The Death Disk


This was in Oliver Cromwell’s time. Colonel Mayfair was the youngest officer of his rank in the armies of the Commonwealth, he being but thirty years old. But young as he was, he was a veteran soldier, and tanned and warworn, for he had begun his military life at seventeen; he had fought in many battles, and had won his high place in the service and in the admiration of men, step by step, by valor in the field. But he was in deep trouble now; a shadow had fallen upon his fortunes.

The winter evening was come, and outside were storm and darkness; within, a melancholy silence; for the Colonel and his young wife had talked their sorrow out, had read the evening chapter and prayed the evening prayer, and there was nothing more to do but sit hand in hand and gaze into the fire, and think—and wait. They would not have to wait long; they knew that, and the wife shuddered at the thought.

They had one child—Abby, seven years old, their idol. She would be coming presently for the goodnight kiss, and the Colonel spoke now, and said:

“Dry away the tears and let us seem happy, for her sake. We must forget, for the time, that which is to happen.”

“I will. I will shut them up in my heart, which is breaking.”

“And we will accept what is appointed for us, and bear it in patience, as knowing that whatsoever He doeth is done in righteousness and meant in kindness—”

“Saying, His will be done. Yes, I can say it with all my mind and soul—I would I could say it with my heart. Oh, if I could! if this dear hand which I press and kiss for the last time—”

“’Sh! sweetheart, she is coming!”

A curly-headed little figure in nightclothes glided in at the door and ran to the father, and was gathered to his breast and fervently kissed once, twice, three times.

“Why, papa, you mustn’t kiss me like that: you rumple my hair.”

“Oh, I am so sorry—so sorry: do you forgive me, dear?”

“Why, of course, papa. But are you sorry?—not pretending, but real, right down sorry?”

“Well, you can judge for yourself, Abby,” and he covered his face with his hands and made believe to sob. The child was filled with remorse to see this tragic thing which she had caused, and she began to cry herself, and to tug at the hands, and say:

“Oh, don’t, papa, please don’t cry; Abby didn’t mean it; Abby wouldn’t ever do it again. Please, papa!” Tugging and straining to separate the fingers, she got a fleeting glimpse of an eye behind them, and cried out: “Why, you naughty papa, you are not crying at all! You are only fooling! And Abby is going to mamma, now: you don’t treat Abby right.”

She was for climbing down, but her father wound his arms about her and said: “No, stay with me, dear: papa was naughty, and confesses it, and is sorry—there, let him kiss the tears away—and he begs Abby’s forgiveness, and will do anything Abby says he must do, for a punishment; they’re all kissed away now, and not a curl rumpled—and whatever Abby commands—”

And so it was made up; and all in a moment the sunshine was back again and burning brightly in the child’s face, and she was patting her father’s cheeks and naming the penalty—“A story! a story!”


  By PanEris using Melati.

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