Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter III.6
What have I? Shall I dare to tell?
A comfortless and hidden well,
A well of love, it may be deep,
I trust it is, and never dry.
What matter if the waters sleep
In silence and obscurity?--WORDSWORTH
Violet experienced the trials to which she knew she was returning. For some time
past her husband's habits had been growing less and less domestic, and his
disappointment alienated him still more. It was as if Mrs. Nesbit had left behind
her a drop of poison, that perverted and envenomed the pride he used to take in
his son, as heir to the family honours, and made him regard the poor child almost
in the light of a rival, while he seemed to consider the others as burdens, and
their number a hardship and misfortune.
He was so impatient of interruption from them, that Violet kept them carefully out
of his way, while he was in the house, and this was seldom for a long space of
time. All the fancied trials of the first year of her marriage seemed to have
actually come upon her! She hardly saw him from morning to night, and when he
did spend an evening at home, he was sullen and discontented, and found fault
with everything. She was far from well, but his days of solicitude were gone by,
and he was too much wrapped up in his own concerns to perceive her failure in
strength, and the effort it cost her to be cheerful. The children were her great
solace, but the toil of attending to them was almost beyond her powers, and if it
had not been for her boy, she felt as if she must have been quite overwhelmed.
Quiet, gentle, and thoughtful, he was a positive assistance in the care of his
sisters; and to read with him, hear his remarks, watch his sweet obedience, and
know herself the object of his earnest affection, was her chief enjoyment, though
even here there was anxiety. His innocence and lovingness had something
unearthly, and there was a precocious understanding, a grave serious turn of
mind, and a want of childish mirth, which added to the fears caused by his fragile
health. Play was not nearly so pleasant to him as to sit by her, reading or talking,
or to act as her little messenger; and it was plain that he missed fondness from
his father almost as much as she did for him. To be in the room with papa was
his most earnest desire, and it saddened her to see that little slight figure silent in
the corner, the open book on his lap, but his pale face, soft dark eyes, and parted
lips, intent on every movement of his father, till the instant a want was expressed,
or the least occasion for a service offered, there was a bound to execute it, and
the inattentive indifferent 'thank you' was enough to summon up the rosy hue of
delight. Would Arthur only have looked, how could he have helped being
touched? But he continued neglectful and unheeding, while the child's affection
seemed to thrive the more under disregard.
Violet's only satisfaction was in the absence of Mr. Gardner. She heard
constantly from Lady Elizabeth Brandon; but there was little that was hopeful in
that quarter. Emma's heart was more entirely in the power of her suitor than even