Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/22

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however, was sometimes obliged to go to Washington.[1] He would only come back in the evening and his first care was to question the children on their use of the day. Often, alas, there was some mischief to report, but, in America as in Europe, it seems that the witnesses of misdeeds are more easily scandalized than their perpetrators. When the question, “What have you done today,” provoked an accounting of some mischief accomplished by a brother or a sister, “I don′t want to know what your brother has done,” the Captain would interrupt. I want to know what you have done,” and the tell-tale, ashamed, would become silent. Each child having given his account of the day, the father would begin making his own. He considered that his evening belonged to his children, and even when urgent work would oblige him to spend his night finishing it, he didn′t dream of shortening their pleasure.

War epics or travel experiences, fine deeds, described with enthusiasm, joyous tales answered by peels of laughter filled the happy evenings at Arlington. Sometimes, a youngster would confess he hadn′t finished his school work. Books and notebooks would immediately appear on the family table, the Captain would help solve the difficulties, and,

after making sure lessons were learned and tasks finished, the

  1. Arlington is separated from Washington by the width of the Potomac.