‘Then you do not like Abbeychurch?’ said Anne incredulously; she could not say ‘you are not happy at home.’
’Who could prefer a little dismal town to a pleasant house in the country?’ said Helen; ’you like Merton Hall better than this place, do not you, Anne?’
‘Of course,’ replied Anne; ‘but then Merton Hall is my home.’
‘And Abbeychurch is mine,’ sighed poor Helen. ’I believe it is very wrong to be discontented with home, but I cannot help it.’
‘My dear Helen, what do you mean?’ exclaimed Anne, quite aghast.
‘Indeed, Anne,’ said Helen, ’I do not wonder that you are shocked, but you do not know how I feel here. At Dykelands I felt that people liked me and were pleased with me, but at home nobody wants me, nobody cares for me, I am in the way wherever I go.’
‘My dear Helen,’ cried Anne, ‘that must be fancy!’
‘I wish it was,’ said poor Helen, shaking her head.
‘But only think,’ proceeded Anne, ’what you are accusing them of. Not loving you, and wishing you away.’
‘No, I do not say it is as bad as that,’ said Helen; ’but I am sure I am of no use here, and might as well be away.’
‘I suppose,’ said Anne, ’that you have been so long away as to have lost all your old home occupations, and you have not yet had time to make new ones.’
‘Perhaps it is so,’ said Helen; ’but I do not think I had any occupations before I went to Dykelands, at least none worth having, and now I cannot make myself new ones. Lizzie does everything, and will not let me help her, for fear I should do mischief.’
‘Now, Helen,’ said Anne, who had by this time collected her ideas, which had been completely startled by her cousin’s avowal of dislike of home, ’I will tell you what I think Mamma would say to you. I think you used to be indolent and waste your senses, but now Dykelands has given you a spur, and you are very much improved.’
‘Do you really think so?’ interrupted Helen, who had lately felt quite starved for want of praise.
‘Yes,’ said Anne, ‘and so does everyone, and so Lizzie told me.’
‘Lizzie?’ said Helen; ’I thought she considered me as great a baby as ever.’
‘No, no, my dear,’ said Anne; ’I will tell you what she said of you. She said you were almost all she could wish in a sister, and that you were quite a reflective creature; and that is high praise from her.’
‘Well, if she thinks so,’ said Helen, ’she does not shew it; she is always making game of my opinions and feelings.’
‘So she does of almost everyone’s,’ said Anne; ’but that is no proof that she does not love them.’
’And she will never listen to anything that I say, or take interest in anything I care for,’ continued Helen.
’Indeed, Helen, you only think so because you do not understand her ways,’ said Anne; ’all last month she could think of nothing but the Consecration, and Horace’s going to school. Now all that is over and you are quiet again, after we are gone you will get on capitally together.’