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  She had deceived him about Josephine's attachment, and felt all themore desirous to guchainlink oracle companyard him against any ill consequences of it. Thenhe had been so generous to her: he had left her her sister, whowould have gone to Egypt, and escaped this misery, but for her.

"Very well," was the brief reply, as he passed up the stairs with the small hair trunk on his shoulder.bitcoin logo imagesChapter 4 Domestic Bliss

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Holcroft had been given a foretaste of the phase of torment which he was destined to endure in his domestic relations, and was planning to secure a refuge into which he could not be pursued. He had made himself a little more presentable for supper, instinctively aware that nothing would escape the lynx-eyed widow, and was taking some measurements from the floor to a stovepipe hole leading into the chimney flue, when he became aware that someone was in the doorway. Turning, he saw Jane with her small catlike eyes fixed intently upon him. Instantly he had the feeling that he was being watched and would be watched."Supper's ready," said the girl, disappearing.Mrs. Mumpson smiled upon him--if certain contortions of her thin, sharp face could be termed a smile--from that side of the table at which his wife had sat so many years, and he saw that the low rocking chair, which he had preserved jealously from his former "help," had been brought from the parlor and established in the old familiar place. Mrs. Mumpson folded her hands and assumed a look of deep solemnity; Jane, as instructed, also lowered her head, and they waited for him to say "grace." He was in far too bitter a mood for any such pious farce, and stolidly began to help them to the ham and eggs, which viands had been as nearly spoiled as was possible in their preparation. The widow raised her head with a profound sigh which set Holcroft's teeth on edge, but he proceeded silently with his supper. The biscuits were heavy enough to burden the lightest conscience; and the coffee, simply grounds swimming around in lukewarm water. He took a sip, then put down his cup and said, quietly, "Guess I'll take a glass of milk tonight. Mrs. Mumpson, if you don't know how to make coffee, I can soon show you.""Why! Isn't it right? How strange! Perhaps it would be well for you to show me just exactly how you like it, for it will afford me much pleasure to make it to your taste. Men's tastes differ so! I've heard that no two men's tastes were alike; and, after all, everything is a matter of taste. Now Cousin Abiram doesn't believe in coffee at all. He thinks it is unwholesome. Have YOU ever thought that it might be unwholesome?""I'm used to it, and would like it good when I have it at all."

"Why, of course, of course! You must have it exactly to your taste. Jane, my dear, we must put our minds on coffee and learn precisely how Mr. Holcroft likes it, and when the hired girl comes we must carefully superintend her when she makes it. By the way, I suppose you will employ my assistant tomorrow, Mr. Holcroft.""I can't get a girl short of town," was the reply, "and there is so much cream in the dairy that ought to be churned at once that I'll wait till next Monday and take down the butter."She walked beside him without a word.

"You'd better tell me something of your story. Perhaps I can do more for you in the morning.""I can't. I'm a stranger. I haven't any friends in town.""Well, well, the sergeant will see what can be done in the morning. You've been up to some foolishness, I suppose, and you'd better tell the whole story to the sergeant."She soon entered the station house and was locked up in a narrow cell. She heard the grating of the key in the lock with a sense of relief, feeling that she had at least found a temporary place of refuge and security. A hard board was the only couch it possessed, but the thought of sleep did not enter her mind. Sitting down, she buried her face in her hands and rocked back and forth in agony and distraction until day dawned. At last, someone--she felt she could not raise her eyes to his face--brought her some breakfast and coffee. She drank the latter, but left the food untasted. Finally, she was led to the sergeant's private room and told that she must give an account of herself. "If you can't or won't tell a clear story," the officer threatened, "you'll have to go before the justice in open court, and he may commit you to prison. If you'll tell the truth now, it may be that I can discharge you. You had no business to be wandering about the streets like a vagrant or worse; but if you were a stranger or lost and hadn't sense enough to go where you'd be cared for, I can let you go."

"Oh!" said Alida, again wringing her hands and looking at the officer with eyes so full of misery and fear that he began to soften, "I don't know where to go.""Haven't you a friend or acquaintance in town?"

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"Not one that I can go to!""Why don't you tell me your story? Then I'll know what to do, and perhaps can help you. You don't look like a depraved woman.""I'm not. God knows I'm not!""Well, my poor woman, I've got to act in view of what I know, not what God knows."

"If I tell my story, will I have to give names?""No, not necessarily. It would be best, though.""I can't do that, but I'll tell you the truth. I will swear it on the Bible I married someone. A good minister married us. The man deceived me. He was already married, and last night his wife came to my happy home and proved before the man whom I thought my husband that I was no wife at all. He couldn't, didn't deny it. Oh! Oh! Oh!" And she again rocked back and forth in uncontrollable anguish. "That's all," she added brokenly. "I had no right to be near him or her any longer, and I rushed out. I don't remember much more. My brain seemed on fire. I just walked and walked till I was brought here.""Well, well!" said the sergeant sympathetically, "you have been treated badly, outrageously; but you are not to blame unless you married the man hastily and foolishly."

