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Chapter 22

     "She graced my humble roof and blest my life,
      Blest me by a far greater name than wife;
      Yet still I bore an undisputed sway,
      Nor was't her task, but pleasure, to obey;
      Scarce thought, much less could act, what I denied.
      In our low house there was no room for pride:" etc.
           ~The Rev. Samuel Wesley's Verses of his Wife.

"It is an unhappiness almost peculiar to our family that your father and I seldom think alike. . . ."

"I am, I believe, got on the right side of fifty, infirm and weak; yet, old as I am, since I have taken my husband 'for better, for worse,' I'll take my residence with him: where he lives, I will live: and where he dies, will I die: and there will I be buried. God do so unto me and more also, if aught but death part him and me." ~Mrs. Wesley's Letters.

Mrs. Wesley guessed well enough what manner of words her husband had choked down. She stood and watched his face, waiting for him to lift his eyes. But he refused obstinately to lift them, and went on rearranging with aimless fingers the pens and papers on his writing-table. At length she plucked up her courage. "Husband," she said, "let us take counsel together. We are in a plight that wrath will not cure: but, be angry as you will, we cannot give Hetty to this man."

It needed but this. He fixed his eyes on hers now, and the light in them first quivered, then grew steady as a beam. "Did you hear me give my promise?" he demanded.

"You had no right to promise it."

"I do not break promises. And I take others at their word. Has she, or has she not, vowed herself ready to marry the first honest man who will take her; ay, and to thank him?"

"She was beside herself. We cannot take advantage of such a vow."

"You are stripping her of the last rag of honour. I prefer to credit her with courage at least: to believe that she hands me the knife and says, 'cut out this sore.' But wittingly or no she has handed it to me, and by heaven, ma'am, I will use it!"

"It will kill her."

"There are worse things than death."

"But if--if the other should seek her and offer atonement--"

Mr. Wesley pacing the room with his hands beneath his coat-tails, halted suddenly and flung up both arms, as a man lifts a stone to dash it down.

"What! Accept a favour from him! Have you lived with me these years and know me so little? And can you fear God and think to save your daughter out of hell by giving her back her sin, to rut in it?"

Mrs. Wesley shook her head helplessly. "Let her be punished, then, in God's natural way! Vengeance is His, dear: ah, do not take it out of His hands in your anger, I beseech you!"

"God for my sins made me her father, and gave me authority to punish." He halted again and cried suddenly, "Do you think this is not hurting me!"

"Pause then, for it is His warning. Who is this man? What do you know of him? To think of him and Hetty together makes my flesh creep!"

"Would you rather, then, see her--" But at sound of a sobbing cry from her, he checked the terrible question. "You are trying to unnerve me. 'Who is he?' you ask. That is just what I am going to find out." At the door he turned. "We have other children to think of, pray you remember. I will harbour no wantons in my house."

Arthur Quiller-Couch