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"Say," said the child, as if bent on adding anbittorrent zip fileother poignant reflection, "if you hadn't married her, I could 'a' come and cooked for you."

Josephine paused on the landing, and laid her hcardano ada coin yorumand on Rose'sshoulder. It was so cold it made Rose shudder, and exacted apromise from her not to contradict a word she should say to Camille."I do not go to him for my pleasure, but for his life," she said; "Imust deceive him and save him; and then let me lie down and die.""Oh, that the wretch had never been born!" cried Rose, in despair.

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But she gave the required promise, and offered to go and tellCamille Josephine was coming to visit him.But Josephine declined this. "No," said she; "give me everyadvantage; I must think beforehand every word I shall say; but takehim by surprise, coward and doubleface that I am."Rose knocked at the door. A faint voice said, "Come in." Thesisters entered the room very softly. Camille sat on the sofa, hishead bowed over his hands. A glance showed Josephine that he wasdoggedly and resolutely thrusting himself into the grave. Thinkingit was only Rose--for he had now lost all hope of seeing Josephinecome in at the door--he never moved. Some one glided gently butrapidly up to him. He looked up. Josephine was kneeling to him.He lifted his head with a start, and trembled all over.She whispered, "I am come to you to beg your pity; to appeal to yourgenerosity; to ask a favor; I who deserve so little of you.""You have waited a long time," said Camille, agitated greatly; "andso have I.""Camille, you are torturing one who loved you once, and who has beenvery weak and faithless, but not so wicked as she appears.""How am I torturing you?""With remorse; do I not suffer enough? Would you make me amurderess?""Why have you never been near me?" retorted Camille. "I couldforgive your weakness, but not your heartlessness.""It is my duty. I have no right to seek your society. If youreally want mine, you have only to get well, and so join us down-stairs a week or two before you leave us.""How am I to get well? My heart is broken.""Camille, be a man. Do not fling away a soldier's life because afickle, worthless woman could not wait for you. Forgive me like aman, or else revenge yourself like a man. If you cannot forgive me,kill me. See, I kneel at your feet. I will not resist you. Killme.""I wish I could. Oh! if I could kill you with a look and myselfwith a wish! No man should ever take you from me, then. We wouldbe together in the grave at this hour. Do not tempt me, I say;" andhe cast a terrible look of love, and hatred, and despair upon her.Her purple eye never winced; it poured back tenderness and affectionin return. He saw and turned away with a groan, and held out hishand to her. She seized it and kissed it. "You are great, you aregenerous; you will not strike me as a woman strikes; you will notdie to drive me to despair.""I see," said he, more gently, "love is gone, but pity remains. Ithought that was gone, too.""Yes, Camille," said Josephine, in a whisper, "pity remains, andremorse and terror at what I have done to a man of whom I was neverworthy.""Well, madame, as you have come at last to me, and even do me thehonor to ask me a favor--I shall try--if only out of courtesy--to--ah, Josephine! Josephine! when did I ever refuse you anything?"At this Josephine sank into a chair, and burst out crying. Camille,at this, began to cry too; and the two poor things sat a long wayfrom one another, and sobbed bitterly.

The man, weakened as he was, recovered his quiet despair first."Don't cry so," said he. "But tell me what is your will, and Ishall obey you as I used before any one came between us.""Then, live, Camille. I implore you to live.""Well, Josephine, since you care about it, I will try and live. Whydid not you come before and ask me? I thought I was in your way. Ithought you wanted me dead."Josephine cast a look of wonder and anguish on Camille, but she saidnothing. She rang the bell, and, on Jacintha coming up, despatchedher to Dr. Aubertin for the patient's medicine.Alida waved it away as she said indignantly, "I won't believe ill of my husband. I--"

"No, miss," interrupted the woman sternly, "you are right for once. You won't indeed believe ill of YOUR husband, but you'll have to believe ill of MINE. There's no use of your putting on such airs any longer. No matter how rash and silly you may have been, if you have a spark of honesty you'll be open to proof. If you and he try to brazen it out, the law will open both your eyes. Look at that likeness, look at these letters; and I have other proof and witnesses which can't be disputed. The name of the man you are living with is not Wilson Ostrom. His name is Henry Ferguson. I am Mrs. Ferguson, and I have my marriage certificate, and--What! Are you going to faint? Well, I can wait till you recover and till HE comes," and she coolly sat down again.Alida had glanced at the proofs which the woman had thrust into her hands, then staggered back to a lounge that stood near. She might have fainted, but at that awful moment she heard a familiar step on the stairs. She was facing the door; the terrible stranger sat at one side, with her back toward it.When Ostrom entered he first saw Alida looking pale and ill. He hastened toward her exclaiming, "Why, Lida, dear, what is the matter? You are sick!"Instinctively she sprang to his arms, crying, "Oh, thank God! You've come. Take away this awful woman!"

