Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter II.5
Her scourge is felt, unseen, unheard,
Where, though aloud the laughter swells,
Her secret in the bosom dwells,
There is a sadness in the strain
As from a heart o'ercharged with pain.--The Baptistery
Theodora had come to London, hating the idea of gaieties, liking nothing but the
early service and chemical lectures, and shrinking from the meeting with her
former friend. She enjoyed only the prospect of the comfort her society would
afford her brother, depressed by attendance on a nervous wife, in an
unsatisfactory home.
No Arthur met them at the station: he had left a message that he was taking Mrs.
Martindale to the Isle of Wight, and should return early on Tuesday.
Theodora stayed at home the whole of that day, but in vain. She was busied in
sending out cards to canvass for her dumb boy's admission into an asylum, when
a message came up to her sitting-room. She started. Was it Arthur? No; Mrs.
Finch was in the drawing-room; and at that moment a light step was on the stairs,
and a flutter of gay ribbons advanced. 'Ha! Theodora! I knew how to track you.
The old place! Dear old school-room, how happy we have been here! Not gone
out? Any one would think you had some stern female to shut you up with a tough
exercise! But I believe you always broke out.'
'I stayed in to-day, expecting my brother.'
'Captain Martindale? Why, did not I see him riding with your father? Surely I did.'
'Impossible!' exclaimed Theodora.
'Yes, but I did though; I am sure of it, for he bowed. He had that sweet pretty little
mare of his. Have you seen her, Theodora? I quite envy her; but I suppose he
bought it for his wife; and she deserves all that is sweet and pretty, I am sure,
and has it, too.'
Theodora could not recover from the thrill of pain so as to speak, and Mrs. Finch
rattled on. 'She was not in good looks when I saw her, poor thing, but she looked
so soft and fragile, it quite went to my heart; though Jane will have it she is deep,
and gets her own way by being meek and helpless. I don't go along with Jane
throughout; I hate seeing holes picked in everybody.'
'Where is Jane?'
'Gone to some charity sermonizing. She will meet some great folks there, and be
in her element. I am glad to have you alone. Why, you bonny old Greek empress,
you are as jolly a gipsy queen as ever! How you will turn people's heads! I am
glad you have all that bright red-brown on your cheeks!'
'No self-preservation like a country life and early rising,' said Theodora, laughing.
'You have not kept yourself as well, Georgina. I am sorry to see you so thin.'
'Me! Oh, I have battered through more seasons than you have dreamt of!' said
Mrs. Finch, lightly, but with a sigh. 'And had a fever besides, which disposed of
all my fat. I am like a hunter in fine condition, no superfluous flesh, ready for
action. And as to action- -what are you doing, Theodora?--where are you going?'