Unconsciously and unintentionally, however, he had given Alida's sensitive nature a slight wound. She felt that she had been told in effect, "You can help me all you please, and I would rather you would do this in a way that will not awaken associations, butbitcoin atm delray beach you must not think of me or expect me to think of you in any light that was not agreed upon." That he had feared the possibility of this, that he might have fancied he saw indications of this, hurt her pride--that pride and delicacy of feeling which most women shield so instinctively. She was now consciously on her guard, and so was not so secure against the thoughts she deprecated as before. In spite of herself, a restraint would tinge her manner which he would eventually feel in a vague, uncomfortable way.
But then, unforsolana blockchain use casetunately, this led to a fresh mystification.Riviere's natural jealousy revived, and found constant food in theattention Rose paid Camille, a brilliant colonel living in the housewhile he, poor wretch, lived in lodgings. The false position of allthe parties brought about some singular turns. I give from theirnumber one that forms a link, though a small one, in my narrative.
One day Edouard came to tell Rose she was making him unhappy; he hadher alone in the Pleasaunce; she received him with a radiant smile,and they had a charming talk,--a talk all about HIM: what the familyowed him, etc.On this, his late jealousy and sense of injury seemed a thing ofthree years ago, and never to return. So hard it is for the lovingheart to resist its sun.Jacintha came with a message from the colonel: "Would it beagreeable to Mademoiselle Rose to walk with him at the usual hour?""Certainly," said Rose.As Jacintha was retiring Edouard called to her to stop a minute.Then, turning to Rose, he begged her very ceremoniously toreconsider that determination.
"What determination?""To sacrifice me to this Colonel Dujardin." Still politely, only alittle grimly.Rose opened her eyes. "Are you mad?" inquired she with quiethauteur."He said he was 'afeared I'd been taken in, you were such a sickly lookin' critter.' Ha! Ha! Wish he might see you now, with that flushed face of yours. I never believed in magic, but I'll have to come to it. You are bewitched, and are being transformed into a pretty young girl right under my eyes; the house is bewitched, and is growing pretty, too, and pleasanter all the time. The cherry and apple trees are bewitched, for they never blossomed so before; the hens are bewitched, they lay as if possessed; the--"
"Oh, stop! Or I shall think that you're bewitched yourself.""I truly begin to think I am.""Oh, well! Since we all and everything are affected in the same way, it don't matter.""But it does. It's unaccountable. I'm beginning to rub my eyes and pinch myself to wake up."
"If you like it, I wouldn't wake up.""Suppose I did, and saw Mrs. Mumpson sitting where you do, Jane here, and Mrs. Wiggins smoking her pipe in the corner. The very thought makes me shiver. My first words would be, 'Please pass the cold p'ison.'"
"What nonsense you are talking tonight!" she tried to say severely, but the pleased, happy look in her eyes betrayed her. He regarded her with the open admiration of a boy, and she sought to divert his attention by asking, "What do you think has become of Jane?""I don't know--stealing around like a strange cat in some relation's house, I suppose.""You once said you would like to do something for her.""Well, I would. If I could afford it, I'd like to send her to school."
"Would you like her to come here and study lessons part of the time?"He shivered visibly. "No, Alida, and you wouldn't either. She'd make you more nervous than she would me, and that's saying a good deal. I do feel very sorry for her, and if Mrs. Weeks comes to see you, we'll find out if something can't be done, but her presence would spoil all our cozy comfort. The fact is, I wouldn't enjoy having anyone here. You and I are just about company enough. Still, if you feel that you'd like to have some help--""Oh, no! I haven't enough to do.""But you're always a-doing. Well, if you're content, I haven't Christian fortitude enough to make any changes."
