Often he wondered at himself. Sometimes he felt alarmed at the strength of his passion and the direction it had taken.
"What," said he, "have I flirted with so many girls in my own way of life, and come away heart-whole, and now to fall in love with a gentlewoman, who would bid her footman show me the door if she knew of my presumption!"
But these misgivings could neither cure him nor cow him. Let him only make money, and become a master instead of a workman, and then he would say to her, "I don't value birth myself, but if you do, why, I am not come of workpeople."
He traced a plan with workmanlike precision:--Profound discretion and self-restraint at "Woodbine Villa:" restless industry and stern self-denial in Hillsborough.
After his day's work he used to go straight to his mother. She gave him a cup of tea, and then they had their chat; and after that the sexes were inverted, so to speak: the man carved fruit, and flowers, and dead woodcocks, the woman read the news and polities of the day, and the essays on labor and capital, and any other articles not too flimsy to bear reading aloud to a man whose time was coin. (There was a free library in Hillsborough, and a mechanic could take out standard books and reviews.) Thus they passed the evening hours agreeably, and usefully too, for Henry sucked in knowledge like a leech, and at the same time carved things that sold well in London. He had a strong inclination to open his heart about Miss Carden. Accordingly, one evening he said, "She lost her mother when she was a child."
"Who lost her mother?" asked Mrs. Little.
"Miss Carden," said Henry, very softly.
The tone was not lost on Mrs. Little's fine and watchful ear; at least her mind seized it a few seconds afterward.