Poor Violet drew the coverlet over her head; her heart failed her, and she craved that her throbbing sinking weakness and feverish anxiety might bring her to her final rest. When she glanced over the future, her husband deteriorating, and his love closed up from her; her children led astray by evil influences of a foreign soil; Johnnie, perhaps, only saved by separation--Johnnie, her precious comforter; herself far from every friend, every support, without security of church ordinances--all looked so utterly wretched that, as her pulses beat, and every sensation of illness was aggravated, she almost rejoiced in the danger she felt approaching.
Nothing but her infant's voice could have recalled her to a calmer mind, and brought back the sense that she was bound to earth by her children. She repented as of impatience and selfishness, called back her resolution, and sought for soothing. It came. She had taught herself the dominion over her mind in which she had once been so deficient. Vexing cares and restless imaginings were driven back by echoes of hymns and psalms and faithful promises, as she lay calm and resigned, in her weakness and solitude, and her babe slept tranquilly in her bosom, and Johnnie brought his books and histories of his sisters; and she could smile in thankfulness at their loveliness of to-day, only in prayer concerning herself for the morrow. She was content patiently to abide the Lord.
But one, I wis, was not at home, Another had paid his gold away, Another called him thriftless loone, And bade him sharply wend his way.--Heir of Lynne
'He is done for. That wife of his may feel the consequence of meddling in other folk's concerns. Not that I care for that now, there's metal more attractive; but she has crossed me, and shall suffer for it.' These short sentences met the ear of a broad- shouldered man in a rough coat, as, in elbowing his way through the crowd on the quay at Boulogne, he was detained for a moment behind two persons, whose very backs had all the aspect of the dissipated Englishman abroad. Struggling past, he gained a side view of the face of the speaker. It was one which he knew; but the vindictive glare in the sarcastic eyes positively made him start, as he heard the laugh of triumph and derision, in reply to some remark from the other.
'Ay! and got enough to get off to Paris, where the old Finch has dropped off his perch at last. That was all I wanted of him, and it was time to wring him dry and have done with him. He will go off in consumption before the year is out--'
As he spoke, the stranger turned on him an honest English face, the lips compressed into an expression of the utmost contempt, while indignation flashed in the penetrating gray eyes, that looked on him steadily. His bold defiant gaze fell, quailing and scowling, he seemed to become small, shrink away, and disappeared.
'When scamp number two looks round for scamp number one, he is lost in the crowd,' muttered the traveller, half smiling; then, with a deep breath, 'The hard-hearted rascal! If one could only wring his neck! Heaven help the victim! though, no doubt, pity is wasted on him.'
He ceased his reflections, to enter the steamer just starting for Folkestone, and was soon standing on deck, keeping guard over his luggage. The sound of a frequent cough attracted his attention, and, looking round, he saw a tall figure wrapped in great-coats leaning on the leeward side of the funnel.