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Chapter 14
 The last week in March—three weeks after old Mrs. Dempster died—occurred the unpleasant winding-up of affairs between Dempster and Mr. Pryme, and under this additional source of irritation1 the attorney’s diurnal2 drunkenness had taken on its most ill-tempered and brutal3 phase. On the Friday morning, before setting out for Rotherby, he told his wife that he had invited ‘four men’ to dinner at half-past six that evening. The previous night had been a terrible one for Janet, and when her husband broke his grim morning silence to say these few words, she was looking so blank and listless that he added in a loud sharp key, ‘Do you hear what I say? or must I tell the cook?’ She started, and said, ‘Yes, I hear.’  
‘Then mind and have a dinner provided, and don’t go mooning about like crazy Jane.’
Half an hour afterwards Mrs. Raynor, quietly busy in her kitchen with her household labours—for she had only a little twelve-year-old girl as a servant—heard with trembling the rattling4 of the garden gate and the opening of the outer door. She knew the step, and in one short moment she lived beforehand through the coming scene. She hurried out of the kitchen, and there in the passage, as she had felt, stood Janet, her eyes worn as if by night-long watching, her dress careless, her step languid. No cheerful morning greeting to her mother—no kiss. She turned into the parlour, and, seating herself on the sofa opposite her mother’s chair, looked vacantly at the walls and furniture until the corners of her mouth began to tremble, and her dark eyes filled with tears that fell unwiped down her cheeks. The mother sat silently opposite to her, afraid to speak. She felt sure there was nothing new the matter—sure that the torrent6 of words would come sooner or later.
‘Mother! why don’t you speak to me?’ Janet burst out at last; ‘you don’t care about my suffering; you are blaming me because I feel—because I am miserable7.’
‘My child, I am not blaming you—my heart is bleeding for you. Your head is bad this morning—you have had a bad night. Let me make you a cup of tea now. Perhaps you didn’t like your breakfast.’
‘Yes, that is what you always think, mother. It is the old story, you think. You don’t ask me what it is I have had to bear. You are tired of hearing me. You are cruel, like the rest; every one is cruel in this world. Nothing but blame—blame—blame; never any pity. God is cruel to have sent me into the world to bear all this misery8.’
‘Janet, Janet, don’t say so. It is not for us to judge; we must submit; we must be thankful for the gift of life.’
‘Thankful for life! Why should I be thankful? God has made me with a heart to feel, and He has sent me nothing but misery. How could I help it? How could I know what would come? Why didn’t you tell me, mother?—why did you let me marry? You knew what brutes9 men could be; and there’s no help for me—no hope. I can’t kill myself; I’ve tried; but I can’t leave this world and go to another. There may be no pity for me there, as there is none here.’
‘Janet, my child, there is pity. Have I ever done anything but love you? And there is pity in God. Hasn’t He put pity into your heart for many a poor sufferer? Where did it come from, if not from Him?’
Janet’s nervous irritation now broke out into sobs10 instead of complainings; and her mother was thankful, for after that crisis there would very likely come relenting, and tenderness, and comparative calm. She went out to make some tea, and when she returned with the tray in her hands, Janet had dried her eyes and now turned them towards her mother with a faint attempt to smile; but the poor face, in its sad blurred11 beauty, looked all the more piteous.
‘Mother will insist upon her tea,’ she said, ‘and I really think I can drink a cup. But I must go home directly, for there are people coming to dinner. Could you go with me and help me, mother?’
Mrs. Raynor was always ready to do that. She went to Orchard12 Street with Janet, and remained with her through the day—comforted, as evening approached, to see her become more cheerful and willing to attend to her toilette. At half-past five everything was in order; Janet was dressed; and when the mother had kissed her and said good-bye, she could not help pausing a moment in sorrowful admiration13 at the tall rich figure, looking all the grander for the plainness of the deep mourning dress, and the noble face with its massy folds of black hair, made matronly by a simple white cap. Janet had that enduring beauty which belongs to pure majestic14 outline and depth of tint15. Sorrow and neglect leave their traces on such beauty, but it thrills us to the last, like a glorious Greek temple, which, for all the loss it has suffered from time and barbarous hands, has gained a solemn history, and fills our imagination the more because it is incomplete to the sense.
It was six o’clock before Dempster returned from Rotherby. He had evidently drunk a great deal, and was in an angry humour; but Janet, who had gathered some little courage and forbearance from the consciousness that she had done her best to-day, was determined16 to speak pleasantly to him.
‘Robert,’ she said gently, as she saw him seat himself in the dining-room in his dusty snuffy clothes, and take some documents out of his pocket, ‘will you not wash and change your dress? It will refresh you.’
‘Leave me alone, will you?’ said Dempster, in his most brutal tone.
‘Do change your coat and waistcoat, they are so dusty. I’ve laid all your things out ready.’
‘O, you have, have you?’ After a few minutes he rose very deliberately17 and walked up-stairs into his bedroom. Janet had often been scolded before for not laying out his clothes, and she thought now, not without some wonder, that this attention of hers had brought him to compliance18.
Presently he called out, ‘Janet!’ and she went up-stairs.
‘Here! Take that!’ he said, as soon as she reached the door, flinging at her the coat she had laid out. ‘Another time, leave me to do as I please, will you?’
The coat, flung with great force, only brushed her shoulder, and fell some distance within the drawing-room, the door of which stood open just opposite. She hastily retreated as she saw the waistcoat coming, and one by one the clothes she had laid out were all flung into the drawing-room.
Janet’s face flushed with anger, and for the first time in her life her
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