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Heartsease or Brother's Wife by Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 15 out of 15

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'I should be very sorry to export you--'

'I must do something!' exclaimed Percy. 'I was thinking of
emigration; but your sister could not go in the present state of
things here; and she will not hear of my going and returning when I
have built a nest for her.'

'No, indeed!' said John. 'Your powers were not given for the hewing
down of forests.'

'Were not they?' said Percy, stretching and clenching a hard muscular
wrist and hand.

'"A man's a man for a' that!"

I tell you, John, I am wearying for want of work--hard, downright,
substantial work!'

'Well, you have it, have you not?'

'Pshaw! Pegasus won't let himself out on hire. I can't turn my
sport into my trade. When I find myself writing for the lucre of
gain, the whole spirit leaves me.'

'That is what you have been doing for some time.'

'No such thing. Literature was my holiday friend at first; and if
she put a gold piece or two into my pocket, it was not what I sought
her for. Then she came to my help to beguile what I thought was an
interval of waiting for the serious task of life. I wrote what I
thought was wanted. I sent it forth as my way of trying what service
I could do in my generation. But now, when I call it my profession,
when I think avowedly, what am I to get by it?--Faugh! the Muse is
disgusted; and when I go to church, I hang my head at "Lay not up to
yourselves treasures upon earth--"'

'A fine way you found of laying them up!'

'It proved the way to get them back.'

'I do not understand your objection. You had laid up that sum--your
fair earning.'

'There it was: it had accumulated without positive intention on my
part; I mean that I had of course taken my due, and not found
occasion to spend it. It is the writing solely for gain, with malice
prepense to save it,--that is the stumbling-block. I don't feel as
if I was justified in it, nay, I cannot do it; my ideas do not flow
even on matters wont to interest me most. It was all very well when
waiting on Arthur was an object; but after he was gone, I found it
out. I could not turn to writing, and if I did, out came things I
was ashamed of. No! an able-bodied man of five-and-thirty is meant
for tougher work than review and history-mongering! I have been
teaching a ragged school, helping at any charities that needed a
hand; but it seems amateur work, and I want to be in the stream of
life again!'

'I will not say what most would--it was a pity you resigned your
former post.'

'No pity at all. That has made a pair of good folks very happy. If
I had kept certain hasty judgments to myself, I should not have been
laid on the shelf. It is no more than I deserve, and no doubt it is
good for me to be humbled and set aside; but work I will get of some
kind! I looked in at a great factory the other day, and longed to
apply for a superintendent's place, only I thought it might not be
congruous with an Honourable for a wife.'

'You don't mean to give up writing?'

'No, to make it my play. I feel like little Annie, when she called
herself puss without a corner. I have serious thoughts of the law.
Heigh ho! Good night.'

John grieved over the disappointed tone so unusual in the buoyant
Percy, and revolved various devices for finding employment for him;
but was obliged to own that a man of his age, whatever his powers,
when once set aside from the active world, finds it difficult to make
for himself another career. It accounted to John for the degree of
depression which he detected in Theodora's manner, which, at all
times rather grave, did not often light up into animation, and never
into her quaint moods of eccentric determination; she was helpful and
kind, but submissive and indifferent to what passed around her.

In fact, Theodora felt the disappointment of which Percy complained,
more uniformly than he did himself. He thought no more of it when
conversation was going on, when a service was to be done to any
living creature, or when he was playing with the children; but the
sense of his vexation always hung upon her; perhaps the more because
she felt that her own former conduct deserved no happiness, and that
his future was involved in hers. She tried to be patient, but she
could not be gay.

Her scheme had been for Percy to take a farm, but he answered that he
had lived too much abroad, and in towns, to make agriculture succeed
in England. In the colonies perhaps,--but her involuntary
exclamation of dismay at the idea of letting him go alone, had made
him at once abandon the project. When, however, she saw how enforced
idleness preyed on him, and with how little spirit he turned to his
literary pursuits, she began to think it her duty to persuade him to
go; and to this she had on this very night, with a great effort, made
up her mind.

