How is Pollys papa? was the reply, as she leaned on his knee, and gazed up into his face.
It was not a noisy, not a wordy scenefor that I was thankful; but it was a scene of feeling too brimful, and which, because the cup did not foam up high or furiously overflow, only oppressed one the more. On all occasions of vehement, unrestrained expansion, a sense of disdain or ridicule comes to the weary spectators relief; whereas I have ever felt most burdensome that sort of sensibility which bends of its own willa giant slave under the sway of good sense.
Mr. Home was a stern-featuredperhaps I should rather say a hard-featuredman. His forehead was knotty, and his cheek-bones were marked and prominent. The character of his face was quite Scotch; but there was feeling in his eye and emotion in his now agitated countenance. His northern accent in speaking harmonized with his physiognomy. He was at once proud-looking and homely-looking.
He laid his hand on the childs uplifted head. She said, Kiss Polly.
He kissed her. I wished she would utter some hysterical cry, so that I might get relief and be at ease. She made wonderfully little noise. She seemed to have got what she wantedall she wantedand to be in a trance of content. Neither in mien nor in features was this creature like her sire, and yet she was of his strain. Her mind had been filled from his, as the cup from the flagon.
Indisputably Mr. Home owned manly self-control, however he might secretly feel on some matters. Polly, he said, looking down on his little girl, go into the hall. You will see papas greatcoat lying on a chair; put your hand into the pockets. You will find a pocket-handkerchief there; bring it to me.
She obeyedwent and returned deftly and nimbly. He was talking to Mrs. Bretton when she came back, and she waited with the handkerchief in her hand. It was a picture, in its way, to see her, with her tiny stature, and trim, neat shape, standing at his knee. Seeing that he continued to talk, apparently unconscious of her return, she took his hand, opened the unresisting fingers, insinuated into them the handkerchief, and closed them upon it one by one. He still seemed not to see or to feel her; but by-and-by he lifted her to his knee. She nestled against him; and though neither looked at nor spoke to the other for an hour following, I suppose both were satisfied.
During tea the minute things movements and behaviour gave, as usual, full occupation to the eye. First she directed Warren, as he placed the chairs.
Put papas chair here, and mine near it, between papa and Mrs. Bretton. I must hand his tea.
She took her own seat, and beckoned with her hand to her father.
Be near me, as if we were at home, papa.
And again, as she intercepted his cup in passing, and would stir the sugar and put in the cream herself, I always did it for you at home, papa. Nobody could do it as well, not even your own self.
Throughout the meal she continued her attentions; rather absurd they were. The sugar-tongs were too wide for one of her hands, and she had to use both in wielding them. The weight of the silver cream- ewer, the bread-and-butter plates, the very cup and saucer, tasked her insufficient strength and dexterity; but she would lift this, hand that, and luckily contrived through it all to break nothing. Candidly speaking, I thought her a little busybody; but her father, blind like other parents, seemed perfectly content to let her wait on him, and even wonderfully soothed by her offices.
She is my comfort! he could not help saying to Mrs. Bretton. That lady had her own comfort and nonpareil on a much larger scale, and for the moment absent; so she sympathized with his foible.
This second comfort came on the stage in the course of the evening. I knew this day had been fixed for his return, and was aware that Mrs. Bretton had been expecting him through all its hours. We were
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