The Kalliope whom Gillian had befriended, to her own detriment, was now the very beautiful Mrs. Henderson, wife to the managing partner in the marble works. She continued to take a great interest in the young women employed in designing and mosaics, and had a class of them for reading and working. Dolores had been asked to tell first Aunt Jane’s G. F. S. (Girl’s Friendly Society) girls, and afterwards Mrs. Henderson’s, about her New Zealand experiences and the earthquake, and this developed into regular weekly lectures on volcanoes and on colonies. She did these so well, that she was begged to repeat them for the girls at the High School, and she had begun to get them up very carefully, studying the best scientific books she could get, and thinking she saw her vocation.
Mrs. Henderson was quite a power in the place. Her brother Alexis was an undergraduate, but had been promised a tutorship for the vacation. He seldom appeared at Carrara, shrinking from what recalled the pain and shame that he had suffered; while Petros worked under Captain Henderson, and Theodore was still in the choir at St. Matthew’s. Maura had become the darling of Mr. White, and was much beloved by Mrs. White, though there had been a little alarm the previous year, when Lord Rotherwood and his son came down to open a public park or garden on the top of the cliffs, where Lord Rotherwood’s accident had occurred. Lord Ivinghoe, a young Guardsman, had shown himself enough disposed to flirt with the pretty little Greek to make the prudent very glad that her home was on the Italian mountains.
Gillian was always Mrs. Henderson’s friend, but Gillian’s mind was full of other things. For her father had reluctantly promised, that if one of her little brothers got a scholarship at one of the public schools, Gillian might fulfil her ardent desire of going to a ladies’ college. Wilfred was a hopeless subject. It might be doubted if he could have succeeded. He had apparently less brain power than some of the family, and he certainly would not exert what he had. His mother had dragged him through holiday tasks; but nobody else could attempt to make him work when at home, and Gillian’s offers had been received with mockery or violence. So all her hopes centred on Fergus, who, thanks to Aunt Jane’s evening influence over his lessons, stood foremost in Mrs. Edgar’s school, and was to go up to try for election at Winchester College at the end of the term. Were Gillian’s hopes to be ruined by his devotion to the underground world?
A breath of air,
A bullock’s low,
A bunch of flowers,
Hath power to call from everywhere
The spirit of forgotten hours-
Hours when the heart was fresh and young,
When every string in freedom sung,
Ere life had shed one leaf of green.
James Russell Lowell.