"Yes, Jane," replied Mrs. Mumpson abstractedly and rocking gently, "you can put them back. Your mind is not burdened like mine, and you haven't offspringruze finance uniswap and the future to provide for," and, for a wonder, she relapsed into silence. Possibly she possessed barely enough of womanhood to feel that her present train of thought had better be kept to herself. She gradually rocked faster and faster, thus indicating that she was rapidly approaching a conclusion.
In short, instead of a member of the Consular Government salutingprivate individuals of a decayed party that existed only bysufferance, a handsome, vain, good-natured boy had met two self-possessed young ladies of distinction and breeding, and had cut theusual figure.bitcoin news january 2021For the next hundred yards his cheeks burned and his vanity cooled.
But bumptiousness is elastic in France, as in England, and doubtlessamong the Esquimaux. "Well, they are pretty girls," says he tohimself. "I never saw two such pretty girls together; they will dofor me to flirt with while I am banished to this Arcadia." Banishedfrom school, I beg to observe.And "awful beauty" being no longer in sight, Mr. Edouard resolved hewould flirt with them to their hearts' content. But there areladies with whom a certain preliminary is required before you canflirt with them. You must be on speaking terms. How was this to bemanaged?He used to watch at his window with a telescope, and whenever thesisters came out of their own grounds, which unfortunately was notabove twice a week, he would throw himself in their way by themerest accident, and pay them a dignified and courteous salute,which he had carefully got up before a mirror in the privacy of hisown chamber.One day, as he took off his hat to the young ladies, there brokefrom one of them a smile, so sudden, sweet, and vivid, that heseemed to feel it smite him first on the eyes then in the heart. Hecould not sleep for this smile.Yet he had seen many smilers; but to be sure most of them smiledwithout effect, because they smiled eternally; they seemed cast withtheir mouths open, and their pretty teeth forever in sight; and thishas a saddening influence on a man of sense--when it has any. Buthere a fair, pensive face had brightened at sight of him; a lovelycountenance, on which circumstances, not nature, had impressedgravity, had sprung back to its natural gayety for a moment, and hadthrilled and bewitched the beholder.
The next Sunday he went to church--and there worshipped--whom?Cupid. He smarted for his heathenism; for the young ladies wentwith higher motives, and took no notice of him. They lowered theirlong silken lashes over one breviary, and scarcely observed thehandsome citizen. Meantime he, contemplating their pious beautywith earthly eyes, was drinking long draughts of intoxicatingpassion. And when after the service they each took an arm of Dr.Holcroft looked at the girl as if dazed. "Said she LOVED me?" he repeated slowly.
"Of course! You knowed that all 'long--anybody could see it--an' you don't treat her much better'n you did mother." Then, with an impatient gesture, she asked, "Will you sit down and listen?""No, I won't!" he cried, springing toward his horses. "I'll find out if your words are true.""Oh, yes!" said Jane contemptuously; "run right to her to find out somethin' as plain as the nose on her face, and run right by the man that was threatenin' her and you too."Wheeling round, he asked, "Where is he?"
"I know, but I won't say 'nuther word till you stop goin' on. 'Fi's a man I'd find out what to do 'fore I did anythin'."Jane had little comprehension of the tempest she had raised in Holcroft's soul or its causes, and so was in no mood to make allowances for him. By this time, the first gust of his passion was passing and reason resuming its sway. He paced up and down in the road a moment or two, and then sat down as he said, "I don't half understand what you've been talking about and I fear you don't. You've evidently been listening and watching and have got hold of something. Now, I'll be as patient as I can if you'll tell me the whole story quickly," and he turned his flushed, quivering face toward her.
"Then I s'pose you'll scold me for listenin' and watchin' that scamp," said the girl sullenly."No, Jane, not in this case. Unless your impressions are all mistaken I may have to thank you all my life. I'm not one to forget those who are true to me. Now, begin at the beginning and go right through to the end; then I may understand better than you can."Jane did as she was told, and many "says he's" and "says she's" followed in her literal narrative. Holroft again dropped his face into his hands, and before she was through, tears of joy trickled through his fingers. When she finished, he arose, turned away, and hastily wiped his eyes, then gave the girl his hand as he said, "Thank you, Jane. You've tried to be a true friend to me today. I'll show you that I don't forget. I was a fool to get in such a rage, but you can't understand and must forgive me. Come, you see I'm quiet now," and he untied the horses and lifted her into his wagon."What yer doin' to do?" she asked, as they drove away.
"I'm going to reward you for watching and listening to that scoundrel, but you must not watch me or Mrs. Holcroft, or listen to what we say unless we speak before you. If you do, I shall be very angry. Now, you've only one thing more to do and that is, show me where this man is hiding.""But you won't go near him alone?" inquired Jane in much alarm."You must do as I bid you," he replied sternly. "Show me where he's hiding, then stay by the wagon and horses.""But he same as said he'd kill you."
"You have your orders," was his quiet reply.She looked scared enough, but remained silent until they reached a shaded spot on the road, then said, "If you don't want him to see you too soon, better tie here. He's around yonder, in a grove up on the hill."
Holcroft drove to a tree by the side of the highway and again tied his horses, then took the whip from the wagon. "Are you afraid to go with me a little way and show me just where he is?" he asked."No, but you oughtn' ter go."
"Come on, then! You must mind me if you wish to keep my good will. I know what I'm about." As in his former encounter, his weapon was again a long, tough whipstock with a leather thong attached. This he cut off and put in his pocket, then followed Jane's rapid lead up the hill. Very soon she said, "There's the place I saw 'im in. If you will go, I'd steal up on him.""Yes. You stay here." She made no reply, but the moment he disappeared she was upon his trail. Her curiosity was much greater than her timidity, and she justly reasoned that she had little to fear.Holcroft approached from a point whence Ferguson was expecting no danger. The latter was lying on the ground, gnawing his nails in vexation, when he first heard the farmer's step. Then he saw a dark-visaged man rushing upon him. In the impulse of his terror, he drew his revolver and fired. The ball hissed near, but did no harm, and before Ferguson could use the weapon again, a blow from the whipstock paralyzed his arm and the pistol dropped to the ground. So also did its owner a moment later, under a vindictive rain of blows, until he shrieked for mercy."Don't move!" said Holcroft sternly, and he picked up the revolver. "So you meant to kill me, eh?""No, no! I didn't. I wouldn't have fired if it hadn't been in self-defense and because I hadn't time to think." He spoke with difficulty, for his mouth was bleeding and he was terribly bruised."A liar, too!" said the farmer, glowering down upon him. "But I knew that before. What did you mean by your threats to my wife?"
"See here, Mr. Holcroft; I'm down and at your mercy. If you'll let me off I'll go away and never trouble you or your wife again.""Oh, no!" said Holcroft with a bitter laugh. "You'll never, never trouble us again."
"What, do you mean to murder me?" Ferguson half shrieked."Would killing such a thing as you be murder? Any jury in the land would acquit me. You ought to be roasted over a slow fire."
The fellow tried to scramble on his knees, but Holcroft hit him another savage blow, and said, "Lie still!"Ferguson began to wring his hands and beg for mercy. His captor stood over him a moment or two irresolutely in his white-heated anger; then thoughts of his wife began to soften him. He could not go to her with blood on his hands--she who had taught him such lessons of forbearance and forgiveness. He put the pistol in his pocket and giving his enemy a kick, said, "Get up!"
The man rose with difficulty."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.