C. Well, I shall go there in September and see about it. It is impossible before.
MRS. H. In the hopping holidays, when the stress of work is over! Cannot you see with your own eyes how fagged and ill your mother looks, and how much she wants help?
C. Oh! she will be all right again after this rest. I tell you, Aunt Phrasie, it is IMPOSSIBLE at present—(CAB STOPS).
SCENE.—A ROOM IN PROFESSOR DUNLOP’S HOUSE. MRS. MOLDWARP AND MRS. HOLLAND.
MRS. H. I have done my best, but I can’t move her an inch.
MRS. M. Poor dear girl! Yet it seems hardly fair to make my health the lever, when really there is nothing serious the matter.
MRS. H. I can’t understand the infatuation. Can there be any love affair?
MRS. M. Oh no, Phrasie; it is worse!
MRS. H. Worse! Mary, what can you mean?
MRS. M. Yes, it IS worse. I got at the whole truth yesterday. My poor child’s faith has gone! Oh, how could I let her go and let her mingle among all those people, all unguarded!
MRS. H. Do you mean that this is the real reason that she will not come home?
MRS. M. Yes; she told me plainly at last that she could not stand our round of services. They seem empty and obsolete to her, and she could not feign to attend them or vex us, and cause remarks by staying away, and of course she neither could nor would teach anything but secular matters. ’My coming would be nothing but pain to everybody,’ she said.
MRS H. You did not tell me this before my drive with her.
MRS. M. No, I never saw you alone; besides, I thought you would speak more freely without the knowledge. And, to tell the truth, I did think it possible that consideration for me might bring my poor Cissy down to us, and that when once under my father’s influence, all these mists might clear away. But I do not deserve it. I have been an unfaithful parent, shutting my eyes in feeble indulgence, and letting her drift into these quicksands.
MRS. H. Fashion and imitation, my dear Mary; it will pass away. Now, you are not to talk any more.
MRS. M. I can’t— (A SPASM COMES ON.)
SCENE.—SIX MONTHS LATER, DARKGLADE VICARAGE, A DARKENED ROOM. MRS. HOLLAND AND LUCIUS.
MRS. H. Yes, Lucius, we have all much to reproach ourselves with; even poor grandpapa is heart-broken at having been too much absorbed to perceive how your dear mother was overtasked.
L. You did all you could, aunt; you took home one child, and caused the other to be sent to school.
MRS. H. Yes, too late to be of any use.
L. And after all, I don’t think it was overwork that broke the poor dear one down, so much as grief at that wretched sister of mine.