Pouncing upon Alexander, she drew him a little behind the others, and was presently engaged in an eager low-voiced conference, apparently persuading him to something much against his inclination, but Henrietta was not sufficiently happy to bestow much curiosity on the subject. All her thoughts were with Fred, and she had not long been in Church before all her mother’s fears seemed to have passed to her. Her mother had recovered her serenity, and was able to trust her boy in the hands of his Heavenly Father, while Henrietta, haunted by the remembrance of many a moral tale, was tormenting herself with the expectation of retribution, and dwelling on a fancied figure of her brother lifted senseless out of the water, with closed eyes and dripping hair.
With all her faults, Queen Bee was a good-natured, generous little thing, and it was not what every one would have done, when, as soon as she returned from Church, she followed her father to the study, saying, “Papa, you must not be displeased with Fred, for he was very much plagued, and he only had just begun when you came.”
“The other boys had been teasing him?”
“Dick had been laughing at him, saying his mamma would not let him go on the ice, and that, you know, was past all bearing. And honestly, it was my fault too; I laughed, not at that joke, of course, for it was only worthy of Dick himself, but at poor Fred’s own disconsolate looks.”
“Was not his case unpleasant enough, without your making it worse?”
“Of course, papa, I ought to have been more considerate, but you know how easily I am run away with by high spirits.”
“And I know you have the power to restrain them, Beatrice. You have no right to talk of being run away with, as if you were helpless.”
“I know it is very wrong; I often think I will check myself, but there are many speeches which, when once they come to my lips, are irresistible, or seem so. However, I will not try to justify myself; I know I was to blame, only you must not be angry with Fred, for it really did seem rather unreasonable to keep him there parading about with Henrietta and Jessie, when the ice was quite safe for everybody else.”
“I am not angry with him, Bee; I cannot but be sorry that he gave way to the temptation, but there was so much to excuse him, that I shall not show any further displeasure. He is often in a very vexatious position for a boy of his age. I can imagine nothing more galling than these restraints.”
“And cannot you—” said Beatrice, stopping short.
“Speak to your aunt? I will not make her miserable. Anything she thinks right she will do, at whatever cost to herself, and for that very reason I will not interfere. It is a great deal better for Fred that his amusement should be sacrificed to her peace, than her peace to his amusement.”
“Yet surely this cannot go on for life,” said Beatrice, as if she was half afraid to hazard the remark.