In the days when, while in the country, he had heard such rumours of the lawless days of Sir Jeoffry Wildairs’ daughter, when he had heard of her dauntless boldness, her shrewish temper, and her violent passions, he had been awed at the thought of what a wife such a woman would make for a gentleman accustomed to a quiet life, and he had indeed striven hard to restrain the desperate admiration he was forced to admit she had inspired in him even at her first ball.
The effort had, in sooth, been in vain, and he had passed many a sleepless night; and when, as time went on, he beheld her again and again, and saw with his own eyes, as well as heard from others, of the great change which seemed to have taken place in her manners and character, he began devoutly to thank Heaven for the alteration, as for a merciful boon vouchsafed to him. He had been wise enough to know that even a stronger man than himself could never conquer or rule her; and when she seemed to begin to rule herself and bear herself as befitted her birth and beauty, he had dared to allow himself to dream of what perchance might be if he had great good fortune.
In these days of her union with him, he was, indeed, almost humbly amazed at the grace and kindness she showed him every hour they passed in each other’s company. He knew that there were men, younger and handsomer than himself, who, being wedded to beauties far less triumphant than she, found that their wives had but little time to spare them from the world, which knelt at their feet, and that in some fashion they themselves seemed to fall into the background. But ’twas not so with this woman, powerful and worshipped though she might be. She bore