Moreover the young girl began to feel profoundly impatient of all this to do and bother. For wasn’t the whole affair, very much of a storm in a teacup, petty, paltry, quite unworthy of prolonged discussion such as this? She certainly thought so, in her youthful fervour and inexperience; while—the push of awakening womanhood giving new colour and richness to her conception of life—nature cried out for a certain extravagance in heroism, in largeness of action of aspiration. She was athirst for noble horizons, in love with beauty, with the magnificence of things, seen and unseen alike. In love with superb objectives even if only to be reached through a measure of suffering, and—searching, arresting, though the thought was to her—possibly through peril of death.
In such moods there is small room for a Bilson regime and outlook. A flavour of scorn marked her tone as she answered at last:
“Oh, you can lay the blame on me—or rather tell the truth, which amounts to the same thing. Say that, my father being away, I refused my consent to the horses being taken out. Say you appealed to me but I was hopelessly obstinate. It is very simple.”
A SAMPLING OF FREEDOM
When two persons, living under the same roof, have the misfortune to fall out a hundred and one small ways are ready to hand for the infliction of moral torment. The weak, it may be added, are not only far more addicted to such inflictings than the strong, but far more resourceful in their execution. Theresa Bilson’s conduct may furnish a pertinent example.
From the moment of emerging from her bed-chamber, next morning, she adopted an attitude which she maintained until she regained the chaste seclusion of that apartment at night. During no instant of the intervening hours did she lapse from studied speechlessness unless directly addressed, nor depart from an air of virtuous resignation to injustice and injury—quite exquisitely provoking to the onlooker. Twice during the morning Damaris, upon entering the schoolroom, discovered her in tears, which she proceeded to wipe away, furtively, with the greatest ostentation.—Dramatic effect, on the second occasion was, however, marred by the fact that she was engaged in retrimming a white chip hat, encircled by a garland of artificial dog-roses, blue glass grapes and assorted foliage—an occupation somewhat ill-adapted to tragedy. In addition to making her ex-pupil—against whom they were mainly directed—first miserable and then naughtily defiant by these manoeuvres, she alienated any sympathy which her red-rimmed eyelids and dolorous aspect might otherwise have engendered in the younger and less critical members of the establishment, by sending Alfred, the hall-boy, up to the vicarage with a note and instructions to wait for an answer, at the very moment when every domestic ordinance demanded his absorption in the cleaning of knives and of boots.