“The best of us do not always resist temptation successfully, and doubtless in this case it has been very strong. And he is bitterly repenting; I heard him crying somewhere in the grounds as I rode up the avenue, but could not then take time to go to him, not knowing how much you and Travilla might be needing my assistance.”
“My poor boy; he does love his father,” she said, wiping her eyes.
“There can be no question about that, and this will be a life-long lesson to him.”
“Papa, you always bring me comfort,” she said gratefully. “And you will stay with us to-night?”
“Yes; I could not leave you at such a time. I shall send a note to Rose, to relieve her anxiety in regard to Edward’s accident, and let her know that she need not expect me home till morning. Well, Prilla,” as the girl reappeared, “what is it? why have you not brought the children as your mistress directed?”
“Please, sah, Massa Dinsmore, Mars Eddie won’t come; he jes’ lie on de ground an’ scream an’ cry, ’O, I’ve killed my fader, my dear, dear fader,’ an Miss Elsie she comfortin’ an’ coaxin’, an’ pleadin’, but he won’t pay no pretention to nobody.”
Elsie wept anew. “My poor child! my poor little son! what am I to do with him?”
“I will go to him; trust him to me,” Mr. Dinsmore said, leaving the room with a quick firm step.
“If hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender it here; I do as truly suffer,
As e’er I did commit.”
“O Eddie, dear, do get up and come into the house!” entreated his sister. “I must leave you if you don’t, for Prilla said mamma had sent for us; and you know we must obey.”
“Oh I can’t, I can’t go in! I can’t see mamma! she will never, never love me any more!”
“Yes, she will, Eddie; nothing will ever make her stop loving us; and if you’re really sorry for having disobeyed poor, dear papa, you’ll not go on and disobey her now.”
“But oh I’ve been such a wicked, wicked boy. O Elsie, what shall I do? Jesus won’t love me now, nor mamma nor anybody.”
“O Eddie,” sobbed his sister, “don’t talk so. Jesus does love you and will forgive you, if you ask him; and so will mamma and papa; for they both love you and I love you dearly, dearly.”
The two were alone, Archie having gone home with his father.
A step drew near, and Mr. Dinsmore’s voice spoke close at hand in tones sterner and more peremptory than he really meant them to be.
“Edward, get up from that damp grass and come into the house immediately. Do you intend to add to your poor mother’s troubles by your disobedience, and by making yourself sick?”
The child arose instantly. He was accustomed to yield to his grandfather’s authority quite as readily as to that of his parents.
“O grandpa, please don’t be hard to him! His heart’s almost broken, and he wouldn’t have hurt papa on purpose for all the world,” pleaded little Elsie, hastening to Mr. Dinsmore’s side, taking his hand in both hers, and lifting her tear-dimmed eyes beseechingly to his face.