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who had engrossed their mutual object of love to himself, that it was, in fact, hers only, and that he had been hugging to his heart its bane and his dishonour, was a species of revenge too sweet and keen in point to be rejected.
But even the fulness of revenge against those for whom love lingers in the heart (and such was the case with the unhappy parted wife,) is like the recoil of a gun in an unskilled hand, that, bursting with its overcharge, proves more fatal to the party that aims to wound, than to its object. A terrible sort of compunction preyed on the mind of Mrs. Beynon, from the moment that her husband, after imprecations shocking, and foreign to his subdued melancholic habits of expression, broke away from her and her brothera whole revolution of the inner man, up and raging visible in his countenance, beyond what utmost rage alone could depict.
But before I hasten to the proof of this self-wounding folly of revenge, as exhibited so soon by this miserable mother, I must return to my interview with the father, whose wild out-pourings will thus be rendered more intelligible. He became somewhat calm as soon as the child was gone, whom one of the servants called away to the milking of the ewes, and then, still restlessly moving to and fro, while I sat on the green bank, he spoke solemnly and mysteriously, in a tone and manner which proved that eloquence, excluding ornaments, is the mere strong expression of natural feelings.
“ To discover in the wife of our bosom, instead of the pure white blessing we fancied ours, a foul fallen thingan adultress—that is shocking! that is terrible! but even that is to be borne! Suppose that a childless man makes such a discovery, it's a shock, a great grief and misery, but he knows at once the whole, and the worst, and the end of his misery. She's gone! his innocent wife is no more: that lost, perjured, polluted wretch, is no longer--no more she than her corrupted carcase, after a month's burial among the grave-worms, would be her sweet body! It is but an ugly kind of death and widowhood he has to bear, after all. Why, sir, I could envy such a man his hate of her he did so doat on! Oh, what a rapid, though a cutting cure, that must be! But how can I hate him ? innocent soul: look at his artlessness, his sense, his-oh, God! sir; what has he done that I should hate him?
And yet-yet I feel I hate—,” he added in a hollow whisper that had in it
I know not what of piteous horror: “I thought I saw the loving murderer of a loving child before me.
A terrible conflict of feelings was visible in his face, disfigured as by an ugly mask. He went on, as if in soliloquy: “I feel I hate; but instead of a cure and comfort, what is it?-a hell of pain! But what talk I of a man without children? A husband who has them: he, too, may be made a lonely man, by discovering a wife's guilt; he may find a great void made in his house—in his hearth-on a sudden; cut off by a villain from his own fireside comforts for ever! Why, God help him! that is a hard trial; but by that God who has marked me for mine, and made it harder, harder still, I must envy that miserable man. He has comfort left: his own certain sure children are left him still, to fill her empty place by his hearth, to weep with him over her loss, to sooth him under it, and, when he returns to that sad home, to make it a home to him still! He looks into their eyes, and sees his lost wife there; not the foul wanton of that dark time, but the young, virtuous, undoubted, dear wife of a happier time; as she looked when crossing his threshold for the first time, blushing innocent joy, or bending pale and curious-eyed over his first new-born! For they are the children of her innocence, the eternal pictures of what she was. Oh, sir, he has a comfort in looking into their
eyes; but what have I ? what do I see in mine? There, in that boy's eyes, where I have turned for comfort so long, and found it in his fond smile; what see I now ?” And then the features of the father assumed the expression of the most intense loathing and hate. “I see the blue-eyed villain there, who has fooled me into a father's doating, and now grins my heart death-cold through those eyes, for fancying his child my own!” That moment the
“There!” he exclaimed; “look in those eyes, and doubt—if you can! His very smile: the very sneer of it: the hereditary trick of it! I wonder where my own eyes were, never to see it before: such a palpable likeness! Those pretty eyes to be inhabited by a devil-a leering devil! Go, boy, go !” “Is not his mother fair, blue-eyed?” “Aye, aye; but those are not her eyes. “Do not drive him from you, David : do not speak so sternly; you may repent this; you are under some delusion.” This, and all I could say, availed nothing, or only served to inflame the passions of the unhappy father—and no father.
child ran up:
“Don't argue it, Doctor: no more of that; but tell me, if you can, how this is to be borne? How is it to end? You saved him—I wish you had not, now! Can you save me? But your art is for the body: oh, but there's wounds, and cancers, and fevers of a man's mind, more intolerable than flesh knows! To shun what I cannot live without, to hate what I doat on, drive him from me that I cannot bear a minute out of my sight,-I ask, is this a state to be borne by a being who has the power to kill or to die? Have you a cure for such a state of living damnation as this? He has walked away crying ! poor, poor-oh, sir, go after him: give him something;-comfort him,-my heart is broke !" He sat down on the ground again, and it was after long silence that I elicited, by broken dialogue, the facts of the family quarrel between the wife, brother, and himself, which I have already related.
