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Chapter II.1
AN epoch in my narrative has now arrived. Up to the time of my marriage, I have
appeared as an active agent in the different events I have described. After that
period, and--with one or two exceptional cases--throughout the whole year of my
probation, my position changed with the change in my life, and became a passive
During this interval year, certain events happened, some of which, at the time,
excited my curiosity, but none my apprehension--some affected me with a
temporary disappointment, but none with even a momentary suspicion. I can now
look back on them, as so many timely warnings which I treated with fatal neglect.
It is in these events that the history of the long year through which I waited to
claim my wife as my own, is really comprised. They marked the lapse of time
broadly and significantly; and to them I must now confine myself, as exclusively
as may be, in the present portion of my narrative.
It will be first necessary, however, that I should describe what was the nature of
my intercourse with Margaret, during the probationary period which followed our
Mr. Sherwin's anxiety was to make my visits to North Villa as few as possible: he
evidently feared the consequences of my seeing his daughter too often. But on
this point, I was resolute enough in asserting my own interests, to overpower any
resistance on his part. I required him to concede to me the right of seeing
Margaret every day--leaving all arrangements of time to depend on his own
convenience. After the due number of objections, he reluctantly acquiesced in my
demand. I was bound by no engagement whatever, limiting the number of my
visits to Margaret; and I let him see at the outset, that I was now ready in my turn,
to impose conditions on him, as he had already imposed them on me.
Accordingly, it was settled that Margaret and I were to meet every day. I usually
saw her in the evening. When any alteration in the hour of my visit took place,
that alteration was produced by the necessity (which we all recognised alike) of
avoiding a meeting with any of Mr. Sherwin's friends.
Those portions of the day or the evening which I spent with Margaret, were
seldom passed altogether in the Elysian idleness of love. Not content with only
enumerating his daughter's school-accomplishments to me at our first interview,
Mr. Sherwin boastfully referred to them again and again, on many subsequent
occasions; and even obliged Margaret to display before me, some of her
knowledge of languages--which he never forgot to remind us had been lavishly
paid for out of his own pocket. It was at one of these exhibitions that the idea
occurred to me of making a new pleasure for myself out of Margaret's society, by
teaching her really to appreciate and enjoy the literature which she had evidently
hitherto only studied as a task. My fancy revelled by anticipation in all the delights
of such an employment as this. It would be like acting the story of Abelard and
Heloise over again--reviving all the poetry and romance in which those immortal