Mrs. Wiggins knew the hour when the stage passed the house; ethereum qr code generatorshe had made up a bundle without a very close regard to meum or tuum, and was ready to flit. The chance speedily came.
He lay down in his clothes so that he might bitcoin data structurerush out in case of any alarm, and he intended to keep awake. Then, the first thing he knew, the sun was shining in the windows.It was long before Alida slept, and the burden of her thoughts confirmed the words that she had spoken so involuntarily. "You don't know how a woman feels when a man stands up for her as you did." It is the nature of her sex to adore hardy, courageous manhood. Beyond all power of expression, Alida felt her need of a champion and protector. She was capable of going away for his sake, but she would go in terror and despair. The words that had smitten her confirmed all her old fears of facing the world alone. Then came the overpowering thought of his loyalty and kindness, of his utter and almost fierce repugnance to the idea of her leaving him. In contrast with the man who had deceived and wronged her, Holcroft's course overwhelmed her very soul with a passion of grateful affection. A new emotion, unlike anything she had ever known, thrilled her heart and covered her face with blushes. "I could die for him!" she murmured.
She awoke late in the morning. When at last she entered the kitchen she stopped in deep chagrin, for Holcroft had almost completed preparations for breakfast. "Ha, ha!" he laughed, "turn about is fair play.""Well," she sighed, "there's no use of making excuses now.""There's no occasion for any. Did you ever see such a looking case as I am with this bandage around my head?""Does it pain you?" she asked sympathetically."Well, it does. It pains like thunder."
"The wound needs dressing again. Let me cleanse and bind it up.""Yes, after breakfast."It must be admitted that Holcroft's enjoyment of spring was not very far removed from that of the stock in his barnyard. All the animal creation rejoices in the returning sun and warmth. A subtle, powerful influence sets the blood in more rapid motion, kindles new desires, and awakens a glad expectancy. All that is alive becomes more thoroughly alive and existence in itself is a pleasure. Spring had always brought to the farmer quickened pulses, renewed activity and hopefulness, and he was pleased to find that he was not so old and cast down that its former influence had spent itself. Indeed, it seemed that never before had his fields, his stock, and outdoor work--and these comprised Nature to him--been so attractive. They remained unchanged amid the sad changes which had clouded his life, and his heart clung more tenaciously than ever to old scenes and occupations. They might not bring him happiness again, but he instinctively felt that they might insure a comfort and peace with which he could be content.
At last he went to the barn and began his work, doing everything slowly, and getting all the solace he could from the tasks. The horses whinnied their welcome and he rubbed their noses caressingly as he fed them. The cows came briskly to the rack in which he foddered them in pleasant weather, and when he scratched them between the horns they turned their mild, Juno-like eyes upon him with undisguised affection. The chickens, clamoring for their breakfast, followed so closely that he had to be careful where he stepped. Although he knew that all this good will was based chiefly on the hope of food and the remembrance of it in the past, nevertheless it soothed and pleased him. He was in sympathy with this homely life; it belonged to him and was dependent on him; it made him honest returns for his care. Moreover, it was agreeably linked with the past. There were quiet cows which his wife had milked, clucking biddies which she had lifted from nests with their downy broods. He looked at them wistfully, and was wondering if they ever missed the presence that he regretted so deeply, when he became conscious that Jane's eyes were upon him. How long she had been watching him he did not know, but she merely said, "Breakfast's ready," and disappeared.With a sigh he went to his room to perform his ablutions, remembering with a slight pang how his wife always had a basin and towel ready for him in the kitchen. In the breaking up of just such homely customs, he was continually reminded of his loss.On awakening to the light of this Sabbath morning, Mrs. Mumpson had thought deeply and reasoned everything out again. She felt that it must be an eventful day and that there was much to be accomplished. In the first place there was Mrs. Wiggins. She disapproved of her decidedly. "She isn't the sort of person that I would prefer to superintend," she remarked to Jane while making a toilet which she deemed befitting the day, "and the hour will assuredly come when Mr. Holcroft will look upon her in the light that I do. He will eventually realize that I cannot be brought in such close relationship with a pauper. Not that the relationship is exactly close, but then I shall have to speak to her--in brief, to superintend her. My eyes will be offended by her vast proportions and uncouth appearance. The floor creaks beneath her tread and affects my nerves seriously. Of course, while she is here, I shall zealously, as befits one in my responserble position, try to render useful such service as she can perform. But then, the fact that I disapprove of her must soon become evident. When it is discovered that I only tolerate her, there will be a change. I cannot show my disapproval very strongly today for this is a day set apart for sacred things, and Mrs. Viggins, as she called herself,--I cannot imagine a Mr. Viggins for no man in his senses could have married such a creature,--as I was saying, Mrs. Viggins is not at all sacred, and I must endeavor to abstract my mind from her till tomorrow, as far as posserble. My first duty today is to induce Mr. Holcroft to take us to church. It will give the people of Oakville such a pleasing impression to see us driving to church. Of course, I may fail, Mr. Holcroft is evidently a hardened man. All the influences of his life have been adverse to spiritual development, and it may require some weeks of my influence to soften him and awaken yearnings for what he has not yet known.""He may be yearnin' for breakfast," Jane remarked, completing her toilet by tying her little pigtail braid with something that had once been a bit of black ribbon, but was now a string. "You'd better come down soon and help."
