John Caldigate eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 777 pages of information about John Caldigate.

During this time Caldigate still remained outside, but in vain.  As circumstances were at present, he had no means of approaching his wife.  He could kick down a slight trellis-work gate; but he could bring no adequate force to bear against the stout front door.  At last, when the dusk of evening came on he took his departure, assuring his wife that he would be there again on the following morning.

Chapter XXXVI

The Escape

During the whole of that night Hester kept her position in the hall, holding her baby in her arms as long as the infant would sleep in that position, and then allowing the nurse to take it to its cradle up-stairs.  And during the whole night also Mrs. Bolton remained with her daughter.  Tea was brought to them, which each of them took, and after that neither spoke a word to the other till the morning.  Before he went to bed, Mr. Bolton came down and made an effort for their joint comfort.  ‘Hester,’ he said, ’why should you not go to your room?  You can do yourself no good by remaining there.’  ‘No,’ she said, sullenly; ’no; I will stay.’  ‘You will only make yourself ill,—­you and your mother.’

‘She can go.  Though I should die, I will stay here.’

Nor could he succeed better with his wife.  ’If she is obstinate, so must I be,’ said Mrs. Bolton.  It was in vain that he endeavoured to prove to her that there could be no reason for such obstinacy, that her daughter would not attempt to escape during the hours of the night without her baby.

‘You would not do that,’ said the old man, turning to his daughter.  But to this Hester would make no reply, and Mrs. Bolton simply declared her purpose of remaining.  To her mind there was present an idea that she would, at any rate, endure as much actual suffering as her daughter.  There they both sat, and in the morning they were objects pitiable to be seen.

Macbeth and Sancho have been equally eloquent in the praise of sleep.  ‘Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care!’ But sleep will knit up effectually no broken stitches unless it be enjoyed in bed.  ‘Blessings on him who invented sleep,’ said Sancho.  But the great inventor was he who discovered mattresses and sheets and blankets.  These two unfortunates no doubt slept; but in the morning they were weary, comfortless, and exhausted.  Towels and basins were brought to them, and then they prepared themselves to watch through another day.  It seemed to be a trial between them, which could outwatch the other.  The mother was, of course, much the older; but with poor Hester there was the baby to add to her troubles.  Never was there a woman more determined to carry out her purpose than Mrs. Bolton, or one more determined to thwart the purpose of another than she who still called herself Hester Caldigate.  In the morning Mrs. Bolton implored her husband to go into Cambridge as usual; but he felt that he could not leave the house with such inmates.  So he sat in his bedroom dozing wretchedly in his arm-chair.

Project Gutenberg
John Caldigate from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook