Clara did not fail to perceive this, and grieved over it in secret. Other and happier feelings, however, became awakened within her, when I privately hinted that the time for disclosing my secret to my sister was not far off. She grew almost as much air max 90 hyperfuse agitated as I was, though by very different expectationsshe could think of nothing else but the explanation and the surprise in store for her. Sometimes, I almost feared to keep her any longer in suspense; and half regretted having said anything on the subject of the new and absorbing interest of my life, before the period when I could easily have said all. Mr. Sherwin and I had not latterly met on the most cordial terms. He was dissatisfied with me for not having boldly approached the subject of my marriage in my father’s presence; and considered my reasons for still keeping it secret, as dictated by morbid apprehension, and as showing a total want of proper firmness. On the other hand, he was obliged to set against this omission on my part, the readiness I had shown in meeting his wishes on all remaining points. My life was insured in Margaret’s favour; and I had arranged to be called to the bar immediately, so as to qualify myself in good time for every possible place within place-hunting range. My assiduity in making these preparations for securing Margaret’s prospects and mine against any evil chances that might happen, failed in producing the favourable effect on Mr. Sherwin, which they must assuredly have produced on a less selfish man. But they obliged him, at least, to stop short at occasional grumblings about my reserve with my father, and to maintain towards me a sort of sulky politeness, which was, after all, less offensive than the usual infliction of his cordiality, with its unfailing accompaniment of dull stories and duller jokes. During the spring and summer, Mrs. Sherwin appeared to grow feebler and feebler, from continued ill-health. Occasionally, her words and actionsespecially in her intercourse with mesuggested fears that her mind was beginning to give way, as well as her body. For instance, on one occasion, when Margaret had left the room for a minute or two, she suddenly hurried up to me, whispering with eager looks and anxious tones:—“Watch over your wifemind you watch over her, and keep all bad people from her! I’ve tried to do itmind you do it, too!” I asked immediately for an explanation of this extraordinary injunction; but she only air max 2013+ answered by muttering something about a mother’s anxieties, and then returned hastily to her place. It was impossible to induce her to be more explicit, try how I might. Margaret once or twice occasioned me much perplexity and distress, by certain inconsistencies and variations in her manner, which began to appear shortly after my return to North Villa from the country. At one time, she would become, on a sudden, strangely sullen and silentat another, irritable and capricious. Then, again, she would abruptly change to the most affectionate warmth of speech and demeanour, anxiously anticipating every wish I could form, eagerly showing her gratitude for the slightest attentions I paid her. These unaccountable alterations of manner vexed and irritated me indescribably. I loved Margaret too well to be able to look philosophically on the imperfections of her character; I knew of no cause given by me for the frequent changes in her conduct, and, if they only proceeded from coquetry, then coquetry, as I once told her, was the last female accomplishment that could charm me in any woman whom I really loved. However, these causes of annoyance and regrether caprices, and my remonstrancesall passed happily away, as the term of my engagement with Mr. Sherwin approached its end, Margaret’s better and lovelier manner returned. Occasionally, she might betray some symptoms of confusion, some evidences of unusual thoughtfulnessbut I remembered how near was the day of the emancipation of our love, and looked on her embarrassment as a fresh charm, a new ornament to the beauty of my maiden wife. Mr. Mannion continuedas far as attention to my interests wentto be the same ready and reliable friend as ever; but he was, in some other respects, an altered man. The illness of which he had complained months back, when I returned to London, seemed to have increased. His face was still the same impenetrable face which had so powerfully impressed me when I first saw him, but his manner, hitherto so quiet and self-possessed, had now grown abrupt and variable. Sometimes, when he joined us in the drawing-room at North Villa, he would suddenly stop before we had exchanged more than three or four words, murmur something, in a voice unlike his usual voice, about an attack of spasm and giddiness, and leave the room. These fits of illness had something in their nature of the same secrecy which distinguished nike air max 90 everything else connected with him: they produced no external signs of distortion, no unusual paleness in his faceyou could not guess what pain he was suffering, or where he was suffering it. Latterly, I abstained from ever asking him to join us; for the effect on Margaret of his sudden attacks of illness was, naturally, such as to discompose her seriously for the remainder of the evening. Whenever I saw him accidentally, at later periods of the year, the influence of the genial summer season appeared to produce no alteration for the better in him. I remarked that his cold hand, which had chilled me when I took it on the raw winter night of my return from the country, was as cold as ever, on the warm summer days which preceded the close of my engagement at North Villa. Such was the posture of affairs at home, and at Mr. Sherwin’s, when I went to see Margaret for the last time in my old character, on the last night which yet remained to separate us from each other. I had been all day preparing for our reception, on the morrow, in a cottage which I had taken for a month, in a retired part of the country, at some distance from London. One month’s unalloyed happiness with Margaret, away from the world and all worldly considerations, was the Eden upon earth towards which my dearest hope and anticipations had pointed for a whole year pastand now, now at last, those aspirations were to be realized! All my arrangements at the cottage were completed in time to allow me to return home, just before our usual late dinner hour. During the meal, I provided for my month’s absence from London, by informing my father that I proposed visiting one of my country friends. He heard me as coldly and indifferently as usual; and, as I anticipated, did not even ask to what friend’s house I was going. After dinner, I privately informed Clara that on the morrow, before starting, I would, in accordance with my promise, make her the depositary of my long-treasured secretwhich, as yet, was not to be divulged to any one besides. This done, I hurried away, between nine and ten o’clock, for a last half-hour’s visit to North Villa; hardly able to realise my own situation, or to comprehend the fulness and exaltation of my own joy. A disappointment was in store for me. Margaret was not in the house; she had gone out to an evening party, given by a maiden aunt of hers, who was known to be very rich, and was, accordingly, a person to be courted and humoured by the family. I was angry as well as disappointed at nike air max 1 what had taken place. To send Margaret out, on this evening of all others, showed a want of consideration towards both of us, which revolted me. Mr. and Mrs. Sherwin were in the room when I entered; and to him I spoke my opinion on the subject, in no very conciliatory terms. He was suffering from a bad attack of headache, and a worse attack of ill-temper, and answered as irritably as he daredMy good Sir!” he said, in sharp, querulous tones, “do, for once, allow me to know what’s best. You’ll have it all your way to-morrowjust let me have mine, for the last time, to-night. I’m sure you’ve been humoured often enough about keeping Margaret away from partiesand we should have humoured you this time, too; but a second letter came from the old lady, saying she should be affronted if Margaret wasn’t one of her guests. I couldn’t go and talk her over, because of this infernal headache of mineHang it! it’s your interest that Margaret should keep in with her aunt; she’ll have all the old girl’s money, if she only plays her cards decently well. That’s why I sent her to the partyher going will be worth some thousands to both of you one of these days. She’ll be back by half-past twelve, or before. Mannion was asked; and though he’s all out of sorts, he’s gone to take care of her, and bring her back. I’ll warrant she comes home in good time, when he’s with her. So you see there’s nothing to make a fuss about, after all  
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