Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter II.20
Yet learn the gamut of Hortensio.--Taming of the Shrew
Mrs. Nesbit was recommended to spend some months at Baden Baden; and
Theodora formed a design, which highly pleased Arthur and Violet, of spending
this time, while the family were absent, and while Arthur was in Scotland, as
hostess at Martindale to Violet and the children.
After seeing Arthur off to Windsor for the next fortnight, Theodora had begun
writing to propose the scheme to her father, when she was interrupted by the
announcement of Lord St. Erme.
To visit her alone was a strong measure, and she put on a panoply of dignified
formality. He began to say he had brought a German book, to show her a poem
of which their conversation had reminded him.
'I understand very little German,' said she, coldly. 'I once had a German
governess whom I disliked so much that I took a disgust to the language.'
'There is so much that is beautiful and untranslatable in its literature, that I am
sure it would recompense you.'
'I do not like the German tone of mind. It is vapoury and unreal.'
'I should like to show you cause to alter your opinion, but--'
'This is English,' said Theodora, as her eye fell on a paper of verses that marked
the place.
'Ah, Lucy made me put it in. A few lines that occurred to me after watching Mrs.
Martindale's little boy.'
Thankful that they were not inspired by Venus's little boy, she glanced over them,
and saw they were in his best style, simple and pretty thoughts on the child's
content, wherever he traced any symbol of his father.
'Poor little Johnnie is highly flattered,' she said. 'His mamma will be delighted.'
He begged her attention to the German poem, she glanced onward as he read,
watching for shoals ahead, and spied something about a "hochbeseeltes
madchen" inspiring a "Helden sanger geist", and grew hotter and hotter till she
felt ready to box his ears for intoning German instead of speaking plain English,
and having it over. A cotton umbrella arose before her eyes, she heard the
plashing gravel, and an honest voice telling her she was a grand creature in
great need of being broken in.
The critical stanza had commenced, the reader's voice trembled; Theodora did
not heed, her mind was in the avenue at home. An opening door startled them.
'Mr. and Mrs. Albert Moss.'
Her brother's brother-in-law! the son and partner of Lord St. Erme's steward! Was
it thus his suit was to be checked?
There was no recognition; he went on reading his German to himself, while
Albert presented Mrs. Albert Moss, resplendent in bridal finery, and displaying
her white teeth in a broad smile, as with a nod, half-gracious, half-apologetic, she
said, 'I fear we interrupt a lesson; but we will not inconvenience you; we will go at
once to our dear convalescent.'