shown waschain link world coin indexalmost exhausted. She felt an hysterical impulse to scream andweep: each minute it became more and more ungovernable. Then camean unexpected turn. Raynal after a long and tiring talk with hismother, as he called her, looked at his watch, and in acharacteristic way coolly announced his immediate departure, thisbeing the first hint he had given them that he was not come back forgood.
Edouard called the next day: he wore a gloomy air. Rose met thiswith does bitcoin investing really worka particularly cheerful one; on this, Edouard's face clearedup, and he was himself again; agreeable as this was, Rose felt alittle disappointed. "I am afraid he is not very jealous afterall," thought she.Josephine left her room this day and mingled once more with thefamily. The bare sight of her was enough for Camille at first, butafter awhile he wanted more. He wanted to be often alone with her;but several causes co-operated to make her shy of giving him manysuch opportunities: first, her natural delicacy, coupled with herhabit of self-denial; then her fear of shocking her mother, andlastly her fear of her own heart, and of Camille, whose power overher she knew. For Camille, when he did get a sweet word alone withher, seemed to forget everything except that she was his betrothed,and that he had come back alive to marry her. He spoke to her ofhis love with an ardor and an urgency that made her thrill withhappiness, but at the same time shrink with a certain fear and self-reproach. Possessed with a feeling no stronger than hers, butsingle, he did not comprehend the tumult, the trouble, the dailycontest in her heart. The wind seemed to him to be always changing,and hot and cold the same hour. Since he did not even see that shewas acting in hourly fear of her mother's eye, he was little likelyto penetrate her more hidden sentiments; and then he had not touchedher key-note,--self-denial.
Women are self-denying and uncandid. Men are self-indulgent andoutspoken.And this is the key to a thousand double misunderstandings; forbelieve me, good women are just as stupid in misunderstanding men ashonest men are in misunderstanding women.To Camille, Josephine's fluctuations, joys, tremors, love, terror,modesty, seemed one grand total, caprice. The component parts of ithe saw not; and her caprice tortured him almost to madness. Toopenitent to give way again to violent passion, he gently fretted.His health retrograded and his temper began to sour. The eye oftimid love that watched him with maternal anxiety from under itslong lashes saw this with dismay, and Rose, who looked into hersister's bosom, devoted herself once more to soothe him withoutcompromising Josephine's delicacy. Matters were not so bad but whata fine sprightly girl like Rose could cheer up a dejected but manlycolonel; and Rose was generally successful.But then, unfortunately, this led to a fresh mystification.
Riviere's natural jealousy revived, and found constant food in theattention Rose paid Camille, a brilliant colonel living in the housewhile he, poor wretch, lived in lodgings. The false position of allthe parties brought about some singular turns. I give from theirnumber one that forms a link, though a small one, in my narrative.One day Edouard came to tell Rose she was making him unhappy; he hadher alone in the Pleasaunce; she received him with a radiant smile,and they had a charming talk,--a talk all about HIM: what the familyowed him, etc."Well, God bless you for intercedin'--you had so much to forgive. Nobody shall ever speak a word against you again while I've got breath to answer. I wish you'd let me come and see you sometimes."
"Whenever you wish, if you care to visit one who has had so much--so much trouble.""I see now that's all the more reason I should come, for if it hadn't been for you, I'd have been in bitter trouble myself. We've been worse than heathen, standin' off and talking against you. Oh, I've had a lesson I won't forget! Well, I must hurry home, for I left Timothy and Lemuel in a dreadful state."Seeing the farmer in the barn as she was passing, she rushed to him. "You've got to shake hands with me, Mr. Holcroft. Your wife IS a good woman, and she's a lady, too. Anyone with half an eye can see she's not one of the common sort."The farmer shook the poor woman's hand good-naturedly and said heartily, "That's so! All right, meeting's over. Goodbye." Then he turned to his work and chuckled, "That's what Tom Watterly said. Thank the Lord! She ISN'T of the common sort. I've got to brace up and be more of a man as well as Tim Weeks."
In spite of the pain in his head, Alida's words proved true. He was happier than he had been in many a long day. He had the glow which follows a generous act, and the thought that he had pleased a sweet little woman who somehow seemed very attractive to him that May morning; at the same time the old Adam in his nature led to a sneaking satisfaction that he had laid on the hickory so unsparingly the evening before.Alida uttered a low, happy laugh as she heard him whistling "Coronation" in jig time, and she hustled away the breakfast things with the eagerness of a girl, that she might be ready to read to him when he came in.
