`Be damned if I do! Feelings are feelings! I won't be a creeping hypocrite any longer - so there!'
Arabella had hastily drawn from her pocket a bundle of tracts which she had brought with her to distribute at the fair, and of which she had given away several. As she spoke she flung the whole remainder of the packet into the hedge `I've tried that sort o' physic and have failed wi' it. I must be as I was born!'
`Hush! You be excited, dear! Now you come along home quiet, and have a cup of tea, and don't let us talk about un no more. We won't come out this road again, as it leads to where he is, because it inflames 'ee so. You'll be all right again soon.'
Arabella did calm herself down by degrees; and they crossed the Ridge-way. When they began to descend the long, straight hill, they saw plodding along in front of them an elderly man of spare stature and thoughtful gait. In his hand he carried a basket; and there was a touch of slovenliness in his attire, together with that indefinable something in his whole appearance which suggested one who was his own housekeeper, purveyor, confidant, and friend, through possessing nobody else at all in the world to act in those capacities for him. The remainder of the journey was down-hill, and guessing him to be going to Alfredston they offered him a lift, which he accepted.
Arabella looked at him, and looked again, till at length she spoke. `If I don't mistake I am talking to Mr. Phillotson?'
The wayfarer faced round and regarded her in turn. `Yes; my name is Phillotson,' he said. `But I don't recognize you, ma'am.'
`I remember you well enough when you used to be schoolmaster out at Marygreen, and I one of your scholars. I used to walk up there from Cresscombe every day, because we had only a mistress down at our place, and you taught better. But you wouldn't remember me as I should you? - Arabella Donn.'
He shook his head. `No,' he said politely, `I don't recall the name. And I should hardly recognize in your present portly self the slim school child no doubt you were then.'
`Well, I always had plenty of flesh on my bones. However, I am staying down here with some friends at present. You know, I suppose, who I married?'
`Jude Fawley - also a scholar of yours - at least a night scholar - for some little time I think? And known to you afterwards, if I am not mistaken.'
`Dear me, dear me,' said Phillotson, starting out of his stiffness. `You Fawley's wife? To be sure - he had a wife! And he - I understood - '
`Divorced her - as you did yours - perhaps for better reasons.'
`Well - he med have been right in doing it - right for both; for I soon married again, and all went pretty straight till my husband died lately. But you - you were decidedly wrong!'
`No,' said Phillotson, with sudden testiness. `I would rather not talk of this, but - I am convinced I did only what was right, and just, and moral. I have suffered for my act and opinions, but I hold to them; though her loss was a loss to me in more ways than one!'
`You lost your school and good income through her, did you not?'
`I don't care to talk of it. I have recently come back here - to Marygreen. I mean.'
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