"Margaret opened the door and went in the straight, fearless, dignified presence habitual to her. She felt no awkwardness; she had business to her father; and, as he was one who had shown himself obliging, she was disposed to treat him with a full measure of civility.Mr. Thornton was a good deal more surprised and discomfited than she.Instead of a quiet, middle-aged clergyman,-a young lady came forward with frank dignity,-a young lady of a different type to most of those he was in the habit of seeing. Her dress was very plain: a white ribbon; a dark silk gown, without any trimming or flounce; a large Indian shawl. which hung about her in long heavy folds, and which she wore as an empress wears her drapery. He did not understand who she was, as he caught the simple, straight, unabashed beautiful countenance, and called up no flush of surprise to the pale ivory of the complexion. He had heard that Mr. Hale had a daughter, but he imagined that she was a little girl.
"Yes; the fools will have a strike. Let them. It suits us well enough. But we give them a chance. They think trade is flourishing as it was last year. We see the storm on the horizon and draw in our sails. But because we don't explain our reasons, they won't believe we're acting reasonably. We must give them line and letter for the way we chose to spend or save our money. Henderson tried a dodge with his men, out at Ashley, and failed. He rather wanted a strike; it would have suited his book well enough. So when the men came to ask for the five per cent they are claiming, he told 'em he'd think about it, and give them his answer would be, of course, but thinking he'd strengthen their conceit of their own way. However, they were too deep for him, and heard something about the bad prospects of trade. So in they came on Friday, and drew back their claim, and how he's obliged to keep on working. But we Milton masters have to sent in our decision. We won't advance a penny. We tell them we may have to lower wages; but can't afford a raise. So here we stand waiting for their next attack."
Bessy stilled her rocking to gaze after her [Margaret Hale] "I wonder if there are many folk like her down South. She's like a breath of country air, somehow. She freshens me up about a bit. Who'd ha' thought that face-as bright and strong as the angel I dream of-could have know the sorrow she speaks on? I wonder how she'll sin. All on us must sin. I think a deal on her, for sure. But father does the like, I see. And Mary even. It's not often hoo's stirred up to notice much."
"'Mother,'said he [John Thornton], stopping, and bravely speaking out the truth, 'I wish you would try and like Miss Hale.'
'Why?' asked she, startled by his earnest, yet tender manner.'You're not thinking of marrying her?-a girl without a penny.'
'She would never have me,' said he with a short laugh."
He [John Thornton] shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact. he inquired after Mrs Hale, and heard Mr Hale's sanguine, hopeful account; and glancing at Margaret, to understand how far she agreed with her father, he saw that no dissenting shadow crossed her face. And as he looked wit this intention, he was struck anew with her great beauty. He had never seen her in such a dress before; and yet now it appeared as if such elegance of attire was so befitting her noble figure and lofty serenity of countenance, that she ought to go always thus apparelled. She was talking to Fanny; about what, he could not hear; but saw his sister's restless way of continually arranging some part of her gown, her wandering eyes, now glancing here, now there, but without any purpose in her observation; and he contrasted them uneasily with the large soft eyes, that looked forth steadily at one object,as if out from their light beamed some gentle influence of repose: the curving lines of the red lips, just pared in the interest of listening to what her companion said-the head a little bent forwards, so as to make a long sleeping line form the summit, where the light caught on the glossy raven hair, to the smooth ivory tip of the shoulder; the round white arms, and taper hands, laid lightly across each other, but perfectly motionless in their pretty attitude. Mr Thornton sighed as he took in all this with one of his sudden comprehensive glances.And then he turned hs back to the young ladies, and thew himself, with an effort, but with all his heart and soul, into a conversation with Mr Hale."
"Margaret's attention was called to her host; his whole manner, as master of the house, and entertainer of his friends, was so straightforward, yet simple and modest, as to be thoroughly dignified. Margaret thought she had never seen him so much advantage. When he had come to their house, there had always been something, either of over-eagerness or of that kind of vexed annoyance which seemed ready to pre-suppose that he was unjustly judged, and yet felt too proud to try and make himself better understood.But now, among his fellows, there was no uncertainty as to his position. He was regarded by them as a man of great force of character; of power in many ways. There was no need to struggle for their respect. he had it; and he knew it; and the security of this gave a fine grand quietness to his voice and ways which Margaret had missed before."
"Mr. Thornton,' said Margaret, shaking all over with her passion,'go down this instant, if you are not a coward. Go down and face them like a man. Save these poor strangers, whom you have decoyed here.Speak to your workmen as if they were human beings. Speak to them kindly. Don't let the soldiers come in and cut down poor-creatures who are driven mad. I see one there who is. If you have any courage or noble quality in you, go out and speak to them, man to man."
