‘If this goes on much longer,’ said he, ‘I shall be in Bedlam.’
‘My dear, don’t speak of it in that way!’
’That’s all very well. I suppose I ought to say that I like it. There has been a policeman here who is going to bring an action against me.’
‘Some one that her husband has sent for the child.’
‘The boy must not be given up, Oliphant.’
’It’s all very well to say that, but I suppose we must obey the law. The Parsonage of St Diddulph’s isn’t a castle in the Apennines. When it comes to this, that a policeman is sent here to fetch any man’s child, and threatens me with an action because I tell him to leave my house, it is very hard upon me, seeing how very little I’ve had to do with it. It’s all over the parish now that my niece is kept here away from her husband, and that a lover comes to see her. This about a policeman will be known now, of course. I only say it is hard; that’s all.’ The wife did all that she could to comfort him, reminding him that Sir Marmaduke would be home soon, and that then the burden would be taken from his shoulders. But she was forced to admit that it was very hard.
HUGH STANBURY IS SHEWN TO BE NO CONJUROR
Many weeks had now passed since Hugh Stanbury had paid his visit to St Diddulph’s, and Nora Rowley was beginning to believe that her rejection of her lover had been so firm and decided that she would never see him or hear from him more, and she had long since confessed to herself that if she did not see him or hear from him soon, life would not be worth a straw to her. To all of us a single treasure counts for much more when the outward circumstances of our life are dull, unvaried, and melancholy, than it does when our days are full of pleasure, or excitement, or even of business. With Nora Rowley at St Diddulph’s life at present was very melancholy. There was little or no society to enliven her. Her sister was sick at heart, and becoming ill in health under the burden of her troubles. Mr Outhouse was moody and wretched; and Mrs Outhouse, though she did her best to make her house comfortable to her unwelcome inmates, could not make it appear that their presence there was a pleasure to her. Nora understood better than did her sister how distasteful the present arrangement was to their uncle, and was consequently very uncomfortable on that score. And in the midst of that unhappiness, she of course told herself that she was a young woman miserable and unfortunate altogether. It is always so with us. The heart when it is burdened, though it may have ample strength to bear the burden, loses its buoyancy and doubts its own power. It is like the springs of a carriage which are pressed flat by the superincumbent weight. But, because the springs are good, the weight is carried safely, and they are the better afterwards for their required purposes because of the trial to which they have been subjected.