The ladies were at first shy and silent, Eunane only giving me more than a monosyllabic answer to my remarks, and even Eunane never speaking save in reply to me. A trivial incident, however, broke through this reserve, and afforded me a first taste of the petty domestic vexations in store for me. The beverage most to my liking was always the carcara—juice flavoured with roasted kernels, something resembling coffee in taste. On this occasion the carcara and another favourite dish had a taste so peculiar that I pushed both aside almost untouched. On observing this, the rest—Enva, Leenoo, Elfe, and Eirale—took occasion to criticise the articles in question with such remarks and grimaces as ill-bred children might venture for the annoyance of an inexperienced sister. I hesitated to repress this outbreak as it deserved, till Eunane’s bitter mortification was evident in her brightening colour and the doubtful, half-appealing glance of tearful eyes. Then a rebuke, such as might have been appropriately addressed yesterday to these rude school-girls by their governess, at once silenced them. As we rose, I asked Eveena, who, with more courtesy than the rest of us, had finished her portion—
“Is there any justice in these reproaches? I certainly don’t like the carcara to-day, but it does not follow that Eunane is in fault.”
The rest, Eunane included, looked their annoyance at this appeal; but Eveena’s temper and kindness were proof against petulance.
“The carcara is in fault,” she said; “but I don’t think Eunane is. In learning cookery at school she had her materials supplied to her; this time the carve has probably given her an unripe or overripe fruit which has spoiled the whole.”
“And do you not know ripe from unripe fruit?” I inquired, turning to Eunane.
“How should she?” interposed Eveena. “I doubt if she ever saw them growing.”
“How so?” I asked of Eunane.
“It is true,” she answered. “I never went beyond the walls of our playground till I came here; and though there were a few flower-beds in the inner gardens, there were none but shade trees among the turf and concrete yards to which we were confined.”