"That's what everyone will think, but it don't seem to me that I did. It's a long story, and I can't tell it.""But you ought to tell it, my poor woman. You ought to sue the man for damages and send him to State prison."

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"No, no!" cried Alida passionately. "I don't want to see him again, and I won't go to a court before people unless I am dragged there."The sergeant looked up at the policeman who had arrested her and said, "This story is not contrary to anything you saw?"

"No, sir; she was wandering about and seemed half out of her mind.""Well, then, I can let you go.""But I don't know where to go," she replied, looking at him with hunted, hollow eyes. "I feel as if I were going to be sick. Please don't turn me into the streets. I'd rather go back to the cell--""That won't answer. There's no place that I can send you to except the poorhouse. Haven't you any money?""No, sir. I just rushed away and left everything when I learned the truth.""Tom Watterly's hotel is the only place for her," said the policeman with a nod.

"Oh, I can't go to a hotel.""He means the almshouse," explained the sergeant. "What is your name?"

"Alida--that's all now. Yes, I'm a pauper and I can't work just yet. I'll be safe there, won't I?""Certainly, safe as in your mother's house."

"Oh, mother, mother; thank God, you are dead!""Well, I AM sorry for you," said the sergeant kindly. "'Taint often we have so sad a case as yours. If you say so, I'll send for Tom Watterly, and he and his wife will take charge of you. After a few days, your mind will get quieter and clearer, and then you'll prosecute the man who wronged you."

"I'll go to the poorhouse until I can do better," she replied wearily. "Now, if you please, I'll return to my cell where I can be alone.""Oh, we can give you a better room than that," said the sergeant. "Show her into the waiting room, Tim. If you prosecute, we can help you with our testimony. Goodbye, and may you have better days!"Watterly was telegraphed to come down with a conveyance for the almshouse was in a suburb. In due time he appeared, and was briefly told Alida's story. He swore a little at the "mean cuss," the author of all the trouble, and then took the stricken woman to what all his acquaintances facetiously termed his "hotel."Chapter 11 Baffled

In the general consciousness Nature is regarded as feminine, and even those who love her most will have to adopt Mrs. Mumpson's oft-expressed opinion of the sex and admit that she is sometimes a "peculiar female." During the month of March, in which our story opens, there was scarcely any limit to her varying moods. It would almost appear that she was taking a mysterious interest in Holcroft's affairs; but whether it was a kindly interest or not, one might be at a loss to decide. When she caught him away from home, she pelted him with the coldest of rain and made his house, with even Mrs. Mumpson and Jane abiding there, seem a refuge. In the morning after the day on which he had brought, or in a sense had carted, Mrs. Wiggins to his domicile, Nature was evidently bent on instituting contrasts between herself and the rival phases of femininity with which the farmer was compelled to associate. It may have been that she had another motive and was determined to keep her humble worshiper at her feet, and to render it impossible for him to make the changes toward which he had felt himself driven.Being an early riser he was up with the sun, and the sun rose so serenely and smiled so benignly that Holcroft's clouded brow cleared in spite of all that had happened or could take place. The rain, which had brought such discomfort the night before, had settled the ground and made it comparatively firm to his tread. The southern breeze which fanned his cheek was as soft as the air of May. He remembered that it was Sunday, and that beyond feeding his stock and milking, he would have nothing to do. He exulted in the unusual mildness and thought, with an immense sense of relief, "I can stay outdoors nearly all day." He resolved to let his help kindle the fire and get breakfast as they could, and to keep out of their way. Whatever changes the future might bring, he would have one more long day in rambling about his fields and in thinking over the past. Feeling that there need be no haste about anything, he leisurely inhaled the air, fragrant from springing grass, and listened with a vague, undefined pleasure to the ecstatic music of the bluebirds, song-sparrows, and robins. If anyone had asked him why he liked to hear them, he would have replied, "I'm used to 'em. When they come, I know that plowing and planting time is near."

It must be admitted that Holcroft's enjoyment of spring was not very far removed from that of the stock in his barnyard. All the animal creation rejoices in the returning sun and warmth. A subtle, powerful influence sets the blood in more rapid motion, kindles new desires, and awakens a glad expectancy. All that is alive becomes more thoroughly alive and existence in itself is a pleasure. Spring had always brought to the farmer quickened pulses, renewed activity and hopefulness, and he was pleased to find that he was not so old and cast down that its former influence had spent itself. Indeed, it seemed that never before had his fields, his stock, and outdoor work--and these comprised Nature to him--been so attractive. They remained unchanged amid the sad changes which had clouded his life, and his heart clung more tenaciously than ever to old scenes and occupations. They might not bring him happiness again, but he instinctively felt that they might insure a comfort and peace with which he could be content.At last he went to the barn and began his work, doing everything slowly, and getting all the solace he could from the tasks. The horses whinnied their welcome and he rubbed their noses caressingly as he fed them. The cows came briskly to the rack in which he foddered them in pleasant weather, and when he scratched them between the horns they turned their mild, Juno-like eyes upon him with undisguised affection. The chickens, clamoring for their breakfast, followed so closely that he had to be careful where he stepped. Although he knew that all this good will was based chiefly on the hope of food and the remembrance of it in the past, nevertheless it soothed and pleased him. He was in sympathy with this homely life; it belonged to him and was dependent on him; it made him honest returns for his care. Moreover, it was agreeably linked with the past. There were quiet cows which his wife had milked, clucking biddies which she had lifted from nests with their downy broods. He looked at them wistfully, and was wondering if they ever missed the presence that he regretted so deeply, when he became conscious that Jane's eyes were upon him. How long she had been watching him he did not know, but she merely said, "Breakfast's ready," and disappeared.