'There is space in his composition for more happiness than depends on
me,' said she to Violet. 'Exertion, hope, trust in me will make him
happy; and he shall not waste his life in loitering here for my
sake.'

'Dear Theodora, I fear it will cost you a great deal.'

'Never mind,' said Theodora; 'I am more at peace than I have been for
years. Percy has suffered enough through me already.'

Violet looked up affectionately at her fine countenance, and gave one
of the mute caresses that Theodora liked from her, though she could
have borne them from no one else.

Theodora smiled, sighed, and then, shaking off the dejected tone,
said, 'Well, I suppose you will have a letter from Wrangerton to tell
you it is settled. I wonder if you will go to the wedding. Oh!
Violet, if you had had one particle of selfishness or pettiness, how
many unhappy people you would have made!'

Violet's last letter from home had announced that Mr. Fanshawe had
come to stay with Mr. Jones, and she was watching eagerly for the
next news. She went down-stairs quickly, in the morning, to seek for
her own letters among the array spread on the sideboard.

Percy was alone in the room, standing by the window. He started at
her entrance, and hardly gave time for a good morning, before he
asked where Theodora was.

'I think she is not come in. I have not seen her.'

He made a step to the door as if to go and meet her.

'There is nothing wrong, I hope.'

'I hope not! I hope there is no mistake. Look here.'

He held up, with an agitated grasp, a long envelope with the mighty
words, 'On her Majesty's service;' and before Violet's eyes he laid a
letter offering him a diplomatic appointment in Italy.

'The very thing above all others I would have chosen. Capital
salary! Excellent house! I was staying there a week with the fellow
who had it before. A garden of gardens. Orange walks,--fountains,--
a view of the Apennines and Mediterranean at once. It is perfection.
But what can have led any one to pitch upon me?'

Arthur had come down in the midst, and leant over his rejoicing wife
to read the letter, while Percy vehemently shook his hand,
exclaiming, 'There! See! There's the good time come! Did you ever
see the like, Arthur! But how on earth could they have chosen me?
I know nothing of this man--he knows nothing of me.'

'Such compliments to your abilities and classical discoveries,' said
Violet.

'Much good they would do without interest! I would give twenty
pounds to know who has got me this.'

'Ha! said Arthur, looking at the signature. 'Did not he marry some
of the Delaval connection?'

'Yes,' said Violet; 'Lady Mary--Lord St. Erme's aunt. He was Lord
St. Erme's guardian.'

'Then that is what it is,' said Arthur, sententiously. 'Did you not
tell me that St. Erme had been examining you about Percy?'

'Yes, he asked me about his writings, and how long he had been at
Constantinople,' said Violet, rather shyly, almost sorry that her
surprise had penetrated and proclaimed what the Earl no doubt meant
to be a secret, especially when she saw that Percy's exultation was
completely damped. There was no time for answer, for others were
entering, and with a gesture to enforce silence, he pocketed the
papers, and said nothing on the subject all breakfast-time. Even
while Violet regaled herself with Annette's happy letter, she had
anxious eyes and thoughts for the other sister, now scarcely less to
her than Annette.

She called off the children from dancing round Uncle Percy after
breakfast, and watched him walk off with Theodora to the side arcade
in the avenue that always had especial charms for them.

'Theodora, here is something for you to decide.'

'Why, Percy!' as she read, 'this is the very thing! What! Is it not
a good appointment? Why do you hesitate?'

'It is an excellent appointment, but this is the doubt. Do you see
that name? There can be no question that this is owing to Lord St.
Erme.'

'I see!' said Theodora, blushing deeply.

'I wish to be guided entirely by your feeling.'

They walked the whole length of the avenue and turned again before
she spoke. At last she said--'Lord St. Erme is a generous person,
and should be dealt with generously. I have given him pain by my
pride and caprice, and I had rather give him no more. No doubt it is
his greatest pleasure to make us happy, and I think he ought to be
allowed to have it. But let it be as you please.'

