Erewhon Revisited

Erewhon Revisited
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第66章

Yram did not take the advice she had given her guests, but set about preparing a basket of the best cold dainties she could find, including a bottle of choice wine that she knew my father would like; thus loaded she went to the gaol, which she entered by her father's private entrance.

It was now about half-past four, so that much more must have been said and done after luncheon at the Mayor's than ever reached my father. The wonder is that he was able to collect so much. He, poor man, as soon as George left him, flung himself on to the bed that was in his cell and lay there wakeful, but not unquiet, till near the time when Yram reached the gaol.

The old gaoler came to tell him that she had come and would be glad to see him; much as he dreaded the meeting there was no avoiding it, and in a few minutes Yram stood before him.

Both were agitated, but Yram betrayed less of what she felt than my father. He could only bow his head and cover his face with his hands. Yram said, "We are old friends; take your hands from your face and let me see you. There! That is well."She took his right hand between both hers, looked at him with eyes full of kindness, and said softly -"You are not much changed, but you look haggard, worn, and ill; Iam uneasy about you. Remember, you are among friends, who will see that no harm befalls you. There is a look in your eyes that frightens me."As she spoke she took the wine out of her basket, and poured him out a glass, but rather to give him some little thing to distract his attention, than because she expected him to drink it--which he could not do.

She never asked him whether he found her altered, or turned the conversation ever such a little on to herself; all was for him; to soothe and comfort him, not in words alone, but in look, manner, and voice. My father knew that he could thank her best by controlling himself, and letting himself be soothed and comforted--at any rate so far as he could seem to be.

Up to this time they had been standing, but now Yram, seeing my father calmer, said, "Enough, let us sit down."So saying she seated herself at one end of the small table that was in the cell, and motioned my father to sit opposite to her. "The light hurts you?" she said, for the sun was coming into the room.

"Change places with me, I am a sun worshipper. No, we can move the table, and we can then see each other better."This done, she said, still very softly, "And now tell me what it is all about. Why have you come here?""Tell me first," said my father, "what befell you after I had been taken away. Why did you not send me word when you found what had happened? or come after me? You know I should have married you at once, unless they bound me in fetters.""I know you would; but you remember Mrs. Humdrum? Yes, I see you do. I told her everything; it was she who saved me. We thought of you, but she saw that it would not do. As I was to marry Mr.

Strong, the more you were lost sight of the better, but with George ever with me I have not been able to forget you. I might have been very happy with you, but I could not have been happier than I have been ever since that short dreadful time was over. George must tell you the rest. I cannot do so. All is well. I love my husband with my whole heart and soul, and he loves me with his. As between him and me, he knows everything; George is his son, not yours; we have settled it so, though we both know otherwise; as between you and me, for this one hour, here, there is no use in pretending that you are not George's father. I have said all Ineed say. Now, tell me what I asked you--Why are you here?""I fear," said my father, set at rest by the sweetness of Yram's voice and manner--he told me he had never seen any one to compare with her except my mother--"I fear, to do as much harm now as I did before, and with as little wish to do any harm at all."He then told her all that the reader knows, and explained how he had thought he could have gone about the country as a peasant, and seen how she herself had fared, without her, or any one, even suspecting that he was in the country.

"You say your wife is dead, and that she left you with a son--is he like George?""In mind and disposition, wonderfully; in appearance, no; he is dark and takes after his mother, and though he is handsome, he is not so good-looking as George.""No one," said George's mother, "ever was, or ever will be, and he is as good as he looks.""I should not have believed you if you had said he was not.""That is right. I am glad you are proud of him. He irradiates the lives of every one of us.""And the mere knowledge that he exists will irradiate the rest of mine.""Long may it do so. Let us now talk about this morning--did you mean to declare yourself?""I do not know what I meant; what I most cared about was the doing what I thought George would wish to see his father do.""You did that; but he says he told you not to say who you were.""So he did, but I knew what he would think right. He was uppermost in my thoughts all the time."Yram smiled, and said, "George is a dangerous person; you were both of you very foolish; one as bad as the other.""I do not know. I do not know anything. It is beyond me; but I am at peace about it, and hope I shall do the like again to-morrow before the Mayor.""I heartily hope you will do nothing of the kind. George tells me you have promised him to be good and to do as we bid you.""So I will; but he will not tell me to say that I am not what Iam."

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