Her father met her with a kiss and clasp of the hand even warmer than usual.
“Well, General!” he said, in a voice which insisted upon being cheery, “marching orders, eh? Marching orders! Break up camp! boot, saddle, to horse and away! Forces to march in different directions, by order of the commander-in-chief.” But the next moment he added, in an altered tone: “My girl, mamma knows best; remember that! She is right in this move, as she generally is. Cheer up, darling, and let us make the last evening a happy one!”
Hilda tried to smile, for who could be angry with papa? She made a little effort, and the father and mother made a great one,—how great she could not know; and so the evening passed, better than might have been expected.
The evening passed, and the night, and the next day came; and it was like waking from a strange dream when Hilda found herself in a railway train, with her father sitting beside her, and her mother’s farewell kiss yet warm on her cheek, speeding over the open country, away from home and all that she held most dear. Her dressing-bag, with her umbrella neatly strapped to it, was in the rack overhead, the check for her trunk in her pocket. Could it all be true? She tried to listen while her father told her of the happy days he had spent on his grandfather’s farm when he was a boy; but the interest was not real, and she found it hard to fix her mind on what he was saying. What did she care about swinging on gates, or climbing apple-trees, or riding unruly colts! She was not a boy, nor even a tomboy. When he spoke of the delights of walking in the country through woodland and meadow, her thoughts strayed to Fifth Avenue, with its throng of well-dressed people, the glittering equipages rolling by, the stately houses on either side, through whose shining windows one caught glimpses of the splendors within; and to the Park, with its shady alleys and well-kept lawns. Could there be any walking so delightful as that which these afforded? Surely not! Ah! Madge and Helen were probably just starting for their walk now. Did they know of her banishment? would they laugh at the thought of Queen Hildegardis vegetating for three months at a wretched—
“Glenfield!” The brakeman’s voice rang clear and sharp through the car. Hilda started, and seized her father’s hand convulsively.
“Papa!” she whispered, “O papa! don’t leave me here; take me home! I cannot bear it!”
“Come, my child!” said Mr. Graham, speaking low, and with an odd catch in his voice; “that is not the way to go into action. Remember, this is your first battle. So, eyes front! charge bayonets! quick step! forward, march!”