A HARD STRUGGLE.
Mr. Cecil Burleigh’s departure to town so immediately after Lady Angleby’s ball might have given rise to remark had he not returned to Brentwood before the month’s end, and in excellent spirits. During his brief absence he had, however, found time to run down to the Isle of Wight and see Miss Julia Gardiner. In all trouble and vexation his thoughts still turned to her for rest.
Twice already a day had been named for the marriage, and twice it had been deferred to please her. It now stood fixed for February—“A good time to start for Rome and the Easter festivals,” she had pleaded. Mr. Brotherton was kindness itself in consideration for her wishes, but her own family felt that poor Julia was making a long agony of what, if it were to be done at all, were best done quickly. When Mr. Cecil Burleigh went to Ryde, he expected to find the preparations for the wedding very forward, but nothing seemed to have been begun. The young ladies were out walking, but Mrs. Gardiner, who had written him word that the 10th of December was the day, now told him almost in the first breath that it was put off again until the New Year.
“We shall all be thankful to have it over. I never knew dear Julia so capricious or so little thoughtful for others,” said the poor languid, weary lady.
Mr. Cecil Burleigh heard the complaint with a miserable compassion, and when Julia came in, and her beautiful countenance broke into sunshine at the sight of him, he knew what a cruel anticipation for her this marriage really was. He could have wished for her sake—and a little for his own too—that the last three months were blotted from their history; but when they came to talk together, Julia, with the quick discernment of a loving woman, felt that the youthful charms of Miss Fairfax had warmly engaged his imagination, though he had so much tenderness of heart still left for herself.
He did not stay long, and when he was going he said that it would have been wiser never to have come: it was a selfish impulse brought him—he wanted to see her. Julia laughed at his simple confession; her sister Helen was rather angry.
“Now, I suppose you will be all unsettled again, Julia,” said she, though Julia had just then a most peaceful face. Helen was observant of her: “I know what you are dreaming—while there is the shadow of a chance that Cecil will return to you, Mr. Brotherton will be left hanging between earth and heaven.”