I cannot tell you of the joy and thanksgiving that went up from that hearthstone that night. I wish I could, but it was too deep a joy which filled the hearts of Susie and her mother to be described.
Was not Susie’s prayer answered?
“Mamma will never know,” thought Flora Marshall to herself, as she took a large orange from the piled-up dish on the table, and, putting it in her pocket, went hastily up stairs.
She was expecting two or three little friends to spend the day with her, and had been busily arranging the doll her kind mother had given her; but while lingering about, waiting for them to come, she was tempted to take one of the oranges which had been placed on the table ready for dinner. She hurried from the room, but had not reached the top of the stairs before her brother’s voice stopped her, calling, “Flora, Flora, make haste, I see some of your visitors coming in at the gate;” and directly after there was a knock at the door, and she could hear the voices of Kate and Effie Somers.
Flora ran quickly down stairs, but her face was flushed, and she felt miserable and ashamed as she met her young friends, and took them to the parlor to speak to her mamma.
[Illustration: "Blindman’s Buff"]
Flora tried to laugh and talk as merrily as any of them, but she could not forget how wrong she had been; and the dish of oranges setting right before her on the table kept her fault ever in her mind. Besides this, not having been able to eat the orange she had taken, she was in constant fear lest she might draw it from her pocket with her handkerchief, and thus be covered with shame in the sight of her young friends.
Poor Flora! she had sinned against God, and against her kind mother, and had spoiled all her afternoon’s pleasure for the sake of an orange. At dinner time she could not raise her head to meet her mother’s glance, who saw that something was wrong with her, and who said very kindly, “Flora, dear, you are scarcely eating anything—are you not well?” This made Flora ready to cry with shame and repentance. Her conscience was too tender to allow her to be happy while her fault remained unconfessed.
All the afternoon they had merry games, in which everybody joined. They played “Lady’s Toilet,” “Hunt the Slipper,” and many more such games, winding up with “Blindman’s Buff.” After this the little girls went home, and Flora was left alone with her papa and mama while the younger children were getting ready for bed.