BETWEEN BEAUCHAMP AND CECILIA
Beauchamp quitted the house without answering as to what next, and without seeing Rosamund.
In the matter of money, as of his physical health, he wanted to do too much at once; he had spent largely of both in his efforts to repair the injury done to Dr. Shrapnel. He was overworked, anxious, restless, craving for a holiday somewhere in France, possibly; he was all but leaping on board the boat at times, and, unwilling to leave his dear old friend who clung to him, he stayed, keeping his impulses below the tide-mark which leads to action, but where they do not yield peace of spirit. The tone of Renee’s letters filled him with misgivings. She wrote word that she had seen M. d’Henriel for the first time since his return from Italy, and he was much changed, and inclined to thank Roland for the lesson he had received from him at the sword’s point. And next she urged Beauchamp to marry, so that he and she might meet, as if she felt a necessity for it. ’I shall love your wife; teach her to think amiably of me,’ she said. And her letter contained womanly sympathy for him in his battle with his uncle. Beauchamp thought of his experiences of Cecilia’s comparative coldness. He replied that there was no prospect of his marrying; he wished there were one of meeting! He forbore from writing too fervently, but he alluded to happy days in Normandy, and proposed to renew them if she would say she had need of him. He entreated her to deal with him frankly; he reminded her that she must constantly look to him, as she had vowed she would, when in any kind of trouble; and he declared to her that he was unchanged. He meant, of an unchanged disposition to shield and serve her; but the review of her situation, and his knowledge of her quick blood, wrought him to some jealous lover’s throbs, which led him to impress his unchangeableness upon her, to bind her to that standard.
She declined his visit: not now; ‘not yet’: and for that he presumed to chide her, half-sincerely. As far as he knew he stood against everybody save his old friend and Renee; and she certainly would have refreshed his heart for a day. In writing, however, he had an ominous vision of the morrow to the day; and, both for her sake and his own, he was not unrejoiced to hear that she was engaged day and night in nursing her husband. Pursuing his vision of the morrow of an unreproachful day with Renee, the madness of taking her to himself, should she surrender at last to a third persuasion, struck him sharply, now that he and his uncle were foot to foot in downright conflict, and money was the question. He had not much remaining of his inheritance—about fifteen hundred pounds. He would have to vacate Holdesbury and his uncle’s town-house in a month. Let his passion be never so desperate, for a beggared man to think of running away with a wife, or of marrying