'I will go. Perhaps I may ask you to accompany me downstairs, and bar the door behind me; my mother and sister will need that protection.'
'Oh! Mr. Thornton! I do not know--I may be wrong--only--' But he was gone; he was downstairs in the hall; he had unbarred the front door; all she could do, was to follow him quickly,and fasten it behind him, and clamber up the stairs again with a sick heart and a dizzy head. Again she took her place by the farthest window. He was on the steps below; she saw that by the direction of a thousand angry eyes; but she could neither see nor hear any-thing save the savage satisfaction of the rolling angry murmur. She threw the window wide open. Many in the crowd were mere boys; cruel and thoughtless,--cruel because they were thoughtless; some were men, gaunt as wolves, and mad for prey. She knew how it was; they were like Boucher, with starving children at home--relying on ultimate success in their efforts to get higher wages, and enraged beyond measure at discovering that Irishmen were to be brought in to rob their little ones of bread. Margaret knew it all; she read it in Boucher's face, forlornly desperate and livid with rage. If Mr. Thornton would but say something to them--let them hear his voice only--it seemed as if it would be better than this wild beating and raging against the stony silence that vouchsafed them. no word, even of anger or reproach. But perhaps he was speaking now; there was a momentary hush of their noise, inarticulate as that of a troop of animals. She tore her bonnet off; and bent forwards to hear. She could only see; for if Mr. Thornton had indeed made the attempt to speak, the momentary instinct to listen to him was past and gone, and the people were raging worse than ever. He stood with his arms folded; still as a statue; his face pale with repressed excitement. They were trying to intimidate him--to make him flinch; each was urging the other on to some immediate act of personal violence. Margaret felt intuitively, that in an instant all would be uproar; the first touch would cause an explosion, in which, among such hundreds of infuriated men and reckless boys, even Mr. Thornton's life would be unsafe,--that in another instant the stormy passions would have passed their bounds, and swept away all barriers of reason, or apprehension of consequence. Even while she looked, she saw lads in the back-ground stooping to take off their heavy wooden clogs--the readiest missile they could find; she saw it was the spark to the gunpowder, and, with a cry, which no one heard, she rushed out of the room, down stairs,--she had lifted the great iron bar of the door with an imperious force--had thrown the door open wide--and was there, in face of that angry sea of men, her eyes smiting them with flaming arrows of reproach. The clogs were arrested in the hands that held them--the countenances, so fell not a moment before, now looked irresolute, and as if asking what this meant. For she stood between them and their enemy. She could not speak, but held out her arms towards them till she could recover breath.
'Oh, do not use violence! He is one man, and you are many; but her words died away, for there was no tone in her voice; it was but a hoarse whisper. Mr. Thornton stood a little on one side; he had moved away from behind her, as if jealous of anything that should come between him and danger.
'Go!' said she, once more (and now her voice was like a cry).'The soldiers are sent for--are coming. Go peaceably. Go away. You shall have relief from your complaints, whatever they are.'
'Shall them Irish blackguards be packed back again?' asked one from out the crowd, with fierce threatening in his voice.
'Never, for your bidding!' exclaimed Mr. Thornton. And instantly the storm broke.The hootings rose and filled the air,--but Margaret did not hear them. Her eye was on the group of lads who had armed themselves with their clogs some time before. She saw their gesture--she knew its meaning,--she read their aim. Another moment, and Mr. Thornton might be smitten down,--he whom she had urged and goaded to come to this perilous place. She only thought how she could save him. She threw her arms around him; she made her body into a shield from the fierce people beyond. Still, with his arms folded, he shook her off.
'Go away,' said he, in his deep voice. 'This is no place for you.'
'It is!' said she. 'You did not see what I saw.' If she thought her sex would be a protection,--if, with shrinking eyes she had turned away from the terrible anger of these men, in any hope that ere she looked again they would have paused and reflected, and slunk away, and vanished,--she was wrong. Their reckless passion had carried them too far to stop--at least had carried some of them too far; for it is always the savage lads, with their love of cruel excitement, who head the riot--reckless to what bloodshed it may lead. A clog whizzed through the air. Margaret's fascinated eyes watched its progress; it missed its aim, and she turned sick with affright, but changed not her position, only hid her face on Mr. Thornton s arm. Then she turned and spoke again:
'For God's sake! do not damage your cause by this violence. You do not know what you are doing.' She strove to make her words distinct. A sharp pebble flew by her, grazing forehead and cheek, and drawing a blinding sheet of light before her eyes. She lay like one dead on Mr. Thornton's shoulder. Then he unfolded his arms,and held her encircled in one for an instant:
'You do well!' said he.'You come to oust the innocent stranger You fall--you hundreds--on one man; and when a woman comes before you, to ask you for your own sakes to be reasonable creatures, your cowardly wrath falls upon her! You do well!' They were silent while he spoke. They were watching, open-eyed and open-mouthed, the thread of dark-red blood which wakened them up from their trance of passion. Those nearest the gate stole out ashamed; there was a movement through all the crowd--a retreating movement. Only one voice cried out:
'Th' stone were meant for thee; but thou wert sheltered behind a woman!'
