A STILL HAPPIER LOVE

Of course the next morning, as Bobby arose and dressed for Mass, gave
with its golden sunshine and balmy air every promise of a perfect day.
This was the only thing to be expected. Los Angeles, as far as Bobby
knew, had only one kind of weather. All the days since his arrival had
been gay, fragrant, cloudless, sunshiny days. The inhabitants of Los
Angeles never bothered to discuss the weather; it was not the fertile
topic of conversation that it is in the East. When they spoke of it, it
was simply to burst forth into paeans of praise, generally expressed in
the exclamation “Isn’t it a wonderful day!” and that always ended
further discussion.

“Good morning, Bobby,” said Mr. Compton, to Bobby’s surprise shaved and
dressed.

“Why, halloa! What got _you_ up?”

“I just thought, Bobby, I’d go along with you to Mass this morning.”

“Oh,” said Bobby, puckering his brows. “I suppose,” he went on after
some close conjecturing, “that you are going to church to pray for the
success of that part that didn’t go right yesterday.”

“That is one of the things I am going to pray for.”

“Anything else, uncle?”

“Bobby,” said Compton, ignoring the question, “did you sleep well last
night?”

“Not at first, uncle.”

“I thought so; you do not look quite up to form.”

“I need Holy Communion, uncle. Then after breakfast—I need that
too—then you watch me!”

“Bobby, I want to ask you another question. Did you hear anything
yesterday that worried you?”

“Oh, it’s all over now, I guess,” evaded the child.

“You were crying last night.”

“Who told you?”

“I thought I heard you moaning, and before I went to sleep I went into
your room. There were stains of tears on your pillow.”

“Uncle, there was a man yesterday, Benny Burnside, who tried to make me
think my mother was dead.”

Mr. Compton squeezed his lips together, and sparks shot from his eyes.

“If all the fools in Los Angeles were sentenced to death and all were
pardoned except one, he’s the one who would go hang. He’s a handsome
creature; but all his beauty isn’t anywhere near enough to make up for
the tremendous vacancy in his head. And did you believe him, Bobby?”

“He almost made me believe. That’s what I was fighting about before I
could get to sleep. But I did feel so mean!”

“There’s no sense, my boy, in giving up hope till you have to.”

“I say, uncle, you were worrying too last night. You don’t look right
yourself.”

As a matter of fact John Compton had passed a long and sleepless night.

“Well, suppose we toddle along,” he said, with a forced smile. So forth
went the two, each struggling for faith against an uneasiness born of a
foolish detective’s rash report.

Francis and Peggy were at Mass and went to communion. They wanted Bobby
to “put it over,” and directed the intention of their communion
accordingly. Pearl, though not a Catholic, was there too. She came to
pray, rather startling the worshipers at her entrance by going up the
aisle and making her prettiest little curtsy before the tabernacle. This
curtsy had won the hearts of many a stranger in the moment of
introduction. No doubt our Lord’s love for her, already great—for the
dear Lord who was once a child loves all children in a special way—went
out to her in a new excess.

Pearl, at the end of Mass, repeated the curtsy, which would have won her
distinction in any earthly court—and why not in the heavenly?—and went
outside, where she continued to smile and bow at the returning
worshipers as though they were all friends of hers. And so far as she
was concerned, so they were, God bless her!

“Good morning, Bobby; good morning, everybody!” she cried, as she shook
the hand of Compton, Bobby, Francis and Peggy, dispensing as she did so
a running stream of smiles. “It’s going to be all right. I just know
it’s going to be all right. Bobby, you’re just sure to put it over.”

“It’s going to be the greatest day of all,” chimed in Francis.

“We’ll be finished before noontime,” added Peggy. “And you’ll see, Mr.
Compton,” she went on, fixing large, earnest, questioning eyes upon
Compton, “that we haven’t been praying for nothing.”

“I believe you, my dear,” returned Compton humbly.

And Peggy, who knew something about Compton’s religious, or rather
irreligious, convictions, wondered.

“I’m hungry,” said Bob.

“So am I,” said Pearl. “You see, I couldn’t go to communion, but I could
fast and I did.”

“Then,” said Compton, greatly cheered by the simple, loving little
company, “we’ll all breakfast at the restaurant right below here.”

The two girls and Francis protested that their mothers would be worried;
whereupon Compton let loose their arrested joy by assuring them that he
would telephone each proper home and make himself responsible for the
whole party.

The breakfast was a success, an abundance of watermelon and cream cakes
being large factors, and off they hopped and danced, light as birds and
immeasurably gayer, to the last rehearsal.

