“All right then,” answered the draper.
You see, Mr. Drew, we think married people should be so sure of each other that each should not only be content, but should prefer not to know what the other thinks it better not to tell. If my husband overheard any one calling me names, I don’t think he would tell me. He knows, as well as I do, that I am not yet good enough to behave better to any one for knowing she hates and reviles me. It would be but to propagate the evil, and for my part too, I would rather not be told.”
“I quite understand you, ma’am,” answered the draper.
“I know you do,” returned Helen, with emphasis.
Mr. Drew blushed to the top of his white forehead, while the lower part of his face, which in its forms was insignificant, blossomed into a smile as radiant as that of an infant. He knew Mrs. Wingfold was aware of the fact, known only to two or three beside in the town, that the lady, who for the last few months had been lodging in his house, was his own wife, who had forsaken him twenty years before. The man who during that time had passed for her husband, had been otherwise dishonest as well, and had fled the country; she and her daughter, brought to absolute want, were received into his house by her forsaken husband; there they occupied the same chamber, the mother ordered every thing, and the daughter did not know that she paid for nothing. If the ways of transgressors are hard, those of a righteous man are not always easy. When Mr. Drew would now and then stop suddenly in the street, take off his hat and wipe his forehead, little people thought the round smiling face had such a secret behind it. Had they surmised a skeleton in his house, they would as little have suspected it masked in the handsome, well-dressed woman of little over forty, who, with her pretty daughter so tossy and airy, occupied his first floor, and was supposed to pay him handsomely for it.
The curate slept soundly, and woke in the morning eager to utter what he had.
THE ROAD TO OWLKIRK.
Paul Faber fared otherwise. Hardly was he in bed before he was called out of it again. A messenger had come from Mrs. Puckridge to say that Miss Meredith was worse, and if the doctor did not start at once, she would be dead before he reached Owlkirk. He sent orders to his groom to saddle Niger and bring him round instantly, and hurried on his clothes, vexed that he had taken Ruber both in the morning and afternoon, and could not have him now. But Niger was a good horse also: if he was but two-thirds of Ruber’s size, he was but one-third of his age, and saw better at night. On the other hand he was less easily seen, but the midnight there was so still and deserted, that that was of small consequence. In a few minutes they were out together in a lane as dark as pitch, compelled now to keep to the roads, for there was not light enough to see the pocket-compass by which the surgeon sometimes steered across country.