She smiled and thought that she was more than content. She had begun to detect symptoms in her husband which her own heart enabled her to interpret. In brief, it looked as if he were drifting on a smooth, swift tide to the same haven in which she was anchored.One unusually warm morning for the season, rain set in after breakfast. Holcroft did not fret in the least that he could not go to the fields, nor did he, as had been his custom at first, find rainy-day work at the barn. The cows, in cropping the lush grass, had so increased their yield of milk that it was necessary to churn every other day, and Alida was busy in the dairy. This place had become inviting by reason of its coolness, and she had rendered it more so by making it perfectly clean and sweet. Strange to say, it contained another chair besides the one she usually occupied. The apartment was large and stone-flagged. Along one side were shelves filled with rows of shining milk-pans. In one corner stood the simple machinery which the old dog put in motion when tied upon his movable walk, and the churn was near. An iron pipe, buried deep in the ground, brought cool spring water from the brook above. This pipe emptied its contents with a low gurgle into a shallow, oblong receptacle sunk in the floor, and was wide and deep enough for two stone crocks of ample size to stand abreast up to their rims in the water. The cream was skimmed into these stone jars until they were full, then Holcroft emptied them into the churn. He had charged Alida never to attempt this part of the work, and indeed it was beyond her strength. After breakfast on churning days, he prepared everything and set the dog at work. Then he emptied the churn of the buttermilk when he came in to dinner.
All the associations of the place were pleasant to Alida. It was here that her husband had shown patience as well as kindness in teaching her how to supplement his work until her own experience and judgment gave her a better skill than he possessed. Many pleasant, laughing words had passed between them in this cool, shadowy place, and on a former rainy morning he had brought a chair down that he might keep her company. She had not carried it back, nor was she very greatly surprised to see him saunter in and occupy it on the present occasion. She stood by the churn, her figure outlined clearly in the light from the open door, as she poured in cold water from time to time to hasten and harden the gathering butter. Her right sleeve was rolled well back, revealing a white arm that was becoming beautifully plump and round. An artist would have said that her attitude and action were unconsciously natural and graceful. Holcroft had scarcely the remotest idea of artistic effect, but he had a sensible man's perception of a charming woman when she is charming."Mr. Holcroft," she asked very gravely, "will you do something for me?"
"Yes, half a dozen things.""You promise?""Certainly! What's the trouble?""I don't mean there shall be any if I can help it," she answered with a light ripple of laughter. "Please go and put on your coat.""How you've humbugged me! It's too hot.""Oh, you've got to do it; you promised. You can't stay here unless you do."
"So you are going to take care of me as if I were a small boy?""You need care--sometimes."
He soon came back and asked, "Now may I stay?""Yes. Please untie the dog. Butter's come."
"I should think it would, or anything else at your coaxing.""Oh-h, what a speech! Hasn't that a pretty golden hue?" she asked, holding up a mass of the butter she was ladling from the churn into a wooden tray.
"Yes, you are making the gilt-edge article now. I don't have to sell it to Tom Watterly any more.""I'd like to give him some, though."He was silent, and something like sudden rage burned in his heart that Mrs. Watterly would not permit the gift. That anyone should frown on his having such a helper as Alida was proving herself to be, made him vindictive. Fortunately her face was turned away, and she did not see his heavy frown. Then, to shield her from a disagreeable fact, he said quickly, "do you know that for over a year I steadily went behind my expenses . And that your butter making has turned the tide already? I'm beginning to get ahead again.""I'm SO glad," and her face was radiant.
"Yes, I should know that from your looks. It's clearer every day that I got the best of our bargain. I never dreamed, though, that I should enjoy your society as I do--that we should become such very good friends. That wasn't in the bargain, was it?""Bargain!" The spirited way with which she echoed the word, as if thereby repudiating anything like a sordid side to their mutual relations, was not lost on her wondering and admiring partner. She checked herself suddenly. "Now let me teach YOU how to make butter," and with the tray in her lap, she began washing the golden product and pressing out the milk.
He laughed in a confused delighted way at her piquant, half saucy manner as he watched her deft round arm and shapely hand."The farmers' wives in Oakville would say your hands were too little to do much."
"They would?" and she raised her blue eyes indignantly to his. "No matter, you are the one to say about that.""I say they do too much. I shall have to get Jane to help you."
"By all means! Then you'll have more society.""That was a home shot. You know how I dote on everybody's absence, even Jane's.""You dote on butter. See how firm and yellow it's getting. You wouldn't think it was milk-white cream a little while ago, would you? Now I'll put in the salt and you must taste it, for you're a connoisseur.""A what?"
"Judge, then.""You know a sight more than I do, Alida."
"I'm learning all the time.""So am I--to appreciate you."
"Listen to the sound of the rain and the water as it runs into the milk-cooler. It's like low music, isn't it?"Poor Holcroft could make no better answer than a sneeze.