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Heartsease or Brother's Wife by Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 4 out of 15

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'And you have been after sunset in that river fog! My dear John!'

'There was no fog; and it was a most pleasant drive. I had no idea
Rickworth was so pretty. Violet desired me to thank you for your
kind messages. You should see her to-day, mother; she would be quite
a study for you; she looks so pretty on her pillows, poor thing! and
Arthur is come out quite a new character--as an excellent nurse.'

'Poor thing! I am glad she is recovering,' said Lady Martindale.
'It was very kind in you to stay with Arthur. I only hope you have
not been hurting yourself.'

'No, thank you; I came away in time, I believe: but I should have
been glad to have stayed on, unless I made room for some one of more
use to Violet.'

'I wish you had come home sooner. We have had such a pleasant
dinner-party. You would have liked to meet the professor.'

It was not the first time John had been sensible that that drawing-
room was no place for sympathy; and he felt it the more now, because
he had been living in such entire participation of his brother's
hopes and fears, that he could hardly suppose any one could be less
interested in the mother and child in Cadogan-place. He came home,
wishing Theodora would go and relieve Arthur of some of the care
Violet needed in her convalescence; and he was much disappointed by
her apparent indifference--in reality, a severe fit of perverse
jealousy.

All dinner-time she endured a conversation on the subjects for which
she least cared; nay, she talked ardently about the past dinner-
party, for the very purpose of preventing John from suspecting that
her anxiety had prevented her from enjoying it. And when she left
the dining-room, she felt furious at knowing that now her father
would have all the particulars to himself, so that none would
transpire to her.

She longed so much to hear of Arthur and his child, that when John
came into the drawing-room she could have asked! But he went to
greet his aunt, who received him thus:

'Well, I am glad to see you at last. You ought to have good reasons
for coming to England for the May east winds, and then exposing
yourself to them in London!'

'I hope I did not expose myself: I only went out three or four
times.'

'I know you are always rejoiced to be as little at home as possible.'

'I could not be spared sooner, ma'am.'

'Spared? I think you have come out in a new capacity.'

John never went up his aunt without expecting to undergo a penance.

'I was sorry no one else could be with Arthur, but being there, I
could not leave him.'

'And your mother tells me you are going back again.'

'Yes, to stand godfather.'

'To the son and heir, as they called him in the paper. I gave Arthur
credit for better taste; I suppose it was done by some of her
connections?'

'I was that connection,' said John.

'Oh! I suppose you know what expectations you will raise?'

John making no answer, she grew more angry. 'This one, at least, is
never likely to be heir, from what I hear; it is only surprising that
it is still alive.'

How Theodora hung upon the answer, her very throat aching with
anxiety, but hardening her face because John looked towards her.

'We were very much afraid for him at first,' he said, 'but they now
think there is no reason he should not do well. He began to improve
from the time she could attend to him.'

A deep sigh from his mother startled John, and recalled the grief of
his childhood--the loss of two young sisters who had died during her
absence on the continent. He crossed over and stood near her,
between her and his aunt, who, in agitated haste to change the
conversation, called out to ask her about some club-book. For once
she did not attend; and while Theodora came forward and answered Mrs.
Nesbit, she tremulously asked John if he had seen the child.

'Only once, before he was an hour old. He was asleep when I came
away; and, as Arthur says, it is a serious thing to disturb him, he
cries so much.'

'A little low melancholy wailing,' she said, with a half sob. But
Mrs. Nesbit would not leave her at peace any longer, and her voice
came beyond the screen of John's figure:--

'Lady Martindale, my dear, have you done with those books! They
ought to be returned.'

'Which, dear aunt?' And Lady Martindale started up as if she had
been caught off duty, and, with a manifest effort, brought her
wandering thoughts back again, to say which were read and which were
unread.

John did not venture to revert to a subject that affected his mother
so strongly; but he made another attempt upon his sister, when he
could speak to her apart. 'Arthur has been wondering not to hear
from you.'

'Every one has been writing,' she answered, coldly.

'He wants some relief from his constant attendance,' continued John;
'I was afraid at first it would be too much for him, sitting up three
nights consecutively, and even now he has not at all recovered his
looks.'

'Is he looking ill?' said Theodora.

'He has gone through a great deal, and when she tries to make him go
out, he only goes down to smoke. You would do a great deal of good
if you were there.'

Theodora would not reply. For Arthur to ask her to come and be
godmother was the very thing she wished; but she would not offer at
John's bidding, especially when Arthur was more than ever devoted to
his wife; so she made no sign; and John repented of having said so
much, thinking that, in such a humour, the farther she was from them
the better.

Yet what he had said might have worked, had not a history of the
circumstances of Violet's illness come round to her by way of Mrs.
Nesbit. John had told his father; Lord Martindale told his wife;
Lady Martindale told her aunt, under whose colouring the story
reached Theodora, that Arthur's wife had been helpless and
inefficient, had done nothing but cry over her household affairs,
could not bear to be left alone, and that the child's premature birth
had been occasioned by a fit of hysterics because Arthur had gone out
fishing. No wonder Theodora pitied the one brother, and thought the
other infatuated. To write to Arthur was out of the question; and
she could only look forward to consoling him when the time for London
should come. Nor was she much inclined to compassionate John, when,
as he said, the east wind--as his aunt said, the London fog--as she
thought, the Rickworth meadows--brought on such an accession of cough
that he was obliged to confine himself to his two rooms, where he
felt unusually solitary.

She went in one day to carry him the newspaper. 'I am writing to
Arthur,' he said, 'to tell him that I shall not be able to be in
London next Sunday; do you like to put in a note?'

'No, I thank you.'

'You have no message?'

'None.'

He paused and looked at her. 'I wish you would write,' he said.
'Arthur has been watching eagerly for your congratulation.'

'He does not give much encouragement,' said Theodora, moving to the
door.

'I wish he was a letter writer! After being so long with them, I
don't like hearing nothing more; but his time has been so much
engrossed that he could hardly have written at first. I believe the
first letter he looked for was from you.'

'I don't know what to say. Other people have said all the
commonplace things.'

'You would not speak in that manner--you who used to be so fond of
Arthur--if you by any means realized what he has gone through.'

Theodora was touched, but would not show it. 'He does not want me
now,' she said, and was gone, and then her lips relaxed, and she
breathed a heavy sigh.

John sighed too. He could not understand her, and was sensible that
his own isolation was as a consequence of having lived absorbed in
his affection and his grief, without having sought the intimacy of
his sister. His brother's family cares had, for the first time, led
him to throw himself into the interests of those around him, and thus
aroused from the contemplation of his loss, he began to look with
regret on opportunities neglected and influence wasted. The
stillness of his own room did not as formerly suffice to him; the
fears and hopes he had lately been sharing rose more vividly before
him, and he watched eagerly for the reply to his letter.

It came, not from Arthur, but in the pointed style of Violet's
hardest steel pen, when Matilda's instructions were most full in her
mind; stiff, cramped, and formal, as if it had been a great effort to
write it, and John was grieved to find that she was still in no state
for exertion. She had scarcely been down-stairs, and neither she nor
the baby were as yet likely to be soon able to leave the house, in
spite of all the kind care of Lady Elizabeth and Miss Brandon.
Violet made numerous apologies for the message, which she had little
thought would cause Mr. Martindale to alter his route.

In fact, those kind friends had been so much affected by John's
account of Violet's weak state, under no better nursing than
Arthur's, that, as he had hoped, they had hastened their visit to
London, and were now settled as near to her as possible, spending
nearly the whole of their time with her. Emma almost idolized the
baby, and was delighted at Arthur's grateful request that she would
be its sponsor, and Violet was as happy in their company as the
restlessness of a mind which had not yet recovered its tone, would
allow her to be.

In another fortnight John. wrote to say that he found he had come
home too early, and must go to the Isle of Wight till the weather was
warmer. In passing through London, he would come to Cadogan-place,
and it was decided that he should arrive in time to go with the baby
to church on the Tuesday, and proceed the next morning.

He arrived as Violet came down to greet her party of sponsors. Never
had she looked prettier than when her husband led her into the room,
her taper figure so graceful in her somewhat languid movements, and
her countenance so sweetly blending the expression of child and
mother. Each white cheek was tinged with exquisite rose colour, and
the dark liquid eyes and softly smiling mouth had an affectionate
pensiveness far lovelier than her last year's bloom, and yet there
was something painful in that beauty--it was too like the fragility
of the flower fading under one hour's sunshine; and there was a
sadness in seeing the matronly stamp on a face so young that it
should have shown only girlhood's freedom from care. Arthur indeed
was boasting of the return of the colour, which spread and deepened
as he drew attention to it; but John and Lady Elizabeth agreed, as
they walked to church, that it was the very token of weakness, and
that with every kind intention Arthur did not know how to take care
of her--how should he?

The cheeks grew more brilliant and burning at church, for on being
carried to the font, the baby made his doleful notes heard, and when
taken from his nurse, they rose into a positive roar. Violet looked
from him to his father's face, and there saw so much discomposure
that her wretchedness was complete, enhanced as it was by a sense of
wickedness in not being able to be happy and grateful. Just as when
a few days previously she had gone to return thanks, she had been in
a nervous state of fluttering and trembling that allowed her to dwell
on nothing but the dread of fainting away. The poor girl's nerves
had been so completely overthrown, that even her powers of mind
seemed to be suffering, and her agitated manner quite alarmed Lady
Elizabeth. She was in good hands, however; Lady Elizabeth went home
with her, kept every one else away, and nursing her in her own kind
way, brought her back to common sense, for in the exaggeration of her
weak spirits, she had been feeling as if it was she who had been
screaming through the service, and seriously vexing Arthur.

