‘I will never do that.’
’But unless I am turned out homeless on to the roads, I will stay here where he left me. I have only one sure way of doing right, and that is to obey him as closely as I can. He cannot order me now, but he has left his orders. He has told me to remain under this roof, and to call myself by his name, and in no way to derogate from my own honour as his wife. By God’s help I will do as he bids me. Nothing that any of them can say shall turn me an inch from the way he has pointed out. You are good to me.’
‘I will try to be good to you.’
’You are so good to me that I can hardly understand your goodness. Trusting to that, I will wait here till he shall come again and tell me where and how I am to live.’
After that the old Squire made no further attempt in the same direction, finding that no slightest hollow had been made on that other stone.
The Boltons Are Much Troubled
The condition of the inhabitants of Puritan Grange during the six weeks immediately after the verdict was very sad indeed. I have described badly the character of the lady living there, if I have induced my readers to think that her heart was hardened against her daughter. She was a woman of strong convictions and bitter prejudices; but her heart was soft enough. When she married, circumstances had separated her widely from her own family, in which she had never known either a brother or a sister; and the burden of her marriage with an old man had been brightened to her by the possession of an only child,—of one daughter, who had been the lamp of her life, the solitary delight of her heart, the single relief to the otherwise solitary tedium of her monotonous existence. She had, indeed attended to the religious training of her girl with constant care;—but the yearnings of her maternal heart had softened even her religion, so that the laws, and dogmas, and texts, and exercises by which her husband was oppressed, and her servants afflicted, had been made lighter for Hester,—sometimes not without pangs of conscience on the part of the self-convicted parent. She had known, as well as other mothers, how to gloat over the sweet charms of the one thing which in all the world had been quite her own. She had revelled in kisses and soft touches. Her Hester’s garments had been a delight to her, till she had taught herself to think that though sackcloth and ashes were the proper wear for herself and her husband, nothing was too soft, too silken, too delicate for her little girl. The roses in the garden, and the goldfish in the bowl, and the pet spaniel, had been there because such surroundings had been needed for the joyousness of her girl. And the theological hardness of the literature of the house had been somewhat mitigated as Hester grew into reading, so that Watt was occasionally relieved by Wordsworth, and Thomson’s ‘Seasons’ was alternated with George Withers’s ‘Hallelujah.’