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- Heartsease or Brother's Wife - 90/144 -


'May I tell you what came into my head after you were talking last night of not seeing your way, and wanting to be led. I thought of a verse in Isaiah.' Violet found the place and showed it.

'Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon his God.'

'Thank you, Violet,' said Theodora, looking on to the next verse. 'I will try to be patient; I will try not to kindle a fire for myself. But if they tease me much, if I am very weary--'

The summons cut her short--Lord Martindale ran up to hasten her; a fervent embrace--she was gone!

And Violet, with worn-out strength and spirits, remained to find how desolate she was--left behind in dreary summer London. There was nothing for it but to be as foolish as in old times, to lie down on the sofa and cry herself to sleep. She was a poor creature, after all, and awoke to weariness and headache, but to no repining; for she had attained to a spirit of thankfulness and content. She lay dreamily, figuring to herself Arthur enjoying himself on the moors and mountains, till Helvellyn's own purple cap came to brighten her dreams.

CHAPTER 22

Sigh no more, lady, lady, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever, One foot on shore and one on land, To one thing constant never.--Percy's Reliques

'So, you say Miss Martindale has left town?'

'Yes; Violet writes me that the family passed through London, and took her to the continent on Tuesday.'

'Then let Annette know she is to be ready to come with me to town on Monday. We shall see if it is the young lady's doing, or whether Mrs. Martindale intends to give herself airs with her father and sister.'

'Poor dear,' sighed the good care-worn mother, 'I do long to hear of her; but may I not write first? I should not like to get the dear child into trouble.'

'On no account write, or we shall have some excuse about pre- engagements. I shall take Annette at once, and see with my own eyes. Martindale can never have the face to hinder her from asking her own sister to stay in the house, when once she is there.'

'I hope he is kind to her!' said Mrs. Moss. 'I long to hear whether she is quite recovered; and she says so little of herself. She will be glad to see her sister, and yet, one does not like to seem pushing.'

'Never you mind,' said the acute, sharp-faced attorney, putting her aside as if she was presuming beyond her sphere; 'only you get Annette ready. Since we found such a match for Violet, she is bound to help off her sisters; and as to Annette, a jaunt is just what is wanting to drive that black coat out of her head. I wish he had never come near the place. The girl might have had the Irish captain, if she had not been running after him and his school. Tell her to be ready on Monday.'

Meek Mrs. Moss never dared to question her husband's decision; and she had suffered too much anxiety on her daughter's account, not to rejoice in the prospect of a trustworthy report, for Violet's letters were chiefly descriptions of her children.

There was much soreness in the Moss family respecting Violet, and two opinions with regard to her; some inclining to believe her a fine lady, willing to discard her kindred; others thinking her not a free agent, but tyrannized over by Miss Martindale, and neglected by her husband. So Annette, who had pined and drooped under the loss of the twin-like companionship of her sister, was sent out as on an adventure, in much trepidation and mysterious dread of Captain Martindale, by no means consistent with the easy good nature of his days of courtship. And thus her first letter was written and received with such feelings as attend that of an explorer of a new country.

'Cadogan-place, August 19th.

'Well, dearest mamma, I am writing from Violet's house. Yes, she is her own sweet self, our precious flower still--nobody must think anything else--she is not changed one bit, except that she is terribly pale and thin; but she calls herself quite well, and says that if I had seen her when Johnny was five weeks old, I should give her credit now. But Matilda will say I cannot write a comprehensible letter, so I will begin regularly.

