Charlotte had followed her father and aunt up-stairs that night, starting up softly like a shadow from her place in the hall. She went silently behind them until they reached the open door of Anna’s room; then her father turned and saw her.
“You here, Charlotte?” he said.
“Yes, papa,” replied Charlotte, turning a pitiful but altogether stanch little face up to his.
He put his arm around her, drew her head against his shoulder, tipped up her face, and kissed her. “Go to bed now, darling,” he whispered.
“Papa, I can’t; I—”
“There is nothing you can do, sweetheart; there is nothing for you to worry about. Papa will take care of you always, whatever happens. Go to bed now, and go to sleep, honey.”
“But, papa, I can’t sleep. Let me stay and—”
“No, dear. There is nothing you can do. It will only worry me to have you stay. Go to bed, and put all this out of your mind. It will all come right in the end.”
Carroll kissed Charlotte again, and put her gently from him, and she disappeared in her own room with a suppressed sob.
“I am glad Ina is out of the way,” Anna said, but with no bitterness.
“So am I,” Carroll agreed, simply.
“I wish Charlotte had as good a man to look out for her,” said Anna.
Carroll straightened himself with quick pride. “I shall look out for her,” he said. “You need not think I am quite out of the running yet, when it comes to looking out for my own flesh and blood.”
“No, of course you are not, Arthur. I did not mean to imply any such thing,” Anna rejoined, hastily. “I was only— Come into my room. Amy is fast asleep by this time, and if she is not she has a headache, and you might as well try to consult with an infant in arms as Amy with a headache. And something has to be done.”
“Yes, you are right, Anna,” Carroll replied, with a heavy sigh.
“Those people will all go when they get tired of waiting. There is no use in our bothering with them any more to-night. Come in.”
Anna led the way into her room, and closed the door. A lamp burned dimly on the dresser amid a confusion of laces and ribbons. The whole room looked in a soft foam of dainty disorder. Anna did not turn the light up. She stood looking at her brother in the half-light, and her face was at once angry and tender.
“Well?” said she, with a sigh of desperate inquiry.
“Well?” rejoined Carroll.
“The Lord knows!”
“Something has to be done. We are up against a dead wall again. And for some reason it strikes me as a deader wall than ever before.”
“We cannot stay in Banbridge any longer?” Anna said, interrogatively.
“We may have to,” Carroll replied, curtly.