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the scar, 'at your dead child's handiwork!'

The moan the mother uttered, from time to time, went to My heart.
Always the same. Always inarticulate and stifled. Always
accompanied with an incapable motion of the head, but with no
change of face. Always proceeding from a rigid mouth and closed
teeth, as if the jaw were locked and the face frozen up in pain.

'Do you remember when he did this?' she proceeded. 'Do you
remember when, in his inheritance of your nature, and in your
pampering of his pride and passion, he did this, and disfigured me
for life? Look at me, marked until I die with his high
displeasure; and moan and groan for what you made him!'

'Miss Dartle,' I entreated her. 'For Heaven's sake -'

'I WILL speak!' she said, turning on me with her lightning eyes.
'Be silent, you! Look at me, I say, proud mother of a proud, false
son! Moan for your nurture of him, moan for your corruption of him,
moan for your loss of him, moan for mine!'

She clenched her hand, and trembled through her spare, worn figure,
as if her passion were killing her by inches.

'You, resent his self-will!' she exclaimed. 'You, injured by his
haughty temper! You, who opposed to both, when your hair was grey,
the qualities which made both when you gave him birth! YOU, who
from his cradle reared him to be what he was, and stunted what he
should have been! Are you rewarded, now, for your years of

'Oh, Miss Dartle, shame! Oh cruel!'

'I tell you,' she returned, 'I WILL speak to her. No power on
earth should stop me, while I was standing here! Have I been silent
all these years, and shall I not speak now? I loved him better
than you ever loved him!' turning on her fiercely. 'I could have
loved him, and asked no return. If I had been his wife, I could
have been the slave of his caprices for a word of love a year. I
should have been. Who knows it better than I? You were exacting,
proud, punctilious, selfish. My love would have been devoted -
would have trod your paltry whimpering under foot!'

With flashing eyes, she stamped upon the ground as if she actually
did it.
<- Previous | Table Of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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