“Scorn not the smallness of daily endeavour,
Let the great meaning ennoble it ever,
Droop not o’er efforts expended in vain,
Work, as believing, that labour is gain.”
Queen Isabel, &c. by S. M.
The sturdy recusant against Myrtlewood croquet continued to be Rachel Curtis, and yet it was not a testimony against the game so much as real want of time for it. She was always full of occupation, even while her active mind craved for more definite and extended labour; and when she came upon the field of strategy, it was always either with some business before her, or else so late that the champions were only assisting their several lags to bring the battle to an end.
If there had been a will there would have been a way, but, as she said, she saw enough to perceive that proficiency could only be attained at the cost of much time and study, and she did not choose to be inferior and mediocre. Also, she found occupations open to her elsewhere that had long been closed or rendered unpleasant. Mr. Touchett had become wonderfully pacific and obliging of late, as if the lawn tactics absorbed his propensities for offence and defence, he really seemed obliged for one or two bits of parish work that she attended to; finding that between him and his staff of young ladies they were getting omitted. Somehow, too, an unaccountable blight was passing over the activity of those curatolatresses, as Rachel had been wont to call them; they were less frequently to be met with popping out of the schools and cottages, and Rachel, who knew well all the real poor, though refusing the bonds of a district, was continually detecting omissions which she more often supplied than reported. There was even a smaller sprinkling at the weekly services, and the odd thing was that the curate never seemed to remark or be distressed by the change, or if any one spoke of the thin congregation he would say, winter was the Avonmouth season, which was true enough, but the defaulters were mostly his own peculiar followers, the female youth of the professional and mercantile population.