“Simple things,” complained Jessie to her mother, “that I used to do when I was no bigger than Essie, and yet she is always teasing one about how and why! She wanted me to tell why I carried one.”
“Have a little patience for the present, my dear, your papa wants to help her just at present, and after this autumn we will manage for you to have some real good music lessons.”
“But I don’t like wasting time over old easy things made difficult,” sighed Jessie.
“It is very tiresome, my dear; but your papa wishes it, and you see, poor thing, she can’t teach you more than she knows herself; and while you are there, I am sure it is all right with Essie and Ellie.”
“She does not teach them a bit like Miss James,” said Jessie. “She makes their sums into a story, and their spelling lessons too. It is like a game.”
Indeed, Essie and Ellie were so willing to go off to their lessons every morning, that their mother often thought it could not be all right, and that the progress, which they undoubtedly made, must be by some superficial trick; but as their father had so willed it, she submitted to the present arrangement, deciding that “poor Caroline was just able to teach little children.”
The presence of Essie and Ellie much assisted in bringing Babie back to methodical habits; nor was she, in spite of her precocious intelligence, too forward in the actual drill of education to be able to work with her little cousins.
The incongruous elements were the two elder girls, who could by no means study together, since they were at the two opposite ends of the scale; but as Jessie was by no means aggressive, being in fact as sweet and docile a shallow girl as ever lived, things went on peaceably, except when Janet could not conceal her displeasure that Bobus would not share her contempt for Jessie’s intellect.
If she told him that Jessie thought that the Odyssey was about a voyage to Odessa, and was written by Alfred Tennyson, he only declared that anything was better than being a spiteful cat; and when he came in from school, and found his cousin in wild despair over the conversion of 2,861 florins into half-crowns, he stood by, telling her every operation, and leaving her nothing to do but to write down the figures. He was reckless of Janet, who tried to wither them both by her scorn; but Jessie looked up with her honest eyes, saying-
“I wish you hadn’t put it into my head, Janet, for now I must rub it out and do it again, and it won’t be so hard now Bobus has shown me how.”
“No, no, Jessie,” said Bobus; “I wouldn’t be bullied.”
“For shame, Bobus,” said his sister; “how is she to learn anything in that way?”
“And if she doesn’t?” said Bobus.
“That’s a disgrace.”
“A grace,” said provoking Bobus. “She is much nicer as she is, than you will ever be.”
“Don’t talk such nonsense,” said Janet, with an elder sisterly air. “It is not kind to encourage Jessie to think anyone can care for an empty-headed doll.”