LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 225
piano, and rattled a lively piece of music. St. Clare had a decided genius for music. His touch was brilliant and , firm, and his fingers flew over the keys with a rapid and bird-like motion, airy, and yet decided. He played piece after piece, like a man who is trying to play himself into a good humor. After pushing the music aside, he rose up, and said, gayly, " Well, now, cousin, you 've given us a good talk, and done your duty; on the whole, I think the better of you for it. I make no manner of doubt that you threw a very diamond of truth at me, though you see it hit me so directly in the face that it was n't exactly appreciated, at first."
" For my part, I don't see any use in such sort of talk," said Marie. " I 'm sure, if anybody does more for servants than we do, I 'd like to know who; and it don't do 'em a bit good, — not a particle, — they get worse and worse. As to talking to them, or anything like that, I 'm sure I have talked till I was tired and hoarse, telling them their duty, and all that; and I 'm sure they can go to church when they like, though they don't understand a word of the sermon, more than so many pigs, — so it is n't of any great use for them to go, as I see; but they do go, and so they have every chance ; but, as I said before, they are a degraded race, and always will be, and there is n't any help for them; you can't make anything of them, if you try. You see, Cousin Ophelia, I 've tried, and you have n't; I was born and bred among them, and I know."
Miss Ophelia thought she had said enough, and therefore sat silent. St. Clare whistled a tune.
" St. Clare, I wish you would n't whistle," said Marie ; " it makes my head worse."
" I won't," said St. Clare. " Is there anything else you would n"t wish me to do ? "
" I wish you would have some kind of sympathy for my trials ; you never have any feeling for me."
" My dear accusing angel! " said St. Clare.
" It's provoking to be talked to in that way."