A nightmare of hideous scenes. Alternate drunkenness and inordinate affection for me, or sullen silence and cringing fear. Oh, of all the frightful moments there are in life, there can be none so dark as those that some women have to suffer from the drunken passions and ways of men!
Augustus would have deserted at the last moment if an opportunity had offered. His mother made matters worse, as, instead of remembering her country as so many mothers have, and sending her son on his way with brave and glorious words, she wept and lamented from morning till night.
“I told you so, Gussie,” she said, when she first met us in London. “I was always against your joining that Yeomanry. I told you it wasn’t only the uniform, and it might get you into trouble some day. Oh, to think that an extra glass of champagne could have made you volunteer. And now you’ve got to go to the war and you have broken my heart.”
Augustus’s own terror was pitiable to see if it had not roused all my contempt.
Oh, that I should bear the name of a craven!
Lady Grenellen was also in London. When he was sober enough and not engaged with his military duties, Augustus went to see her, and if she happened to be unkind to him he vented his annoyance upon me on his return.
Had it not been that he was going to the war, I could not, for my own self-respect, have put up with the position any longer. But that thought, and the sight of his weeping mother, made me bear all things in silence. I could not add to her griefs.
She quite broke down one day.
“I always knew Gussie took too much. It began at Cambridge, long ago,” she wept. “But after he first saw you and fell in love, he gave it up, I hoped, and now it has broken out again. I thought marrying you would have cured him. Oh, deary me! I feared some one would tell your grandma, and she would break off the match. I was glad when your wedding was over.” And she sobbed and rocked herself to and fro. “I’m grateful to you, my dear, for what you have done for him. It’s been ugly for you lately. But there—there, he’s going to the war and I shall never see him again!”
“Do not take that gloomy view. The war is nearly over. There is no danger now,” I said, to comfort her. “Augustus will only have riding about and a healthy out-door life, and it will probably cure him.”
“I’ve lived in fear ever since the war began, and now it’s come,” she wailed, refusing to be comforted.
I said everything else I could, and eventually she cheered up for a few days after this, but at the end broke down again, and now, Amelia writes, lies prostrate in a darkened room. Amelia is having her time of trial. They left for Bournemouth yesterday.
Am I a cold and heartless woman because now that Augustus has gone I can only feel relief?
One of his last speeches was not calculated to leave an agreeable impression.