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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 23
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER XXII - A BLOW AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

    'But work grew scarce, while bread grew dear,

    And wages lessened, too;

    For Irish hordes were bidders here,

    Our half-paid work to do.'

    CORN LAW RHYMES.

    Margaret was shown into the drawing-room. It had returned into
    its normal state of bag and covering. The windows were half open
    because of the heat, and the Venetian blinds covered the
    glass,--so that a gray grim light, reflected from the pavement
    below, threw all the shadows wrong, and combined with the
    green-tinged upper light to make even Margaret's own face, as she
    caught it in the mirrors, look ghastly and wan. She sat and
    waited; no one came. Every now and then, the wind seemed to bear
    the distant multitudinous sound nearer; and yet there was no
    wind! It died away into profound stillness between whiles.

    Fanny came in at last.

    'Mamma will come directly, Miss Hale. She desired me to apologise
    to you as it is. Perhaps you know my brother has imported hands
    from Ireland, and it has irritated the Milton people
    excessively--as if he hadn't a right to get labour where he
    could; and the stupid wretches here wouldn't work for him; and
    now they've frightened these poor Irish starvelings so with their
    threats, that we daren't let them out. You may see them huddled
    in that top room in the mill,--and they're to sleep there, to
    keep them safe from those brutes, who will neither work nor let
    them work. And mamma is seeing about their food, and John is
    speaking to them, for some of the women are crying to go back.
    Ah! here's mamma!'

    Mrs. Thornton came in with a look of black sternness on her face,
    which made Margaret feel she had arrived at a bad time to trouble
    her with her request. However, it was only in compliance with
    Mrs. Thornton's expressed desire, that she would ask for whatever
    they might want in the progress of her mother's illness. Mrs.
    Thornton's brow contracted, and her mouth grew set, while
    Margaret spoke with gentle modesty of her mother's restlessness,
    and Dr. Donaldson's wish that she should have the relief of a
    water-bed. She ceased. Mrs. Thornton did not reply immediately.
    Then she started up and exclaimed--

    'They're at the gates! Call John, Fanny,--call him in from the
    mill! They're at the gates! They'll batter them in! Call John, I
    say!'

    And simultaneously, the gathering tramp--to which she had been
    listening, instead of heeding Margaret's words--was heard just
    right outside the wall, and an increasing din of angry voices
    raged behind the wooden barrier, which shook as if the unseen
    maddened crowd made battering-rams of their bodies, and retreated
    a short space only to come with more united steady impetus
    against it, till their great beats made the strong gates quiver,
    like reeds before the wind. The women gathered round the windows,
    fascinated to look on the scene which terrified them. Mrs.
    Thornton, the women-servants, Margaret,--all were there. Fanny
    had returned, screaming up-stairs as if pursued at every step,
    and had thrown herself in hysterical sobbing on the sofa. Mrs.
    Thornton watched for her son, who was still in the mill. He came
    out, looked up at them--the pale cluster of faces--and smiled
    good courage to them, before he locked the factory-door. Then he
    called to one of the women to come down and undo his own door,
    which Fanny had fastened behind her in her mad flight. Mrs.
    Thornton herself went. And the sound of his well-known and
    commanding voice, seemed to have been like the taste of blood to
    the infuriated multitude outside. Hitherto they had been
    voiceless, wordless, needing all their breath for their
    hard-labouring efforts to break down the gates. But now, hearing
    him speak inside, they set up such a fierce unearthly groan, that
    even Mrs. Thornton was white with fear as she preceded him into
    the room. He came in a little flushed, but his eyes gleaming, as
    in answer to the trumpet-call of danger, and with a proud look of
    defiance on his face, that made him a noble, if not a handsome
    man. Margaret had always dreaded lest her courage should fail her
    in any emergency, and she should be proved to be, what she
    dreaded lest she was--a coward. But now, in this real great time
    of reasonable fear and nearness of terror, she forgot herself,
    and felt only an intense sympathy--intense to painfulness--in the
    interests of the moment.

    Mr. Thornton came frankly forwards:

    'I'm sorry, Miss Hale, you have visited us at this unfortunate
    moment, when, I fear, you may be involved in whatever risk we
    have to bear. Mother! hadn't you better go into the back rooms?
    I'm not sure whether they may not have made their way from
    Pinner's Lane into the stable-yard; but if not, you will be safer
    there than here. Go Jane!' continued he, addressing the
    upper-servant. And she went, followed by the others.

