Scene.—Ida's Study—Ida busy making notes from a book— Eva sitting by, embroidering.

Eva—"Heigho! how stupid things are. I am tired of everything. I am tired of shopping—tired of parties—tired of New York—where the same thing keeps happening over and over. I wish I was a man. I'd just take my carpet-bag and go to Europe. Come now, Ida, pray stop that, and talk to me, do!"

Ida, putting down her book and pen:

"Well—and what about?"

"Oh, you know!—this inextricable puzzle—what does ail a certain person? Now he didn't come at all last night, and when I asked Jim Fellows where his friend was (one must pass the compliment of inquiring, you know), he said, 'Henderson had grown dumpy lately,' and he couldn't get him out anywhere."

"Well, Eva, I'm sure I can't throw any light on the subject. I know no more than you."

"Now, Ida, let me tell you, this afternoon when we stopped in the park, I went into that great rustic arbor on the top of the hill there, and just as we came in on one side, I saw him in all haste hurrying out on the other, as if he were afraid to meet me."

"How very odd!"

"Odd! Well, I should think it was; but what was worse, he went and stationed himself on a bench under a tree where he could hear and see us, and there my lord sat—perhaps he thought I didn't see him, but I did.

"Lillie and Belle Forrester and Wat Jerrold were with me, and we were having such a laugh! I don't know when I have had such a frolic, and how silly it was of him to sit there glowering like an owl in an ivy bush, when he might have come out and joined us, and had a good time! I'm quite out of patience with the creature, it's so vexatious to have him act so!"

"It is vexatious, darling, but then as you can't do anything about it why think of it?"

"Because I can't help it. Can you have a real friendship for a person and enjoy his society, and not care in the least whether you have it or not? Of course you can't. We were friends—quite good friends, and I'm not ashamed to say I miss him, very much, and then to have such an unaccountable mystery about it. I should think you'd miss him too."

"I do somewhat," said Ida, "but then you see I have so much more to think of. I have my regular work every day for papa, and I have my plan of study, and to say the truth, so far as I am concerned, though I liked Mr. Henderson very much, yet I don't miss him."

"Well, Ida, now I want to ask you, didn't you think he acted as if——"

"As if he were in love with you, you would say."


"He certainly did, if I am any judge of symptoms; but then, dear, men are often in love with women they don't mean to marry."

"Who wants to marry him, I should like to know? I'm not thinking of that."

"Well, then, Eva, perhaps he has discovered that he wants to marry you; and, perhaps, for some reason he regards that as impossible, and so is going to try to keep away."

"How perfectly hateful and stupid of him! I'd rather never have seen him."

"A man generally has this advantage over a woman in a matter of this sort, that he has an object in life which is more to him than anything else, and he can fill his whole mind with that."

"Well, Ida, that's all very true, but what object in life can a girl have who lives as we do; who has everything she can want without an effort—I for instance."

"But I have an object."

"Yes, I know you have, but I am different from you. It would be as impossible for me to do as you do, as for a fish to walk upright on dry land."

"Well, Eva, this objectless, rootless, floating kind of life that you and almost all girls lead, is at the bottom of nearly all your troubles. Literally and truly you have nothing in the world to do but to amuse yourselves; the consequence is that you soon get tired of almost every kind of amusement, and so every friendship, and flirtation assumes a disproportioned interest in your minds. There is real danger now that you may think too much of Mr."——

"Oh, stuff and nonsense, Ida! I won't, so there! I'll put him out of my head forthwith and bolt the door. Give me a good stiff dose of reading, Ida; one of your dullest scientific books, and get me to write you an analysis of it as we did at school. Here, let me see, 'Descent of Man.' Come, now, I'll sit down and go at it."

Eva sits down with book, pencil and paper, and turns over the leaves.

"Let's try how it looks. 'Sexual Selection'! Oh, horrid! 'Her Ape-like Proportions'! I should be ashamed to talk so about my ancestors. Apes!—of all things—why not some more respectable animal? lions or horses, for example. You remember Swift's story about the houyhnhums. Isn't this a dreadfully dull book, Ida?"

"No, I don't find it so. I am deeply interested in it, though I admit it is pretty heavy."

"But, then, Ida, you see it goes against the Bible, doesn't it?"

"Not necessarily as I see."

"Why, yes; to be sure. I haven't read it; but Mr. Henderson gave me the clearest kind of a sketch of the argument, and that is the way it impressed me. That to be sure is among the things I principally value him for; he is my milk-skimmer; he gets all the cream that rises on a book and presents it to me in a portable form. I remember one of the very last really comfortable long talks we had; it was on this subject, and I told him that it seemed to me that the modern theory and the Bible were point blank opposites. Instead of men being a fallen race, they are a rising race, and never so high as now; and then, what becomes of the Garden of Eden, and St. Paul? Now, for my part, I told Mr. Henderson I wasn't going to give up all the splendid poetry of Milton and the Bible, just because Mr. Darwin took it into his head that it was not improbable that my seventy fifth millionth grandfather might have been a big baboon with green nose and pointed ears!"

"My dear Eva, you have capital reasons for believing and not believing. You believe what seems most agreeable and poetic."

"Exactly, Ida; and in those far-off regions, sixteen million billion ages ago, why shouldn't I? Nobody knows what happened there; nobody has been there to see what made the first particle of jelly take to living, and turn into a germ cell, and then go working on like yeast, till it worked out into all the things we see. I think it a good deal easier to believe the Garden of Eden story, especially as that is pretty and poetical, and is in the dear old Book that is so sweet and comfortable to us; but then Mr. Henderson insists that even if we do hold the Evolution theory, the old book will be no less true. I never saw a man of so much thought who had so much reverence."

