JOY AT EVENTIDE
It was early that evening as Jess kissed her father and advised him to go to sleep at once.
“You are tired, daddy, after the excitement of the day, so you need a good long rest.”
“I suppose I do,” was the reply. “But it will be somewhat hard to get to sleep after the events of the afternoon. Isn’t it wonderful, Jess, what a change has come over your mother? I never saw anything like it.”
“A great burden has been lifted from her mind, that’s the reason. And, daddy, you forgive me for what I did?”
“Certainly, dear, certainly. But I am not your father any longer, remember.”
“Oh, yes you are,” and the girl smiled. “Just behave as you have since your accident, and I wouldn’t change you for any man I know.”
“Be careful, be careful what you say, Jess. I am not altogether blind and deaf.”
A rich flush overspread the girl’s cheeks, and her eyes sparkled as she turned them upon her father’s face. She understood the meaning of his words.
“I want you always as my father,” she replied; “that is what I mean. But, there, you cannot get to sleep if I stay here and chatter.”
“Where are you going, Jess?”
“Over to see how Eben is getting along.”
“That is good. And you will tell him what we were talking about this afternoon, will you not? I hope he will agree to my plan.”
“I believe he will, daddy, and I am so glad you are going to do something for him. He is a fine boy, and we owe him much for what he did at Island Lake.”
Giving her father another kiss, Jess hurried downstairs and found John waiting for her upon the verandah. It was a beautiful evening, calm and mild. The western sky was aglow with the glory of departing day, and the shades of night were slowly stealing over the land. The two spoke but little as they walked, slowly across the field toward the Tobin house. It was the first time they had been alone since they had heard the wonderful news that afternoon under the apple tree. They longed to speak about it, and yet a natural reserve restrained them. They both felt that the time had now arrived when the great question must be decided, and this thought affected their free and easy manner of the past. But they were happy in each other’s company, so words were unnecessary.
They found Eben lying in an invalid’s chair upon the verandah, with the captain sitting by his side. He was still very weak, and the marks of the burns were visible upon his face. He smiled as the visitors drew near and sat down upon the steps. His old jealousy and animosity toward John had disappeared.
“How are you feeling this evening?” Jess asked.
“Somewhat better, I guess,” was the reply.
“He’s a great deal better, Miss,” the captain declared. “I’m merely judgin’ by the way he eats, fer that’s allus a sure sign with Eben of jist how he’s feeling.”