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CHAPTER XIV.

“ His purpose is not to appear just, but to be."

ÆSCHYLUS.

MANY montns had passed away, each one leaving Edward and Amy happier than it found them. It was a winter evening; Mr. Weston had retired for the night; visitors were gone, and Edward had been sitting for some time, perfectly silent, looking into the fire.

“What makes you so unusually silent, Edward ? ” said his wife.

“I can hardly tell : have I been very silent?”

“Why, you have not spoken for an hour.”

“ It is a very bad night for the poor,” said Edward ;

the cold is extreme.” Yes,” said Amy; "are you not glad that we sent poor Mrs. Brown some wood this morn

ing ?

Edward made no answer.

6 Shall I read you a letter I received this morning from Fanny

SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.

185

Roberts ? She and her husband are, I fear, very unhappy.”

Edward's attention seemed awakened, and Amy read him Fanny's letter.

Dear Amy,

This is my little Willy's birth-day. The day of her son's birth ought to be a mother's holiday. Alas! there is no holiday in our house, none in my heart. Three

years ago,

when the first sound of my child's voice fell on my ear, it seemed to me like a voice from Heaven, pronouncing a blessing upon me. Now I look upon the little fellow with pity. I pity him, for, like his mother, he thirsts for happiness, and I fear he will not find it. I pity him, for he craves affection, and he shall never be satisfied. I pity him, for he loves his mother, and she does not deserve his love; he leans upon her, and she is a broken reed. His father came and took him in his arms this morning, and pressed him to his heart with such an indescribable tenderness; and I saw him look

up, and I saw tears, yes, tears in his eyes, but not one word did he speak. It seemed to me as if he purposely looked away from me, as if he wished to forget that there was such a being in the world. For one moment I was tempted to throw myself on my knees and im

plore him to cast away his chilling, his cruel reserve, but the nurse-maid was in the room, and I did not wish to proclaim to the world that my husband did not love me.

Yes, this is the hateful truth, Amy; my husband does not love me, and yet I am his wife. Good God, I am his wedded wife, and he does not love me, and I have written it calmly as you see, and I am alive, and I have not dashed my head against the wall; but I am bearing this quietly, bravely, pretending not to see it, not to know it; turning myself into stone; putting on the mask of hypocrisy; making believe happy ; playing, as I did when I was a little girl, that I am a rich, fine, gay lady, - ha! ha! how nicely I cheat them all! I tell you, Amy, because, if my heart, that sometimes comes near bursting, should actually break, (such things have been,) you may bear witness that I had one.

Sweet Willy! he has just come softly up to me and kissed my hand, and says, “ Your hand is cold, mother; leave off, and dance and sing with me.” What shall I sing? “There was a maid in Bedlam ? " That is sad no, it is not so very sad, for “she knew that her love loved her.” Don't think I am crazy, Amy; I am as rational as ever I was. I try to amuse myself, and get rid of my uncomfortable feelings.

song; O, For a while I enjoyed dancing, and went to every dance to which I was invited; but, as my

husband gave up going, I did not like it. I shrink from attentions from gentlemen when he is not present.

But I have lately found an amusement that takes up my thoughts safely. It is the game of whist. I have become quite an adept at it. I belong to a party which we joined some time ago. There is a fusty old bachelor who is my regular opponent, and I have never played with him without beating him. I laugh at him unmercifully about it; I tease him in every way I can devise, just for the sport of seeing the contest between his politeness and his rage. I always have the cards against him ; so sure as he comes out with an ace and king, I trump him ; and if he has four trumps, I have five. The other night, when he thought he was sure of one trick, and I trumped it, rage conquered, and he exclaimed, “ The deuse must help Mrs. Roberts ; but I ask pardon - it is your play, ma'am.”

“Of whom did you ask pardon, Mr. Bruin, of me, or of that respectable person

whose name ought not to be so hastily spoken?” Upon this he threw down his cards, and said either of us were welcome to his cards. I laughed heartily at him, and proposed giving him five the next

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game, which he took up with ; and it did seem as if there was some witchery in the business, for we beat him in one hand. " Thanks to the five we gave you, Mr. Bruin,” I said, “or you would have been beaten a love game.” « Thank my stars,” he said, “I am free of all love games; one is sure to lose in them.”

“Where one is so sure of being beaten, it is most prudent, Mr. Bruin, not to play. I advise you to bring your knitting-work the next time you come, and perhaps you will be kind enough to sit behind me, and advise me how to play my cards.” Some one told me that after I left the room, he put his arms a-kimbo, and said, as he looked after me,

“Well, I had rather be an old bachelor to the end of time, than have to tame such a shrew as that."

But, ah! the loneliness, the unspeakable loneliness I feel, after I return from an evening passed in this way, to my own home! My child is asleep; my husband has retired for the night; no one is up but the housekeeper, who tries to tread softly for fear of disturbing old Mr. Roberts, whose days draw very fast to a close. Parrotlike in every thing, she always asks me exactly the same question, which is, “Do you wish for any thing ?” and when I answer, “ No,” retires. Once, however, she proved her humanity by

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