Heartsease or Brother's Wife HTML version

Chapter I.6
Is it that they have a fear
Of the dreary season near,
Or that other pleasures be
Sweeter even than gaiety?--WORDSWORTH
Were they to leave the country? This was still under consideration. The next
fortnight made some difference in Theodora's wishes respecting Brogden
Cottage. Violet becoming less timid, ventured to show that she took interest in
poor people; and Theodora was pleased by finding her able to teach at school,
and to remember the names of the children. Especially her sweet looks and signs
gained the heart of little Charley Layton, the dumb boy at the lodge--the creature
on whom Theodora bestowed the most time and thought. And on her begging to
be shown the dumb alphabet, as the two sisters crossed fingers, they became,
for one evening, almost intimate.
Theodora began to think of her as not only harmless, but likely to be useful in the
parish; and could afford to let Arthur have her for a plaything, since he made
herself his confidante. She withdrew her opposition; but it was too late. Arthur
had declared that he could not live there without L2500 a year, and this his father
neither could nor would give him. The expense of building the house, and the
keeping up of such a garden and establishment, did not leave too much available
of the wealth Lady Martindale had brought, nor was the West Indian property in a
prosperous state; the demand was preposterous; and Theodora found herself
obliged to defend poor Violet, who, her aunt declared, must have instigated it in
consequence of the notice lavished upon her; while, as Theodora averred with
far more truth, 'it was as much as the poor thing did to know the difference
between a ten-pound note and a five.' Twelve hundred pounds a year, and the
rent of a house in London, was what his elder brother would have married upon;
and this, chiefly by John's influence, was fixed as the allowance, in addition to his
pay; and as his promotion was now purchased for him, he had far more than he
had any right to expect, though he did not seem to think so, and grumbled to
Theodora about the expense of the garden, as if it was consuming his patrimony.
How the income would hold out, between his carelessness and her inexperience,
was a question over which his father sighed, and gave good advice, which Arthur
heard with the same sleepy, civil air of attention, as had served him under the
infliction many times before.
John gave only one piece of advice, namely, that he should consign a fixed sum
for household expenses into his wife's hands; so that he might not be subject to
continued applications.
On this he acted; and subtracting to himself, wine, men, and horses, the full
amount of his bachelor income, he, for the first time, communicated to Violet the
result of the various consultations.
'So the upshot of it all is, that we are to have a house somewhere in Belgravia,'
he began.
'That is near Lord Martindale's London house, is it not?'