"I thought you were going to study Darwin and not think of him," said Ida.

"Well, somehow, almost every thing puts me in mind of him, because we have had such long talks about everything; and, Ida, to tell the truth, I do believe I am intellectually lazy. I don't like rough hard work, I like polishing and furbishing. Now, I want a man to go through all this rough, hard, stupid, disagreeable labyrinth of scientific terms, and pick out the meaning and put it into a few, plain words, and then I take it and brighten it up and put on the rainbows. Look here, now, think of my having to scrabble through a bog like this in the "Origin of the Species":

"'In Carthamus and some other compositæ the central achenes alone are furnished with a pappus; and in Hyoseris the same head yields achenes of three different forms. In certain Umbelliferæ the exterior seeds, according to Tanch, are orthospermous, and the central one cœlospermous, and this difference has been considered by De Candolle as of the highest systematic importance in the family.'

"Now all this is just as unintelligible to me as if it were written in Choctaw. I don't know enough to know what it means, and I'm afraid I don't care enough to know. I want to know the upshot of the whole in good plain English, and then see whether I can believe it or not; and isn't it a shame that things are so that one cannot have a sensible man to be one's guide, philosopher and friend, without this everlasting marriage question coming up? If a woman makes an effort to get or keep a valuable friend, she is supposed to be intriguing and making unfeminine efforts for a husband. Now this poor man is perfectly wretched about something—for I can see he has really gone off shockingly, and looks thin and haggard, and I can't just write him a note and ask him to come and finish his resumé of Darwin for me, without going over the boundaries; and the worst of it is, it is I who set these limits;—I myself who am a world too proud to say the first word or give the slightest indication that his absence isn't quite as agreeable as his presence."

"Well, Eva, I can write a note and request him to call and see me," said Ida, "and if you like, I will. I have no sort of fear what he will think of me."

"I would not have you for the world. It would look like an advance on our part—no indeed. These creatures are so conceited, if they once find out that you can't do without them——"

"I never observed any signs of conceit in Mr. Henderson."

"Well, I have made it an object to keep him a little humble, so far as his sex will permit, you see. But seriously, Ida, is not it curious about this marriage matter? Everybody says it's what we are made for, all the novels end with it, all the poems are about it, you are hearing about it in one way or other all the time; and yet all this while you are supposed not to care anything about it one way or the other. If a man be ever so agreeable to you, and do ever so much to make you like him, you must pretend that you are quite indifferent to him, and don't care whether he comes or goes, until such time as he chooses to launch the tremendous question at you."

"Well," said Ida, "I admit that there is just this absurdity in our life: but I avoid it all by firmly laying a plan of my own, and having a business of my own. To me marriage would be an interruption; it would require a breaking up and reconstruction of my whole plan, and of course I really think nothing about it."

"But are you firmly resolved never to marry?"

"No; but never, unless I find some one more to me than all on which I have set my heart. I do not need it for my happiness. I am sufficient to myself; and besides I have an object I hope to attain, and that is to open a way by which many other women shall secure independence and comfort and ease."

"Deary me, Ida, I wish I were like you: but I'm not. It seems to me that the only way to give most girls any concentration or object is to marry them. Then, somehow, things seem to arrange themselves, and, at all events, the world stops talking about you, and wondering what you are going to do; they get you off their minds. That I do believe was the reason why at one time I came so near drifting into that affair with Wat Sydney. Aunt Maria was so vigorous with me and talked in such a commanding manner, and with so many 'of courses,' that I really began to think I was one of the 'of courses' myself; but my acquaintance with Mr. Henderson has shown me that it would be intolerable to live with a man that you couldn't talk with about everything that comes into your head; and now I can't talk with him, and I won't marry Wat Sydney; and so what is to be done? Shall I go to Stewart's and buy me a new suit of Willow Green, or gird up the loins of my mind and go through Darwin like a man, and look out all the terms in the dictionary and come out the other side a strong minded female? or shall I go and join the Sisters of St. John, and wear a great white cape and gray gown, and have all the world say I did it because I couldn't get Wat Sydney (for that's exactly what they would say), or what shall I do? The trouble is, mamma and Aunt Maria with their expectations. It's much as mamma can do to survive your course, and if I take to having a 'purpose' too, I don't know but mamma would commit suicide, poor dear woman."

(Enter Alice with empressement):

"Girls, what do you think? Wat Sydney come back and going to give a great croquet party out at Clairmont, and of course we are all invited with notes in the most resplendent style, with crest and coat of arms, and everything—perfectly 'mag!' There's to be a steamboat with a band of music to take the guests up, and no end of splendid doings; marquées and tents and illuminations and fireworks, and to return by moonlight after all's over; isn't it lovely? I do think Wat Sydney's perfectly splendid! and it's all on your account, Eva, I know it is."

"Pooh, nonsense, you absurd child, I don't believe it. I dare say its a party just to proclaim that he is engaged to somebody else."

"Do you know," added Alice, "I met Jim Fellows, and he says everybody is wild about this party—just stark, tearing wild about it—for it isn't going to be a crush—something very select."

"Is Jim going?"

"Yes, he showed me his ticket and Henderson's, and he declared he was going to take 'Hal,' as he called him, spite of his screams; he said that he had been writing and studying and moping himself to death, and that he should drag him out by the hair of the head. Come, Eva, let's go down to Tullegig's and have a 'kank' about costumes. I haven't a thing fit to wear, nor you either."

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