For Kate had assured them Mr. Hogg was “an honest, honorable man, and not ill-tempered; only an intolerable bore—so stupid and uninteresting.”
“Whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap.”
—GAL. vi. 7.
Elsie and her children returned home healthful and happy, with scarce any but pleasing recollections of the months that had just passed.
Not so with Mrs. Conly and Virginia. They seemed soured and disappointed; nothing had gone right with them; their finery was all spoiled, and they were worn out—with the journey they said, but in reality far more by late hours and dissipation of one sort and another.
The flirtation with Captain Brice had not ended in anything serious—except the establishing of a character for coquetry for Virginia—nor had several others which followed in quick succession.
The girl had much ado to conceal her chagrin; she had started out with bright hopes of securing a brilliant match, and now, though not yet twenty, began to be haunted with the terrible, boding fear of old maidenhood.
She confided her trouble to Isadore one day, when a fit of extreme depression had made her unusually communicative.
Isa could scarce forbear smiling, but checked the inclination.
“It is much too soon to despair, Virgy,” she said; “but indeed, I do not think the prospect of living single need make one wretched.”
“Perhaps not you, who are an heiress; but it’s another thing for poor, penniless me.”
Isadore acknowledged that that probably did make a difference.
“But,” she added, “I hope neither of us will ever be so silly as to marry for money. I think it must be dreadful to live in such close connection with a man you do not love, even if he is rolling in wealth; but suppose he loses his money directly? There you are, tied to him for life without even riches to compensate you for your loss of liberty.”
“Dear me, Isa, how tiresome! Where’s the use of supposing he’s going to lose his money?”
“Because it’s something not at all unlikely to happen; riches do take wings and fly away. I do not feel certain that Aunt Delaford’s money will ever come to me, or that, if it does, I may not lose it. So I intend to prepare to support myself if it should ever become necessary.”
“I intend to take up the English branches again, also the higher mathematics, and make myself thorough in them (which I am far from being now; they do not teach them thoroughly at the convent), so that I may be able to command a good position as a teacher.
“And let me advise you to do the same.”
“Indeed, I’ve no fancy for such hard work,” sneered Virginia. “I’d rather trust to luck. I’ll be pretty sure to be taken care of somehow.”
“I should think if any one might feel justified in doing that it would be Cousin Elsie,” said Isadore; “but Uncle Horace educated her in a way to make her quite capable of earning her own living, and she is doing the same by every one of her children.”