never came near me without her hands filled with dainties, scolding her for her indulgence and reiterating his favorite phrase: "Leave the boy alone, mother, you'll make a girl of him!" And then the holidays, across which passed his high and sombre silhouette; the Christmas-tree sparkling with candles, or the reunions about the great table of a family now dispersed or dissolved, or the distribution of prizes, after which the rugged fatherly hand gently patted my cheek,—a thousand episodes familiar to us all, recurring almost alike in all lives at their beginning, however bitter or culpable they may become, with the same gay and simple charm.
And the train darted along, as swift as memory, among the black, invisible landscapes of the night. And the time thus filled with thoughts and dreams seemed to me infinitely slow in passing. I panted with eagerness to reach my father more quickly, to put my arms about him once more, to see the smile of greeting come into his eyes, to hear his words of welcome. As the night advanced this desire became more intense and despairing, aggravated into a sort of fever filled with ominous forebodings.
"I shall not see him again. . . . They sent me word too late! Ah! why did they, why did they!" And thus probing the secret depths of my heart, I discovered infinite affection which I had never known was there,—a world of love