First Absence

ON the eighth of April, we went to London; on the eighth of May, I returned, in obedience to Arthur's wish: very much against my own, because I left him behind. If he had come with me, I should have been very glad to get home again, for he led me such a round of restless dissipation, while there, that, in that short space of time, I was quite tired out. He seemed bent upon displaying me to his friends and acquaintances in particular, and the public in general, on every possible occasion and to the greatest possible advantage. It was something to feel that he considered me a worthy object of pride; but I paid dear for the gratification, for in the first place, to please him, I had to violate my cherished predilections-- my almost rooted principles in favour of a plain, dark, sober style of dress; I must sparkle in costly jewels and deck myself out like a painted butterfly, just as I had, long since, determined I would never do--and this was nothing sacrifice; in the second place, I was continually straining to satisfy his sanguine expectations and do honour to his choice, by my general conduct and deportment, and fearing to disappoint him by some awkward misdemeanour, or some trait of inexperienced ignorance about the customs of society, especially when I acted the part of hostess, which I was not unfrequently called upon to do; and in the third place, as I intimated before, I was wearied of the throng and bustle, the restless hurry and ceaseless change of life so alien to all my previous habits. At last, he suddenly discovered that the London air did not agree with me, and I was languishing for my country home and must immediately return to Grass- dale.

I laughingly assured him that the case was not so urgent as he appeared to think it, but I was quite willing to go home if he was. He replied that he should be obliged to remain a week or two longer, as he had business that required his presence.

`Then I will stay with you,' said I.

`But I can't do with you, Helen,' was his answer: `as long as you stay, I shall attend to you and neglect my business.'

`But I won't let you,' I returned: `now that I know you have business to attend to, I shall insist upon your attending to it, and letting me alone--and, to tell you the truth, I shall be glad of a little rest. I can take my rides and walks in the parkas usual; and your business cannot occupy all your time; I shall see you at mealtimes and in the evenings, at least, and that will be better than being leagues away and never seeing you at all.'

`But my love, I cannot let you stay. How can I settle my affairs when I know that you are here, neglected-- '

`I shall not feel myself neglected: while you are doing your duty, Arthur, I shall never complain of neglect. If you had told me, before, that you had anything to do, it would have been half done before this; and now you must make up for lost time by redoubled exertions. Tell me what it is; and I will be your task master, instead of being a hindrance.'

`No, no,' persisted the impracticable creature; `you must go home, Helen; I must have the satisfaction of knowing that you are safe and well, though far away. Don't I see that you are looking quite rakish?--Your bright eyes are faded, and that tender, delicate bloom has quite deserted your cheek'

`That is only with too much gaiety and fatigue.'

`It is not, I tell you; it is the London air: you are pining for the fresh breezes of your country home--and you shall feel them, before you are two days older. And remember your situation, dear est Helen; on your health, you know, depends the health, if not the life, of our future hope.'

`Then you really wish to get rid of me?'

`Positively, I do; and I will take you down myself to Grass-dale, and then return. I shall not be absent above a week--or fortnight at most.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.