Heartsease or Brother's Wife
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice.
When Arthur went with his regiment to Windsor, the ladies intended to spend
their evenings at home, a rule which had many exceptions, although Violet was
so liable to suffer from late hours and crowded rooms, that Lady Elizabeth
begged her to abstain from parties, and offered more than once to take charge of
Theodora; but the reply always was that they went out very little, and that this
once it would not hurt her.
The truth was that Theodora had expressed a decided aversion to going out with
the Brandons. 'Lady Elizabeth sits down in the most stupid part of the room,' she
said, 'and Emma stands by her side with the air of a martyr. They look like a pair
of respectable country cousins set down all astray, wishing for a safe corner to
run into, and wondering at the great and wicked world. And they go away
inhumanly early, whereas if I do have the trouble of dressing, it shall not be for
nothing. I ingeniously eluded all going out with them last year, and a great mercy
it was to them.'
So going to a royal ball was all Theodora vouchsafed to do under Lady
Elizabeth's protection; and as her objections could not be disclosed, Violet was
obliged to leave it to be supposed that it was for her own gratification that she
always accompanied her; although not only was the exertion and the subsequent
fatigue a severe tax on her strength, but she was often uneasy and distressed by
Theodora's conduct. Her habits in company had not been materially changed by
her engagement; she was still bent on being the first object, and Violet
sometimes felt that her manner was hardly fair upon those who were ignorant of
her circumstances. For Theodora's own sake, it was unpleasant to see her in
conversation with Mr. Gardner; and not only on her account, but on that of Lord
St. Erme, was her uncertain treatment of him a vexation to Violet.
Violet, to whom Theodora's lovers were wont to turn when suffering from her
caprice, was on very friendly terms with the young Earl. He used to come and
stand by her, and talk to her about Wrangerton, and seemed quite amused and
edified by her quiet enthusiasm for it, and for Helvellyn, and her intimacy with all
the pictures which he had sent home and almost forgotten. His sister was
another favourite theme; she was many years younger than himself, and not yet
come out; but he was very desirous of introducing her to Mrs. and Miss
Martindale; and Violet, who had heard of Lady Lucy all her life, was much
pleased when a day was fixed for a quiet dinner at Mrs. Delaval's, the aunt with
whom she lived. How Mrs. Moss would enjoy hearing of it!
The day before was one of the first hot days of summer, and Violet was so
languid that she looked forward with dread to the evening, when they were to go
to a soiree at Mrs. Bryanstone's, and she lay nursing herself, wishing for any
pretence for declining it. Theodora coming in, declared that her going was out of
the question; but added, 'Georgina Finch is to be there, she will call for me.'
'I shall be better when the heat of the day is over.'