'I expected you to speak in this way. You think that he does not
deserve to be wounded by my refusing this because it comes from him.'

'That is my feeling, but if you do not like--I believe you do not.
Refuse it, then.'

'To say I like the obligation would not be true; but I know it is
right that I should conquer the foolish feeling. After all, it is
public work that I am to do, and it would be wrong and absurd to
refuse it, because it is he who has brought my name forward.'

'You take it, then?'

'Yes, standing reproved, and I might almost say punished, for my past
disdain of this generous man.'

'If you say so, what must I?'

Percy resolved that, after consulting Lord Martindale, he would at
once set off for London, to signify his acceptance, and make the
necessary inquiries. Theodora asked whether he meant to appear
conscious of the influence exerted in his favour. 'I will see
whether it was directly employed; if so, it would be paltry to seem
to appear unconscious. I had rather show that I appreciate his
feeling, and if I feel an obligation, acknowledge it.

'I wonder, Theodora,' said Arthur, 'that you allow him to go. He is
so fond of giving away whatever any one cries for, that you will find
yourself made over to St. Erme.'

In three days' time Percy returned; Theodora went with Arthur and
Violet to meet him at the station.

'Well!' said he, as they drove off, 'he is a very fine fellow, after
all! I don't know what is to be done for him! I wish we could find
a Theodora for him.'

'I told you so, Theodora!' cried Arthur. 'He has presented you.'

'There were two words to that bargain!' said Percy. 'He must be
content to wait for Helen.'

'So instead of my sister, you dispose of my daughter,' said Arthur.

'Poor little Helen!' said Violet. 'Imagine the age he will be when
she is eighteen!'

'He will never grow old!' said Percy. 'He has the poet's gift of
perpetual youth, the spring of life and fancy that keeps men young.
He has not grown a day older since this time five years. I found he
had taken a great deal of trouble about me, recommended me
strenuously, brought forward my papers on foreign policy, and been at
much pains to confute that report that was afloat against me. He
treated my appointment as a personal favour; and he is a man of
weight now. You were right, Theodora; it would have been abominable
to sulk in our corner, because we had behaved ill ourselves, and to
meet such noble-spirited kindness as an offence.'

'I am very glad that you feel it so,' returned Theodora.

'Now that I have seen him I do so completely. And another thing I
have to thank you for, Violet, that you saved me from laying it on
any thicker in that criticism of his poetry.'

'I told you how he said that you had done him a great deal of good.'

'A signal instance--almost a single instance of candour. But there
is a nobility of mind in him above small resentments and jealousies.
Ay! there never will be anybody fit for him but Helen!'

'And Helen brought up to be much better than her aunt,' said
Theodora.

'It won't be my mother's fault if she is,' said Arthur. 'I was
determined yesterday to see what she would succeed in making her do,
and I declare the sprite drove her about like a slave--"Grandmamma,
fetch me this," "grandmamma, you must do that," till at last she
brought my poor mother down on her knees, stooping under the table to
personate an old cow in the stall.'

'Oh! Arthur! Arthur, how could you?' exclaimed Violet. 'What were
you about to let it go on?'

'Lying on the sofa, setting a good example,' said Percy.

'No, no, I did not go that length,' said Arthur. 'I was incog. in
the next room; but it was too good to interrupt. Besides, Helen has
succeeded to my aunt's vacant throne, and my mother is never so hurt
as when Violet interferes with any of her vagaries. The other day,
when Violet carried her off roaring at not being allowed to turn
grandmamma's work-box inside out, her ladyship made a formal
remonstrance to me on letting the poor child's spirit be broken by
strictness.'

'I hope you told her that some spirits would be glad to have been
broken long ago,' said Theodora.

'I only told her I had perfect faith in Violet's management.'

