The windows of Brookfield were thrown open to the air of May, and bees wandered into the rooms, gold spots of sunshine danced along the floors. The garden-walks were dazzling, and the ladies went from flower-bed to flower-bed in broad garden hats that were, as an occasional light glance flung at a window-pane assured Adela, becoming. Sunshine had burst on them suddenly, and there was no hat to be found for Emilia, so Wilfrid placed his gold-laced foraging-cap on her head, and the ladies, after a moment’s misgiving, allowed her to wear it, and turned to observe her now and then. There was never pertness in Emilia’s look, which on the contrary was singularly large and calm when it reposed: perhaps her dramatic instinct prompted her half-jaunty manner of leaning against the sunny corner of the house where the Chinese honeysuckle climbed. She was talking to Wilfrid. Her laughter seemed careless and easy, and in keeping with the Southern litheness of her attitude.
“To suit the cap; it’s all to suit the cap,” said Adela, the keen of eye. Yet, critical as was this lady, she acknowledged that it was no mere acting effort to suit the cap.
The philosopher (I would keep him back if I could) bids us mark that the crown and flower of the nervous system, the head, is necessarily sensitive, and to that degree that whatsoever we place on it, does, for a certain period, change and shape us. Of course the instant we call up the forces of the brain, much of the impression departs but what remains is powerful, and fine-nerved. Woman is especially subject to it. A girl may put on her brother’s boots, and they will not affect her spirit strongly; but as soon as she puts on her brother’s hat, she gives him a manly nod. The same philosopher who fathers his dulness on me, asserts that the modern vice or fastness (’Trotting on the Epicene Border,’ he has it) is bred by apparently harmless practices of this description. He offers to turn the current of a Republican’s brain, by resting a coronet on his forehead for just five seconds.
Howsoever these things be, it was true that Emilia’s feet presently crossed, and she was soon to be seen with her right elbow doubled against her head as she leaned to the wall, and the little left fist stuck at her belt. And I maintain that she had no sense at all of acting Spanish prince disguised as page. Nor had she an idea that she was making her friend Wilfrid’s heart perform to her lightest words and actions, like any trained milk-white steed in a circus. Sunlight, as well as Wilfrid’s braided cap, had some magical influence on her. He assured her that she looked a charming boy, and she said, “Do I?” just lifting her chin.
A gardener was shaving the lawn.
“Please, spare those daisies,” cried Emilia. “Why do you cut away daisies?”
The gardener objected that he really must make the lawn smooth. Emilia called to Adela, who came, and hearing the case, said: “Now this is nice of you. I like you to love daisies and wish to protect them. They disfigure a lawn, you know.” And Adela stooped, and picked one, and called it a pet name, and dropped it.