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par excellence, who, with a consistency worthy of a philosopher, was keeping up his character in every respect, and was showing the delighted village what a real scapegrace can do in the way of avoiding all that is decent and respectable.
,Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Two or three persons might suffer a good deal in this business, but the whole thing was on the noble Benthamite principle of the 'greatest happiness of the greatest number., That is evident, after a moment,s consideration. Two or three, as I said, might suffer, but what is the suffering of two or three compared with the virtuous happiness of a whole village?
Young and old, rich and poor, all rejoiced in the great event, from the greatest even unto the least. They took it to their bosoms, seated it by their firesides, gave it the foremost place at every meal, gazed upon it, turned it this way and that, viewed it on every side, actual and imaginable, with a gusto gaining in intensity from the fact that the principals would no doubt suffer extra pangs in the idea of their woes being public property. But what of that? Nothing is so clearly and indubitably public property as a scandal. The Hamerton people knew that—it was part of their creed— the article about which they were least recalcitrant, and they did not forget it now. But to those acting in what was to them a tragedy, outside conditions could be of but little importance. They moved or were constrained within an inner circle, over whose walls they did not look, for their hopes and their fears were inside.
When Ughtred EarnshawTiad insisted, with a quiet decisiveness which knew no refusal, that Katharine and Thorgerd should take his rooms, and make whatever use they chose of them, Katharine had assented in very lassitude and weariness, and because it settled things without more ado.
She had about arrived at the end of her powers of endurance; she could do no more. But cessation from action does not of necessity mean cessation from thought; it does not needfully imply either rest or repose—to Katharine it meant neither.
While her hands were inactive, and her head free from the usual calls of business upon its powers, her brain was never still for a moment, but recurred incessantly to her woe—to her separation from Wilfrid—to the sudden smiting down of every prospect and possibility of her life; the snapping asunder of the present; the utter annihilation of the future.
She and Thorgerd had gone on a Thursday to Mrs. Holden's. It was now Saturday. Late in the afternoon Katharine, who had been silent, and had seemed almost stupefied since they arrived, went from the little room tenanted by herself and Thorgerd to the kitchen.
The only light there came from the fire; the only life was Sara, in the rocking-chair on the hearth. Motionless, with head leaning back and arms crossed, she would hardly have seemed alive, if the firelight had not caught her half-closed eyes, and shone there.
Since Wednesday, Sara too had been silent, and apparently apathetic. She had sat for hours by the fireside, brooding, for ever brooding, over the ruin of her short, ignorant, hopeful young life.
As Katharine came in, and recognized within herself by whom that ruin had been effected, her heart ached for the poor girl's loneliness and desolation.
'Sara,' said she, softly, 'I want to talk to you a little if you don't mind.'
Sara opened her eyes and turned them slowly upon the speaker. In her dreams she had been far away; but when she saw Katharine she sighed, and said—
Katharine drew a chair near her and began—.
'I want you to tell me all about your marriage with Wilfrid—how it came about—how you managed it, and everything. You must try to forget that I am Miss Healey, Sara, and think of me as your sister.'
'Nay, nay! I don't want to threep you down i' that gate. You'll be sore enough about my being his wife, wi'out that.'
'No. Don't mistake me. I would never have given my consent to his marrying you —not because I despise you, Sara, but because I like you too well to have let you make yourself miserable if I could have prevented it. But as it is done, I am not going to shirk it. I mean to be your friend and your sister if you will let me. Now, won't you tell me about it? When did Wilfrid first pay you any attention?'
'First time he ever spoke to me in particular were all along o' Crier'
'In particular? Had he spoken to you
'Ay—like as he did to all on us. He'd say good-day, and give me a nod, for he're