’Indeed no. I have never turned against you. I have thought that you would be better here than at Folking for the present.’
’That is being against me. A woman should be with her husband. You told them to do this. And they have nearly killed me,—me and my baby.’
In the meantime William Bolton up-stairs was very decided in his opinion that they must at once allow Caldigate to take her back to Folking. She had, as he said, proved herself to be too strong for them. The experiment had been tried and had failed. No doubt it would be better,—so he thought,—that she should remain for the present at the Grange; so much better that a certain show of force had been justified. But as things were going, no further force would be justified. She had proved her power, and must be allowed to go. Mrs. Bolton, however, would not even yet acknowledge that she was beaten. In a few more hours, she thought, Hester would allow herself to be taken to her bed, and then all might be well. But she could not stand against the combined force of her husband and his two sons; and so it was decided that the front door should be opened for the prisoner, and that the chains should be removed from the gate. ‘I should be afraid of the people,’ William Bolton said to his father.
It was not till this decision had been given that Mrs. Bolton felt that the struggle of the last three days had been too much for her. Now, at last, she threw herself upon her bed, weeping bitter tears, tears of a broken spirit, and there she lay prostrate with fatigue and misery. Nor would she go down to say a word of farewell. How could she say adieu to her daughter, leaving her house in such circumstances ’I will give her your love,’ said William Bolton.
’Say nothing to her. She does not care for my love, nor for the love of her Father in heaven. She cares only for that adulterer.’
The door was opened from within, and the chains were taken away from the gate. ‘Oh, John,—oh, my husband,’ she exclaimed, as she leaped down the steps into his arms, ’never let me go again; not for a day,—not for an hour!’ Then her boxes were brought down, and the nurse came with the child, whom the mother at once took and placed in his father’s arms. And the carriage was brought in, and the luggage was placed on it, and the nurse and the baby were seated. ’I will go up to poor mamma for one moment,’ she said. She did go to her mother’s room, and throwing herself upon the wretched woman, wept over her and kissed her. But the mother, though in some sort she returned the caress, said not a word as her daughter left the room. And she went also to her father and asked his blessing. He muttered a word or two, blessing her, no doubt, with inarticulate words. He also had been thoroughly vanquished.
Then she got into the carriage, and was taken back to Folking lying in John Caldigate’s arms.