She is not always somber, my Mistress. She will often, when she is occupied with something – a conversation, a game of draughts – grow vigorous, as if she has made a great discovery of happiness. She will sit upright; turn her head sharply; she will even smile. She outgrows herself at such moments, in the manner of an opening rose. It is a remarkable alteration. If my Master observes it, he will grin – though he is himself a reflective man. He will set down his novel, and watch her. He too grows animated. And yet his expression is not only of pleasure, but also anxiety. He is never more pleased, I do not think, or more anxious, than when his wife shows enjoyment. It is a peculiar thing.

But they are not lasting, these humors of my Mistress. Soon again, she settles into herself. She closes. She grows distracted, and seems not to remember that she was speaking of her old companion, or crowning a piece. Her smile declines… She is once again melancholy.

And my Master. He shudders. He lowers his head; he opens his novel. He appears to read, but does not turn a page. He will remain so for many minutes – at times, the entire evening.

It is a peculiar thing.