“She fed me first to God;
Her words and prayers were my young spirit’s dew.”
“Hallo! this looks like welcome; every one of you been crying!” Mr. Ross said, catching up Sophie in his arms, and glancing about upon his group of children, after an affectionate greeting to his wife, and a cordially kind one to their guest.
“What’s the trouble? so sorry papa was coming home, eh?”
“No, no, that wasn’t it, papa,” they cried, crowding around him, each eager to claim the first caress, “it wasn’t that, but we wanted to go for you, and mamma wouldn’t let us.”
“Yes,” said Lucy, “they all wanted to go and as that couldn’t be, and no one would give up to the others, I kept them all at home.”
“Quite right,” he said, gravely, “I’m afraid you hardly deserve the pretty gifts I have brought.”
“Oh, yes, yes, papa, we’ll be good next time! Indeed we will! Mamma, coax him!”
“Yes, do let them have them, Phil,” urged his wife, “where would be the use of keeping the things back after spending your money for them?”
“To teach them a good lesson. I’m afraid both you and I are foolishly indulgent, Lucy.”
“Oh, they’ll be good next time.”
“This once then, but only this once, unless they keep their word,” he said, producing his gifts—a book or toy for each of his own children, and a package of sweetmeats which he divided among all present.
He had brought a new dog home with him, but no one but Eddie had noticed it yet. He was stroking and patting it, saying, “Poor fellow, what kind of a dog are you?”
“A French poodle,” said Mr. Ross, coming up to them, “A good watch dog, and excellent for scaring up the wild ducks for the sportsmen. Do you and papa keep up the shooting lessons, master Eddie?”
“Yes, sir; papa has always said he meant to make me as good a shot as himself, and mamma says it was never his way to give up till a thing’s thoroughly done,” returned the boy, proudly.
“And you don’t equal him as a shot yet, eh?”
“No, sir! no, indeed! Why, even cousin Cal Conly—a big man—can’t shoot as well as papa.”
“What an ugly dog!” exclaimed the other children, gathering round.
“What did you buy it for, papa?” asked Gertrude.
“Not for beauty, certainly,” laughed Mr. Ross, stroking and patting the shaggy head of the dog, who was covered with curly hair of a dirty white, mottled with dull brown, “but for worth which is far better. Isn’t it, Ranger?”
A wag of his bushy tail, was Ranger’s only reply.
“Will he bite?” asked little Herbert, shrinking back as the newcomer turned toward him.
“Tramps and burglars; but not good children,” replied Mr. Ross. “You needn’t be afraid of him, my little man.”
Through the evening there was a great deal of romping between the children and the new dog, but little Elsie seemed unusually quiet, scarcely stirring from her mother’s side. She was suffering with toothache, but kept her trouble to herself; principally, because she had a great dread of the dentist’s instruments.