Some such quality of earthiness Cornelia may have felt in the course of her acquaintance with Bressant, preventing her love from ennobling and elevating her. Alas! if it were so. If she cannot draw a high inspiration from the affection which must be her loftiest sentiment, what shall be her safeguard, and who her champion?
In the course of ten days or a fortnight, Aunt Margaret announced that the condition of her head would admit of traveling, and the long-expected tour began. But the more important consequences of Cornelia’s fashionable experiences had already taken place.
Sophie did not stay long in the invalid’s room after the awakening they had undergone with respect to one another. She went instinctively to her father’s study, and, entering the open door, kissed the old man ere he was well aware of her presence. He took her affectionately upon his knee, and hugged her up to him with homely tenderness.
“My precious little daughter!” quoth he; “what would your old father do without you?”
“Am I so much to you, papa?” asked she, with her cheek resting upon his shoulder.
“Very much—very much, Sophie: too much, perhaps; for I don’t see how I could bear to lose you.”
“Do you mean to have me die, papa?”
“How is your sick boy getting along?” returned the professor, clearing his throat, and not seeming to hear his daughter’s words.
Sophie caught a breath, and paled a little at the thought of the news she had to tell about the sick boy. Her father had just told her she was precious to him, and she felt that to be married might involve a separation virtually as complete as that of death, and perhaps harder to bear. But, again, she needed his sympathy and approval: and, sooner or later, he must hear the truth. She was not, perhaps, aware that etiquette should have closed her lips upon the subject until after Bressant had spoken to the professor; at all events, she had no intention of delegating or postponing her confidence.
“He seemed quite well when I left him. I have been having a—talk with him, papa.”
“He begins to show the effects of being talked to by you, my dear. You’re a wise little woman in some ways, that’s certain! and have done him good in more ways than one,” said papa, with parental complacency.