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A Wife's Duty A Tale   By: (1769-1853)

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[Illustration: Country House scene by A H Payne ] ["Dearest Helen! why should we ever leave this paradise of sweets?"]


by Mrs. Opie

[Illustration: A view between Paris and Marseilles]

"There is no killing like that which kills the heart." SHAKSPEARE.





I am only too painfully aware, my dear friend, that in my history of a "Woman's Love," I have related none but very common occurrences and situations, and entered into minute, nay, perhaps, uninteresting details. Still, however common an event may be, it is susceptible of variety in description, because endlessly various is the manner in which the same event affects different persons. Perhaps no occurrence ever affected two human beings exactly in the same manner; but as the rays of light call forth different hues and gradations of colour, according to the peculiar surfaces of the objects on which they fall, so common circumstances vary in their results and their effects, according to the different natures and minds of those to whom they occur.

My trials have been, and will no doubt continue to be, the trials of thousands of my sex; but the manner in which I acted under them, and their effect on my feelings and my character, must be peculiar to myself. And on these alone I can presume to found my expectation of affording to you, while you read, the variety which keeps attention alive, and the interest which repays it.

In the same week which made me a bride Ferdinand De Walden left England, unable to remain near the spot which had witnessed the birth of his dearest hopes, and would now witness the destruction of them.

I could have soothed in a degree the "pangs of despised love," by assuring him that I was convinced nothing but a prior attachment could have prevented my heart from returning his love. I could have told him that I seemed to myself to have two hearts; the one glowing with passionate tenderness for the object of its first feelings, the other conscious of a deep rooted and well founded esteem for him. But it was my duty to conceal this truth from him, as such an avowal would have strengthened my hold on his remembrance, and it was now become his duty to forget.

My mother not very long after my marriage wounded my feelings in a manner which I could not soon recover. I was speaking of De Walden with that warmth of regard which I really felt for him, and lamenting that I should probably now see him no more, when, with a look of agony for which I was not prepared, she begged me never to mention the name of De Walden to her again; for that her only chance of being able to reconcile herself to the marriage which I had made, was her learning to forget the one which she had so ardently desired.

Eagerly indeed did I pledge my word to her, that I would in future never name De Walden.

The first twelve months of my wedded life were halcyon days; and the first months of marriage are not often such, perhaps they never are, except where the wedded couple are so young that they are not trammelled in habits which are likely to interfere with a spirit of accommodation; nor even then, probably, unless the temper is good and yielding on both sides. It usually takes some time for the husband and wife to know each other's humours and habits, and to find out what surrender of their own they can make with the least reluctance for their mutual good. But we had youth, and (I speak it not as a boast) we had good temper also. Seymour, you know, was proverbially good natured; and I, though an only child, had not had my naturally happy temper ruined by injudicious indulgence.

You know that Seymour and I went to Paris, and thence to Marseilles, not very long after we were married, and returned in six months, to complete the alterations which we had ordered to be made to our house, under the superintendence of my mother... Continue reading book >>

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