Mr. Thornton quivered with rage. The blood-flowing had made Margaret conscious--dimly, vaguely conscious. He placed her gently on the door-step, her head leaning against the frame.
'Can you rest there?' he asked. But without waiting for her answer, he went slowly down the steps right into the middle of the crowd. 'Now kill me, if it is your brutal will. There is no woman to shield me here. You may beat me to death--you will never move me from what I have determined upon--not you!' He stood amongst them, with his arms folded, in precisely the same attitude as he had been in on the steps. But the retrograde movement towards the gate had begun--as unreasoningly, perhaps as blindly, as the simultaneous anger. Or, perhaps, the idea of the approach of the soldiers, and the sight of that pale, upturned face, with closed eyes, still and sad as marble, though the tears welled out of the long entanglement of eyelashes and dropped down; and, heavier, slower plash than even tears, came the drip of blood from her wound. Even the most desperate--Boucher himself--drew back, faltered away, scowled, and finally went off, muttering curses on the master, who stood in his unchanging attitude, looking after their retreat with defiant eyes. The moment that retreat had changed into a flight (as it was sure from its very character to do), he darted up the steps to Margaret."
"'Mother--mother!' cried he; 'Come down--they are gone, and Miss Hale is hurt!' He bore her into the dining-room, and laid her on the sofa there; laid her down softly, and looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it out in his pain:
'Oh, my Margaret--my Margaret! no one can tell what you are to me! Dead--cold as you lie there, you are the only woman I ever loved! Oh, Margaret-Margaret!' Inarticulately as he spoke, kneeling by her, and rather moaning than saying the words, he started up, ashamed of himself, as his mother came in. She saw nothing, but her son a little paler, a little sterner than usual."
" 'I don't believe it,' said Fanny. 'I know she cares for my brother; any one can see that; and I dare say, she'd give her eyes if he'd marry her,--which he never will, I can tell her. But I don't believe she'd be so bold and forward as to put her arms round his neck.'"
"'A girl in love will do a good deal,' replied Mrs. Thornton, shortly."
"Mr. Thornton remained in the dining-room, trying to think of the business he had to do at the police-office, and in reality thinking of Margaret. Everything seemed dim and vague beyond--behind--besides the touch of her arms round his neck--the soft clinging which made the dark colour come and go in his cheek as he thought of it."
"'Mother! You know what I have got to say to Miss Hale, to-morrow?' The question came upon her suddenly, during a pause in which she, at least, had forgotten Margaret. She looked up at him.
'Yes! I do. You can hardly do otherwise.'
'Do otherwise! I don't understand you.'
'I mean that, after allowing her feelings so to overcome her, I consider you bound in honour--'
'Bound in honour,' said he, scornfully. 'I'm afraid honour has nothing to do with it. "Her feelings overcome her!"
What feelings do you mean?'
'Nay, John, there is no need to be angry. Did she not rush down, and cling to you to save you from danger?'
'She did!' said he. 'But, mother,' continued he, stopping short in his walk right in front of her, 'I dare not hope. I never was fainthearted before; but I cannot believe such a creature cares for me.'
'Don't be foolish, John. Such a creature! Why, she might be a duke's daughter, to hear you speak. And what proof more would you have, I wonder, of her caring for you? I can believe she has had a struggle with her aristocratic way of viewing things; but I like her the better for seeing clearly at last. It is a good deal for me to say,' said Mrs. Thornton, smiling slowly, while the tears stood in her eyes; 'for after to-night, I stand second. It was to have you to myself, all to myself, a few hours longer, that I begged you not to go till to-morrow!'
'Dearest mother!' (Still love is selfish, and in an instant he reverted to his own hopes and fears in a way that drew the cold creeping shadow over Mrs. Thornton's heart.) 'But I know she does not care for me. I shall put myself at her feet--I must. If it were but one chance in a thousand--or a million--I should do it.'
'Don't fear!' said his mother, crushing down her own personal mortification at the little notice he had taken of the rare ebullition of her maternal feelings--of the pang of jealousy that betrayed the intensity of her disregarded love. 'Don't be afraid,' she said, coldly. 'As far as love may go she may be worthy of you. It must have taken a good deal to overcome her pride. Don't be afraid, John,' said she, kissing him, as she wished him good-night. And she went slowly and majestically out of the room. But when she got into her own, she locked the door, and sate down to cry unwonted tears."
