It was a pleasant surprise to Lucilla to find Grandma Elsie and Walter there, and to learn that they had come to stay several days. So it was easy to avoid being left alone with Captain Keith, and there was no more private talk between them. When the carriage drove up to take him to his train she was on the veranda with the others, and he shook hands with her in her turn, saying, “Good-bye, Miss Lu. I shall hope to hear from your father that you are well and happy.”
“Thank you; good-bye, and I wish you a safe journey,” she said in reply, but without lifting her eyes to his face.
Just as she was ready for bed her father came to her room to bid her good-night as he so often did.
Taking her in his arms and looking searchingly into her eyes, “Is there anything wrong with you—anything troubling you, daughter?” he asked tenderly.
“Yes, papa,” she said, colouring and dropping her eyes. “Oh, why did you let Captain Keith talk to me of—of love, when you have so often told me I was much too young to even think of such things?”
“Well, dear child,” he said, “I knew it would be risking little or nothing, as I was certain I had too large a place in your heart to leave any room for him, but it seemed the only way to thoroughly convince him of that was to let him try to push himself in there. And he did try?”
“Yes, papa; and when I told him you had forbidden me to listen to such things, he said you had given him leave to speak about it to me; and that surprised me more than his speaking. You didn’t want me to say yes, father?”
“No, daughter; no, indeed! I should not have let him speak if I had not been very sure that my dear child loved me too well to leave me for him or anybody else.”
“Oh, I am so glad!” she exclaimed with a sigh of relief and laying her head down on his breast, “though I couldn’t believe that my dear father wanted to be rid of me, or felt willing that I should love anybody else better than I love him.”
“No, dear daughter, you need never be afraid of that. But, now, good-night. Go at once to your bed, for you are looking very weary.”
She obeyed, slept sweetly and peacefully till her usual hour for rising, and, as was her usual custom, joined her father in a stroll about the grounds before the breakfast hour.
“How would you and Grace like to have your friends Eva and Sydney here for a few days, daughter?” he asked as they paced along side by side.
“Oh, I think it would be very pleasant, papa!” she answered in a joyous tone. “I know Gracie would like it, and I think Sydney would, too. Eva always does. I believe she loves you almost as well as if you were her father as well as ours.”
“Ah! that is pleasant news for me,” he said with a smile. “I am fond of her, too, though, of course, not with just the fondness I feel for my own children.”