“I fear not the dark. I know the road by night or by day.”
“Yet, even so, mind what I tell thee—if thou ride in the dark, be not wiser than thy beast.”
Then they walked with him to the door, and watched him leap to his saddle and ride into the twilight trembling over the misty meadows, trickling with dews. And a great melancholy fell over them, and they could not resume the conversation. Joris re-lit his pipe, and Lysbet went softly and thoughtfully about her household duties. It was one of those hours in which Life distills for us her vague melancholy wine; and Joris and Lysbet drank deeply of it.
The moon was in its third day, and the silent crescent has no calmer and sweeter time; yet Joris it inclined to a sad presentiment. “In my heart there is a fear, Lysbet,” he said softly. “I think our boy has gone a road he will dearly rue. I foresee disputing, and wounded hearts, and lives made barren by many disappointed hopes.”
“Nothing of the kind,” answered Lysbet cheerfully. “Our little Joris is so happy to-night, why wilt thou think evil for him? To think evil is to bring evil. Out of foolishness or perchance such a great love has not come. No, indeed! That it comes from heaven I am sure; and to heaven I will leave its good fortune.”
“Pleasant are thy hopes, Lysbet; but, too often, vain and foolish.”
“Thy reasoning, is it any wiser? No. Often I have found it wrong. One thing the years have said to me, it is this—’Lysbet put not thy judgment in the place of Providence. If thou trust Providence, thou hast the easy heart of a child of God; if thou trust to thine own judgment, thou hast the troubled heart of an anxious woman.’”
For a few weeks, Hyde’s belief that the very stars would connive with a true lover seemed a reliable one. Madame Jacobus, attracted at their first meeting to the youth, soon gave him an astonishing affection. And yet this warm love of an old woman for youth and beauty was a very natural one—a late development of the maternal instinct leading her even to what seemed an abnormal preference. For she put aside her nephew’s claims with hardly a thought, and pleased herself day by day in so managing and arranging events that Hyde and Cornelia met, as a matter of course. Arenta was not, however, deceived; she understood every maneuvre, but the success of her own affairs depended very much on her aunt’s cooperation and generosity, and so she could not afford, at this time, to interfere for her brother.
“But I shall alter things a little as soon as I am married,” she told herself. “I will take care of that. At this time I must see, and hear, and say nothing. I must act politely—for I am always polite—and Athanase also is in favour of politeness—but I take leave to say that Joris Hyde shall not carry so much sail when a few weeks are gone by. So happy he looks! So pleased with himself! So sure of all he says and does! I am angry at him all the time. Well, then, it will be a satisfaction to abate a little the confidence of this cock-sure young man.”