Things went on in the same way for four years more, the only visible change being that Kirsty seldomer went about barefooted. She was now between two and three and twenty. Her face, whose ordinary expression had always been of quiet, was now in general quieter still; but when heart or soul was moved, it would flash and glow as only such a face could. Live revelation of deeps rarely rippled save by the breath of God, how could it but grow more beautiful! Cloud or shadow of cloud was hardly ever to be seen upon it. Her mother, much younger than her father, was still well and strong, and Kirsty, still not much wanted at home, continued to spend the greater part of her time with her brother and her books. As to her person, she was now in the first flower of harmonious womanly strength. Nature had indeed done what she could to make her a lady, but Nature was not her mother, and Kirsty's essential ladyhood came from higher up, namely, from the Source itself of Nature. Simple truth was its crown, and grace was the garment of it. To see her walk or run was to look on the divine idea of Motion.

As for Steenie, he looked the same loose lank lad as before, with a smile almost too sad to be a smile, and a laugh in which there was little hilarity. His 110 pleasures were no doubt deep and high, but seldom, even to Kirsty, manifested themselves except in the after-glow.

Phemy was now almost a woman. She was rather little, but had a nice figure, which she knew instinctively how to show to advantage. Her main charm lay in her sweet complexion — strong in its contrast of colors, but wonderfully perfect in the blending of them: the gradations in the live picture were exquisite. She was gentle of temper, with a shallow birdlike friendliness, an accentuated confidence that every one meant her well, which was very taking. But she was far too much pleased with herself to be a necessity to any one else. Her father grew more and more proud of her, but remained entirely independent of her; and Kirsty could not help wondering at times how he would feel were he given one peep into the chaotic mind which he fancied so lovely a cosmos. A good fairy godmother would for her discipline, Kirsty imagined, turn her into the prettiest wax doll, but with real eyes, and put her in a glass case for the admiration of all, until she sickened of her very consciousness. But Kirsty loved the pretty doll, and cherished any influence she had with her against a possible time when it might be sorely needed. She still encouraged her, therefore, to come to Corbyknowe as often as she felt inclined. Her father never interfered with any of her goings and comings. At the present point of my narrative, however, Kirsty began to notice that Phemy did not care so much for being with her as hitherto.

She had been, of course, for some time, the cynosure of many neighboring eyes, but had taken only 111 the more pleasure in the cynosure, none in the persons with the eyes, all of whom she regarded as much below her. To herself she was the only young lady in Tiltowie, an assurance strengthened by the fact that no young man had yet ventured to make love to her, which she took as a general admission of their social inferiority, behaving to all the young men the more sweetly in consequence.

The tendency of a weakly artistic nature to occupy itself much with its own dress was largely developed in her. It was wonderful, considering the smallness of her father's income, how well she arrayed herself. She could make a scanty material go a great way in setting off her attractions. The judicial element of the neighborhood, not content with complaining that she spent so much of her time in making her dresses, accused her of spending much money upon them, whereas she spent less than most of the girls of the neighborhood, who cared only for a good stuff, a fast color, and the fashion: fit to figure and fitness to complexion they did not trouble themselves about. The possession of a fine gown was the important thing. As to how it made them look, they had not imagination enough to consider that.

She possessed, however, another faculty on which she prided herself far more, her ignorance and vanity causing her to mistake it for a grand accomplishment — the faculty of verse-making. She inherited a certain modicum of her father's rhythmic and rhyming gift; she could string words almost as well as she could string beads, and many thought her clever because she could do what they could not. Her aunt judged her verses marvellous, and her father considered them full of promise. The minister, on the 112 other hand, held them unmistakably silly — as her father would had they not been hers and she his. Only the poorest part of his poetic equipment had propagated in her, and had he taught her anything, she would not have overvalued it so much. Herself full of mawkish sentimentality, her verses could not fail to be foolish, their whole impulse being the ambition that springs from self-admiration. She had begun to look down on Kirsty, who would so gladly have been a mother to the motherless creature: she was not a lady! Neither in speech, manners, nor dress, was she or her mother genteel I Their free, hearty, simple bearing, in which was neither smallest roughness, nor least suggestion of affected refinement, was not to Phemy's taste, and she began to assume condescending ways.

It was of course a humiliation to Phemy to have an aunt in Mrs. Bremner's humble position, but she loved her after her own feeble fashion, and, although she would willingly have avoided her upon occasion, went not unfrequently to the castle to see her; for the kind-hearted woman spoiled her. Not only did she admire her beauty, and stand amazed at her wonderful cleverness, but she drew from her little store a good part of the money that went to adorn the pretty butterfly. She gave her at the same time the best of advice, and imagined she listened to it; but the young who take advice are almost beyond the need of it. Fools must experience a thing themselves before they will believe it; and then, remaining fools, they wonder that their children will not heed their testimony. Faith is the only charm by which the experience of one becomes a vantage-ground for the start of another.

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