“Well, the poverty is all over now,” said Henrietta; “but still they live in a very quiet way, considering Aunt Geoffrey’s connexions and the fortune he has made.”
“Who put that notion into your head, my wise daughter?” said Mrs. Langford.
Henrietta blushed, laughed, and mentioned Lady Matilda St. Leger, a cousin of her aunt Geoffrey’s of whom she had seen something in the last year.
“The truth is,” said Mrs. Langford, “that your aunt had display and luxury enough in her youth to value it as it deserves, and he could not desire it except for her sake. They had rather give with a free hand, beyond what any one knows or suspects.”
“Ah! I know among other things that he sends Alexander to school,” said Fred.
“Yes, and the improvements at Knight Sutton,” said Henrietta, “the school, and all that grandpapa wished but could never afford. Well, mamma, if you made the match, you deserve to be congratulated on your work.”
“There’s nobody like Uncle Geoffrey, I have said, and shall always maintain,” said Fred.
His mother sighed, saying, “I don’t know what we should have done without him!” and became silent. Henrietta saw an expression on her countenance which made her unwilling to disturb her, and nothing more was said till it was discovered that it was bed time.
“Where is Madame?” asked Frederick of his sister, as she entered the breakfast room alone the next morning with the key of the tea-chest in her hand.
“A headache,” answered Henrietta, “and a palpitation.”
“A bad one?”
“Yes, very; and I am afraid it is our fault, Freddy; I am convinced it will not do, and we must give it up.”
“How do you mean? The going to Knight Sutton? What has that to do with it? Is it the reviving old recollections that is too much for her?”
“Just listen what an effect last evening’s conversation had upon her. Last night, after I had been asleep a long time, I woke up, and there I saw her kneeling before the table with her hands over her face. Just then it struck one, and soon after she got into bed. I did not let her know I was awake, for speaking would only have made it worse, but I am sure she did not sleep all night, and this morning she had one of her most uncomfortable fits of palpitation. She had just fallen asleep, when I looked in after dressing, but I do not think she will be fit to come down to-day.”
“And do you think it was talking of Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey that brought it on?” said Fred, with much concern; “yet it did not seem to have much to do with my father.”
“O but it must,” said Henrietta. “He must have been there all the time mixed up in everything. Queen Bee has told me how they were always together when they were children.”
“Ah! perhaps; and I noticed how she spoke about her wedding,” said Fred. “Yes, and to compare how differently it has turned out with Aunt Geoffrey and with her, after they had been young and happy together. Yes, no doubt it was he who persuaded the people at Knight Sutton into letting them marry!”