Sophy likewise approved of him this time, perhaps because he was so opposite a specimen of the genus lover from that presented by her brother. Gilbert had not been able to help enjoying himself while from home, but his spirits sank on his return; he lay about on the grass in doleful dejection, studied little but L. E. L., lost appetite, and reproachfully fondled his cough; but Albinia was now more compassionate than Sophy, whom she was obliged to rebuke for an unsisterly disregard toward his woes.
‘I can’t help it,’ said Sophy; ‘I can’t believe in him now!’
’Yes, you ought to believe that he is really unhappy, and be more gentle and considerate with him.’
’If it had been earnest, he would have sacrificed himself instead of Genevieve.’
’Ah! Sophy, some day you will learn to make excuses for other people, and not be so intolerant.’
‘I never make excuses.’
‘Except for Maurice,’ said Albinia. ’If you viewed other people as you do him, your judgments would be gentler.’
Sophy’s conscientiousness, like her romance, was hard, high, and strict; but while she had as little mercy on herself as on others, and while there were some soft spots in her adamantine judgment, there was hope that these would spread, and, without lowering her tone, make her more merciful.
She corresponded constantly with Genevieve, who seemed very happily placed; Mrs. Elwood was delighted with her, and she with Mrs. Elwood; and her lively letters showed no signs of pining for home. Sophy felt as if it were a duty to her friend, to do what in her lay to prevent the two old ladies from being dull, and spent an hour with them every week, not herself contributing much to their amusement, but pleasing them by the attention, and hearing much that was very curious of their old-world recollections.
Ever since that unlucky penny-club-day, when she had declared that she hated poor people, she had been let alone on that subject; and though principle had made her use her needle in their behalf, shyness and reserve had kept her back from all intercourse with them; but in her wish to compensate for Genevieve’s absence, she volunteered to take charge of her vacant Sunday-school class, and obtained leave to have the girls at home on the afternoons for an hour and a half. This was enough for one who worked as she did, making a conscience of every word, and toiling to prepare her lessons, writing out her questions beforehand, and begging for advice upon them.
‘My dear,’ said Albinia, ’you must alter this—you see this question does not grow out of the last answer.’
‘Yes,’ said Sophy, ’that must have been what puzzled them last Sunday: they want connexion.’
‘Nothing like logic to teach one to be simple,’ said Albinia.
‘I can’t see the use of all this trouble,’ put in Lucy. ’Why can’t you ask them just what comes into your head, as I always do?’