‘Love—yes,’ said Genevieve. ‘Admiration—no.’
‘You shall not say that,’ cried Sophy. ’I have found what is really dignified and disinterested, and you must let me admire you, Jenny, it makes me comfortable.’
Genevieve smiled. ‘I would not commit an egoism,’ she said; but if the sense of admiration do you good, I wish it had a worthier cause.’
‘There’s no one to admire but you,’ said Sophy. ’I think it very unfair to send you away, and though it is nobody’s fault, I hate good sense and the way of the world!’
’Oh! do not talk so. I am only overwhelmed with wonder at the goodness I have experienced. If it had happened with any other family, oh! how differently I should have been judged! Oh! when I think of Mrs. Kendal, I am ready to weep with gratitude!’
’Yes, mamma is mamma, and not like any one else, but even she is obliged to be rational, and do the injustice, whatever she feels,’ said Sophy.
’Oh! not injustice—kindness! I shall be able to earn more for grandmamma!’
‘It is injustice!’ said Sophy, ’not hers, perhaps, but of the world! It makes me so angry, to think that you—you should never do anything but wear yourself out in drudging over tiresome little children—’
‘Little children are my brothers and sisters, as I never had any,’ said Genevieve. ’Oh! I always loved them, they make a home wherever they are. I am thankful that my vocation is among them.’
In dread of a token from Gilbert, Genevieve would not notice it, but pursued, ‘You must come in and rest—you must have my aunt’s salts.’
‘No—no—’ said Sophy, ‘not there—’ as Genevieve would have taken her to the little parlour, but opening the door of the school-room, she sank breathless into a sitting position on the carpetless boards.
Genevieve shut the door, and kneeling down, found Sophy’s arms thrown round her, pressing her almost to strangulation.
’Oh! I wanted to do it—I never could. wont you have the book, Genevieve? It is my keepsake—only I could not give it because—’
‘Is it your keepsake, indeed, dear Miss Sophy?’ said Genevieve. ’Oh! if it is yours—how I shall value it—but it is too beautiful—’
‘Nothing is too beautiful for you, Genevieve,’ said Sophy fervently.
‘And it is your gift! But I am frightened—it must have cost—!’ began Genevieve, still a little on her guard. ’Dear, dear Miss Sophy, forgive me if I do seem ungrateful, but indeed I ought to ask—if—if it is all your own gift?’
‘Mine? yes!’ said Sophy, on the borders of offence. ’I know what you mean, Genevieve, but you may trust me. I would not take you in.’
Genevieve was blushing intensely, but taking courage she bestowed a shower of ardent embraces and expressions of gratitude, mingled with excuses for her precaution. ‘Oh! it was so very kind in Miss Sophy,’ she said; ’it would be such a comfort to remember, she had feared she too was angry with her.’