Heartsease or Brother's Wife
P. Henry.--But do you use me thus, Ned; must I marry your sister? Poins.--May
the wench have no worse fortune, but I never said so.
--K. Henry IV
Arthur met the new-comer, exclaiming, 'Ha! Fotheringham, you have not brought
me the amber mouth-piece I desired John to tell you of.'
'Not I. I don't bring Turks' fashion into Christian countries. You ought to learn
better manners now you are head of a family.'
Theodora entered, holding her head somewhat high, but there was a decided
heightening of the glow on her cheek as Mr. Fotheringham shook hands with her.
Lord Martindale gave him an affectionate welcome, and Lady Martindale, though
frigid at first, grew interested as she asked about his journey.
The arriving guests met him with exclamations of gladness, as if he was an
honour to the neighbourhood; and John had seldom looked more cheerful and
more gratified than in watching his reception.
At length came the names for which Violet was watching; and the presence of
Lady Elizabeth gave her a sense of motherly protection, as she was greeted with
as much warmth as was possible for shy people in the midst of a large party.
Emma eagerly presented her two friends to each other, and certainly they were a
great contrast. Miss Marstone was sallow, with thin sharply-cut features, her eyes
peered out from spectacles, her hair was disposed in the plainest manner, as
well as her dress, which was anything but suited to a large dinner-party. Violet's
first impulse was to be afraid of her, but to admire Emma for being attracted by
worth through so much formidable singularity.
'And the dear little godson is grown to be a fine fellow,' began Emma.
'Not exactly that,' said Violet, 'but he is much improved, and so bright and clever.'
'You will let us see him after dinner?'
'I have been looking forward to it very much, but he will be asleep, and you won't
see his pretty ways and his earnest dark eyes.'
'I long to see the sweet child,' said Miss Marstone. 'I dote on such darlings. I
always see so much in their countenances. There is the germ of so much to be
drawn out hereafter in those deep looks of thought.'
'My baby often looks very intent.'
'Intent on thoughts beyond our power to trace!' said Miss Marstone.
'Ah! I have often thought that we cannot fathom what may be passing in a baby's
mind,' said Emma.
'With its fixed eyes unravelling its whole future destiny!' said Miss Marstone.
'Poor little creature!' murmured Violet.
'I am convinced that the whole course of life takes its colouring from some
circumstance at the time unmarked.'
'It would frighten me to think so,' said Violet.
'For instance, I am convinced that a peculiar bias was given to my own
disposition in consequence of not being understood by the nurse and aunt who
petted my brother, while they neglected me. Perhaps I was not a prepossessing