“My boy, and my little girl, there is nothing else I so earnestly desire for you as that you may be His true and faithful servants all your days, His in time and eternity.”
A solemn silence fell on the little group, and for several minutes no one spoke.
Lulu was crying softly, and there were tears in Max’s eyes, while the father held both in a close embrace.
At length Lulu murmured, “I am sorry for all my naughtiness, papa, and do mean to try very hard to be good.”
“I, too,” said Max, struggling with his emotion, “and if you think I deserve (oh, I know I do), and, papa, if you think you ought to——”
“You have had your punishment, my son,” the captain said in a moved tone. “I consider it all sufficient. And now we will go down to Mamma Vi and Gracie. I want you all together, that I may enjoy you all at once and as much as possible for the short time that I can be with you.
“But before we go, I have a word more to say: there is one thing about you both that greatly comforts and encourages me, my darlings; that is your truthfulness, your perfect openness with me and willingness to acknowledge your faults.”
Those concluding words brought a flush of joy and love to each young face as they were lifted to his. He gave a hearty kiss to Lulu, then to Max, and led them from the room, a very happy pair.
“One sacred oath has tied
Our loves; one destiny our life shall guide,
Nor wild, nor deep, our common way divide.”
Edward sat at the open window of his wife’s boudoir enjoying the beauties of the landscape—the verdant lawn and shrubberies, the smiling fields and wooded hills beyond—the sweet morning breeze and the matin songs of the birds, while Zoe in the adjoining room put the finishing touches to her toilet.
She came to him presently, very simply dressed in white, looking sweet and fresh as a rose just washed with dew, and seated herself upon his knee.
“Darling!” he said, low and tenderly, putting his arm about her slender waist and imprinting a kiss upon the rosy cheek.
“My dear, dear husband! what could I ever do without you; how desolate I should be this day, if I hadn’t you to love and care for me!” she said with a sob, stealing an arm around his neck and laying her cheek to his. “You know—you cannot have forgotten—that it is just one year to-day since dear papa died.”
“Think what a blessed year it has been to him, love; think what a happy meeting with him in that blessed land you may look forward to. There, death-divided friends will meet never to part again, free from sin and sorrow, pain and care, and to be ‘forever with the Lord.’
“No; I have not forgotten what this day one year ago took from you, or what it gave to me—my heart’s best treasure.”