When the earth was thrown on Mamsey’s coffin, and the son, in crape scarf and hatband, turned away homeward, his good angel, lingering with outstretched wing on the edge of the grave, cast one despairing look after him, and took flight for ever.
The last week in March—three weeks after old Mrs. Dempster died—occurred the unpleasant winding-up of affairs between Dempster and Mr. Pryme, and under this additional source of irritation the attorney’s diurnal drunkenness had taken on its most ill-tempered and brutal phase. On the Friday morning, before setting out for Rotherby, he told his wife that he had invited ‘four men’ to dinner at half-past six that evening. The previous night had been a terrible one for Janet, and when her husband broke his grim morning silence to say these few words, she was looking so blank and listless that he added in a loud sharp key, ’Do you hear what I say? or must I tell the cook?’ She started, and said, ’Yes, I hear.’
’Then mind and have a dinner provided, and don’t go mooning about like crazy Jane.’
Half an hour afterwards Mrs. Raynor, quietly busy in her kitchen with her household labours—for she had only a little twelve-year-old girl as a servant—heard with trembling the rattling of the garden gate and the opening of the outer door. She knew the step, and in one short moment she lived beforehand through the coming scene. She hurried out of the kitchen, and there in the passage, as she had felt, stood Janet, her eyes worn as if by night-long watching, her dress careless, her step languid. No cheerful morning greeting to her mother—no kiss. She turned into the parlour, and, seating herself on the sofa opposite her mother’s chair, looked vacantly at the walls and furniture until the corners of her mouth began to tremble, and her dark eyes filled with tears that fell unwiped down her cheeks. The mother sat silently opposite to her, afraid to speak. She felt sure there was nothing new the matter—sure that the torrent of words would come sooner or later.
‘Mother! why don’t you speak to me?’ Janet burst out at last; ’you don’t care about my suffering; you are blaming me because I feel—because I am miserable.’
’My child, I am not blaming you—my heart is bleeding for you. Your head is bad this morning—you have had a bad night. Let me make you a cup of tea now. Perhaps you didn’t like your breakfast.’
’Yes, that is what you always think, mother. It is the old story, you think. You don’t ask me what it is I have had to bear. You are tired of hearing me. You are cruel, like the rest; every one is cruel in this world. Nothing but blame—blame—blame; never any pity. God is cruel to have sent me into the world to bear all this misery.’
’Janet, Janet, don’t say so. It is not for us to judge; we must submit; we must be thankful for the gift of life.’