So it remained as before decided, and the pain that the decision cost both mother and daughter was only to be inferred by the way in which they kept close together, as if determined not to lose unnecessarily one fragment of each other’s company; but they had very few moments alone together, and those were chiefly employed in practical matters, in minute directions as to the little things that conduced to keep Lady Susan in good humour, and above all, the arrangements for papa’s comfort. There was thus not much time for Beatrice to spend with Henrietta, nor indeed would much have resulted if there had been more. As she grew more at ease about her brother, Henrietta had gradually resumed her usual manner, and was now as affectionate to Beatrice as ever, but she was quite unconscious of her previous unkindness, and therefore made no attempt to atone for it. Queen Bee had ceased to think of it, and if a reserve had grown up between the two girls, they neither of them perceived it.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford and his daughter set out on their return to London so early the next morning that hardly any of the family were up; but their hurried breakfast in the grey of morning was enlivened by Alex, who came in just in time to exchange some last words with Uncle Geoffrey about his school work, and to wish Queen Bee good-bye, with hopes of a merrier meeting next summer.
Mrs. Geoffrey Langford had from the first felt considerable anxiety for her sister-in-law, who, though cheerful as ever, began at length to allow that she felt worn out, and consented to spare herself more than she had hitherto done. The mischief was, however, not to be averted, and after a few days of increasing languor, she was attacked by a severe fit of the spasms, to which she had for several years been subject at intervals, and was obliged to confine herself entirely to her own room, relying with complete confidence on her sister for the attendance on her son.
It was to her, however, that Mrs. Geoffrey Langford wished most to devote herself; viewing her case with more uneasiness than that of Frederick, who was decidedly on the fair road to convalescence; and she only gave him as much time as was necessary to satisfy his mother, and to superintend the regulation of his room. He had all the society he wanted in his sister, who was always with him, and in grandpapa and grandmamma, whose short and frequent visits he began greatly to enjoy. He had also been more amenable to authority of late, partly in consequence of his uncle’s warning, partly because it was not quite so easy to torment an aunt as a mother, and partly too because, excepting always the starving system, he had nothing in particular of which to complain. His mother’s illness might also have its effect in subduing him; but it did not dwell much on his spirits, or Henrietta’s, as they were too much accustomed to her ill health to be easily alarmed on her account.