A week later, and in these same great woods on the way to Brampton, Cynthia overtook him once more. It was characteristic of him that he plunged at once into the subject uppermost in his mind.
“Not a very big place, this Corsica—not a very big place.”
“A little island in the Mediterranean,” said Cynthia.
“Hum. Country folks, the Bonapartes—country folks?”
“I suppose you might call them so,” she said. “They were poor, and lived out of the world.”
“He was a smart man. But he found things goin’ his way. Didn’t have to move ’em.”
“Not at first;” she admitted; “but he had to move mountains later. How far have you read?”
“One thing that helped him,” said Jethro, in indirect answer to this question, “he got a smart woman for his wife—a smart woman.”
Cynthia looked down at the reins in her lap, and she felt again that wicked stirring within her,—incredible stirring of minister’s daughter for tanner’s son. Coniston believes, and always will believe, that the social bars are strong enough. So Cynthia looked down at the reins.
“Poor Josephine!” she said, “I always wish he had not cast her off.”
“C-cast her off?” said Jethro. “Cast her off! Why did he do that?”
“After a while, when he got to be Emperor, he needed a wife who would be more useful to him. Josephine had become a drag. He cared more about getting on in the world than he did about his wife.”
Jethro looked away contemplatively.
“Wa-wahn’t the woman to blame any?” he said.
“Read the book, and you’ll see,” retorted Cynthia, flicking her horse, which started at all gaits down the road. Jethro stood in his tracks, staring, but this time he did not see her face above the hood of the gig. Presently he trudged on, head downward, pondering upon another problem than Napoleon’s. Cynthia, at length, arrived in Brampton Street, in a humor that puzzled the good Miss Lucretia sorely.