“That young fellow that came last night, sent his trunk up before coming himself. Saw him, didn’t you?”
Abbie shook her head. “I saw his trunk, but not him. Mr. Bressant, I think. You know him?”
“He’s going to study divinity with me. I take some interest in him, though he’s in an unsatisfactory condition just now; intellectual savagery, I should call it. I take it, his training has been at fault. Seems to have no social nor affectionate instincts. It would be a good thing to make him feel their value, to begin with.”
“I’ll make it as home-like for him as I can, Professor Valeyon.”
“Well, well! I meant to ask you to do it. It’ll be a new experience for him. He’s never known a mother since he was a baby, and his father was—well!”—the old man checked himself—“his father is just dead.” He seemed about to add something more in regard to the deceased gentleman, but forbore, glancing narrowly at Abbie, who looked only grave and thoughtful.
“How old is he? A boy?” she asked, presently.
“Boyish in some ways, but must be twenty-five or six, and looks older. A tall fellow, well made.”
“He might still be a son of mine,” said Abbie, with another dim smile, and a sigh. “Perhaps it would do me no harm to consider him as such. Would that satisfy you?”
“Just what I want!” exclaimed the professor heartily, and with heightened color. “Something can be made of him, I think,” he added; “but a great deal depends on the sort of treatment he eats and sleeps under. Well, you be motherly to him, Abbie. That’s all I have to ask. You will find good in it for yourself, too, as you say: more than you think, very likely.”
She sighed again, playing absently with her fingers upon her dark-colored dress, and gazing out of the window. Professor Valeyon said no more on the subject of Bressant, but spoke of Cornelia’s proposed trip, and the Fourth-of-July party, and Sophie’s convalescence; and finally took his straw-hat from the table upon which he had placed it, and moved toward the door.
“Good-by, Abbie. Remember”—the old gentleman paused, with her hand in his, and glowing upon her from beneath his bushy eyebrows; “remember you have friends about you who don’t need to be sought after. And another thing, Abbie; if you should ever find that Time has the power to liberate as well as to imprison you, don’t forget that some wants may exist a long while without finding expression, but that they do exist, for all that!”
Perhaps it was the consciousness that he was using rather grandiloquent language in the wording of this enigmatical little speech, that caused the good professor to look so red and embarrassed. Abbie drew her hand away, and laid her finger on her lip.
“Can you still say that?” asked she, with a sad kind of gleam in her eyes and voice.
“More than ever—more than ever!” declared he, with emphatic incoherence. And without more words he hurried down the steps, and in another minute was rattling rapidly homeward, astonishing Dolly herself by the speed which he encouraged her to put forth.