Mrs. Woodburn made one more effort to educate her daughter on conventional lines. She introduced a governess to Putnam’s. But after the girl had taken her mistress for a ride, the poor woman came to Mrs. Woodburn in tears and asked to leave.
“I can’t teach her the irregular verbs on horseback,” she said. “And she won’t learn any other way. Directly I begin on them, she starts to gallop.”
Mrs. Woodburn accepted the governess’s notice, and tried nothing further.
“She must go her own way now,” she said to Mat.
“It’s the right way, Mar,” replied the old man comfortably.
“I hope so,” answered his wife.
“She can read, and she can write, and she can ‘rithmetik,’” continued the other. “What more d’you want with this ’ere education?” He went out, shaking his head. “I sha’n’t wep no tear,” he said. “That I sha’n’t, even if she don’t get round them wriggle-regular French worms Mamsel talks of. Roast beef o’ old England for me.”
Mrs. Woodburn announced her decision to her daughter.
“Thank you, mother,” said the girl quietly, and added: “It’s no good—not for me.”
Mrs. Woodburn eyed her daughter.
“You’re a good maid, Boy,” she said. “That’s the main.”
A month later the girl asked her mother if she might help with the lads’ Bible Class.
Mrs. Woodburn consented.
A year later, when the girl was sixteen, Mrs. Woodburn asked her daughter if she would take the class alone.
The girl thought it over for a month.
Then she said yes.
In the interval she had passed through a spiritual crisis and made a great renunciation.
She had resolved to put aside the dream that had dominated her inner life for seven years.
Boy Woodburn’s calling had thrown her from early youth into contact with Eton men.
Indeed, in her experience the world was divided into Eton men—and the Rest. That was what the girl believed; and it was clearly what the Eton men believed, too. Boy herself belonged to the Rest, and did not seem to regret it. The Rest were infinite in number and variety; that was why she liked them so; for the Infinite can know no limitations. It was not so with the other division of the Human Race. Eton men, though almost equally numerous, were limited and stereotyped all to pattern. In the girl’s judgment there were three types of them: the Superior Person, who treated her as if she was not; the Bad Ass, to whom she was a poor sort of Joke; and the Incorrigible Creature, who made up to her as if she was a barmaid.
That was her theory. And once the girl had formed a theory as the result of observation, she hated that theory to be upset.
Mr. Silver displeased her because he blew her hypothesis to smithereens on his first appearance; for he was an Eton man, yet clearly he did not come within any of the three known categories.