"If Mrs. Viggins cannot get breakfast, I would like to know what she is here for" continued Mrs. Mumpson loftily, and regardless of Jane's departure. "I shall decline to do menial work any longer, especially on this sacred day, and after I have made my toilet for church. Mr. Holcroft has had time to think. My disapproval was manifest last night and it has undoubtedly occurred to him that he has not conformed to the proprieties of life. Indeed, I almost fear I shall have to teach him what the proprieties of life are. He witnessed my emotions when he spoke as he should not have spoken to ME. But I must make allowances for his unregenerate state. He was cold, and wet, and hungry last night, and men are unreasonerble at such times. I shall now heap coals of fire upon his head. I shall show that I am a meek, forgiving Christian woman, and he will relent, soften, and become penitent. Then will be my opportunity," and she descended to the arena which should witness her efforts.During the period in which Mrs. Mumpson had indulged in these lofty reflections and self-communings, Mrs. Wiggins had also arisen. I am not sure whether she had thought of anything in particular or not. She may have had some spiritual longings which were not becoming to any day of the week. Being a woman of deeds, rather than of thought, probably not much else occurred to her beyond the duty of kindling the fire and getting breakfast. Jane came down, and offered to assist, but was cleared out with no more scruple than if Mrs. Wiggins had been one of the much-visited relatives.
"The hidee," she grumbled, "of 'avin' sich a little trollop round hunder my feet!"Jane, therefore, solaced herself by watching the "cheap girl" till her mother appeared.Mrs. Mumpson sailed majestically in and took the rocking chair, mentally thankful that it had survived the crushing weight imposed upon it the evening before. Mrs. Wiggins did not drop a courtesy. Indeed, not a sign of recognition passed over her vast, immobile face. Mrs. Mumpson was a little embarrassed. "I hardly know how to comport myself toward that female," she thought. "She is utterly uncouth. Her manners are unmistakerbly those of a pauper. I think I will ignore her today. I do not wish my feelings ruffled or put out of harmony with the sacred duties and motives which actuate me."Mrs. Mumpson therefore rocked gently, solemnly, and strange to say, silently, and Mrs. Wiggins also proceeded with her duties, but not in silence, for everything in the room trembled and clattered at her tread. Suddenly she turned on Jane and said, "'Ere, you little baggage, go and tell the master breakfast's ready."
Mrs. Mumpson sprang from her chair, and with a voice choked with indignation, gasped, "Do you dare address my offspring thus?""Yer vat?""My child, my daughter, who is not a pauper, but the offspring of a most respecterble woman and respecterbly connected. I'm amazed, I'm dumfoundered, I'm--""Ye're a bit daft, hi'm a-thinkin'." Then to Jane, "Vy don't ye go an' hearn yer salt?"
"Jane, I forbid--" But it had not taken Jane half a minute to decide between the now jarring domestic powers, and henceforth she would be at Mrs. Wiggins' beck and call. "She can do somethin'," the child muttered, as she stole upon Holcroft.Mrs. Mumpson sank back in her chair, but her mode of rocking betokened a perturbed spirit. "I will restrain myself till tomorrow, and then--" She shook her head portentously and waited till the farmer appeared, feeling assured that Mrs. Wiggins would soon be taught to recognize her station. When breakfast was on the table, she darted to her place behind the coffeepot, for she felt that there was no telling what this awful Mrs. Wiggins might not assume during this day of sacred restraint. But the ex-pauper had no thought of presumption in her master's presence, and the rocking chair again distracted Mrs. Mumpson's nerves as it creaked under an unwonted weight.
Holcroft took his seat in silence. The widow again bowed her head devoutly, and sighed deeply when observing that the farmer ignored her suggestion."I trust that you feel refreshed after your repose," she said benignly.
