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.’
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.