"Mr. Thornton stood by one of the windows, with his back to the door, apparently absorbed in watching something in the street. But, in truth, he was afraid of himself. His heart beat thick at the thought of her coming. He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him, seemed to thrill him through and through,--to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire. He dreaded lest he should go forwards to meet her, with his arms held out in mute entreaty that she would come and nestle there, as she had done, all unheeded, the day before, but never unheeded again. His heart throbbed loud and quick Strong man as he was, he trembled at the anticipation of what he had to say, and how it might be received. She might droop, and flush, and flutter to his arms, as to her natural home and resting-place. One moment, he glowed with impatience at the thought that she might do this, the next, he feared a passionate rejection, the very idea of which withered up his future with so deadly a blight that he refused to think of it. He was startled by the sense of the presence of some one else in the room. He turned round. She had come in so gently, that he had never heard her; the street noises had been more distinct to his inattentive ear than her slow movements, in her soft muslin gown."
"'I do not try to escape from anything,' said she. 'I simply say, that you owe me no gratitude; and I may add, that any expression of it will be painful to me, because I do not feel that I deserve it. Still, if it will relieve you from even a fancied obligation, speak on.'
'I do not want to be relieved from any obligation,' said he, goaded by her calm manner. Fancied, or not fancied--I question not myself to know which--I choose to believe that I owe my very life to you--ay--smile, and think it an exaggeration if you will. I believe it, because it adds a value to that life to think--oh, Miss Hale!' continued he, lowering his voice to such a tender intensity of passion that she shivered and trembled before him,'to think circumstance so wrought, that whenever I exult in existence henceforward, I may say to myself, "All this gladness in life, all honest pride in doing my work in the world, all this keen sense of being, I owe to her!" And it doubles the gladness, it makes the pride glow, it sharpens the sense of existence till I hardly know if it is pain or pleasure, to think that I owe it to one--nay, you must, you shall hear'--said he, stepping forwards with stern determination--'to one whom I love, as I do not believe man ever loved woman before.' He held her hand tight in his. He panted as he listened for what should come. He threw the hand away with indignation, as he heard her icy tone; for icy it was, though the words came faltering out, as if she knew not where to find them. 'Your way of speaking shocks me. It is blasphemous. I cannot help it, if that is my first feeling. It might not be so, I dare say, if I understood the kind of feeling you describe. I do not want to vex you; and besides, we must speak gently, for mamma is asleep; but your whole manner offends me--'
'How!' exclaimed he. 'Offends you! I am indeed most unfortunate.'
'Yes!' said she, with recovered dignity. 'I do feel offended; and, I think, justly. You seem to fancy that my conduct of yesterday'--again the deep carnation blush, but this time with eyes kindling with indignation rather than shame--'was a personal act between you and me; and that you may come and thank me for it, instead of perceiving, as a gentleman would--yes! a gentleman,' she repeated, in allusion to their former conversation about that word, 'that any woman, worthy of the name of woman, would come forward to shield, with her reverenced helplessness, a man in danger from the violence of numbers.'
'And the gentleman thus rescued is forbidden the relief of thanks!' he broke in contemptuously. 'I am a man. I claim the right of expressing my feelings.'
'And I yielded to the right; simply saying that you gave me pain by insisting upon it,' she replied, proudly. 'But you seem to have imagined, that I was not merely guided by womanly instinct, but'--and here the passionate tears (kept down for long--struggled with vehemently) came up into her eyes, and choked her voice--'but that I was prompted by some particular feeling for you--you! Why, there was not a man--not a poor desperate man in all that crowd--for whom I had not more sympathy--for whom I should not have done what little I could more heartily.'
'You may speak on, Miss Hale. I am aware of all these misplaced sympathies of yours. I now believe that it was only your innate sense of oppression--(yes; I, though a master, may be oppressed)--that made you act so nobly as you did. I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you do not understand me.'
'I do not care to understand,' she replied, taking hold of the table to steady herself; for she thought him cruel--as, indeed, he was--and she was weak with her indignation.
'No, I see you do not. You are unfair and unjust.'
Margaret compressed her lips. She would not speak in answer to such accusations. But, for all that--for all his savage words, hecould have thrown himself at her feet, and kissed the hem of her wounded pride fell hot and fast. He waited awhile, longing for garment. She did not speak; she did not move. The tears of her to say something, even a taunt, to which he might reply. But she was silent. He took up his hat. 'One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.'
