It was not an unsatisfactory ball upon the whole to Mrs. Gibson, although she paid the usual penalty for sitting up beyond her usual hour in perpetual glare and movement. The next morning she awoke irritable and fatigued; and a little of the same feeling oppressed both Cynthia and Molly. The former was lounging in the window-seat, holding a three-days-old newspaper in her hand, which she was making a pretence of reading, when she was startled by her mother’s saying,—
’Cynthia! can’t you take up a book and improve yourself. I am sure your conversation will never be worth listening to, unless you read something better than newspapers. Why don’t you keep up your French? There was some French book that Molly was reading—Le Regne Animal, I think.’
‘No! I never read it!’ said Molly, blushing. ’Mr. Roger Hamley sometimes read pieces out of it when I was first at the Hall, and told me what it was about.’
’Oh! well. Then I suppose I was mistaken. But it comes to all the same thing. Cynthia, you really must learn to settle yourself to some improving reading every morning.’
Rather to Molly’s surprise, Cynthia did not reply a word; but dutifully went and brought down from among her Boulogne school-books, Le Siecle de Louis XIV. But after a while Molly saw that this ’improving reading’ was just as much a mere excuse for Cynthia’s thinking her own thoughts as the newspaper had been.
FATHER AND SONS
Things were not going on any better at Hamley Hall. Nothing had occurred to change the state of dissatisfied feeling into which the squire and his eldest son had respectively fallen; and the long continuance merely of dissatisfaction is sure of itself to deepen the feeling. Roger did all in his power to bring the father and son together; but sometimes wondered if it would not have been better to leave them alone; for they were falling into the habit of respectively making him their confidant, and so defining emotions and opinions which would have had less distinctness if they had been unexpressed. There was little enough relief in the daily life at the Hall to help them all to shake off the gloom; and it even told