“This one,” is the gentle answer.
“Being at home with you and papa, and having no bother at all, and nothing to think of.”
“I don’t believe it,” says the other, with the brutal frankness of thirteen. “You couldn’t live without the theatre, Gerty—and the newspapers talking about you—and people praising you—and bouquets—”
“Couldn’t I?” says Miss White, with a smile, as she gently lays her hand on her sister’s curls.
“No,” continues the wise young lady. “And besides, this pretty, quiet life would not last. You would have to give up playing that part. Papa is getting very old now; and he often talks about what may happen to us. And you know, Gerty, that though it is very nice for sisters to say they will never and never leave each other, it doesn’t come off, does it? There is only one thing I see for you—and that is to get married.”
It is easy to fence with a child’s prattle. She might have amused herself by encouraging this chatterbox to go through the list of their acquaintances, and pick out a goodly choice of suitors. She might have encouraged her to give expression to her profound views of the chances and troubles of life, and the safeguards that timid maidens may seek. But she suddenly said, in a highly matter-of-fact manner:—
“What you say is quite true, Carry, and I’ve thought of it several times. It is a very bad thing for an actress to be left without a father or husband, or brother, as her ostensible guardian. People are always glad to hear stories—and to make them—about actresses. You would be no good at all, Carry—”
“Very well, then,” the younger sister said, promptly, “you’ve got to get married. And to a rich man, too; who will buy you a theatre, and let you do what you like in it.”
Miss Gertrude White, whatever she may have thought of this speech, was bound to rebuke the shockingly mercenary ring in it.
“For shame, Carry! Do you think people marry from such motives as that?”
“I don’t know,” said Carry; but she had, at least, guessed.
“I should like my husband to have money, certainly,” Miss White said, frankly; and here she flung the MS. book from her on to a neighboring chair. “I should like to be able to refuse parts that did not suit me. I should like to be able to take just such engagements as I chose. I should like to go to Paris for a whole year, and study hard—”
“Your husband might not wish you to remain an actress,” said Miss Carry.
“Then he would never be my husband,” the elder sister said, with decision. “I have not worked hard for nothing. Just when I begin to think I can do something—when I think I can get beyond those coquettish, drawing-room, simpering parts that people run after now—just when the very name of Mrs. Siddons, or Rachael, or any of the great actresses makes my heart jump—when I have ambition and a fair chance, and all that—do you think I am to give the whole thing up, and sink quietly into the position of Mrs. Brown or Mrs. Smith, who is a very nice lady, no doubt, and very respectable, and lives a quiet and orderly life, with no greater excitement than scheming to get big people to go to her garden parties?”