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- Heartsease or Brother's Wife - 2/144 -
your notice. I dare say you find it very pleasant to amuse yourself; but consider, before you allow yourself to form an attachment--I will not say before becoming a victim to sordid speculation. You know what poor John has gone through, though there was no inferiority there. Think what you would have to bear for the sake, perhaps, of a pretty face, but of a person incapable of being a companion or comfort, and whom you would be ashamed to see beside your own family. Or, supposing your own affections untouched, what right have you to trifle with the feelings of a poor girl, and raise expectations you cannot and ought not to fulfil? You are too kind, when once you reflect, to inflict such pain, you, who cannot help being loved. Come away while it is time; come home, and have the merit of self-sacrifice. If your fancy is smitten, it will recover in its proper sphere. If it costs you pain, you know to whom you have always hitherto turned in your vexations. Dear Arthur, do not ruin yourself; only come back to me. Write at once; I cannot bear the suspense.
'Your most affectionate sister,
'THEODORA A. MARTINDALE.'
She made two copies of this letter; one she directed to 'The Hon. Arthur Martindale, Grenadier Guards, Winchester;' the other, 'Post- Office, Wrangerton.' In rather more than a week she was answered:--
'My Dear Theodora,--You judged rightly that I am no man to trifle, or to raise expectations which I did not mean to fulfil. My wife and I are at Matlock for a few days before joining at Winchester.
'Your affectionate brother,
'ARTHUR N. MARTINDALE,'
She's less of a bride than a bairn, She's ta'en like a colt from the heather, With sense and discretion to learn.
A chiel maun be patient and steady That yokes with a mate in her teens. Woo'd and Married and A'
A gentleman stood waiting at the door of a house not far from the Winchester barracks.
'Is my brother at home, James?' as the servant gave a start of surprise and recognition.
'No, sir; he is not in the house, but Mrs.--; will you walk in? I hope I see you better, sir.'
'Much better, thank you. Did you say Mrs. Martindale was at home?'
'Yes, sir; Mr. Arthur will soon be here. Won't you walk in?'
'Is she in the drawing-room?'
'No, I do not think so, sir. She went up-stairs when she came in.'
'Very well. I'll send up my card,' said he, entering, and the man as he took it, said, with emphasis, and a pleading look, 'She is a very nice young lady, sir,' then opened a room door.
He suddenly announced, 'Mr. Martindale,' and that gentleman unexpectedly found himself in the presence of a young girl, who rose in such confusion that he could not look at her as he shook her by the hand, saying, 'Is Arthur near home?'
'Yes--no--yes; at least, he'll come soon,' was the reply, as if she hardly knew what her words were.
'Were you going out?' he asked, seeing a bonnet on the sofa.
'No, thank you,--at least I mean, I'm just come in. He went to speak to some one, and I came to finish my letter. He'll soon come,' said she, with the rapid ill-assured manner of a school-girl receiving her mamma's visitors.
'Don't let me interrupt you,' said he, taking up a book.
'O no, no, thank you,' cried she, in a tremor lest she should have been uncivil. 'I didn't mean--I've plenty of time. 'Tis only to my home, and they have had one by the early post.'
He smiled, saying, 'You are a good correspondent.'
'Oh! I must write. Annette and I were never apart before.'
'Yes, only a year older. We always did everything together.'
He ventured to look up, and saw a bright dew on a soft, shady pair of dark eyes, a sweet quivering smile on a very pretty mouth, and a glow of pure bright deep pink on a most delicately fair skin, contrasted with braids of dark brown hair. She was rather above the ordinary height, slender, and graceful, and the childish beauty of the form or face and features surprised him; but to his mind the chief grace was the shy, sweet tenderness, happy and bright, but tremulous with the recent pain of the parting from home. With a kindly impulse, he said, 'You must tell me your name, Arthur has not mentioned it.'
'Violet;' and as he did not appear at once to catch its unusual sound, she repeated, 'Violet Helen; we most of us have strange names.'
'Violet Helen,' he repeated, with an intonation as if struck, not unpleasingly, by the second name. 'Well, that is the case in our family. My sister has an uncommon name.'
'Theodora,' said Violet, pausing, as if too timid to inquire further.
'Have you only this one sister?' he said.
'Six, and one brother,' said she, in a tone of exulting fondness. A short silence, and then the joyful exclamation, 'There he is!' and she sprang to the door, leaving it open, as her fresh young voice announced, full of gratulation, 'Here's your brother.'
'Guileless and unconscious of evil, poor child!' thought the brother; 'but I wonder how Arthur likes the news.'
Arthur entered, a fine-looking young man, of three-and-twenty, dark, bright complexioned, tall, and robust. He showed not the least consciousness of having offended, and his bride smiled freely as if at rest from all embarrassment now that she had her protector.
'Well, John,' was his greeting, warmly spoken. 'You here? You look better. How is the cough?'
'Better, thank you.'
'I see I need not introduce you,' said Arthur, laying his hand on the arm of his blushing Violet, who shrank up to him as he gave a short laugh. 'Have you been here long?'
'Only about five minutes.'
'And you are come to stay?'
'Thank you, if you can take me in for a day or two.'
'That we can. There is a tolerable spare room, and James will find a place for Brown. I am glad to see you looking so much better. Have you got rid of the pain in your side?'
'Entirely, thank you, for the last few weeks.'
'How is my mother?'
'Very well. She enjoyed the voyage extremely.'
'She won't concoct another Tour?'
'I don't think so,' said John, gravely.
'There has SHE,' indicating his wife, been thinking it her duty to read the old Italian one, which I never opened in my life. I declare it would take a dictionary to understand a page. She is scared at the variety of tongues, and feels as if she was in Babel.'
John was thinking that if he did not know this rattling talk to be a form of embarrassment, he should take it for effrontery.
'Shall I go and see about the room?' half-whispered Violet.
'Yes, do;' and he opened the door for her, exclaiming, almost before she was fairly gone, 'There! you want no more explanation.'
She is very lovely!' said John, in a tone full of cordial admiration.
'Isn't she?' continued Arthur, triumphantly. 'Such an out-of-the-way style;--the dark eyes and hair, with that exquisite complexion, ivory fairness,--the form of her face the perfect oval!--what you so seldom see--and her figure, just the right height, tall and taper! I don't believe she could be awkward if she was to try. She'll beat every creature hollow, especially in a few years' time when she's a little more formed.'
'She is very young?'
'Sixteen on our wedding-day. That's the beauty of it. If she had been a day older it would have been a different thing. Not that they could have spoilt her,--she is a thoroughbred by nature, and no mistake.'
'How did your acquaintance begin?'
'This way,' said Arthur, leaning back, and twirling a chair on one of its legs for a pivot. 'Fitzhugh would have me come down for a fortnight's fishing to Wrangerton. There's but one inn there fit to
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