Presently another difficulty began to show in the near distance: Mr. Drake, having made up his mind as to the alterations he would have effected, had begun to think there was no occasion to put off till the spring, and talked of commencing work in the house at no distant day. Dorothy therefore proposed to Juliet that, as it was impossible to conceal her there much longer, she should go to some distant part of the country, where she would contrive to follow her. But the thought of moving further from her husband, whose nearness, though she dared not seek him, seemed her only safety, was frightful to Juliet. The wasting anxiety she caused Dorothy did not occur to her. Sorrow is not selfish, but many persons are in sorrow entirely selfish. It makes them so important in their own eyes, that they seem to have a claim upon all that people can do for them.
To the extent therefore, of what she might herself have known without Juliet’s confession, Dorothy, driven to her wits’ end, resolved to open the matter to the gatekeeper; and accordingly, one evening on her way home, called at the lodge, and told Polwarth where and in what condition she had found Mrs. Faber, and what she had done with her; that she did not think it the part of a friend to advise her return to her husband at present; that she would not herself hear of returning; that she had no comfort, and her life was a burden to her; and that she could not possibly keep her concealed much longer, and did not know what next to do.
Polwarth answered only that he must make the acquaintance of Mrs. Faber. If that could be effected, he believed he should be able to help them out of their difficulties. Between them, therefore, they must arrange a plan for his meeting her.
THE OLD GARDEN.
The next morning, Juliet, walking listlessly up and down the garden, turned the corner of a yew hedge, and came suddenly upon a figure that might well have appeared one of the kobolds of German legend. He was digging slowly but steadily, crooning a strange song—so low that, until she saw him she did not hear him.
She started back in dismay. The kobold neither raised his head nor showed other sign than the ceasing of his song that he was aware of her presence. Slowly and steadily he went on with his work. He was trenching the ground deep, still throwing the earth from the bottom to the top. Juliet, concluding he was deaf, and the ceasing of his song accidental, turned softly, and would have retreated. But Polwarth, so far from being deaf, heard better than most people. His senses, indeed, had been sharpened by his infirmities—all but those of taste and smell, which were fitful, now dull and now exquisitely keen. At the first movement breaking the stillness into which consternation had cast her, he spoke.
“Can you guess what I am doing, Mrs. Faber?” he said, throwing up a spadeful and a glance together, like a man who could spare no time from his work.