“I have a great many notions,” replied Virginia quietly. “Whether they are foolish or not depends upon my right understanding of what He would do. As soon as I find out I shall do it.”
“Excuse me, ladies,” said Rollin, rising from the table. “The conversation is getting beyond my depth. I shall retire to the library for a cigar.”
He went out of the dining-room and there was silence for a moment. Madam Page waited until the servant had brought in something and then asked her to go out. She was angry and her anger was formidable, although checked I m some measure by the presence of Rachel.
“I am older by several years than you, young ladies,” she said, and her traditional type of bearing seemed to Rachel to rise up like a great frozen wall between her and every conception of Jesus as a sacrifice. “What you have promised, in a spirit of false emotion I presume, is impossible of performance.”
“Do you mean, grandmother, that we cannot possibly act as our Lord would? or do you mean that, if we try to, we shall offend the customs and prejudices of society?” asked Virginia.
“It is not required! It is not necessary! Besides how can you act with any—” Madam Page paused, broke off her sentence, and then turned to Rachel. “What will your mother say to your decision? My dear, is it not foolish? What do you expect to do with your voice anyway?”
“I don’t know what mother will say yet,” Rachel answered, with a great shrinking from trying to give her mother’s probable answer. If there was a woman in all Raymond with great ambitions for her daughter’s success as a singer, Mrs. Winslow was that woman.
“Oh! you will see it in a different light after wiser thought of it. My dear,” continued Madam Page rising from the table, “you will live to regret it if you do not accept the concert company’s offer or something like it.”
Rachel was glad to escape and be by herself. A plan was slowly forming in her mind, and she wanted to be alone and think it out carefully. But before she had walked two blocks she was annoyed to find Rollin Page walking beside her.
“Sorry to disturb your thoughts, Miss Winslow, but I happened to be going your way and had an idea you might not object. In fact, I’ve been walking here for a whole block and you haven’t objected.”
“I did not see you,” said Rachel briefly.
“I wouldn’t mind that if you only thought of me once in a while,” said Rollin suddenly. He took one last nervous puff on his cigar, tossed it into the street and walked along with a pale look on his face.
Rachel was surprised, but not startled. She had known Rollin as a boy, and there had been a time when they had used each other’s first name familiarly. Lately, however, something in Rachel’s manner had put an end to that. She was used to his direct attempts at compliments and was sometimes amused by them. Today she honestly wished him anywhere else.