What name doth Joy most borrow
When life is fair?
What name doth best fit Sorrow
In young despair?
There was a much more lasting trouble at the rectory. Rex arrived there only to
throw himself on his bed in a state of apparent apathy, unbroken till the next day,
when it began to be interrupted by more positive signs of illness. Nothing could
be said about his going to Southampton: instead of that, the chief thought of his
mother and Anna was how to tend this patient who did not want to be well, and
from being the brightest, most grateful spirit in the household, was
metamorphosed into an irresponsive, dull-eyed creature who met all affectionate
attempts with a murmur of "Let me alone." His father looked beyond the crisis,
and believed it to be the shortest way out of an unlucky affair; but he was sorry
for the inevitable suffering, and went now and then to sit by him in silence for a
few minutes, parting with a gentle pressure of his hand on Rex's blank brow, and
a "God bless you, my boy." Warham and the younger children used to peep
round the edge of the door to see this incredible thing of their lively brother being
laid low; but fingers were immediately shaken at them to drive them back. The
guardian who was always there was Anna, and her little hand was allowed to rest
within her brother's, though he never gave it a welcoming pressure. Her soul was
divided between anguish for Rex and reproach of Gwendolen.
"Perhaps it is wicked of me, but I think I never can love her again," came as the
recurrent burden of poor little Anna's inward monody. And even Mrs. Gascoigne
had an angry feeling toward her niece which she could not refrain from
expressing (apologetically) to her husband.
"I know of course it is better, and we ought to be thankful that she is not in love
with the poor boy; but really. Henry, I think she is hard; she has the heart of a
coquette. I can not help thinking that she must have made him believe
something, or the disappointment would not have taken hold of him in that way.
And some blame attaches to poor Fanny; she is quite blind about that girl."
Mr. Gascoigne answered imperatively: "The less said on that point the better,
Nancy. I ought to have been more awake myself. As to the boy, be thankful if
nothing worse ever happens to him. Let the thing die out as quickly as possible;
and especially with regard to Gwendolen--let it be as if it had never been."