’And is not that just what I say—I can’t talk like other folk—ladies, I mean. Every one laughs at me; an’ I’m dressed like a show, I am. It’s a shame! I saw Polly Shives—what a lady she is, my eyes!—laughing at me in church last Sunday. I was minded to give her a bit of my mind. An’ I know I’m queer. It’s a shame, it is. Why should I be so rum? it is a shame! I don’t want to be so, nor it isn’t my fault.’
And poor Milly broke into a flood of tears, and stamped on the ground, and buried her face in her short frock, which she whisked up to her eyes; and an odder figure of grief I never beheld.
‘And I could not make head or tail of what he was saying,’ cried poor Milly through her buff cotton, with a stamp; ‘and you twigged every word o’t. An’ why am I so? It’s a shame—a shame! Oh, ho, ho! it’s a shame!’
’But, my dear Milly, we were talking of drawing, and you have not learned yet, but you shall—I’ll teach you; and then you’ll understand all about it.’
‘An’ every one laughs at me—even you; though you try, Maud, you can scarce keep from laughing sometimes. I don’t blame you, for I know I’m queer; but I can’t help it; and it’s a shame.’
’Well, my dear Milly, listen to me: if you allow me, I assure you, I’ll teach you all the music and drawing I know. You have lived very much alone; and, as you say, ladies have a way of speaking of their own that is different from the talk of other people.’
‘Yes, that they have, an’ gentlemen too—like the Governor, and that Carysbroke; and a precious lingo it is—dang it—why, the devil himself could not understand it; an’ I’m like a fool among you. I could ’most drown myself. It’s a shame! It is—you know it is.—It’s a shame!’
’But I’ll teach you that lingo too, if you wish it, Milly; and you shall know everything that I know; and I’ll manage to have your dresses better made.’
By this time she was looking very ruefully, but attentively, in my face, her round eyes and nose swelled, and her cheeks all wet.
‘I think if they were a little longer—yours is longer, you know;’ and the sentence was interrupted by a sob.
’Now, Milly, you must not be crying; if you choose you may be just as the same as any other lady—and you shall; and you will be very much admired, I can tell you, if only you will take the trouble to quite unlearn all your odd words and ways, and dress yourself like other people; and I will take care of that if you let me; and I think you are very clever, Milly; and I know you are very pretty.’
Poor Milly’s blubbered face expanded into a smile in spite of herself; but she shook her head, looking down.
’Noa, noa, Maud, I fear ‘twon’t be.’ And indeed it seemed I had proposed to myself a labour of Hercules.
But Milly was really a clever creature, could see quickly, and when her ungainly dialect was mastered, describe very pleasantly; and if only she would endure the restraint and possessed the industry requisite, I did not despair, and was resolved at least to do my part.