“Because, I suppose, a house is not a home; and the beginning of a home is just what she waits for. Meanwhile, if she has a father and a mother, she would not put a slight on their home, or fail of her share of the duty in it.”
“But nobody would think I failed in my duty if I were going to be married. I’m sure mamma would think I was doing it beautifully. And I never shall be married. Why can’t I live something out for myself, and have a place of my own? I have got money enough to pay my rent, and I could do sewing in a genteel way, or keep a school for little children. I’d rather—take in back stairs to wash,” she exclaimed vehemently, “than wait round for things, and be nothing! And I should like to begin young, while there might be some sort of fun in it. You’d like to come and take tea with me, wouldn’t you, Aunt Frank?”
“If it were all right that you should have separate teas of your own.”
“And if I had waffles. Well, I should. I think, just now, there’s nothing I should like so much as a little kitchen of my own, and a pie-board, and a biscuit-cutter, and a beautiful baking oven, and a Japan tea-pot.”
“The pretty part. But brooms, and pails, and wash-tubs, and the back stairs?”
“I specified back stairs in the first place, of my own accord. I wouldn’t shirk. Sometimes I think that real good old-fashioned hard work is what I do want. I should like to find the right, honest thing, and do it, Aunt Frank.”
She said it earnestly, and there were tears in her eyes.
“I believe you would,” said Mrs. Ripwinkley. “But perhaps the right, honest thing, just now, is to wait patiently, with all your might.”
“Now, that’s good,” said Desire, “and cute of you, too, that last piece of a sentence. If you had stopped at ‘patiently,’ as people generally do! That’s what exasperates; when you want to do something with all your might. It almost seems as if I could, when you put it so.”
“It is a ‘stump,’ Luclarion would say.”
“Luclarion is a saint and a philosopher. I feel better,” said Desire.
She stayed feeling better all that afternoon; she helped Sulie Praile cut out little panels from her thick sheet of gray painting-board, and contrived her a small easel with her round lightstand and a book-rest; for Sulie was advancing in the fine arts, from painting dollies’ paper faces in cheap water colors, to copying bits of flowers and fern and moss, with oils, on gray board; and she was doing it very well, and with exquisite delight.
To wait, meant something to wait for; something coming by and by; that was what comforted Desire to-day, as she walked home alone in the sharp, short, winter twilight; that, and the being patient with all one’s might. To be patient, is to be also strong; this she saw, newly; and Desire coveted, most of all, to be strong.
Something to wait for. “He does not cheat,” said Desire, low down in her heart, to herself. For the child had faith, though she could not talk about it.