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wife ; but his mother's endless lesson was that it was his marriage that had ruined him, and as he was as little inclined to blame himself as any of us, it was much pleasanter to lay the blame anywhere else. His temper was naturally sweet, but some sweets turn a little in thundery weather, and his temper was made for prosperity. In Lord Drumshambo's circumstances he would have been quite as easy and amiable. Always harassed and anxious, he was often irritable (as Lord Drumshambo could be at times on very trivial provocation) : his natural disposition to gaiety made him gloomy in conditions where gaiety was hardly possible : and having a conscience which hurt him, every wound to it left a scar that would not heal but keep up a perpetual soreness.
He never, till the end, frankly told his wife all that ailed him : but, without telling, he expected her to be as if she knew it all. She was to behave as if she knew it all. She was to behave as if she understood, and must not understand because he shrank from a confession that would have suggested blame of himself (though she never had blamed him), and it was quite enough to bear that his mother blamed him-for his marriage.
The birth of his children could not lessen his
anxieties any more than it could lessen his expenses or improve his income. The birth of each was duly announced to his parents,
and brought much sage admonition from his mother as to the more imperative need of saving-in view of education and future settling in life, and from his father a letter of congratulation, that would have tailed off into condolence had it been longer, and a cheque that might be more than sufficient for baby-clothes and the nurse and doctor, but bore but a meagre proportion to the other needs it actually went to meet.
Hubert could hardly look upon his increasing family with untroubled joy; nevertheless the death of his eldest son, when the youngest was a new-born baby, could only grieve and sadden him. It changed the face of his young wife and set on it a wistfulness and pathetic look of loss that he could not believe time would ever heal. He never saw it healed ; long, long before she had learned to cease listening for a childish step on the stair, for a step that had carried the little feet out of all human hearing up the golden ladder, she was alone in the world, widowed, with three children, and no income.
PERHAPS the reader may have wondered how Sheila's own family regarded the marriage which her husband's father and mother thought so unfortunate for their son. The juniors, her younger brothers and sisters, thought the wedding very good fun, and then thought no more about the matter at all ; they had expected her to make a better match, but it was not their business, and they only wondered a little that all her beauty and cleverness--for she was the clever one of the family-had done so little for her.
Mr. Desmond had disliked the marriage, and said so : a much more prosperous one had offered, which would have kept his daughter near him in Ireland and given her affluence and consequence.
A parson himself, he was not particularly fond of parsons, and the English clergy he suspected as all more or less tainted with Puseyism ; nor did he care much for Hubert Burscough. But Mrs. Desmond liked Hubert and encouraged the marriage : her eldest daughter's husband was a friend of his and perhaps liked the idea of having his wife's sister as his friend's wife ; so there was a strong party in favour of the match, and Sheila's father let her have her own way. Neither he nor her mother very seriously considered the question as to how the young couple were to live. No doubt the young clergyman would get a living, and meanwhile his parents were, they understood, well off. Mr. Desmond, having opposed the marriage, thought himself entitled to wash his hands of it ; to yield was all that could be expected of him. So Sheila was married and went away to England, and her family stayed at home and went on amusing itself. The main business of Mrs. Desmond's life had consisted in having seventeen children ; it had taken so long and been accomplished so fully that she had scarcely had leisure for bringing them up. She was very fond of the elder ones, and not so fond of the
younger; with the former she had been, as she thought, a wise and firm disciplinarian, never indulgent, but often kind; to the latter, by turns, inattentive and capriciously strict, and her frequent long absences in search
of health, at Bath especially, were not at all regretted. Her younger children scrambled up, how they could, under the inefficient charge of frequently changing and indifferent governesses—with considerable gaps, when there were no governesses at all.
Mr. Desmond thought more about his ancestors than his descendants, and spent much of his time among the former, and very little with the latter. A great genealogist and herald, he found inexhaustible refreshment in capturing from oblivion the threads of his descent from countless sovereigns, while even half-a-sovereign was seldom seen by any of his younger children. His other great occupation was even less lucrative, and was much more expensive ; without a single vicious or unworthy taste, he was quite a spendthrift-in building and restoring. To restore the very ancient and historic church of which he had charge can seem to no one an unfitting task for him. But he made it a hobby, and instead of riding it, with a firm and moderate hand, he suffered it to ride him. What it cost him year by year it is very unlikely that he ever calculated, or what proportion such cost bore to his income. And he built as well as restored; built on