“You may look at the record in the family Bible the next time you visit Woodburn, if you care to,” Lucilla said, with a careless little toss of her head. “Yon will find the date of my birth there in papa’s handwriting, from which your knowledge of arithmetic will enable you to compute my present age.”
“Thank you,” he said, laughing, but with a look of slight embarrassment, “I am entirely satisfied with the amount of knowledge I already possess on that subject.”
“Ah, what subject is that upon which you are so well informed, Chester?” queried Captain Raymond pleasantly, overhearing the last remark, and turning toward the young couple.
“Your daughter’s age, sir. I invited her to take a ride with me upon the lagoon, in one of those electrical launches; but find she is but a young thing and cannot leave her father.”
“Ah?” laughed the captain, “then suppose we all go together.”
“Willingly, sir, if that will suit her better,” answered Chester, turning enquiringly to Lucilla.
“I think nothing could be pleasanter,” she said, and the others being of like opinion, they were presently gliding over the waters of the lagoon intensely enjoying the swift easy movement and the fairylike scenes through which they were passing.
It was late when at last all the Dolphin’s passengers were gathered in. The party to which the Raymonds belonged were the first, the young men who had accompanied them in the electric launch bidding good-night at the Peristyle, and all had retired to their respective state-rooms before the coming of the others; all except the captain, who was pacing the deck while awaiting their arrival.
His thoughts seemed not altogether agreeable, for he walked with drooping head and downcast eyes and sighed rather heavily once or twice.
“Papa dear, what is the matter? Oh, have I done anything to vex or trouble you?” asked Lucilla’s voice close at his side.
“Why, daughter, are you there?” he exclaimed, turning toward her with a fatherly smile, then taking her hand and drawing her into his arms, stroking her hair, patting her cheeks, and pressing a fond kiss upon her lips. “No, I have no fault to find with my eldest daughter, and yet——” He paused, gazing searchingly and somewhat sadly into the bright young face.
“Oh, papa, what is it?” she asked, putting her arms about his neck and gazing with ardent affection and questioning anxiety up into his eyes. “You looked at me so strangely two or three times to-night, and I so feared you were displeased with me that I could not go to my bed without first coming to ask you about it, and get a kiss of forgiveness if I have displeased you in any way.”
“No, daughter, you have not displeased me, but—your father is so selfish,” he sighed, “that he can scarce brook the thought that someone else may some day oust him from the first place in his dear child’s heart.”