‘I have never been so happy in my life,’ she said, in rather a melancholy voice. ’When I get to Hastings, my visit here will seem like a dream, it has been so nice, somehow; you are such a dear old thing, Ursula, and I am so fond of Lady Betty, I shall ask mother to invite her in the holidays.’
‘And there is no one else you will regret, Jill?’ I asked, anxious to sound her on one point.
’Oh yes; I am sorry to bid good-bye to Mr. Tudor. He has been such fun lately. I really do think he is quite the nicest young man I know.’
‘Do you know many young men, my dear?’ was my apparently innocent remark; but Jill was not deceived by this smooth speech.
‘Of course I do,’ in a scornful voice; ’they come to see Sara, and I hate them so, flimsy stuck-up creatures, with their white ties and absurd little moustaches. Each one is more stupid and vapid than the other. And Sara must think so too; for she smiles on them all alike.’
’You are terribly hard on the young men of your generation, Jill; I daresay I should think them very harmless and pleasant.’ But she shook her head vigorously.
’Why cannot they be natural, and say good-natured things, like Mr. Tudor? He is real, and not make-believe, pretending that he is too bored to live at all. One would think there was no truth anywhere, nothing but tinsel and sham, to listen to them. That is why I like Mr. Tudor: he has the ring of the true metal about him. Even Miss Darrell agrees with me there.’
‘Do you discuss Mr. Tudor with Miss Darrell?’
‘Why not?’ opening her eyes widely. ’I like to talk about my friends, and I feel Mr. Tudor is a real friend. She was so interested,—really interested, I mean, without any humbug,—at least, pretence,’ for here I held up my finger at Jill. ’She wanted to know if you liked him too, and I said, “Oh yes, so much; he was a great favourite of yours,” and she seemed pleased to hear it.’
’You silly child! I wish you would leave me and my likes and dislikes out of your conversations with Miss Darrell.’
’Well, do you know, I try to do so, because I know how you hate her,—at least, dislike her: that is a more ladylike term,—you are so horribly particular, Ursula; but somehow your name always gets in, and I never know how, and there is no keeping you out. Sometimes she makes me dreadfully angry about you, and sometimes she says nice things; but there, we will not talk about the double-faced lady to-night. I understand her less than ever.’
We glided into more serious subjects after this. I made Jill promise to be more patient with her life, and work from a greater sense of duty, and I begged her most earnestly to fight against discontent, and exorcise this youthful demon of hers, and again she promised to do her best.
’I feel better about things, somehow: you have done me good, Ursie; you always do. I must make mother understand that I am nearly a woman, and that I do not intend to waste my time any longer dreaming childish dreams. I suppose mother is really fond of me, though she does find fault with me continually, and is always praising Sara.’ Jill went on talking in this way for some time, and then we went upstairs together.