'I am not afraid,' she replied, lifting herself straight up. 'No one yet has ever dared to be impertinent to me, and no one ever shall. But, Mr. Thornton, you have been very kind to my father,' said she, changing her whole tone and bearing to a most womanly softness. 'Don't let us go on making each other angry. Pray don't!' He took no notice of her words: he occupied himself in smoothing the nap of his hat with his coat-sleeve, for half a minute or so; and then, rejecting her offered hand, and making as if he did not see her grave look of regret, he turned abruptly away, and left the room. Margaret caught one glance at his face before he went."
"When he was gone, she thought she had seen the gleam of washed tears in his eyes; and that turned her proud dislike into something different and kinder, if nearly as painful--self-reproach for having caused such mortification to any one. 'But how could I help it?' asked she of herself. 'I never liked him. I was civil; but I took no trouble to conceal my indifference. Indeed, I never thought about myself or him, so my manners must have shown the truth. All that yesterday, he might mistake. But that is his fault, not mine. I would do it again, if need were, though it does lead me into all this shame and trouble.' "
"When Mr. Thornton had left the house that morning he was almost blinded by his baffled passion. He was as dizzy as if Margaret, instead of looking, and speaking, and moving like a tender graceful woman, had been a sturdy fish-wife, and given him a sound blow with her fists. He had positive bodily pain,--a violent headache, and a throbbing intermittent pulse. He could not bear the noise, the garish light, the continued rumble and movement of the street. He called himself a fool for suffering so; and yet he could not, at the moment, recollect the cause of his suffering, and whether it was adequate to the consequences it had produced. It would have been a relief to him, if he could have sat down and cried on a door-step by a little child, who was raging and storming, through his passionate tears, at some injury he had received. He said to himself, that he hated Margaret, but a wild, sharp sensation of love cleft his dull, thunderous feeling like lightning, even as he shaped the words expressive of hatred. His greatest comfort was in hugging his torment; and in feeling, as he had indeed said to her, that though she might despise him, contemn him, treat him with her proud sovereign indifference, he did not change one whit. She could not make him change. He loved her, and would love her; and defy her, and this miserable bodily pain. He stood still for a moment, to make this resolution firm and clear. There was an omnibus passing--going into the country; the conductor thought he was wishing for a place, and stopped near the pavement. It was too much trouble to apologise and explain; so he mounted upon it, and was borne away,--past long rows of houses--then past detached villas with trim gardens, till they came to real country hedge-rows, and, by-and-by, to a small country town. Then every body got down; and so did Mr. Thornton, and because they walked away he did so too. He went into the fields, walking briskly, because the sharp motion relieved his mind. He could remember all about it now; the pitiful figure he must have cut; the absurd way in which he had gone and done the very thing he had so often agreed with himself in thinking would be the most foolish thing in the world; and had met with exactly the consequences which, in these wise moods, he had always fore-told were certain to follow, if he ever did make such a fool of himself. Was he bewitched by those beautiful eyes, that soft, half-open, sighing mouth which lay so close upon his shoulder only yesterday? He could not even shake off the recollection that she had been there; that her arms had been round him, once--if never again. He only caught glimpses of her; he did not understand her altogether. At one time she was so brave, and at another so timid; now so tender, and then so haughty and regal-proud. And then he thought over every time he had ever seen her once again, by way of finally forgetting her. He saw her in every dress, in every mood, and did not know which became her best. Even this morning, how magnificent she had looked,--her eyes flashing out upon him at the idea that, because she had shared his danger yesterday, she had cared for him the least! If Mr. Thornton was a fool in the morning, as he assured himself at least twenty times he was, he did not grow much wiser in the afternoon. All that he gained in return for his sixpenny omnibus ride, was a more vivid conviction that there never was, never could be, any one like Margaret; that she did not love him and never would; but that she--no! nor the whole world--should never hinder him from loving her. And so he returned to the little market-place, and remounted the omnibus to return to Milton."
"So she [Mrs. Thornton] looked fixedly at vacancy; a series of visions passing before her, in all of which her son was the principal, the sole object,--her son, her pride, her property. Still he did not come. Doubtless he was with Miss Hale. The new love was displacing her already from her place as first in his heart. A terrible pain--a pang of vain jealousy--shot through her: she hardly knew whether it was more physical or mental; but it forced her to sit down."
