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Read Heartsease; Or, The Brother’s Wife Part 4

Heartsease; Or, The Brother’s Wife is a Webnovel created by Charlotte M. Yonge.
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‘Not at all silly,’ said John. ‘You know I must wish to hear how I gained a sister.’

Then, as the strangeness of imagining that this grave, high-bred, more than thirty-years-old gentleman, could possibly call her by such a name, set her smiling and blushing in confusion, he wiled on her communications by saying, ‘Well, that evening you danced with Arthur.’

‘Three times. It was a wonderful evening. Annette and I said, when we went to bed, we had seen enough to think of for weeks. We did not know how much more was going to happen.’

‘No, I suppose not.’

‘I thought much of it when he bowed to me. I little fancied–but there was another odd coincidence–wasn’t it? In general I never go into the drawing-room to company, because there are three older; but the day they came to speak to papa about the fishing, mamma and all the elder ones were out of the way, except Matilda. I was doing my Roman history with her, when papa came in and said, we must both come into the drawing-room.’

‘You saw more of him from that time?’

‘O yes; he dined with us. It was the first time I ever dined with a party, and he talked so much to me, that Albert began to laugh at me; but Albert always laughs. I did not care till–till–that day when he walked with us in the park, coming home from fishing.’

Her voice died away, and her face burnt as she looked down; but a few words of interest led her on.

‘When I told mamma, she said most likely he thought me a little girl who didn’t signify; but I did not think he could, for I am the tallest of them all, and every one says I look as if I was seventeen, at least. And then she told me grand gentlemen and officers didn’t care what nonsense they talked. You know she didn’t know him so well then,’ said Violet, looking up pleadingly.

‘She was very prudent.’

‘She could not know he did not deserve it,’ said the young bride, ready to resent it for her husband, since his brother did not, then again excusing her mother. ‘It was all her care for me, dear mamma! She told me not to think about it; but I could not help it! Indeed I could not!’

‘No, indeed,’ and painful recollections of his own pressed on him, but he could not help being glad this tender young heart was not left to pine under disappointment. ‘How long ago was this?’

‘That was six weeks ago–a month before our wedding-day,’ said she, blushingly. ‘I did wish it could have been longer. I wanted to learn, how to keep house, and I never could, for he was always coming to take me to walk in the park. And it all happened so fast, I had no time to understand it, nor to talk to mamma and Matilda. And then mamma cried so much! I don’t feel to understand it now, but soon perhaps I shall have more quiet time. I should like to have waited till Lord Martindale came home, but they said that could not be, because his leave of absence would be over. I did wish very much though that Miss Martindale could have left her aunt to come to our wedding.’

John found reply so difficult, that he was glad to be interrupted by Arthur’s return. He soon after set out to call upon Captain Fitzhugh, who had been at Wrangerton with Arthur.

From him more of the circ.u.mstances were gathered. Mr. Moss was the person universally given up to reprobation. ‘A thorough schemer,’ said the Irish captain. As to the Miss Mosses, they were lady-like girls, most of them pretty, and everywhere well spoken of. In fact, John suspected he had had a little flirtation on his own account with some of them, though he took credit to himself for having warned his friend to be careful. He ended with a warm-hearted speech, by no means displeasing to John, hoping he would make the best of it with Lord Martindale, for after all, she was as pretty a creature as could be seen, one that any man might be proud of for a daughter-in-law; and to his mind it was better than leaving the poor girl to break her heart after him when it had gone so far.

Arthur himself was in a more rational mood that evening. He had at first tried to hide his embarra.s.sment by bravado; but he now changed his tone, and as soon as Violet had left the dining-room, began by an abrupt inquiry, ‘What would you have me do?’

‘Why don’t you write to my father!’

Arthur writhed. ‘I suppose it must come to that,’ he said; ‘but tell me first the state of things.’

‘You could not expect that there would not be a good deal of indignation.’

‘Ay, ay! How did you get the news? Did Theodora tell you?’

‘No; there was a letter from Colonel Harrington; and at home they knew the circ.u.mstances pretty correctly through a cousin of Wingfield’s, who has a curacy in that neighbourhood.’

