“Ah yes, they have; and when they try to think they have not, then it is that everything goes wrong with them;” and seeing by the look in the two little faces that they were still puzzled—“People have to obey all their lives if they want to be happy,” she went on. “Long after they have no more nurses or fathers and mothers—or grandpapas and grandmammas,” with a little smile, which somehow made the corners of Duke’s and Pamela’s mouths go down. “The use of all those when we are young is only to teach us what obeying means—to teach us to listen to the voice we should always obey——” and Grandmamma stopped a minute and looked at “us.”
“God,” said the two very solemnly.
“Yes; but God speaks to us in different ways, and we have to learn to know His voice. And the way of all in which we most need to know it is when it speaks to us in our own hearts—in ourselves. It would be a very poor sort of being good or obeying if it was only so long as somebody else was beside us telling us what to do and looking to see that we did it.”
“Yes,” said the two little voices together, lower and still more solemn.
“As, for instance, this morning if, just because Nurse was not with you, you had done anything you would not have done had she been there,” said Grandmamma, looking keenly at the two flushed faces.
“Or,” went on the old lady, speaking more slowly, “a worse kind of disobeying—the telling what is not really true; lots of people, big as well as little, do that, and sometimes they try to make themselves think, by all sorts of twistings and turnings, that they have not done so when their own hearts know they have. For the voice inside us is very hard to silence or deceive—I think sometimes indeed it never is silenced, but that our ears grow deaf to it—that we make them so. But this is very grave talk for you, my dear children—too grave and difficult perhaps. I am getting so old that I suppose I sometimes forget how very young you are! And here come your own little cups and saucers, nicely rinsed out, and waiting to be wiped dry.”
“Thank you, Grandmamma,” said Duke.
“Fank you, Grandmamma,” said Pamela.
And the two small pairs of hands set to work carefully at their daily task. But they did not speak or ask Grandmamma any questions, and somehow the old lady felt a little uneasy, for, even though they were on the whole quiet children, this morning there was a sort of constraint about them which she did not understand. And they, on their side, felt glad when the “washing-up” was over and Grandmamma sent them upstairs to their nursery, where they had lessons every morning for two hours with a young girl whose mother had a sort of dame school in the village.
“... they are what their birth
And breeding suffer them to be—
Wild outcasts of society.”