"Yet her [Mrs.Thornton] head was down over the book; she did not look up. He came close to the table, and stood still there, waiting till she should have finished the paragraph which apparently absorbed her. By an effort she looked up. Well, John?' He knew what that little speech meant. But he had steeled himself. He longed to reply with a jest; the bitterness of his heart could have uttered one, but his mother deserved better of him. He came round behind her, so that she could not see his looks, and, bending back her gray, stony face, he kissed it,murmuring: 'No one loves me,--no one cares for me, but you, mother.' He turned away and stood leaning his head against the mantel-piece, tears forcing themselves into his manly eyes. She stood up,--she tottered. For the first time in her life, the strong woman tottered. She put her hands on his shoulders; she was a tall woman. She looked into his face; she made him look at her. 'Mother's love is given by God, John. It holds fast for ever and ever. A girl's love is like a puff of smoke,--it changes with every wind. And she would not have you, my own lad, would not she?' She set her teeth; she showed them like a dog for the whole length of her mouth. He shook his head.
'I am not fit for her, mother; I knew I was not.' She ground out words between her closed teeth. He could not hear what she said; but the look in her eyes interpreted it to be a curse,--if not as coarsely worded, as fell in intent as ever was uttered. And yet her heart leapt up light, to know he was her own again. 'Mother!' said he, hurriedly, 'I cannot hear a word against her. Spare me,--spare me! I am very weak in my sore heart;--I love her yet; I love her more than ever.'
'And I hate her,' said Mrs. Thornton, in a low fierce voice. 'I tried not to hate her, when she stood between you and me, because,--I said to myself,--she will make him happy; and I would give my heart's blood to do that. But now, I hate her for your misery's sake. Yes, John, it's no use hiding up your aching heart from me. I am the mother that bore you, and your sorrow is my agony; and if you don't hate her, I do.' 'Then, mother, you make me love her more. She is unjustly treated by you, and I must make the balance even. But why do we talk of love or hatred? She does not care for me, and that is enough,--too much. Let us never name the subject again. It is the only thing you can do for me in the matter. Let us never name her.'
'With all my heart. I only wish that she, and all belonging to her, were swept back to the place they came from.'"
" He [John Thornton] never looked at her; and yet, the careful avoidance of his eyes betokened that in some way he knew exactly where, if they fell by chance, they would rest on her. If she spoke, he gave no sign of attention, and yet his next speech to any one else was modified by what she had said; sometimes there was an express answer to what she had remarked, but given to another person as though unsuggested by her. It was not the bad manners of ignorance it was the wilful bad manners arising from deep offence. It was wilful at the time, repented of afterwards. But no deep plan, no careful cunning could have stood him in such good stead. Margaret thought about him more than she had ever done before; not with any tinge of what is called love, but with regret that she had wounded him so deeply,--and with a gentle, patient striving to return to their former position of antagonistic friendship; for a friend's position was what she found that he had held in her regard, as well as in that of the rest of the family. There was a pretty humility in her behaviour to him, as if mutely apologising for the over-strong words which were the reaction from the deeds of the day of the riot. But he resented those words bitterly. They rung in his ears; and he was proud of the sense of justice which made him go on in every kindness he could offer to her parents. He exulted in the power he showed in compelling himself to face her, whenever he could think of any action which might give her father or mother pleasure. He thought that he disliked seeing one who had mortified him so keenly; but he was mistaken. It was a stinging pleasure to be in the room with her, and feel her presence. But he was no great analyser of his own motives, and was mistaken as I have said."
"The next was a wish to remember every word of the Inspector's which related to Mr. Thornton. When had he seen him? What had he said? What had Mr. Thornton done? What were the exact words of his note? And until she could recollect, even to the placing or omitting an article, the very expressions which he had used in the note, her [Margaret Hale] mind refused to go on with its progress. But the next conviction she came to was clear enough;--Mr. Thornton had seen her close to Outwood station on the fatal Thursday night, and had been told of her denial that she was there. She stood as a liar in his eyes. She was a liar. But she had no thought of penitence before God; nothing but chaos and night surrounded the one lurid fact that, in Mr. Thornton's eyes, she was degraded. She cared not to think, even to herself, of how much of excuse she might plead. That had nothing to do with Mr. Thornton; she never dreamed that he, or any one else, could find cause for suspicion in what was so natural as her accompanying her brother; but what was really false and wrong was known to him, and he had a right to judge her. 'Oh, Frederick! Frederick!' she cried,'what have I not sacrificed for you!' Even when she fell asleep her thoughts were compelled to travel the same circle, only with exaggerated and monstrous circumstances of pain."
"No more contempt for her!--no more talk about the chivalric! Henceforward she must feel humiliated and disgraced in his [John Thornton] sight. But when should she see him? Her heart leaped up in apprehension at every ring of the door-bell; and yet when it fell down to calmness, she felt strangely saddened and sick at heart at each disappointment."
"It was this that made the misery--that he [John Thornton] passionately loved her [Margaret Hale], and thought her, even with all her faults, more lovely and more excellent than any other woman; yet he deemed her so attached to some other man, so led away by her affection for him as to violate her truthful nature."
