Si l’on vous a trahi, ce n’est pas la trahison qui importe; c’est le pardon qu’elle a fait naitre dans votre ame. . . . Mais si la trahison n’a pas accru la simplicite, la confiance plus haute, l’etendue de l’amour, on vous aura trahi bien inutilement, et vous pouvez vous dire qu’il n’est rien arrive.—MAETERLINCK.
Rachel and Hester were sitting in the shadow of the church-yard wall where Hester had so unfortunately fallen asleep on a previous occasion. It was the first of many clandestine meetings. Mr. and Mrs. Gresley did not realize that Hester and Rachel wished to “talk secrets,” as they would have expressed it, and Rachel’s arrival was felt by the Gresleys to be the appropriate moment to momentarily lay aside their daily avocations, and to join Hester and Rachel in the garden for social intercourse. The Gresleys liked Rachel. Listeners are generally liked. Perhaps also her gentle, unassuming manner was not an unpleasant change after the familiar nonchalance of the Pratts.
The two friends bore their fate for a time in inward impatience, and then, not without compunction, “practised to deceive.” Certain obtuse persons push others, naturally upright, into eluding and outwitting them, just as the really wicked people, who give viva voce invitations, goad us into crevasses of lies, for which, if there is any justice anywhere, they will have to answer at the last day. Mr. Gresley gave the last shove to Hester and Rachel by an exhaustive harangue on what he called socialism. Finding they were discussing some phase of it, he drew up a chair and informed them that he had “threshed out” the whole subject.
“Socialism,” he began, delighted with the polite resignation of his hearers, which throughout life he mistook for earnest attention. “Community of goods. People don’t see that if everything were divided up to-day, and everybody was given a shilling, by next week the thrifty man would have a sovereign, and the spendthrift would be penniless. Community of goods is impossible as long as human nature remains what it is. But I can’t knock that into people’s heads. I spoke of it once to Lord Newhaven, after his speech in the House of Lords. I thought he was more educated and a shade less thoughtless than the idle rich usually are, and that he would see it if it was put plainly before him. But he only said my arguments were incontrovertible, and slipped away.”
It was after this conversation, or rather monologue, that Hester and Rachel arranged to meet by stealth.
They were sitting luxuriously in the short grass, with their backs against the church-yard wall, and their hats tilted over their eyes.
“I wish I had met this Mr. Dick five or six years ago,” said Rachel, with a sigh.
Hester was the only person who knew about Rachel’s previous love disaster.
“Dick always gets what he wants in the long run,” said Hester. “I should offer to marry him at once, if I were you. It will save a lot of trouble, and it will come to just the same in the end.”