Which was true. Agatha and Florence were neither fretful nor dissatisfied; they were never disrespectful, perhaps because Mrs. Ledwith demanded less of deferential observance than of a kind of jolly companionship from her daughters; a go-and-come easiness in and out of what they called their home, but which was rather the trimming-up and outfitting place,—a sort of Holmes’ Hole,—where they put in spring and fall, for a thorough overhaul and rig; and at other times, in intervals or emergencies, between their various and continual social trips and cruises. They were hardly ever all-togetherish, as Desire had said, if they ever were, it was over house cleaning and millinery; when the ordering was complete,—when the wardrobes were finished,—then the world was let in, or they let themselves out, and—“looked.”
“Desire is different,” said Mrs. Ledwith. “She’s like Grant’s father, and her Aunt Desire,—pudgicky and queer.”
“Well, mamma,” said the child, once, driven to desperate logic for defense, “I don’t see how it can be helped. If you will marry into the Ledwith family, you can’t expect to have your children all Shieres!”
Which, again, was very true. Laura laughed at the clever sharpness of it, and was more than half proud of her bold chick-of-prey, after all.
Yet Desire remembered that her Aunt Frances was a Shiere, also; and she thought there might easily be two sides to the same family; why not, since there were two sides still further back, always? There was Uncle Titus; who knew but it was the Oldways streak in him after all?
Desire took refuge, more and more, with Miss Craydocke, and Rachel Froke, and the Ripwinkleys; she even went to Luclarion with questions, to get her quaint notions of things; and she had ventured into Uncle Titus’s study, and taken down volumes of Swedenborg to pry into, while he looked at her with long keen regards over his spectacles, and she did not know that she was watched.
“That young girl, Desire, is restless, Titus,” Rachel Froke said to him one day. “She is feeling after something; she wants something real to do; and it appears likely to me that she will do it, if they don’t take care.”
After that, Uncle Titus fixed his attention upon her yet more closely; and at this time Desire stumbled upon things in a strange way among his bookshelves, and thought that Rachel Froke was growing less precise in her fashion of putting to rights. Books were tucked in beside each other as if they had been picked up and bestowed anyhow; between “Heaven and Hell” and the “Four Leading Doctrines,” she found, one day, “Macdonald’s Unspoken Sermons,” and there was a leaf doubled lengthwise in the chapter about the White Stone and the New Name. Another time, a little book of poems, by the same author, was slid in, open, over the volumes of Darwin and Huxley, and the pages upon whose outspread faces it lay were those that bore the rhyme of the blind Bartimeus:—