“Susie, I have made three appeals to your father during the year past; each time finding him, if possible, more determined to oppose our happiness. I will never humiliate myself again, and he will never yield. Now what will you do?”
“Wait, hope and pray. I can do nothing more,” Susie answered, in a tearful voice.
“Yes, Susie, darling, you can, and secure our immediate happiness. You can come with me, be my own true wife, love.”
“No—no—no. I cannot. I should not secure our happiness. I should be miserable, and make you so.”
“Then I have nothing more to hope for. He will not give you to me, and you will not come. Oh, Susie, how can you send me off? You know you are all the world to me! If I lose you, I lose everything. I am alone in the world. There are many loved ones to comfort your father, until he comes to his better nature and calls you back to his heart. Susie, am I to leave you forever?”
The beautiful dark eyes were looking into his, filled with so much love. How could she resist?
“No—no. I shall die, if you leave me—never to come again! Oh, what am I to do? I love you better than my own life, Frank, indeed I do! But, father—oh, how can I desert him? He loves me more than the other children. I am the oldest, his first child, and so like what mother was. That is why he loves me so. And now she has gone, I should stay—”
“And break your heart and mine, too, Susie?”
“If I thought, Frank, you would not mind it very long—”
“You would give me up! And, in time, get into your father’s way of thinking, and end by marrying the man he wants you to,” Frank said, withdrawing his arm and turning away with a great sigh.
“Oh, Frank, how can you talk to me so?”
“Well, Susie, it is useless prolonging our sorrow. I had better say good-by, and go forever.”
“No, no, Frank, dear love. Oh! what am I to do?”
“Be happy, my own, and make me so. Be my wife before I return to W—–. Go with me. Susie, your mother loved me. I know, if here, she would plead for me.”
“Yes, she loved you, and perhaps in her blessed home she will pity me, and win for me forgiveness, alike from heavenly as earthly father, if longer my heart cannot resist my love,” Susie sobbed, dropping her golden head on her lover’s bosom and promising all he wished.
“The last night at home,” she said. “On the morrow I must go forth, to return no more, the loving, dutiful child. Should he ever consent to have me come back, I can never be again what I once was to his heart. I shall have broken the trust he held in me,” Susie moaned.
Tenderly the brother and sister were ministered to, her hand resting on each little head, as their lisping voices followed hers in the evening prayer. Willie and Emma arose, their demure faces lifted to receive the good-night kiss. But Rosie, the two-and-a-half-year baby, the dying mother’s sacred charge, wound her tiny arms about the elder sister, and with baby-like perversity hung on, lisping: