This was so terrible that the daughter could only hang around her mother’s neck, sobbing and kissing her at the same time, and then go without another word. She was sure of this,—that if she must lose one or the other, her mother or her husband, then she would lose her mother. When she returned to The Nurseries, her husband, according to agreement came out to her at once. She had bidden adieu to all the others; but at the last moment her father put his hand into the carriage, so that she could take it and kiss it. ‘Mamma is so sad,’ she said to him; ’go home to her and comfort her.’ Of course the old man did go home, but he was aware that there would for some time be little comfort there either for him or for his wife. He and his sons had been too powerful for her in arranging the marriage; but now, now that it was done, nothing could stop her reproaches. He had been made to think it wrong on one side to shut his girl up, and now from the other side he was being made to think that he had done very wrong in allowing her to escape.
It had been arranged that they should be driven out of Cambridge to the railway station at Audley End on their way to London; so that they might avoid the crowd of people who would know them at the Cambridge station. As soon as they had got away from the door of Robert Bolton’s house, the husband attempted to comfort his young wife. ‘At any rate it is over,’ he said, alluding of course to the tedium of their wedding festivities.
‘So much is over,’ she replied.
‘You do not regret anything?’
She shook her head slowly as she leaned lovingly against his shoulder. ‘You are not sorry, Hester, that you have become my wife?’
‘I had to be your wife,—because I love you.’
‘Is that a sorrow?’
’I had been all my mother’s;—and now I am all yours. She has thrown me off because I have disobeyed her. I hope you will never throw me off.’
‘Is it likely?’
’I think not. I know that I shall never throw you off. They have tried to make me believe that you are not all that you ought to be—in religion. But now your religion shall be my religion, and your life my life. I shall be of your colour—altogether. But, John, a limb cannot be wrenched out of a socket, as I have been torn away from my mother, without pain.’
‘She will forgive it all when we come back.’
‘I fear—I fear. I never knew her to forgive anything yet.’ This was very bad; but nevertheless it was plain to him as it had been plain to Robert and William Bolton, that not because of the violence of the woman’s character should the life of her daughter have been sacrificed to her. His duty to make her new life bright for her was all the more plain and all the more sound,—and as they made their first journey together he explained to her how sacred that duty should always be to him.