Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter II.21
But when the self-abhorring thrill
Is past, as pass it must,
When tasks of life thy spirit fill
Risen from thy tears and dust,
Then be the self-renouncing will
The seal of thy calm trust.--Lyra Apostolica
Arthur quitted London the day after his little girl's christening, talking of being
absent only a fortnight, before taking his wife to Windsor; and promising to return
at once, if she should find herself in the least unwell or dispirited. She was
delighted to be well enough not to spoil his sport, and Theodora was too anxious
to have him at a distance from Mr. Gardner to venture on any remonstrance.
It was the day the family were to come to London, and he left orders with the
ladies to say 'all that was proper', but the twelfth of August was to him an
unanswerable reason for immediate departure.
Theodora and Violet went to receive the party in the house in Belgrave Square,
both silent, yet conscious of each other's feelings. Theodora paced the room,
while Violet leant back in a great blue damask chair, overcome by the beatings of
her heart; and yet, when the carriage arrived, it was she who spoke the word of
encouragement: 'Your father is so kind, I know he forgives us!'
Theodora knew Violet thought her own weakness and inefficiency needed
pardon, and therefore could bear the saying, and allow it to turn her defiant
shame into humility.
Mrs. Nesbit came in, supported between Lord and Lady Martindale, and as
Theodora hastened to wheel round the large arm-chair, and settle the cushions
for her, her eye glanced in keen inquiry from one niece to the other, and they felt
that she was exulting in the fulfilment of her prediction.
Lord Martindale kissed his daughter with grave formality; and, as if to mark the
difference, threw much warm affection into his greeting of Violet, and held her
hand for some moments, while he asked solicitously if she were well and strong,
and inquired for her little ones.
She made Arthur's excuses and explanations, but broke off, blushing and
disconcerted, by that harsh, dry cough of Mrs. Nesbit's, and still more, by seeing
Lord Martindale look concerned. She began, with nervous eagerness and
agitation, to explain that it was an old engagement, he would not be away long,
and then would take her out of town--she was hardly yet ready for a journey.
From him she obtained kind smiles, and almost fatherly tenderness; from Lady
Martindale the usual ceremonious civility. They asked her to dinner, but she was
not equal to this; they then offered to send her home in the carriage, and when
she refused, Lord Martindale said he would walk back with her, while Theodora
remained with her mother.
He was much displeased with his son for leaving her, especially when he saw
how delicate and weak she still looked; and he was much annoyed at being
unable to prevent it, without giving Arthur a premium for selfishness; so that all