The two gentlemen were in animated conversation, to which Zoe was a silent and absorbed listener, especially when her husband spoke; eagerly drinking in every word that fell from his lips; her face glowing, her eyes sparkling with proud delight.
“Look at Zoe; Ned certainly has one devoted admirer,” remarked Elsie, regarding her young sister-in-law with a pleased yet half-amused smile.
“Yes,” said Violet, “he is a perfect oracle in her esteem; and I believe everything she does is right in his eyes; indeed, their mutual devotion is a pretty thing to see. They are scarcely ever apart.”
“Don’t you think your husband an oracle?” asked Elsie, with a quizzical look.
“So you have found that out already, have you?” laughed Violet. “Yes, I do, but then he is wiser than our Ned, you know. Tell me now, don’t you admire him? don’t you think him worthy of all honor?”
“I do, indeed, and am proud to have him for a brother-in-law,” Elsie said with earnest sincerity; “but,” she added with a smile, “I prefer Lester for a husband.”
“Yes, of course, but Levis is the best of husbands—of fathers, too.”
“Rather more strict and stern than ours was, is he not?”
“Yes, but not more so than necessary with a child of Lulu’s peculiar disposition.”
“Ah, Vi, I pity you for being a stepmother,” Elsie said, with a compassionate look at her sister.
“You needn’t,” returned Violet quickly.
“Lulu is the only one of the three that gives me any anxiety or trouble, and to be Captain Raymond’s wife more than compensates for that.”
“I suppose so. And Gracie is a dear little thing.”
“Yes, she’s a darling. And Max is a noble fellow. I hope he will make just such a man as his father. Don’t you think he resembles the captain in looks?”
“Yes, and I notice he is very chivalrous in his manner toward his young stepmother.”
“Yes,” Violet said, with a happy smile, “and more or less to all ladies; but especially those of this family. He is like his father in that. Zoe is, I think, a particular favorite with him.”
Evidently Zoe had overheard the remark, for she turned in their direction with a bright look and smile; then springing up came quickly toward them, and taking possession of a low chair near at hand, “Was it Max you were talking of, Violet?” she said. “Yes, indeed, I am fond of him. I think he’s a splendid boy. But what was wrong with him to-night?”
“Nothing, so far as I know,” said Violet “Why do you think there was?”
“Because he was so unusually quiet; and then his father took him away so early. Ah, here comes the captain now,” as the door opened and Captain Raymond entered; “so I’ll go away and let you have him to yourself.”
“You needn’t,” said Violet, but Zoe was already by Edward’s side again.
Elsie, too, rose and went to her mother to ask if she were not weary of holding the babe.