未來"Well," said Holccardano ada 未來roft, "how short can you make it?"
未來"Oh, she was better: had slept last night without her usualnarcotic."The baroness laid down her knitting and said, with much meaning,"And I tell you, you will never cure her body till you can cure hermind. My poor child has some secret sorblock bittorrent trackerrow.""Sorrow!" said Aubertin, stoutly concealing the uneasiness thesewords created, "what sorrow?""Oh, she has some deep sorrow. And so have you, Rose.""Me, mamma! what DO you mean?"The baroness's pale cheek flushed a little. "I mean," said she,"that my patience is worn out at last; I cannot live surrounded bysecrets. Raynal's gloomy looks when he left us, after staying butone hour; Josephine ill from that day, and bursting into tears atevery word; yourself pale and changed, hiding an unaccountablesadness under forced smiles-- Now, don't interrupt me. Edouard,who was almost like a son, gone off, without a word, and never comesnear us now.""Really you are ingenious in tormenting yourself. Josephine is ill!未來Well, is it so very strange? Have you never been ill? Rose ispale! you ARE pale, my dear; but she has nursed her sister for amonth; is it a wonder she has lost color? Edouard is gone ajourney, to inherit his uncle's property: a million francs. Butdon't you go and fall ill, like Josephine; turn pale, like Rose; andmake journeys in the region of fancy, after Edouard Riviere, who istramping along on the vulgar high road."This tirade came from Aubertin, and very clever he thought himself.
未來But he had to do with a shrewd old lady, whose suspicions had longsmouldered; and now burst out. She said quietly, "Oh, then Edouardis not in this part of the world. That alters the case: where IShe?""In Normandy, probably," said Rose, blushing.未來The baroness looked inquiringly towards Aubertin. He put on aninnocent face and said nothing.未來"Very good," said the baroness. "It's plain I am to learn nothingfrom you two. But I know somebody who will be more communicative.未來Yes: this uncomfortable smiling, and unreasonable crying, andinterminable whispering; these appearances of the absent, anddisappearances of the present; I shall know this very day what theyall mean.""Really, I do not understand you.""Oh, never mind; I am an old woman, and I am in my dotage. For allthat, perhaps you will allow me two words alone with my daughter.""I retire, madame," and he disappeared with a bow to her, and ananxious look at Rose. She did not need this; she clenched herteeth, and braced herself up to stand a severe interrogatory.未來Mother and daughter looked at one another, as if to measure forces,and then, instead of questioning her as she had intended, thebaroness sank back in her chair and wept aloud. Rose was allunprepared for this. She almost screamed in a voice of agony, "Omamma! mamma! O God! kill me where I stand for making my motherweep!""My girl," said the baroness in a broken voice, and with the mosttouching dignity, "may you never know what a mother feels who findsherself shut out from her daughters' hearts. Sometimes I think itis my fault; I was born in a severer age. A mother nowadays seemsto be a sort of elder sister. In my day she was something more.
未來Yet I loved my mother as well, or better than I did my sisters. Butit is not so with those I have borne in my bosom, and nursed upon myknee."At this Rose flung herself, sobbing and screaming, at her mother'sknees. The baroness was alarmed. "Come, dearest, don't cry likethat. It is not too late to take your poor old mother into yourconfidence. What is this mystery? and why this sorrow? How comesit I intercept at every instant glances that were not intended forme? Why is the very air loaded with signals and secrecy? (Rosereplied only by sobs.) Is some deceit going on? (Rose sobbed.) AmI to have no reply but these sullen sobs? will you really tell menothing?""I've nothing to tell," sobbed Rose.未來"Well, then, will you do something for me?"Such a proposal was not only a relief, but a delight to thedeceiving but loving daughter. She started up crying, "Oh, yes,mamma; anything, everything. Oh, thank you!" In the ardor of hergratitude, she wanted to kiss her mother; but the baroness declinedthe embrace politely, and said, coldly and bitterly, "I shall notask much; I should not venture now to draw largely on youraffection; it's only to write a few lines for me."Rose got paper and ink with great alacrity, and sat down allbeaming, pen in hand.未來"Yes. Please untie the dog. Butter's come."
