Page:A New England Tale.djvu/181

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170
A NEW-ENGLAND TALE.

had received the day before, and which she had marked, at the time, for she was eagle-eyed in the detection of a spurious bill. These is nothing more subtle, more inveterate than a habit of self-deception. It was not to the world alone that Mrs. Wilson played the hypocrite, but before the tribunal of her own conscience. she appeared with hollow arguments and false pretences. From the moment she had discovered her loss in the morning, she had, at bottom, believed David guilty; she recollected the threats of the preceding day, and her first impulse was to charge him with the theft, and to demand the money; but then, she thought, he was violent and determined, and that, without exposing him, (even Mrs. Wilson shrank from the consequences of exposure to her son) she could not regain her money. She was at a loss how to account for the appearance of Jane's handkerchief; but neither that, nor Jane's subsequent emotion at the breakfast table, nor her refusal to make any explanation of the suspicious circumstances, enabled Mrs. Wilson to believe that Jane had borne any part in the dishonesty of the transaction. Such was the involuntary tribute she paid to the tried, steadfast virtue of this excellent being. Still she could not restrain the whirlwind of her passion; and it burst, as we have seen, upon Jane. She was at a loss to account for Jane's refusal to vindicate herself. It was impossible for her to conceive of the reasons that controlled Jane, which would have been no more to Mrs. Wilson, than were to Sampson the new ropes he snapped asun-