"He [John Thornton] shrank from hearing Margaret's very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her--while he as jealous of her--while he renounced her--he loved her sorely, in spite of himself. He dreamt of her; he dreamt she came dancing towards him with outspread arms, and with a lightness and gaiety which made him loathe her, even while it allured him. But the impression of this figure of Margaret--with all Margaret's character taken out of it, as completely as if some evil spirit had got possession of her form--was so deeply stamped upon his imagination, that when he wakened he felt hardly able to separate the Una from the Duessa; and the dislike he had to the latter seemed to envelope and disfigure the former Yet he was too proud to acknowledge his weakness by avoiding the sight of her. He would neither seek an opportunity of being in her company nor avoid it. To convince himself of his power of self-control, he lingered over every piece of business this afternoon; he forced every movement into unnatural slowness and deliberation; and it was consequently past eight o'clock before he reached Mr. Hale's."
"She [Margaret Hale] could not care for him [John Thornton], he thought, or else the passionate fervour of his wish would have forced her to raise those eyes, if but for an instant, to read the late repentance in his. He could have struck her before he left, in order that by some strange overt act of rudeness, he might earn the privilege of telling her the remorse that gnawed at his heart. It was well that the long walk in the open air wound up this evening for him. It sobered him back into grave resolution, that henceforth he would see as little of her as possible,--since the very sight of that face arid form, the very sounds of that voice (like the soft winds of pure melody) had such power to move him from his balance."
"Mr. Bell gave her [Margaret Hale] one of his sharp glances from above his spectacles. She stood it quite calmly; but, after she had left the room, he suddenly asked,-- 'Hale! did it ever strike you that Thornton and your daughter have what the French call a tendresse for each other?'
'Never!' said Mr. Hale, first startled and then flurried by the new idea. 'No, I am sure you are wrong. I am almost certain you are mistaken. If there is anything, it is all on Mr. Thornton's side. Poor fellow! I hope and trust he is not thinking of her, for I am sure she would not have him.'
'Well! I'm a bachelor, and have steered clear of love affairs all my life; so perhaps my opinion is not worth having. Or else I should say there were very pretty symptoms about her!'
'Then I am sure you are wrong,' said Mr. Hale. 'He may care for her, though she really has been almost rude to him at times. But she!--why, Margaret would never think of him, I'm sure! Such a thing has never entered her head.'
'Entering her heart would do. But I merely threw out a suggestion of what might be. I dare say I was wrong. And whether I was wrong or right, I'm very sleepy; so, having disturbed your night's rest (as I can see) with my untimely fancies, I'll betake myself with an easy mind to my own.' But Mr. Hale resolved that he would not be disturbed by any such nonsensical idea; so he lay awake, determining not to think about it."
"He [Mr Hale] startled Margaret, one evening as she sate at her work, by suddenly asking:
'Margaret! had you ever any reason for thinking that Mr. Thornton cared for you?' He almost blushed as he put this question; but Mr. Bell's scouted idea recurred to him, and the words were out of his mouth before he well knew what he was about. Margaret did not answer immediately; but by the bent drooping of her head, he guessed what her reply would be.
'Yes; I believe--oh papa, I should have told you.' And she dropped her work, and hid her face in her hands.
'No, dear; don't think that I am impertinently curious. I am sure you would have told me if you had felt that you could return his regard. Did he speak to you about it?' No answer at first; but by-and-by a little gentle reluctant
'And you refused him?' A long sigh; a more helpless, nerveless attitude, and another
'Yes.' But before her father could speak, Margaret lifted up her face, rosy with some beautiful shame, and, fixing her eyes upon him, said: 'Now, papa, I have told you this, and I cannot tell you more; and then the whole thing is so painful to me; every word and action connected with it is so unspeakably bitter, that I cannot bear to think of it. Oh, papa, I am sorry to have lost you this friend, but I could not help it--but oh! I am very sorry.' She sate down on the ground, and laid her head on his knees.
'I too, am sorry, my dear. Mr. Bell quite startled me when he said, some idea of the kind--'
'Mr. Bell! Oh, did Mr. Bell see it?'
'A little; but he took it into his head that you--how shall I say it?--that you were not ungraciously disposed towards Mr.Thornton. I knew that could never be. I hoped the whole thing was but an imagination; but I knew too well what your real feelings were to suppose that you could ever like Mr. Thornton in that way. But I am very sorry.' They were very quiet and still for some minutes. But, on stroking her cheek in a caressing way soon after, he was almost shocked to find her face wet with tears. As he touched her, she sprang up, and smiling with forced brightness, began to talk of the Lennoxes with such a vehement desire to turn the conversation, that Mr. Hale was too tender-hearted to try to force it back into the old channel."
