Heartsease or Brother's Wife
Call me false, or call me free,
Vow, whatever light may shine,
No man on your face shall see
Any grief for change of mine.
E. B. BROWNING (The Lady's Yes)
It appeared as if Mrs. Finch and Miss Gardner were offended at Theodora's
defection, for nothing was heard of them for several days, and the household in
Cadogan-place continued in a state of peacefulness. Arthur was again at home
for a week, and Theodora was riding with him when she next met the two sisters,
who at once attacked them for their absence from the picnic, giving an eager
description of its delights and of the silence and melancholy of poor Lord St.
'He and Mark were both in utter despair,' said Jane.
'Well, it is of no use to ask you; I have vowed I never will,' said Mrs. Finch; 'or I
should try to make you come with us on Wednesday.'
'What are you going to do?'
'You living in Captain Martindale's house, and forgetting the Derby!' And an
entreaty ensued that both brother and sister would join their party. Arthur gave a
gay, unmeaning answer, and they parted.
'What do you think of it?' asked Theodora.
'Too much trouble,' said he, lazily. 'There is no horse running that I take interest
in. My racing days are over. I am an old domestic character.'
'Nonsense! You don't look two-and-twenty! Lady Elizabeth's sister would not
believe you were my married brother. You have not the look of it.'
Arthur laughed, and said, 'Absurd!' but was flattered.
When he told his wife of the invitation, he added, 'I wonder if there is a fresh
breeze blowing up!'
'I trust not.'
'If she really wants to go, and she has never seen the thing, I had rather take her
in a sober way by ourselves, and come home at our own time.'
'Why don't you! It would be very pleasant for you both, and I should be so glad.
Think how she shuts herself up with me!'
'We will see. Anything for a quiet life.'
Theodora, being fond of horses, and used to hear much about them from her
brother, had a real curiosity to go to Epsom, and broached the subject the next
morning at breakfast. Before any answer had been given, Mr. Fotheringham
made his appearance.
'Well, Percy,' said Arthur, 'you find this sister of mine bent on dragging me to
Epsom. Come with us! You will have an opportunity of getting up an article
against fashionable life.'
Theodora was ready to hide her desire for his consent, but thought better of it,
and said, 'It is of no use to ask him.'