He presently looked in himself to say the few fond merry words that
were only needed to console her, and she was then left alone to rest,
not tranquil enough for sleep, but reading hymns, and trying to draw
her thoughts up to what she thought they ought to be on the day of
her child's baptismal vows.

It was well for her that the christening dinner (a terror to her
imagination) had been deferred till the family should be in town, and
that she had no guest but John, who was very sorry to see how weary
and exhausted she looked, as if it was a positive effort to sit at
the head of the table.

When the two brothers came up to the drawing-room, they found her on
the sofa.

'Regularly done for!' said Arthur, sitting down by her. 'You ought
to have gone to bed, you perverse woman.'

'I shall come to life after tea,' said she, beginning to rise as
signs of its approach were heard.

'Lie still, I say,' returned Arthur, settling the cushion. 'Do you
think no one can make tea but yourself! Out with the key, and lie
still.'

'I hope, Violet,' said John, 'you did not think the Red Republicans
had been in your drawers and boxes. I am afraid Arthur may have cast
the blame of his own doings on the absent, though I assure you I did
my best to protect them.'

'Indeed he did you more justice,' said Violet, 'he told me the box
was your setting to rights, and the drawer his. It was very honest
of him, for I must say the box did you most credit.'

'As to the drawer,' said Arthur, 'I wish I had put it into the fire
at once! Those accounts are a monomania! She has been worse from
the day she got hold of that book of hers again, and the absurd part
of it is that these are all bills that she pays!'

'Oh! they are all comfortable now,' said Violet.

'And what did you say to Arthur's bold stroke!' said John.

'Oh! I never laughed more in my life.'

'Ah ha'' said Arthur, 'it was all my admirable sagacity! Why, John,
the woman was an incubus saddled upon us by Miss Standaloft, that
this poor silly child did not know how to get rid of, though she was
cheating us out of house and home. Never were such rejoicings as
when she found the Old Man of the Sea was gone!'

'It is quite a different thing now,' said Violet. 'Nurse found me
such a nice niece of her own, who does not consume as much in a
fortnight as that dreadful woman did in a week. Indeed, my great
book has some satisfaction in it now.'

'And yet he accuses it of having thrown you back.'

'Everything does that!' said Arthur. 'She will extract means of
tiring herself out of anything--pretends to be well, and then is good
for nothing!'

'Arthur! Arthur! do you know what you are doing with the tea?' cried
Violet, starting up. He has put in six shellfuls for three people,
and a lump of sugar, and now was shutting up the unfortunate teapot
without one drop of water!' And gaily driving him away, she held up
the sugar-tongs with the lump of sugar in his face, while he laughed
and yielded the field, saying, disdainfully, 'Woman's work.'

'Under the circumstances,' said John, 'putting in no water was the
best thing he could do.'

'Ay,' said Arthur, 'a pretty fellow you for a West Indian proprietor,
to consume neither sugar nor cigars.'

'At this rate,' said John, 'they are the people to consume nothing.
There was such an account of the Barbuda property the other day, that
my father is thinking of going to see what is to be done with it.'

'No bad plan for your next winter,' said Arthur. 'Now, Violet, to
your sofa! You have brewed your female potion in your female
fashion, and may surely leave your betters to pour it out.'

'No, indeed! How do I know what you may serve us up?' said she,
quite revived with laughing. 'I won't give up my place.'

'Quite right, Violet,' said John, 'don't leave me to his mercy. Last
time he made tea for me, it consisted only of the other ingredient,
hot water, after which I took the law into my own hands for our
mutual benefit. Pray what became of him after I was gone?'

'I was obliged to have him up into my room, and give him his tea
properly there, or I believe he would have existed on nothing but
cigars.'

'Well, I shall have some opinion of you when you make him leave off
cigars.'

'Catch her!' quietly responded Arthur.

'There can't be a worse thing for a man that gets bad coughs.'

'That's all smoke, Violet,' said Arthur. 'Don't tell her so, or I
shall never have any peace.'

'At least, I advise you to open the windows of his den before you
show my mother and Theodora the house.'

'As to Theodora! what is the matter with her!' said Arthur.

'I don't know,' said John.

'In one of her moods? Well, we shall have her here in ten days' time,
and I shall know what to be at with her.'

'I know she likes babies,' said Violet, with confidence. She had
quite revived, and was lively and amused; but as soon as tea was
over, Arthur insisted on her going to bed.

The loss of her gentle mirth seemed to be felt, for a long silence
ensued; Arthur leaning against the mantel-shelf, solacing himself
with a low whistle, John sitting in meditation. At last he looked
up, saying, 'I wish you would all come and stay with me at Ventnor.'

'Thank you; but you see there's no such thing as my going. Fitzhugh
is in Norway, and till he comes back, I can't get away for more than
a day or two.'

'Suppose,' said John, rather doubtingly; 'what should you think of
putting Violet under my charge, and coming backwards and forwards
yourself?'

'Why, Harding did talk of sea air, but she did not take to the
notion; and I was not sorry; for, of all things I detest, the chief
is sticking up in a sea place, with nothing to do. But it is
wretched work going on as we do, though they say there is nothing the
matter but weakness. I verily believe it is all that child's eternal
noise that regularly wears her out. She is upset in a moment; and
whenever she is left alone, she sets to work on some fidget or other
about the house, that makes her worse than before.'

'Going from home would be the best cure for that.'

'I suppose it would. I meant her to have gone out with my mother,
but that can't be anyway now! The sea would give her a chance; I
could run down pretty often; and you would see that she did not tire
herself.'

'I would do my best to take care of her, if you would trust her to
me.'

'I know you would; and it is very kind in you to think of it.'

'I will find a house, and write as soon as it is ready. Do you think
the end of the week would be too soon for her? I am sure London is
doing her harm.'

'Whenever you please; and yet I am sorry. I wanted my father to have
seen the boy; but perhaps he had better look a little more
respectable, and learn to hold his tongue first. Besides, how will
it be taken, her going out of town just as they come up?'

'I rather think it would be better for her not to meet them till she
is stronger. Her continual anxiety and effort to please would be too
much strain.'

'Very likely; and I am sure I won't keep her here to expose her to
Miss Martindale's airs. She shall come as soon as you like.'

Arthur was strengthened in his determination by the first sound that
met him on going up-stairs--the poor babe's lamentable voice; and by
finding Violet, instead of taking the rest she so much needed, vainly
trying to still the feeble moaning. He was positively angry; and
almost as if the poor little thing had been wilfully persecuting her,
declared it would be the death of her, and peremptorily ordered it
up-stairs; the nurse only too glad to carry it off, and agreeing with
him that it was doing more harm to its mother than she did good to
it. Violet, in submissive misery, gave it up, and hid her face. One
of her chief subjects for self-torment was an imagination that Arthur
did not like the baby, and was displeased with its crying; and she
felt utterly wretched, hardly able to bear the cheerful tone in which
he spoke! 'Well, Violet, we shall soon set you up. It is all
settled. You are to go, at the end of the week, to stay with John in
the Isle of Wight.'

'Go away?' said Violet, in an extinguished voice.

'Yes; it is the very thing for you. I shall stay here, and go
backwards and forwards. Well, what is it now?'

She was starting up, as the opening of the door let out another
scream. 'There he is still! Let me go to him for one minute.'

'Folly!' said Arthur, impatiently. 'There's no peace day or night.
I won't stand it any longer. You are half dead already. I will not
have it go on. Lie down; go to sleep directly, and don't trouble
your head about anything more till morning.'

Like a good child, though choking with tears, she obeyed the first
mandate; and presently was rather comforted by his listening at the
foot of the stairs, and reporting that the boy seemed to be quiet at
last. The rest of the order it was not in her power to obey; she was
too much fatigued to sleep soundly, or to understand clearly. Most
of the night was spent in broken dreams of being separated from her
child and her husband, and wakening to the knowledge that something
was going to happen.

At last came sounder slumbers; and she awoke with an aching head, but
to clearer perceptions. And when Arthur, before going down to
breakfast, asked what she wished him to say to John, she answered:
'It is very kind of him--but you never meant me to go without you?'

'I shall take you there, and run down pretty often; and John has been
used to coddling himself all his life, so of course he will know how
to take care of you.'

'How kind he is, but I don't'--she broke off, and looked at the
little pinched face and shrivelled arms of the tiny creature, which
she pressed more closely to her; then, with a hesitating voice,
'Only, if it would do baby good!'

'Of course it would. He can't be well while things go on at this
rate. Only ask Harding.'

'I wonder whether Mr. Martindale knew it was what Mr. Harding
recommended! But you would be by yourself.'

'As if I had not taken care of myself for three-and-twenty years
without your help!'

'And all your party will be in town, so that you will not miss me.'

'I shall be with you very often. Shall I tell John you accept?'

'Tell him it is very kind, and I am so much obliged to him,' said
Violet, unable to speak otherwise than disconsolately.

Accordingly the brothers agreed that Arthur should bring her to
Ventnor on Saturday, if, as John expected, he could be prepared to
receive her; placing much confidence in Brown's savoir faire, though
Brown was beyond measure amazed at such a disarrangement of his
master's methodical habits; and Arthur himself gave a commiserating
shake of the head as he observed that there was no accounting for
tastes, but if John chose to shut himself up in a lodging with the
most squallingest babby in creation, he was not the man to gainsay
him; and further reflected, that if a man must be a younger son, John
was a model elder brother.

Poor Violet! Her half-recovered state must be an excuse for her dire
consternation on hearing it was definitively settled that she was to
be carried off to Ventnor in four days' time! How arrange for
Arthur? Where find a nursemaid? What would become of the baby so
far from Mr. Harding? The Isle of Wight seemed the ends of the
earth--out of England! Helpless and overpowered, she was in despair;
it came to Arthur's asking, in displeasure, what she wanted--whether
she meant to go or not. She thought of her drooping infant, and said
at once she would go.

