Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version
Heartsease In thy heart shall spring
If content abiding,
Where, beneath that leafless tree,
Life's still stream is gliding.
But, transplanted thence, it fades,
For it bloometh only
Neath the shadow of the Cross,
In a valley lonely. -- J. E. L.
Love, hope, and patience, these must be thy graces,
And in thine own heart let them first keep school.--COLERIDGE
The avenue of Martindale budded with tender green, and in it walked Theodora,
watching for the arrival of the sister-in-law, scarcely seen for nearly four years.
Theodora's dress was of the same rigid simplicity as of old, her figure as upright,
her countenance as noble, but a change had passed over her; her bearing was
less haughty; her step, still vigorous and firm, had lost its wilfulness, the proud
expression of lip had altered to one of thought and sadness, and her eyes had
become softer and more melancholy. She leaned against the tree where the
curate had brought her the first tidings of Arthur's marriage, and she sighed, but
not as erst with jealousy and repining.
There was, indeed, an alteration--its beginning may not be traced, for the seed
had been sown almost at her birth, and though little fostered, had never ceased
to spring. The first visible shoot had been drawn forth by Helen Fotheringham;
but the growth, though rapid, had been one-sided; the branches, like those of a
tree in a sea-wind, all one way, blown aside by gusts of passion and self-will. In
its next stage, the attempt to lop and force them back had rendered them more
crooked and knotty, till the enterprise had been abandoned as vain. But there
was a soft hand that had caressed the rugged boughs, softened them with the
dews of gratitude and affection, fanned them with gales from heaven, and gently
turned them to seek training and culture, till the most gnarled and hardened had
learnt patiently to endure the straightening hand and pruning knife.
Under such tranquil uneventful discipline, Theodora had spent the last four years,
working with all her might at her labours in the parish, under Mr. Hugh
Martindale, and what was a far more real effort, patiently submitting when family
duties thwarted her best intentions. Parish work was her solace, in a somewhat
weary life, isolated from intimate companionship.
She had, indeed, Mr. Hugh Martindale for a guide and adviser, and to her father
she was a valuable assistant and companion; but her mother was more than ever
engrossed by the care of Mrs. Nesbit; her eldest brother was still in the West
Indies and Arthur only seen in fleeting visits, so short that it had never been
convenient for his family to accompany him, nor had Theodora even been spared