‘Why, Anne,’ said Elizabeth, with almost a groan, ’has not enough happened to grieve me? is it not terrible to think of what I have done?’
Anne stood still and silent, much struck by her cousin’s sorrow; for she had considered their expedition to the Mechanics’ Institute as a foolish girlish frolic, but by no means as serious a matter as it now proved to be.
‘I want you to tell me, Anne,’ continued Elizabeth; ’was I not quite out of my senses yesterday evening? I can hardly believe it was myself who went to that horrible place, I wish you could prove that it was my double-ganger.’
‘But does it not seem incredible,’ said Elizabeth, ’that I, Elizabeth Woodbourne, should have voluntarily meddled with a radical, levelling affair, should have sought out Mrs. Turner and all the set I most dislike, done perhaps an infinity of mischief, and all because Kate wanted to go out on a party of pleasure with that foolish Willie. Oh! Anne, I wish you would beat me.’
‘Would that be any comfort to you?’ said Anne, smiling.
‘Yes,’ said Elizabeth; ’I should feel as if I was suffering a little for my madness. Oh! how I hope Papa will speak to me about it. If he does not, I shall see his displeasure in his eyes, and oh! I could bear anything better than the silent stern way in which he used to look at me, once before, when I had behaved very ill. And then, to-morrow is Sunday, and I shall scarcely see him all day, and he will have no time to speak to me; and how can I get through a Sunday, feeling that he is angry with me? how shall I teach the children, or do anything as usual? Anne, what do you think was the first sound in my ears when I awoke this morning, and has been returning upon me all day?—the words, “It was a tree to be desired to make one wise."’
‘Little wisdom we have gained from it,’ said Anne.
‘Eve’s wisdom,’ said Elizabeth, ’the knowledge of evil, and the wisdom of vanity and vexation of spirit. But was it not curious, Anne? when first I woke, before I had opened my eyes, those words were sounding in my ears, like a dream of Papa’s voice, reading the Lesson at church; I almost fell asleep again, and again those words came back in Papa’s voice, and then I woke entirely, and before I had seen what kind of day it was, before I knew whether it was Saturday or Sunday, I was sure there was something wrong, and then there was all this black Mechanics’ Institute business before me. And all through this day those words have been ringing in my ears, and coming upon me like the pressure of King James’s iron belt.’
‘Have they indeed?’ said Anne, ’I could hardly have believed it. I have not seen your “look o’ercast and lower,” like his.’
‘Perhaps not,’ said Elizabeth; ’but yet I was like him.
“Forward he rushed
with double glee
Into the tide of revelry.”