BOOK III. WAITING FOR DEATH.
24. CHAPTER XXIV.
"The offender's sorrow brings but small relief
To him who wears the strong offence's cross."
I am sorry to say that only the third day after the propitious
events at Houndsley Fred Vincy had fallen into worse spirits than he
had known in his life before. Not that he had been disappointed
as to the possible market for his horse, but that before the bargain
could be concluded with Lord Medlicote's man, this Diamond,
in which hope to the amount of eighty pounds had been invested,
had without the slightest warning exhibited in the stable a most
vicious energy in kicking, had just missed killing the groom,
and had ended in laming himself severely by catching his leg in
a rope that overhung the stable-board. There was no more redress
for this than for the discovery of bad temper after marriage--
which of course old companions were aware of before the ceremony.
For some reason or other, Fred had none of his usual elasticity
under this stroke of ill-fortune: he was simply aware that he
had only fifty pounds, that there was no chance of his getting
any more at present, and that the bill for a hundred and sixty
would be presented in five days. Even if he had applied to his
father on the plea that Mr. Garth should be saved from loss,
Fred felt smartingly that his father would angrily refuse to rescue
Mr. Garth from the consequence of what he would call encouraging
extravagance and deceit. He was so utterly downcast that he could
frame no other project than to go straight to Mr. Garth and tell
him the sad truth, carrying with him the fifty pounds, and getting
that sum at least safely out of his own hands. His father, being at
the warehouse, did not yet know of the accident: when he did,
he would storm about the vicious brute being brought into his stable;
and before meeting that lesser annoyance Fred wanted to get away
with all his courage to face the greater. He took his father's nag,
for he had made up his mind that when he had told Mr. Garth,
he would ride to Stone Court and confess all to Mary. In fact,
it is probable that but for Mary's existence and Fred's love for her,
his conscience would hare been much less active both in previously
urging the debt on his thought and impelling him not to spare
himself after his usual fashion by deferring an unpleasant task,
but to act as directly and simply as he could. Even much stronger
mortals than Fred Vincy hold half their rectitude in the mind of the
being they love best. "The theatre of all my actions is fallen,"
said an antique personage when his chief friend was dead; and they
are fortunate who get a theatre where the audience demands their best.
Certainly it would have made a considerable difference to Fred at that
time if Mary Garth had had no decided notions as to what was admirable