« PreviousContinue »
And all this would have come to a man who had already consented to be a cur, if he had only refrained from going still lower in creation's scale, and growing downwards into the similitude of a snake.
But when he cried out that Ethel also was in the lie against him, even his mother who had loved him so wiped him clean out of her heart, and left him to his fate. It was hard to do, but it was yet more hard to have to do it, For she loved him yet, her son—scamp and hound as he had proved—still, he was bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh, and he was Joe's son, and she had borne him and had gone in travail for him. There is but one divine thing in the world, and it is motherhood and the motherly nature, for they are one.
So he went on his way, cur-like enough, and left hearts behind him to bleed and suffer after the manner of his tribe.
Ethel, you will remember, fell into Dinah's arms at that cruel charge her lover brought against her. But she heard the words, and they came to mind again afterwards. The child I bore !' groaned poor Dinah as she rose, and Ethel's mind, too staggered and stunned to heed them at the time, recalled them later
Dinah was middle-aged, and had suffered a great deal already. She did not faint, having still somebody left to endure for, but she put Ethel into a four-wheeled hackney coach and saw her home. For Mrs. Donne had been so enraged at the whole thing that she refused to accompany her daughter on that terrible journey, or to have any part or lot in the matter. It is the way of women to show this curious injustice sometimes, by way of set-off to the amazing injustice which they often do themselves. The mother did not, as you may fancy, offer any very friendly welcome to the sister of the man who had so shamefully wrecked her household peace, and had left the first blot upon
the house she had ever heard of amongst all its homely legends. To have had stolen money in the house and in her daughter's hands! You may easily believe it to have been very bitter to the yeoman's widow, who
was honest, as all her forbears had been, to the backbone.
"We brought shame an' sorrow to this house,' said Dinah sadly, when Ethel was put to bed and she was ready to go away again. * But you won't forbid me to come and see her to-morrow, will :
' There was something in Dinah's face which repressed the tart Donne's tongue.
• You’re i trouble as much as we be, my dear,' she answered—'worse trouble than we be—an' I'm
heart. Come, an' welcome.'
At this Dinah broke into tears, the first she had shed that heavy day.
• The shame ain't yourn, my poor dear creetur,' said the yeoman's widow, 'not more than it's ourn.
But I doubt me an' my poor gell 'll be able to live here longer. An' I did hope to lay my bones i’ Quarrymoor churchyard along of ourn's.'
Ourn '_'ours '—hers—was the last John Audley Donne, the latest of a long and honour
able race: and she also must needs weep a little to think that she and he might lie wide apart.
"Oh,' said Dinah, “if you go away, let me come wi' you! No,' she said a second later, through her tears, “I should keep your trouble an' your shame i' your minds, an' I'm best away. But if you'll let me, I'll look in tomorrow, an' see how she is, poor thing.'
• It's a sad house to ask anybody to come to,' said Ethel's mother. “But come if you will, an’ welcome. How does your father bear it?'
It's broke his heart,' answered Dinah. · He'll never hold his head up any more.'
If it seem strange that Mrs. Donne took George's guilt for granted so early, you may remember that she took her cue from his sister, as she and the rest of the world supposed Dinah to be. And Dinah had always the affair of the cash-box in her mind, and that left everything without need of proof.
The two women parted with a kiss.
the yeoman's widow. "God help you to bear it!'
“God bless you !' answered Dinah, and so went her way
The Saracen's doors were closed, the Saracen's affairs were wound up, within a week of the assize trial. Daniel held his head low for very shame, but on the aged a blow of this kind sometimes falls with comparative lightness. It is not experience alone which enables age to bear its troubles easily. The old beat has gone out of the pulse, the heart is dulled to pains, Daniel none the less would get away
from the scene of this disgrace, and to him also it was a grief to lay his bones among strangers.
But he could no longer endure to live where everybody had known him, and where an honest name had been his pride and boast so long.
Mrs. Donne's lawyer had news for her when she consulted him about the advisability of parting with the farm.
'I can find you a tenant in a week,' he answered her. · But unless I'm mistaken, it won't be a farm much longer.'