The future of girls necessarily remains indeterminate, at least until the last years of their education, but the long indeterminate time is not lost if it has been spent in preparatory training of mind, and especially in giving some resistance to their pliant or wayward characters. Thus, whether they devote themselves to the well-being of their own families, or give themselves to volunteer work in any department, social or particular, or advance in the direction of higher studies, or receive any special call from God to dedicate their gifts to His particular service, they will at least have something to give; their education will have been “higher” in that it has raised them above the dead level of mediocre character and will-power, which is only responsive to the inclination or stimulus of the moment, but has no definite plan of life. It may be that as far as exterior work goes, or anything that has a name to it, no specified life-work will be offered to many, but it is a pity if they regard their lives as a failure on that account.
There are lives whose occupations could not be expressed in a formula, yet they are precious to their surroundings and precious in themselves, requiring more steady self-sacrifice than those which give the stimulus of something definite to do. These need not feel themselves cut off from what is highest in woman’s education, if they realize that the mind has a life in itself and makes its own existence there, not selfishly, but indeed in a peculiarly selfless way, because it has nothing to show for itself but some small round of unimpressive occupations; some perpetual call upon its sympathies and devotion, not enough to fill a life, but just enough to prevent it from turning to anything else. Then the higher life has to be almost entirely within itself, and no one is there to see the value of it all, least of all the one who lives it. There is no stimulus, no success, no brilliancy; it is perhaps of all lives the hardest to accept, yet what perfect workmanship it sometimes shows. Its disappearance often reveals a whole tissue of indirect influences which had gone forth from it; and who can tell how far this unregistered, uncertificated higher education of a woman, without a degree and with an exceedingly unassuming opinion of itself, may have extended. It is a life hard to accept, difficult to put into words with any due proportion to its worth, but good and beautiful to know, surely “rich in the sight of God,”