Heartsease or Brother's Wife
Unschooled affections, strong and wild,
Have been my playmates from a child,
And strengthening in the breast unseen,
Poisoned the fount within.--Thoughts in Past Years
The morning of the next day had been fine, and was spent in shooting by Arthur
and Mr. Fotheringham; but the latter came home in time to ride with John, to
make a call on some old friends, far beyond what had long been John's distance.
The afternoon closed in a violent storm of wind and rain, which drove Arthur
indoors, and compelled Violet to resort for exercise to the gallery, where she
paced up and down with Johnnie in her arms, watching for the return of the
others, as each turn brought her to the end window. As Lord Martindale came up-
stairs, he paused at the sight of the slender young figure--her head bent over her
little one. Perhaps he was thinking what might have been, if his own children had
ever been as much to their mother; for when Violet turned towards him he
sighed, as he roused himself, and asked whether she saw John coming. Then
joining her, he looked at his grandson, saying, 'He is improving very fast. How
like you he grows!'
'Poor little fellow, he was not at all well yesterday, and I began to think of asking
whether I should send for Mr. Legh.'
'Whatever you do, beware of doctoring!' was Lord Martindale's rather hasty
answer. 'Of doctoring and governessing!--I have seen enough of it, and I
resolved my two youngest should run wholesomely wild, never be dosed, and
never learn a lesson till they were six years old.'
'But this poor little man is really delicate, and I have no experience,' pleaded
'Depend upon it, my dear,' said Lord Martindale, with sorrowful emotion in his
voice, as he saw the little fair head resting caressingly on her neck, 'you are
doing more for him than all the physicians in England. You must not tease him
and yourself with fretting and anxiety.'
'I know it is my duty not to be over-anxious,' said Violet, with her heart full, as she
clasped her hands close round her tiny treasure.
'You must not,' said his grandfather. 'It was the notion that mine could never have
enough teaching or doctoring-as if that was what they wanted! Some system or
other was always being tried on them, and they were never left to healthy action
of mind or body, till the end was that I lost my two pretty little girls! And poor
John, I never saw a more wretched-looking child than he was when I took him to
'And what was his advice?'
'His advice was this. "Throw away lessons and physic. Give him other children to
play with, make him wear a brown holland pinafore, and let him grope in the dirt."
I believe it saved his life! I begged Mrs. Fotheringham to let him do just like her
children, little thinking what was to come of that.' Then catching himself up, as if
fearing to give Violet pain, 'Not that I should have regretted that connection. She