When they were gone Lily had time for reflection. Good-temper was so common a virtue, and generally cost her so little effort, that she took no pains to cultivate it, but she now felt she had lost all claim to be considered amiable under disappointment. It was too late to bear the privation with a good grace. She was heartily ashamed of having been so cross about a trifle, and ashamed of being discontented at Emily’s having a pleasure in which she could not share. Would this have been the case a year ago? She was afraid to ask herself the question, and without going deep enough into the history of her own mind to make her sorrow and shame profitable, she tried to satisfy herself with a superficial compensation, by making herself particularly agreeable to her three younger sisters, and by writing a very long and entertaining letter to Eleanor.
She met Emily with a cheerful face the next day, and listened with pleasure to her history of the ball; and when Mr. Mohun returned home he saw that the cloud had passed away. But, alas! Lilias neglected to take the only means of preventing its recurrence.
The next week William departed. Before he went he gave his sisters great pleasure by desiring them to write to him, and not to let him fall into his ancient state of ignorance respecting the affairs of Beechcroft.
‘Mind,’ was his farewell speech, ’I expect you to keep me au courant du jour. I will not be in the dark about your best friends and neighbours when I come home next July.’
CHAPTER XVI—VANITY AND VEXATION
’And still I have to tell the same sad tale Of wasted energies, and idle dreams.’
Devereux Castle now became the great resort of the Miss Mohuns. They were always sure of a welcome there. Lady Rotherwood liked to patronise them, and Florence was glad of their society.
This was quite according to the wishes of Emily, who now had nothing left to desire, but that the style of dress suitable, in her opinion, to the granddaughter of the Marquis of Rotherwood, was more in accordance with the purse of the daughter of the Esquire of Beechcroft. It was no part of Emily’s character to care for dress. She was at once too indolent and too sensible; she saw the vulgarity of finery, and only aimed at simplicity and elegance. During their girlhood Emily and Lilias had had no more concern with their clothes than with their food; Eleanor had carefully taught them plain needlework, and they had assisted in making more than one set of shirts; but they had nothing to do with the choice or fashion of their own apparel. They were always dressed alike, and in as plain and childish a manner as they could be, consistently with their station. On Eleanor’s marriage a suitable allowance was given to each of them, in order that they might provide their own clothes, and until Rachel left them they easily kept themselves