Saidie lay back in the chair and laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks.
It was not long before Dr. Chetwynd’s eyes were fully open to the mistake he had made and that he realised the fact that you cannot fashion a Dresden vase out of earthenware, and though pinchbeck may pass muster for gold, it does not make it the real article.
At first Bella did try her “level best” as Saidie put it, to be all that Jack required of her. She took his lecturings humbly, held her peace when he scolded her (and I am afraid he constantly did), and acknowledged in the depths of her shallow little mind that she fell far short of what his wife should be. But as time went on she grew less solicitous about pleasing him. His standard was an almost impossible one to the very second-rate little American girl, to whom the atmosphere of the “Halls” was far more congenial than the humdrum, quiet life she led in the Camberwell New Road, and she slipped back little by little into the mire out of which he had raised her.
“I can never learn to be what he wants me to,” she said a little pathetically to Saidie—“It is like standing on tiptoe all the time trying to reach up to his standard. I’m sick of it. If he loved me well enough to marry me, the same love ought to be strong enough to make him contented with me. After all, I’m the same Bella now that I was then.”
A word of advice at this juncture might have quieted the poor little wife, and brought her back into safe paths, for she really loved Jack in her heart; but Saidie was not the person to give it. Privately she considered her sister a fool to have put up with this ridiculous nonsense of her husband’s as long as she had done; and the line of argument she took was about the worst she could have adopted for the happiness and peace of the Camberwell household.
She was a good deal older than Bella, and the girl had been wont to rely upon her in a great measure, and to look up to her as a practical, sensible person, which Bella was quite ready to admit she herself was very far from being; so now, when Saidie spoke in a resolute, determined way, she listened meekly, if she did not in so many words acquiesce in the wisdom and justice of what she said.
“As far as I can see, you don’t get a bit of fun and happiness out of your life,” remarked Saidie, critically examining her features in the glass. “What did you marry him for, I should like to know? You might as well be Bella Blackall, on the boards again, and free, as the wife of a stingy fellow like that.”
“Oh! Saidie, he doesn’t grudge me anything.” The young wife felt a little compunction in her heart.