"That's what I like most about it, but I don't think I stumbled into it. I think I've been led and helped. That's what I meant whbitcoin crash is comingen I said you didn't understand me," she added hesitatingly. "It doesn't take courage for me to go to God. I get courage by believing that he cares for me like a father, as the bible says. How could I ever have found so kind a friend and good a home myself?"
"No, no;" said Rose hastily; "he is alive. But you will need allyour courage.""Since he lives I fear nothing," said Josephine; and stood there andquivered from head to foot. Rose, with pitying looks, took her bythe hand and drew her in silence towards the kitchen.kusama coin price prediction 2022Josephine yielded a mute submission at first; but at the very doorhung back and faltered, "He loves another; he is married: let mego." Rose made no reply, but left her there and went into thekitchen and found two dragoons seated round a bottle of wine. Theyrose and saluted her.
"Be seated, my brave men," said she; "only please tell me what youtold Jacintha about Captain Dujardin.""Don't stain your mouth with the captain, my little lady. He is atraitor.""How do you know?""Marcellus! mademoiselle asks us how we know Captain Dujardin to bea traitor. Speak."Marcellus, thus appealed to, told Rose after his own fashion that heknew the captain well: that one day the captain rode out of the campand never returned: that at first great anxiety was felt on hisbehalf, for the captain was a great favorite, and passed for thesmartest soldier in the division: that after awhile anxiety gaveplace to some very awkward suspicions, and these suspicions it washis lot and his comrade's here to confirm. About a month later heand the said comrade and two more were sent, well mounted, toreconnoitre a Spanish village. At the door of a little inn theycaught sight of a French uniform. This so excited their curiositythat he went forward nearer than prudent, and distinctly recognizedCaptain Dujardin seated at a table drinking between two guerillas;then he rode back and told the others, who then came up andsatisfied themselves it was so: that if any of the party hadentertained a doubt, it was removed in an unpleasant way; he,Marcellus, disgusted at the sight of a French uniform drinking amongSpaniards, took down his carabine and fired at the group ascarefully as a somewhat restive horse permitted: at this, as if bymagic, a score or so of guerillas poured out from Heaven knowswhere, musket in hand, and delivered a volley; the officer incommand of the party fell dead, Jean Jacques here got a broken arm,and his own horse was wounded in two places, and fell from loss ofblood a few furlongs from the French camp, to the neighborhood ofwhich the vagabonds pursued them, hallooing and shouting and firinglike barbarous banditti as they were."However, here I am," concluded Marcellus, "invalided for awhile, mylady, but not expended yet: we will soon dash in among them againfor death or glory. Meantime," concluded he, filling both glasses,"let us drink to the eyes of beauty (military salute); and to therenown of France; and double damnation to all her traitors, likethat Captain Dujardin; whose neck may the devil twist."Ere they could drink to this energetic toast, a low wail at thedoor, like a dying hare's, arrested the glasses on their road, andthe rough soldiers stood transfixed, and looked at one another insome dismay. Rose flew to the door with a face full of concern.Josephine was gone.Then Rose had the tact and resolution to say a few kind, encouragingwords to the soldiers, and bid Jacintha be hospitable to them. Thisdone she darted up-stairs after Josephine; she reached the maincorridor just in time to see her creep along it with the air andcarriage of a woman of fifty, and enter her own room.Rose followed softly with wet eyes, and turned the handle gently.
But the door was locked."Josephine! Josephine!"No answer."Say," she faltered, "will you ask him to let me stay?"
"Yes, I'll ask him, but I can't promise that he will.""You won't ask him 'fore my face and then tell him not to behind my back?" and there was a sly, keen look in her eyes which tears could not conceal."No," said Alida gravely, "that's not my way. How did you get here, Jane?""Run away."
Alida drew a quick breath and was silent a few moments. "Is--is your mother there?" she asked at length."Yes. They wouldn't let us visit round any longer.""Didn't your mother or anyone know you were coming?"Jane shook her head.
