All this, down to the smallest detail, was told to Hester,—Hester Bolton or Hester Caldigate, whichever she might be. And there was no word uttered by the man she claimed as her husband which she did not believe as though it were gospel.
Hester Is Lured Back
On the Monday morning, Mr. William Bolton, the barrister, who had much to his own inconvenience remained at Cambridge for the purpose of carrying out the scheme which he had proposed, went over to Folking in a fly. He had never been at the place before, and was personally less well acquainted with the family into which his sister had married than any other Bolton. Had everything been pleasant, nothing could have been more natural than such a visit; but as things were very far from pleasant Hester was much surprised when he was shown into her room. It had been known to Robert Bolton that Caldigate now came every day into Cambridge to see either his lawyer or his father, and that therefore he would certainly not be found at home about the middle of the day. It was henceforth to be a law with all the Boltons, at any rate till after the trial, that they would not speak to, or if possible see, John Caldigate. Not without very strong cause would William Bolton have entered his house, but that strong cause existed.
‘Oh, William! I am so glad to see you,’ said Hester, rushing into her brother’s arms.
‘I too am glad to see you, Hester, though the time is so sad to us all.’
’Yes; yes. It is sad;—oh, so sad! Is it not terrible that there should be people so wicked, and that they should be able to cause so much trouble to innocent persons.’
‘With all my heart I feel for you,’ said the brother, caressing his young sister.
With quickest instinct she immediately perceived that a slight emphasis given to the word ‘you’ implied the singular number. She drew herself back a little, still feeling, however, that no offence had as yet been committed against which she could express her indignation. But it was necessary that a protest should be made at once. ’I am so sorry that my husband is not here to welcome you. He has gone into Cambridge to fetch his father. Poor Mr. Caldigate is so troubled by all this that he prefers now to come and stay with us.’
’Ah, indeed! I dare say it will be better that the father and the son should be together.’
’Father and son, or even mother and daughter, are not like husbands and wives, are they?’
‘No; they are not,’ said the barrister, not quite knowing how to answer so very self-evident a proposition, but understanding accurately the line of thought which had rendered it necessary for the poor creature to reassert at every moment the bond by which she would fain be bound to the father of her child.
’But Mr. Caldigate is so good,—so good and gentle to me and baby, that I am delighted that he should be here with John. You know of all this.’