'Well, then, what's all this about?'

Then came tears, and Arthur went away, declaring she did not know
herself what she would be at. He had really borne patiently with
much plaintiveness, and she knew it. She accused herself of
ingratitude and unreasonableness, and went into a fresh agony on that
score; but soon a tap at the door warned her to strive for composure.
It was Sarah, and Violet felt sure that the dreaded moment was come
of her giving warning; but it was only a message. 'If you please,
maam, there's a young person wants to see you.'

'Come as a nursery maid?' said Violet, springing up in her nervous
agitated way. 'Do you think she will do?'

'I don't think nothing of her,' said Sarah, emphatically. 'Don't you
go and be in a way, ma'am; there's no hurry.'

'Yes, but there is, Sarah. Baby and I are to go next Saturday to the
Isle of Wight, and I can't take old nurse. I must have some one.'

'You won't get nobody by hurrying,' said Sarah.

'But what's to be done, Sarah? I can't bear giving the dear baby to
a stranger, but I can't help it.'

'As for that, said Sarah, gloomily, 'I don't see but I could look
after Master John as well as any that is like to offer for the
present.'

'You! Oh, that would be nice! But I thought you did not like
children?'

'I don't, but I don't mind while he is too little to make a racket,
and worrit one out of one's life. It is only for the present, till
you can suit yourself, ma'am--just that you may not be lost going
into foreign parts with a stranger.'

Sarah had been nursing the baby every leisure moment, and had, during
the worst part of Violet's illness, had more to do with him than the
regular nurse. This was happily settled, and all at which Violet
still demurred was how the house and its master should be provided
for in their absence; to which Sarah replied, 'Mary would do well
enough for he;' and before Violet knew to which she must suppose the
pronoun referred, there was a new-comer, Lady Elizabeth, telling her
that Arthur had just been to beg her to come to her, saying he feared
he had hurried her and taken her by surprise.

Under such kind soothing Violet's rational mind returned. She ceased
to attempt to put herself into a vehement state of preparation, and
began to take so cheerful a view of affairs that she met Arthur again
in excellent spirits.

Emma Brandon pitied her for being left alone with Mr. Martindale, but
this was no subject of dread to her, and she confessed that she was
relieved to escape the meeting with the rest of the family. The
chief regret was, that the two friends would miss the constant
intercourse with which they had flattered themselves--the only thing
that made London endurable to poor Emma. She amused Violet with her
lamentations over her gaieties, and her piteous accounts of the
tedium of parties and balls; whereas Violet declared that she liked
them very much.

'It was pleasant to walk about with Arthur and hear his droll
remarks, and she liked seeing people look nice and well dressed.'

'Ah! you are better off. You are not obliged to dance, and you are
safe, too. Now, whenever any one asks to be introduced to me I am
sure he wants the Priory, and feel bound to guard it.'

'And so you don't like any one, and find it stupid?'

'So I do, of course, and I hope I always shall. But oh! Violet, I
have not told you that I saw that lady again this morning at the
early service. She had still her white dress on, I am sure it is for
Whitsuntide; and her face is so striking--so full of thought and
earnestness, just like what one would suppose a novice. I shall take
her for my romance, and try to guess at her history.'

'To console you for your godson going away?'

'Ah! it won't do that! But it will be something to think of, and I
will report to you if I make out any more about her. And mind you
give me a full account of the godson.'

Arthur wished the journey well over; he had often felt a sort of
superior pity for travellers with a baby in company, and did not
relish the prospect; but things turned out well; he found an
acquaintance, and travelled with him in a different carriage, and
little Johnnie, lulled by the country air, slept so much that Violet
had leisure to enjoy the burst into country scenery, and be refreshed
by the glowing beauty of the green meadows, the budding woods, and
the brilliant feathery broom blossoms that gilded the embankments.
At Winchester Arthur came to her window, and asked if she remembered
last year.

'It is the longest year of my life,' said she. 'Oh, don't laugh as
if I had made a bad compliment, but so much has happened!' There was
no time for more; and as she looked out at the cathedral as they
moved on, she recollected her resolutions, and blamed herself for her
failures, but still in a soothed and happier frame of hope.

The crossing was her delight, her first taste of sea. There was a
fresh wind, cold enough to make Arthur put on his great-coat, but to
her it brought a delicious sense of renewed health and vigour, as she
sat inhaling it, charmed to catch a drop of spray on her face, her
eyes and cheeks brightening and her spirits rising.

The sparkling Solent, the ships at Spithead, the hills and wooded
banks, growing more defined before her; the town of Ryde and its long
pier, were each a new wonder and delight, and she exclaimed with such
ecstasy, and laughed so like the joyous girl she used to be, that
Arthur felt old times come back; and when he handed her out of the
steamer he entirely forgot the baby.

At last she was tired with pleasure, and lay back in the carriage in
languid enjoyment; fields, cottages, hawthorns, lilacs, and glimpses
of sea flitting past her like pictures in a dream, a sort of waking
trance that would have been broken by speaking or positive thinking.

They stopped at a gate: she looked up and gave a cry of delight.
Such a cottage as she and Annette had figured in dreams of rural
bliss, gable-ends, thatch, verandah overrun with myrtle, rose, and
honeysuckle, a little terrace, a steep green slope of lawn shut in
with laburnum and lilac, in the flush of the lovely close of May, a
view of the sea, a green wicket, bowered over with clematis, and
within it John Martindale, his look of welcome overpowering his usual
gravity, so as to give him an air of gladness such as she had never
seen in him before.

CHAPTER 4

The inmost heart of man if glad
Partakes a livelier cheer,
And eyes that cannot but be sad
Let fall a brightened tear.
Since thy return, through days and weeks
Of hope that grew by stealth,
How many wan and faded cheeks
Have kindled into health.--WORDSWORTH'S Ode to May

'I say,' called Arthur, standing half in and half out of the French
window, as Sarah paced round the little garden, holding a parasol
over her charge, 'if that boy kicks up a row at night, don't mind
Mrs. Martindale. Carry him off, and lock the door. D'ye hear?'

'Yes, sir,' said the unmoved Sarah.

'Stern, rugged nurse!' said Arthur, drawing in his head. 'Your boy
ought to be virtue itself, Violet. Now for you, John, if you see her
at those figures, take them away. Don't let her think what two and
two make.'

'You are like one of my little sisters giving her doll to the other
to keep,' said Violet.

'Some folks say it is a doll, don't they, John?'

'Well, I will try to take as much care of your doll as she does of
hers,' said John, smiling.

'Good-bye, then! I wish I could stay!'

Violet went to the gate with him, while John stood at the window
watching the slender girlish figure under the canopy of clematis, as
she stood gazing after her husband, then turned and slowly paced back
again, her eyes on the ground, and her face rather sad and downcast.

That pretty creature was a strange new charge for him, and he dreaded
her pining almost as he would have feared the crying of a child left
alone with him.

'Well, Violet,' said he, cheerfully, 'we must do our best. What time
would you like to take a drive?'

'Any time, thank you,' said she, gratefully, but somewhat
plaintively; 'but do not let me be a trouble to you. Sarah is going
to hire a chair for me to go down to the beach. I only want not to
be in your way.'

'I have nothing to do. You know I am no great walker, and I am glad
of an excuse for setting up my carriage. Shall we dine early, and go
out when the sun is not so high?'

'Thank you! that will be delightful. I want to see those beautiful
places that I was too tired to look at on Saturday.'

Sarah's rounds again brought her in sight; Violet crossed the grass,
and the next moment was under the verandah with the little long-robed
chrysalis shape in her arms, declaring he was growing quite good, and
getting fat already; and though to John's eyes the face was as much
as ever like a very wizened old man, he could not but feel heartfelt
pleasure in seeing her for once enjoying a young mother's exultation.

'Poor thing!' said he to himself, as she carried the babe upstairs,
'she has done too much, thought too much, felt too much for her
years. Life has begun before she has strength for the heat and
burthen of the day. The only hope is in keeping those overtasked
spirits at rest, guarding her from care, and letting her return to
childhood. And should this work fall on me, broken down in spirits
and energy, with these long-standing habits of solitude and silence?
If Helen was but here!'

He was relieved by Violet's reappearance at dinner-time, full of
smiles, proud of Johnnie's having slept half the morning, and
delighted with "Mary Barton", which, on his system of diversion for
her mind, he had placed in her way. She was amazed and charmed at
finding that he could discuss the tale with interest and admiration.

'Arthur calls such books trash,' said she.

'He reads them, though.'

'Yes, he always reads the third volume while I read the first.'

'The best way. I always begin at the end to judge whether a book is
worth reading.'

'I saw a French book on the table; are you reading it?'

'Consulting it. You are welcome to it.'

'I think,' she said, timidly, 'I ought to read some history and
French, or I shall never be fit to teach my little boy.'

'I have a good many books at home, entirely at your service.'

'Thank you, thank you! I thought last winter if I could but have
read, I should not have minded half so much.'

'And why could you not?'

'I had finished all my own books, and they cost too much to hire, so
there was only a great Roman History that Arthur had had at school.
I could not read more than thirty pages of that a day, it was so
stupid.'

'And you read those as a task! Very wise!'

'Matilda said my education was incomplete, and she feared I should be
found deficient; and mamma told me to make a point of reading
something improving every day, but I have not begun again.'

'I have some work on my hands,' said John. 'I was with Percy
Fotheringham eight years ago in Syria and Asia Minor. He has gone
over the same places a second time, and has made the journals up into
a book on the Crusaders, which he has sent from Constantinople for me
to get ready for publication. I shall come to you for help.'