‘Oh! that was the way Theodora came by the news. I wish he had let alone telling her,–I could have managed her alone;–but there! it was not in human nature not to tell such a story, and it did not much matter how it was done. Well, and my aunt is furious, I suppose, but I’ll take care of her and of my lady. I only want to know how my father takes it.’

‘He cannot endure the notion of a family feud; but the first step must come from you.’

‘Very well:–and so you came to set it going. It is very good-natured of you, John. I depended on you or Theodora for helping me through, but I did not think you would have come in this way. I am glad you have, for now you have seen her you can’t say a word against it.’

‘Against her, certainly not. I have made acquaintance with her this morning, and–and there is everything to interest one in her:’ and then, as Arthur looked delighted, and was ready to break into a rhapsody–‘Her simplicity especially. When you write you had better mention her entire ignorance of the want of sanction. I cannot think how she was kept in such unconsciousness.’

‘She knows nothing of people’s ways,’ said Arthur. ‘She knew you were all abroad, and her own family told her it was all right. Her father is a bit of a tyrant, and stopped the mother’s mouth, I fancy, if she had any doubts. As to herself, it was much too pretty to see her so happy, to let her set up her little scruples. She did just as she was told, like a good child.’

‘O Arthur! you have undertaken a great responsibility!’ exclaimed John.

But Arthur, without seeming to heed, continued, ‘So you see she is quite clear; but I’ll write, and you shall see if it is not enough to satisfy my father, before he sets us going respectably.’

‘I can’t answer for anything of that sort.’

‘Something he must do,’ said Arthur, ‘for my allowance is not enough to keep a cat; and as to the ninth part of old Moss’s pickings and stealings, if I meant to dirty my fingers with it, it won’t be to be come by till he is disposed of, and that won’t be these thirty years.’

‘Then, he let you marry without settling anything on her!’

‘He was glad to have her off his hands on any terms. Besides, to tell you the truth, John, I am convinced he had no notion you would ever come home again. He knew I saw his game, and dreaded I should be off; so he and I were both of one mind, to have it over as soon as possible.’

‘I only hope you will make her happy!’ said John, earnestly.

‘Happy!’ exclaimed Arthur, surprised, ‘small doubt of that! What should prevent me?’

‘I think you will find you must make some sacrifices.’

‘It all depends on my father,’ said Arthur, a little crossly, and taking his writing-case from another table.

He was so well pleased with his performance that, as soon as he was alone with Violet, he began, ‘There, I’ve done it! John said it could not be better, and after the impression you have made, no fear but he will pacify the great folks.’

She was perplexed. ‘Who?’ said she; ‘not Lord and Lady Martindale? Oh!

surely I have not done anything to displease them.’

‘You must have been ingenious if you had.’

‘Pray, do tell me! Why are they to be pacified? What is the matter? Do they think they shan’t like me? Ought I to do anything?’

‘My little bird, don’t twitter so fast. You have asked a dozen questions in a breath.’

‘I wish you would tell me what it means,’ said Violet, imploringly.

‘Well, I suppose you must know sooner or later. It only means that they are taken by surprise.’

Violet gazed at him in perplexity, then, with a dawning perception, ‘Oh!

surely you don’t mean they did not approve of it.’

‘n.o.body asked them,’ said Arthur, carelessly, then as she turned away, covering her face with her hands, ‘But it is nothing to take to heart in that way. I am my own master, you know, you silly child, and you had plenty of consent, and all that sort of thing, to satisfy you, so you are quite out of the’

She scarcely seemed to hear.

‘Come, come, Violet, this won’t do,’ he continued, putting his arm round her, and turning her towards him, while he pulled down her hands. ‘This is pretty usage. You can’t help it now if you would.’

‘Oh! Mr. Martindale!’

‘Ah! you don’t know what I have saved you. I was not going to see all that pink paint worn off those cheeks, nor your life and my own wasted in waiting for them to bring their minds to it. I have seen enough of that. Poor John there–‘


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