Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter III.11
Then weep not o'er the hour of pain,
As those who lose their all;
Gather the fragments that remain,
They'll prove nor few nor small.--M. L. DUNCAN
In the meantime Theodora and her father had been brought into contact with
visitors from the external world. One morning James brought in a card and
message of inquiry from Lord St. Erme, and Lord Martindale desired that he
should be admitted. Theodora had just time to think how ridiculous it was of her
to consider how she should appear to another old lover, before he came in,
colouring deeply, and bending his head low, not prepared to shake hands; but
when hers was held out, taking it with an eager yet bashful promptitude.
After a cordial greeting between him and her father, it was explained that he had
not entirely recovered what he called his accident, and had come to London for
advice; he had brought a parcel from Wrangerton for Mrs. Martindale, and had
promised to carry the Moss family the latest news of the Colonel. While this was
passing, and Lord Martindale was talking about Arthur, Theodora had time to
observe him. The foreign dress and arrangement of hair were entirely done away
with, and he looked like an Englishman, or rather an English boy, for the
youthfulness of feature and figure was the same; the only difference was that
there was a greater briskness of eye, and firmness of mouth, and that now that
the blush on entering had faded, his complexion showed the traces of recent
illness, and his cheeks and hands were very thin. When Theodora thought of the
heroism he had shown, of her own usage of him, and of his remembrance of her
in the midst of his worst danger, she could not see him without more emotion
than she desired. He was like a witness against her, and his consciousness
WOULD infect her! She longed for some of the cool manner that had come so
readily with Percy, and with some difficulty brought out a composed inquiry for
Lady Lucy; but he disconcerted her again by the rapid eager way in which he
turned round at her voice.
'Lucy is very well, thank you; I left her staying with my cousins, the Delavals. It is
very hard to get her away from home, and she threatens not to stay a day after
my return.' He spoke in a hasty confused way, as if trying to spin everything out
of the answer, so as to remain conversing with Theodora as long as possible.
'How long shall you be in town?' she asked, trying to find something she could
say without awkwardness.
'I can hardly tell. I have a good deal to do. Pray'--turning to Lord Martindale--'can
you tell me which is the best shop to go to for agricultural implements?'
Speed the plough! Farming is a happy sedative for English noblemen of the
nineteenth century, thought Theodora, as she heard them discussing subsoil and
rocks, and thought of the poet turned high farmer, and forgetting even love and
embarrassment! However, she had the satisfaction of hearing, 'No, we cannot
carry it out thoroughly there without blowing up the rocks, and I cannot have the
responsibility of defacing nature.'