Meanwhile, upstairs, Marion is humbling herself into the dust, at the footstool of her tyrant. Mrs. Daintree is very angry with Marion’s sister, and Mr. Gisburne is also the text whereon she hangs her sermon.
“I wish her no harm, Marion; why should I? She is most impertinent to me, but of that I will not speak.”
“Indeed, grandmamma, you do not understand Vera. I am sure she——”
“Oh, yes, excuse me, my dear, I understand her perfectly—the impertinence to myself I waive—I hope I am a Christian, but I cannot forgive her for turning up her nose at Mr. Gisburne—a most excellent young man; what can a girl want more?”
“Dear Mrs. Daintree, does Vera look like a poor clergyman’s wife?” said Marion, using unconsciously Vera’s own arguments.
“Now, Marion, I have no patience with such folly! Whom do you suppose she is to wait for? We haven’t got any Princes down at Sutton to marry her; and I say it’s a shame that she should go on living on her friends, a girl without a penny! when she might marry a respectable man, and have a home of her own.”
And then even Marion said that, if Vera could be brought to like Mr. Gisburne, it might possibly be happier for her to marry him.
Only the wind here hovers and revels
In a round where life seems barren as death.
Here there was laughing of old, there was weeping,
Haply of lovers none ever will know.
Swinburne, “A Forsaken Garden.”
It seemed to be generally acknowledged by the Daintree family that if Vera would only consent to yield to the solicitations of the Reverend Albert Gisburne, and transfer herself to Tripton Rectory for life, it would be the simplest and easiest solution of a good many difficult problems concerning her.
In point of fact, Vera Nevill was an incongruous element in the Daintree household. In that quiet humdrum country clergyman’s life she was as much out of her proper place as a bird of paradise in a chicken yard, or a Gloire de Dijon rose in a field of turnips.
It was not her beauty alone, but her whole previous life which unfitted her for the things amongst which she found herself suddenly transplanted. She was no young unformed child, but a woman of the world, who had been courted and flattered and sought after; who had learnt to hold her own, and to fight her battles single-handed, and who knew far more about the dangers and difficulties of life than did the simple-hearted brother-in-law, under whose charge she now found herself, or the timid, gentle sister who was so many years her senior.
But if she was cognizant of the world and its ways, Vera knew absolutely nothing about the life of an English vicarage. Sunday schools and mothers’ meetings were enigmas to her; clothing clubs and friendly societies, hopeless and uninteresting mysteries which she had no desire to solve. She had no place in the daily routine. What was she to do amongst it all?