“Well,” exclaimed Lulu, “Max used his talent to do good that time. Didn’t he, papa?”
“He did, indeed,” replied the captain. “I hope that poor horse will, as a consequence, receive better treatment in future.”
“I’m so glad Maxie could frighten the man so and make him stop treating it so dreadfully,” remarked Grace, with a sigh of relief. “I never thought before that that talent of his was good for anything but to make fun for folks.”
“The ability to afford amusement to others is a talent not to be despised,” said her father; “for innocent mirth often does good like a medicine; but power to rescue even a dumb beast from ill-treatment is still more to be coveted, and I shall be glad indeed if Max will use his gift in that way whenever opportunity offers.”
A week or more had passed since the return of our friends from their vacation in the more northern part of their loved native land, and Lulu and Grace, who had at first missed their older brother sorely from the family circle, had now begun to feel somewhat accustomed to his absence, and were very merry and happy.
They had resumed their studies, reciting, as before, to their father, and took daily walks and rides on their ponies, varied by an occasional drive with the captain, Violet, and the little ones.
The Ion and Fairview families, too, had gone back to old pleasures and employments; but so busy had all been, taking up familiar cares and duties, and making needed preparations for approaching winter, that only few and short visits had as yet been exchanged between them.
It was in the sitting-room, and just after breakfast, that the captain had read Max’s letter aloud to his wife and children.
“Go to the schoolroom now, daughters, and look over your lessons for the day,” he said, presently, addressing Lulu and Grace.
They obeyed instantly, and as they left the room a servant came in with a note from Violet’s mother, which he handed to his mistress, saying one of the Ion servants had just brought it.
“Mamma’s handwriting,” Violet remarked to her husband as she took the note and glanced at the address upon it.
“Ah! I hope they are all well?” he returned half inquiringly.
“No, mamma herself is certainly not quite well,” Violet answered with a disturbed look, after glancing hastily down the page; “she says as much, and that she wants me to come and spend a few days with her, bringing all the children if I choose; they will not disturb her. And you also will be most welcome. Dear, dear mamma! I shall go to her at once—unless my husband objects,” she added, looking up at him with a rather sad sort of smile.
“As he certainly could not think of doing, my love,” he replied, in tender tones. “We must go, of course; you and the little ones, at least; we will consider about the older ones, and I shall spend my time between the two places, not being willing to stay constantly away from you, yet having some matters to attend to here, some things that ought not to be delayed.”