And Professor Valeyon well knew that what time his daughters departed to visit the outer world was likely to be the beginning of a longer journey than to Boston or New York. They were attractive, and, it was to be supposed, liable to be attracted; he would not be so weak as to imagine that their love for their father could long remain supreme. But this old man, who had kept abreast of the learning of the world, and was scarred with many a bruise and stab received during his life’s journey; who had filled a pulpit, too, and preached Christian humility to his fellow townspeople, had yet so much human heat and pride glowing like embers in his old heart as to feel strong within him a bitter jealousy and sense of wrong toward whatever young upstarts should intrude themselves, and venture to brag of a love for his flesh and blood which might claim precedence over his own. Doubtless the feeling was unworthy of him, and he would, when the time came, play his part generously and well; but, so long as the matter was purely imaginary, we may allow him some natural ebullition of feeling.
So powerful, indeed, was the effect produced upon Professor Valeyon by the succession and conflict of gloomy and painful emotions, that he laid down his black clay-pipe upon the broad arm of the easy-chair, and began to search in all directions for his handkerchief: indulging himself meanwhile with the base reflection that as there was no present probability of depriving himself of his daughters, that ceremony must, for a time at least, be postponed. While yet the handkerchief-hunt was in full cry, the professor’s ears caught the rattle and flap of the opening gate, and following it the quick, vigorous tap of small boot-heels upon the marble flagstones. Next came a light, rustling spring up the creaking porch-steps, and ere the old gentleman could get his head far enough over his knees to see down the entry, a fresh-looking young woman appeared smiling in the door-way, dressed in a tawny summer-suit, and holding up in one hand a long, slender envelop, sealed with a conspicuous monogram, and stamped with the New York post-mark.
Signs of A thunder-shower.
Before the delivery of the letter, a very pretty little ceremony took place. The professor had stretched forth his hand to receive it, when, by a sudden turn of the wrist and arm, the young lady whisked it out of his reach and behind her back, and in place of it brought down her fresh, sweet face with its fragrant mouth to within two inches of his own wrinkled and bristly visage. A moment after, the ceremony was completed, the letter delivered, and the postman, stepping over her father’s fallen slipper, leaned against the balcony-railing, and waited for further developments.