“Oh, if you are going to chop logic and use Latin words, I think it is time for us to leave the room,” said Mrs. Gibson.

“Don’t let us run away as if we were beaten, mamma,” said Cynthia. “Though it may be logic, I, for one, can understand what Mr. Roger Hamley said just now; and I read some of Molly’s books; and, whether it was deep or not, I found it very interesting—more so than I should think the ‘Prisoner of Chillon’ now-a- days. I’ve displaced the Prisoner to make room for Johnnie Gilpin as my favourite poem.”

“How could you talk such nonsense, Cynthia!” said Mrs. Gibson, as the girls followed her upstairs. “You know you are not a dunce. It is all very well not to be a blue-stocking, because gentle-people don’t like that kind of woman; but running yourself down, and contradicting all I said about your liking for Byron, and poets and poetry— to Osborne Hamley of all men too!”

Mrs. Gibson spoke quite crossly for her.

“But, mamma,” Cynthia replied, “I am either a dunce, or I am not. If I am, I did right to own it; if I am not, he’s a dunce if he doesn’t find out I was joking.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Gibson, a little puzzled by this speech, and wanting some elucidatory addition.

“Only that, if he’s a dunce, his opinion of me is worth nothing. So, any way, it doesn’t signify.”

“You really bewilder me with your nonsense, child. Molly is worth twenty of you.”

“I quite agree with you, mamma,” said Cynthia, turning round to take Molly’s hand.

“Yes; but she ought not to be,” said Mrs. Gibson, still irritated. “Think of the advantages you’ve had!”

“I’m afraid I’d rather be a dunce than a blue-stocking,” said Molly; for the term had a little annoyed her, and the annoyance was rankling still.

“Hush; here they are coming: I hear the dining-room door! I never meant you were a blue-stocking, dear; so don’t look vexed!—Cynthia, my love, where did you get those lovely flowers—anemones, are they? They suit your complexion so exactly.”

“Come, Molly, don’t look so grave and thoughtful,” exclaimed Cynthia. “Don’t you perceive mamma wants us to be smiling and amiable?”

Mr. Gibson had had to go out to his evening-round; and the young men were all too glad to come up into the pretty drawing-room; the bright little wood-fire; the comfortable easy-chairs which, with so small a party, might be drawn round the hearth; the good-natured hostess; the pretty, agreeable girls. Roger sauntered up to the corner where Cynthia was standing, playing with a hand-screen.

“There is a charity ball in Hollingford soon, isn’t there?” asked he.

“Yes; on Easter Tuesday,” she replied.

“Are you going? I suppose you are?”

“Yes; mamma is going to take Molly and me.”

“You will enjoy it very much—going together?”

For the first time during this little conversation she glanced up at him—real honest pleasure shining out of her eyes.

“Yes; going together will make the enjoyment of the thing. It would be dull without her.”

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