    'I stop here!' said his mother. 'Where you are, there I stay.'
    And indeed, retreat into the back rooms was of no avail; the
    crowd had surrounded the outbuildings at the rear, and were
    sending forth their: awful threatening roar behind. The servants
    retreated into the garrets, with many a cry and shriek. Mr.
    Thornton smiled scornfully as he heard them. He glanced at
    Margaret, standing all by herself at the window nearest the
    factory. Her eyes glittered, her colour was deepened on cheek and
    lip. As if she felt his look, she turned to him and asked a
    question that had been for some time in her mind:

    'Where are the poor imported work-people? In the factory there?'

    'Yes! I left them cowered up in a small room, at the head of a
    back flight of stairs; bidding them run all risks, and escape
    down there, if they heard any attack made on the mill-doors. But
    it is not them--it is me they want.'

    'When can the soldiers be here?' asked his mother, in a low but
    not unsteady voice.

    He took out his watch with the same measured composure with which
    he did everything. He made some little calculation:

    'Supposing Williams got straight off when I told him, and hadn't
    to dodge about amongst them--it must be twenty minutes yet.'

    'Twenty minutes!' said his mother, for the first time showing her
    terror in the tones of her voice.

    'Shut down the windows instantly, mother,' exclaimed he: 'the
    gates won't bear such another shock. Shut down that window, Miss
    Hale.'

    Margaret shut down her window, and then went to assist Mrs.
    Thornton's trembling fingers.

    From some cause or other, there was a pause of several minutes in
    the unseen street. Mrs. Thornton looked with wild anxiety at her
    son's countenance, as if to gain the interpretation of the sudden
    stillness from him. His face was set into rigid lines of
    contemptuous defiance; neither hope nor fear could be read there.

    Fanny raised herself up:

    'Are they gone?' asked she, in a whisper.

    'Gone!' replied he. 'Listen!'

    She did listen; they all could hear the one great straining
    breath; the creak of wood slowly yielding; the wrench of iron;
    the mighty fall of the ponderous gates. Fanny stood up
    tottering--made a step or two towards her mother, and fell
    forwards into her arms in a fainting fit. Mrs. Thornton lifted
    her up with a strength that was as much that of the will as of
    the body, and carried her away.

    'Thank God!' said Mr. Thornton, as he watched her out. 'Had you
    not better go upstairs, Miss Hale?'

    Margaret's lips formed a 'No!'--but he could not hear her speak,
    for the tramp of innumerable steps right under the very wall of
    the house, and the fierce growl of low deep angry voices that had
    a ferocious murmur of satisfaction in them, more dreadful than
    their baffled cries not many minutes before.

    'Never mind!' said he, thinking to encourage her. 'I am very
    sorry you should have been entrapped into all this alarm; but it
    cannot last long now; a few minutes more, and the soldiers will
    be here.'

    'Oh, God!' cried Margaret, suddenly; 'there is Boucher. I know
    his face, though he is livid with rage,--he is fighting to get to
    the front--look! look!'

    'Who is Boucher?' asked Mr. Thornton, coolly, and coming close to
    the window to discover the man in whom Margaret took such an
    interest. As soon as they saw Mr. Thornton, they set up a
    yell,--to call it not human is nothing,--it was as the demoniac
    desire of some terrible wild beast for the food that is withheld
    from his ravening. Even he drew hack for a moment, dismayed at
    the intensity of hatred he had provoked.

    'Let them yell!' said he. 'In five minutes more--. I only hope my
    poor Irishmen are not terrified out of their wits by such a
    fiendlike noise. Keep up your courage for five minutes, Miss
    Hale.'

    'Don't be afraid for me,' she said hastily. 'But what in five
    minutes? Can you do nothing to soothe these poor creatures? It is
    awful to see them.'

    'The soldiers will be here directly, and that will bring them to
    reason.'

    'To reason!' said Margaret, quickly. 'What kind of reason?'

    'The only reason that does with men that make themselves into
    wild beasts. By heaven! they've turned to the mill-door!'

    '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.'

    He turned and looked at her while she spoke. A dark cloud came
    over his face while he listened. He set his teeth as he heard her
    words.

    '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. She tried to rise without his help.

    'It is nothing,' she said, with a sickly smile. 'The skin is
    grazed, and I was stunned at the moment. Oh, I am so thankful
    they are gone!' And she cried without restraint.

    He could not sympathise with her. His anger had not abated; it
    was rather rising the more as his sense of immediate danger was
    passing away. The distant clank of the soldiers was heard just
    five minutes too late to make this vanished mob feel the power of
    authority and order. He hoped they would see the troops, and be
    quelled by the thought of their narrow escape. While these
    thoughts crossed his mind, Margaret clung to the doorpost to
    steady herself: but a film came over her eyes--he was only just
    in time to catch her. '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.