'We slept at Uncle Christopher's, and after an early breakfast walked here. The man did not think his mistress could see any one, but when he heard who we were, showed us to the drawing-room, and there was Violet, quite alone, breakfasting by herself, for he is gone to Scotland! Poor dear girl! When she saw us, she gave a little scream, and flew up to me, clinging round my neck, and sobbing as she did on her wedding-day; it was as if the two years were nothing. However, in a moment, she composed herself, and said it was silly, but there was still a sob in her throat, and she was shy and constrained as she used to be with papa, in old times. She says she would not tell us Captain Martindale was going to Scotland, because of not tantalizing us with his passing so near, but I fear it is that she will not confess how often she is left alone. I am so glad we are come, now he is out of the way. She has asked us to stay while papa has to be in London, and I shall, but papa finds it more convenient to sleep at Uncle Christopher's. If we are not here oftener, I am sure it is no fault of hers; and her husband cannot be displeased with this little visit--at least he ought not. She sent for the children; the babe was asleep, but Johnnie came, and oh! how curious it seemed to hear the voice calling her mamma, and see the little creature holding out his arms to go to her. I felt, indeed, how long we have been apart--it was our own Violet, and yet some one else. You would have been amused to see how altered she was by having her son in her arms; how the little morsel seemed to give her confidence, and the shy stiffness went away, and she looked so proud and fond, and smiled and spoke with ease. There was the dear little fair fellow standing on her lap, leaning against her shoulder, with his arm round her neck, hiding his face when I looked at him too much. She said he was puzzled not to see the aunt he knew, and how I grudged his knowing any aunt better than me! They do look lovely together, and so much alike; but I could cry to see them both so white and wan; not a shade of her pretty colour on her cheek, and the little darling so very tiny and weak, though he is as clever as possible, and understands all you say to him. If I had but got them both in our fresh north countree!

'Papa could not stay, and as soon as he was gone, she set her boy down on the sofa, and threw her arms round my neck, and we were like wild things--we kissed, and screamed, and laughed, and cried, till poor Johnnie was quite frightened. "Now, Annette, come and see," said Violet, and took me up-stairs to the nursery, and there half- waking, under the archway of her cradle, lay, like a little queen, that beautiful creature, Helen, opening her black eyes just as we came up, and moving her round arms. How I longed for mamma to see her, and to see Violet's perfect look of happiness as she lifted her out and said, "Now, is not she worth seeing?" and then Sarah came up. Violet says Sarah threatened to go away, when there were two to be always racketing, but when it came to the point, could not leave Johnnie, whom she keeps in great order, and treats with much ceremony, always calling him Master John. She believes Sarah disapproves of poor Helen altogether, as an intruder upon Johnnie's comfort; and she is quite savage at admiration of her, as if it was a slight on him; but she has turned out an admirable nurse, in her own queer way. Such a morning as we have had, chattering so fast! all about you all. I am sure she loves us as much as ever, and I do not believe she is unhappy. She talks of her husband as if they were happy, and he has given her such quantities of pretty things, and I hear of so much that seems as if she was on comfortable terms with them all. I am satisfied about her, pray be so too, dear mamma.

'I am writing while waiting for her to drive to fetch my things from Uncle Christopher's-- She tells me to finish without minding her visitor--I was interrupted by Sarah's bringing Johnnie down, and he was very good with me, but presently a gentleman was announced, without my catching his name. I feared Johnnie would cry, but he sprang with delight, and the stranger saying, "Ha! master, you recollect me?" took him in his arms. I said my sister would come directly, and he gave a good-natured nod, and muttered half to himself, "Oh! another of the genus Viola. I am glad of it." I cannot make him out; he must be a relation, or one of the other officers. Violet did not know he was there, and came in with the baby in her arms; he stepped towards her, saying, "So you have set up another! Man or woman?" and then asked if she was another flower. Violet coloured, as she spoke low, and said, "Her name is Helen." I must ask Violet the meaning, for he looked gravely pleased, and answered gratefully, "That is very good of you." "I hope she will deserve it," Violet said, and was introducing me, but he said Johnnie had done him that honour. He has been talking of Captain Martindale (calling him Arthur), and telling curious things he has seen in Ireland. He is very amusing, bluff, and odd, but as if he was a distinguished person. Now I see that Violet is altered, and grown older--he seems to have such respect for, and confidence in her; and she so womanly and self-possessed, entering into his clever talk as Matilda would, yet in the simple way she always had. You would be proud to see her now--her manners must be perfection, I should think; so graceful and dignified, so engaging and quiet. I wish Louisa had seen her. What are they talking of now?

'Violet.--How did you find Pallas Athene?

'Unknown.--Alas, poor Pallas! With the judgment of the cockney who buttered his horse's hay, the ragged boy skinned her mice and plucked her sparrows in my absence. The consequence was her untimely end. I was met by my landlady with many a melancholy "Ah, sir!" and actually the good creature had had her stuffed.

'Violet.--Poor Pallas! then the poor boy has lost his employment?

'Unknown.--Happily, his honesty and his grief so worked upon my landlady, that she has taken him as an errand boy. So that, in fact,


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