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- Marguerite Verne - 60/71 -
It was so hard to frame each sentence without the conviction that every word conveyed the falsity of the girl's heart. How dare she pen one word such as an affianced lover would expect! Oh, the agony of soul that Marguerite endured as she combated with her honest nature.
Phillip Lawson never lost sight of the doings at "Sunnybank." He was daily around the afflicted household and tried hard to bring cheer along with him.
That Mr. Verne was sinking fast the young man knew well, and he was sorely troubled that the secret grief would never be communicated-- perhaps in a way that might give relief.
Would it be wise to force the subject, to venture an allusion to Moses Spriggins, and thus arouse the seemingly comatose condition of the dying man.
"If I could mention the matter to Marguerite," thought Phillip, as he sat in his office for a few moment's respite after a day of toilsome labor over some perplexing law points in a case which gained much notoriety, and which had also gained for the leading counsel a reputation for earnestness and strict integrity that must inevitably be crowned with success.
"If I could only ask her advice in the matter," thought he, "what a relief it would afford."
But the words froze upon his lips, and Marguerite remained as before in utter ignorance of the failure.
"Why do such questions arise," murmured the young man sadly, and his thoughts reminded him of the renowned son of Jupiter dying of thirst with the tempting element raised to his chin, but could not partake of a single drop. "Ah! there's many a modern Tantalus," said Phillip wearily, "many a Tantalus."
Marguerite had received several letters from Mrs. Arnold, but they were vague, unsatisfactory and suppressed. There was an attempt at concealment that gave the girl much concern, yet she did not communicate the fact to Mrs. Verne.
"Poor mamma has enough to think of," thought she, "and as they say, it is no use to be borrowing trouble, so I'll hope for the best."
Could one have glanced into Mrs. Montague Arnold's private life what a picture would be presented to us--one anything but pleasing to look upon--where alike was depicted disappointment, disgust, anger, sullen resentment and hate.
Add to this dissipation, an utter disregard for the home duties of woman, and one can form some idea of the unenviable position of this fashionable creature.
Of the husband what can we say?
Montague Arnold is indeed far on the downward road to ruin. Dissipation has made fearful ravages upon his hitherto handsome face, and in the bloated features, inflamed eyes, and idiotic expression, there is little left to convey an impression that the gay and fashionable world once coveted such a prize.
The lowest gambling dens were now sought, and hour after hour the man sat side by side with the scum of humanity. His days and nights were scenes of carousal, his wife was left to her own resources, and his home utterly desolate.
Evelyn Arnold had written her sister many glowing eulogies of Hubert Tracy's generosity, yet she did not acknowledge that to him she was entirely dependent.
Let us not utterly despise this young man.
There was yet a spark of generosity in his nature and a desire to lend a helping hand to the needy.
As hitherto expressed, with different associations Hubert Tracy would have been a different man. He began well but had not sufficient will power to resist the tempter and like many a promising youth who went out into the world with a mother's prayers ringing in his ears, stumbled ere he reached the first milestone on life's chequered road.
Hubert Tracy was to a certain degree trying to make amends for the wrong he had done towards himself and towards his fellow man.
When the face and form of Phillip Lawson rose before him with such vividness that he many times closed his eyes to shut out the sight remorse would seize upon him and hold him in galling chains, shewing us that the Divine impress was not entirely obliterated from his nature and that some day one might expect a complete change.
But of this young man's kindness to Mrs. Arnold.
The latter had been accustomed to a lavish expenditure of money and now that her husband's means had been squandered what was she to do? Appearances must be kept up at any sacrifice and without any apparent struggle. Mrs. Montague Arnold received from her sister's betrothed a sufficient amount of money to meet her daily wants.
Every beauty has her reign and so with the beautiful Evelyn.
Another queen succeeded and with many a bitter feeling the former is a thing of the past. Men have ceased to rave over the dark-eyed syren and now behold her as a being of a secondary order.
Mrs. Arnold attributed such slights to her husband's altered position and loud angry words were of daily occurrence until at last matters grew worse and they were completely alienated.
It was now that Hubert Tracy proved himself a benefactor. He remitted money and strove to give the unhappy woman all the sympathy she desired.
At times Mrs. Arnold's temper became ungovernable and as each annoyance crowded upon her with redoubled force it was anything but agreeable to listen to the frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger or to look upon a face made hideous by those degrading exhibitions of a coarse and corrupt nature.
Let us now take a look at this fashionable woman as she is vainly trying to while away what appears to be a tedious morning.
Mrs. Arnold has removed to another suite of apartments and the change bears heavily upon her.
With an air of disgust she surveys the plainly furnished parlor and taking up a third class novel of the highly sensational type throws herself upon the chintz-covered lounge and gives way to a series of hysterical sobs more expressive of anger than grief.
The once large lustrous orbs have lost much of their brightness and the oval cheeks have lost their beauty of outline, while the rich crimson hue has given place to a sickly yellow. Even the toilette of the proud beauty bears traces of neglect. The rich and elegant dressing gown of cashmere and velvet had been converted into money and a dowdy-looking stuff wrapper supplied its place.
Mrs. Arnold yawned and sighed wearily, then arose to look for some curl papers but finding the effort too much once more sought the lounge and novel.
The sorrows of the heroine pleased her. "Misery likes company," as the adage goes and Mrs. Arnold formed no exception.
"Yes," mused she, "her lord, like mine, proved a failure, but here the likeness ends--she got rid of him but there is no such luck for me. I must put up with his brutal insults, his coarse language, his murderous assaults--yes, I must bear it for better for worse until death doth us part--"
"Which I hope will be very soon, my dear, delightful spouse," cried a hic-coughy voice from an outer room and instantly the bloated face of Montague Arnold confronted his wife in tantalizing and brutal aspect.
We will pass over the scene which followed, suffice to say that the inebriated husband finally betook himself to his room and--more beast than man--lay until he was sufficiently recovered to set out for the scene of dissipation to be enacted on the coming night.
When quiet was fully restored and Evelyn had once more found respite in her heroine's increasing woes a familiar step sounded in the passage.
"Come at last Hubert, I wish you had been here sooner."
Mrs. Arnold then gave an exaggerated account of her husband's proceedings, and began sobbing wildly and hysterically.
Hubert Tracy did not like scenes, but he had to await Mrs. Arnold's pleasure.
He had of late been trying to lead a better life and had given the slip to several of his debauched companions, but on the previous evening he had been unable to withstand their urgent entreaties and as he wended his way to Mrs. Arnold's residence his aching brows and dizzy head gave evidence of the sad fact.
"I have had news from home, Evelyn."
"Yes," said the latter faintly.
"Your father seems no better. Madge has little hopes of him, and your mother's health has undergone a great shock."
"No, doubt," was the sarcastic reply.
"Evelyn," said the young man in earnest tones, "I shall eagerly await the coming mail, for I have signified to Madge my intention to cross the Atlantic!"
"So soon," cried Mrs. Arnold with awaking interest.
"Yes, Evelyn, I cannot endure this suspense much longer. Madge is the only woman who can reclaim me, and I must now insist that she will be my wife at an early date--at any rate I wish to be in St. John at the settlement of the affair. It has been a great mistake that I did not accompany your mother and Madge."
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