“Anybody might hear,” answered Vera, carelessly, “were it worth one’s while to take the trouble of repeating it.”
Maurice said nothing. He was angry with Helen for having interrupted them, and angry with himself for having denied his semi-engagement. He stood looking away from them both, prodding his stick into the gravel walk.
For half a minute they stood silently together.
“Let us go on,” said Vera, and they began to walk.
Once again in the days that were to come those three stood side by side upon the margin of Shadonake Bath.
THE MEET AT SHADONAKE.
The desire of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar.
Mrs. Macpherson had brought up her daughters with one fixed and predominant idea in her mind. Each of them was to excel in some one taste or accomplishment, by virtue of which they might be enabled to shine in society. They were taught to do one thing well. Thus, Sophy, the eldest, played the piano remarkably, whilst Jessie painted in water-colours with charming exactitude and neatness. They had both had first-rate masters, and no pains had been spared to make each of them proficient in the accomplishment that had been selected for her. But, as neither of these young ladies had any natural talent, the result was hardly so satisfactory as their fond mother could have desired. They did exactly what they had been taught to do with precision and conscientiousness; no less and no more; and the further result of their entire devotion to one kind of study was, that they could do nothing else.
Mrs. Macpherson began to realize that her system of education had possibly left something to be desired on the Monday morning that Mr. Esterworth brought up his hounds to Shadonake House. It was provoking to see all the other ladies attired in their habits, whilst her own daughters had to come down to breakfast in their ordinary morning dresses, because they had never been taught to ride.
“Are you not going to ride?” she heard Guy Miller ask of Sophy, who was decidedly the best looking and the pleasantest of the sisters.
“No, we have never ridden at all; mamma never thought we had the time for it,” answers Sophy.
“I think,” said Mrs. Macpherson, turning to her hostess, “that I shall pursue a different course with my younger girls. I feel sorry now that Sophy and Jessie do not ride. Music and painting are, of course, the most charming accomplishments that a woman can have; but still it is not at all times that they are useful.”
“No, you cannot be always painting and playing.”
“Neither can you be always riding,” said Mrs. Macpherson, with some asperity, for there was a little natural jealousy between these ladies on the subject of their girls; “but still——”