'Me! How can I?' exclaimed Violet, colouring with astonishment.

'Let us enjoy our holiday first,' he replied, smiling. 'See there.'

A low open carriage and a pair of ponies came to the gate; Violet was
enchanted, and stood admiring and patting them, while John looked on
amused, telling her he was glad she approved, for he had desired
Brown to find something in which Captain Martindale would not be
ashamed to see her.

They drove along the Undercliff, and her enjoyment was excessive.
To one so long shut up in town, the fresh air, blue sky, and green
trees were charms sufficient in themselves, and when to these were
added the bright extent of summer sea, the beautiful curving outline
of the bay ending in the bold Culver Cliffs, and the wall of rocks
above, clothed in part with garland-like shrubs and festoons of
creepers, it was to her a perfect vision of delight. There was an
alternation of long pauses of happy contemplation, and of smothered
exclamations of ecstasy, as if eye and heart were longing to take a
still fuller grasp of the beauty of the scene. The expression her
face had worn at the cathedral entrance was on it now, and seemed to
put a new soul into her features, varied by the beaming smiles as she
cried out joyously at each new object-the gliding sails on the water,
the curious forms of the crags, or the hawks that poised themselves
in the air.

The flowers, too! They came to a lane bordered with copse, blue with
wild hyacinth. 'Oh! it was so long since she had seen a wild flower!
Would he be so kind as to stop for one moment to let her gather one.
She did so much wish to pick a flower for herself once more!'

He drew up, and sat, leaning back, watching her with one of his
smiles of melancholy meaning, as she lightly sprang up the bank, and
dived between the hazel stems; and there he remained musing till,
like a vision of May herself, she reappeared on the bank, the nut-
bushes making a bower around her, her hands filled with flowers, her
cheek glowing like her wild roses, and the youthful delicacy of her
form, and the transient brightness of her sweet face, suiting with
the fresh tender colouring of the foliage, chequered with flickering
sunshine.

'Oh! I hope I have not kept you waiting too long! but, indeed, I did
not know how to turn back. I went after an orchis, and then I saw
some Solomon's seal; and oh! such bluebells, and I could not help
standing quite still to feel how delicious it was! I hope that it was
not long.'

'No, not at all, I am glad.'

There was a moisture around the bright eyes, and perhaps she felt a
little childish shame, for she put up her hand to brush it off. 'It
is very silly,' she said. 'Beautiful places ought not to make one
ready to cry--and yet somehow, when I stood quite still, and it was
all so green, and I heard the cuckoo and all the little birds
singing, it would come over me! I could not help thinking who made
it all so beautiful, and that He gave me my baby too.'--And there, as
having said too much, she blushed in confusion, and began to busy
herself with her flowers, delighting herself in silence over each
many-belled hyacinth, each purple orchis, streaked wood sorrel, or
delicate wreath of eglantine, deeming each in turn the most perfect
she had ever seen.

John let her alone; he thought the May blossoms more suitable
companions for her than himself, and believed that it would only
interfere with that full contentment to be recalled to converse with
him. It was pleasure enough to watch that childlike gladsomeness,
like studying a new life, and the relief it gave him to see her so
happy perhaps opened his mind to somewhat of the same serene
enjoyment.

That evening, when Brown, on bringing in the tea, gave an anxious
glance to judge how his master fared, he augured from his countenance
that the change of habits was doing him no harm.

In the evening, Mr. Fotheringham's manuscript was brought out: John
could never read aloud, but he handed over the sheets to her, and she
enjoyed the vivid descriptions and anecdotes of adventures, further
illustrated by comments and details from John, far more entertaining
than those designed for the public. This revision was their usual
evening occupation, and she soon became so well instructed in those
scenes, that she felt as if she had been one of the travellers, and
had known the handsome Arab sheik, whose chivalrous honour was only
alloyed by desire of backsheesh, the Turkish guard who regularly
deserted on the first alarm, and the sharp knavish Greek servant with
his contempt for them all, more especially for the grave and correct
Mr. Brown, pining to keep up Martindale etiquette in desert,
caravanserai, and lazzeretto. She went along with them in the
researches for Greek inscription, Byzantine carving, or Frank
fortress; she shared the exultation of deciphering the ancient record
in the venerable mountain convent, the disappointment when Percy's
admirable entrenched camp of Bohemond proved to be a case of
'praetorian here, praetorian there;' she listened earnestly to the
history, too deeply felt to have been recorded for the general
reader, of the feelings which had gone with the friends to the cedars
of Lebanon, the streams of Jordan, the peak of Tabor, the cave of
Bethlehem, the hills of Jerusalem. Perhaps she looked up the more to
John, when she knew that he had trod that soil, and with so true a
pilgrim's heart. Then the narration led her through the purple
mountain islets of the Archipelago, and the wondrous scenery of
classic Greece, with daring adventures among robber Albanians, such
as seemed too strange for the quiet inert John Martindale, although
the bold and gay temper of his companion appeared to be in its own
element; and in truth it was as if there was nothing that came amiss
to Percival Fotheringham, who was equally ready for deep and
scholarly dissertation, or for boyish drollery and good-natured
tricks. He had a peculiar talent for languages, and had caught
almost every dialect of the natives, as well as being an excellent
Eastern scholar, and this had led to his becoming attached to the
embassy at Constantinople, where John had left him on returning to
England. He was there highly esteemed, and in the way of promotion,
to the great satisfaction of John, who took a sort of affectionate
fatherly pride in his well-doing.

The manuscript evinced so much ability and research, and was so full
of beautiful and poetical description, as not only charmed Violet,
but surpassed even John's expectations; and great was his delight in
dwelling on its perfections, while he touched it up and corrected it
with a doubtful, respectful hand, scarcely perceiving how effective
were his embellishments and refinements. Violet's remarks and
misunderstanding were useful, and as she grew bolder, her criticisms
were often much to the point. She was set to search in historical
authorities, and to translate from the French for the notes, work
which she thought the greatest honour, and which kept her mind
happily occupied to the exclusion of her cares.

Fresh air, busy idleness, the daily renewed pleasure of beautiful
scenery, the watchful care of her kind brother, and the progressive
improvement of her babe, produced the desired effect; and when the
promised day arrived, and they walked to the coach-office to meet
Arthur, it was a triumph to hear him declare that he had been
thinking that for once he saw a pretty girl before he found out it
was Violet, grown rosy in her sea-side bonnet.

If the tenor of John's life had been far less agreeable, it would
have been sufficiently compensated by the pleasure of seeing how
happy he had made the young couple, so joyously engrossed with each
other, and full of spirits and merriment.

Violet was gladsome and blithe at meeting her husband again, and
Arthur, wholesomely and affectionately gay, appearing to uncommon
advantage. He spoke warmly of his father. It seemed that they had
been much together, and had understood each other better than ever
before. Arthur repeated gratifying things which Lord Martindale had
said of Violet, and, indeed, it was evident that interest in her was
the way to find out his heart. Of his mother and sister there was
less mention, and John began to gather the state of the case as he
listened in the twilight of the summer evening, while Arthur and
Violet sat together on the sofa, and he leant back in his chair
opposite to them, his book held up to catch the fading light; but his
attention fixed on their talk over Arthur's news.

'You have not told me about the drawing-room.'

'Do you think I am going there till I am obliged!'

'What! You did not go with Lady Martindale and Theodora? I should
like to have seen them dressed. Do tell me how they looked.'

'Splendid, no doubt; but you must take it on trust.'

'You did not see them! What a pity! How disappointed Theodora must
have been!'

'Were there not folks enough to look at her?'

'As if they were of any use without you.'

'Little goose! I am not her husband, thank goodness, and wishing him
joy that gets her.'

'O, Arthur, don't! I want to hear of Lady Albury's party. You did
go to that!'

'Yes, my mother lugged me into it, and a monstrous bore it was.
I wish you had been there.'

'Thank you, but if it was so dull--'

'Emma Brandon and I agreed that there was not a woman who would have
been looked at twice if you had been there. We wanted you for a
specimen of what is worth seeing. Fancy! it was such a dearth of
good looks that they were making a star of Mrs. Finch! It was enough
to put one in a rage. I told Theodora at last, since she would have
it, there was nothing in the woman but impudence.'

John glanced over his book, and perceived that to Arthur there
appeared profanation in the implied comparison of that flashy display
of beauty with the pure, modest, tender loveliness, whose every blush
and smile, as well as the little unwonted decorations assumed to
honour his presence, showed, that its only value was the pleasure it
gave to him. His last speech made her tone somewhat of reproof.
'Oh! that must have vexed her, I am afraid. She is very fond of Mrs.
Finch.'

'Out of opposition,' said Arthur. 'It is too bad, I declare! That
Georgina was well enough as a girl, spirited and like Theodora, only
Theodora always had sense. She was amusing then, but there is
nothing so detestable as a woman who continues "fast" after
marriage.'

'Except a man,' observed John, in a tone of soliloquy. 'She has
grown so thin, too!' continued Arthur. 'She used to be tolerably
handsome when she was a fine plump rosy girl. Now she is all red
cheek-bone and long neck! We are come to a pretty pass when we take
her for a beauty!'

Oh! but there is your sister,' said Violet. 'Do tell me how she
likes going out. She thought it would be such a penance.'

'All I know is, that at home she is as sulky as a Greenland bear, and
then goes out and flirts nineteen to the dozen.'

Arthur!' came the remonstrating voice again, 'how you talk--do you
mean that she is silent at home? Is she unhappy? What can be the
matter with her?'

'How should I know?'

'Has not she said anything about baby?'

'Not she. Not one of them has, except my father.'

