Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter I.4
They read botanic treatises
And works of gardeners through there,
And methods of transplanting trees
To look as if they grew there.--A. TENNYSON
Theodora awoke to sensations of acute grief. Her nature had an almost tropical
fervour of disposition; and her education having given her few to love, her ardent
affections had fastened upon Arthur with a vehemence that would have made the
loss of the first place in his love painful, even had his wife been a person she
respected and esteemed, but when she saw him, as she thought, deluded and
thrown away on this mere beauty, the suffering was intense.
The hope Jane Gardner had given her, of his return to her, when he should have
discovered his error, was her first approach to comfort, and seemed to invigorate
her to undergo the many vexations of the day, in the sense of neglect, and the
sight of his devotion to his bride.
She found that, much as she had dreaded it, she had by no means realized the
discomposure she secretly endured when they met at breakfast, and he,
remembering her repulse, was cold--she was colder; and Violet, who, in the
morning freshness, was growing less timid, shrank back into awe of her formal
In past days it had been a complaint that Arthur left her no time to herself. Now
she saw the slight girlish figure clinging to his arm as they crossed the lawn, and
she knew they were about to make the tour of their favourite haunts, she could
hardly keep from scolding Skylark back when even he deserted her to run after
them; and only by a very strong effort could she prevent her mind from pursuing
their steps, while she was inflicting a course of Liebig on Miss Gardner, at the
especial instance of that lady, who, whatever hobby her friends were riding,
always mounted behind.
Luncheon was half over, when the young pair came in, flushed with exercise and
animation; Arthur talking fast about the covers and the game, and Violet in such
high spirits, that she volunteered a history of their trouble with Skylark, and 'some
dear little partridges that could not get out of a cart rut.'
In the afternoon Miss Gardner, 'always so interested in schools and village
children,' begged to be shown 'Theodora's little scholars,' and walked with her to
Brogden, the village nearly a mile off. They set off just as the old pony was
coming to the door for Violet to have a riding lesson; and on their return, at the
end of two hours, found Arthur still leading, letting go, running by the side,
laughing and encouraging.
'Fools' paradise!' thought Theodora, as she silently mounted the steps.
'That is a remarkably pretty little hat,' said Miss Gardner. Theodora made a blunt
affirmative sound.
'No doubt she is highly pleased to sport it. The first time of wearing anything so
becoming must be charming at her age. I could envy her.'
'Poor old pony!' was all Theodora chose to answer.