Percy was wanted speedily to set off for his new situation, and the
question of the marriage became difficult. His income was fully
sufficient, but Theodora had many scruples about leaving her mother,
whom the last winter had proved to be unfit to be left without
companionship. They doubted and consulted, and agreed that they must
be self-denying; but John came to their relief. He shrank with a
sort of horror from permitting such a sacrifice as his own had been;
held that it would be positively wrong to let their union be delayed
any longer, and found his father of the same opinion, though not
knowing how Lady Martindale would bear the loss. Perhaps his habit
of flinching from saying to her what he expected her to dislike, had
been one cause of Mrs. Nesbit's supremacy.

John, therefore, undertook to open her eyes to the necessity of
relinquishing her daughter, intending to offer himself as her
companion and attendant, ready henceforth to devote himself to her
comfort, as the means of setting free those who still had a fair
prospect.

As usual, Lady Martindale's reluctance had been overrated. John
found that she had never calculated on anything but Theodora's
marrying at once; she only observed that she supposed it could not be
helped, and she was glad her dear aunt was spared the sight.

'And you will not miss her so much when I am at home.'

'You, my dear; I am never so happy as when you are here; but I do not
depend on you. I should like you to spend this winter abroad, and
then we must have you in Parliament again.'

'If I were sure that you would be comfortable,' said John; 'but
otherwise I could not think of leaving you.'

'I was thinking,' said Lady Martindale, with the slowness of one
little wont to originate a scheme, 'how pleasant it would be, if we
could keep Arthur and Violet always with us. I cannot bear to part
with the dear children, and I am sure they will all be ill again if
they go back to London.'

'To live with us! exclaimed John. 'Really, mother, you have found
the best plan of all. Nothing could be better!'

'Do you think your father would approve?' said Lady Martindale,
eagerly.

'Let us propose it to him,' said John, and without further delay he
begged him to join the conference. The plan was so excellent that it
only seemed strange that it had occurred to no one before, combining
the advantages of giving Arthur's health a better chance; of country
air for the children, and of economy. Lord Martindale looked very
well pleased, though still a little doubtful, as he pondered, whether
there might not be some unseen objection, and to give himself time to
think, repeated, in answer to their solicitations, that it was a most
important step.

'For instance,' said he, as if glad to have recollected one argument
on the side of caution, 'you see, if they live here, we are in a
manner treating Johnnie as the acknowledged heir.'

'Exactly so,' replied John; 'and it will be the better for him, and
for the people. For my part--'

They were interrupted by Arthur's walking in from the garden. Lady
Martindale, too eager to heed that her lord would fain not broach the
question till his deliberations were mature, rose up at once,
exclaiming, 'Arthur my dear, I am glad you are come. We wish, when
Theodora leaves us, that you and your dear wife and children should
come and live at home always with us. Will you, my dear?' Arthur
looked from one to the other in amaze.

'It is a subject for consideration,' began Lord Martindale. 'I would
not act hastily, without knowing the sentiments of all concerned.'

'If you mean mine,' said John, 'I will finish what I was saying,--
that, for my part, a home is all that I can ever want; and that for
Arthur to afford me a share in his, and in his children's hearts,
would be the greatest earthly happiness that I can desire.'

'I am sure'--said Arthur, in a voice which, to their surprise, was
broken by a sob--'I am sure, John--you have every right. You have
made my home what it is.'

'Then he consents!' exclaimed Lady Martindale; 'I shall have Violet
always with me, and Helen.'

'Thank you, thank you, mother; but--' His eye was on his father.

'Your mother does not know what she is asking of you, Arthur,' said
Lord Martindale. 'I would not have you engage yourself without
consideration. Such arrangements as these must not be made to be
broken. For myself, it is only the extreme pleasure the project
gives me that makes me balance, lest I should overlook any objection.
To have your dear Violet for the daughter of our old age, and your
children round us, would, as John says, leave us nothing to wish.'

Arthur could only tremulously repeat his 'Thank you,' but there was a
hesitation that alarmed his mother. 'Your father wishes it, too,'
she eagerly entreated.

