When she recovered, her mother folded her in her arms, and her sisters embraced her with tenderness and tears. Her father then gently caught her hand in his, and said with much affection:
“Jane, my child, you are ill. Why not have told us so?”
The beautiful girl knelt before him for a moment, but again rose up, and hiding her head in his bosom, exclaimed—weeping—
“Papa, bless me, oh, bless me, and forgive me.”
“I do; I do,” said the old man; and as he spoke a few large tears trickled down his cheeks, and fell upon her golden locks.
It is a singular fact, but one which we know to be true, that not only the affection of parents, but that of brothers and sisters, goes down with greater tenderness to the youngest of the family, all other circumstances being equal. This is so universally felt and known, that it requires no further illustration from us. At home, Jane Sinclair was loved more devotedly in consequence of being the most innocent and beautiful of her father’s children; in addition to this, however, she was cherished with that peculiar sensibility of attachment by which the human heart is always swayed towards its youngest and its last.
On witnessing her father’s tenderness, she concealed her face in his bosom, and wept for some time in silence, and by a gentle pressure of her delicate arms, as they encircled his neck, intimated her sense of his affectionate indulgence towards her; and perhaps, could it have been understood, a tacit acknowledgment of her own unworthiness on that occasion to receive it.
At length, she said, after an effort to suppress her tears, “Papa, I will go to bed.”
“Do, my love; and Jane, forget not to address the Throne of God before you sleep.”
“I did not intend to neglect it, papa. Mamma, come with me.” She then kissed her sisters and bade good-night to William; after which she withdrew, accompanied by her mother, whilst the eyes of those who remained were fixed upon her with love and pride and admiration.
“Mamma,” said she, when they reached the apartment, “allow me to sleep alone tonight.”
“Jane, your mind appears to be depressed, darling,” replied her mother; “has anything disturbed you, or are you really ill?”
“I am quite well, mamma, and not at all depressed; but do allow me to sleep in the closet bed.”
“No, my dear, Agnes will sleep there, and you can sleep in your own as usual; the poor girl will wonder why you leave her, Jane; she will feel so lonely, too.”
“But, mamma, it would gratify me very much, at least for this night. I never wished to sleep away from Agnes before; and I am certain she will excuse me when she knows I prefer it.”
“Well, my love, of course Jean have no objection; I only fear you are not so well as you imagine yourself. At all events, Jane, remember your father’s advice to pray to God; and remember this, besides, that from me at least you ought to have no secrets. Good-night, dear, and may the Lord take care of you!”