She could not bear to think of it, and yet it would be mere cowardice not to look such a matter in the face—her hope was in the Lord, and she was ready to bear cheerfully and make the best of any suffering He might think fit to lay upon her. That the baby must be either a boy or girl—this much, at any rate, was clear. No less clear was it that the child, if a boy, would resemble Theobald, and if a girl, herself. Resemblance, whether of body or mind, generally leaped over a generation. The guilt of the parents must not be shared by the innocent offspring of shame—oh! no—and such a child as this would be . . . She was off in one of her reveries at once.
The child was in the act of being consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury when Theobald came in from a visit in the parish, and was told of the shocking discovery.
Christina said nothing about Ernest, and I believe was more than half angry when the blame was laid upon other shoulders. She was easily consoled, however, and fell back on the double reflection, firstly, that her son was pure, and secondly, that she was quite sure he would not have been so had it not been for his religious convictions which had held him back—as, of course, it was only to be expected they would.
Theobald agreed that no time must be lost in paying Ellen her wages and packing her off. So this was done, and less than two hours after Dr Martin had entered the house Ellen was sitting beside John the coachman, with her face muffled up so that it could not be seen, weeping bitterly as she was being driven to the station.
Ernest had been out all the morning, but came in to the yard of the Rectory from the spinney behind the house just as Ellen’s things were being put into the carriage. He thought it was Ellen whom he then saw get into the carriage, but as her face had been hidden by her handkerchief he had not been able to see plainly who it was, and dismissed the idea as improbable.
He went to the back-kitchen window, at which the cook was standing peeling the potatoes for dinner, and found her crying bitterly. Ernest was much distressed, for he liked the cook, and, of course, wanted to know what all the matter was, who it was that had just gone off in the pony carriage, and why? The cook told him it was Ellen, but said that no earthly power should make it cross her lips why it was she was going away; when, however, Ernest took her au pied de la lettre and asked no further questions, she told him all about it after extorting the most solemn promises of secrecy.
It took Ernest some minutes to arrive at the facts of the case, but when he understood them he leaned against the pump, which stood near the back-kitchen window, and mingled his tears with the cook’s.