未來"I should think it would, or anything else at your coaxing."未來"Oh-h, what a speech! Hasn't that a pretty golden hue?" she asked, holding up a mass of the butter she was ladling from the churn into a wooden tray.未來"Yes, you are making the gilt-edge article now. I don't have to sell it to Tom Watterly any more."未來"I'd like to give him some, though."
He was silent, and something like sudden rage burned in his heart that Mrs. Watterly would not permit the gift. That anyone should frown on his having such a helper as Alida was proving herself to be, made him vindictive. Fortunately her face was turned away, and she did not see his heavy frown. Then, to shield her from a disagreeable fact, he said quickly, "do you know that for over a year I steadily went behind my expenses . And that your butter making has turned the tide already? I'm beginning to get ahead again.""I'm SO glad," and her face was radiant.
"Yes, I should know that from your looks. It's clearer every day that I got the best of our bargain. I never dreamed, though, that I should enjoy your society as I do--that we should become such very good friends. That wasn't in the bargain, was it?""Bargain!" The spirited way with which she echoed the word, as if thereby repudiating anything like a sordid side to their mutual relations, was not lost on her wondering and admiring partner. She checked herself suddenly. "Now let me teach YOU how to make butter," and with the tray in her lap, she began washing the golden product and pressing out the milk.He laughed in a confused delighted way at her piquant, half saucy manner as he watched her deft round arm and shapely hand."The farmers' wives in Oakville would say your hands were too little to do much."
"They would?" and she raised her blue eyes indignantly to his. "No matter, you are the one to say about that.""I say they do too much. I shall have to get Jane to help you.""By all means! Then you'll have more society.""That was a home shot. You know how I dote on everybody's absence, even Jane's."
"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.""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 was never more contented in my life."
"You've no right to worry me. What would I do if you got sick? Come, I'll stop work till you go.""Well then, little boss, goodbye."
With a half suppressed smile at his obedience Alida watched his reluctant departure. She kept on diligently at work, but one might have fancied that her thoughts rather than her exertions were flushing her cheeks.It seemed to her that but a few moments elapsed before she followed him, but he had gone. Then she saw that the rain had ceased and that the clouds were breaking. His cheerful whistle sounded reassuringly from the barn, and a little later he drove up the lane with a cart.
She sat down in the kitchen and began sewing on the fine linen they had jested about. Before long she heard a light step. Glancing up, she saw the most peculiar and uncanny-looking child that had ever crossed her vision, and with dismal presentiment knew it was Jane.Chapter 28 Another Waif
It was indeed poor, forlorn little Jane that had appeared like a specter in the kitchen door. She was as wet and bedraggled as a chicken caught in a shower. A little felt hat hung limp over her ears; her pigtail braid had lost its string and was unraveling at the end, and her torn, sodden shoes were ready to drop from her feet. She looked both curiously and apprehensively at Alida with her little blinking eyes, and then asked in a sort of breathless voice, "Where's him?""Mr. Holcroft?"Jane nodded."He's gone out to the fields. You are Jane, aren't you?"
Another nod."Oh, DEAR!" groaned Alida mentally; "I wish she hadn't come." Then with a flush of shame the thought crossed her mind, "She perhaps is a friendless and homeless as I was, and , and 'him' is also her only hope. "Come in, Jane," she said kindly, "and tell me everything."
"Be you his new girl?""I'm his wife," said Alida, smiling.
Jane stopped; her mouth opened and her eyes twinkled with dismay. "Then he is married, after all?" she gasped."Yes, why not?"
"Mother said he'd never get anyone to take him.""Well, you see she was mistaken.""She's wrong about everything. Well, it's no use then," and the child turned and sat down on the doorstep.Alida was perplexed. From the way Jane wiped her eyes with her wet sleeve, she was evidently crying. Coming to her, Alida said, "What is no use, Jane? Why are you crying?"
"I thought--he--might--p'raps--let me stay and work for him."Alida was still more perplexed. What could be said by way of comfort, feeling sure as she did that Holcroft would be bitterly hostile to the idea of keeping the child? The best she could do was to draw the little waif out and obtain some explanation of her unexpected appearance. But first she asked, "Have you had any breakfast?"
Jane shook her head."Oh, then you must have some right away."
"Don't want any. I want to die. I oughtn' ter been born.""Tell me your troubles, Jane. Perhaps I can help you."