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Chapter IX.: A FUTURE DAY. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 5 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 5.
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A FUTURE DAY.
“Is it all settled?—complete!” settled? asked Henry Craig of Horace, just when the latter was about to mount the coach to London, after a short visit of business, a few weeks after the stoppage of the D—— bank. “And your sisters both leave us immediately?”
“Certainly, and immediately. But ask them about it; for they can bear the subject better than I.”
“I knew their intentions from the beginning but so soon,—so very soon. I did not wish tu believe it till I heard it from one of yourselves. I am grieved for you, Horace, almost as much as for Mr. and Mrs. Berkeley.”
“And for yourself,” thought Horace, who was now fully aware of Mr. Craig's interest in on a member of his family. “Do not think, Henry,” he continued, “that I blame my sisters for what they have done. They took this step as a matter of course,—as a necessary consequence of my father's misfortune; and though I do not think I could have encouraged them to it, I cannot bring myself to say they are wrong. Yet if I had known——”
“I thought you always knew. I was fully aware what they would do.”
“If I had thought them in earnest——”
It was indeed true that Horace's sisters could bear this subject better than he. If they had been less grateful for his brotherly pride and affection, they would have called him weak for regretting- that they should, like him, wish and work for independence.
“We leave Lewis behind, you know,” said Melea, smiling at the grave boy who was timidly listening to what Mr. Craig was saying, the next day, about his cousins going to live somewhere else. “Lewis has made his uncle and aunt very fond of him already; and when he is son and daughters and nephew to them at once, they will have more interest in him still. Lewis's being here makes us much less uneasy in leaving home than anything else could do.”
While Melea went on to show how wrong it would be to remain a burden upon their father in his old age and impaired circumstances, Lewis stole out of the room to hide his tears.
“And now, Melea,” said Henry Craig, “Lewis is out of hearing of your lesson, and you know how perfectly I agreed with you long ago about what you are doing. Do not treat me as if I had not been your friend and adviser throughout. Why all this explanation to me?”
“I do not know; unless it was to carry off too strong a sympathy with Lewis,” replied Melea, smiling through the first tears Henry Craig had seen her shed. “But do not fancy that I shrink. I am fond of children, I love teaching them; and if I could but form some idea of what kind of life it will be in other respects——
“You know, Melea,” Henry continued, after a long pause, “you know how I would fain have saved you from making trial of this kind of life. You have understood, I am sure——”
“I have, Henry. I know it all. Say no more now.”
“I must, Melea, because, ‘if we are really destined to be a support to each other, if we love so that our lot is to be one through life, now is the time for us to yield each other that support, and to acknowledge that love.”
“We cannot be more sure than we were before, Henry. We have little that is new to tell each other.”
“Then you are mine, Melea. You have long known that I was wholly yours. You must have known——”
“Very long; and if you knew what a support —what a blessing in the midst of everything— it makes me ashamed to hear any thing of my share in this trial.”
Henry was too happy to reply.
“It is only a delay then,” he said at length. “We are to meet, to part no more in this world. You are mine. Only say you are now already mine.”
“Your own, and I trust God will bless our endeavours to do our duty, till it becomes our duty to——. But it will be a long, long time first; and my having undertaken such a charge must prove to you that I am in earnest in saying this. I would not have said what I have done, Henry, nor have listened to you, if I had not hoped that our mutual confidence would make us patient. We shall have much need of patience.”
“We shall not fail, I trust. I feel as if I could bear any thing now:—absence, suspense,— whatever it may please Heaven to appoint us. But I feel as if I could do every thing too; and who knows how soon——Oh, Melea, is there really no other difficulty than our own labours may remedy? Your father—Mrs. Berkeley——”
“Ask them,” said Melea, smiling. “I have not asked them, but I have not much fear.”
Though Henry and Melea had long been sure that they had no reserves from each other, they now found that there was a fathomless depth of thoughts and feelings to be poured out; and that it was very well that Fanny was detained in the town, and that Lewis was long in summoning courage to show his red eyes in the dining-room. Its being Saturday was reason enough for the young clergyman's going away without seeing the rest of the family; and that Monday was the day fixed for her departure accounted for Melea's gentle gravity. She intended to open her mind fully to her mother before she went; but she must keep it to herself this night.
Every one was struck with the fervour of spirit with which the curate went through the services of the next day. Melea alone knew what was in his heart, and understood the full significance of his energy.
It was not till Fanny and Melea were gone, and there was dullness in the small house ‘to which their parents had removed, and it was sometimes difficult to cheer Mr. Berkeley, and wounding to hear the school-children's questions when the young ladies would come back again, that Henry Craig could fully realize the idea of the necessity of patience. He was still too happy when alone, and too much gratified by Mrs. Berkeley's confidence in him as in a son, to mourn over the events which had taken place as if they involved no good with their evil. Some of the dreariness of the family prospects belonged to his; but he had, in addition to their steady and lively hope of the due recompense of honourable self-denial and exertion, a cause of secret satisfaction which kept his spirit poised above the depressing influences of suspense and loneliness. He still believed that, happen what might, he could, without difficulty, be patient. According to present appearances, there was every probability that this faith would be put to the proof.
end of part the first.
W. Clowes, Stamford-street.
BERKELEY THE BANKER.