BOOK THE THIRD - GARNERING
1. Chapter I - Another Thing Needful (continued)
'Oh no, Louisa, it was done before I came. It was - '
Louisa turned upon her pillow, and heard no more. When her sister
had withdrawn, she turned her head back again, and lay with her
face towards the door, until it opened and her father entered.
He had a jaded anxious look upon him, and his hand, usually steady,
trembled in hers. He sat down at the side of the bed, tenderly
asking how she was, and dwelling on the necessity of her keeping
very quiet after her agitation and exposure to the weather last
night. He spoke in a subdued and troubled voice, very different
from his usual dictatorial manner; and was often at a loss for
'My dear Louisa. My poor daughter.' He was so much at a loss at
that place, that he stopped altogether. He tried again.
'My unfortunate child.' The place was so difficult to get over,
that he tried again.
'It would be hopeless for me, Louisa, to endeavour to tell you how
overwhelmed I have been, and still am, by what broke upon me last
night. The ground on which I stand has ceased to be solid under my
feet. The only support on which I leaned, and the strength of
which it seemed, and still does seem, impossible to question, has
given way in an instant. I am stunned by these discoveries. I
have no selfish meaning in what I say; but I find the shock of what
broke upon me last night, to be very heavy indeed.'
She could give him no comfort herein. She had suffered the wreck
of her whole life upon the rock.
'I will not say, Louisa, that if you had by any happy chance
undeceived me some time ago, it would have been better for us both;
better for your peace, and better for mine. For I am sensible that
it may not have been a part of my system to invite any confidence
of that kind. I had proved my - my system to myself, and I have
rigidly administered it; and I must bear the responsibility of its
failures. I only entreat you to believe, my favourite child, that
I have meant to do right.'