    'Miss Hale is hurt, mother. A stone has grazed her temple. She
    has lost a good deal of blood, I'm afraid.'

    'She looks very seriously hurt,--I could almost fancy her dead,'
    said Mrs. Thornton, a good deal alarmed.

    'It is only a fainting-fit. She has spoken to me since.' But all
    the blood in his body seemed to rush inwards to his heart as he
    spoke, and he absolutely trembled.

    'Go and call Jane,--she can find me the things I want; and do you
    go to your Irish people, who are crying and shouting as if they
    were mad with fright.' He went. He went away as if weights were
    tied to every limb that bore him from her. He called Jane; he
    called his sister. She should have all womanly care, all gentle
    tendance. But every pulse beat in him as he remembered how she
    had come down and placed herself in foremost danger,--could it be
    to save him? At the time, he had pushed her aside, and spoken
    gruffly; he had seen nothing but the unnecessary danger she had
    placed herself in. He went to his Irish people, with every nerve
    in his body thrilling at the thought of her, and found it
    difficult to understand enough of what they were saying to soothe
    and comfort away their fears. There, they declared, they would
    not stop; they claimed to be sent back. And so he had to think,
    and talk, and reason.

    Mrs. Thornton bathed Margaret's temples with eau de Cologne. As
    the spirit touched the wound, which till then neither Mrs.
    Thornton nor Jane had perceived, Margaret opened her eyes; but it
    was evident she did not know where she was, nor who they were.
    The dark circles deepened, the lips quivered and contracted, and
    she became insensible once more.

    'She has had a terrible blow,' said Mrs. Thornton. 'Is there any
    one who will go for a doctor?'

    'Not me, ma'am, if you please,' said Jane, shrinking back. 'Them
    rabble may be all about; I don't think the cut is so deep, ma'am,
    as it looks.'

    'I will not run the chance. She was hurt in our house. If you are
    a coward, Jane, I am not. I will go.'

    'Pray, ma'am, let me send one of the police. There's ever so many
    come up, and soldiers too.'

    'And yet you're afraid to go! I will not have their time taken up
    with our errands. They'll have enough to do to catch some of the
    mob. You will not be afraid to stop in this house,' she asked
    contemptuously, 'and go on bathing Miss Hale's forehead, shall
    you? I shall not be ten minutes away.'

    'Couldn't Hannah go, ma'am?'

    'Why Hannah? Why any but you? No, Jane, if you don't go, I do.'

    Mrs. Thornton went first to the room in which she had left Fanny
    stretched on the bed. She started up as her mother entered.

    'Oh, mamma, how you terrified me! I thought you were a man that
    had got into the house.'

    'Nonsense! The men are all gone away. There are soldiers all
    round the place, seeking for their work now it is too late. Miss
    Hale is lying on the dining-room sofa badly hurt. I am going for
    the doctor.'

    'Oh! don't, mamma! they'll murder you.' She clung to her mother's
    gown. Mrs. Thornton wrenched it away with no gentle hand.

    'Find me some one else to go but that girl must not bleed to
    death.'

    'Bleed! oh, how horrid! How has she got hurt?'

    'I don't know,--I have no time to ask. Go down to her, Fanny, and
    do try to make yourself of use. Jane is with her; and I trust it
    looks worse than it is. Jane has refused to leave the house,
    cowardly woman! And I won't put myself in the way of any more
    refusals from my servants, so I am going myself.'

    'Oh, dear, dear!' said Fanny, crying, and preparing to go down
    rather than be left alone, with the thought of wounds and
    bloodshed in the very house.

    'Oh, Jane!' said she, creeping into the dining-room, 'what is the
    matter? How white she looks! How did she get hurt? Did they throw
    stones into the drawing-room?'

    Margaret did indeed look white and wan, although her senses were
    beginning to return to her. But the sickly daze of the swoon made
    her still miserably faint. She was conscious of movement around
    her, and of refreshment from the eau de Cologne, and a craving
    for the bathing to go on without intermission; but when they
    stopped to talk, she could no more have opened her eyes, or
    spoken to ask for more bathing, than the people who lie in
    death-like trance can move, or utter sound, to arrest the awful
    preparations for their burial, while they are yet fully aware,
    not merely of the actions of those around them, but of the idea
    that is the motive for such actions.

    Jane paused in her bathing, to reply to Miss Thornton's question.

