“Nay, lad, there’s no telling; thee mustna lose heart. She’s made out o’ stuff with a finer grain than most o’ the women; I can see that clear enough. But if she’s better than they are in other things, I canna think she’ll fall short of ’em in loving.”
No more was said. Seth set out to the village, and Adam began his work on the coffin.
“God help the lad, and me too,” he thought, as he lifted the board. “We’re like enough to find life a tough job—hard work inside and out. It’s a strange thing to think of a man as can lift a chair with his teeth and walk fifty mile on end, trembling and turning hot and cold at only a look from one woman out of all the rest i’ the world. It’s a mystery we can give no account of; but no more we can of the sprouting o’ the seed, for that matter.”
In the Wood
That same Thursday morning, as Arthur Donnithorne was moving about in his dressing-room seeing his well-looking British person reflected in the old-fashioned mirrors, and stared at, from a dingy olive-green piece of tapestry, by Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens, who ought to have been minding the infant Moses, he was holding a discussion with himself, which, by the time his valet was tying the black silk sling over his shoulder, had issued in a distinct practical resolution.
“I mean to go to Eagledale and fish for a week or so,” he said aloud. “I shall take you with me, Pym, and set off this morning; so be ready by half-past eleven.”
The low whistle, which had assisted him in arriving at this resolution, here broke out into his loudest ringing tenor, and the corridor, as he hurried along it, echoed to his favourite song from the Beggar’s Opera, “When the heart of a man is oppressed with care.” Not an heroic strain; nevertheless Arthur felt himself very heroic as he strode towards the stables to give his orders about the horses. His own approbation was necessary to him, and it was not an approbation to be enjoyed quite gratuitously; it must be won by a fair amount of merit. He had never yet forfeited that approbation, and he had considerable reliance on his own virtues. No young man could confess his faults more candidly; candour was one of his favourite virtues; and how can a man’s candour be seen in all its lustre unless he has a few failings to talk of? But he had an agreeable confidence that his faults were all of a generous kind—impetuous, warm-blooded, leonine; never crawling, crafty, reptilian. It was not possible for Arthur Donnithorne to do anything mean, dastardly, or cruel. “No! I’m a devil of a fellow for getting myself into a hobble, but I always take care the load shall fall on my own shoulders.” Unhappily, there is no inherent poetical justice in hobbles, and they will sometimes obstinately refuse to inflict their worst consequences on the prime offender, in spite of his loudly expressed wish. It was