Alida felt that it would be useless to burden the unhappy child with misgivings as to the result, and her heart softened toward her as one who in her limited way had known the bitterness and dread which in that same almshouse had overwhelmed her own spirit. She could only say gently, "Well, wait till Mr. Holcroft comes, and then we'll see what he says." She herself was both curious and anxious as to his course. "It will be a heavy cross," she thought, "but I should little deserve God's goodness to me if I did not befriend this child."Every moment added weight to this unexpected burden of duty. Apart from all consideration of Jane's peculiarities, the isolation with Holcroft had been a delight in itself. Their mutual enjoyment of each other's society had been growing from day to day, and she, more truly than he, had shrunk from the presence of another as an unwelcome intrusion. Conscious of her secret, Jane's prying eyes were already beginning to irritate her nerves. Never had she seen a human face that so completely embodied her idea of inquisitiveness as the uncanny visage of this child. She saw that she would be watched with a tireless vigilance. Her recoil, however, was not so much a matter of conscious reasoning and perception as it was an instinctive feeling of repulsion caused by the unfortunate child. It was the same old story. Jane always put the women of a household on pins and needles just as her mother exasperated the men. Alida had to struggle hard during a comparatively silent hour to fight down the hope that Holcroft would not listen to Jane's and her own request.As she stepped quickly and lightly about in her preparations for dinner, the girl watched her intently. At last she gave voice to her thoughts and said, "If mother'd only worked round smart as you, p'raps she'd hooked him 'stid er you."Alida's only reply was a slight frown, for the remark suggested disagreeable images and fancies. "Oh, how can I endure it?" she sighed. She determined to let Jane plead her own cause at first, thinking that perhaps this would be the safest way. If necessary, she would use her influence against a hostile decision, let it cost in discomfort what it might.
At a few moments before twelve the farmer came briskly toward the house, and was evidently in the best of spirits. When he entered and saw Jane, his countenance indicated so much dismay that Alida could scarcely repress a smile. The child rose and stood before him like a culprit awaiting sentence. She winked hard to keep the tears back, for there was no welcome in his manner. She could not know how intensely distasteful was her presence at this time, nor had Holcroft himself imagined how unwelcome a third person in his house could be until he saw the intruder before him. He had only felt that he was wonderfully contented and happy in his home, and that Jane would be a constant source of annoyance and restraint. Moreover, it might lead to visitation from Mrs. Mumpson, and that was the summing up of earthly ills. But the child's appearance and manner were so forlorn and deprecating that words of irritation died upon his lips. He gravely shook hands with her and then drew out the story which Alida had learned."Why, Jane," he exclaimed, frowning, "Mr. Watterly will be scouring the country for you. I shall have to take you back right after dinner."
"I kinder hoped," she sobbed, "that you'd let me stay. I'd stay in the barn if I couldn't be in the house. I'd just as soon work outdoors, too.""I don't think you'd be allowed to stay," said the farmer, with a sinking heart; "and then--perhaps your mother would be coming here."
"I can't stand mother no more'n you can" said the girl, through her set teeth. "I oughtn'ter been born, for there's no place for me in the world."Holcroft looked at his wife, his face expressive of the utmost annoyance, worry, and irresolution. Her glance was sympathetic, but she said nothing, feeling that if he could make the sacrifice from his own will he should have the chance. "You can't begin to know how much trouble this may lead to, Jane," he resumed. "You remember how your other threatened to take the law upon me, and it wouldn't be possible for you to stay here without her consent.""She oughter consent; I'll make her consent!" cried the child, speaking as if driven to desperation. "What's she ever done for me but teach me mean ways? Keep me or kill me, for I must be in some place where I've a right to be away from mother. I've found that there's no sense in her talk, and it drives me crazy."Although Jane's words and utterance were strangely uncouth, they contained a despairing echo which the farmer could not resist. Turning his troubled face to his wife, he began, ""If this is possible, Alida, it will be a great deal harder on you than it will on me. I don't feel that I would be doing right by you unless you gave your consent with full knowledge of--""Then please let her stay, if it is possible. She seems to need a friend and home as much as another that you heard about.""There's no chance of such a blessed reward in this case," he replied, with a grim laugh. Then, perplexed indeed, he continued to Jane, "I'm just as sorry for you as I can be, but there's no use of getting my wife and self in trouble which in the end will do you no good. You are too young to understand all that your staying may lead to."
"It won't lead to mother's comin' here, and that's the worst that could happen. Since she can't do anything for me she's got to let me do for myself.""Alida, please come with me in the parlor a moment. You stay here, Jane." When they were alone, he resumed, "Somehow, I feel strangely unwilling to have that child live with us. We were enjoying our quiet life so much. Then you don't realize how uncomfortable she will make you, Alida."
