She thought surely the dinner-hour would bring her father; but it did not: her wants were again supplied by a servant.
“The dread of evil is the worst of ill.”
On leaving the breakfast-room, Violet hastened back to the nursery; but the captain, calling Max and Grace into her boudoir, said, as he took the little girl on his knee, and motioned Max to sit by his side,—
“I have some news for you, my children: can you guess what it is?”
“Something good, I hope, papa,” said Max: “you look as if it was.”
“I am very much pleased with my share of it,” the captain said, smiling; “and I shall know presently, I presume, what you two think of yours. What would you like it to be, Gracie?”
“That my papa was never, never going away any more,” she answered promptly, lifting loving eyes to his face.
“There couldn’t be better news than that,” remarked Max; “but,” with a profound sigh, “of course it can’t be that.”
“Ah! don’t be quite so sure, young man,” laughed his father.
“Papa, you don’t mean to say that that is it?” queried Max breathlessly.
“I do: I have resigned from the navy, and hope soon to have a home ready for my wife and children, and to live in it with them as long as it shall please God to spare our lives.”
Tears of joy actually came into the boy’s eyes; while Gracie threw her arms round their father’s neck, and half smothered him with kisses.
“O papa, papa!” she cried, “I’m so glad, I don’t know what to do! I’m the happiest girl in the world!—or should be, if only the dear baby was well,” she added, with springing tears.
“Yes,” he sighed: “we cannot feel other than sad, while she is suffering and in danger. But she is a trifle better this morning, and we will hope the improvement may continue till she is entirely restored.”
“She’s such a darling!” said Max; “just the brightest, cutest baby that ever was seen! Mamma Vi has taught her to know your photograph; and, whenever she sees it, she says, ‘Papa,’ as plainly as I can. She calls me too, and Lu. Oh! I don’t know how Lulu could”—He broke off, without finishing his sentence.
“Lu didn’t do it on purpose,” sobbed Gracie, pulling out her handkerchief to wipe her eyes.
“No,” sighed the captain: “I am quite sure she had no intention of harming her little sister, yet she is responsible for it as the consequence of indulging in a fit of rage; she feels that: and I hope the distress of mind she is now suffering because of the dreadful deed she has done in her passion, will be such a lesson to her, that she will learn to rule her own spirit in future.”
“Oh, I do hope so!” said Grace. “Papa, does Lulu know your good news?”
“No. I have not told her yet; and I intend to keep her in ignorance of it for some days, as part of her deserved punishment. I do not want her to have any thing to divert her mind from the consideration of the great sin and danger of such indulgence of temper.”