“If he does, just remind him of the exact terms of the answer you gave him at West Point,” returned Violet in playful tones. “But now I think it is time for us to retire; do not you?” releasing herself from his embrace and rising to her feet as she spoke.
“Yes,” he said, “I would not have my wife miss her beauty sleep.”
Lucilla was in bed but not asleep. She had retired to her room when the guests went to theirs, and without a formal good-night to her father, trusting to his coming to her there for a few moment’s chat, as he almost always did. But he had not come, and she felt sorely disappointed. It was a beautiful, luxuriously furnished room, this bed chamber of hers—the view from its windows, a lovely one of carefully kept grounds, cultivated fields, woods, and streams; all looking their loveliest just now as seen by the silver light of the moon, which shone in upon her through rich lace curtains, gently wafted to and fro by the summer breeze as it came in laden with the sweet scent of flowers from the garden below.
“What a sweet, lovely home I have! Oh, how much to be thankful for! good health, kind friends, and such a dear father!” she said half aloud; “but I want a good-night kiss and a word or two of fatherly affection, and it does seem as if I can’t go to sleep without it. Oh, dear! can it be that he is displeased with me about anything? I am not conscious of having done anything he would disapprove.”
“Nor have you, so far as I know, daughter mine,” said a pleasant voice close at her side, while a hand was laid tenderly on her head.
“Oh, papa!” she cried joyously, starting up to a sitting posture as she spoke. “I did not know you were there—did not hear you come in; but I am so glad you have come!”
“Are you?” he asked, seating himself on the side of the bed and drawing her into his arms. “Well, daughter, it is only for a moment, to bid you good-night, as usual, and see that you are in need of nothing. Tell me, are all your wants supplied?”
“Yes, sir; now that I have my father here to give me his good-night kiss and blessing. Ah! papa dear, I do not know how I could ever live away from you again. I am so glad you no longer have to go sailing away over the ocean, leaving your children behind.”
“I am glad of it, too,” he returned, “but I sometimes fear that the day may come when my dear eldest daughter will want to leave me for a home with someone else.”
“Indeed, father dear, you need not have the slightest fear of that,” she said, laying her head against his breast with a low, happy laugh. “I am sure there isn’t in the wide world any other man whom I could love half so well as I do you. I am just as glad to belong to you now as ever I was.”
“And don’t want me to give you away?”
“No, no, indeed!” she cried with energy. “Oh, papa! you surely are not thinking of such a thing? You have said, over and over again, that you would not,—at least not for years yet,—even if I wanted you to.”