Miss Bernadette Vivian had preceded them. She too had had a white night.
The day before she had confided to the amicable clerk who kept the
visitor’s gate and answered the telephone at the Lantry Studio the story
of her great romance. She had made it clear to that amiable young lady
that her engagement was as good as settled, that her Romeo, in addition
to a personal pulchritude beyond power of words to describe, was as
wealthy as Colossus—meaning, no doubt, Crœsus—that he had four
automobiles and a country villa in addition to a home worth at least
thirty thousand dollars: to all of which the gentle and sympathetic
young lady, discounting each of these statements by at least fifty per
cent, lent an attentive ear. Now it occurred to Vivian that, since there
was no secrecy enjoined, the young lady might make her romance known.
Hence it was that, unable to sleep, she hastened down to the studio
bright and early with her revised version of love’s young dream.

“Do you know,” she said, after an affectionate exchange of greetings,
“that I am thinking seriously of entering a convent?”

“That would be very sweet of you,” said Miss Cortland. “But you don’t
want to break the heart of that young man, do you?”

“That young man,” said Miss Vivian darkly, “has no heart to break!”

“Dear me! Aren’t you going to be engaged to him?”

“We were engaged.”

“But you didn’t tell me that.”

“It only happened last night. We were engaged for over ten minutes.”

“And then?” interrupted Miss Cortland.

“Oh, I’m sick and tired of all men!” ejaculated Vivian, clasping her
hands. “They have no ideals! They are so—so common! I’ve always found
that out before it was too late. I’d like to hear what they’ll say when
I go into a convent.”

“Did you have a quarrel, Vivian?”

“I never quarrel,” returned the young lady with dignity. “We had a
difference of opinion, and I discovered that his ideals were not mine.”

By ideals Miss Vivian must have meant diamonds. The kind she wanted for
her engagement was the kind her swain disliked.

“Well, anyhow, I’ve learnt a good lesson. And, oh, I’m so miserable! I
slept badly, and I feel like going to Ocean Park and throwing myself
into the sea. Upon my word, I believe I will!”

Miss Cortland was minded to point out to the distressed damsel that
throwing herself into the ocean and entering a convent were hardly
compatible; but, thinking better of it, she observed:

“This is your fifth case, isn’t it?”

“My seventh,” retorted Vivian, indignantly, and left the office in a
huff.

To set at rest the minds of Miss Vivian’s many admirers, it may be
stated that she did not enter a convent, nor has the ocean received her
into its insatiable maw. She realizes still that there are lots of good
fish in the sea, and, though she nets one every month or so, she has not
yet caught a fish that quite measures up to her expectations. Her
present romance is now number eleven.

“Say, Bobby,” whispered Francis, as they repaired to the scene of their
final rehearsal, “do you want to shed real tears in the part where you
meet your mother?”

“I’d like to,” returned Bobby.

“Well, I’ve got a trick to do it. It’s a pinch I learned from a fellow.
It doesn’t make a mark, but it will smart like fun and bring the tears.
Now, if you need it, just let me know; we’ve got to put this across.”

As the event proved, Francis was not called upon to reduce Bobby to
tears. Bobby, thinking of his own dear mother, and grieving for her the
more bitterly for the ugly rumor which had left him sleepless, found it
an easy task to imagine Bernadette to be Mrs. Vernon, with the result
that his acting was clearly more perfect than it had been on the
preceding day. As for Vivian, that volatile young lady, a flapper
yesterday, was now persuaded that she was refined by a bitter
experience, that all love leading toward matrimony was vanity and
affliction of spirit, and that children were the most interesting and
lovable things in the world. Thus chastened by these reflections, she
put on a more mature air, diffused an atmosphere of sorrow akin to
despair, and, to the astonishment and delight of Heneman, Compton and
all the players, went through her part in a manner that touched the
hearts of all.

“Great!” cried Heneman. “Now get ready for the camera! Ready? Shoot!”

Pearl, Peggy and Francis were all in the set. Pearl, as the magnate’s
daughter, had already met her mother when Bobby entered. He sees the
magnate’s wife standing palpitating and holding out tender arms. He
stares, breaks into a radiant smile of happiness, cries out “Mother!”
rushes into her arms and weeps upon her bosom.

“Done!” announced Heneman, rubbing his eyes. “It’s perfect.—Why, what’s
the matter, Bobby?”

For Bobby, released from Vivian’s arms, was weeping bitterly.

“Are you ill, my boy?” asked Compton, rushing over and putting an arm
about the lad’s neck.

