"Yes; but I heard you saying you believed her husband had been a young surgeon, did I not?"
"Well, Thurstan, you know he must have been something; and young surgeons are so in the way of dying, it seemed very natural. Besides," said she with sudden boldness, "I do think I've a talent for fiction, it is so pleasant to invent, and make the incidents dovetail together; and after all, if we are to tell a lie, we may as well do it thoroughly, or else it's of no use. A bungling lie would be worse than useless. And, Thurstan--it may be very wrong--but I believe--I am afraid I enjoy not being fettered by truth. Don't look so grave. You know it is necessary, if ever it was, to tell falsehoods now; and don't be angry with me because I do it well."
He was shading his eyes with his hand, and did not speak for some time. At last he said--
"If it were not for the child, I would tell all; but the world is so cruel. You don't know how this apparent necessity for falsehood pains me, Faith, or you would not invent all these details, which are so many additional lies."
"Well, well! I will restrain myself if I have to talk about Ruth again. But Mrs. Bradshaw will tell every one who need to know. You don't wish me to contradict it, Thurstan, surely--it was such a pretty, probable story."
"Faith! I hope God will forgive us if we are doing wrong; and pray, dear, don't add one unnecessary word that is not true."
Another day elapsed, and then it was Sunday: and the house seemed filled with a deep peace. Even Sally's movements were less hasty and abrupt. Mr. Benson seemed invested with a new dignity, which made his bodily deformity be forgotten in his calm, grave composure of spirit. Every trace of week-day occupation was put away; the night before, a bright new handsome tablecloth had been smoothed down over the table, and the jars had been freshly filled with flowers. Sunday was a festival and a holyday in the house. After the very early breakfast, little feet pattered into Mr. Benson's study, for he had a class for boys--a sort of domestic Sunday-school, only that there was more talking between teachers and pupils, than dry, absolute lessons going on. Miss Benson, too, had her little, neat-tippeted maidens sitting with her in the parlour; and she was far more particular in keeping them to their reading and spelling than her brother was with his boys. Sally, too, put in her word of instruction from the kitchen, helping, as she fancied, though her assistance was often rather malapropos; for instance, she called out, to a little fat, stupid, roly-poly girl, to whom Miss Benson was busy explaining the meaning of the word quadruped--
"Quadruped, a thing wi' four legs, Jenny; a chair is a quadruped, child!"