'I thought she would have liked to have heard of baby,' said Violet,
in a tone of disappointment; 'but if there is anything on her
spirits, perhaps she cannot think about him. I wonder what it can
be. It cannot be any--any--'

'Any love affair! No! no! Miss Martindale may break hearts enough,
but she will take care of her own, if she has one.'

'Is she so much admired?'

'Of course she is. You do not often see her style, and she talks and
goes on at no end of a rate.'

'I remember how she grew excited at the ball, after disliking the
prospect.'

'Is this mere general admiration,' asked John, 'or anything more
serious?'

'Upon my word, I cannot say. There is no earnest on her part. She
will rattle on with a poor fellow one night as if she had eyes for no
one else, then leave him in the lurch the next. She cares not a rush
for any of them, only wants to be run after. As to her followers,
some of them are really smitten, I fancy. There was Fitzhugh, but he
is an old hand, and can pay her in her own coin, and that sober-faced
young Mervyn--it is a bad case with him. In fact, there is a fresh
one whenever she goes out--a Jenny Dennison in high life--but the
most bitten of all, I take it, is Lord St. Erme.'

'Lord St. Erme!' exclaimed both auditors in a breath.

'Ay. She met him at that breakfast, walked about the gardens with
him all the morning, and my mother wrote to my aunt, I believe, that
she was booked. Then at this Bryanstone soiree, the next night,
Fitzhugh was in the ascendant--poor St. Erme could not so much as
gain a look.'

'So he is in London!' said Violet. 'Do tell me what he is like.'

'Like a German music-master,' said Arthur. 'As queer a figure as
ever I saw. Keeps his hair parted in the middle, hanging down in
long lank rats' tails, meant to curl, moustache ditto, open collar
turned down, black ribbon tie.'

'Oh! how amazed the Wrangerton people would be!'

'It is too much to study the picturesque in one's own person in
England!' said John, laughing. 'I am sorry he continues that
fashion.'

'So, of course,' continued Arthur, 'all the young ladies are raving
after him, while he goes mooning after Theodora. How the fair sex
must solace itself with abusing "that Miss Martindale!"'

'I wish he would be a little more sensible,' said John. 'He really
is capable of something better.'

'Where did you know him?'

'At Naples. I liked him very much till he persecuted me beyond
endurance with Tennyson and Browning. He is always going about in
raptures with some new-fashioned poet.'

'I suppose he will set up Theodora for his muse. My mother is
enchanted; he is exactly one of her own set, music, pictures,
and all. The second-hand courtship is a fine chance for her when
Miss Martindale is ungracious.'

'But it will not come to anything,' said John. 'In the meantime,
her ladyship gets the benefit of a lion, and a very tawny lion, for
her soirees.'

'Oh! that soiree will be something pleasant for you,' said Violet.

'I shall cut it. It is the first day I can be here.'

'Not meet that great African traveller?'

'What good would Baron Munchausen himself do me in the crowd my
mother is heaping together?'

'I am sure your mother and sister must want you.'

'Want must be their master. I am not going to elbow myself about and
be squashed flat for their pleasure. It is a dozen times worse to be
in a mob at home, for one has to find chairs for all the ladies.
Pah!'

'That is very lazy!' said the wife. 'You will be sorry to have
missed it when it is too late, and your home people will be vexed.'

'Who cares? My father does not, and the others take no pains not to
vex us.'

'O, Arthur! you know it makes it worse if you always come to me when
they want you. I could wait very well. Only one day above all you
must come,' said she, with lowered voice, in his ear.

'What's that?'

John could not see how, instead of speaking, she guided her husband's
hand to her wedding-ring. His reply transpired--'I'll not fail.
Which day is it?'

'Friday week. I hope you will be able!'

'I'll manage it. Why, it will be your birthday, too!'

'Yes, I shall be so glad to be seventeen. I shall feel as if baby
would respect me more. Oh! I am glad you can come, but you must be
good, and go to the soiree. I do think it would not be right always
to leave them when they want you. Tell him so, please, Mr.
Martindale.'

John did so, but Arthur made no promises, and even when the day came,
they were uncertain whether they might think of him at the party, or
as smoking cigars at home.

CHAPTER 5

Her scourge is felt, unseen, unheard,
Where, though aloud the laughter swells,
Her secret in the bosom dwells,
There is a sadness in the strain
As from a heart o'ercharged with pain.--The Baptistery

Theodora had come to London, hating the idea of gaieties, liking
nothing but the early service and chemical lectures, and shrinking
from the meeting with her former friend. She enjoyed only the
prospect of the comfort her society would afford her brother,
depressed by attendance on a nervous wife, in an unsatisfactory home.

No Arthur met them at the station: he had left a message that he was
taking Mrs. Martindale to the Isle of Wight, and should return early
on Tuesday.

Theodora stayed at home the whole of that day, but in vain. She was
busied in sending out cards to canvass for her dumb boy's admission
into an asylum, when a message came up to her sitting-room. She
started. Was it Arthur? No; Mrs. Finch was in the drawing-room; and
at that moment a light step was on the stairs, and a flutter of gay
ribbons advanced. 'Ha! Theodora! I knew how to track you. The old
place! Dear old school-room, how happy we have been here! Not gone
out? Any one would think you had some stern female to shut you up
with a tough exercise! But I believe you always broke out.'

'I stayed in to-day, expecting my brother.'

'Captain Martindale? Why, did not I see him riding with your father?
Surely I did.'

'Impossible!' exclaimed Theodora.

'Yes, but I did though; I am sure of it, for he bowed. He had that
sweet pretty little mare of his. Have you seen her, Theodora? I
quite envy her; but I suppose he bought it for his wife; and she
deserves all that is sweet and pretty, I am sure, and has it, too.'

Theodora could not recover from the thrill of pain so as to speak,
and Mrs. Finch rattled on. 'She was not in good looks when I saw
her, poor thing, but she looked so soft and fragile, it quite went to
my heart; though Jane will have it she is deep, and gets her own way
by being meek and helpless. I don't go along with Jane throughout;
I hate seeing holes picked in everybody.'

'Where is Jane?'

'Gone to some charity sermonizing. She will meet some great folks
there, and be in her element. I am glad to have you alone. Why, you
bonny old Greek empress, you are as jolly a gipsy queen as ever! How
you will turn people's heads! I am glad you have all that bright
red-brown on your cheeks!'

'No self-preservation like a country life and early rising,' said
Theodora, laughing. 'You have not kept yourself as well, Georgina.
I am sorry to see you so thin.'

'Me! Oh, I have battered through more seasons than you have dreamt
of!' said Mrs. Finch, lightly, but with a sigh. 'And had a fever
besides, which disposed of all my fat. I am like a hunter in fine
condition, no superfluous flesh, ready for action. And as to action-
-what are you doing, Theodora?--where are you going?'

'I don't know. Mamma keeps the cards. I don't want to know anything
about it.'

Georgina burst into a laugh, rather unnecessarily loud.

'Just like you! Treat it as you used your music! What can't be
cured must be endured, you know. Well, you poor victim, are you
going to execution to-night?'

'Not that I know of.'

'Famous! Then I'll tell you what: there is going to be a lecture on
Mesmerism to-night. Wonderful! Clairvoyante tells you everything,
past, present, and to come! You'll detect all the impostures; won't
it be fun? I'll call for you at eight precisely.'

Theodora thought of Arthur, and that she should miss the tidings of
his child; then recollected that he had not afforded her one minute's
greeting. She would show him that she did not care, and therefore
made the agreement.

Cold and moody she came down to dinner, but her heart was beating
with disappointment at not seeing Arthur, though a place was prepared
for him. Mrs. Finch was right; he had been with his father all the
afternoon, but had not supposed the ladies to be at home; an
explanation which never occurred to Theodora.

He came in a few minutes after they had sat down; he was heated by
his hasty walk from his empty house, and his greeting was brief and
disconcerted at finding himself late. His mother made her composed
inquiries for the party at Ventnor, without direct mention of the
child, and he replied in the same tone. His cordial first
intelligence had been bestowed upon his father, and he was not
disposed to volunteer communications to the sister, whose apparent
gloomy indifference mortified him.

He had not sat down ten minutes before word came that Mrs. Finch was
waiting for Miss Martindale. Theodora rose, in the midst of her
father and brother's amazement. 'I told mamma of my arrangement to
go with Georgina Finch to a lecture on Mesmerism,' she said.

'Mesmerism!' was the sotto voce exclamation of Lord Martindale.
'But, my dear, you did not know that Arthur was at home this
evening?'

'Yes, I did,' said Theodora, coldly; mentally adding, 'and I knew he
had been five hours without coming near me.'

'Who is going with you? Is Mr. Finch?'

'I have not heard. I cannot keep Georgina waiting.'

It was no place for discussion. Lord Martindale only said--

'Arthur, cannot you go with your sister?'

Arthur muttered that 'it would be a great bore, and he was as tired
as a dog.' He had no intention of going out of his way to oblige
Theodora, while she showed no feeling for what concerned him most
nearly; so he kept his place at the table, while Lord Martindale,
displeased and perplexed, came out to say a few words to his
daughter, under pretext of handing her to the carriage. 'I am
surprised, Theodora. It cannot be helped now, but your independent
proceedings cannot go on here as at home.'

Theodora vouchsafed no answer. The carriage contained only Mrs.
Finch and Miss Gardner. Lord Martindale paused as his daughter
stepped in, gravely asking if they were going to take up Mr. Finch.
Georgina's laugh was not quite what it would have been to a younger
inquirer, but it did not tend to console him. 'Mr. Finch! O no!
We left him to the society of his port wine. I mean to test the
clairvoyante by asking what he is dreaming about. But there is no
fear of our coming to harm. Here's sister Jane for a duenna, and I
always find squires wherever I go.'

