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CAPTAIN HAREWOOD was gone. There was a good deal of truth in Wilmet's plea that much pain might have been saved if she had been allowed to abide by her first answer; but by this time she would not have saved it.
She was a brave woman, and never sought indulgence; and all she accepted was the spending his last Saturday and Sunday at his home with him; and even on this she durst not venture without
; taking Alda, and exposing the dear untidy household to her disdain ; but that October Sunday walk by the river was worth it all—worth infinitely more than the July walk; and they both declared it gave them strength.
Wilmet returned in time for Monday's school, nor did she give in all the week; but she looked whiter and whiter, and on Saturday morning turned so faint while dressing, that Alda in a great fright called in Sibby; and the unprecedented event occurred of her spending two whole days in bed. She only begged to be let alone; and after this space of quiet came down again fully recovered, only, as Geraldine daily felt, softer, gentler, tenderer, less severely „strict, and moreover a less hard mistress to her own beauty.
Meantime Alda grew increasingly restless and drooping as the autumn advanced. The confined rooms and monotonous life really affected health accustomed to variety, change, and luxury; nor could idleness, disappointment, or ill-humour be wholesome diet. Listless and weary, she dropped all semblance of occupation, except
' novel reading; and there she perversely set her mind on whatever Froggatt and Underwood wished to keep out of their library. If Ferdinand did not come down for Sunday, they both looked at the end of it as if they had been worrying one another to death ; if he did not come down, she was affronted and miserable. Her restlessness was increased by the fact that people were returning to their winter-quarters in London, and it was to be inferred that the Thomas Underwoods might soon be there; but Marilda had not the art of letter-writing, and though she had several times sent a few warm-hearted lines, encouraging Alda's correspondence, this had dropped soon after the yearly migration to Spa ; and no more was known of the family movements till there was a letter from Edgar to Cherry. He was a very uncertain correspondent, always delightful, affectionate, and amusing, when he did write, but often not doing so for weeks together; and nothing had been heard of him since he had as usual gone abroad in the middle of the summer.
He now wrote from Spa, in amazement at the accumulation of family events which Marilda had poured upon him, and especially desirous to know how any captain of any service had ventured upon accosting W. W. He could not recover the loss it had been not to witness the siege and the surrender! For himself, Cherry gathered that he had begun, as he had led her to suppose he would, with the Channel Isles ; but whether he had seen Alice she could not make out; and he had then made his way, wandering and sketching in old Continental towns, as he had done last year. He always declared that it answered; he could dispose of his sketches when he came home, and could likewise write clever bright descriptions, that could usually command tolerable remuneration. This time, however, he had been nearly reduced to the condition of George Primrose, and had made his way to join the family caravan at Spa, by way of getting helped home.
There he was hailed with delight, for Mr. Underwood was very