“Bless me, I believe that’s so!” laughed the old gentleman. “But tell me, Sylvia: ’Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or guide Arcturus with his sons?’”
Sylvia, with brightening eyes and a smile on her lips, answered:—
“Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”
“Ah, if only I could, Sylvia!” said the old minister, smiling gravely.
They came in high spirits to the parting of their ways and Sylvia kept on through the hedge to her grandfather’s cottage. The minister turned once, a venerable figure with snowy beard and hair, and beat the path softly with his stick and glanced back, as Sylvia’s red ribbon bobbed through the greenery.
“‘Whose daughter art thou?’” he murmured gently.
Then, glancing furtively about, he increased his gait as though to escape from his own thoughts; but the question asked of Bethuel’s daughter by Abraham’s servant came again to his lips, and he shook his head as he repeated:—
“Whose daughter art thou?”
SYLVIA GOES VISITING
“How old did you say you were, Sylvia?”
“I’m sixteen in October, grandpa,” answered Sylvia.
“Is it possible!” murmured the professor. “And to think that you’ve never been to school.”
“Why, I’ve been going to school every day, almost, ever since I can remember. And haven’t I had the finest teacher in the world, all to myself?”
His face brightened responsive to her laugh.
This was at the tea-table—for the Keltons dined at noon in conformity with local custom—nearly a week after the unsigned letter had been delivered to Andrew Kelton by the unknown messenger. Sylvia and her grandfather had just returned from a walk, prolonged into the cool dusk. They sat at the square walnut table, where they had so long faced each other three times a day. Sylvia had never doubted that their lives would go on forever in just this way,—that they would always be, as her grandfather liked to put it, “shipmates,” walking together, studying together, sitting as they sat now, at their simple meals, with just the same quaintly flowered dishes, the same oddly turned teapot, with its attendant cream pitcher (slightly cracked as to lip) and the sugar-bowl, with a laboring ship depicted in blue on its curved side, which was not related, even by the most remote cousinship, to anything else in the pantry.
Professor Kelton was unwontedly preoccupied to-night. Sylvia saw that he had barely touched his strawberries—their first of the season, though they were fine ones and the cream was the thickest. She folded her hands on the edge of the table and watched him gravely in the light of the four candles whose flame flared in the breeze that swept softly through the dining-room windows. Feeling her eyes upon him the old gentleman suddenly roused himself.