"I do.""It is a lovely morning--a morning, I may add, befitting the sacred day. Nature is at peace and suggests that we and all should be at peace.""There's nothing I like more, Mrs. Mumpson, unless it is quiet.""I feel that way, myself. You don't know what restraint I have put upon myself that the sacred quiet of this day might not be disturbed. I have had strong provercation since I entered this apartment. I will forbear to speak of it till tomorrow in order that there may be quietness and that our minds may be prepared for worship. I feel that it would be unseemly for us to enter a house of worship with thoughts of strife in our souls. At precisely what moment do you wish me to be ready for church?""I am not going to church, Mrs. Mumpson.""Not going to church! I--I--scarcely understand. Worship is such a sacred duty--"
"You and Jane certainly have a right to go to church, and since it is your wish, I'll take you down to Lemuel Weeks' and you can go with them.""I don't want to go to Cousin Lemuel's, nor to church, nuther," Jane protested.
"Why, Mr. Holcroft," began the widow sweetly, "after you've once harnessed up it will take but a little longer to keep on to the meeting house. It would appear so seemly for us to drive thither, as a matter of course. It would be what the communerty expects of us. This is not our day, that we should spend it carnally. We should be spiritually-minded. We should put away things of earth. Thoughts of business and any unnecessary toil should be abhorrent. I have often thought that there was too much milking done on Sunday among farmers. I know they say it is essential, but they all seem so prone to forget that but one thing is needful. I feel it borne in upon my mind, Mr. Holcroft, that I should plead with you to attend divine worship and seek an uplifting of your thoughts. You have no idea how differently the day may end, or what emotions may be aroused if you place yourself under the droppings of the sanctuary.""I'm like Jane, I don't wish to go," said Mr. Holcroft nervously.
"But my dear Mr. Holcroft,"--the farmer fidgeted under this address,--"the very essence of true religion is to do what we don't wish to do. We are to mortify the flesh and thwart the carnal mind. The more thorny the path of self-denial is, the more certain it's the right path. "I've already entered upon it," she continued, turning a momentary glare upon Mrs. Wiggins. "Never before was a respecterble woman so harrowed and outraged; but I am calm; I am endeavoring to maintain a frame of mind suiterble to worship, and I feel it my bounden duty to impress upon you that worship is a necessity to every human being. My conscience would not acquit me if I did not use all my influence--""Very well, Mrs. Mumpson, you and your conscience are quits. You have used all your influence. I will do as I said--take you to Lemuel Weeks'--and you can go to church with his family," and he rose from the table.
"But Cousin Lemuel is also painfully blind to his spiritual interests--"Holcroft did not stay to listen and was soon engaged in the morning milking. Jane flatly declared that she would not go to Cousin Lemuel's or to church. "It don't do me no good, nor you, nuther," she sullenly declared to her mother.Mrs. Mumpson now resolved upon a different line of tactics. Assuming a lofty, spiritual air, she commanded Jane to light a fire in the parlor, and retired thither with the rocking chair. The elder widow looked after her and ejaculated, "Vell, hif she haint the craziest loon hi hever 'eard talk. Hif she vas blind she might 'a' seen that the master didn't vant hany sich lecturin' clack."Having kindled the fire, the child was about to leave the room when her mother interposed and said solemnly, "Jane, sit down and keep Sunday."
"I'm going to help Mrs. Wiggins if she'll let me.""You will not so demean yourself. I wish you to have no relations whatever with that female in the kitchen. If you had proper self-respect, you would never speak to her again."
"We aint visitin' here. If I can't work indoors, I'll tell him I'll work outdoors.""It's not proper for you to work today. I want you to sit there in the corner and learn the Fifth Commandment."
"Aint you goin' to Cousin Lemuel's?""On mature reflection, I have decided to remain at home."
"I thought you would if you had any sense left. You know well enough we aint wanted down there. I'll go tell him not to hitch up.""Well, I will permit you to do so. Then return to your Sunday task.""I'm goin' to mind him," responded the child. She passed rapidly and apprehensively through the kitchen, but paused on the doorstep to make some overtures to Mrs. Wiggins. If that austere dame was not to be propitiated, a line of retreat was open to the barn. "Say," she began, to attract attention."Vell, young-un," replied Mrs. Wiggins, rendered more pacific by her breakfast.
"Don't you want me to wash up the dishes and put 'em away? I know how.""Hi'll try ye. Hif ye breaks hanythink--" and the old woman nodded volumes at the child.
"I'll be back in a minute," said Jane. A moment later she met Holcroft carrying two pails of milk from the barnyard. He was about to pass without noticing her, but she again secured attention by her usual preface, "Say," when she had a somewhat extended communication to make."Come to the dairy room, Jane, and say your say there," said Holcroft not unkindly.
"She aint goin' to Cousin Lemuel's," said the girl, from the door."What is she going to do."