Kitty, still staring at me, got up. “I never expect to understand you. Neither does father. He’s mortified to death about your coming down here to live. He knows people are talking; so do I; and we don’t know what to say.”
“Oh, people always talk! And don’t say anything. No one escapes criticism. It’s human pastime to indulge in it. To prefer Scarborough Square to the Avenue may be queer, but at present I do prefer it. That’s why I’m here. You can say that if you choose.”
“You’ve got no business preferring it.” Kitty snapped the buttons of her glove with tearful emphasis. “Mrs. Jamieson said last night that a person with eyes and eyelashes like yours had no right to live as you are living, with just an old woman to do things for you. She came down to see why you were here, but you wouldn’t tell her. She can’t understand any more than I can.”
I kissed Kitty good-by, but I did not try to make her understand. I no longer try to make people understand things. Many of them can’t. Kitty is a dear child, adorably blue-eyed and pink-cheeked, and possessed of an amount of worldly wisdom that is always amazing and at times distressing, but much that interests me has, so far, never interested her. Refusing to study, she has little education, but she has traveled a good deal, speaks excellent French, dances perfectly, dresses admirably, and has charming manners when she wishes. I love her very much, but I no longer feel it is my duty to live with her.
I am not living in Scarborough Square because I feel it is my duty to live here. Thank Heaven, I don’t have to tell any one why I am here!
Kitty’s mother had been dead only a year when Aunt Matilda, who had adopted me several years earlier on the death of my parents, married her father. I was twelve and Kitty eight when the marriage took place, and with canny care I tried to shield her from the severity of Aunt Matilda’s system in rearing a child. I had been reared by it.
I owe much to Aunt Matilda. She sent me to good schools, to a good college; took me with her on most of her trips abroad, and at twenty presented me to society, but she never knew me, never in the least understood the hunger in my heart for what it was not in her power to give. I never told her there was hunger in my heart. I rarely told her of anything she could not see for herself.
In childhood I had learned the fixedness of her ideas, the rigidity of her type of mind, the relentlessness of her will; and that independence on my part survived was due to sturdy stubbornness, to a refusal to be dominated, and an incapacity for subjection. But this, too, she failed to understand.