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- Heartsease or Brother's Wife - 144/144 -

to be spared the London winter! How happy the children will be! Thank you, indeed.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'And saying nothing?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heartsease or Brother's Wife - 144/144

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