“I—I was th-thinking of my own dear mother,” sobbed Bobby. As he spoke
he raised his eyes. A moment later they grew wide in astonishment,
wonder and incredulity.

“And there she is!” he exclaimed, darting forward to meet a woman now
hurrying toward him.

In a moment Bobby, weeping and laughing, was rushing into the arms of
his own dear mother.

It was a tensely dramatic moment. Those concerned in the play gazed in
awe; then realizing the tremendous strain thus taken off mother and son,
they entered into the joy of the moment.

Compton was the first to advance and greet the happy mother.

“You remember me, Barbara?”

“Indeed and indeed I do! I was thinking of you yesterday—thinking of
the past. And I have something that I want to say to you.”

“He’s the best man in the world, mamma,” said Bobby enthusiastically.
“He’s treated me as though I were his own son. Why, uncle, why have you
got your head down?”

“I didn’t know it,” said Compton. “But anyhow, I do not feel fit to look
upon your dear mother’s face.”

The impending awkwardness was averted by the quick approach of the three
children.

“Oh, Mrs. Vernon!” exclaimed Peggy, her dark eyes luminous and her olive
complexion alive with rosy emotion, “I’m almost as happy as you!” And
Peggy threw her arms about Barbara’s neck.

“Dear little Peggy,” and Mrs. Vernon returned the embrace.

“And,” Peggy went on, running her words into one another, “you know it
was so stupid of me to tell you Bobby was dead. Oh, I’m so glad!”

“May I kiss you, ma’am?” said Pearl, with her charming smile and her
graceful curtsy as Peggy slipped aside. “I’m one of Bobby’s friends,
too.”

“And I too,” said Francis. And Mrs. Vernon, flushed and radiant, fondly
kissed the two children, who in their expressions of delight fell little
short of Bobby himself.

By this time many of the elders had gathered about the reunited pair,
and all in their various ways extended their felicitations. Bernadette
Vivian was so overcome with emotion that she had to be led away by her
attendant. It was a moment of tension.

“Come, Mrs. Vernon,” whispered Compton; “my automobile is waiting
outside. I am sure you want to get away and have Bobby to yourself.”
Saying which, he conducted her away with her boy still clinging to her,
and was presently whirling homeward.

“But, mother,” said Bobby, resting in her arms, “what became of you?
Uncle John had detectives looking all over for you.”

Mrs. Vernon explained in a few words the reason of her long
disappearance.

“And,” she added, “when I saw you on the screen yesterday, I went to the
manager of the theater and found out where you had been working. He was
most kind. He inquired and learned that a train three hours late would
pass at eleven o’clock that night. He took care of me and saw me aboard.
Mr. Regan and his family wanted to see me off. Bobby, if we wish, we can
have a home with them.”



“Bobby’s not poor,” said Compton. “There’s twenty-four hundred dollars
to his credit in the bank just now.”

“And it’s all yours, mother. I was working for you.”

When they entered John Compton’s suite, Barbara gazed about the
sitting-room in pleased surprise. There was a change in the room since
Bobby’s first entrance there. Most of the photographs were gone, and
most prominent of all the pictures adorning the walls was a beautiful
engraving of a guardian angel tenderly watching his innocent charge, a
little boy, in years and appearance resembling Barbara’s son.

“What!” she exclaimed, blushing prettily. “Do you believe in angels,
John Compton?”

“I do! Indeed I do! And I learned that sweet belief from your own little
boy’s example.”

“Then,” pursued Mrs. Vernon, “then you must believe in God.”

“Barbara,” responded Compton, with a catch in his voice, “it must have
been God who sent your boy to me. He has changed my life. For several
weeks, though Bobby doesn’t know it, I have been receiving instructions
from Father Mallory—”

“What’s that?” cried Bobby eagerly.

“And to-morrow I am to be received into the Catholic Church.”

The hours that followed were given to mutual explanations. Bobby, at
great length, related his adventures from the time he was carried away
by the breakers to the present moment. Then John Compton gave his
version, pointing out that he had done everything to trace up Mrs.
Vernon and that from his knowledge of Bobby picked up in the first hour
of meeting he had judged that, all things considered, the best way to
watch the lad and keep his mind off the sorrows of separation was to
engage him in moving-picture work.

“Anyhow,” he said, “before I had quite made up my mind to do it, Bobby
settled the question by actually breaking in; and just as soon as I saw
him show Chucky Snuff how to do his part, I don’t think I could well
have chosen any other way of meeting the situation.”

“And now, mother dear,” said Bobby, “we want you to tell everything
about yourself, and don’t leave anything out.”

The eager interest of Bobby and John Compton inspired Barbara to a full
and enthralling narrative of her mischances.

“And to think,” mused Compton, “that all this strange series of events
should have come about just through the most trivial thing in the
world.”

“How’s that, Uncle John?” asked Bobby, nestling in his mother’s arms.

“Why, through a little earth tremor. Of course you, Mrs. Vernon, and
you, Bobby, were not used to it; but actually it doesn’t disturb us who
live here, especially the native-born, as much as a loud clap of
thunder. Three months ago we had an actual thunderstorm here, and there
was one flash of lightning and one clap of thunder like the kind that
are so common in Cincinnati. Now Father Mallory told me that the
children in his school were so frightened that for a moment there was
danger of a panic. And I have no doubt that the children who were most
frightened were natives and, because they were natives, would have
hardly paid any attention to an earth tremor.”

“That is so, Uncle John,” broke in Bobby. “Peggy was at school that day
and she told me all about it. She said that when the thunderclap came
she screamed at the top of her voice, and started for the door. The
Sister got there before her, and blocked her and a dozen other children,
and made them go back to their seats.”

“By the way, Bobby,” said Compton, “did you ever think to ask yourself
why you were carried out by that wave?”

“They all say it was the undertow.”

“Yes; but in ordinary circumstances it would not have caught you, as you
were not far enough out. In my opinion, the sea was affected by the
impending earthquake and that wave was not a normal wave.”

“Well, thank God,” said the mother, “that it is all over.”

“And I,” said Compton, “thank God that it all happened. These days with
Bobby have been the happiest of my life. And also—they have brought you
to my home. And that reminds me; till further notice, Barbara, this
suite is yours. Everything has been arranged. I have taken a room across
the way. You and Bobby are in command in this suite.”

“And you’ll come in any time at all, won’t you, Uncle John?”

“That reminds me,” said Compton. “Please don’t think I am an Indian
giver. But I’m arranging a little party for to-night; and may I use
these rooms? Of course you are both to be among those present.”

“Don’t be absurd, John,” laughed Barbara. “These are your rooms. By
to-morrow I’ll try and arrange to get a place for myself and Bobby.”

“We’ll see about that,” returned Compton, with a meaning in his words
that escaped both his hearers. “To-night, Barbara, we’re going to have
Peggy and Pearl and Francis and their mothers.”

“Great!” cried the boy.

“It is to be a special celebration to honor the successful end of our
play ‘Imitation.’ By the way, wasn’t it a peculiar coincidence that you
should appear just as Bobby finished his part of the scenario?”

“I’m afraid,” returned Mrs. Vernon, “that I’m partly responsible for
that coincidence. The man who so kindly let me in to the Lantrey Studio
casually informed me that Bobby was engaged in finishing up his part of
the picture. I came in, and seeing him working, remained watching and
hiding for ten minutes. It occurred to me that if I came upon Bobby
while he was working he might not be able to act. So I watched my little
boy till all was done.”

“Mother,” said Bobby, “if you had come sooner, you might have ruined
that part. I could never do it again that way, because I was thinking of
you.”

“But there’s another reason for this little party,” Compton went on. “I
want you to meet and to know Bobby’s three pals. I think you will agree
with me that I have managed to keep him in really good company. These
children are innocent, bright and exceptionally good, and that they are
so is due in no small part to their mothers, who are always in
attendance, always with them. And that is why I am inviting the mothers,
too.”

How John Compton managed all the details of this banquet is one of the
secrets of his efficiency. He used the telephone three or four times and
the thing was done. After a two hours’ spin along roads so perfect that
they are the admiration of Eastern travelers, the three returned and
found a table in the sitting-room, laid for a banquet, fragrant with
flowers and fruits, and with a caterer in attendance, who announced that
everything was ready.

“Very good,” said John, glancing approvingly at the preparations. “Be
ready to serve dinner in ten minutes. You’ll excuse me, Barbara; the
three children with their mothers are now gathered together and waiting
for me at the home of Francis Mason. I’ll have them here in a jiffy.”

Compton was true to his word. Ten minutes later gales of light laughter
and happy shouting made known to everybody in the apartment house that
Mr. John Compton was receiving friends.

Take a good meal, season it with love and satisfaction over work well
done, dash it over with the joy of reunion, and you have a banquet fit
for the gods.

The children chattered gayly and, somehow or other, ate very heartily at
the same time. Nothing was allowed to interfere with this latter
function. But as all for the greater part of the meal spoke and laughed
at the same time, it would be impossible, even were it worth while, to
reproduce what they said.

