Aubertin; she sat quietly down; but at the first opportunity madeJosephine one of those imperctron bandwidth or energyeptible signals which women, and aboveall, sisters, have reduced to so subtle a system. This done, shewent carelessly out: and Josephine in due course followed her, andfound her at the door.
"You dote on butter. See how firm and yellow it's getting. You wouldn't think it was milk-white cream a little while ago, would you? Now I'll put in the salt and you must taste it, for you're a connoisseur."bitcoin core gpu mining"A what?"
"Judge, then.""You know a sight more than I do, Alida.""I'm learning all the time.""So am I--to appreciate you.""Listen to the sound of the rain and the water as it runs into the milk-cooler. It's like low music, isn't it?"
Poor Holcroft could make no better answer than a sneeze."Oh-h," she exclaimed, "you're catching cold? Come, you must go right upstairs. You can't stay here another minute. I'm nearly through.""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--"
"Please don't speak so to me today. I've endured all I can. I can't keep up another minute unless you let things go on as they were. Tomorrow I'll try to tell you all. It's your right.""I didn't mean to say anything myself till after supper, and perhaps not till tomorrow, but I think I'd better. It will be better for us both, and our minds will be more at rest. Come with me into the parlor, Alida."
"Well, perhaps the sooner it's over the better," she said faintly and huskily.She sunk on the lounge and looked at him with such despairing eyes that tears came into his own.
"Alida," he began hesitatingly, "after I left you this noon I felt I must speak with and be frank with you.""No, no!!" she cried, with an imploring gesture, "if it must be said, let me say it. I couldn't endure to hear it from you. Before you went away I understood it all, and this afternoon the truth has been burned into my soul. That horrible man has been here--the man I thought my husband--and he has made it clearer, if possible. I don't blame you that you shrink from me as if I were a leper. I feel as if I were one.""I shrink from YOU!" he exclaimed."Yes. Can you think I haven't seen the repugnance growing in spite of yourself? When I thought of that man--especially when he came today--I understood WHY too well. I cannot stay here any longer. You'd try to be kind and considerate, but I'd know how you felt all the time. It would not be safe for you and it would not be right for me to stay, either, and that settles it. Be--be as kind to me--as you can a few--a few hours longer, and then let me go quietly." Her self-control gave way, and burying her face in her hands, she sobbed convulsively.
In a moment he was on his knees beside her, with his arm about her waist. "Alida, dear Alida!" he cried, "we've both been in the dark about each other. What I resolved to do, when I started for town, was to tell you that I had learned to love you and to throw myself on your mercy. I thought you saw I was loving you and that you couldn't bear to think of such a thing in an old, homely fellow like me. That was all that was in my mind, so help me God!""But--but HE'S been here," she faltered; "you don't realize--"
"I don't believe I do or can, yet, Alida, dear, but that blessed Jane's spying trait has served me the best turn in the world. She heard every brave word you said and I shed tears of joy when she told me; and tears are slow coming to my eyes. You think I shrink from you, do you?" and he kissed her hands passionately. "See," he cried, "I kneel to you in gratitude for all you've been to me and are to me.""Oh, James! Please rise. It's too much."
"No, not till you promise to go with me to a minister and hear me promise to love, cherish--yes, in your case I'll promise to obey."She bowed her head upon his shoulder in answer. Springing up, he clasped her close and kissed away her tears as he exclaimed, "No more business marriage for me, if you please. There never was a man so in love with his wife."
Suddenly she looked up and said fearfully, "James, he threatened you. He said you'd never be safe a moment as long as I stayed here."His answer was a peal of laughter. "I've done more than threaten him. I've whipped him within an inch of his life, and it was the thought of you that led me, in my rage, to spare his life. I'll tell you all--I'm going to tell you everything now. How much trouble I might have saved if I had told you my thoughts! What was there, Alida, in an old fellow like me that led you to care so?"Looking up shyly, she replied, "I think it was the MAN in you--and--then you stood up for me so.""Well, love is blind, I suppose, but it don't seem to me that mine is. There never was a man so taken in at his marriage. You were so different from what I expected that I began loving you before I knew it, but I thought you were good to me just as you were to Jane--from a sense of duty--and that you couldn't abide me personally. So I tried to keep out of your way. And, Alida, dear, I thought at first that I was taken by your good traits and your education and all that, but I found out at last that I had fallen in love with YOU. Now you know all. You feel better now, don't you?"
"Yes," she breathed softly."You've had enough to wear a saint out," he continued kindly. "Lie down on the lounge and I'll bring your supper to you."
"No, please! It will do me more good to go on and act as if nothing had happened.""Well, have your own way, little wife. You're boss now, sure enough."
She drew him to the porch, and together they looked upon the June landscape which she had regarded with such despairing eyes an hour before."Happiness never kills, after all," she said.