Chapter 27 Farm and Farmer BewitchedThe day grew warm, and having finished her tasks indoors and cared for the poultry, Alida brought a chair out in the porch. Her eyes were dreamy with a vague, undefined happiness. The landscape in itself was cause for exquisite pleasure, for it was an ideal day of the apple-blossoming period. The old orchard back of the barn looked as if pink-and-white clouds had settled upon it, and scattered trees near and far were exhaling their fragrance. The light breeze which fanned her cheek and bent the growing rye in an adjacent field was perfumed beyond the skill of art. Not only were her favorite meadow larks calling to each other, but the thrushes had come and she felt that she had never heard such hymns as they were singing. A burst of song from the lilac bush under the parlor window drew her eyes thither, and there was the paternal redbreast pouring out the very soul of ecstasy. From the nest beneath him rose the black head and yellow beak of his brooding mate. "How contented and happy she looks!" Alida murmured, "how happy they both are! And the secret of it is HOME. And to think that I, who was a friendless waif, am at home, also! At home with Eden-like beauty and peace before my eyes. But if it hadn't been for him, and if he were not brave, kind, and true to all he says--" and she shuddered at a contrast that rose before her fancy.She could now scarcely satisfy herself that it was only gratitude which filled her heart with a strange, happy tumult. She had never been conscious of such exaltation before. It is true, she had learned to cherish a strong affection for the man whom she had believed to be her husband, but chiefly because he had seemed kind and she had an affectionate disposition. Until within the last few hours, her nature had never been touched and awakened in its profoundest depths. She had never known before nor had she idealized the manhood capable of evoking the feelings which now lighted her eyes and gave to her face the supreme charm and beauty of womanhood. In truth, it was a fitting day and time for the birth of a love like hers, simple, all-absorbing, and grateful. It contained no element not in harmony with that May Sunday morning.Holcroft came and sat on the steps below her. She kept her eyes on the landscape, for she was consciously enough on her guard now. "I rather guess you think, Alida, that you are looking at a better picture than any artist fellow could paint?" he remarked.
"Yes," she replied hesitatingly, "and the picture seems all the more lovely and full of light because the background is so very dark. I've been thinking of what happened here last night and what might have happened, and how I felt then.""You feel better--different now, don't you? You certainly look so.""Yes!--You made me very happy by yielding to Mrs. Weeks.""Oh! I didn't yield to her at all."
"Very well, have it your own way, then.""I think you had it your way."
"Are you sorry?""Do I look so? How did you know I'd be happier if I gave in?"
"Because, as you say, I'm getting better acquainted with you. YOU couldn't help being happier for a generous act.""I wouldn't have done it, though, if it hadn't been for you.""I'm not so sure about that.""I am. You're coming to make me feel confoundedly uncomfortable in my heathenish life.""I wish I could.""I never had such a sermon in my life as you gave me this morning. A Christian act like yours is worth a year of religious talk."
She looked at him wistfully for a moment and then asked, a little abruptly, "Mr. Holcroft, have you truly forgiven that Weeks family?""Oh, yes! I suppose so. I've forgiven the old lady, anyhow. I've shaken hands with her."
"If her husband and son should come and apologize and say they were sorry, would you truly and honestly forgive them?""Certainly! I couldn't hold a grudge after that. What are you aiming at?" and he turned and looked inquiringly into her face.
It was flushed and tearful in its eager, earnest interest. "Don't you see?" she faltered.He shook his head, but was suddenly and strangely moved by her expression.
"Why, Mr. Holcroft, if you can honestly forgive those who have wronged you, you ought to see how ready God is to forgive."He fairly started to his feet so vividly the truth came home to him, illumined, as it was, by a recent and personal experience. After a moment, he slowly sat down again and said, with a long breath, "That was a close shot, Alida.""I only wish you to have the trust and comfort which this truth should bring you," she said. "It seems a pity you should do yourself needless injustice when you are willing to do what is right and kind by others.""It's all a terrible muddle, Alida. If God is so ready to forgive, how do you account for all the evil and suffering in the world?"
"I don't account for it and can't. I'm only one of his little children; often an erring one, too. You've been able to forgive grown people, your equals, and strangers in a sense. Suppose you had a little boy that had done wrong, but said he was sorry, would you hold a grudge against him?""The idea! I'd be a brute."
She laughed softly as she asked again, "don't you see?"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."