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Chapter 13
 The loss of Mr. Jerome as a client proved only the beginning of annoyances1 to Dempster. That old gentleman had in him the vigorous remnant of an energy and perseverance2 which had created his own fortune; and being, as I have hinted, given to chewing the cud of a righteous indignation with considerable relish3, he was determined4 to carry on his retributive war against the persecuting5 attorney. Having some influence with Mr. Pryme, who was one of the most substantial ratepayers in the neighbouring parish of Dingley, and who had himself a complex and long-standing private account with Dempster, Mr. Jerome stirred up this gentleman to an investigation6 of some suspicious points in the attorney’s conduct of the parish affairs. The natural consequence was a personal quarrel between Dempster and Mr. Pryme; the client demanded his account, and then followed the old story of an exorbitant7 lawyer’s bill, with the unpleasant anti-climax of taxing.  
These disagreeables, extending over many months, ran along side by side with the pressing business of Mr. Armstrong’s lawsuit8, which was threatening to take a turn rather depreciatory9 of Dempster’s professional prevision; and it is not surprising that, being thus kept in a constant state of irritated excitement about his own affairs, he had little time for the further exhibition of his public spirit, or for rallying the forlorn hope of sound churchmanship against cant10 and hypocrisy11. Not a few persons who had a grudge12 against him, began to remark, with satisfaction, that ‘Dempster’s luck was forsaking13 him’; particularly Mrs. Linnet, who thought she saw distinctly the gradual ripening14 of a providential scheme, whereby a just retribution would be wrought15 on the man who had deprived her of Pye’s Croft. On the other hand, Dempster’s well-satisfied clients, who were of opinion that the punishment of his wickedness might conveniently be deferred16 to another world, noticed with some concern that he was drinking more than ever, and that both his temper and his driving were becoming more furious. Unhappily those additional glasses of brandy, that exasperation17 of loud-tongued abuse, had other effects than any that entered into the contemplation of anxious clients: they were the little super-added symbols that were perpetually raising the sum of home misery18.
Poor Janet! how heavily the months rolled on for her, laden19 with fresh sorrows as the summer passed into autumn, the autumn into winter, and the winter into spring again. Every feverish20 morning, with its blank listlessness and despair, seemed more hateful than the last; every coming night more impossible to brave without arming herself in leaden stupor21. The morning light brought no gladness to her: it seemed only to throw its glare on what had happened in the dim candle-light—on the cruel man seated immovable in drunken obstinacy22 by the dead fire and dying lights in the dining-room, rating her in harsh tones, reiterating23 old reproaches—or on a hideous24 blank of something unremembered, something that must have made that dark bruise25 on her shoulder, which aches as she dressed herself.
Do you wonder how it was that things had come to this pass—what offence Janet had committed in the early years of marriage to rouse the brutal26 hatred27 of this man? The seeds of things are very small: the hours that lie between sunrise and the gloom of midnight are travelled through by tiniest markings of the clock: and Janet, looking back along the fifteen years of her married life, hardly knew how or where this total misery began; hardly knew when the sweet wedded28 love and hope that had set for ever had ceased to make a twilight29 of memory and relenting, before the on-coming of the utter dark.
Old Mrs. Dempster thought she saw the true beginning of it all in Janet’s want of housekeeping skill and exactness. ‘Janet,’ she said to herself, ‘was always running about doing things for other people, and neglecting her own house. That provokes a man: what use is it for a woman to be loving, and making a fuss with her husband, if she doesn’t take care and keep his home just as he likes it; if she isn’t at hand when he wants anything done; if she doesn’t attend to all his wishes, let them be as small as they may? That was what I did when I was a wife, though I didn’t make half so much fuss about loving my husband. Then, Janet had no children.’ ... Ah! there Mammy Dempster had touched a true spring, not perhaps of her son’s cruelty, but of half Janet’s misery. If she had had babes to rock to sleep—little ones to kneel in their night-dress and say their prayers at her knees—sweet boys and girls to put their young arms round her neck and kiss away her tears, her poor hungry heart would have been fed with strong love, and might never have needed that fiery30 poison to still its cravings. Mighty32 is the force of motherhood! says the great tragic33 poet to us across the ages, finding, as usual, the simplest words for the sublimest34 fact—δεινόν τὸ τίκτειν ἐστίν. It transforms all things by its vital heat: it turns timidity into fierce courage, and dreadless defiance35 into tremulous submission36; it turns thoughtlessness into foresight37, and yet stills all anxiety into calm content; it makes selfishness become self-denial, and gives even to hard vanity the glance of admiring love. Yes! if Janet had been a mother, she might have been saved from much sin, and therefore from much of her sorrow.
But do not believe that it was anything either present or wanting in poor Janet that formed the motive38 of her husband’s cruelty. Cruelty, like every other vice39, requires no motive outside itself—it only requires opportunity. You do not suppose Dempster had any motive for drinking beyond the craving31 for drink; the presence of brandy was the only necessary condition. And an unloving, tyrannous, b............
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