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29. CHAPTER XXIX. (continued)
Something was wrong in the dove-cot. A ghastly sense that he alone would be responsible for whatever unhappiness should be brought upon her for whom he almost solely lived, whom to retain under his roof he had faced the numerous inconveniences involved in giving up the best part of his house to Fitzpiers. There was no room for doubt that, had he allowed events to take their natural course, she would have accepted Winterborne, and realized his old dream of restitution to that young man's family.
That Fitzpiers could allow himself to look on any other creature for a moment than Grace filled Melbury with grief and astonishment. In the pure and simple life he had led it had scarcely occurred to him that after marriage a man might be faithless. That he could sweep to the heights of Mrs. Charmond's position, lift the veil of Isis, so to speak, would have amazed Melbury by its audacity if he had not suspected encouragement from that quarter. What could he and his simple Grace do to countervail the passions of such as those two sophisticated beings--versed in the world's ways, armed with every apparatus for victory? In such an encounter the homely timber-dealer felt as inferior as a bow-and-arrow savage before the precise weapons of modern warfare.
Grace came out of the house as the morning drew on. The village was silent, most of the folk having gone to the fair. Fitzpiers had retired to bed, and was sleeping off his fatigue. She went to the stable and looked at poor Darling: in all probability Giles Winterborne, by obtaining for her a horse of such intelligence and docility, had been the means of saving her husband's life. She paused over the strange thought; and then there appeared her father behind her. She saw that he knew things were not as they ought to be, from the troubled dulness of his eye, and from his face, different points of which had independent motions, twitchings, and tremblings, unknown to himself, and involuntary.
"He was detained, I suppose, last night?" said Melbury.
"Oh yes; a bad case in the vale," she replied, calmly.
"Nevertheless, he should have stayed at home."
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