“I have done my best rightly to understand the duties of a Christian. One of those duties, as I interpret them, is to let what I believe show itself in what I do. You have seen enough of me, I hope, to know (though I have not been forward in speaking of it) that I am, to the best of my poor ability, a faithful follower of the teachings of Christ. I dare not set my own interests and my own happiness above His laws. If I suffer in obeying them as I suffer now, I must still submit. They are the laws of my life.”
“Is it through me that you suffer?”
“It is through you.”
“Will you tell me how?”
He had already found the chapter. His tears dropped on it as he pointed to the verse.
“Read,” he answered, “what the most compassionate of all Teachers has said, in the Sermon on the Mount.”
She read: “Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
Another innocent woman, in her place, might have pointed to that first part of the verse, which pre-supposes the infidelity of the divorced wife, and might have asked if those words applied to her. This woman, knowing that she had lost him, knew also what she owed to herself. She rose in silence, and held out her hand at parting.
He paused before he took her hand. “Can you forgive me?” he asked.
She said: “I can pity you.”
“Can you look back to the day of your marriage? Can you remember the words which declared the union between you and your husband to be separable only by death? Has he treated you with brutal cruelty?”
“Has he repented of his sin?”
“Ask your own conscience if there is not a worthier life for you and your child than the life that you are leading now.” He waited, after that appeal to her. The silence remained unbroken. “Do not mistake me,” he resumed gently. “I am not thinking of the calamity that has fallen on me in a spirit of selfish despair—I am looking to your future, and I am trying to show you the way which leads to hope. Catherine! have you no word more to say to me?”
In faint trembling tones she answered him at last:
“You have left me but one word to say. Farewell!”
He drew her to him gently, and kissed her on the forehead. The agony in his face was more than she could support; she recoiled from it in horror. His last act was devoted to the tranquillity of the one woman whom he had loved. He signed to her to leave him.
The Largest Nature, the Longest Love.
Mrs. Presty waited in the garden to be joined by her daughter and Captain Bennydeck, and waited in vain. It was past her grandchild’s bedtime; she decided on returning to the house.
“Suppose we look for them in the sitting-room?” Kitty proposed.
“Suppose we wait a moment, before we go in?” her wise grandmother advised. “If I hear them talking I shall take you upstairs to bed.”