"What a fool I wasreflect finance uniswap, then, to put it into your head!"
We may observe the soundness of the Prbitcoin drop to 1000ofessor's judgment when he used his foot, with such economy of effort, to put Snacklit in his appropriate place.As to what did happen to Professor Blinkwell, which exemplified the familiar proverb that the pitcher which goes often to the well will get broken at last - that is another story, and must be told at another time.
But it may be recorded here that both Burfoot and Wilkes were convicted and duly hanged. Wilkes, in a last effort to dodge the rope, did tell his solicitors of the manner of Snacklit's end, which those gentlemen communicated to the police, who, without considering Wilkes to be a mirror of exact truth, were inclined to credit it, and the promotion of Inspector Dunchurch, which shortly followed, may have been partly due to this confirmation of the theory to which he had held so stubbornly. But it was decided that it would be impossible to prosecute Professor Blinkwell on the unsupported evidence of a convicted murderer, and Wilkes' anticipation that he would be kept alive to give that testimony proved to be a mistake.Irene gave evidence, which the Press treated with that voluntary discretion which is the usual consequence of a word from Whitehall or Downing Street, and that she was the daughter of the American Ambassador was not generally known. . . . The Press of the United States, under banner headlines, had more to say; but it was fortunately of the right kind.Mr. Thurlow, outlining these future events with considerable accuracy in his astute political mind, was feeling content with the world and with those around him. He would have liked to have continued the conversation after coffee was served. But he was a discreet man, and one who knew when silence or withdrawal are positive rather than negative actions. He said that he had matters of urgency with which to deal in his own room.Irene and her cousin were left alone; and it is obvious that there is no means of knowing what took place afterwards, beyond disclosures which either of them made, which were not of a detailed kind. But much may be inferred from an announcement in The Times which Myra read at breakfast only two mornings later."A marriage has been arranged - - "
She laid down the paper, looked at her uncle, started to speak, and checked herself. Her rather heavy features resumed their usual immobility. But it cannot be recorded that she looked pleased.As to Professor Blinkwell, he took no notice at all. His mind had strayed erratically to the moment when he had struck a blow from behind at a man's neck hard enough to make silence certain, and from such an angle that there would be little risk of any bloodstain resulting upon a dinner-jacket which it would have been a pity to spoil."Please don't talk that way," she interrupted. "I don't mind being alone at all. I shall feel a great deal more at home if you forget all about ceremony."
"Well, Alida, I guess we had both better begin on that basis. If I give up when I'm tired, you must. You mustn't think I'm always such a sleepyhead. The fact is I've been more tired out with worry of late than with work. I can laugh about it now, but I've been so desperate over it that I've felt more like swearing. You'll find out I've become a good deal of a heathen.""Very well; I'll wait till I find out.""I think we are getting acquainted famously, don't you?""Yes," she nodded, with a smile that meant more than a long speech. "Good night."
Chapter 23 Between the Past and FutureHuman nature, in common with Mother Nature, has its immutable laws. The people who existed before the flood were, in their primal motives, like those of today. The conventionality of highly civilized society does not change the heart, but it puts so much restraint upon it that not a few appear heartless. They march through life and fight its battles like uniformed men, trained in a certain school of tactics. The monotony of character and action is superficial, in most cases, rather than real, and he who fathoms the eyes of others, who catches the subtle quality of tones and interprets the flexible mouth that utters them, will discover that the whole gamut of human nature exists in those that appear only like certain musical instruments, made by machinery to play a few well-known tunes. Conventional restraint often, no doubt, produces dwarfed and defective human nature. I suppose that if souls could be put under a microscope, the undeveloped rudiments of almost everything would be discovered. It is more satisfactory to study the things themselves than their suggestions; this we are usually better able to do among people of simple and untrammeled modes of life, who are not practiced in disguises. Their peculiar traits and their general and dominant laws and impulses are exhibited with less reserve than by those who have learned to be always on their guard. Of course there are commonplace yeomen as truly as commonplace aristocrats, and simple life abounds in simpletons.
