And I believe that having anything on my mind puts me in wilder spirits, apparently, than usual, but I am sure that my merriment to-day was no proof that I was happy. It was partly, I believe, from a mad spirit, like what drives wicked men to drinking, and partly from folly and levity. It was the same when Mamma’s sister, Miss Dorothea Hazleby, died; I am sure I was very sorry for Aunt Dorothy, for she was a most amiable person, and had always been particularly kind to me, and I was very sorry too for Mamma and old Mrs. Hazleby, who were broken-hearted about it; yet would you believe it? the very day that Papa was gone to Hastings, to the funeral, and Mamma was at home, too ill and too wretched to go, even to her mother, I was out in the garden with Horace and Dora, forgot all about her distress, and began a noisy game with them close under her window. She sent Kate to tell them not to make such a noise; and when we came in, and she found that it was my doing, she gave me such a kind, grieved, reproachful look, that I think I shall never forget it. And now it is most strange to think how wildly and merrily I laughed at all Rupert’s jokes, when I knew I was in disgrace, and after having behaved so very ill.’
‘Indeed, I did not think it would have distressed you so much,’ said Anne; ‘I never thought it was more than a very foolish affair.’
‘It is a very different thing for you,’ said Elizabeth; ’you have nothing to do with the town, and you need not have known that it was not a fit place to go to.’
‘But you did not know that it was not fit for us,’ said Anne.
’I did know that I ought not to go where I had not been told I might go,’ said Elizabeth. ’It was relying on my own judgement that led me astray. But, oh! I wish I had been here at the time the Socialist lectures were given; I should as soon have thought of climbing up the kitchen-chimney, as of going to that den, and giving the ragamuffins such a victory over Papa.’
‘It was very silly of us not to ask a few more questions,’ said Anne.
‘Ah! that is the worst part of my behaviour,’ said Elizabeth; ’that abominably unfair account which I gave you, at Mr. Turner’s door, of Helen’s objections. It was in fact almost deceit, and the only thing that can take off from the blackness of it, is that I was sufficiently senseless to believe it myself at the time I spoke.’
‘Oh yes, of course you did,’ said Anne.
’Yet there must have been a sort of feeling that your hearing her arguments would put a stop to the beautiful scheme,’ said Elizabeth; ’you do not know, perhaps, that Kate was nearly convinced by Helen’s good sense, and I do believe that the reason I was not, was, what I tremble to think of, that I have been indulging in a frightful spirit of opposing and despising Helen, because I was angry with her for loving Dykelands better than home. I do believe she hardly dares to open her lips.