"Yes, Henry Ferguson; it's very proper you should take me away from a place like this."As the man who had called himself Wilson Ostrom heard that voice he trembled like an aspen; his clasp of Alida relaxed, his arms dropped to his side, and, as he sank into a chair and covered his face with his hands, he groaned, "Lost!"

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"Found out, you mean," was the woman's reply.Step by step, with horror-stricken eyes, Alida retreated from the man to whose protection and embrace she had flown. "Then it's true?" she said in a hoarse whisper.He was speechless."You are willfully blind now, miss, if you don't see it's true," was the stranger's biting comment.

Paying no heed to her, Alida's eyes rested on the man whom she had believed to be her husband. She took an irresolute step toward him. "Speak, Wilson!" she cried. "I gave you my whole faith and no one shall destroy it but yourself. Speak, explain! Show me that there's some horrible mistake.""Lida," said the man, lifting his bloodless face, "if you knew all the circumstances--""She shall know them!" half shrieked the woman, as if at last stung to fury. "I see that you both hope to get through this affair with a little high tragedy, then escape and come together again in some other hiding place. As for this creature, she can go where she pleases, after hearing the truth; but you, Henry Ferguson, have got to do your duty by me and your child or go to prison. Let me tell you, miss, that this man was also married to me by a minister. I have my certificate and can produce witnesses. There's one little point you'll do well to consider," she continued, in bitter sarcasm, "he married me first. I suppose you are not so young and innocent as not to know where this fact places YOU. He courted and won me as other girls are courted and married. He promised me all that he ever promised you. Then, when I lost my rosy cheeks--when I became sick and feeble from child-bearing--he deserted and left me almost penniless. You needn't think you will have to take my word for this. I have proof enough. And now, Henry Ferguson, I've a few words for you, and then you must take your choice. You can't escape. I and my brother have tracked you here. You can't leave these rooms without going to prison. You'd be taken at the very door. But I give you one more chance. If you will promise before God to do your duty by me and your child, I'll forgive as far as a wronged woman can forgive. Neither I nor my brother will take proceedings against you. What this woman will do I don't know. If she prosecutes you, and you are true to me, I'll stand by you, but I won't stand another false step or a false word from you."Ferguson had again sunk into his chair, buried his face in his hands, and sat trembling and speechless. Never for an instant had Alida taken her eyes from him; and now, with a long, wailing cry, she exclaimed, "Thank God, thank God! Mother's dead."

This was now her best consolation. She rushed into her bedchamber, and a moment later came out, wearing her hat and cloak. Ferguson started up and was about to speak, but she silenced him by a gesture, and her tones were sad and stern as she said, "Mr. Ferguson, from your manner more truly than from this woman, I learn the truth. You took advantage of my misfortunes, my sorrow and friendlessness, to deceive me. You know how false are your wife's words about my eagerness to be deceived and married. But you have nothing to fear from me. I shall not prosecute you as she suggests, and I charge you before God to do your duty by your wife and child and never to speak to me again." Turning, she hastened toward the door."Where are you going?" Ferguson exclaimed, seeking to intercept her.

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She waved him off. "I don't know," she replied. "I've no right to be here," and she fled down the stairway and out into the darkness.The child had not wakened. It was well that it had not looked upon such a scene, even in utter ignorance of its meaning.

Chapter 8 Holcroft's View of MatrimonyHolcroft was indeed very lonely as he drove through the bare March fields and leafless woods on his way to town. The sky had clouded again, like his prospects, and he had the dreary sense of desolation which overwhelms a quiet, domestic man who feels that his home and all to which he clings are slipping from him. His lot was hard enough at best, and he had a bitter sense of being imposed upon and wronged by Lemuel Weeks. It was now evident enough that the widow and her daughter had been an intolerable burden to his neighbor, who had taken advantage of his need and induced him to assume the burden through false representation. To a man of Holcroft's simple, straightforward nature, any phase of trickery was intensely repugnant, and the fact that he had been overreached in a matter relating to his dearest hopes galled him to the quick. He possessed the strong common sense of his class; his wife had been like him in this respect, and her influence had intensified the trait. Queer people with abnormal manners excited his intense aversion. The most charitable view that he could take of Mrs. Mumpson was that her mind--such as she had--was unbalanced, that it was an impossibility for her to see any subject or duty in a sensible light or its right proportions.Her course, so prejudicial to her own interests, and her incessant and stilted talk, were proof to his mind of a certain degree of insanity, and he had heard that people in this condition often united to their unnatural ways a wonderful degree of cunning. Her child was almost as uncanny as herself and gave him a shivering sense of discomfort whenever he caught her small, greenish eyes fixed upon him."Yet, she'll be the only one who'll earn her salt. I don't see how I'm going to stand 'em--I don't, indeed, but suppose I'll have to for three months, or else sell out and clear out."By the time he reached town a cold rain had set in. He went at once to the intelligence office, but could obtain no girl for Mrs. Mumpson to "superintend," nor any certain promise of one. He did not much care, for he felt that the new plan was not going to work. Having bartered all his eggs for groceries, he sold the old stove and bought a new one, then drew from the bank a little ready money. Since his butter was so inferior, he took it to his friend Tom Watterly, the keeper of the poorhouse.Prosperous Tom slapped his old friend on the back and said, "You look awfully glum and chopfallen, Jim. Come now, don't look at the world as if it was made of tar, pitch, and turpentine. I know your luck's been hard, but you make it a sight harder by being so set in all your ways. You think there's no place to live on God's earth but that old up-and-down-hill farm of yours that I wouldn't take as a gift. Why, man alive, there's a dozen things you can turn your hand to; but if you will stay there, do as other men do. Pick out a smart, handy woman that can make butter yaller as gold, that'll bring gold, and not such limpsy-slimsy, ghostly-looking stuff as you've brought me. Bein' it's you, I'll take it and give as much for it as I'd pay for better, but you can't run your old ranch in this fashion."

