“There, Gracie, you needn’t be the least bit afraid you’re to be punished any more,” remarked Lulu. “They’d never have sent us such a supper as this if they wanted to punish us.”
“Do you want to run away from them now?” asked Gracie. “Do you think Grandpa Dinsmore is so very, very cross to us?”
“He’s too hard on Max,” returned Lulu, “though not so hard as he used to be on Grandma Elsie when she was his own little girl; and perhaps papa would be just as hard as he is with Max.”
“But ’tisn’t ’cause they like to make us sorry, except for being naughty, so that we’ll grow up good, you know,” said Grace. “I’m sure our dear papa loves us, every one, and wouldn’t ever make us sorry except just to make us good. And you know we can’t be happy here, or go to heaven when we die, if we’re not good.”
“Yes, I know,” said Lulu; “I’m not a bit happy when I’m angry and stubborn, but for all that I can’t help it.”
“Happy in this, she is not
yet so old
But she may learn.”
Violet, meeting her grandfather on the way to the supper-room, gave him an anxious, troubled inquiring look, which he answered by a brief statement, given in an undertone, of what had just passed between himself and Max and Lulu.
“All of them!” sighed the young stepmother to herself, “all three of them at once! Ah me!”
Though Mr. Dinsmore had spoken low, both his daughter and Zoe had heard nearly all he said, and as they sat down to the table the one looked grieved and distressed, the other angry.
During the meal Zoe never once addressed Mr. Dinsmore, and when he spoke to her she answered as briefly as possible, and not in a very pleasant or respectful tone.
Edward noticed it, and looked at her in displeased surprise; then, becoming aware of the absence of the Raymonds, asked, “Where are Max, Lulu, and Gracie?”
He had not heard the story of their disgrace, having come to the supper-room a little later than the others, and directly from his own.
For a moment the question, addressed to no one in particular, remained unanswered; then Mr. Dinsmore said, “Max and Lulu are in disgrace. I know nothing about Gracie, but presume she is not feeling well enough to come down.”
Zoe darted an angry glance at him.
Violet looked slightly relieved. She had not spoken at all of Gracie’s wrongdoing, and did not want any one to know of it.
“I may send the children their supper, grandpa?” she said inquiringly, with a pleading look.
“Do just as you please about it,” he answered. “Of course I would not have growing children go fasting for any length of time; certainly not all night, for that would be to the injury of their health; and I leave it to you to decide how luxurious their meal shall be.”
“Thank you, grandpa,” she said, and at once gave the requisite order.