The Queen of Hearts HTML version

Brother Owen's Story Of Anne Rodway
* * * MARCH 3d, 1840. A long letter today from Robert, which surprised and vexed me
so that I have been sadly behindhand with my work ever since. He writes in worse spirits
than last time, and absolutely declares that he is poorer even than when he went to
America, and that he has made up his mind to come home to London.
How happy I should be at this news, if he only returned to me a prosperous man! As it is,
though I love him dearly, I cannot look forward to the meeting him again, disappointed
and broken down, and poorer than ever, without a feeling almost of dread for both of us. I
was twenty-six last birthday and he was thirty-three, and there seems less chance now
than ever of our being married. It is all I can do to keep myself by my needle; and his
prospects, since he failed in the small stationery business three years ago, are worse, if
possible, than mine.
Not that I mind so much for myself; women, in all ways of life, and especially in my
dressmaking way, learn, I think, to be more patient than men. What I dread is Robert's
despondency, and the hard struggle he will have in this cruel city to get his bread, let
alone making money enough to marry me. So little as poor people want to set up in
housekeeping and be happy together, it seems hard that they can't get it when they are
honest and hearty, and willing to work. The clergyman said in his sermon last Sunday
evening that all things were ordered for the best, and we are all put into the stations in life
that are properest for us. I suppose he was right, being a very clever gentleman who fills
the church to crowding; but I think I should have understood him better if I had not been
very hungry at the time, in consequence of my own station in life being nothing but plain
March 4th. Mary Mallinson came down to my room to take a cup of tea with me. I read
her bits of Robert's letter, to show her that, if she has her troubles, I have mine too; but I
could not succeed in cheering her. She says she is born to misfortune, and that, as long
back as she can remember, she has never had the least morsel of luck to be thankful for. I
told her to go and look in my glass, and to say if she had nothing to be thankful for then;
for Mary is a very pretty girl, and would look still prettier if she could be more cheerful
and dress neater. However, my compliment did no good. She rattled her spoon
impatiently in her tea-cup, and said, "If I was only as good a hand at needle-work as you
are, Anne, I would change faces with the ugliest girl in London." "Not you!" says I,
laughing. She looked at me for a moment, and shook her head, and was out of the room
before I could get up and stop her. She always runs off in that way when she is going to
cry, having a kind of pride about letting other people see her in tears.
March 5th. A fright about Mary. I had not seen her all day, as she does not work at the
same place where I do; and in the evening she never came down to have tea with me, or
sent me word to go to her; so, just before I went to bed, I ran upstairs to say good-night.