When a man in Holcroft's position has decided traits, they are apt to have a somewhat full expression; his rugged nature beside a tamer one outlines itself more vividly, just as a mountain peak is silhouetted against the horizon better than a rounded hill. It probably has been observed that his character possessed much simplicity and directness. He had neither the force nor the ambition to raise him above his circumstances; he was merely decided within the lines of his environment. Perhaps the current of his life was all the stronger for being narrow. His motives were neither complex nor vacillating. He had married to keep his home and to continue in the conditions of life dear from association and the strongest preference, and his heart overflowed with good will and kindness toward Alida because she promised to solve the hard problem of the future satisfactorily. Apart from the sympathy which her misfortune had evoked, he probably could have felt much the same toward any other good, sensible woman, had she rendered him a similar service. It is true, now that Alida was in his home, that she was manifesting agreeable traits which gave him pleasant little surprises. He had not expected that he would have had half so much to say to her, yet felt it his duty to be sociable in order to cheer up and mark the line between even a business marriage and the employment of a domestic. Both his interest and his duty required that he should establish the bonds of strong friendly regard on the basis of perfect equality, and he would have made efforts, similar to those he put forth, in behalf of any woman, if she had consented to marry him with Alida's understanding. Now, however, that his suddenly adopted project of securing a housekeeper and helper had been consummated, he would find that he was not dealing with a business partner in the abstract, but a definite woman, who had already begun to exert over him her natural influence. He had expected more or less constraint and that some time must elapse before his wife would cease to be in a sense company whom he, with conscious and deliberate effort, must entertain. On the contrary she entertained and interested him, although she said so little, and by some subtle power she unloosed his tongue and made it easy for him to talk to her. In the most quiet and unobtrusive way, she was not only making herself at home, but him also; she was very subservient to his wishes, but not servilely so; she did not assert, but only revealed her superiority, and after even so brief an acquaintance he was ready to indorse Tom Watterly's view, "She's out of the common run."While all this was true, the farmer's heart was as untouched as that of a child who simply and instinctively likes a person. He was still quietly and unhesitatingly loyal to his former wife. Apart from his involuntary favor, his shrewd, practical reason was definite enough in its grounds of approval. Reason assured him that she promised to do and to be just what he had married her for, but this might have been true of a capable, yet disagreeable woman whom he could not like, to save himself.Both in regard to himself and Alida, Holcroft accepted the actual facts with the gladness and much of the unquestioning simplicity of a child. This rather risky experiment was turning out well, and for a time he daily became more and more absorbed in his farm and its interests. Alida quietly performed her household tasks and proved that she would not need very much instruction to become a good butter maker. The short spring of the North required that he should be busy early and late to keep pace with the quickly passing seedtime. His hopefulness, his freedom from household worries, prompted him to sow and plant increased areas of land. In brief, he entered on just the business-like honeymoon he had hoped for.Alida was more than content with the conditions of her life. She saw that Holcroft was not only satisfied, but also pleased with her, and that was all she had expected and indeed all that thus far she had wished or hoped. She had many sad hours; wounds like hers cannot heal readily in a true, sensitive woman's heart. While she gained in cheerfulness and confidence, the terrible and unexpected disaster which had overtaken her rendered impossible the serenity of those with whom all has gone well. Dread of something, she knew not what, haunted her painfully, and memory at times seemed malignantly perverse in recalling one whom she prayed to forget.
Next to her faith and Holcroft's kindness her work was her best solace, and she thanked God for the strength to keep busy.On the first Sunday morning after their marriage the farmer overslept, and breakfast had been ready some time when he came down. He looked with a little dismay at the clock over the kitchen mantel and asked, "Aren't you going to scold a little?"She shook her head, nor did she look the chiding which often might as well be spoken."How long have I kept breakfast waiting, or you rather?"
"What difference does it make? You needed the rest. The breakfast may not be so nice," was her smiling answer."No matter. You are nice to let a man off in that way." Observing the book in her lap, he continued, "So you were reading the old family Bible to learn lessons of patience and forbearance?"
Again she shook her head. She often oddly reminded him of Jane in her employment of signs instead of speech, but in her case there was a grace, a suggestiveness, and even a piquancy about them which made them like a new language. He understood and interpreted her frankly. "I know, Alida," he said kindly; "you are a good woman. You believe in the Bible and love to read it.""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."