'Hark ye!' cried Jonas, stamping his foot upon the ground. 'You made me bear your pretty humours once, and ecod I'll make you bear mine now. I always promised myself I would. I married you that I might. I'll know who's master, and who's slave!'
'Heaven knows I am obedient!' said the sobbing girl. 'Much more so than I ever thought to be!'
Jonas laughed in his drunken exultation. 'What! you're finding it out, are you! Patience, and you will in time! Griffins have claws, my girl. There's not a pretty slight you ever put upon me, nor a pretty trick you ever played me, nor a pretty insolence you ever showed me, that I won't pay back a hundred-fold. What else did I marry you for? YOU, too!' he said, with coarse contempt.
It might have softened him--indeed it might--to hear her turn a little fragment of a song he used to say he liked; trying, with a heart so full, to win him back.
'Oho!' he said, 'you're deaf, are you? You don't hear me, eh? So much the better for you. I hate you. I hate myself, for having, been fool enough to strap a pack upon my back for the pleasure of treading on it whenever I choose. Why, things have opened to me, now, so that I might marry almost where I liked. But I wouldn't; I'd keep single. I ought to be single, among the friends I know. Instead of that, here I am, tied like a log to you. Pah! Why do you show your pale face when I come home? Am I never to forget you?'
'How late it is!' she said cheerfully, opening the shutter after an interval of silence. 'Broad day, Jonas!'
'Broad day or black night, what do I care!' was the kind rejoinder.
'The night passed quickly, too. I don't mind sitting up, at all.'
'Sit up for me again, if you dare!' growled Jonas.
'I was reading,' she proceeded, 'all night long. I began when you went out, and read till you came home again. The strangest story, Jonas! And true, the book says. I'll tell it you to-morrow.'
'True, was it?' said Jonas, doggedly.
'So the book says.'
'Was there anything in it, about a man's being determined to conquer his wife, break her spirit, bend her temper, crush all her humours like so many nut-shells--kill her, for aught I know?' said Jonas.
'No. Not a word,' she answered quickly.
'Oh!' he returned. 'That'll be a true story though, before long; for all the book says nothing about it. It's a lying book, I see. A fit book for a lying reader. But you're deaf. I forgot that.'
There was another interval of silence; and the boy was stealing away, when he heard her footstep on the floor, and stopped. She went up to him, as it seemed, and spoke lovingly; saying that she would defer to him in everything and would consult his wishes and obey them, and they might be very happy if he would be gentle with her. He answered with an imprecation, and--
Not with a blow? Yes. Stern truth against the base-souled villain; with a blow.
No angry cries; no loud reproaches. Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him. She only said, repeating it in agony of heart, how could he, could he, could he--and lost utterance in tears.
Oh woman, God beloved in old Jerusalem! The best among us need deal lightly with thy faults, if only for the punishment thy nature will endure, in bearing heavy evidence against us, on the Day of Judgment!
IN WHICH SOME PEOPLE ARE PRECOCIOUS, OTHERS PROFESSIONAL, AND OTHERS MYSTERIOUS; ALL IN THEIR SEVERAL WAYS
It may have been the restless remembrance of what he had seen and heard overnight, or it may have been no deeper mental operation than the discovery that he had nothing to do, which caused Mr Bailey, on the following afternoon, to feel particularly disposed for agreeable society, and prompted him to pay a visit to his friend Poll Sweedlepipe.
On the little bell giving clamorous notice of a visitor's approach (for Mr Bailey came in at the door with a lunge, to get as much sound out of the bell as possible), Poll Sweedlepipe desisted from the contemplation of a favourite owl, and gave his young friend hearty welcome.