The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,014 pages of information about The Last Chronicle of Barset.
happiness.  But if you ask my mind, I think that my child is not free to make it.  You, sir, have many relatives, who are not in love, as you are, all of whom would be affected by the stain of my disgrace.  No one should go to your house as your second wife who cannot feel that she will serve your child.  My daughter would feel that she was bringing injury upon the babe.  I cannot bid her do this—­and I will not.  Nor do I believe that she would do so if I bid her.’  Then he turned his chair round, and sat with his face to the wall, wiping away the tears with a tattered handkerchief.

Mrs Crawley led the major to the further window, and there stood looking up into his face.  It need hardly be said that they also were crying.  Whose eyes could have been dry after such a scene—­upon hearing such words?  ‘You had better go,’ said Mrs Crawley.  ’I know him so well.  You had better go.’

‘Mrs Crawley,’ he said whispering to her, ’if I ever desert her, may all that I love desert me!  But will you help me?’

‘You would want no help, were it not for this trouble.’

‘But you will help me?’

Then she paused for a moment, ‘I can do nothing,’ she said, ’but what he bids me.’

‘You will trust me, at any rate,’ said the major.

‘I do trust you,’ she replied.  Then he went without saying a word further to Mr Crawley.  As soon as he was gone, the wife went over to her husband, and put her arm gently round his neck as he was sitting.  For a while the husband took no notice of his wife’s caress, but sat motionless, with his face turned to the wall.  Then she spoke to him a word or two, telling him that their visitor was gone.  ‘My child!’ he said.  ’My poor child!, my darling!  She has found grace in this man’s sight; but even of that has her father robbed her!  The Lord has visited upon the children the sins of the father, and will do so to the third and fourth generation.’

CHAPTER LXIV

TRAGEDY AT HOOK COURT

Conway Dalrymple had hurried out of the room in Mrs Broughton’s house in which he had been painting Jael and Sisera, thinking that it would be better to meet an angry and perhaps tipsy husband on the stairs, than it would be either to wait for him till he should make his way into his wife’s room, or to hide away from him with the view of escaping altogether from so disagreeable an encounter.  He had no fear of the man.  He did not think that there would be any violence—­nor, as regarded himself, did he much care if there was to be violence.  But he felt that he was bound, as far as it might be possible, to screen the poor woman from the ill effects of her husband’s temper and condition.  He was, therefore, prepared to stop Broughton on the stairs, and to use some force in arresting him on his way, should he find the man to be really intoxicated.  But he had not descended above a stair or two before he was aware that the man below him, whose step had been heard, was not intoxicated, and that he was not Dobbs Broughton.  It was Mr Musselboro.

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The Last Chronicle of Barset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.