She unconsciously comprehended all these considerations, which entirely deprived her of the power to weigh them in her mind, for her mind was temporarily loosed from all control of the reasoning faculty. She had borne much during the last three days, but she could bear no more; intellect and sensibility were alike exhausted and gave way together. There were indeed moments, intervals in the fits of hysteric tears and acute mental torture, when she lay quite still in her chair and vaguely asked herself what it all meant, but her disturbed consciousness gave no answer to the question, and presently her tears broke out afresh and she tossed wildly from side to side, or walked hurriedly up and down the room, wringing her hands in despair, sobbing aloud in her agony and again abandoning herself to the uncontrolled exaggerations of her grief and terror. One consolation alone presented itself at intervals to her confused intelligence; Mr. Juxon was safe. Whatever other fearful thing had happened, he was safe, saved perhaps by her warning—but what was that, if Walter had escaped death only to die at the hands of the hangman, or had found it in the jaws of that fearful bloodhound? What was the safety even of her best friend, if poor Nellie was to know that her father was alive, only to learn that he was to die again?
But human suffering cannot outlast human strength; as a marvellous adjustment of forces has ordered that even at the pole, in the regions of boundless and perpetual cold, the sea shall not freeze to the bottom, so there is also in human nature a point beyond which suffering cannot extend. The wildest emotions must expend themselves in time, the fiercest passions must burn out. At the end of two hours Mary Goddard was exhausted by the vehemence of her hysteric fear, and woke as from a dream to a dull sense of reality. She knew, now that some power of reflection was restored to her, that the squire would give her intelligence of what had happened, so soon as he was able, and she knew also that she must wait until the morning before any such message could reach her. She took the candle from the table and went upstairs. Nellie was asleep, but her mother felt a longing to look at her again that night, not knowing what misery for her child the morrow might bring forth.