Long, long sat Hildegarde at the window, thinking more deeply than she had ever thought in her life before. Different passions held her young mind in control while she sat motionless, gazing into the darkness with wide-open eyes. First anger burned high, flooding her cheek with hot blushes, making her temples throb and her hands clench themselves in a passion of resentment. But to this succeeded a mood of deep sadness, of despair, as she thought; though at fifteen one knows not, happily, the meaning of despair.
Was this all true? Was she no better, no wiser, than the silly girls of her set? She had always felt herself so far above them mentally; they had always so frankly acknowledged her supremacy; she knew she was considered a “very superior girl:” was it true that her only superiority lay in possessing powers which she never chose to exert? And then came the bitter thought: “What have I ever done to prove myself wiser than they?” Alas for the answer! Hilda hid her face in her hands, and it was shame instead of anger that now sent the crimson flush over her cheeks. Her mother despised her! Her mother—perhaps her father too! They loved her, of course; the tender love had never failed, and would never fail. They were proud of her too, in a way. And yet they despised her; they must despise her! How could they help it? Her mother, whose days were a ceaseless round of work for others, without a thought of herself; her father, active, energetic, business-like,—what must her life seem to them? How was it that she had never seen, never dreamed before, that she was an idle, silly, frivolous girl? The revelation came upon her with stunning force. These people too, these coarse country people, despised her and laughed at her! The thought was more than she could bear. She sprang up, feeling as if she were suffocating, and walked up and down the little room with hurried and nervous steps. Then suddenly there came into her mind one sentence of her mother’s that Dame Hartley had repeated: “Hilda has a really noble nature—” What was the rest? Something about triumphing over the faults and follies which lay outside. Had her mother really said that? Did she believe, trust in, her silly daughter? The girl stood still, with clasped hands and bowed head. The tumult within her seemed to die away, and in its place something was trembling into life, the like of which Hilda Graham had never known, never thought of, before; faint and timid at first, but destined to gain strength and to grow from that one moment,—a wish, a hope, finally a resolve.
THE NEW HILDA.