Heartsease or Brother's Wife
St. Osyth's well is turned aside.--CRABBE
On the first convenient day, Lord Martindale sent Violet to call at Rickworth
Priory, a visit which she was the more desirous of making, as Emma's
correspondence, after languishing for awhile, had ceased, excepting that she
sent a fresh allegory of Miss Marstone's to Johnnie on each birthday; and the
Brandons having given up coming to London for the season, she scarcely knew
anything about them, excepting through Theodora, who reported that they retired
more and more from society, and that Miss Marstone was much with them.
Theodora would have accompanied Violet, but she was sure that her absence
would be a boon to Emma, whom she had of late tried in vain to draw out; and,
besides, one of the housemaids was ill, and Theodora, whom her Cousin Hugh
called the mother of the maids, wished not to be away at the doctor's visit. So
little Johnnie was his mother's only companion; but she was disappointed in her
hopes of introducing him to his godmother. To her surprise Lady Elizabeth was
alone, Emma was at Gothlands with her friend Miss Marstone.
'They were very kind in asking me,' said Lady Elizabeth, 'and so was Emma
about leaving me; but I do not wish to be a drag upon her.'
'Oh! how can you say so?' exclaimed Violet.
'It did not suit,' said Lady Elizabeth. 'The uncle, old Mr. Randal, is an old-
fashioned, sporting squire, and the other Miss Marstones are gay ladies. I felt
myself out of my element when I was there before; but now I almost wish I was
'You must miss her very much, indeed.'
'It is what we must all come to, my dear,' said Lady Elizabeth, looking at the
young mother, with her boy leaning against her knee, deep in a book of
illustrations. 'You have a good many years to look forward to with your little flock;
but, one way or other, they will go forth from us.'
Lady Elizabeth thought Johnnie too much absorbed to hear; but Violet found his
hand lightly squeezing hers.
'I thought you at least had kept your daughter,' she said.
'Emma will be five-and-twenty in the autumn.'
'But, oh! Lady Elizabeth, I thought--'
'I cannot tell, my dear. I hope Emma's arrangements may be such that we may
go on together as before.'
'How do you mean?' exclaimed Violet, confounded.
'Her judgment is sound,' continued Lady Elizabeth, 'if she will only use it; and
when it comes to the point, Miss Marstone's may be the same.'
'Is she gone to Gothlands to settle her plans?'
'Yes; I could not well have gone with her, for we have four little orphan girls in the
house, whom I could not well leave to the servants. That is quite as I wish, if the
rest could be added without Theresa Marstone making this her home, and
introducing all the plans they talk of.'
'She could not introduce anything to make you uncomfortable!'