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SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.
sorrowful look, her face grew crimson red, and in her embarrassment she trumped her partner's trick.
“ Is this the way,” said her partner, laughing, “you treat your best friends ? Mr. Roberts, you have a strange wife; I hope she does not treat you as she does me. I advise you to look after her; she is not to be trusted.”
Mr. Roberts sighed unconsciously: Fanny heard it; that low sigh was louder to her conscience-stricken ear than all the confused din of gay sounds with which, to another, the room would have seemed full. Fanny tried to rally her spirits, but in vain ; she played worse and worse, and lost the game. It seemed as if the whole company experienced a sudden and unaccountable fall of spirits after Mr. Roberts' entrance: they separated sooner than usual, on the plea that they must keep good hours, as Mr. Roberts' father retired early to rest.
i red. ani
not the look at
“ Poor Ophelia ! Divided against herself and her fair judgment.”
FANNY, who seemed born for gayety and joy, as truly as the rose is created for beauty and fragrance, was fast withering in the chilling and! ungenial atmosphere in which she was placed. As her misery increased, she grew more and more pettish and unreasonable, and, when it was too late, repented of some unjust or passionate expression, which she was guilty of towards her husband, and which he passed over unnoticed, or with a sorrowful rather than upbraiding look. He appeared like a person whose bosom labored with some painful secret, which he could not communicate, and the evil effects of which he would fain suffer alone.
In answer to Amy's letter, Fanny repeated her conviction that her husband did not love her, and her unutterable misery at this belief. She declared that it was impossible for her to
speak freely to him. She related to Amy the whole story of the whist party, in nothing extenuating herself, but, on the contrary, calling herself a monster, and, by, that means, trying to relieve her conscience, which blamed her for not acknowledging her small but real fault at first, and her subsequent untruth to her husband.
Upon the subject of the reduced circumstances of her friends, Fanny said, “O that we, too, were poor ! that I had to work for my daily bread, to labor for my sweet Willy! That might please his father, perhaps. If I were to minister to my husband with my own hands, perhaps he would notice me as much as he does his shoe-black. At any rate, bodily labor might divert this terrible pain in my heart. I want to be in motion all the time. I try to run away from myself. I tell the coachman, when I take a drive, to go as fast as he will. Where, ma'am ?'' he asks. I don't care,' I answer. He returns in season for dinner, for his own sake. I meet my husband at table. He asks me where I have been. I answer, I do not know; that the coachman can tell him, but that I don't know the names of roads and places where I go. Perhaps he does not speak again during dinner, unless Mrs. Hawkins makes an effort at conversation; and then I say some
thing either to make my husband angry, or to make him laugh; but all in vain. He does not love me enough to be angry with me, and is too unhappy to laugh. I laugh, and make strangers laugh. My head is full of all sorts of vagaries. Every thing takes the horrid form of a savage jest in my mind. Most of all, peace of mind, love, and joy, are jests to me. People call me witty; but it is all reckless misery. The one thought, that my husband does not love me, presses so on my poor heart ! and 0, dear Amy, my head is so dizzy! Don't you be
angry, too, Amy; if you are, tell me so; any thing I can bear but this terrible silence. If my husband were to speak in a voice of thunder, I should prefer it to this awful silence. Pity me, I am so unhappy.
Soon after Fanny had despatched her letter to Amy, her husband entered the room. She felt strangely shocked at the solemn sadness of his manner, far greater, even, than was usual to him. He sat down on the sofa, by her side, and, after a momentary silence, in which he seemed to be making an effort at self-command, he said, “Fanny, my father is dead. He died about an hour since, very suddenly, without any pain, just after Mrs. Hawkins and I had arranged his pillow for him, and thought he was only falling asleep."
“Dear, happy old man! He is free from all pain,” replied Fanny.
“ The funeral," continued Mr. Roberts, “ will be the day after to-morrow; and then, Fanny, as soon as I have settled the estate, I am going to Europe."
“Going to Europe !” exclaimed his wife, with affected calmness; “and alone ?
“Yes, alone,” he replied, with a sad emphasis on the word.
“And what are you going to do with me and Willy?” asked Fanny.
“I wish you to say, Fanny, where you would prefer to be."
“ And why is it that you forsake your wife and child ? "
“I leave you, Fanny, because I have long been satisfied that we should be happier separated.”
Happy! did you speak of being happy?' screamed Fanny, looking wildly in his face. “I am sure we are very happy, remarkably happy, especially when we are alone together; you are so sociable, so talkative, so gay, and you love me so dearly; and then I am so gentle and good; why, we are like two lovers, dear William, are