"Mr. Thornton turned away. He had not sat down, and now he seemed to be examining something on the table, almost as if he had discovered an unopened letter, which had made him forget the present company. He did not even seem to be aware when they got up to take leave. He started forwards, however, to hand Mrs. Shaw down to the carriage. As it drove up, he and Margaret stood close together on the door-step, and it was impossible but that the recollection of the day of the riot should force itself into both their minds. Into his it came associated with the speeches of the following day; her passionate declaration that there was not a man in all that violent and desperate crowd, for whom she did not care as much as for him. And at the remembrance of her taunting words, his brow grew stern, though his heart beat thick with longing love. 'No!' said he, 'I put it to the touch once, and I lost it all. Let her go,--with her stony heart, and her beauty;--how set and terrible her look is now, for all her loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than mine. Let her go!' "
"She [Margaret Hale] kept choking and swallowing all the time that she thought about it. She tried to comfort herself with the idea, that what he imagined her to be, did not alter the fact of what she was. But it was a truism, a phantom, and broke down under the weight of her regret. She had twenty questions on the tip of her tongue to ask Mr. Bell, but not one of them did she utter."
"Their energy, their power, their indomitable courage in struggling and fighting; their lurid vividness of existence, captivated and arrested his attention. He was never tired of talking about them; and had never perceived how selfish and material were too many of the ends they proposed to themselves as the result of all their mighty, untiring endeavour, till Margaret, even in the midst of her gratification, had the candour to point this out, as the tainting sin in so much that was noble, and to be admired."
"Once brought face to face, man to man, with an individual of the masses around him, and (take notice) out of the character of master and workman, in the first instance, they had each begun to recognise that 'we have all of us one human heart.' "
"'I [John Thornton] have not the elements for popularity--if they spoke of me in that way, they were mistaken. I fall slowly into new projects; and I find it difficult to let myself be known, even by those whom I desire to know, and with whom I would fain have no reserve. Yet, even with all these drawbacks, I felt that I was on the right path, and that, starting from a kind of friendship with one, I was becoming acquainted with many. The advantages were mutual: we were both unconsciously and consciously teaching each other.'"
"Mr. Thornton did not speak, and she went on looking for some paper on which were written down the proposals for security; for she was most anxious to have it all looked upon in the light of a mere business arrangement, in which the principal advantage would be on her side. While she sought for this paper, her very heart-pulse was arrested by the tone in which Mr. Thornton spoke. His voice was hoarse, and trembling with tender passion, as he said:--
'Margaret!' For an instant she looked up; and then sought to veil her luminous eyes by dropping her forehead on her hands. Again, stepping nearer, he besought her with another tremulous eager call upon her name.
'Margaret!' Still lower went the head; more closely hidden was the face, almost resting on the table before her. He came close to her. He knelt by her side, to bring his face to a level with her ear; and whispered-panted out the words:-- 'Take care.--If you do not speak--I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way.--Send me away at once, if I must go;--Margaret!--' At that third call she turned her face, still covered with her small white hands, towards him, and laid it on his shoulder, hiding it even there; and it was too delicious to feel her softcheek against his, for him to wish to see either deep blushes or loving eyes. He clasped her close. But they both kept silence. At length she murmured in a broken voice: 'Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!'
'Not good enough! Don't mock my own deep feeling of unworthiness.' After a minute or two, he gently disengaged her hands from her face, and laid her arms as they had once before been placed to protect him from the rioters. 'Do you remember, love?' he murmured. 'And how I requited you with my insolence the next day?'
'I remember how wrongly I spoke to you,--that is all.'
'Look here! Lift up your head. I have something to show you!' She slowly faced him, glowing with beautiful shame.
'Do you know these roses?' he said, drawing out his pocket-book,in which were treasured up some dead flowers.
'No!' she replied, with innocent curiosity. 'Did I give them to you?'
"No! Vanity; you did not. You may have worn sister roses very probably.' She looked at them, wondering for a minute, then she smiled a little as she said--
'They are from Helstone, are they not? I know the deep indentations round the leaves. Oh! have you been there? When were you there?'
'I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine. I went there on my return from Havre.'
'You must give them to me,' she said, trying to take them out of his hand with gentle violence.
'Very well. Only you must pay me for them!' 'How shall I ever tell Aunt Shaw?' she whispered, after some time of delicious silence.
'Let me speak to her.'
'Oh, no! I owe to her,--but what will she say?'
'I can guess. Her first exclamation will be, "That man!"
'Hush!' said Margaret, 'or I shall try and show you your mother's indignant tones as she says, "That woman!"