With a sigh he went to his room to perform his ablutions, remembering with a slight pang how his wife always had a basin and towel ready for him in the kitchen. In the breaking up of just such homely customs, he was continually reminded of his loss.On awakening to the light of this Sabbath morning, Mrs. Mumpson had thought deeply and reasoned everything out again. She felt that it must be an eventful day and that there was much to be accomplished. In the first place there was Mrs. Wiggins. She disapproved of her decidedly. "She isn't the sort of person that I would prefer to superintend," she remarked to Jane while making a toilet which she deemed befitting the day, "and the hour will assuredly come when Mr. Holcroft will look upon her in the light that I do. He will eventually realize that I cannot be brought in such close relationship with a pauper. Not that the relationship is exactly close, but then I shall have to speak to her--in brief, to superintend her. My eyes will be offended by her vast proportions and uncouth appearance. The floor creaks beneath her tread and affects my nerves seriously. Of course, while she is here, I shall zealously, as befits one in my responserble position, try to render useful such service as she can perform. But then, the fact that I disapprove of her must soon become evident. When it is discovered that I only tolerate her, there will be a change. I cannot show my disapproval very strongly today for this is a day set apart for sacred things, and Mrs. Viggins, as she called herself,--I cannot imagine a Mr. Viggins for no man in his senses could have married such a creature,--as I was saying, Mrs. Viggins is not at all sacred, and I must endeavor to abstract my mind from her till tomorrow, as far as posserble. My first duty today is to induce Mr. Holcroft to take us to church. It will give the people of Oakville such a pleasing impression to see us driving to church. Of course, I may fail, Mr. Holcroft is evidently a hardened man. All the influences of his life have been adverse to spiritual development, and it may require some weeks of my influence to soften him and awaken yearnings for what he has not yet known."

"He may be yearnin' for breakfast," Jane remarked, completing her toilet by tying her little pigtail braid with something that had once been a bit of black ribbon, but was now a string. "You'd better come down soon and help.""If Mrs. Viggins cannot get breakfast, I would like to know what she is here for" continued Mrs. Mumpson loftily, and regardless of Jane's departure. "I shall decline to do menial work any longer, especially on this sacred day, and after I have made my toilet for church. Mr. Holcroft has had time to think. My disapproval was manifest last night and it has undoubtedly occurred to him that he has not conformed to the proprieties of life. Indeed, I almost fear I shall have to teach him what the proprieties of life are. He witnessed my emotions when he spoke as he should not have spoken to ME. But I must make allowances for his unregenerate state. He was cold, and wet, and hungry last night, and men are unreasonerble at such times. I shall now heap coals of fire upon his head. I shall show that I am a meek, forgiving Christian woman, and he will relent, soften, and become penitent. Then will be my opportunity," and she descended to the arena which should witness her efforts.During the period in which Mrs. Mumpson had indulged in these lofty reflections and self-communings, Mrs. Wiggins had also arisen. I am not sure whether she had thought of anything in particular or not. She may have had some spiritual longings which were not becoming to any day of the week. Being a woman of deeds, rather than of thought, probably not much else occurred to her beyond the duty of kindling the fire and getting breakfast. Jane came down, and offered to assist, but was cleared out with no more scruple than if Mrs. Wiggins had been one of the much-visited relatives."The hidee," she grumbled, "of 'avin' sich a little trollop round hunder my feet!"

Jane, therefore, solaced herself by watching the "cheap girl" till her mother appeared.Mrs. Mumpson sailed majestically in and took the rocking chair, mentally thankful that it had survived the crushing weight imposed upon it the evening before. Mrs. Wiggins did not drop a courtesy. Indeed, not a sign of recognition passed over her vast, immobile face. Mrs. Mumpson was a little embarrassed. "I hardly know how to comport myself toward that female," she thought. "She is utterly uncouth. Her manners are unmistakerbly those of a pauper. I think I will ignore her today. I do not wish my feelings ruffled or put out of harmony with the sacred duties and motives which actuate me."

Mrs. Mumpson therefore rocked gently, solemnly, and strange to say, silently, and Mrs. Wiggins also proceeded with her duties, but not in silence, for everything in the room trembled and clattered at her tread. Suddenly she turned on Jane and said, "'Ere, you little baggage, go and tell the master breakfast's ready."Mrs. Mumpson sprang from her chair, and with a voice choked with indignation, gasped, "Do you dare address my offspring thus?"

"Yer vat?""My child, my daughter, who is not a pauper, but the offspring of a most respecterble woman and respecterbly connected. I'm amazed, I'm dumfoundered, I'm--"

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

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2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster