He then took Jean’s hand and placed it where his own had been, and clasped them together.
“May God bless you both,” he said, “and may you be true to each other.”
“We shall,” Dane fervently declared, “while the grass grows, the sun shines, and the water flows.”
SEEDS OF EMPIRE
Supper was ready and waiting in a cosy room in a well-built house situated in one of the most beautiful spots on the St. John River. The table had been laid with care, and the light from the bright open fire-place cast its soft flickering glow upon the spotless linen and well-arranged dishes. A colored woman, a worthy successor to Old Mammy, entered and lighted the tapers in the seven-branched candle-stick which had once adorned Thomas Norman’s lonely cabin. A smile illumined her face as she looked into an adjoining room where a woman was seated before another fire, surrounded by three children.
If was Christmas Eve, and Jean Norman was resting after the work of the day. In fact, she had been exceptionally busy for several days, so it was pleasant to sit in the big, comfortable chair awaiting Dane’s arrival from the city.
Jean had changed but little since that night, seventeen years before, when she had come back to her father, as if from the grave. The years had dealt lightly with her, and except for the passing of her father and Old Mammy, her life had been very happy. Two boys and a girl had come to gladden the home, and as these gathered about her on this Christmas Eve, her eyes shone with pride. James, the eldest, aged twelve, had his father’s manly bearing. Ruth, almost nine, resembled herself, while Tommy, just six, was a combination of both. As Jean watched them, she thought of that other Christmas when she had returned to her father. She glanced at his picture over the mantel, and as old memories rushed upon her, tears dimmed her eyes. She hastily wiped them away, but not before Ruth had detected her emotion.
“You mustn’t cry on Christmas Eve, Mummy,” she said, as she came and put her arms about her mother’s neck.
“I wasn’t really crying, dear,” Jean replied with a smile. “I was just thinking; that was all.”
“About grandad, and the time you were stolen away?” James asked. “Won’t you tell us about it?”
“But I have told you that so often, you must be tired of hearing it.”
“We’re never tired of it, Mummy,” Ruth said. “Please tell us while we’re waiting for daddy.”
With Tommy on her lap, James sitting at her feet, and Ruth seated on a small stool by her side, Jean again related the story of the little settlement in the wilderness, the coming of the rangers, how she was carried off at night, and her rescue by Sam and Kitty. She told the story well, and when she had ended there was silence for a few minutes. The three little ones were lost in deep thought, for everything they had heard was very real to them.