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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCarnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 29. Carnal And His Mother
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Carnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 29. Carnal And His Mother Post by :hlpunltd Category :Long Stories Author :Gilbert Parker Date :May 2012 Read :3640

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Carnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 29. Carnal And His Mother


Returning from Barode Barouche's home to his mother's House on the Hill, Carnac was in a cheerless mood. With Barouche's death to Carnac it was as though he himself had put aside for ever the armour of war, for Barouche was the only man in the world who had ever tempted him to fight, or whom he had fought.

There was one thing he must do: he must go to Junia, tell her he loved her, and ask her to be his wife. She had given him the fatal blue certificate of his marriage and the marriage could now be ended with Luzanne's consent, for she would not fight the divorce he must win soon. He could now tell the truth, if need be, to his constituents, for there would be time enough to recover his position, if it were endangered, before the next election came, and Junia would be by his side to help him! Junia--would she, after all, marry him now? He would soon know. To-night he must spend with his mother, but to-morrow he would see Junia and learn his fate, and know about Luzanne. Luzanne had been in Montreal, had been ready to destroy his chance at the polls, and Junia had stopped it. How? Well, he should soon know. But now, at first, for his mother.

When he entered the House on the Hill, he had a sudden shiver. Somehow, the room where his mother had sat for so many years, and where he had last seen his father, John Grier, had a coldness of the tomb. There was a letter on the centre table standing against the lamp. He saw it was in his mother's handwriting, and addressed to himself.

He tore it open, and began to read. Presently his cheeks turned pale. More than once he put it down, for it seemed impossible to go on, but with courage he took it up again and read on to the end.

"God--God in Heaven!" he broke out when he had finished it. For a long time he walked the floor, trembling in body and shaking in spirit. "Now I understand everything," he said at last aloud in a husky tone. "Now I see what I could not see--ah yes, I see at last!"

For another time of silence and turmoil he paced the floor, then he stopped short. "I'm glad they both are dead," he said wearily. Thinking of Barode Barouche, he had a great bitterness. "To treat any woman so--how glad I am I fought him! He learned that such vile acts come home at last."

Then he thought of John Grier. "I loathed him and loved him always," he said with terrible remorse in his tone. "He used my mother badly, and yet he was himself; he was the soul that he was born, a genius in his own way, a neglecter of all that makes life beautiful--and yet himself, always himself. He never pottered. He was real--a pirate, a plunderer, but he was real. And he cared for me, and would have had me in the business if he could. Perhaps John Grier knows the truth now!... I hope he does. For, if he does, he'll see that I was not to blame for what I did, that it was Fate behind me. He was a big man, and if I'd worked with him, we'd have done big things, bigger than he did, and that was big enough."

"Do nothing till you see me," his mother had written in a postscript to her letter, and, with a moroseness at his heart and scorn of Barouche at his lips, he went slowly up to his mother's room. At her door he paused. But the woman was his mother, and it must be faced. After all, she had kept faith ever since he was born. He believed that. She had been an honest wife ever since that fatal summer twenty-seven years before.

"She has suffered," he said, and knocked at her door. An instant later he was inside the room. There was only a dim light, but his mother was sitting up in her bed, a gaunt and yet beautiful, sad-eyed figure of a woman. For a moment Carnac paused. As he stood motionless, the face of the woman became more drawn and haggard, the eyes more deeply mournful. Her lips opened as though she would speak, but no sound came, and Carnac could hardly bear to look at her. Yet he did look, and all at once there rushed into his heart the love he had ever felt for her. After all, he was her son, and she had not wronged him since his birth. And he who had wronged her and himself was dead, his pathway closed for ever to the deeds of life and time. As he looked, his eyes filled with tears and his lips compressed. At last he came to the bed. Her letter was in his hand.

"I have read it, mother."

She made no reply, but his face was good for her eyes to see. It had no hatred or repulsion.

"I know everything now," he added. "I see it all, and I understand all you have suffered these many years."

"Oh, my son, you forgive your mother?" She was trembling with emotion.

He leaned over and caught her wonderful head to his shoulder. "I love you, mother," he said gently. "I need you--need you more than I ever did."

"I have no heart any more, and I fear for you--"

"Why should you fear for me? You wanted me to beat him, didn't you?" His face grew hard, his lips became scornful. "Wasn't it the only way to make him settle his account?"

"Yes, the only way. It was not that I fear for you in politics. I was sure you would win the election. It was not that, it was the girl."

"That's all finished. I am free at last," he said. He held the blue certificate before her eyes.

Her face was deadly pale, her eyes expanded, her breath came sharp and quick. "How was it don how was it done? Was she here in Montreal?"

"I don't know how it was done, but she was here, and Junia got this from her. I shan't know how till I've seen Junia."

"Junia is the best friend," said the stricken woman gently, "in all the world; she's--"

"She's so good a friend she must be told the truth," he said firmly.

"Oh, not while I live! I could not bear that--"

"How could I ask Junia to marry me and not tell her all the truth--mother, can't you see?"

The woman's face flushed scarlet. "Ah, yes, I see, my boy--I see."

"Haven't we had enough of secrecy--in your letter you lamented it! If it was right for you to be secret all these years, is it not a hundred times right now for me to tell you the truth.... I have no name--no name," he added, tragedy in his tone.

"You have my name. You may say I have no right to it, but it is the only name I can carry; they both are dead, and I must keep it. It wrongs no one living but you, and you have no hatred of me: you think I do not wrong you--isn't that so?"

His cheek was hot with feeling. "Yes, that's true," he said. "You must still keep your married name." Then a great melancholy took hold of him, and he could hardly hide it from her. She saw how he was moved, and she tried to comfort him.

"You think Junia will resent it all?... But that isn't what a girl does when she loves. You have done no wrong; your hands are clean."

"But I must tell her all. Tarboe is richer, he has an honest birth, he is a big man and will be bigger still. She likes him, she--"

"She will go to you without a penny, my son."

"It will be almost without a penny, if you don't live," he said with a faint smile. "I can't paint--for a time anyhow. I can't earn money for a time. I've only my salary as a Member of Parliament and the little that's left of my legacy; therefore, I must draw on you. And I don't seem to mind drawing upon you; I never did."

She smiled with an effort. "If I can help you, I shall justify living on."

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