"Yes, I do.""I don't think you can yet. Your sympathies are touched now, but she'll watch you and irritate you in a hundred ways. Don't her very presence make you uncomfortable?"
"Yes.""Well, then, she can't stay," he began decidedly. "This is your home, and no one shall make you uncomfortable--"
"But I should be a great deal more uncomfortable if she didn't stay," Alida interrupted. "I should feel that I did not deserve my home. Not long ago my heart was breaking because I was friendless and in trouble. What could I think of myself if I did not entreat you in behalf of this poor child?""Thunder!" ejaculated Holcroft. "I guess I was rather friendless and troubled myself, and I didn't know the world had in it such a good friend as you've become, Alida. Well, well! You've put it in such a light that I'd be almost tempted to take the mother, also.""No," she replied, laughing; "we'll draw the line at the mother.""Well, I'll take Jane to town this afternoon, and if her mother will sign an agreement to leave us all in peace, we'll give up our old cozy comfort of being alone. I suppose it must be a good deed, since it's so mighty hard to do it," he concluded with a wry face, leading the way to the kitchen again. She smiled as if his words were already rewarding her self denial.
"Well, Jane," he resumed, "Mrs. Holcroft has spoken in your behalf, and if we can arrange matters so that you can stay, you will have her to thank chiefly. I'll take you back to the poorhouse after dinner, so it may be known what's become of you. Then, if your mother'll sign an agreement to make no trouble and not come here, we'll give you a home until we can find a better place for you."There was no outburst of gratitude. The repressed, dwarfed nature of the child was incapable of this, yet there was an unwonted little thrill of hope in her heart. Possibly it was like the beginning of life in a seed under the first spring rays of the sun. She merely nodded to Holcroft as if the matter had been settled as far as it could be, and ignored Alida.
"Why don't you thank Mrs. Holcroft?" he asked.Then Jane turned and nodded at Alida. Her vocabulary of thanks was undeveloped.
"She's glad," said Alida. "You'll see. Now that it's settled, we hope you're hungry, Jane, aren't you?""Yes, I be. Can't I help you put things on the table?"
"Yes."Holcroft looked at the two for a moment, and then shook his head as he went up to his room. "I thought my wife was nice and pleasant looking before," he thought, "but she's like a picture beside that child. Well, she has behaved handsomely. Tom Watterly didn't tell half the truth when he said she was not of the common run. She's a Christian in deeds, not talk. What's that in Scripture about 'I was hungry'? Well, well! She makes religion kind of natural and plain like, whether it's easy or not. Thunder! What a joke it is to see her so grateful because I've given her a chance to help me out of the worst scrape a man could be in! As if she hadn't changed everything for the better! Here I am sure of my home and getting ahead in the world again, and it's all her doing."In admiration of his wife Holcroft quite forgot that there had been any self-sacrifice on his part, and he concluded that he could endure Jane and almost anything else as long as Alida continued to look after his comfort and interests.Now that the worst stress of Jane's anxiety was over, she proved that she was half starved. Indeed she had few misgivings now, for her confidence that Holcroft would accomplish what he attempted was almost unbounded. It was a rather silent meal at first, for the farmer and his wife had much to think about and Jane much to do in making up for many limited meals. At last Holcroft smiled so broadly that Alida said, "Something seems to please you."
"Yes, more than one thing. It might be a great deal worse, and was, not long ago. I was thinking of old times.""How pleasant they must have been to make you look so happy!"
"They had their uses, and make me think of a picture I saw in a store window in town. It was a picture of a woman, and she took my fancy amazingly. But the point uppermost in my mind was a trick of the fellow who painted her. He had made the background as dark as night and so she stood out as if alive; and she looked so sweet and good that I felt like shaking hands with her. I now see why the painter made the background so dark"Alida smiled mischievously as she replied, "That was his art. He knew that almost anyone would appear well against such a background."
But Holcroft was much too direct to be diverted from his thought or its expression. "The man knew the mighty nice-looking woman he had painted would look well," he said, "and I know of another woman who appears better against a darker background. That's enough to make a man smile who has been through what I have."She could not help a flush of pleasure or disguise the happy light in her eyes, but she looked significantly at Jane, who, mystified and curious, was glancing from one to the other.