“You seem to be treating me more like a chemical equivalent than like a human being, not to say like a lady,” said Rachel, laughing.
“Let us be thankful that you have so little of the lady about you,” said Jacob Worse, bluntly.
The dance now began for which Rachel was otherwise engaged, and her partner came and carried her off.
Jacob Worse stood watching her for a few minutes. He then got his coat and went home.
He perfectly understood that by awakening these thoughts in her, he would make the fulfilment of what was really the dream of his life become more distant than ever. But he felt convinced that Rachel’s splendid abilities would be entirely thrown away in her present narrow sphere; and he felt, too, that he was perfectly honest to himself, when he said that he would not hinder her from taking the path she ought to follow, even if he thereby destroyed his own greatest happiness. But when he got home and was alone in his own quiet room, he was even more dispirited. He could not but see that when Rachel came to have a proper estimate of her own powers, she would find her present home too narrow for her, and a marriage such as he could offer would be quite unworthy of her.
He saw a light in the rooms at the back of the house. It was not much past eleven; so he went over to his mother, whom he found in her dressing-gown, busied in arranging her small remnant of hair for the night.
It was not astonishing that the worthy Mrs. Worse’s eyes kindled with pride when she saw her tall, handsome son come in, dressed as he had been for the ball: but when he threw himself on the sofa, and hid his face in his hands, and said, “Oh, mother! mother!” just as he had done in his boyhood when he had done something foolish, Mrs. Worse shook her clenched fist against some imaginary foe in the corner of the room, and muttered, “Is it decent to send me home a son in such a plight?”
She did not, however, say the words aloud, but went over and took his head upon her lap, and, as she passed her fingers through his hair, she said with her unwavering constancy, “There, my dear boy, only keep yourself calm, and it will all come right, somehow or another.”
Rachel would also have been glad enough to have been taken home at once; but Mrs. Garman had heard that the new cook had something new in filets, and they therefore had to wait until after supper.
At length winter went stealing off to the northward, like a weary monster, leaving its long train of dirty white snow patches along the hedges, and its neutral-tinted ice pitted all over with small holes, upon the pools. The spring followed closely on its heels, and had work enough to make the earth look green again, and deck it out in all its finery for a little time, until the monster came creeping southward again with its wreaths of new-fallen snow, and its dark-blue ice shining like polished steel.