    'She'd have been safe enough, miss, if she'd stayed in the
    drawing-room, or come up to us; we were in the front garret, and
    could see it all, out of harm's way.'

    'Where was she, then?' said Fanny, drawing nearer by slow
    degrees, as she became accustomed to the sight of Margaret's pale
    face.

    'Just before the front door--with master!' said Jane,
    significantly.

    'With John! with my brother! How did she get there?'

    'Nay, miss, that's not for me to say,' answered Jane, with a
    slight toss of her head. 'Sarah did'----

    'Sarah what?' said Fanny, with impatient curiosity.

    Jane resumed her bathing, as if what Sarah did or said was not
    exactly the thing she liked to repeat.

    'Sarah what?' asked Fanny, sharply. 'Don't speak in these half
    sentences, or I can't understand you.'

    'Well, miss, since you will have it--Sarah, you see, was in the
    best place for seeing, being at the right-hand window; and she
    says, and said at the very time too, that she saw Miss Hale with
    her arms about master's neck, hugging him before all the people.'

    '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.'

    'Poor young lady! she's paid for it dearly if she did. It's my
    belief, that the blow has given her such an ascendency of blood
    to the head as she'll never get the better from. She looks like a
    corpse now.'

    'Oh, I wish mamma would come!' said Fanny, wringing her hands. 'I
    never was in the room with a dead person before.'

    'Stay, miss! She's not dead: her eye-lids are quivering, and
    here's wet tears a-coming down her cheeks. Speak to her, Miss
    Fanny!'

    'Are you better now?' asked Fanny, in a quavering voice.

    No answer; no sign of recognition; but a faint pink colour
    returned to her lips, although the rest of her face was ashen
    pale.

    Mrs. Thornton came hurriedly in, with the nearest surgeon she
    could find. 'How is she? Are you better, my dear?' as Margaret
    opened her filmy eyes, and gazed dreamily at her. 'Here is Mr.
    Lowe come to see you.'

    Mrs. Thornton spoke loudly and distinctly, as to a deaf person.
    Margaret tried to rise, and drew her ruffled, luxuriant hair
    instinctly over the cut. 'I am better now,' said she, in a very
    low, faint voice. I was a little sick.' She let him take her hand
    and feel her pulse. The bright colour came for a moment into her
    face, when he asked to examine the wound in her forehead; and she
    glanced up at Jane, as if shrinking from her inspection more than
    from the doctor's.

    'It is not much, I think. I am better now. I must go home.'

    'Not until I have applied some strips of plaster; and you have
    rested a little.'

    She sat down hastily, without another word, and allowed it to be
    bound up.

    'Now, if you please,' said she, 'I must go. Mamma will not see
    it, I think. It is under the hair, is it not?'

    'Quite; no one could tell.'

    'But you must not go,' said Mrs. Thornton, impatiently. 'You are
    not fit to go.

    'I must,' said Margaret, decidedly. 'Think of mamma. If they
    should hear----Besides, I must go,' said she, vehemently. 'I
    cannot stay here. May I ask for a cab?'

    'You are quite flushed and feverish,' observed Mr. Lowe.

    'It is only with being here, when I do so want to go. The
    air--getting away, would do me more good than anything,' pleaded
    she.

    'I really believe it is as she says,' Mr. Lowe replied. 'If her
    mother is so ill as you told me on the way here, it may be very
    serious if she hears of this riot, and does not see her daughter
    back at the time she expects. The injury is not deep. I will
    fetch a cab, if your servants are still afraid to go out.'

    'Oh, thank you!' said Margaret. 'It will do me more good than
    anything. It is the air of this room that makes me feel so
    miserable.'

    She leant back on the sofa, and closed her eyes. Fanny beckoned
    her mother out of the room, and told her something that made her
    equally anxious with Margaret for the departure of the latter.
    Not that she fully believed Fanny's statement; but she credited
    enough to make her manner to Margaret appear very much
    constrained, at wishing her good-bye.

    Mr. Lowe returned in the cab.

    'If you will allow me, I will see you home, Miss Hale. The
    streets are not very quiet yet.'

    Margaret's thoughts were quite alive enough to the present to
    make her desirous of getting rid of both Mr. Lowe and the cab
    before she reached Crampton Crescent, for fear of alarming her
    father and mother. Beyond that one aim she would not look. That
    ugly dream of insolent words spoken about herself, could never be
    forgotten--but could be put aside till she was stronger--for, oh!
    she was very weak; and her mind sought for some present fact to
    steady itself upon, and keep it from utterly losing consciousness
    in another hideous, sickly swoon.
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