'His becoming a suitor seems to have been a surprise and disappointment to her; but if she thinks him a pupil of her own, or expects to govern the Priory in poor Emma's stead, she will be in his favour. No; I have no hope from Theresa Marstone's discretion.'
'Theresa despises the others too much to attend to them. Mr. Randall seems to be startled at the present aspect of affairs, and asks me to come; and I should have set off this morning, but that I thought I might learn something from you and Arthur.'
'Every one would tell you the same. He was expelled from the University, and has gone on shockingly ever since, breaking his mother's heart! Poor Emma! after dreading every gentleman!'
'I fear she has much to suffer. He made her think him not a marrying man, and put her off her guard. Did you say he was agreeable?'
'Perhaps I might think so if I knew nothing about him; but I have always had a repugnance to him, and it is all I can do not to dislike him more than is right. If I saw him speak to Johnnie, I think I should!'
'And now tell me, for I ought to have every proof, if you know anything that would convince Emma that this present repentance is assumed?'
Violet coloured excessively. 'Arthur could tell' she said, half choked, and as Lady Elizabeth still waited, she was obliged to add, He was active in the same way at the last races. I know there are things going on still that a man who really meant to reform would have broken off. Arthur could give you proofs.'
Violet could not bear to be more explicit. Her own secret feeling was that Mr. Gardner was her husband's evil genius, leading him astray, and robbing her of his affection, and she was not far mistaken. Sneers, as if he was under her government, were often employed to persuade him to neglect her, and continue his ruinous courses; and if she shrunk from Gardner, he in return held her in malicious aversion, both as a counter influence and as a witness against him. It was the constant enmity of light to darkness, of evil to innocence.