Lord Martindale sat at home much annoyed, and preparing a lecture for
his wilful daughter on her return. Sooth to say, Theodora did not
find any great reward in her expedition. The sight was a painful
one; and her high principles had doubts whether it was a legitimate
subject for encouragement. She longed all the time to be sitting by
Arthur's side, and hearing of his little boy. How young and gay he
looked to be a father and head of a family! and how satisfying it
seemed to have his bright eyes in sight again! She looked so
thoughtful that Georgina roused her by threatening to set the poor
clairvoyante to read her meditations.

When Theodora came home, she would have gone straight up to her own
room, but her father waylaid her, and the first sound of his voice
awoke the resolution to defend her freedom of action. Perhaps the
perception that he was a little afraid of the rebuke he was about to
administer added defiance to her determination.

'Theodora, I wish to speak to you. I do not wish to restrain your
reasonable freedom, but I must beg that another time you will not fix
your plans without some reference.'

'I told mamma,' she answered.

'I am not satisfied with the subject you have chosen--and I do not
quite like what I see of Mrs. Finch. I had rather you made no
engagements for the present.'

'I will take care,' said Theodora: 'but when mamma does not go out,
I must have some one. I will do nothing worthy of disapproval.
Good night.'

She walked off, leaving Lord Martindale baffled. That evening seemed
to give its colour to the subsequent weeks. It was a time of much
pain to Theodora, estranging herself from her brother, fancying him
prejudiced against her, and shutting herself up from her true
pleasures to throw herself into what had little charm for her beyond
the gratification of her self-will.

She really loved Georgina Finch. There was the bond of old
association and girlish friendship, and this could not be set aside,
even though the pair had grown far asunder. Perhaps the strongest
link had been their likeness in strength of expression and disregard
of opinion; but it now seemed as if what in Theodora was vehemence
and determination, was in Georgina only exaggeration and
recklessness. However, Georgina had a true affection for Theodora,
and looked up to her genuine goodness, though without much attempt to
imitate it, and the positive enthusiasm she possessed for her friend
was very winning to one who was always pining for affection.
Therefore Theodora adhered to her intimacy through all the evidences
of disapproval, and always carried the day.

Georgina was well-born, and her sphere was naturally in the higher
circles, and though her marriage had been beneath her own rank, this
was little thought of, as she was rich, and by many considered very
handsome, fashionable, and agreeable. Mr. Finch was hardly ever
seen, and little regarded when he was; he was a quiet, good-natured
old man, who knew nothing but of money matters, and was proud of his
gay young wife. She had her own way, and was much admired; sure to
be in every party, and certain to be surrounded with gentlemen, to
whom she rattled away with lively nonsense, and all of whom were
ready to be her obedient squires. Her manners were impetuous, and,
as well as her appearance, best to be described as dashing. Some
people disliked her extremely; but she was always doing good-natured
generous things, and the worst that could be said of her was, that
she was careless of appearances, and, as Arthur called her, "fast".
Theodora knew there was sincerity and warmth of heart, and was always
trusting that these might develop into further excellences; moreover,
she was sensible of having some influence for good. More than one
wild freak had been relinquished on her remonstrance; and there was
enough to justify her, in her own eyes, for continuing Georgina's
firm friend and champion.

She had no other friendships; she did not like young ladies, and was
still less liked by them; and Jane Gardner was nobody when her sister
was by, though now and then her power was felt in double-edged
sayings which recurred to mind.

However, Theodora found society more intoxicating than she had
expected. Not that her sober sense enjoyed or approved; but in her
own county she was used to be the undeniable princess of her circle,
and she could not go out without trying to stand first still, and to
let her attractions accomplish what her situation effected at home.
Her princely deportment, striking countenance, and half-repelling,
half-inviting manner, were more effective than the more regular
beauty of other girls; for there was something irresistible in the
privilege of obtaining a bright look and smile from one whose
demeanour was in general so distant; and when she once began to talk,
eager, decided, brilliant, original, and bestowing exclusive and
flattering attention, for the time, on the favoured individual, no
marvel that he was bewitched, and when, the next night, she was
haughty and regardless, he only watched the more ardently for a
renewal of her smiles. The general homage was no pleasure to her;
she took it as her due, and could not have borne to be without it.
She had rather been at home with her books, or preparing lessons to
send to her school at Brogden; but in company she could not bear not
to reign supreme, and put forth every power to maintain her place,
though in her grand, careless, indifferent manner, and when it was
over, hating and despising her very success.

Arthur had thawed after his second visit to Ventnor; he had brought
away too much satisfaction and good humour to be pervious to her
moody looks; and his freedom and ease had a corresponding effect upon
her. They became more like their usual selves towards each other;
and when he yielded, on being again exhorted to stay for the soiree,
she deemed it a loosening of the trammels in which he was held. He
became available when she wanted him; and avoiding all mention of his
family, they were very comfortable until Theodora was inspired with a
desire to go to a last appearance of Mademoiselle Rachel,
unfortunately on the very evening when Violet had especially begged
him to be with her.

If he would have said it was his wedding-day, there could have been
no debate; but he was subject to a sort of schoolboy reserve, where
he was conscious or ashamed. And there were unpleasant reminiscences
connected with that day--that unacknowledged sense of having been
entrapped--that impossibility of forgetting his sister's
expostulation--that disgust at being conspicuous--that longing for an
excuse for flying into a passion--that universal hatred of everything
belonging to the Mosses. He could not give a sentimental reason, and
rather than let it be conjectured, he adduced every pretext but the
true one; professed to hate plays, especially tragedies, and scolded
his sister for setting her heart on a French Jewess when there were
plenty of English Christians.

'If you would only give me your true reason, I should be satisfied,'
said she at last.

'I love my love with a V,' was his answer, in so bright a tone as
should surely have appeased her; but far from it; she exclaimed,

'Ventnor! Why, will no other time do for THAT?'

'I have promised,' Arthur answered, vexed at her tone.

'What possible difference can it make to her which day you go?'

'I have said.'

'Come, write and tell her it is important to me. Rachel will not
appear again, and papa is engaged. She must see the sense of it.
Come, write.'

'Too much trouble.'

'Then I will. I shall say you gave me leave.'

'Indeed,' said Arthur, fully roused, 'you will say no such thing.
You have not shown so much attention to Mrs. Martindale, that you
need expect her to give way to your convenience.'

He walked away, as he always did when he thought he had provoked a
female tongue. She was greatly mortified at having allowed her
eagerness to lower her into offering to ask a favour of that wife of
his; who, no doubt, had insisted on his coming, after having once
failed, and could treat him to plenty of nervous and hysterical
scenes.

Him Theodora pitied and forgave!

But by and by her feelings were further excited. She went with her
mother to give orders at Storr and Mortimer's, on the setting of some
jewels which her aunt had given her, and there encountered Arthur in
the act of selecting a blue enamel locket, with a diamond fly perched
on it. At the soiree she had heard him point out to Emma Brandon a
similar one, on a velvet round a lady's neck, and say that it would
look well on Violet's white skin. So he was obliged to propitiate
his idol with trinkets far more expensive than he could properly
afford!

Theodora little guessed that the gift was received without one
thought of the white throat, but with many speculations whether
little Johnnie would soon be able to spare a bit of flaxen down to
contrast with the black lock cut from his papa's head.

There was nothing for it but to dwell no more on this deluded
brother, and Theodora tried every means to stifle the thought. She
threw herself into the full whirl of society, rattling on in a way
that nothing but high health and great bodily strength could have
endured. After her discontented and ungracious commencement, she
positively alarmed her parents by the quantity she undertook, with
spirits apparently never flagging, though never did she lose that
aching void. Books, lectures, conversation, dancing, could not
banish that craving for her brother, nothing but the three hours of
sleep that she allowed herself. If she exceeded them, there were
unfailing dreams of Arthur and his child.

She thought of another cure. There was another kind of affection,
not half so valuable in her eyes as fraternal love; it made fools of
people, but then they were happy in their blindness, and could keep
it to themselves. She would condescend to lay herself open to the
infection. It would be satisfying if she could catch it. She
examined each of her followers in turn, but each fell short of her
standard, and was repelled just as his hopes had been excited. One
'Hollo, Theodora, come along,' would have been worth all the court
paid to her by men, to some of whom Arthur could have ill borne a
comparison.

CHAPTER 6

Thy precious things, whate'er they be,
That haunt and vex thee, heart and brain,
Look to the Cross, and thou shall see
How thou mayst turn them all to gain.--Christian Year

All went well and smoothly at Ventnor, until a sudden and severe
attack of some baby ailment threatened to render fruitless all Mr.
Martindale's kind cares.

Violet's misery was extreme, though silent and unobtrusive, and John
was surprised to find how much he shared it, and how strong his own
personal affection had become for his little nephew; how many hopes
he had built on him as the point of interest for his future life; the
circumstances also of the baptism giving him a tenderness for him,
almost a right in him such as he could feel in no other child.

Their anxiety did not last long enough for Arthur to be sent for; a
favourable change soon revived the mother's hopes; and the doctor,
on coming down-stairs after his evening's visit, told John that the
child was out of danger for the present; but added that he feared
there were many more such trials in store for poor Mrs. Martindale;
he thought the infant unusually delicate, and feared that it would
hardly struggle through the first year.

John was much shocked, and sat in the solitary drawing-room, thinking
over the disappointment and loss, severely felt for his own sake, and
far more for the poor young mother, threatened with so grievous a
trial at an age when sorrow is usually scarcely known, and when she
had well-nigh sunk under the ordinary wear and tear of married life.
She had been so utterly cast down and wretched at the sight of the
child's suffering, that it was fearful to imagine what it would be
when there would be no recovery.

