“Thank you, mother,” said Esther, impulsively, throwing her arms round her mother’s neck, and bursting into tears, “I—I will never give—give—him up.”
“No, dear, no; now don’t distress yourself. It will all come right. Your father doesn’t quite understand.” And then a great tempest of sobbing came over Esther, and swept her away to her own room.
The father and mother turned to each other with some anger.
“James, I’m surprised at your distressing the poor child like that to-night; you might have known she would be sensitive, with Mike only gone to-day! You could surely have waited till to-morrow.”
“I am surprised, Mary, that you can encourage her as you did. You cannot surely uphold the theatre?”
“Well, James, I don’t know,—there are theatres and theatres, and actors and actors; and there have been some very good men actors after all, and some very bad men ministers, if it comes to that,” she added; “and theatre or no theatre, love’s love in spite of all the fathers and mothers in the world—”
“All right, Mary, I would prefer then that we spoke no more on the matter for this evening,” and James Mesurier turned to his diary, to record, along with the state of the weather, and the engagements of the day, the undutiful conduct of Esther, and a painful difference with his wife.
Strange, that men who have themselves loved and begotten should thus for a moment imagine that a small social prejudice, or a narrow religious formula, can break the purpose of a young and vigorous passion. Do they realise what it is they are proposing to obstruct? This is love—love, my dear sir, at once the mightiest might, and the rightest right in the universe! This is—Niagara—the Atlantic—the power of the stars—and the strength of the tides. It is all the winds of the world, and all the fires of the centre. You surely cannot be serious in asking it to take, in exchange, some obsolete objection against its beloved!
This collision with her father braced up Esther’s nerves, and made Mike’s absence easier to bear. Her father made no more allusion to it. He was entering that period when fathers, however despotic, content themselves with protest, where once they have governed by royal proclamation. He was losing heart to contend with his children. They must go their own ways—though it must not be without occasional severe and solemn warnings on his part.
Mike and Esther wrote to each other twice a week. They had talked of every day, but a wise instinct prompted them to the less romantic, but likely the more enduring arrangement. It would be none the less open to them to write fourteen letters a week if they wished, but to have had to admit that one letter a day was a serious tax, not only on one’s other occupations, including idleness, but also on the amount of subject-matter available, would have been a dangerous correction of an impulsive miscalculation.