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“ If you regard me with this look of ice,
Amy devoted her first leisure moments, after the performance of the duties which their altered mode of life made necessary, to answering Fanny's letter. She conjured her to open her heart to her husband; she entreated her to tell him of all she suffered from his reserve. She used every argument she could think of, to prove to her that the happiness of her whole life depended upon her conduct now, and that she must, at any cost, insist upon her husband's confidence. She referred Fanny to her former letters, in which she warned her against the danger that was sure to arise from any want of truth and trustful, open-hearted dealings between her and her husband, and entreated her now, while it was
SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.
yet possible to recover her husband's confidence, to be simple and upright with him. She warned her against the hardening influence of the endeavor to make what is called pleasure take the place of a true and virtuous happiness. She expressed her firm conviction that her husband still loved her, but probably doubted whether she loved him.
She promised Fanny to visit her in the spring, if she should be carried safely through her approaching confinement. She expressed to her the deep, unutterable joy which she felt at the hope of being a mother. Surely,” she said, “God himself strengthens and cheers the heart of the hopeful mother, who peacefully and courageously waits her appointed time.”
She mentioned the fact that Edward had paid what remained due of his debts, and that they in consequence were obliged to move to another house and lessen their expenditure. She simply expressed her regret that they had not before remembered that this was a duty; and her great pleasure that they had it in their power to make just restitution of what did not in fact belong to them, and from the loss of which the rightful owners had so long unjustly suffered.
Fanny's letters to Amy had given a faithful picture of her own state of mind, and, as far as
could be judged of by appearances, that of her husband's; but in order that the reader may be able to understand this perfectly, some circumstances and facts must be related. Mr. Roberts father had become more and more infirm and childish; he was unwilling to have his son out of his sight; his life seemed to depend upon his presence; no one, not even his favorite housekeeper, could take his place, he thought, for a moment. The silence which Fanny complained of, increased upon him; he was gentle and kind in his manner towards his wife, but it seemed to be the kindness of pity, not of love. In this state of feeling, an occurrence, apparently trifling, took place, the effects of which on his mind threatened to fix his and Fanny's destiny for misery, in their present connection.
In Fanny's letter to Amy, it may be remembered she had mentioned the whist party she had joined, which she preferred to all other amusements, because she was unwilling to go among strangers unattended by her husband. The established rule in this little circle was, that they should meet alternately at each other's houses ; but hitherto, when it came to Fanny's turn, the next person on the list had proposed that she should be excused on account of the illness of old Mr. Roberts. As, however, there was no
important change in his state of health, and no immediate cause of alarm, it seemed to be now expected that Fanny and her husband should have the party at their house. Fanny looked embarrassed when the question arose where they should next meet. One of the
remarked that it was Mrs. Roberts' turn. “ And then," said another, “we shall, perhaps, have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Roberts." “Perhaps," said a third, “Mr. Roberts is too wise and good to spend his time in such a useless manner.' The lady who had kindly taken the party before, when it was Fanny's turn, added, “Mrs. Roberts shall not be forced to give her reasons for not having us at her house; my doors shall gladly be opened.” Fanny was vexed, and, hardly knowing what she said, invited the party to meet at her house the next week; and then turning to Mr. Bruin, who was not a regular member of the club, but who had been usually invited from particular courtesy, she said, “I hope we shall have the pleasure of seeing you, Mr. Bruin, unless you are afraid of being beaten unmercifully.” The good man considered this a proposal of peace, and offered to wait upon Fanny home, which she refused. When seated alone in her carriage, Fanny's feelings were not to be envied. “What have I done?” said she to herself; “invited the whist party to our house when my husband's father is so ill that he will not leave his bed-side even to spend an evening with his wife ! - Can it be right, then, that I should leave home to join the party elsewhere ? Was it right in him to urge me to go, and almost insist upon it? I will tell him that if it be only for the sake of appearances, and to silence the evil sayings of the world, I will go out no longer without him."
Mr. Roberts watched with his father that night. When Fanny met him in the morning, her first impulse, after inquiring about his father's state, was to tell him how painful it was to her to go to these whist parties without him, and to explain the feelings which had induced her to invite the whole company to their house, and then to propose an entire withdrawal from the circle, on the ground of his father's illness, and the impossibility of his going with her. But there was something in the solemn, rigid coldness of his manner, that seemed to freeze up all Fanny's good purposes, and awake the slumbering evil spirit in her heart.
“ It seems to me, Mr. Roberts,” she said in an affected tone of pleasantry," that, as Mr. Weston says, the opinion of the world will hardly bear us out in these fashionable manners.”