“I promise,” she said, “and,” imploringly, “O Ned, won’t you keep my secret? I couldn’t bear to have it known even in the family.”
“No more could I, love,” he answered; “and oh, but I am thankful that you were caught by the door and so prevented from carrying out your purpose!”
“So am I, and that it was my own dear husband, and not a burglar, as I feared, who found me there.”
“Ah, was that the cause of your fright?” he asked, with a look of relief and pleasure. “I thought it was your terror of your husband’s wrath that caused your faint. But, darling, you are looking weary and actually ill. You must go to bed at once.”
“I’ll obey you, this time and always,” she answered, looking up fondly into his face. “I am convinced now that I am only a foolish child in need of guidance and control, and who should provide them but you? I could hardly stand it from anybody else—unless mamma—but I’m sure that in future it will be a pleasure to take it from my own dear husband if—if only——” she paused, blushing and hiding her face on his breast.
“If what, love?”
“If only instead of ‘You must and shall,’ you will say kindly, ’I want you to do it to please me, Zoe.’”
“Sweet one,” he answered, holding her to his heart, “I do fully intend that it shall be always love and coaxing after this.”
“Our love, it ne’er was reckoned,
Yet good it is and true;
It’s half the world to me, dear,
It’s all the world to you.”
Edward was a trifle late in obeying the call to breakfast. He found the rest of the family already seated at the table, and great was the surprise created by his entrance.
“Why, how’s this? hae we all been sleepin’ a week or ten days?” exclaimed Mr. Lilburn. “The lad was to hae been absent that length o’ time, and I thought it was but yesterday he went; yet here he is!”
“This is an unexpected pleasure, my dear boy,” was his mother’s greeting.
The others said “Good-morning,” and all smilingly awaited an explanation.
“Good-morning to you all,” returned Edward, taking his seat. “Of course I have not had time to attend to the business matter that took me away; but the fact is, I found I could not do without my wife, so came back after her.”
“Where is she now?” asked his mother.
“I left her still in bed and asleep. I came home by the stage, found her awake—indeed, I think she said she had not slept at all—and kept her awake for some time talking——”
“So much to say after so lengthened a separation?” laughingly interrupted his grandfather.
“Yes, sir, a good deal,” Edward answered, coloring slightly. “So she has to make it up now, and I would not wake her.”
“Quite right,” said his mother. “Her breakfast shall be sent up whenever she is ready for it.”