“But if she whom
Love doth honour
Be conceal’d from the day—
Set a thousand guards upon her,
Love will find out the way.”
She put up her chin defiantly.
“I wish, child, you would tell me if—if this is much to you,” said Mrs. Wesley wistfully, with a sudden craving to put her arms around her daughter and have her confidence.
Hetty hesitated for a fatal moment, then laughed again. “I am not a child precisely; and we read one another, dear, much better than we allow. Your second question you have no right to ask. You are sending me away—”
“No right, Hetty?”
“You are sending me away,” Hetty repeated, and seemed to be considering. After a pause she added slowly: “You others are all under papa’s thumb, and you make me a coward. But I will promise you this”—here her words began to drag—“and to strengthen me no less than to ease your fears, I promise it, mother. If the worst come to the worst, it shall not be at Kelstein that I choose it, but here among you all. I think you will gain little by sending me to Kelstein, mother: but you need not be afraid for me there.”
“You speak in enigmas.”
“And my tone, you would say, is something too theatrical for your taste? Well, well, dear mother, ’tis the privilege of a house with a doom upon it to talk tragedy: for, you know, Molly declares we have a doom upon us, though we cannot agree what ’tis. I uphold it to be debt, or papa’s tantrums, or perhaps Old Jeffrey [apparently the Wesley family ghost] but she will have it to be something deeper, and that one day we shall awake and see that it includes all three.”
“It appears to be my doom,” said Mrs. Wesley, her face relaxing, “to listen to a deal of nonsense from my daughters.”
“And who’s to blame, dear? You chose to marry at twenty, and here you have a daughter unmarried at seven and twenty. Now I respect and love you, as you well know: but every now and then reason steps in and proves to me that I am seven years your senior—which is absurd, and the absurder for the grave wise face you put upon it. So come along, sweet-and-twenty, and help me pack my buskins.” Hetty led the way upstairs humming an air which (though her mother did not recognise it) was Purcell’s setting of a song in Twelfth Night:
in lovers meeting,
Every wise man’s son doth know.”
On the day fixed, and at nine in the morning, Dick Ellison, who had promised to drive Hetty over to Kelstein, arrived with his gig. Sukey accompanied him, to join in the farewells and spend a few hours at the parsonage pending his return.
Now these visits of Sukey’s were a trial to her no less than to her mother and sisters. She knew that they detested her husband, and (what was worse) she had enough of the Wesley in her to perceive why and how: nevertheless, being a Wesley, she kept a steady face on her pain. Stung at times to echo Dick’s sentiments and opinions, as it were in self-defence, she tried to soften them down and present them in a form at least tolerable to her family. It was heroic, but uncomfortable; and they set aside the best parlour for it.