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“What do you mean, Fanny ?” he replied, in a solemn tone.
Why,” said she, “the wisest and best, 1 think, would not approve of my going to card parties and leaving you at home to nurse your father, and take care of the house and the baby. It looks a little as if my home was not happy; it looks as if I was not a good wife; it looks as if you & not hold your proper place in the house.
nu know, as if the order of things was inverted, foi woman to go out after pleasure, because home has no attractions : if a man does such a thing, it is all natural enough; but for a woman, forsooth, to commit such an enormity, it will never do; the world will shake their wise heads, and conclude we are not happy."
Very possible," replied Mr. Roberts, whose gloom was increased by her levity.
“ Is it right,” said Fanny, who could no longer maintain her jesting tone, " for you to insist upon my going to these whist parties without you ? "
“I thought it would give you pleasure.
“We have never had the party here,” said Fanny, “and it must appear, while I go to them, as if you did not approve of it, for you have never gone since the first two or three meetings, and I am exposed to very unpleasant remarks. It is our turn to receive the party next week, and—” Fanny hesitated; her heart told her all was wrong within ; while she was thinking how to proceed, her husband said, “Invite them here next Monday, Fanny; I see that your not meeting here does expose you to unpleasant remarks. Have them here, I beg of you; indeed, I insist upon it; my father may be better, and I will try to be with you; I am sorry I have not thought of this myself.”
There was a momentary strife between right and wrong in Fanny's heart; she felt she ought to tell her husband that she had already asked them, and explain why; but how could she disturb that moment of something like confidence and kindness between them? She had only to be silent, and all seemed nicely arranged, and her difficulties all done away. The temptation was too great for her; she had not the courage to tell him that she had invited the party without consulting him. She continued silent.
“I am glad,” said Mr. Roberts, “ that you spoke to me freely of this affair, Fanny, and told me all your wishes. Heaven knows I would make you happy, if I could. I am going now to get a breath of fresh air, and then to my father's room again ; in the mean while
had better send your
invitations to our friends." There was
an unusual tenderness in his manner, and Fanny tried to feel happy.
In the course of his walk he met Mr. Bruin ; he stopped to shake hands with him. Just as they were parting, Mr. Bruin said to him, " Mrs. Roberts was kind enough to invite me to join the whist party next Monday evening at your house, and I intend to do myself the honor to come.”
Poor Roberts could make no reply; he was stupefied with misery; all that Fanny had said to him seemed like a premeditated contrivance and falsehood. “She has," he said to himself,
no confidence in me, no love for me; she was unfeeling enough to invite company to the house when
father is on his death-bed; and she was then mean enough to hide it from me in this manner, and to contrive that it should seem my wish that they should come. She coquetted with me before marriage; how can I expect love and truth from her now she is my
wife? She married me, perhaps, for an establishment; I am only a necessary appendage. She was alone in the world; she had no natural protector; it was important to her to fasten herself to some one, and I was the most convenient tool she met with ; and now her strongest bond to me is that she has no home to go to." - This sorrowful thought,
“no home to go to," softened his rising indignation. “Poor young thing!” he continued, as he moved along mechanically through an obscure street that he had entered to avoid observation. “Unhappy Fanny ! She was lonely and dependent, and I was rich and devoted to her; I was too importunate in the expression of my love for her; she, perhaps, thought she loved me; she meant to love me, but love cannot be forced; even our own will cannot bid us love another. I have made her more lonely than she was before, by making her my wife; I am to her only a jailer, for her heart does not welcome the bonds that hold us together. She is not happy; and yet she was once so light-hearted and joyous; and she is so young, so beautiful ! O that I could make her free even at the sacrifice of my life, if, by so doing, I might restore her to a life of truth and peace! I will not reproach her with her falsehood; I will add nothing to her misery; let her have what pleasure she can from a successful contrivance. Why should she also be miserable? Not for worlds would I have her heart ache with the agony that mine endures."
Mr. Roberts returned to his house with the determination to say nothing to his wife of his discovery of her want of truth and confidence in him. Fanny was so accustomed to her husband's cold and reserved manners, that she did not notice the deeper gloom that had settled on his brow from this time. The Monday came, and Fanny's friends assembled in her drawing-room, according to her invitation. Mr. Roberts, faithful to his promise, was present to welcome them. As soon as they were seated at the card-tables, he went up to his father's room. The evening was nearly past, when, as he was gazing into the fire, lost in a melancholy reverie, he was startled by Mrs. Hawkins suddenly addressing him with these words, — “Mr. Roberts, don't you think Mrs. Roberts expects you down stairs ?” He made no answer: she continued, "I thought she looked rather down-hearted about their coming; hadn't you better go down ? she'll feel better if you do.”
“Perhaps I had,” he said; and he went down to the drawing-room. The room was brilliantly lighted ; every countenance, to the melancholy man, seemed to beam with a joy in which he had no share, and which he feared his entrance would disturb: more than all, Fanny, his young and lovely wife, who usually, when he saw her, looked sad and dull, now appeared to him radiant with enjoyment, as well as beauty. As he was gazing at her, she raised her eyes, which before had been fixed on her cards, and as they met his