Whether it proceeded from some neglect to which the tenderly-watched boy became now exposed, through the almost continued absence of his father, neglecting all home concerns, and burying himself, on purpose to be unmolested, in the dripping chasms of rocks, where waterfalls plunged, concealed by hanging trees and black umbrage of many leaves; or whether it was the effect of unkindness on the too sensitive feelings of the pining boy, not yet fully restored to strength; from one of these two causes, a relapse took place, and my poor little patient was again a prisoner of the sick chamber
Meanwhile the wife, who had inflicted all this agony on the father, was scarcely suffering less. I was called to visit a Margaret Thomas, living with her brother, in another country adjacent, and found that this was the parted wife of David : adopting (perhaps in pique,) a Welsh* custom, not long obsolete, of wives retaining maiden names, she reassumed hers; and as David was reluctant to talk much of his child's mother, I knew not, till I visited her, that this was the person.
I found a fair faded woman, little past her prime, but care-worn in look, and now deadly pale from loss of blood. Hæmoptysis, or spitting of blood, was her bodily ailment; but this was aggravated by extreme agitation, produced by a violent quarrel with her brother. During frequent faint
A will is in existence at Brecon, which was made by a wife in her husband's lifetime, signed by her with her maiden name. This document is little more than a century old.
ing fits, brought on by the hæmorrhage, (nature's temporary cure, by which life is often preserved,) I heard much of the history of this quarrel from the gossips of the bedside. She appeared in a decline, and no time was to be lost in soothing her agitated nerves : she had heard of little Peter's fresh illness, and of his father's estrangement. I found that an interview might be the means of saving more lives than one. She accepted, with weeping eagerness, my proposal that, in the absence of her brother, now gone up with black cattle to a fair in England, she and her husband should meet again. With great repugnance David at last consented; and they met.
The meeting was solemn and affecting. She extended a thin pallid hand to her husband, as she sat propped in the bed, for shortness of breath, and still raising blood at intervals. But he was come a long way from his boy, whom he had left in danger; his heart was full of him, the more that he was now not in his eyes, and that he could think doatingly of him, without that fatal fancied likeness “looking his love cold,” as he expressed it, through those mild innocent eyes, which were now on his sick bed—as before, for ever turning for his father nurse-now, alas! no longer the constant attendant on his wants. Not that he suffered him to want anything, but he could neither bear to yield his post to a nurse, nor yet to be seen performing her office to the child of another man, as his nervous, almost insane, prepossession now made him conceit that every soul knew that child to be another's, and every eye leered ridicule at him for so fostering it. Hence he held himself aloof from the sufferer, till his importunity should seem to sanction his attention, as a mere man, for humanity's sake, and not as a father. Full of this home-torment, of pity and love for his child, his heart recoiled from that fatal woman, as a mangled patient from sight of the bloody knife of the surgeon, which has just inflicted insufferable pain : for, believing it to be but truth which she had uttered, he could hardly look at it as mere wanton laceration of his heart, but a necessary infliction, though he abhorred her as its instrument. Hence he stood, and neither stretched hand, nor bore to speak to, nor even look at her.
“Pray come nearer,” she said, faintly; "I cannot lift up my voice, and I have much to say, and little time, perhaps, to”--he advanced one step, no more. She required a helping arm to raise her higher for breath, looked once im
ploringly at his, (that which, for so short a time, had enfolded her and upheld her, and most tenderly, for David had really loved her, and she him,) then desperately erected herself by one effort, the strength of angry despair, dashed off one tear from her eye, that he might not see it stand there, and would have spoken, but the exertion brought on a fresh effusion of vital fluid, so much as almost to stifle her ere it could be ejected. David, startled if not softened by the terrible sight of life's current thus overleaping its natural channels, handed her the vessel, already fearfully full of the crimson horror. Even this tardy cold courtesy overcame the unhappy wife: she wept bitterly.
“ Once more, David, but once, support me: you need but let me grasp your hand at arm's length, for I cannot sit up without it:" and falling back," this in my throat will choke me, so that I cannot say what I would not die without saying for all the world! Oh, good God! it continues,” she said, after a pause, for rest; “ will my life ebb quite away, and stop my con?” David looked, as he held it, down on the deadly-white hand,-a sick and unnatural beauty,—and all the past came over him like a dream; the wedded happiness of a year; the after-solitude of years; the feeling with which he first grasped that hand in a stolen interview with the sister of an enemy's house, the love heightened, perhaps, by the forbidden nature of it; the ill omened! He was moved, and awaited her recovery, and perhaps last words, with anxiety. “Oh, husband, hear me!” she said; “now hear me confess “Hell hear your confessions !” his irascible misery broke out again. “ It was an unlucky beginning: would I had never heard 'em! Your confessions have made me childless, and your child fatherless ! made my nature cruel to him: his beauty hateful to me! Such confessions as yours are for the ears of devils, not of God. You should have for ever held your peace: have died in the secrecy of sin and lust, as you lived in the shame of it! Lie, woman! lie now; be perjured, and be forgiven; for you have wrought such a devilish mischief by truth, as not the foulest lie ” Thus he ran on, while the weeping woman could only utter, “Oh, I was false !" me! Don't I know it? Why again? Wretch! I tell you, if it were possible, you should now make me think you never had played me false : restore my blessed ignorance: fool me again to think him my own; take him back to my arms, my bed, my bosom-him, the innocent that slept there, like the poor man's one lamb, till you, by your wicked
“ False to