Man and Wife
BLANCHE came in, with a glass of wine in her hand, and saw the swooning woman on
She was alarmed, but not surprised, as she knelt by Anne, and raised her head. Her own
previous observation of her friend necessarily prevented her from being at any loss to
account for the fainting fit. The inevitable delay in getting the wine was--naturally to her
mind--alone to blame for the result which now met her view.
If she had been less ready in thus tracing the effect to the cause, she might have gone to
the window to see if any thing had happened, out-of-doors, to frighten Anne--might have
seen Geoffrey before he had time to turn the corner of the house--and, making that one
discovery, might have altered the whole course of events, not in her coming life only, but
in the coming lives of others. So do we shape our own destinies, blindfold. So do we hold
our poor little tenure of happiness at the capricious mercy of Chance. It is surely a
blessed delusion which persuades us that we are the highest product of the great scheme
of creation, and sets us doubting whether other planets are inhabited, because other
planets are not surrounded by an atmosphere which we can breathe!
After trying such simple remedies as were within her reach, and trying them without
success, Blanche became seriously alarmed. Anne lay, to all outward appearance, dead in
her arms. She was on the point of calling for help--come what might of the discovery
which would ensue--when the door from the hall opened once more, and Hester
Dethridge entered the room.
The cook had accepted the alternative which her mistress's message had placed before
her, if she insisted on having her own time at her own sole disposal for the rest of that
day. Exactly as Lady Lundie had desired, she intimated her resolution to carry her point
by placing her account-book on the desk in the library. It was only when this had been
done that Blanche received any answer to her entreaties for help. Slowly and deliberately
Hester Dethridge walked up to the spot where the young girl knelt with Anne's head on
her bosom, and looked at the two without a trace of human emotion in her stern and stony
"Don't you see what's happened?" cried Blanche. "Are you alive or dead? Oh, Hester, I
can't bring her to! Look at her! look at her!"
Hester Dethridge looked at her, and shook her head. Looked again, thought for a while
and wrote on her slate. Held out the slate over Anne's body, and showed what she had
"Who has done it?"
"You stupid creature!" said Blanche. "Nobody has done it."
The eyes of Hester Dethridge steadily read the worn white face, telling its own tale of
sorrow mutely on Blanche's breast. The mind of Hester Dethridge steadily looked back at
her own knowledge of her own miserable married life. She again returned to writing on
her slate--again showed the written words to Blanche.
"Brought to it by a man. Let her be--and God will take her."