“Do you think I shall get over my awe of him?” She half laughed, but her tone was sincere. “I’m so unused to people who never smile and seem to be enduring me. Oh, if you were only going to stay, too, Harry, then it would be a vacation indeed!”
“Here, here! Where are your principles? Who’s afraid now?”
“But he’s so stately and forbidding, and I shall feel such a responsibility of keeping Jewel from troubling him.”
Harry laughed again. “She seems entirely capable of paddling her own canoe. She didn’t seem troubled by doubts or compunctions in the carriage last night; and up there in the bedroom when she flew at him! How was that for a case of lese majeste? Gad, at her age I’d sooner have tackled a lighted fuse! What do you suppose it was she whispered to him?”
“I’ve no idea, and I must say I was curious enough to ask her while I was putting her to bed; but do you know, she wouldn’t say!” The mother laughed. “She sidled about,—you know how she does when she is reluctant to speak, and seemed so embarrassed that I have to laugh when I think of it.”
“Perhaps it concerned some surprise she has persuaded father to give us.”
“No, it couldn’t be that, because she answered at last that she’d tell me when she was a young lady.”
They both laughed. “Well,” said Harry, “she isn’t afraid of him so you’d notice it; and you can give her a few pointers so she needn’t get in father’s way now that she has you again. He has evidently been mighty considerate of the little orphan.”
“How good he has been!” returned Julia fervently. “If we could only go home with you, Harry,” she added wistfully, “while there’s so much good feeling, and before anything happens to alter it!”
“Where are your principles?” asked Harry again. “You know better than to think anything will happen to alter it.”
“Yes, I do, I do; but I always have to meet my shyness of strangers, and it makes my heart beat to think of your going off and leaving me here. Being tete-a-tete with your father is appalling, I must confess.”
“Oh, well, it wouldn’t do to slight his offer, and it will do you a world of good.”
“You’ll have to send me my summer gowns.”
“Dear me, am I really going to do it?” asked Julia incredulously.
“Certainly you are. We’d be imbecile not to accept such an opportunity.”
“Then,” she answered resignedly, “if it is fact and not a wild fancy, we have a lot of business to talk over, Harry. Let us make the most of our time while Jewel is asleep.”
She led the way back to the chairs, and they were soon immersed in memoranda and discussion.
THE LIFTED VEIL
At last their plans were reduced to order and Harry placed the papers carefully in his pocket.