“Why, yes, Lu; of course papa always knows far better than we do what is best for us,” said Grace, leaning lovingly up against him and smiling up into his face.
“Papa is very happy in having such loving, trustful little daughters,” he said, passing his hand caressingly over Gracie’s golden curls.
It was a most joyful surprise to Max when, on the following Saturday, his father and sisters walked in upon him, as he left the dinner table full of life and pleasure at the thought of the half holiday that had just begun.
His standing and conduct had been such that he was entitled to leave, and to be able to spend it with these dear ones was most delightful.
A carriage had brought the captain and his little girls to the door, and they—father and children—took a long drive together, during which the tongues of Max and Lulu ran very fast.
She and Gracie thoroughly enjoyed Max’s surprise on learning of the plans for the winter, so soon to be carried out.
At first he seemed to feel rather badly at the thought that they would all be so far away from him; but he presently got over that, as his father spoke of the letters he would receive from Viamede every day, and how quickly the winter would pass and all be coming home again, some of them—certainly himself—making haste to pay a visit to the Academy to see their young cadet and learn what progress he was making in preparing for future duty in the naval service of his country.
At that Max’s face brightened and he said heartily, “And I shall try my best to have as good a report as possible ready for you, papa, that you may be proud and happy in your first-born son. Ah, the thought of that does help me to study hard and try very, very earnestly to keep rules, so that I may be an honor, and not a disgrace to the best of fathers.”
“Yes, I am sure of it, my dear boy,” the captain replied, laying his hand on the lad’s shoulder, while the light of fatherly love and pride shone in his eyes; “I haven’t a doubt that it is one of my son’s greatest pleasures to make himself the joy and pride of his father’s heart.”
They drove back to the Academy just in time for Max to be ready to report himself at evening roll-call, according to the rules, with which no one was better acquainted than the captain.
He and the little girls were to start on their return journey that evening, and good-by was said at the Academy door.
A very hard one it seemed to the little girls, hardly less so to Max and his father. The captain and his daughters went by boat, as less fatiguing for Grace, and reached home on Monday.
The next day was a busy one to all, and Wednesday noon saw them on the cars, bound for New Orleans.
A day and night were spent in the city, then they took the steamer for Berwick Bay.
The morning was clear and bright and the captain, Violet, and the children all sat upon deck, greatly enjoying the breeze and the dancing of the waves in the sunlight, as the vessel cleared its port and steamed out into the gulf.