But it would have been better for Giles to have left his wife to the mercy of uncharitable whisperers than have adopted this mode of justification. The first intimation of his indiscretion was signified by an order from the parish priest instantly to separate, and by public penance to merit absolution from the church. A month was allowed them. The four weeks elapsed, and the incorrigible pair were still living beneath the same roof; and, on the fifth Sunday, at St. Peter's, the parish church of Winchcombe, the congregation were assembled; the tapers lighted, and the missal opened. Some words were then said, acquainting the people with the crime of Giles and Jane, and cautioning them against holding any communication with such obdurate sinners. The bell was next rung鈥攖he book closed鈥攖he tapers were extinguished, and the incestuous pair pronounced accursed of God and man. This ceremony was performed thrice, and when the unfortunate Jane was seized with the pangs of child-birth, Gray, after having the doors of fifty houses shut in his face, as he implored assistance for his wife, was compelled to go to Campden, a distance of thirteen miles, to try what the force of nature might effect. There his application was not rejected; the aged mother, although her heart was breaking at the lost and degraded state of her youngest child, yet consented to accompany Gray; and disguising herself, that none might recognize her, hastened to Winchcombe.
The galleyman, for the first time, fixed his eyes upon Margaret, who was sitting, nursing her little charge within the recess of the chimney. She had latterly been accustomed to unkind language from her husband; but the bitterness with which he had now alluded to her before a stranger, brightened the delicacy of her complexion with a passing glow, and caused a sudden tear to tremble in her eye.
"Then may luck attend you," answered the galleyman, grasping his hand; "I thought it was you, and I came, not alone, for I have helpmates yonder to鈥攖o鈥攄o, what I thought would be a good turn for you鈥攖o bury your mother."