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John Caldigate eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 617 pages of information about John Caldigate.

‘My child!’

’What is the use of all this, mamma?  Nothing shall make me leave him.  Others may be ashamed of me; but because of this I shall never be ashamed of myself.  You are ashamed of me!’

‘If you could mean what you said just now I should be ashamed of you.’

’I do mean it.  Though the juries and the judges should say that he was not my husband, though all the judges in England should say it, I would not believe them.  They may put him in prison and so divide us; but they never shall divide my bone from his bone, and my flesh from his flesh.  As you are ashamed of me, I had better go back to-morrow.’

Then Mrs. Bolton determined that early in the morning she would look to the bolts and bars; but when the morning came matters had softened themselves a little.

Chapter XXXII

The Babington Wedding

It is your duty,—­especially your duty,—­to separate them.’  This was said by Mr. Smirkie, the vicar of Plum-cum-Pippin, to Mr. Bromley, the rector of Utterden, and the words were spoken in the park at Babington where the two clergymen were taking a walk together.  Mr. Smirkie’s first wife had been a Miss Bromley, a sister of the clergyman at Utterden; and as Julia Babington was anxious to take to her bosom all her future husband’s past belongings, Mr. Bromley had been invited to Babington.  It might be that Aunt Polly was at this time well inclined to exercise her hospitality in this direction by a feeling that Mr. Bromley would be able to talk to them about this terrible affair.  Mr. Bromley was intimate with John Caldigate, and of course would know all about it.  There was naturally in Aunt Polly’s heart a certain amount of self-congratulation at the way in which things were going.  Mr. Smirkie, no doubt, had had a former wife, but no one would call him a bigamist.  In what a condition might her poor Julia have been but for that interposition of Providence!  For Aunt Polly regarded poor Hester Bolton as having been quite a providential incident, furnished expressly for the salvation of Julia.  Hitherto Mr. Bromley had been very short in his expressions respecting the Folking tragedy, having simply declared that, judging by character, he could not conceive that a man such as Caldigate would have been guilty of such a crime.  But now he was being put through his facings more closely by his brother-in-law.

‘Why should I want to separate them?’

‘Because the evidence of his guilt is so strong.’

‘That is for a jury to judge.’

’Yes; and if a jury should decide that there had been no Australian marriage,—­which I fear we can hardly hope;—­but if a jury were to decide that, then of course she could go back to him.  But while there is a doubt, I should have thought, Tom, you certainly would have seen it, even though you never have had a wife of your own.’

‘I think I see all that there is to see,’ said the other.  ’If the poor lady has been deceived and betrayed, no punishment can be too heavy for the man who has so injured her.  But the very enormity of the iniquity makes me doubt it.  As far as I can judge, Caldigate is a high-spirited, honest gentleman, to whom the perpetration of so great a sin would hardly suggest itself.’

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