“Calm—clear-seeing—wise.” Mr. Delancy repeated the words, as if endeavoring to grasp the rein of thought and get possession of himself again.
“Wise to counsel and strong to sustain,” said Rose. “You must not fail us now.”
“Thank you, my sweet young monitor,” replied Mr. Delancy, partially recovering himself; “it was the weakness of a moment. Irene,” and he looked toward his daughter, “leave me with my own thoughts for a little while. Take her, Rose, to her own room, and God give you power to speak words of consolation; I have none.”
Rose drew her arm within that of Irene, and said, “Come.” But Irene lingered, looking tenderly and anxiously at her father.
“Go, my love.” Mr. Delancy waved his hand.
“Father! dear father!” She moved a step toward him, while Rose held her back.
“I cannot help myself, father. The die is cast. Oh bear up with me! I will be to you a better daughter than I have ever been. My life shall be devoted to your happiness. In that I will find a compensation. All is not lost—all is not ruined. My heart is as pure as when I left you three years ago. I come back bleeding from my life-battle it is true, but not in mortal peril—wounded, but not unto death—cast down, but not destroyed.”
All the muscles of Mr. Delancy’s face quivered with suppressed feeling as he stood looking at his daughter, who, as she uttered the words, “cast down, but not destroyed,” flung herself in wild abandonment on his breast.
THE PALSIED HEART.
THE shock to Mr. Delancy was a fearful one, coming as it did on a troubled, foreboding state of mind; and reason lost for a little while her firm grasp on the rein of government. If the old man could have seen a ray of hope in the case it would have been different. But from the manner and language of his daughter it was plain that the dreaded evil had found them; and the certainty of this falling suddenly, struck him as with a heavy blow.
For several days he was like one who had been stunned. All that afternoon on which his daughter returned to Ivy Cliff he moved about in a bewildered way, and by his questions and remarks showed an incoherence of thought that filled the heart of Irene with alarm.
On the next morning, when she met him at the breakfast-table, he smiled on her in his old affectionate way. As she kissed him, she said,
“I hope you slept well last night, father?”
A slight change was visible in his face.
“I slept soundly enough,” he replied, “but my dreams were not agreeable.”
Then he looked at her with a slight closing of the brows and a questioning look in his eyes.
They sat down, Irene taking her old place at the table. As she poured out her father’s coffee, he said, smiling,
“It is pleasant to have you sitting there, daughter.”