“That was a hit at you, my dear,” said Mrs. Gresley. “It was just after your pamphlet on ‘Schism’ appeared. Lord Newhaven always says something disagreeable. Don’t you remember, when you were thinking of exchanging Warpington for that Scotch living, he said he knew you would not do it because with your feeling towards Dissent you would never go to a country where you would be a Dissenter yourself?”
“How about the proofs?” said Hester, through the open window. “I am ready when you are, James.”
Wonderful power to benumb possesses
“Of course, Hester,” said Mr. Gresley, leading the way to his study and speaking in his lesson-for-the-day voice, “I don’t pretend to write”—("They always say that,” thought Hester)—“I have not sufficient leisure to devote to the subject to insure becoming a successful author. And even if I had I am afraid I should not be willing to sell my soul to obtain popularity, for that is what it comes to in these days. The public must be pandered to. It must be amused. The public likes smooth things, and the great truths—the only things I should care to write about—are not smooth, far from it.”
“This little paper on ‘Dissent,’ which I propose to publish in pamphlet form after its appearance as a serial—it will run to two numbers in the Southminster Advertiser—was merely thrown off in a few days when I had influenza, and could not attend to my usual work.”
“It must be very difficult to work in illness,” said Hester, who had evidently made a vow during her brief sojourn in the garden, and was now obviously going through that process which the society of some of our fellow-creatures makes as necessary as it is fatiguing—namely, that of thinking beforehand what we are going to say.
Mr. Gresley liked Hester immensely when she had freshly ironed herself flat under one of these resolutions. He was wont to say that no one was pleasanter than Hester when she was reasonable, or made more suitable remarks. He perceived with joy that she was reasonable now, and the brother and sister sat down close together at the writing-table with the printed sheets between them.
“I will read aloud,” said Mr. Gresley, “and you can follow me, and stop me if you think—er—the sense is not quite clear.”
The two long noses, the larger freckled one surmounted by a pince-nez, the other slightly pink, as if it had absorbed the tint of the blotting-paper over which it was so continually poised, both bent over the sheets.
Through the thin wall which separated the school-room from the study came the sound of Mary’s scales. Mary was by nature a child of wrath, as far as music was concerned, and Fraeulein—anxious, musical Fraeulein—was strenuously endeavoring to impart to her pupil the rudiments of what was her chief joy in life.