“Not much; I could stand it very well,” he returned, giving her a hug and kiss. “But now I must leave you to go to bed and to sleep.”
There was a decided downpour of rain the next morning, but no one minded that very much, as the necessity for staying within doors gave time and opportunity for further arrangements in regard to Christmas and the gifts to be presented.
The captain kindly devoted an hour or more to helping his little girls to decide upon theirs and make out a list; Mr. Embury, and Molly and Isadore, who were intending to accompany him to the city, having kindly offered to make any purchases desired by the Viamede relatives.
At the same time the others, older and younger, were similarly engaged, and there were many little private chats as they gathered in twos and threes here and there about the veranda or in the rooms.
In the afternoon Violet invited the whole party to inspect the schoolroom, where some of the servants had been busy, under her direction, all the morning, giving it a thorough cleaning, draping the windows with fresh lace curtains, looped back with blue ribbons, and placing a desk for each expected pupil, and a neat table for the teacher.
Every one pronounced it a model schoolroom, some of the older people adding that it made them almost wish themselves young enough to again be busy with lessons and recitations.
“Where’s your ferule, Brother Levis?” asked Rosie, facetiously, after a close scrutiny of the table, not omitting its drawer.
“I think you have not made a thorough examination of the closet yet,” was his noncommittal reply.
“Oh, that’s where you keep it? I say girls——” in a loud whisper, perfectly audible to everyone in the room, “let’s carry it off before he has a chance to use it.”
“Hardly worth while, since it would be no difficult matter to replace it,” remarked the captain, with assumed gravity and sternness.
“Ah, then I suppose one may as well be resigned to circumstances,” sighed Rosie, following the others from the room.
“Papa, can I help you?” asked Lulu, seeing him seat himself at the table in the library, take out writing materials from its drawer, and dip a pen into the ink.
“No, thank you, daughter,” he replied. “I am going to write to Max.”
“Please tell him we are all ever so sorry he can’t be here to spend Christmas and New Year’s with us.”
“And he can’t have the pleasure of giving any gifts I suppose, as they allow him so little pocket money!”
“Dear boy! he shall not miss that pleasure entirely,” said the captain. “I am going now to write to him that I will set apart a certain sum for his use in the purchase of gifts for others. That is, he may tell me what he would like to give, and I will see that the articles are bought and distributed as he wishes.”