Gillian looked after the brother and sister just as the gas was being lighted, and could almost guess what Alexis was saying, by his gestures of delight. She did not hear, and did not guess how Kalliope answered, ’Don’t set your heart on it too much, dear fellow, for I should greatly doubt whether Miss Gillian’s aunts will consent. Oh yes, of course, if they permit her, it will be all right.
So Gillian went her way feeling that she had found her ‘great thing.’ Training a minister for the Church! Was not that a ‘great thing’?
Gillian was not yet seventeen, and had lived a home life totally removed from gossip, so that she had no notion that she was doing a more awkward or remarkable thing than if she had been teaching a drummer-boy. She even deliberated whether she should mention her undertaking to her mother, or produce the grand achievement of Alexis White, prepared for college, on the return from India; but a sense that she had promised to tell everything, and that, while she did so, she could defy any other interference, led her to write the design in a letter to Ceylon, and then she felt ready to defy any censure or obstructions from other Quarters.
Mystery has a certain charm. Infinite knowledge of human nature was shown in the text, ’Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant’; and it would be hard to define how much Gillian’s satisfaction was owing to the sense of benevolence, or to the pleasure of eluding Aunt Jane, when, after going through her chapter of Katharine Ashton, in a somewhat perfunctory manner, she hastened away to Miss White’s office. This, being connected with the showroom, could be entered without passing through the gate with the inscription—–’No admittance except on business.’ Indeed, the office had a private door, which, at Gillian’s signal, was always opened to her. There, on the drawing-desk, lay a Greek exercise and a translation, with queries upon the difficulties for Gillian to correct, or answer in writing. Kalliope had managed to make that little room a pleasant place, bare as it was, by pinning a few of her designs on the walls, and always keeping a terracotta vase of flowers or coloured leaves upon the table. The lower part of the window she had blocked with transparencies delicately cut and tinted in cardboard—–done, as she told Gillian, by her little brother Theodore, who learnt to draw at the National School, and had the same turn for art as herself. Altogether, the perfect neatness and simplicity of the little room gave it an air of refinement, which rendered it by no means an unfit setting for the grave beauty of Kalliope’s countenance and figure.