“No, indeed, papa!” she exclaimed, creeping closer into his embrace, “because I know that when you have to punish me in any way it makes you very, very sorry.”
“It does indeed!” he responded.
“Papa,” she sighed, “I’m always dreadfully sorry and ashamed after one of my times of being disobedient, wilful, and ill-tempered, and I am really thankful to you for taking so much pains and trouble to make a better girl of me.”
“I don’t doubt it, daughter,” he answered; “it is a long while now since I have had any occasion to punish you, and your conduct has rarely called for even so much as a reproof.”
She gave him a glad, grateful look, an embrace of ardent affection, then, laying her cheek to his, “You dear, dear papa, you have made me feel very happy,” she said, “and I’m sure I am much happier than I should be if you had let me go on indulging my bad temper and wilfulness. Oh, it’s so nice to be able to run to my dear father whenever I want to, and always to be so kindly received that I can’t feel any doubt that he loves me dearly. Ah, how I pity poor Maxie that he can’t see you for weeks or months!”
“And don’t you pity papa a little that he can’t see Maxie?” he asked, with a smile and a sigh.
“Oh, yes! yes indeed! I’m so sorry for you, papa, and I mean to do all I can to supply his place. What do you suppose Maxie is doing just now, papa?”
“Doubtless he is in his room preparing his lessons for to-morrow. The bugle-call for evening study-hour sounds at half-past seven, and the lads must be busy with their books till half-after nine.”
He drew out his watch, and glancing at its face, “Ah, it is just nine o’clock,” he said. “Kiss me good-night, daughter, and go back to your berth.”
Max was in his room at the Academy, busy with his tasks, trying determinately to forget homesickness by giving his whole mind to them, and succeeding fairly well. Very desirous, very determined was the lad to acquit himself to the very best of his ability that he might please and honor both his Heavenly Father and his earthly one.
By the time the welcome sound of gun-fire and tattoo announced that the day’s work was over he felt fully prepared for the morrow’s recitations. But he was in no mood for play. The quiet that had reigned through the building for the last two hours was suddenly broken in upon by sounds of mirth and jollity—merry boyish voices talking, singing, some accompanying themselves with the twang of a banjo or the tinkle of a guitar; but Max, closing and putting his book aside, kept his seat, his elbow on the desk, his head on his hand, while with a far-away look in his dark eyes, he indulged in a waking dream.