“My wife and I hear sometimes, through my old friend Arthur Lovell, of the new master and mistress of Maudesley Abbey, Sir Philip and Lady Jocelyn, who oscillate between the Rock and the Abbey when they are in Warwickshire. Lady Jocelyn is a beautiful woman, frank, generous, noble-hearted, beloved by every creature within twenty miles’ radius of her home, and idolized by her husband. The sad history of her father’s death has been softened by the hand of Time; and she is happy with her children and her husband in the grand old home that was so long overshadowed by the sinister presence of the false Henry Dunbar.
“We are very happy. No prying eye would ever read in Margaret’s bright face the sad story of her early life. A new existence has begun for her as wife and mother. She has little time to think of that miserable past; but I think that, sound Protestant though she may be in every other article of faith, amidst all her prayers those are not the least fervent which she offers up for the guilty soul of her wretched father.
“We are very happy. The secret of my wife’s history is hidden in our own breasts — a dark chapter in the criminal romance of life, never to be revealed upon earth. The Winchester murder is forgotten amongst the many other guilty mysteries which are never entirely solved. If Joseph Wilmot’s name is ever mentioned, people suggest that he went to America; indeed, there are people who go farther, and say they have seen him in America.
“My mother keeps house for us; and in very nearly seven years’ experience we have never found any disunion to arise from this arrangement. The pretty Clapham villa is gay with the sound of children’s voices, and the shrill carol of singing birds, and the joyous barking of Skye terriers. We have added a nursery wing already to one side of the house, and have balanced it on the other by a vinery, built after the model of those which adorn the mansion of my senior. The Misses Balderby have taken what they call a ‘great fancy’ to my wife, and they swarm over our drawing-room carpets in blue or pink flounces very often, on what they call ‘social evenings for a little music.’ I find that a little music is only a synonym with the Misses Balderby for a great deal of noise.
“I love my wife’s playing best, though they are kind enough to perform twenty-page compositions by Bach and Mendelssohn for my amusement: and I am never happier than on those dusky summer evenings when we sit alone together in the shadowy drawing-room, and talk to each other, while Margaret’s skilful fingers glide softly over the keys in wandering snatches of melody that melt and die away like the low breath of the summer wind.”
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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:47