"I know it, Tom," replied Holcroft ruefully. "I'm all at sea; but, as you say, I'm set in my ways, and I'd rather live on bread and milk and keep my farm than make money anywhere else. I guess I'll have to give it all up, though, and pull out, but it's like rooting up one of the old oaks in the meadow lot. The fact is, Tom, I've been fooled into one of the worst scrapes I've got into yet.""I see how it is," said Tom heartily and complacently, "you want a practical, foresighted man to talk straight at you for an hour or two and clear up the fog you're in. You study and brood over little things out there alone until they seem mountains which you can't get over nohow, when, if you'd take one good jump out, they'd be behind you. Now, you've got to stay and take a bite with me, and then we'll light our pipes and untangle this snarl. No backing out! I can do you more good than all the preachin' you ever heard. Hey, there, Bill!" shouting to one of the paupers who was detailed for such work, "take this team to the barn and feed 'em. Come in, come in, old feller! You'll find that Tom Watterly allus has a snack and a good word for an old crony."

Holcroft was easily persuaded, for he felt the need of cheer, and he looked up to Tom as a very sagacious, practical man. So he said, "Perhaps you can see farther into a millstone than I can, and if you can show me a way out of my difficulties you'll be a friend sure enough.""Why, of course I can. Your difficulties are all here and here," touching his bullet head and the region of his heart. "There aint no great difficulties in fact, but, after you've brooded out there a week or two alone, you think you're caught as fast as if you were in a bear trap. Here, Angy," addressing his wife, "I've coaxed Holcroft to take supper with us. You can hurry it up a little, can't you?"

Mrs. Watterly gave their guest a cold, limp hand and a rather frigid welcome. But this did not disconcert him. "It's only her way," he had always thought. "She looks after her husband's interests as mine did for me, and she don't talk him to death."This thought, in the main, summed up Mrs. Watterly's best traits.

She was a commonplace, narrow, selfish woman, whose character is not worth sketching. Tom stood a little in fear of her, and was usually careful not to impose extra tasks, but since she helped him to save and get ahead, he regarded her as a model wife.Holcroft shared in his opinion and sighed deeply as he sat down to supper. "Ah, Tom!" he said, "you're a lucky man. You've got a wife that keeps everything indoors up to the mark, and gives you a chance to attend to your own proper business. That's the way it was with mine. I never knew what a lopsided, helpless creature a man was until I was left alone. You and I were lucky in getting the women we did, but when my partner left me, she took all the luck with her. That aint the worst. She took what's more than luck and money and everything. I seemed to lose with her my grit and interest in most things. It'll seem foolishness to you, but I can't take comfort in anything much except working that old farm that I've worked and played on ever since I can remember anything. You're not one of those fools, Tom, that have to learn from their own experience. Take a bit from mine, and be good to your wife while you can. I'd give all I'm worth--I know that aint much--if I could say some things to my wife and do some things for her that I didn't do."Holcroft spoke in the simplicity of a full and remorseful heart, but he unconsciously propitiated Mrs. Watterly in no small degree. Indeed, she felt that he had quite repaid her for his entertainment, and the usually taciturn woman seconded his remarks with much emphasis."Well now, Angy," said Tom, "if you averaged up husbands in these parts I guess you'd find you were faring rather better than most women folks. I let you take the bit in your teeth and go your own jog mostly. Now, own up, don't I?"

