More like somnambulism than waking reality was now the life of Florence Hamilton. No duty was unperformed, so exertion spared to conduce to the comfort of the now diminished family circle. No words of repining or regret were uttered—no tear dimmed the large dark eyes. She moved and lived as it were mechanically, without the agency of feeling or sympathy; yet though she obtruded her grief on none, it was equally true that no gleam of returning cheerfulness ever lightened the gloom which enveloped her. A something there was in the hopeless, joyless expression of her beautiful face, which made the heart ache; yet none offered sympathy, or strove to console her, for she seemed unapproachable, with the cold, haughty glance of other days. Painfully perceptible was the difference between Christian fortitude and perfect hopelessness—gentle, humble resignation and despair. There was no peace in her soul, for her future was shrouded in gloom: she had no joys in anticipation. The sun of hope had set forever to her vision, and she lived and bore her grief like one who had counted the cost, and knew that for a little while longer she must struggle on; and that oblivion of the past was dispensed only by the angel of death. She acquiesced in Mary’s plan of opening a small school, and unfalteringly performed her allotted task as assistant teacher. Unexpected success had crowned their efforts, and fifteen pupils daily assembled in the room set apart for the purpose. Mary had feared opposition on the part of the Padre, and was agreeably surprised at the number of Catholic children committed to her care.
One morning early in October, having finished her household duties, she repaired to the schoolroom for the day. Florence was already at her post, though suffering from violent nervous headache. Mary seated herself with her back to the door, and called one of her classes. Arithmetic it proved; and if the spirits of the departed were ever allowed to return in vindication of their works, the ghost of Pythagoras would certainly have disturbed the equanimity of the “muchachos,” who so obstinately refused the assistance and co-operation of his rules and tables. In vain she strove to impress on one that 2 from 8 left 6. Like the little girl that Wordsworth met, he persisted “it was seven.” Despairing at last, she remanded the class to their seats. Anxious to facilitate the progress of her pupils, Mary spared no pains to make perspicuous what to them appeared obscure. The little savages could not, or would net understand that the earth was like a ball, and not only turned upon its own axis, but made the entire circumference of the sun. A pair of globes could not be procured, and she taxed her ingenuity for a substitute. Selecting two apples, one enormous, the other medium size, she carefully introduced a reed through the center of the smaller apple, thus causing it to revolve on its axis.