Long after Mary slept serenely little Una lay awake, her eyes smarting with tears. On, how dreadful it would be if her father should marry somebody who would make him hate her and Jerry and Faith and Carl! She couldn’t bear it—she couldn’t!
Mary had not instilled any poison of the kind Miss Cornelia had feared into the manse children’s minds. Yet she had certainly contrived to do a little mischief with the best of intentions. But she slept dreamlessly, while Una lay awake and the rain fell and the wind wailed around the old gray manse. And the Rev. John Meredith forgot to go to bed at all because he was absorbed in reading a life of St. Augustine. It was gray dawn when he finished it and went upstairs, wrestling with the problems of two thousand years ago. The door of the girls’ room was open and he saw Faith lying asleep, rosy and beautiful. He wondered where Una was. Perhaps she had gone over to “stay all night” with the Blythe girls. She did this occasionally, deeming it a great treat. John Meredith sighed. He felt that Una’s whereabouts ought not to be a mystery to him. Cecelia would have looked after her better than that.
If only Cecelia were still with him! How pretty and gay she had been! How the old manse up at Maywater had echoed to her songs! And she had gone away so suddenly, taking her laughter and music and leaving silence—so suddenly that he had never quite got over his feeling of amazement. How could she, the beautiful and vivid, have died?
The idea of a second marriage had never presented itself seriously to John Meredith. He had loved his wife so deeply that he believed he could never care for any woman again. He had a vague idea that before very long Faith would be old enough to take her mother’s place. Until then, he must do the best he could alone. He sighed and went to his room, where the bed was still unmade. Aunt Martha had forgotten it, and Mary had not dared to make it because Aunt Martha had forbidden her to meddle with anything in the minister’s room. But Mr. Meredith did not notice that it was unmade. His last thoughts were of St. Augustine.
CHAPTER X. THE MANSE GIRLS CLEAN HOUSE
“Ugh,” said Faith, sitting up in bed with a shiver. “It’s raining. I do hate a rainy Sunday. Sunday is dull enough even when it’s fine.”
“We oughtn’t to find Sunday dull,” said Una sleepily, trying to pull her drowsy wits together with an uneasy conviction that they had overslept.
“But we do, you know,” said Faith candidly. “Mary Vance says most Sundays are so dull she could hang herself.”
“We ought to like Sunday better than Mary Vance,” said Una remorsefully. “We’re the minister’s children.”