"That wasn't my meaning, exactly, Tom," resumed Holcroft. "You and I could well afford to let our wives take their own jog, for they always jogged steady and faithful and didn't need any urging and guiding. But even a dumb critter likes a good word now and then and a little patting on the back. It doesn't cost us anything and does them a sight of good. But we kind of let the chances slip by and forget about it until like enough it's too late.""Well," replied Tom, with a deprecatory look at his wife, "Angy don't take to pettin' very much. She thinks it's a kind of foolishness for such middle-aged people as we're getting to be."

"A husband can show his consideration without blarneying," remarked Mrs. Watterly coldly. "When a man takes on in that way, you may be sure he wants something extra to pay for it."After a little thought Holcroft said, "I guess it's a good way to pay for it between husband and wife."

"Look here, Jim, since you're so well up on the matrimonial question, why in thunder don't you marry again? That would settle all your difficulties," and Tom looked at his friend with a sort of wonder that he should hesitate to take this practical, sensible course."It's very easy for you to say, 'Why don't you marry again?' If you were in my place you'd see that there are things in the way of marrying for the sake of having a good butter maker and all that kind of thing."

"Mr. Watterly wouldn't be long in comforting himself," remarked his wife.--"His advice to you makes the course he'd take mighty clear.""Now, Angy!" said Tom reproachfully. "Well," he added with a grin, "you're forewarned. So you've only to take care of yourself and not give me a chance.""The trouble is," Holcroft resumed, "I don't see how an honest man is going to comfort himself unless it all comes about in some natural sort of way. I suppose there are people who can marry over and over again, just as easy as they'd roll off a log. It aint for me to judge 'em, and I don't understand how they do it. You are a very practical man, Tom, but just you put yourself in my shoes and see what you'd do. In the first place, I don't know of a woman in the world that I'd think of marrying. That's saying nothing against the women,--there's lots too good for me,--but I don't know 'em and I can't go around and hunt 'em up. Even if I could, with my shy, awkward ways, I wouldn't feel half so nervous starting out on a bear hunt. Here's difficulty right at the beginning. Supposing I found a nice, sensible woman, such as I'd be willing to marry, there isn't one chance in a hundred she'd look at an old fellow like me. Another difficulty: Supposing she would; suppose she looked me square in the eyes and said, 'So you truly want a wife?' what in thunder would I say then?--I don't want a wife, I want a housekeeper, a butter maker, one that would look after my interests as if they were her own; and if I could hire a woman that would do what I wish, I'd never think of marrying. I can't tell a woman that I love her when I don't. If I went to a minister with a woman I'd be deceiving him, and deceiving her, and perjuring myself promiscuously. I married once according to law and gospel and I was married through and through, and I can't do the thing over again in any way that would seem to me like marrying at all. The idea of me sitting by the fire and wishing that the woman who sat on the t'other side of the stove was my first wife! Yet I couldn't help doing this any more than breathing. Even if there was any chance of my succeeding I can't see anything square or honest in my going out and hunting up a wife as a mere matter of business. I know other people do it and I've thought a good deal about it myself, but when it comes to the point of acting I find I can't do it."The two men now withdrew from the table to the fireside and lighted their pipes. Mrs. Watterly stepped out for a moment and Tom, looking over his shoulder to make sure she was out of ear shot, said under his breath, "But suppose you found a woman that you could love and obey, and all that?"

"Oh, of course, that would make everything different. I wouldn't begin with a lie then, and I know enough of my wife to feel sure that she wouldn't be a sort of dog in the manger after she was dead. She was one of those good souls that if she could speak her mind this minute she would say, 'James, what's best and right for you is best and right.' But it's just because she was such a good wife that I know there's no use of trying to put anyone in her place. Where on earth could I find anybody, and how could we get acquainted so that we'd know anything about each other? No, I must just scratch along for a short time as things are and be on the lookout to sell or rent."Tom smoked meditatively for a few moments, and then remarked, "I guess that's your best way out."

"It aint an easy way, either," said Holcroft. "Finding a purchaser or tenant for a farm like mine is almost as hard as finding a wife. Then, as I feel, leaving my place is next to leaving the world."Tom shook his head ruefully and admitted,, "I declare, Jim, when a feller comes to think it all over, you ARE in a bad fix, especially as you feel. I thought I could talk you over into practical common sense in no time. It's easy enough when one don't know all the bearin's of a case, to think carelessly, 'Oh, he aint as bad off as he thinks he is. He can do this and that and the t'other thing.' But when you come to look it all over, you find he can't, except at a big loss. Of course, you can give away your farm on which you were doing well and getting ahead, though how you did it, I can't see. You'd have to about give it away if you forced a sale, and where on earth you'll find a tenant who'll pay anything worth considering--But there's no use of croaking. I wish I could help you, old feller. By jocks! I believe I can. There's an old woman here who's right smart and handy when she can't get her bottle filled. I believe she'd be glad to go with you, for she don't like our board and lodging over much."

"Do you think she'd go tonight?""Oh, yes! Guess so. A little cold water'll be a good change for her."

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster