"You take the first throw," said Alfred; and the brothers were soon lost in the game, and heard no more till the scraping of horses' feet was heard under the verandah.
"There come the children," said Augustine, rising. "Look here, Alf! Did you ever see anything so beautiful?" And, in truth, it was a beautiful sight. Henrique, with his bold brow, and dark, glossy curls, and glowing cheek, was laughing gayly as he bent towards his fair cousin, as they came on. She was dressed in a blue riding dress, with a cap of the same color. Exercise had given a brilliant hue to her cheeks, and heightened the effect of her singularly transparent skin, and golden hair.
"Good heavens! what perfectly dazzling beauty!" said Alfred. "I tell you, Auguste, won't she make some hearts ache, one of these days?"
"She will, too truly, — God knows I'm afraid so!" said St. Clare, in a tone of sudden bitterness, as he hurried down to take her off her horse.
"Eva darling! you're not much tired?" he said, as he clasped her in his arms.
"No, papa," said the child; but her short, hard breathing alarmed her father.
"How could you ride so fast, dear? — you know it's bad for you."
"I felt so well, papa, and liked it so much, I forgot."
St. Clare carried her in his arms into the parlor, and laid her on the sofa.
"Henrique, you must be careful of Eva," said he; "you mustn't ride fast with her."
"I'll take her under my care," said Henrique, seating himself by the sofa, and taking Eva's hand.
Eva soon found herself much better. Her father and uncle resumed their game, and the children were left together.
"Do you know, Eva, I'm sorry papa is only going to stay two days here, and then I shan't see you again for ever so long! If I stay with you, I'd try to be good, and not be cross to Dodo, and so on. I don't mean to treat Dodo ill; but, you know, I've got such a quick temper. I'm not really bad to him, though. I give him a picayune, now and then; and you see he dresses well. I think, on the whole, Dodo 's pretty well off."
"Would you think you were well off, if there were not one creature in the world near you to love you?"
"I? — Well, of course not."
"And you have taken Dodo away from all the friends he ever had, and now he has not a creature to love him; — nobody can be good that way."
"Well, I can't help it, as I know of. I can't get his mother and I can't love him myself, nor anybody else, as I know of."
"Why can't you?" said Eva.
"Love Dodo! Why, Eva, you wouldn't have me! I may like him well enough; but you don't love your servants."
"I do, indeed."
"Don't the Bible say we must love everybody?"
"O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but, then, nobody ever thinks of doing them, — you know, Eva, nobody does."
Eva did not speak; her eyes were fixed and thoughtful for a few moments.
"At any rate," she said, "dear Cousin, do love poor Dodo, and be kind to him, for my sake!"
"I could love anything, for your sake, dear Cousin; for I really think you are the loveliest creature that I ever saw!" And Henrique spoke with an earnestness that flushed his handsome face. Eva received it with perfect simplicity, without even a change of feature; merely saying, "I'm glad you feel so, dear Henrique! I hope you will remember."
The dinner-bell put an end to the interview.