'I am fit for no one now,' said Theodora, bluntly.
'Ah, my dear!--But I don't know why I should wish you to marry; I could never do without you.'
'That's the most sensible thing you have said yet, mamma.'
But Theodora wished herself less necessary at home, when, in a few weeks more, she had to gather that matters were going on well from the large round-hand note, with nursery spelling and folding, in which Johnnie announced that he had a little brother.
An interval of peace to Violet ensued. Arthur did not nurse her as in old times; but he was gentle and kind, and was the more with her as the cough, which had never been entirely removed, was renewed by a chill in the first cold of September. All went well till the babe was a week old, when Arthur suddenly announced his intention of asking for a fortnight's leave, as he was obliged to go to Boulogne on business.
Here was a fresh thunderbolt. Violet guessed that Mr. Gardner was there, and was convinced that, whatever might be Arthur's present designs, he would come back having taken a house at Boulogne. He answered her imploring look by telling her not to worry herself; he hoped to get 'quit of the concern,' and, at any rate, could not help going. She suggested that his cough would bear no liberties; he said, change of air would take it off, and scouted her entreaty that he would consult Mr. Harding. Another morning, a kind careless farewell, he was gone!
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.