'Do not press him, Anna,' said Lord Martindale. 'I would not have
him decide hastily. It is asking a great deal of him to propose his
giving up his profession and his establishment.'

'It is not that,' said Arthur, turning gratefully to his father. 'I
should be glad to give up the army and live at home--there is nothing
I should like better; but the point is, that I must know what Violet
thinks of it.'

'Right! Of course, she must be consulted,' said Lord Martindale.

'You see,' said Arthur, speaking fast, as if conscious that he
appeared ungracious, 'it seems hard that she should have no house of
her own, to receive her family in. I had promised she should have
her sisters with her this winter, and I do not quite like to ask her
to give it up.'

'When the house is finished, and we have room,' began Lady
Martindale, 'the Miss Mosses shall be most welcome.'

'Thank you, thank you,' repeated Arthur. 'But besides, I do not know
how she will feel about the children. If we are to be here, it must
be on condition that she has the entire management of them to
herself.'

'Certainly,' again said his father. She has them in excellent
training, and it would be entirely contrary to my principles to
interfere.'

'Then, you see how it is,' said Arthur. 'I am quite willing. I know
it is what I do not deserve, and I am more obliged than I can say;
but all must depend upon Violet.'

He was going in quest of her, when the Rickworth carriage stopped at
the gate and prevented him. Poor Lady Martindale, when she had sent
her note of invitation to Lady Elizabeth and Emma to spend a long day
at Brogden, she little imagined how long the day would be to her
suspense. She could not even talk it over with any one but John, and
he did not feel secure of Violet's willingness. He said that, at one
time, she had been very shy and uncomfortable at Martindale, and that
he feared there was reason in what Arthur said about the children.
He suspected that Arthur thought that she would not like the scheme,
and supposed that he knew best.

'Cannot you try to prevail with her, dear John? You have great
influence.'

'I should not think it proper to persuade her. I trust to her
judgment to see what is best, and should be sorry to distress her by
putting forward my own wishes.'

This conversation took place while the younger ladies were walking in
the garden with Lady Elizabeth and her daughter. It was the first
time that Emma had been persuaded to come from home, and though she
could not be more quiet than formerly, there was less peculiarity in
her manner. She positively entered into the general conversation,
and showed interest in the farming talk between her mother and Lord
Martindale; but the children were her chief resource. And, though
affectionate and almost craving pardon from Violet,--drawing out from
her every particular about the little ones, and asking much about
Arthur's health, and Theodora's prospects,--she left a veil over the
matters that had so deeply concerned herself.

It was from Lady Elizabeth that the sisters heard what they wished to
know; and Theodora, on her side, imparted the information which Percy
had brought from London. He had been trying whether it were possible
to obtain payment of Mr. Gardner's heavy debts to Arthur, but had
been forced to relinquish the hope. So many creditors had claims on
him that, ample as was the fortune which Mrs. Finch's affection had
placed entirely in his power, there was little probability that he
would ever venture to return to England. No notice had been taken of
the demands repeatedly sent in, and Percy had learnt that he was
dissipating his wife's property very fast upon the Continent; so that
it was likely that, in a few years, Mr. Finch's hoards would be
completely gone. Report also spoke of his rewarding his wife's
affection with neglect and unkindness; and her sister, Mrs.
Fotheringham, declared that, having acted against warning, Georgina
must take the consequences, and could expect no assistance from
Worthbourne.

Mournfully Theodora spoke. It was a saddening thought in the midst
of her happiness, and it pressed the more heavily upon her from the
consciousness, that she had been looked up to by Georgina, and had,
in her pride and self-will, forfeited the chance of exerting any
beneficial influence. She perceived the contrast between the effect
of her own character on others, and that of Violet, and could by no
means feel herself guiltless of her poor playmate's sad history.
Still she cherished a secret hope that it might yet be permitted to
her to meet her again, and in the time of trouble to be of service to
her.