'Yes!' he mused with himself; 'Violet has energy, conscientiousness,
high principle to act, but she does not know how to apply the same
principle to enable her to endure. She knows religion as a guide,
not as a comfort. She had not grown up to it, poor thing, before her
need came. She wants her mother, and knows not where to rest in her
griefs. Helen, my Helen, how you would have loved and cherished her,
and led her to your own precious secret of patience and peace! What
is to be done for her? Arthur cannot help her; Theodora will not if
she could, she is left to me. And can I take Helen's work on myself,
and try to lead our poor young sister to what alone can support her?
I must try--mere humanity demands it. Yes, Helen, you would tell me
I have lived within myself too long. I can only dare to speak
through your example. I will strive to overcome my reluctance to
utter your dear name.'

He was interrupted by Violet coming down to make tea. She was now
happy, congratulating herself on the rapid improvement in the course
of the day, and rejoicing that John and the doctor had dissuaded her
from sending at once for Arthur.

'You were quite right, she said, 'and I am glad now he was not here.
I am afraid I was very fretful; but oh! you don't know what it is to
see a baby so ill.'

'Poor little boy--' John would have said more, but she went on, with
tearful eyes and agitated voice.

'It does seem very hard that such a little innocent darling should
suffer. He is not three months old, and his poor little life has
been almost all pain and grief to him. I know it is wrong of me, but
I cannot bear it! If it is for my fault, why cannot it be myself?
It almost makes me angry.'

'It does seem more than we can understand, said John, mournfully;
'but we are told, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt
know hereafter."'

'When all the other young things--lambs, and birds, and all--are so
happy, and rejoicing in the sunshine!' continued Violet; 'and
children too!' as some gay young voices floated in on the summer air,
and brought the tears in a shower.

'Don't grudge it to them, dear Violet,' said John, in his gentlest
tone; 'my dear little godson is more blessed in his gift. It seems
to accord with what was in my mind when we took him to church.
I do not know whether it was from my hardly ever having been at a
christening before, or whether it was the poor little fellow's
distressing crying; but the signing him with the cross especially
struck me, the token of suffering even to this lamb. The next moment
I saw the fitness--the cross given to him to turn the legacy of pain
to the honour of partaking of the Passion--how much more for an
innocent who has no penalty of his own to bear!'

'I have read things like that, but--I know I am talking wrongly--it
always seems hard and stern to tell one not to grieve. You think it
very bad in me to say so; but, indeed, I never knew how one must care
for a baby.'

'No, indeed, there is no blaming you; but what would comfort you
would be to think of the Hand that is laid on him in love, for his
highest good.'

'But he wants no good done to him,' cried Violet. 'He has been good
and sinless from the time before even his father or I saw him, when
you--'

'We cannot tell what he may need. We are sure all he undergoes is
sent by One who loves him better than even you do, who may be
disciplining him for future life, or fitting him for brighter glory,
and certainly giving him a share in the cross that has saved him.'

His gentle tones had calmed her, and she sat listening as if she
wished him to say more. 'Do you remember,' he added, 'that picture
you described to me this time last year, the Ghirlandajo's Madonna?'

'Oh, yes,' said Violet, pleased and surprised.

'She does not hold her son back from the cross, does she, though the
sword was to pierce through her own heart?'

'Yes; but that was for the greatest reason.'

'Indeed, it was; but He who was a Child, the firstborn Son of His
mother, does not afflict your baby without cause. He has laid on him
as much of His cross as he can bear; and if it be yours also, you
know that it is blessed to you both, and will turn to glory.'

'The cross!' said Violet; adding, after some thought, 'Perhaps
thinking of that might make one bear one's own troubles better.'

'The most patient person I ever knew found it so,' said John; and
with some hesitation and effort, 'You know about her?'

'A little,' she timidly replied; and the tears flowed again as she
said, 'I have been so very sorry for you.'

'Thank you,' he answered, in a suppressed tone of grateful emotion,
for never was sympathy more refreshing to one who had long mourned
in loneliness.

Eager, though almost alarmed, at being thus introduced to the
melancholy romance of his history, Violet thought he waited for her
to speak. 'It was dreadful,' she said; 'it was so cruel, to
sacrifice her to those old people.'

'Was it cruel? Was it wrong?' said John, almost to himself. 'I hope
not. I do not think I could have decided otherwise.'

'Oh, have I said anything wrong? I don't properly know about it.
I fancied Arthur told me--I beg your pardon.

'I do not think Arthur knew the circumstances; they have never been
much talked of. I do not know whether you would care to listen to a
long story; but I should like you, as far as may be, to understand
her, and consider her as your sister, who would have been very fond
of you.'

'And do you like to talk of it?'

'That I do, now,' said John; her delicate, respectful sympathy so
opening his heart, that what had been an effort became a relief.

'I should be so glad. Baby is asleep, and I came down to stay with
you. It is very kind of you.'

'You are very kind to listen,' said John. 'I must go a long way
back, to the time when I lost my little sisters.'

'Had you any more sisters?' said Violet, startled.

'Two; Anna and another Theodora. They died at four and two years
old, within two days of each other, while my father and mother were
abroad with my aunt.'

'What was their illness, poor little things?' anxiously asked Violet.

'I never knew. We all of us have, more or less, a West Indian
constitution; that accounts for anything.'

'How old were you? Do you remember them?'

'I was five. I have no distinct recollection of them, though I was
very fond of Anna, and well remember the dreariness afterwards.
Indeed, I moped and pined so much, that it was thought that to give
me young companions was the only chance for me; and the little
Fotheringhams were sent for from the parsonage to play with me.'

'And it really began then!'

'Yes,' said John, more cheerfully. 'She was exactly of my own age,
but with all the motherly helpful kindness of an elder sister, and
full of pretty, childish compassion for the little wretched solitary
being that I was. Her guarding me from the stout riotous Percy--a
couple of years younger--was the first bond of union; and I fancy the
nurses called her my little wife, I know I believed it then, and ever
after. We were a great deal together. I never was so happy as with
them; and as I was a frail subject at the best, and Arthur was not
born till I was nine years old, I was too great a treasure to be
contradicted. The parsonage was the great balance to the home
spoiling; Mr. and Mrs. Fotheringham were most kind and judicious;
and Helen's character could not but tell on all around.'

'Was she grave?'

'Very merry, full of fun, but with a thoughtful staidness in her
highest spirits, even as a girl. I saw no change when we met again'-
-after a pause: 'No, I cannot describe her. When we go home you
shall see her picture. No one ever reminded me of her as you do,
though it is not flattering you to say so. If the baby had been a
girl, I think I should have asked you to call it by your second name.
Well, we seldom spent a day without meeting, even after I had a
tutor. The beginning of our troubles was her fifteenth birthday, the
10th of July. I had saved up my money, and bought a coral cross and
a chain for her; but Mrs. Fotheringham would not let her keep it; she
said it was too costly for me to give to any one but my sister. She
tried to treat it lightly; but I was old enough to perceive her
reason; and I can feel the tingling in all my veins as I vowed with
myself to keep it till I should have a right to offer it.'

'What did she do?'

'I cannot tell; we did not wish to renew the subject. The worst of
it was, that my aunt, who hears everything, found this out. She
interrogated me, and wanted me to give it to Theodora, a mere baby.
I felt as if I was defending Helen's possession, and refused to give
it up unless at my father's command.'

'I hope he did not order you.'

'He never said a word to me. But our comfort was over; suspicion was
excited; and I am afraid my aunt worried Mrs. Fotheringham. Nothing
was said, but there was a check upon us. I was sent to a tutor at a
distance; and when I was at home, either she went out on long visits
in the holidays, or there was a surveillance on me; and when I did
get down to the parsonage it was all formality. She took to calling
me Mr. Martindale (by the bye, Violet, I wish you would not), was
shy, and shrank from me.'

'Oh! that was the worst,' cried Violet. 'Did not she care?'

'I believe her mother told her we were too old to go on as before.
They were all quite right; and I can now see it was very good for me.
When Mr. Fotheringham died, and they were about to leave the parish,
I spoke to my father. He had the highest esteem for them all, was
fond of her, knew they had behaved admirably. I verily believe he
would have consented at once--nay, he had half done so, but--'

'Mrs. Nesbit, I am sure,' exclaimed Violet.

'He was persuaded to think I had not had time to know my own mind,
and ought not to engage myself till I had seen more of the world.'

'How old were you?'

'Nineteen.'

'Nineteen! If you did not know your own mind then, when could you?'

John smiled, and replied, 'It was better to have such a motive.
My position was one of temptation, and this was a safeguard as well
as a check on idle prosperity. An incentive to exertion, too; for my
father held out a hope that if I continued in the same mind, and
deserved his confidence, he would consent in a few years, but on
condition I should neither say nor do anything to show my feelings.'

'Then you never told her?'

'No.'

'I should not have liked that at all. But she must have guessed.'

'She went with her mother to live in Lancashire, with old Mr. and
Mrs. Percival, at Elsdale. There she lost her mother.'

'How long did it go on before Lord Martindale consented?' asked
Violet, breathlessly.

'Five years, but at last he was most kind. He did fully appreciate
her. I went to Elsdale'--and he paused. 'For a little while it was
more than I can well bear to remember.'

'You gave her the cross?' said Violet, presently.

'On her next birthday. Well, then came considerations. Old Mrs.
Percival was nearly blind, and could hardly move from her chair, the
grandfather was very infirm, and becoming imbecile. His mind had
never been clear since his daughter's death, and he always took Helen
for her. She was everything to them.'

'And they would not spare her?'

'She asked me what was to be done. She put it entirely in my hands,
saying she did not know where her duty lay, and she would abide by my
decision.'

