Mrs. Craven suppressed a sigh.
“If I even had fifty pounds,” she said, “I wouldn’t let that child spend every hour at school. I’d dress up smart, and take her out, and get her the very best husband I could. Why, old man, what does a woman want with all that learning?”
“If a woman has brains she’s bound to use them,” replied the old man, as he sat down by the kitchen fire.
Meanwhile Ruth went on with her lessons. After a time, however, she uttered a sigh. She flung down her books and looked across the room.
“If he only knew,” she said under her breath—“if he only knew that I was practically sent to Coventry—that none of the nice girls will speak to me. But never mind; I won’t tell him. Nothing would induce me to trouble him on the subject.”
High life and low life.
Amongst the many girls who attended the Great Shirley School was one who was known by the name of Cassandra Weldon. She was rapidly approaching the proud position of head girl in the school. She had entered the Shirley School when quite a little child, had gone steadily up through the different classes and the various removes, until she found herself nearly at the head of the sixth form. She was about to try for a sixty-pound scholarship, renewable for three years; if she got it she would go to Holloway College, and eventually support herself and her mother. Mrs. Weldon was the widow of a man who in his time had a very successful school for boys, and she herself had been a teacher long ago in the Great Shirley School. Cassandra and her mother, therefore, were from the very first surrounded by scholarship; they belonged, so to speak, to the scholastic world.
Mrs. Weldon could scarcely talk of anything else. Evening after evening she would question her daughter eagerly with regard to this accomplishment and the other, to this change or that, to this chance which Cassandra might have and to the other. The girl was extremely clever, with a sort of all-round talent which was most remarkable; for in addition to many excellent accomplishments, she was distinctly musical. Her musical talent very nearly amounted to genius. If in the future she could not play in public, she resolved at least to earn her living as a music teacher. Mrs. Weldon hoped that Cassandra would do more than this; and, to tell the truth, the girl shared her mother’s dreams. Besides music, she had worked very hard at botany, at French and German, and at English literature. She would be seventeen on her next birthday, and it was against the rules for any girl to remain at the Great Shirley School after that time. Cassandra had, however, two more terms of school-life before her, and these terms she regarded as the most valuable of her whole education.