’Oh yes, Edward; I hope you will let me hear how well you can read; I want to know whether the young robins saw any more monsters,’ said Anne good-naturedly.
Winifred, rather inopportunely, was ready with the information, that the nest was visited by two more monsters; but Anne stopped her ears, and declared she would hear nothing but from Edward himself, and the young gentleman was thus persuaded to begin his lesson.
Helen did not wait to see how the question was decided, but went up to her own room to enjoy Fanny Staunton’s letter. She paused however a few moments, to consider whether she should go to Lucy, but thinking that it must certainly be painful to her to speak of what had passed, she proceeded to her own room, there to send her whole heart and mind to Dykelands.
Fanny Staunton’s letter was overflowing with affection and with regrets for Helen’s departure; and this, together with her descriptions of her own and her sister’s amusements and occupations, made Helen’s heart yearn more strongly than ever after the friends she had left. Anne’s cheerful manner, and Lucy’s quiet content, had, the day before, made Helen rather ashamed of herself, and she had resolved to leave off pining for Dykelands, and to make herself happy, by being useful and obliging, without thinking about little grievances, such as almost everyone could probably find in their own home, if they searched for them. When she had curled her hair, it was with the hope that the sacrifice of her tails would convince Elizabeth that she had some regard for her taste; unfortunately, however, her hair was rather too soft to curl well, and after having been plaited for the last three months, it was most obstinate in hanging deplorably straight, in a way very uncomfortable to her feelings and irritating to her temper; besides which, Elizabeth had been too much occupied by her own concerns all the morning, to observe the alteration, and indeed, if she had remarked it, she was not likely to feel as much flattered by this instance of deference to her opinion, as Helen thought she ought to be. Last night, Helen had lamented that her own petulance had prevented her from reasoning calmly with Elizabeth, and from setting before her all the arguments upon which she had discoursed so fluently to Lucy, after the imprudent step had been taken; but now, she threw the blame upon Elizabeth’s impetuosity and unkindness, and felt somewhat aggrieved, because neither of her sisters had expressed a full sense of her firmness and discretion. She compared Fanny’s affectionate expressions, with Elizabeth’s sharp and hasty manner; the admiration which her friends had made rather too evident, with the wholesome though severe criticisms she sometimes met with at home; the quietness at Dykelands, with the constant bustle at the Vicarage; and ended, by thinking Mrs. Woodbourne the only person of the family who possessed any gentleness or kindness, and making up her mind that Dykelands was the only pleasant place in England, and that she herself was a most ill-used person, whose merits were not in the least appreciated.