“I have no doubt that would be delightful for her,” answered Geoffrey; “but does it not strike you that all this is just a little undignified? These remarks, interesting as they are, should be made to Miss Granger, not to me, Mr. Davies.”
“I know,” he said, “but I don’t care; it is my only chance, and what do I mind about being undignified? Oh, Mr. Bingham, I have never loved any other woman, I have been lonely all my days. Do not stand in my path now. If you only knew what I have suffered, how I have prayed God night after night to give me Beatrice, you would help me. Say that you will help me! You are one of those men who can do anything; she will listen to you. If you tell her to marry me she will do so, and I shall bless you my whole life.”
Geoffrey looked upon this abject suppliant with the most unmitigated scorn. There is always something contemptible in the sight of one man pleading to another for assistance in his love affairs—that is a business which he should do for himself. How much greater, then, is the humiliation involved when the amorous person asks the aid of one whom he believes to be his rival—his successful rival—in the lady’s affection?
“Do you know, Mr. Davies,” Geoffrey said, “I think that I have had enough of this. I am not in a position to force Miss Granger to accept advances which appear to be unwelcome according to your account. But if I get an opportunity I will do this: I will tell her what you say. You really must manage the rest for yourself. Good morning to you, Mr. Davies.”
He turned sharply and went while Owen watched him go.
“I don’t believe him,” he groaned to himself. “He will try to make her his lover. Oh, God help me—I cannot bear to think of it. But if he does, and I find him out, let him be careful. I will ruin him, yes, I will ruin him! I have the money and I can do it. Ah, he thinks me a fool, they all think me a fool, but I haven’t been quiet all these years for nothing. I can make a noise if necessary. And if he is a villain, God will help me to destroy him. I have prayed to God, and God will help me.”
Then he went back to the Castle. Owen Davies was a type of the class of religious men who believe that they can enlist the Almighty on the side of their desires, provided only that those desires receive the sanction of human law or custom.
Thus within twenty-four hours Geoffrey received no less than three appeals to help the woman whom he loved to the arms of a distasteful husband. No wonder then that he grew almost superstitious about the matter.
A NIGHT OF STORM
That afternoon the whole Vicarage party walked up to the farm to inspect another litter of young pigs. It struck Geoffrey, remembering former editions, that the reproductive powers of Mr. Granger’s old sow were something little short of marvellous, and he dreamily worked out a calculation of how long it would take her and her progeny to produce a pig to every square yard of the area of plucky little Wales. It seemed that the thing could be done in six years, which was absurd, so he gave up calculating.