So she took her hands off his shoulders and clasped them in her lap. Clasped them with all her poor strength, striving even in this extreme, to maintain some measure of calm and of dignity. She must hold out, she told herself, just simply by force of will hold out, till she was away from him. After that, chaos—for thoughts, discoveries, apprehensions of possibilities in human intercourse hitherto undreamed of, were marshalled round her in close formation shoulder to shoulder. They only waited. An instant’s yielding on her part, and they would be on to her, crushing down and in, making her brain reel, her mind stagger under their stifling crowded assault.
“Go back and row,” she said, at once imploring and imperious. “Row quickly. I am very tired. I am cold. I want to be at home—to be in my own place.”
RECOUNTING AN ASTONISHING DEPOSITION
Theresa Bilson bustled upstairs. Barring the absence of the extra brake, which had caused—and for this she could not be sorry since didn’t it justify her “attitude” towards her recalcitrant ex-pupil?—some inconvenient overcrowding in transit to and from the station, and barring the rain, which set in between five and six o’clock, the expedition to Harchester passed off with considerable eclat. Such, in any case, was Theresa’s opinion, she herself having figured conspicuously in the foreground. During the inspection of the Cathedral the Dean paid her quite marked attention; thanks, in part, to her historical and archaeological knowledge—of which she made the most, and to her connection with the Verity family—of which she made the most also. In precisely what that connection might consist, the learned and timid old gentleman, being very deaf and rather near-sighted, failed to gather. He determined, however, to be on the safe side.
“Our genial Archdeacon,” he said, “and his distinguished kinsman, Sir Charles? Ah! yes—yes—indeed—to be sure—with the greatest pleasure.”
And he motioned the blushing Theresa to fall into step with him, and with Dr. Horniblow, at the head of the Deadham procession.
The afterglow of that triumphal progress irradiated her consciousness still, when—after depositing the Miss Minetts upon their own doorstep, with playful last words recalling the day’s mild jokes and rallyings—she drove on to The Hard to find the household there in a state of sombre and most admired confusion.
Thus to arrive home in possession of a fine bag of news, only to discover an opposition and far finer bag ready awaiting you may well prove trying to the most high-souled and amiable of temper. By this time, between success and fatigue, Theresa could not be justly described as either high-souled or sweet tempered. She was at once inflated and on edge, and consequently hotly indignant, as though the unfairest march possible had been stolen upon her.