EASE NOT PEACE.
Too Long; Didn't Read“A dull rotation, never at a stay,Yesterday’s face twin image of to-day.”Cowper.
“Of what each one should be, he sees the form and rule,And till he reach to that, his joy can ne’er be full.”Ruckert.
It was very well for Margaret that the extreme quiet of the Harley Street house, during Edith’s recovery from her confinement, gave her the natural rest which she needed. It gave her time to comprehend the sudden change which had taken place in her circumstances within the last two months. She found herself at once an inmate of a luxurious house, where the bare knowledge of the existence of every trouble or care seemed scarcely to have penetrated. The wheels of the machinery of daily life were well oiled, and went along with delicious smoothness. Mrs. Shaw and Edith could hardly make enough of Margaret, on her return to what they persisted in calling her home. And she felt that it was almost ungrateful in her to have a secret feeling that the Helstone vicarage—nay, even the poor little house at Milton, with her anxious father and her invalid mother, and all the small household cares of comparative poverty, composed her idea of home. Edith was impatient to get well, in order to fill Margaret’s bed-room with all the soft comforts, and pretty knick-knacks, with which her own abounded. Mrs. Shaw and her maid found plenty of occupation in restoring Margaret’s wardrobe to a state of elegant variety. Captain Lennox was easy, kind, and gentlemanly; sate with his wife in her dressing-room an hour or two every day; played with his little boy for another hour, and lounged away the rest of his time at his club, when he was not engaged out to dinner. Just before Margaret had recovered from her necessity for quiet and repose—before she had begun to feel her life wanting and dull—Edith came downstairs and resumed her usual part in the household; and Margaret fell into the old habit of watching, and admiring, and ministering to her cousin. She gladly took all charge of the semblances of duties off Edith’s hands; answered notes, reminded her of engagements, tended her when no gaiety was in prospect, and she was consequently rather inclined to fancy herself ill. But all the rest of the family were in the full business of the London season, and Margaret was often left alone. Then her thoughts went back to Milton, with a strange sense of the contrast between the life there, and here. She was getting surfeited of the eventless ease in which no struggle or endeavour was required. She was afraid lest she should even become sleepily deadened into forgetfulness of anything beyond the life which was lapping her round with luxury. There might be toilers and moilers there in London, but she never saw them; the very servants lived in an underground world of their own, of which she knew neither the hopes nor the fears; they only seemed to start into existence when some want or whim of their master and mistress needed them. There was a strange unsatisfied vacuum in Margaret’s heart and mode of life; and, once when she had dimly hinted this to Edith, the latter, wearied with dancing the night before, languidly stroked Margaret’s cheek as she sat by her in the old attitude,—she on a footstool by the sofa where Edith lay.
“Poor child!” said Edith. “It is a little sad for you to be left, night after night, just at this time when all the world is so gay. But we shall be having our dinner-parties soon—as soon as Henry comes back from circuit—and then there will be a little pleasant variety for you. No wonder it is moped, poor darling!”