This, of course, was not for Lady Elizabeth's ears, but enough was
told her to make her again marvel over her daughter's past
infatuation, and express her thankfulness for the escape.

Emma's mind was gradually becoming tranquillized, though it had
suffered another severe shock from the tidings, that Theresa Marstone
had actually become a member of the Roman Catholic Church. A few
months ago, such intelligence might have unsettled Emma's principles,
as well as caused her deep grief; but the conviction of the undutiful
and uncandid part which Miss Marstone had led her to act, had shaken
her belief in her friend's infallibility; and in the safe and
wholesome atmosphere of her home, there had been a gradual
disenchantment. She saw Sarah Theresa in a true light, as a person
of excellent intentions, and of many right principles, but entirely
unconscious of her own foibles, namely, an overweening estimate of
self and of her own opinions, and a love of excitement and dominion.
These, growing more confirmed with her years, had resulted in the
desertion of her mother-church, under the expectation that elsewhere
she might find that ideal which existed only in her own imagination;
and Emma had been obliged to acknowledge, that had her work at the
Priory been hastily begun, according to her wishes, four years ago,
little could have resulted but mischief from such a coadjutor.

Emma's sense of folly and instability made her ready to submit to
another five years' probation; but to her surprise, her mother, whom
Miss Marstone had taught her to imagine averse to anything out of the
ordinary routine, was quite ready to promote her plans, and in fact
did much to turn her mind into that channel.

The orphans were doubled in numbers, and Emma spent much time in
attending to them, an old woman had been rescued from the Union, and
lodged in an adjoining room, as a 'granny' to the little girls,
giving the whole quite a family air; a homeless governess, in feeble
health, was on a visit, which Emma hoped would be prolonged
indefinitely, if she could be persuaded to believe herself useful to
the orphans. The inhabitants of the house were fast outstripping
their space in the parish church, and might soon be numerous enough
to necessitate the restoration of the ruin for their lodging. An
architect had been commissioned to prepare plans for the rebuilding
of the chapel at once, and Lady Elizabeth was on the watch for a
chaplain. Thus matters were actually in train for the fulfilment of
Emma's aspiration, spoken so long ago, that 'Sunday might come back
to Rickworth Priory.' Little had she then imagined that she should
see its accomplishment commence with so heavy a heart, and enter on
her own share of the toil with so little of hope and joy. Alas! they
had been wasted in the dreamy wanderings whither she had been led by
blind confidence in her self-chosen guide; and youthfulness and mirth
had been lost in her rude awakening and recall, lost never to return.
Yet in time the calmer joy of 'patient continuance in well-doing'
would surely arise upon her, and while working for her Master, His
hand would lighten her load.

So Violet felt comforted with regard to Emma; and as she stood at the
garden-gate with her sister-in-law in the clear, lovely summer night,
watching the carriage drive off, smiled as she said, 'How well all
has turned out! How strange to remember last time I parted with Lady
Elizabeth at Brogden, when I was almost equally anxious about Emma,
about you and Percy, and about our own affairs--to say nothing of the
dreariness for Annette!'

'When the sky is darkest the stars come out,' said Theodora. 'Yes,
the tide in the affairs of men has set most happily in our favour of
late; though I don't see our own way yet. John and my father both
say, that our marriage must be at once; and I have not made out which
is the worst, to desert my mother or to have my own way.'

'Which is your own way?' said Violet, archly.

'That is what provokes me! I don't know.'

'And which is Percy's?'

'Whichever mine is, which makes it all the worse. Violet! I wish
Helen could be put into the hot-house, and made a woman of at once.
Only, then, if Lord St. Erme is to have her, it would be equally
troublesome.'

'My dears, pray come in!' said Lady Martindale, in the porch. 'You
do not know how late it is.'

Her ladyship was in an unusual hurry to make them wish good night,
and come up-stairs. She followed Violet to her room, and in one
moment had begun:

'Violet, my dear, has Arthur told you?'

'He has told me nothing. What is it?'

