This is as it should be; but Arthur never will let me be satisfied with him. I have never, for a single hour since I married him, known what it is to realize that sweet idea, `In quietness and confidence shall be your rest.' Those two detestable men Grimsby and Hattersley have destroyed all my labour against his love of wine. They encourage him daily to overstep the bounds of moderation, and, not unfrequently, to disgrace himself by positive excess. I shall not soon forget the second night after their arrival. Just as I had retired from the dining-room, with the ladies, before the door was closed upon us, Arthur exclaimed--
`Now then, my lads, what say you to a regular jollification?'
Milicent glanced at me with a half reproachful look, as if I could hinder it; but her countenance changed when she heard Hattersley's voice shouting through door and wall:
`I'm your man! Send for more wine: here isn't half enough!'
We had scarcely entered the drawing-room before we were joined by Lord Lowborough.
`What can induce you to come so soon?' exclaimed his lady, with a most ungracious air of dissatisfaction.
`You know I never drink, Annabella,' replied he, seriously.
`Well, but you might stay with them a little: it looks so silly to be always dangling after the women--I wonder you can!'
He reproached her with a look of mingled bitterness and surprise, and sinking into a chair, suppressed a heavy sigh, bit his pale lips, and fixed his eyes upon the floor.
`You did right to leave them, Lord Lowborough,' said I. `I trust you will always continue to honour us so early with your company. And if Annabella knew the value of true wisdom, and the misery of folly and-- and intemperance, she would not talk such nonsense--even in jest.'
He raised his eyes while I spoke, and gravely turned them upon me with a half surprised, half abstracted look, and then bent them on his wife.
`At least,' said she, `I know the value of a warm heart and a bold, manly spirit!'
And she pointed her words with a glance of triumph at me, which seemed to say, `And that is more than you do,' and a look of scorn at her husband, that entered into his soul. I was intensely exasperated; but it was not for me to reprove her, or, as it seemed, to express my sympathy with her husband without insulting his feelings. All I could do, to obey my inward impulse, was to hand him a cup of coffee, bringing it to him myself, and before I served either of the ladies, by way of balancing her contempt by my exceeding deference. He took it mechanically from my hand, with a slight inclination, and, next minute, rose and placed it untasted on the table, looking, not at it, but at her.
`Well, Annabella,' said he, in a deep and hollow tone, `since my presence is disagreeable to you, I will relieve you of it.'
`Are you going back to them, then?' said she, carelessly.
`No,' exclaimed he, with harsh and startling emphasis; `I will NOT go back to them! And I will never stay with them one moment longer than I think right, for you or any other tempter! But you needn't mind that I shall never trouble you again, by intruding my company upon you so unseasonably.'
He left the room, I heard the hall door open and shut, and immediately after, on putting aside the curtain, I saw him pacing down the park, in the comfortless gloom of the damp, cloudy twilight.
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