The Evil Genius
6. Sydney Teaches
Mrs. Presty had not very seriously exaggerated the truth, when she described her much-
indulged granddaughter as "a child who had never been accustomed to wait for anything
since the day when she was born."
Governesses in general would have found it no easy matter to produce a favorable
impression on Kitty, and to exert the necessary authority in instructing her, at the same
time. Spoiled children (whatever moralists may say to the contrary) are companionable
and affectionate children, for the most part--except when they encounter the unfortunate
persons employed to introduce them to useful knowledge. Mr. and Mrs. Linley (guiltily
conscious of having been too fond of their only child to subject her to any sort of
discipline) were not very willing to contemplate the prospect before Miss Westerfield on
her first establishment in the schoolroom. To their surprise and relief there proved to be
no cause for anxiety after all. Without making an attempt to assert her authority, the new
governess succeeded nevertheless when older and wiser women would have failed.
The secret of Sydney's triumph over adverse circumstances lay hidden in Sydney herself.
Everything in the ordinary routine of life at Mount Morven was a source of delight and
surprise to the unfortunate creature who had passed through six years of cruelty, insult,
and privation at her aunt's school Look where she might, in her new sphere of action, she
saw pleasant faces and heard kind words. At meal times, wonderful achievements in the
art of cookery appeared on the table which she had not only never tasted, but never even
heard of. When she went out walking with her pupil they were free to go where they
pleased, without restriction of time--except the time of dinner. To breathe the delicious
air, to look at the glorious scenery, were enjoyments so exquisitely exhilarating that, by
Sydney's own confession, she became quite light headed with pleasure. She ran races
with Kitty--and nobody reproved her. She rested, out of breath, while the stronger child
was ready to run on--and no merciless voice cried "None of your laziness; time's up!"
Wild flowers that she had never yet seen might be gathered, and no offense was
committed. Kitty told her the names of the flowers, and the names of the summer insects
that flashed and hummed in the hillside breezes; and was so elated at teaching her
governess that her rampant spirits burst out in singing. "Your turn next," the joyous child
cried, when she too was out of breath. "Sing, Sydney--sing!" Alas for Sydney! She had
not sung since those happiest days of her childhood, when her good father had told her
fairy stories, and taught her songs. They were all forgotten now. "I can't sing, Kitty; I
can't sing." The pupil, hearing this melancholy confession, became governess once more.
"Say the words, Syd; and hum the tune after me." They laughed over the singing lesson,
until the echoes of the hills mocked them, and laughed too. Looking into the schoolroom,
one day, Mrs. Linley found that the serious business of teaching was not neglected. The
lessons went on smoothly, without an obstacle in the way. Kitty was incapable of
disappointing her friend and playfellow, who made learning easy with a smile and a kiss.
The balance of authority was regulated to perfection in the lives of these two simple
creatures. In the schoolroom, the governess taught the child. Out of the schoolroom, the