MRS. H. Don’t speak of her in that way, Lucius.
L. How can I help it? I could say worse!
MRS. H. She is broken-hearted, poor thing.
L. Well she may be.
MRS. H. Ah, the special point of sorrow to your dear mother was that she blamed herself, for—
L. How could she? How can you say so, aunt?
MRS. H. Wait a moment, Lucius. What grieved her was the giving in to Cissy’s determination, seeing with her eyes, and not allowing herself to perceive that what she wished might not be good for her.
L. Cissy always did domineer over mother.
MRS. H. Yes; and your mother was so used to thinking Cissy’s judgment right that she never could or would see when it was time to make a stand, and prevent her own first impressions from being talked down as old-fashioned,—letting her eyes be bandaged, in fact.
L. So she vexed herself over Cissy’s fault; but did not you try to make Cissy see what she was about?
MRS. H. True; but if love had blinded my dear sister, Cissy was doubly blinded—
L. By conceit and self-will.
MRS. H. Poor girl, I am too sorry for her now to use those hard words, but I am afraid it is true. First she could or would not see either that her companions might be undesirable guides, or that her duty lay here, and then nothing would show her that her mother’s health was failing. Indeed, by that time the sort of blindness had come upon her which really broke your mother’s heart.
L. You mean her unbelief, agnosticism, or whatever she chooses to call it. I thought at least women were safe from that style of thing. It is all fashion and bad company, I suppose?
MRS. H. I hope and pray that it may be so; but I am afraid that it goes deeper than you imagine. Still, I see hope in her extreme unhappiness, and in the remembrance of your dear mother’s last words and prayers.
XI. GRANDFATHER AND GRAND-DAUGHTER
A MONTH LATER. MR. AVELAND AND CECILIA.
MR. A. My dear child, I wish I could do anything for you.
C. You had better let me go back to London, grandpapa.
MR. A. Do you really wish it?
C. I don’t know. I hate it all; but if I were in the midst of everything again, it might stifle the pain a little.
MR. A. I am afraid that is not the right way of curing it.
C. Oh, I suppose it will wear down in time.
MR. A. Is that well?
C. I don’t know. It is only unbearable as it is; and yet when I think of my life in town, the din and the chatter and the bustle, and the nobody caring, seem doubly intolerable; but I shall work off that. You had better let me go, grandpapa. The sight of me can be nothing but a grief and pain to you.
MR. A. No; it gives me hope.
C. Hope of what?