“Don’t worry, Lu. I hope your father will let you stay on here,” Evelyn said in an affectionate tone; “but, indeed, I don’t think you have any reason to envy me.”
She ended with so profound a sigh, that Lulu turned a surprised, inquiring look upon her, asking, “Have you had any bad news, Eva? I know you have been looking anxiously for a letter from your mother.”
“Yes, it has come: I found it waiting for me at Fairview, and”—She paused for a moment, her heart too full for speech.
“And it was bad news? Oh, I am so sorry!” said Lulu. “I hope it wasn’t that she wants you to go away from here—unless I have to go too, and we can be together somewhere.”
“No, it was not that—not now. Mamma knows that, because of the way papa made his will, I must stay with uncle Lester till I come of age. She talks of my going to her then; but I cannot,—oh, I never can! for,—Lulu, she’s married again, to an Italian count; and it is not a year since my dear, dear father was taken from us.”
Evelyn’s voice was tremulous with pain, and she ended with a burst of bitter weeping.
“Oh, how could she!” exclaimed Lulu. “I don’t wonder you feel so about it, Eva. A horrid Italian too!” she added, thinking of Signor Foresti. “I’d never call him father!”
“Indeed, I’ve no idea of doing that,” Eva said indignantly. “I only hope he may never cross my path; and so I—feel as if my mother is lost to me. You are far better off than I, Lulu: you have your own dear father still living, and aunt Vi is so lovely and sweet.”
“Yes, I am better off than you,” Lulu acknowledged emphatically; “and if I hadn’t such a bad temper, always getting me into trouble, I’d be a girl to be envied.”
Pending Capt. Raymond’s verdict in regard to Lulu, life at Ion fell into the old grooves, for her as well as the other members of the family.
Studies were taken up again by all the children, including Evelyn Leland, where they had been dropped; Mr. Dinsmore and his daughter giving instruction, and hearing recitations, as formerly.
This interval of waiting lasted for over two months, a longer period of silence on the part of the husband and father than usual; but, as they learned afterward, letters had been delayed in both going and coming.
Capt. Raymond, in his good ship, far out on the ocean, was wearying for news from home, when his pressing want was most opportunely supplied by a passing vessel.
She had a heavy mail for the man-of-war, and a generous share of it fell to her commander.
He was soon seated in the privacy of his own cabin, with Violet’s letter open in his hand. It was sure to receive his attention before that of any other correspondent.
With a swelling heart he read of the sore trial she had been passing through, in the severe illness of Gracie and the babe. Deeply he regretted not having been there to lighten her burdens with his sympathy and help in the nursing; and though, at the time of writing, she was able to report that the little sufferers were considered out of danger, he could not repress a fear, amid his thankfulness, that there might be a relapse, or the dread disease might leave behind it, as it so often does, some lasting ill effect.