“Strange!” he said; “but I suppose you were forgotten in the excitement and anxiety every one in the house has felt ever since the baby’s sad fall. And they may have felt it unnecessary to bring any thing to you, as you were quite able to go to the dining-room for it.”
“I couldn’t bear to, papa,” she said, with tears of shame and grief; “and, indeed, I wasn’t hungry till a little while ago; but now I feel faint and sick for something to eat.”
“You shall have it,” he replied, and went hastily from the room, to return in a few minutes, bringing a bowl of milk and a plentiful supply of bread and butter.
He set them on the table, and bade her come and eat.
“Papa, you are very kind to me, ever so much kinder than I deserve,” she said tremulously, as she made haste to obey the order. “I think some fathers would say I must go hungry for to-night.”
“I have already punished you in what I consider a better way, because it could not injure your health,” he said; “while going a long time without food would be almost sure to do so. It is not my intention ever to punish my children in a way to do them injury. Present pain is all I am at all willing to inflict, and that only for their good.”
“Yes, papa, I know that,” she said with a sob, setting down her bowl of milk to wipe her eyes; “so, when you punish me, it doesn’t make me quit loving you.”
“If I did not love you, if you were not my own dear child,” he said, laying his hand on her head as he stood by her side, “I don’t think I could be at the trouble and pain of disciplining you as I have to-night. But eat your supper: I can’t stay with you much longer, and I want to see you in bed before I go.”
As she laid her head on her pillow again, there was a flash of lightning, followed instantly by a .crash of thunder and a heavy downpour of rain.
“Do you hear that?” he asked. “Now, suppose I had let you go when I caught you trying to run away, how would you feel, alone out of doors, in the darkness and storm, no shelter, no home, no friends, no father to take care of you, and provide for your wants?”
“O papa! it would be very, very dreadful!” she sobbed, putting her arm round his neck as he bent over her. “I’m very glad you brought me back, even to punish me so severely; and I don’t think I’ll ever want to run away again.”
“I trust not,” he said, kissing her good-night; “and you must not leave this room till I give you permission. I intend that you shall spend some days in solitude,—except when I see fit to come to you,—that you may have plenty of time and opportunity to think over your sinful conduct and its dire consequences.”
“I’m on the rack;
For sure, the greatest evil man can know,
Bears no proportion to the dread suspense.”
“Is there any change, doctor?” asked Capt. Raymond, meeting Arthur Conly in the hall.