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Chapter I.4
No new revelations came back with them: no anticipations associated with their
return were realized. On the one forbidden subject of their errand in London,
there was no moving either the master or the mistress of the house. Whatever
their object might have been, they had to all appearance successfully
accomplished it -- for they both returned in perfect possession of their every-day
looks and manners. Mrs. Vanstone's spirits had subsided to their natural quiet
level; Mr. Vanstone's imperturbable cheerfulness sat as easily and indolently on
him as usual. This was the one noticeable result of their journey -- this, and no
more. Had the household revolution run its course already? Was the secret thus
far hidden impenetrably, hidden forever?
Nothing in this world is hidden forever. The gold which has lain for centuries
unsuspected in the ground, reveals itself one day on the surface. Sand turns
traitor, and betrays the footstep that has passed over it; water gives back to the
tell-tale surface the body that has been drowned. Fire itself leaves the
confession, in ashes, of the substance consumed in it. Hate breaks its prison-
secrecy in the thoughts, through the doorway of the eyes; and Love finds the
Judas who betrays it by a kiss. Look where we will, the inevitable law of
revelation is one of the laws of nature: the lasting preservation of a secret is a
miracle which the world has never yet seen.
How was the secret now hidden in the household at Combe-Raven doomed to
disclose itself? Through what coming event in the daily lives of the father, the
mother, and the daughters, was the law of revelation destined to break the fatal
way to discovery? The way opened (unseen by the parents, and unsuspected by
the children) through the first event that happened after Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone's
return -- an event which presented, on the surface of it, no interest of greater
importance than the trivial social ceremony of a morning call.