MRS. M. I wish it was the Art College at Wimbledon. Then I should be quite comfortable about you.
C. Have not we gone into all that already? You know I must go to the fountain-head, and not be put off with mere feminine, lady-like studies! Pah! Besides, in lodgings I can be useful. I shall give two evenings in the week to the East End, to the Society for the Diversion and Civilisation of the Poor.
MRS. M. Surely there is room for usefulness here! Think of the children! And for diversion and civilisation, how glad we should be of your fresh life and brightness among poor people!
C. Such poor! Why, even if grandpapa would let me give a lecture on geology, or a reading from Dickens, old Prudence Blake would go about saying it hadn’t done nothing for her poor soul.
MRS. M. Grandpapa wanted last winter to have penny readings, only there was nobody to do it. He would give you full scope for that, or for lectures.
C. Yes; about vaccination and fresh air! or a reading of John Gilpin or the Pied Piper. Mamsey, you know a model parish stifles me. I can’t stand your prim school-children, drilled in the Catechism, and your old women who get out the Bible and the clean apron when they see you a quarter of a mile off. Free air and open minds for me! No, I won’t have you sighing, mother. You have returned to your native element, and you must let me return to mine.
MRS. M. Very well, my dear. Perhaps a year or two of study in town may be due to you, though this is a great disappointment to grandpapa and me. I know Mrs. Payne will make a pleasant and safe home for you, if you must be boarded.
C. Too late for that. I always meant to be with Betty Thurston at Mrs. Kaye’s. In fact, I have written to engage my room. So there’s an end of it. Come, come, don’t look vexed. It is better to make an end of it at once. There are things that one must decide for oneself.
V. TWO FRIENDS
SCENE—OVER THE FIRE IN MRS. KAYE’S BOARDING-HOUSE. CECILIA MOLDWARP AND BETTY THURSTON.
C. So I settled the matter at once.
B. Quite right, too, Cis.
C. The dear woman was torn every way. Grandpapa and Aunt Phrasie wanted her to pin me down into the native stodge; and Lucius, like a true man, went in for subjection: so there was nothing for it but to put my foot down. And though little mother might moan a little to me, I knew she would stand up stoutly for me to all the rest, and vindicate my liberty.
B. To keep you down there. Such a place is very well to breathe in occasionally, like a whale; but as to living in them—
C. Just hear how they spend the day. First, 7.30, prayers in church. The dear old man has hammered on at them these forty years, with a congregation averaging 4 to 2.5.
B. You are surely not expected to attend at that primitive Christian hour! Cruelty to animals!