When he went at last late for his supper, Madelon, as he expected, noticed him only by an angry flash of her black eyes, under drooping lids. She said not one word to him, and as the days went on treated him coldly; and yet she did not give to the matter its full seriousness of meaning.
Madelon, well acquainted with Eugene’s caressing manner, thought simply that, seeing poor Dorothy’s alarm, he had striven to soothe her with endearments and assurance that he would not hurt her, as he would have done with a child. As for Dorothy, Madelon credited her with the soft spirit which she knew she possessed. She scorned them both, and felt as jealous for Burr’s sake as he himself could have done, that other hands than his had touched his bride’s; and yet she did not dream of the full significance of it all.
She wrought a marvellous garland of red roses on Dorothy Fair’s green silk, and scarcely left herself time to sleep that she might complete that and her stint of household linen. She had nothing to add to her own wedding-garments.
The weeks went past, and the Sunday before the day set for her wedding came again. She had seen Lot but three times in the interval. He had sent for her, and she had gone obediently, and remained a short time, pleading her work as an excuse to return home. Lot had not sought to detain her; he had vexed her with no vain appeals, but treated her with a sort of sad deference which would have perplexed her had she cared enough for him to dwell upon it.
Lot was said to be in no better health. He did not stir abroad on those warm spring days. Once he had put on his great-coat, and was for setting foot on the springing grass in the sunny yard, but Margaret Bean had remarked to him how she had heard, whilst purchasing a bit of cheese in the store, a man say that he guessed Lot Gordon wasn’t much worse, only afraid of a wife that could use a knife. Margaret Bean had shaken in her starched petticoats as she said it, not knowing how the news might affect her master towards the monger of it; but she was disposed to risk a little rather than have a mistress over her.
Lot said nothing in response about the matter, but pulled off his great-coat and sank into his chair with a fit of coughing, and declared he felt not well enough to go out that day.
That last Sunday Madelon went to him without being summoned, in the early evening after supper. On her last visit, the week before, he had asked her, and she had promised to come.
The frogs were calling across the meadows as she went along; there was a young moon shining with frequent silvery glances through the budding trees, which tossed athwart it like foam, and the mists curled along the horizon distances. Madelon, moving along, was as the ghost of one who had belonged to the spring, as a part of its radiant hope and stir of life and youth in days past, but was now done with it forever. The spring sounds and sights, and all its sweet influence, seemed to tear her heart anew with memories of the visions of fair futures which she had forfeited. The loss of the sweet dreams which the spring awakens in the human heart is not one of the least losses of life. Though the spring be unfulfilled, it sweetens the year.