“Oh, Sukey, you’re a dear!”
“But, missy dear, doan youse do nuthin’ foolish ’bout dat fellah, ’cause I ’se helped youse. Doan youse—”
“Of course I won’t,” asserted the girl. “I could n’t, Sukey. You know I couldn’t.”
“Dat ’s right, honey. Ole Sukey knows she can trust youse. Now run right along, chile.”
“What have you been doing, Janice?” asked her mother, as the girl entered the parlour.
“I’ve been in the kitchen with Sukey, mommy,” replied Janice. And if there was wrong in the quibble, both father and mother were equally to blame with the girl, for “Ole Sukey” was actually better able to enter into her feelings and thoughts than either of them; and where obedience is enforced from authority and not from sympathy and confidence, there will be secret deceit, if not open revolt.
Left to himself, the bondsman finished trimming the ivory to a proper size, and neatly fitted it into the frame. Then he spread the papers out, and in some haste, for the winter’s day was fast waning, he resumed his scribbling, varied by intervals of pen-chewing and knitting of brows. Finally he gave a sigh of relief, and taking a blank sheet he copied in a bold hand-writing what was written on the paper he had last toiled over. Then picking up the miniature, he touched it to his lips. “She was sent to give me faith again in women,” he said, as he folded the miniature into the paper.
“Well, old man,” he remarked, as he passed from the stable, to the dog, who had followed in his footsteps, and sought to attract his attention by fawning upon him, “has blindman’s holiday come at last? Wait till I bestow this, and get a bite from Sukey to put in my pocket, and we’ll be off for a look at the rabbits. ’T is a poor sport, but ’t will do till something better comes. Oh for a war!”
The bondsman passed into the kitchen, and made his plea to Sukey for a supper he could take away with him. The request was granted, and while the cook went to the larder to get him something, Charles stepped into the hall and listening intently he stole upstairs and tapped gently on a door. Getting no reply, he opened it, and tiptoeing hastily to the dressing-stand, he tucked the packet under the powder-box. A minute later he was back in the kitchen, and erelong was stamping through the snow, whistling cheerfully, which the hound echoed by yelps of excited delight.
Janice was unusually thoughtful all through supper, and little less so afterwards. She was sent to her room earlier than usual, that she might make up in advance for the early start of the journey, and she did not dally with her disrobing, the room being almost arctic in its coldness. But after she had put on the short night-rail that was the bed-gown of the period, the girl paused for a moment in front of her mirror, even though she shivered as she did so.
“I really thought ’t was for me he cared,” she said. “But she is so much more beautiful that—” Janice tucked the flyaway locks into the snug-fitting nightcap, which together with the bed-curtains formed the protections from the drafts inevitable to leaky windows and big chimneys, and having thus done her best to make herself ugly, she blew out her candle, and as she crept into bed, she remarked, “’T was very foolish of me.”