“This is my house,” she said, “but my father is the head of the family, and without his approval I should never have asked you and your sisters here, much as I desire your happiness, and fond of you as I certainly am.”
“You are very, very good to us!” he exclaimed with warmth; “you do so much for us! I wish I could do something for you!”
“Do you, my dear boy?” she said, smiling and softly patting his hand, which she had taken in hers; “then be respectful and obedient to my father. And to your mamma—my dear daughter. Nothing else could give me so much pleasure.”
“I love Mamma Vi!” exclaimed Max. ’I’m sure there couldn’t be a sweeter lady. And I like Grandpa Dinsmore, too, but—don’t you think now he’s very strict and ready to punish a fellow for a mere trifle, Grandma Elsie?”
“I dare say it seems but a trifle to you for a boy of your age to go into town and do an errand for himself without asking leave,” she replied, “but that might lead to much worse things; the boy might take to loitering about the town and fall into bad company and so be led into I know not what wickedness. For that reason parents and guardians should know all about a boy’s comings and goings.”
“That’s so, Grandma Elsie,” Max said reflectively. “I don’t mean to get into bad company ever, but papa says I’m a heedless fellow, so perhaps I might do it before I thought. I’ll try to keep to rules after this.”
“I hope so, for both your own sake and ours,” she said; then with a motherly kiss bade him good-night.
“O jealousy! thou merciless destroyer,
More cruel than the grave! what ravages
Does thy wild war make in the noblest bosoms!”
Edward stretched himself beside Zoe, but not to sleep for hours, for ever and anon she drew a sobbing breath that went to his very heart.
“Poor little thing!” he sighed, “I must have acted like a brute to grieve her so deeply, I should not have undertaken the care of a child who I knew had been spoiled by unlimited petting and indulgence, if I could not be more forbearing and tender with her. If, instead of a show of authority, I had tried reasoning and coaxing, doubtless the result would have been very different, and she would have been saved all this. I am ashamed of myself! Grandpa might possibly have acted so toward a wife, but my father never, I am sure.”
He was really very fond of his little wife, loving her with a protecting love as something peculiarly his own, to be guided and moulded to suit his ideas and wishes, so that she might eventually become the perfectly congenial companion, capable of understanding and sympathizing in all his views and feelings, which he desired, but found that she was not yet.
He began to fear she might never attain to that; that perhaps his sudden marriage was a mistake that would ruin the happiness of both for life.