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Heartsease or Brother's Wife

Chapter III.10
Thus have I seen a temper wild
In yokes of strong affection bound
Unto a spirit meek and mild,
Till chains of good were on him found.
He, struggling in his deep distress,
As in some dream of loneliness,
Hath found it was an angel guest.--Thoughts in Past Years
Five days had passed, and no material change had taken place. There was no
serious recurrence of bleeding, but the inflammation did not abate, and the
suffering was grievous, though Arthur was so much enfeebled that he could not
struggle under it. His extreme debility made his body passive, but it was painfully
evident that his mind was as anxious and ill at ease as ever. There was the same
distrustful watch to see every letter, and know all that passed; the constant strain
of every faculty, all in absolute silence, so that his nurses, especially Theodora,
felt as if it would be a positive personal relief to them if those eyes would be
closed for one minute.
What would they have given to know what passed in that sleepless mind? But
anything that could lead to speaking or agitation was forbidden; even, to the
great grief of Theodora, the admission of the clergyman of the parish. Lord
Martindale agreed with the doctors that it was too great a risk, and Violet allowed
them to decide, whispering to Theodora that she thought he heeded Johnnie's
prayers more than anything read with a direct view to himself. The cause of his
anxiety remained in doubt. Lord Martindale had consulted Violet, but she knew
nothing of any papers. She was aware that his accounts were mixed up with Mr.
Gardner's, and believed he had gone to Boulogne to settle them; and she
conjectured that he had found himself more deeply involved than he had
expected. She remembered his having said something of being undone, and his
words to Johnnie seemed to bear the same interpretation.
Mr. Fotheringham's apparition was also a mystery; so strange was it that, after
bringing Arthur home in such a state, he should offer no further assistance.
James was desired to ask him to come in, if he should call to inquire; but he did
not appear, and the father and sister began to have vague apprehensions, which
they would not for the world have avowed to each other, that there must be
worse than folly, for what save disgrace would have kept Percy from aiding
John's brother in his distress? Each morning rose on them with dread of what the
day might bring forth, not merely from the disease within, but from the world
without; each postman's knock was listened to with alarm, caught from poor
Arthur.
His wife was of course spared much of this. That worst fear could not occur to
her; she had no room for any thought but for him as he was in the sight of
Heaven, and each hour that his life was prolonged was to her a boon and a
blessing. She trusted that there was true sorrow for the past--not merely dread of
the consequences, as she traced the shades upon his face, while he listened to
 
 
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