Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter III.9
She left the gleam-lit fire-place,
She came to the bedside,
Her look was like a sad embrace,
The gaze of one who can divine
A grief, and sympathize.
Sweet flower, thy children's eyes
Are not more innocent than thine.
Tristram and Yseulte.--M. ARNOLD
At last there was a respite. The choking, stifling flow of blood, that, with brief
intervals, had for the last two hours threatened momentary death, had been at
length checked; the eyes were closed that had roamed in helpless affright and
agony from Violet to the doctors; and the sufferer was lying, in what his wife
would fain have deemed a slumber, but the gasping respiration and looks of
distress made it but too evident that it was the stillness of exhaustion, enhanced
by dread of renewing the bleeding by word or motion.
There could be no concealment of the exceeding danger. His lungs had never
been strong; and the slight cough, which, contrary to his usual habits, he had
neglected all the summer, had been the token of mischief, which his recent
expedition had aggravated to a fearful extent. Even the violent bleeding had not
relieved the inflammation on the chest, and Violet had collected from the
physician's looks and words that it could be hardly expected that he should
survive the day.
Yet, through that dreadful morning, she had not failed in resolution or composure:
never once had her husband seen in her look, or heard in her tone, aught but
what might cheer and sustain him--never had her fortitude or steadiness given
way. She had not time to think of consolation and support; but her habit of prayer
and trust came to her aid, and brought strength and support around her "in these
great waterfloods" of trouble. She was not forsaken in her hour of need. Hitherto
there had been no space for reflection; now his quiescent state, though for the
present so great a relief, brought the opportunity of realizing his situation; but
therewith arose thankfulness for the space thus granted, and the power of
praying that it might be blessed to him whether for life or death.
In watchfulness and supplication, she sat beside him, with her babe, much afraid
that it should disturb him, and be unwelcome. However, when some little sound
made him aware of its presence, he opened his eyes, moved his hand, as if to
put back the covering that hid its face from him, and presently signed to have it
placed on the bed by his side. It was a fine large dark boy, already so like him as
to make the contrast the more striking and painful, between the unconscious
serenity of the babe and the restless misery of the face of the father, laid low in
the strength of manhood, and with a look of wretched uneasiness, as if the load
on the mind was a worse torment than the weight on the labouring breath. He,
who usually hardly deigned a glance at his infants, now lay gazing with
inexpressible softness and sadness at the little sleeping face; and Violet, while