'Then it was you! I can't think how you could.'

'I trust it was not wrong. So asked, I could not say she ought to
leave those poor old people to their helplessness for my sake, and I
could not have come to live with them, for it was when I was in
Parliament, and there were other reasons. We agreed, then, that she
should not leave them in her grandfather's lifetime, and that
afterwards Mrs. Percival should come to our home, Brogden, as we
thought it would be. Indeed, Violet, it was a piteous thing to hear
that good venerable old lady entreating my pardon for letting Helen
devote herself, saying, she would never have permitted it but for Mr.
Percival, for what would become of him without his granddaughter--
hoping they would not long stand in our way, and promising us the
blessing that Helen enjoys. We could not regret our decision, and to
be allowed to stand on such terms with each other was happiness
enough then; yet all the time I had a presentiment that I was giving
her up for ever, though I thought it would be the other way; the more
when the next year I had the illness that has made me good for
nothing ever since. That made it much easier to me, for I should
have led her such a life of nursing and anxiety as I would not
inflict on any woman.'

'Surely she had the anxiety all the same?'

'There is a good deal spared by not being on the spot.'

'How can he think so! said Violet to herself. I can't imagine how
she lived as long as she did. 'Did you not see her at all when you
were ill?' she said.

'Yes, we had one great treat that winter when I was at the worst.
It was one of my father's especial pieces of kindness; he wrote to
her himself, and sent Simmonds to fetch her to Martindale.'

'And were you able to enjoy having her?'

'It was inflammation on the chest, so all my senses were free. She
used to sit by me with her sober face, at work, ready to read and
talk to me, and left sayings and thoughts that have brought
refreshment at every such time. It was indeed a blessing that she
could come that first time to teach me how to bear illness.'

'How long did she stay?'

'Only three weeks, for her absence only showed how little she could
be spared; but she left an influence on that room of mine that it has
never lost.'

'How solitary it must have been when you were recovering.'

'I had her letters. I will show you some of them some day. She used
to write almost daily.'

'And it was when you were getting better that you took the great
journey in the East?'

'Yes; Percy had just left Cambridge, and was ready to take the care
of me on his hands. Those two years went pleasantly by, and what a
happy visit it was at Elsdale afterwards! You can't think how this
talking over our travels has brought it back. As long as Mrs.
Percival lived we did pretty well. She made Helen take care of
herself, and I could go and stay there; but after her death the poor
old man grew more childish and exacting. I once tried staying at the
curate's, but it did not answer. He could not bear to have her out
of his sight, and had taken an unhappy aversion to me, fancying me
some old admirer of his own daughter, and always warning her against
me.'

'How distressing! How wretched! It would have killed me long
before! How did she bear it? I know it was patiently, but I cannot
understand it!'

'Her letters will best show you. It was the perfect trust that it
was good for us; but what she underwent in those last three years we
never knew. Her brother was at Constantinople. I could not go to
Elsdale, and there was no one to interfere. We could not guess from
her cheerful letters how she was wearing herself out, bearing his
caprices, giving up sleep and exercise. I knew how it would be the
first moment I met her, when I went to Elsdale to the funeral; but it
was supposed to be only over-fatigue, and her aunt, Lady
Fotheringham, took her home to recover. She grew worse, and went to
London for advice. There I met her, and--and there she herself told
me she had disease of the heart, and could not live a year.'

Violet gave a sort of sob.

'She held up to me that cross--that first gift--she bade me think of
the subjection of wills and affections it betokened. Little had we
once thought of that meaning!'

'And then?' asked Violet, with face flushed and hands clasped.

'Lady Fotheringham took her to Worthbourne.'

'Could you be with her?'

'Yes. One of the especial subjects of thankfulness was that I was
well enough to stay with her. She was perfectly happy and contented,
chiefly concerned to soften it to me. It was as if she had finished
her work, and was free to enjoy, as she sank into full repose,
sunsets, hoar frosts, spring blossoms, the having me with her, her
brother's return--everything was a pleasure. I can hardly call it a
time of grief, when she was so placid and happy. All the wishing and
scheming was over, and each day that I could look at her in her
serenity, was only too precious.'

'Was there much suffering?'

'At times there was, but in general there was only languor. She used
to lie by the window, looking so smiling and tranquil, that it was
hard to believe how much she had gone through; and so peaceful, that
we could not dare to wish to bring her back to care and turmoil. The
last time she was able to talk to me, she showed me the cross still
round her neck, and said she should like to think it would be as much
comfort to any one else as it had been to her. I did not see her
again till I was called in for her last look on anything earthly,
when the suffering was passed, and there was peaceful sinking.'

Violet was crying too much for words, until at last she managed to
say, 'How could you--what could you do?'

'My illness was the best thing that could happen to me.'

'How sorry you must have been to get well.'

He replied,

'Her wings were grown,
To heaven she's flown,
'Cause I had none I'm left.'

'Those lines haunted me when I found myself reviving to the weary
useless life I spend here.'

'O how can you call it so?' cried Violet. 'How could Arthur and I do
without you?'

There was a sound up-stairs, and she started to the door, ran up, but
came down in a few moments. 'He is awake and better,' she said. 'I
cannot come down again, for Sarah must go to supper. Good night;
thank you for what you have told me;' then, with an earnest look,
'only I can't bear you to say your life is useless. You don't know
how we look to you.'

'Thank you for your kind listening,' he answered. 'It has done me a
great deal of good; but do not stay,' as he saw her evidently longing
to return to her child, yet lingering in the fear of unkindness to
him. 'I am glad he is better; you and he must both have a good
night.'

John was indeed refreshed by the evening's conversation. It had
disclosed to him a new source of comfort, for hitherto his grief had
never known the relief of sympathy. His whole soul had been fixed on
one object from his boyhood; the hopes of deserving Helen had been
his incentive to exertion in his youth, and when disabled by
sickness, he had always looked forward to a new commencement of
active usefulness with her. It had been a life of waiting: patient,
but without present action, and completely wrapped up in a single
attachment and hope. When that was taken from him he had not failed
in faith and submission, but he had nothing to occupy him or afford
present solace and interest; he had no future save lonely waiting
still, until he should again rejoin her who had been his all on
earth.

However, the effort made to reconcile his brother with the family had
produced an unlooked-for influence, and enlarged his sphere of
interest. At first came languid amusement in contemplating the
pretty young bride, then liking and compassion for her, then the
great anxiety in her illness, and afterwards real affection and
solicitude for her and her child had filled his mind, and detached
him from his own sorrows; and he now became sensible that he had,
indeed, while trying to serve her and his brother, done much for his
own relief. What she said of their dependence on him was not only a
pleasure to him, but it awoke him to the perception that he had not
been so utterly debarred from usefulness as he had imagined, and that
he had neglected much that might have infinitely benefited his
brother, sister, and father. He had lived for himself and Helen
alone!

He tried to draw out Helen's example to teach Violet to endure, and
in doing so the other side of the lesson came home to himself.
Helen's life had been one of exertion as well as of submission. It
had not been merely spent in saying, 'Thy will be done,' but in doing
it; she had not merely stood still and uncomplaining beneath the
cross, but she had borne it onward in the service of others.

CHAPTER 7

Sweeter 'tis to hearken
Than to bear a part,
Better to look on happiness
Than to carry a light heart,
Sweeter to walk on cloudy hills,
With a sunny plain below,
Than to weary of the brightness
Where the floods of sunshine flow.--ALFORD

One morning John received a letter from Constantinople, which he had
scarcely opened before he exclaimed, 'Ha! what does he mean? Given
up his appointment! Coming home! It is just like him. I must read
you what he says, it is, so characteristic.'

'You must have been provoked at my leaving you all this time in doubt
what to do with our precious tour, but the fact is, that I have been
making a fool of myself, and as the Crusaders are the only cover my
folly has from the world, I must make the most of them. I give out
that my literary affairs require my presence; but you, as the means
of putting me into my post, deserve an honest confession. About six
weeks ago, my subordinate, Evans, fell sick--an estimable chicken-
hearted fellow. In a weak moment, I not only took his work on my
hands, but bored myself by nursing him, and thereby found it was a
complaint only to be cured by my shoes.'

'Shoes! exclaimed Violet. John read on.

'It was a dismal story of an engagement to a clergyman's daughter;
her father just dead, she reduced to go out as a governess, and he
having half nothing of his own, mending the matter by working himself
into a low fever, and doing his best to rid her of all care on his
account. Of course I rowed him well, but I soon found I had the
infection--a bad fit of soft-heartedness came over me.'

'Oh!' cried Violet, he gives up for this poor man's sake.'

'I thought all peace was over if I was to see poor Evans enacting the
enamoured swain every day of my life, for the fellow had not the
grace to carry it off like a man--besides having his business to do;
or, if he should succeed in dying, I should not only be haunted by
his ghost, but have to convey his last words to the disconsolate
governess. So, on calculation, I thought trouble would be saved by
giving notice that I was going home to publish the Crusaders, and
sending him to fetch his bride, on whose arrival I shall bid a long
farewell to the Grand Turk. I fancy I shall take an erratic course
through Moldavia and some of those out-of-the-way locations, so you
need not write to me again here, nor think of me till you see me
about the end of August. I suppose about that time Theodora will
have finished the course of severe toil reserved for young ladies
every spring, so I shall come straight home expecting to see you
all.'

'Home; does that mean Martindale?' said Violet.

'Yes. He has never looked on any place but Brogden as his home.'

'You don't think he repents of what he has done?'

'No, certainly not. He has seen what a long engagement is.'

'Yes; I almost wonder at his writing to you in that tone.'

'He banters because he cannot bear to show his real feeling. I am

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