“Isn’t it, papa?” returned the child, dropping his head on his father’s shoulder with a sigh of relief.
“Oh it’s Cousin Ronald, it’s just Cousin Ronald!” exclaimed the children, their tears changing at once to laughter.
“Ah ha, ah ha! um h’m, um h’m! so it is, bairnies, just Cousin Ronald at his old tricks again,” laughed Mr. Lilburn.
“Oh there’s nobody in it; so we needn’t care how high it goes,” cried Eddie, jumping and clapping his hands, “See! see! it’s up in the clouds now, and doesn’t look as big as my cap.”
“Not half so big, I should say,” remarked Herbert. “And there, it’s quite gone.”
The dinner bell rang and all repaired to the dining-room.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” —PROVERBS, xxii: 6.
As naturally as the helianthus to the sun, did the faces of Elsie’s little ones turn to her when in her loved presence. At the table, at their sports, their lessons, everywhere and however employed, it was always the same, the young eyes turning ever and anon to catch the tender, sympathetic glance of mamma’s.
But at dinner to-day, Vi’s great blue orbs met hers but once and instantly dropped upon her plate again, while a vivid blush suffused the fair face and neck.
And when the meal was ended and all gathered in the drawing-room, Vi still seemed to be unlike her usual gay, sunny self, the merriest prattler of all the little crowd of children, the one whose sweet silvery laugh rang out the oftenest. She stood alone at a side table turning over some engravings, but evidently with very little interest. The mother, engaged in conversation with the other ladies, watched her furtively, a little troubled and anxious, yet deeming it best to wait for a voluntary confidence on the part of her child.
Longing, yet dreading to make it, Vi was again puzzling her young brain with the question whether Meta was right in saying it would be selfish to do so. Ah, if she could only ask mamma which was the right way to do! This was the first perplexity she had not been able to carry to her for disentanglement.
Remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth,” Elsie had been careful to store her children’s minds with the blessed teachings and precious promises of God’s holy Book. She had also taught them to go to God their heavenly Father, with every care, sorrow, doubt and difficulty.
“I’ll ask Jesus,” thought Vi; “he’ll help me to know, because the Bible says, ’If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’”
She slipped into an adjoining room, where she was quite alone, and kneeling down, whispered softly, with low sobs and many tears, “Dear Father in heaven, I’ve been a very, very naughty girl; I disobeyed my dear mamma; please forgive me for Jesus’ sake and make me good. Please Lord Jesus, help me to know if I ought to tell mamma.”