The Legacy of Cain HTML version

11. Helena's Diary
We both said good-night, and went up to our room with a new object in view. By our
father's advice we had resolved on keeping diaries, for the first time in our lives, and had
pledged ourselves to begin before we went to bed.
Slowly and silently and lazily, my sister sauntered to her end of the room and seated
herself at her writing-table. On the desk lay a nicely bound book, full of blank pages. The
word "Journal" was printed on it in gold letters, and there was fitted to the covers a bright
brass lock and key. A second journal, exactly similar in every respect to the first, was
placed on the writing-table at my end of the room. I opened my book. The sight of the
blank leaves irritated me; they were so smooth, so spotless, so entirely ready to do their
duty. I took too deep a dip of ink, and began the first entry in my diary by making a blot.
This was discouraging. I got up, and looked out of window.
My sister's voice could hardly have addressed me in a more weary tone, if her pen had
been at work all night, relating domestic events. "Well!" I said. "What is it?"
"Have you done already?" she asked.
I showed her the blot. My sister Eunice (the strangest as well as the dearest of girls)
always blurts out what she has in her mind at the time. She fixed her eyes gravely on my
spoiled page, and said: "That comforts me." I crossed the room, and looked at her book.
She had not even summoned energy enough to make a blot. "What will papa think of us,"
she said, "if we don't begin to-night?"
"Why not begin," I suggested, "by writing down what he said, when he gave us our
journals? Those wise words of advice will be in their proper place on the first page of the
new books."
Not at all a demonstrative girl naturally; not ready with her tears, not liberal with her
caresses, not fluent in her talk, Eunice was affected by my proposal in a manner
wonderful to see. She suddenly developed into an excitable person--I declare she kissed
me. "Oh," she burst out, "how clever you are! The very thing to write about; I'll do it
She really did it directly; without once stopping to consider, without once waiting to ask
my advice. Line after line, I heard her noisy pen hurrying to the bottom of a first page,
and getting three-parts of the way toward the end of a second page, before she closed her
diary. I reminded her that she had not turned the key, in the lock which was intended to
keep her writing private.