But I trust that I looked innocent, being so.
′Listen to me, shrewd hypocrite,′ said my lady, whose anger increased as she gave it utterance; ′attend to my words, you cunning schemer, who have carried this plot through with such a practised double face that I have never suspected you. I had my projects for my daughter; projects for family connection; projects for fortune. You have thwarted them, and overreached me; but I am not one to be thwarted and overreached without retaliation. Do you mean to hold this living another month?′
′Do you deem it possible, Lady Fareway, that I can hold it another hour, under your injurious words?′
′Is it resigned, then?′
′It was mentally resigned, my lady, some minutes ago.′
Don′t equivocate, sir. IS it resigned?′
′Unconditionally and entirely; and I would that I had never, never come near it!′
′A cordial response from me to THAT wish, Mr. Silverman! But take this with you, sir. If you had not resigned it, I would have had you deprived of it. And though you have resigned it, you will not get quit of me as easily as you think for. I will pursue you with this story. I will make this nefarious conspiracy of yours, for money, known. You have made money by it, but you have at the same time made an enemy by it. YOU will take good care that the money sticks to you; I will take good care that the enemy sticks to you.′
Then said I finally, ′Lady Fareway, I think my heart is broken. Until I came into this room just now, the possibility of such mean wickedness as you have imputed to me never dawned upon my thoughts. Your suspicions - ′
′Suspicions! Pah!′ said she indignantly. ′Certainties.′
′Your certainties, my lady, as you call them, your suspicions as I call them, are cruel, unjust, wholly devoid of foundation in fact. I can declare no more; except that I have not acted for my own profit or my own pleasure. I have not in this proceeding considered myself. Once again, I think my heart is broken. If I have unwittingly done any wrong with a righteous motive, that is some penalty to pay.′
She received this with another and more indignant ′Pah!′ and I made my way out of her room (I think I felt my way out with my hands, although my eyes were open), almost suspecting that my voice had a repulsive sound, and that I was a repulsive object.
There was a great stir made, the bishop was appealed to, I received a severe reprimand, and narrowly escaped suspension. For years a cloud hung over me, and my name was tarnished.
But my heart did not break, if a broken heart involves death; for I lived through it.
They stood by me, Adelina and her husband, through it all. Those
who had known me at college, and even most of those who had only
known me there by reputation, stood by me too. Little by little,
the belief widened that I was not capable of what was laid to my
charge. At length I was presented to a college-living in a
sequestered place, and there I now pen my explanation. I pen it at
my open window in the summer-time, before me, lying in the
churchyard, equal resting-place for sound hearts, wounded hearts,
and broken hearts. I pen it for the relief of my own mind, not
foreseeing whether or no it will ever have a reader.