“Yes he does.” Saidie turned round and faced her sister. “He don’t like you to enjoy yourself, not a little bit. He would keep you wrapped up in cotton wool if he could, and if you don’t make a stand now, once and for all, and let him see you have a mind of your own and intend to do as you like, you’ll regret it to the last day of your life. Who is he, anyway? I guess our family’s as good, if we knew anything about them, which we don’t, worse luck. Just you give him back his own sauce, Bella, and next time he finds fault with you, laugh in his face and tell him he has got to put up with what he finds, for it ain’t likely you can alter your nature to suit his high mightiness. Pitch on a thing or two he does which you don’t like, and give him a sermon as long as your arm. You see; he will come off his pedestal. Sakes alive! he ought to have me to deal with; I bet I’d teach him a thing or two.”
And then Saidie whipped herself off to the “Rivolette,” where she sang a doubtful song and displayed her finely turned limbs in a style that would have disgusted her brother-in-law, if he had been there to see.
But music halls were not to his liking under any circumstances. He had never really cared for them, even in his bachelor days, and now he would have cut his right hand off rather than be seen with his young wife beside him, at such resorts.
Then, too, Dr. Chetwynd felt that it behoved him to be circumspect in all his actions, for his practice was steadily increasing and he was becoming popular, and had serious thoughts of migrating westward. It was a constant source of vexation to him that Bella was not liked as much as her handsome, clever husband, and he began to be painfully alive to the fact that she could not have been received in certain houses whose doors would have been gradually opened to him. In a social sense his wife was a failure, and with a sigh he realised that it was almost an impossibility to show her where the fault lay; he could not always be at her elbow to guard against little solecisms of manner and speech which he knew must jar and grate on others even more than on himself.
It went terribly against the grain, for he loved her none the less that his eyes were not blinded to her shortcomings. She was still the same winsome girl he had made his own; large-hearted, gentle and affectionate, but—and he sighed impatiently, for that something lacking was for ever pulling him back and standing in the way of his own social advancement.
He became less demonstrative, less congenial, and his practice made huge demands upon his time, and left but scant opportunity for pleasure-seeking. Lines traced themselves upon his brow and lurked at the corners of his mouth; he aged rapidly, and began to look like an elderly man while Bella was still little more than a girl.
On the night of Mrs. Chetwynd’s return from the maternal roof (for Mrs. Blackall still lived near the Waterloo Road, and her elder daughter continued to make her home with her), she found her husband, a good deal to her surprise, seated in the drawing-room, gay with flowers and crowded with knick-nacks of every description. He had in his hand a book which he flung down with an annoyed gesture as his wife opened the door.