'We all think, now Theodora is going to leave us, that it would be
the best way for you all to come and live at home with us. Lord
Martindale wishes it, and John, and every one. Will you, my dear?'

'How very kind!' exclaimed Violet. 'What does Arthur say?'

'Arthur says he is willing, but that it must depend on what you
like.' Then, perhaps taking Violet's bewildered looks for
reluctance, 'I am afraid, my dear, I have not always been as
affectionate as you deserved, and have not always tried to make you
comfortable.'

'Oh! no, no! Don't say so!'

'It was before I rightly knew you; and indeed it shall never be so
again. We are so comfortable now together; do not let us break it up
again, and take the poor dear children away to grow pale in London.
You shall have all you wish; I will never do anything you don't like
with the children; and all your family shall come and stay whenever
you please; only don't go away, dear Violet--I cannot spare you.'

'Oh! don't, dear grandmamma! This is too much,' said Violet, almost
crying. 'You are so very kind. Oh! I should be so glad for Arthur
to be spared the London winter! How happy the children will be!
Thank you, indeed.'

'You do consent, then!' cried Lady Martindale, triumphantly. 'John
thought we had not made you happy enough!'

'John should know better! It is the greatest relief--if Arthur likes
it, I mean.'

'Then you do stay. You will be, as Lord Martindale says, the
daughter of our old age--our own dear child!'

'Will I?' Violet threw her arms round Lady Martindale's neck, and
shed tears of joy.

Lady Martindale held her in her arms, and murmured caressing words.
Arthur's step approached. His mother opened the door and met him.
'She consents! Dear, dear Violet consents! Now we shall be happy.'

Arthur smiled, looked at his wife, understood her face, and replied
to his mother with a warm kiss, a thank you, and good night. She
went away in perfect satisfaction.

Your last, greatest victory, Violet,' said he. 'You have got at her
heart at last, and taught her to use it. But, do you like this
plan?'

'Like it? It is too delightful! If you knew how I have been
dreading that winter in London for your chest!'

'And saying nothing?'

'Because I thought there was nothing else to be done; but this--'

'Ay! I have told my father that, if we stay here, I hope he will
lessen my allowance. Even then, I can pay off something every year
of the debts that will be left after what would be cleared by the
price of my commission.'

'Oh, yes; we shall have scarcely any expense at all.'

'Dont agree to it, though, because you think I like it, if you do
not. Consider how you will get on with grandmamma and the children.
She makes promises; but as to trusting her not to spoil Helen--'

'She does not spoil her half as much as her papa does,' said Violet,
with a saucy smile. 'I'm not afraid. It is all love, you know, and
grandmamma is very kind to me, even when Helen is in disgrace. If we
can only be steady with her, I am sure another person to love her can
do her no harm in the end. And, oh! think of the children growing up
in the free happy country.'

'Ay, my father and John spoke of that,' said Arthur. 'John wishes it
very much. He says that all he could desire in this world is a share
in our home and in our children's hearts.'

'I don't know how it is that every one is so kind. Oh! it is too
much! it overflows!' Violet leant against her husband, shedding
tears of happiness.

'You silly little thing!' he said, fondling her: 'don't you know why?
You have won all their hearts.'

'I never meant to'--half sobbed Violet.

'No, you only meant to go on in your own sweet, modest way of
kindness and goodness; but you have done it, you see. You have won
every one of them over; and what is more, gained pardon for me, for
your sake. No, don't struggle against my saying so, for it is only
the truth. It was bad enough in me to marry you, innocent, unknowing
child as you were; but you turned it all to good. When I heard that
lesson on Sunday, about the husband and the believing wife, I thought
it was meant for you and me; for if ever now I do come to good, it is
owing to no one but you and that boy.'

'O, Arthur, I cannot bear such sayings. Would you--would you dislike
only just kneeling down with me, that we may give thanks for all this
happiness! Oh! what seemed like thorns and crosses have all turned
into blessings!'

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