Towards the end, when the babbling and laughter were at their loudest,
Mr. Compton tapped his glass.

“Excuse me for interrupting all of you,” he said, “but I’m afraid, if
you don’t moderate yourselves, that a patrol wagon will drive up and
we’ll all be hauled to the station house for disturbing the peace.”

As Mr. Compton smiled and made a comic face the assembled guests, the
children especially, raised a tirra-lirra of silvery laughter. One would
judge from their enjoyment of it that Mr. Compton had cracked the best
joke in the history of the world.

After a full minute, Mr. Compton tapped his glass again.

“It is a pleasure to try being funny before such an appreciative
audience. But don’t you think it would be worth while to take turns in
talking and not all talk at once?”

Whereupon all present answered together in different phrasings that it
certainly would be worth while.

“Very good; then, Mrs. Vernon, it’s your turn.”

Mrs. Vernon promptly said that the voices of the children were music to
her ears, and that this was an occasion on which children should be both
seen and heard. And so substantially declared the three other happy
mothers.

“Well, then, Francis?” adjured Compton.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Francis, rising and bowing, “I am going to
tell you the story of my life.”

It was upon this declaration that the grown folks broke into laughter,
whereat the little ones wondered where was the joke, anyhow!

“At the age of three years and a half I went into the moving-picture
business. Since that time I have starred in five big productions, not
counting this one. And the finest time I have had in all my life has
been the time that Peggy and Pearl and Bobby have worked with me. In
conclusion, I beg to state that I have been married five times.”

The amazed children joined the startled elders in applause and laughter.

“In moving pictures, I mean,” said Francis, and sat down, the orator of
the day.

“And now, Pearl?” resumed Compton.

Pearl arose smiling and made her curtsy.

“Encore!” cried everybody, led by Compton.

Pearl was always ready to smile and curtsy. Nothing loath she repeated
the performance three times handrunning.

“I want to say,” said Pearl, “that my best love and wishes go to Bobby
and his mother. And, Mr. Compton, Peggy has brought her violin along.
She thought, perhaps, that some one might ask her to play.”

“Fine!” said Compton. “We’ll not forget that. And now, Peggy, it’s your
turn.”

Peggy arose radiant.

“I’ll say what Pearl said,” she declared. “For Bobby and his mother I
have heaps of love. And Pearl has brought along her dancing shoes. She
told me that some one might ask her to dance.”

“Splendid! We’ll have an entertainment presently. Now, Bobby?”

“I say,” cried Bobby, “that Uncle John is the finest man in the world.”

This speech was the hit of the evening.

“Bobby,” said Compton, brushing away in a comic gesture an imaginary
tear—not altogether, imaginary, at that—“you have unmanned me. But now
let’s have a little council of war. First of all, our play is finished
and you’re all out of a job.”

“It’s really school time, anyhow,” said Francis consolingly. “I’ve never
had a regular year at school. How I’d like that!”

“So should I,” said Peggy.

“And I’m old enough to start now,” ended Pearl, “and I think Ma will
allow me to go.”

“Upon my word!” exclaimed the host. “This is the first time in all my
life that I heard a bunch of children expressing a desire to go to
school. Shakespeare has set for all time the picture of the schoolboy
with a snail’s pace trudging unwillingly to school.”

“Ah, ah!” said Pearl’s mother. “But Shakespeare never lived in Los
Angeles and in the days of the moving picture.”

“True,” assented Compton. “All rules fail in Los Angeles, a city which
may rightly be called ‘different.’ I’m glad you are all ready for
school. I’ve got good news for you. ‘Imitation’ has brought me in a
large sum of money. But I don’t think it is really mine at all. Bobby
here, imitating everybody, gave me the first idea—the germ of the
story. Then I got to thinking of what sort of people were most likely to
imitate. There was just one answer—children. Next I thought of you
three, Peggy, Pearl and Francis. After that it was easy to work out the
plot. Now, while I am keeping a comfortable sum for myself, I have here
in my pocket a check for each one of you calling for fifteen hundred
dollars: and that has nothing to do with the salary you draw. I have
already spoken to your mothers, and they are all willing for you to take
nine months’ vacation from moving-picture work and go to school. The
check is intended to pay for your education; and who knows but by next
June I’ll have another scenario for just you four!”

There was a moment of wondering silence.

Then Pearl arose, smiling more engagingly than ever.

“Oh, thank you, dear Uncle Compton,” and curtsied deeper than on any
former occasion.

Bobby next arose, and with a smile not unlike Pearl’s said:

“Oh, thank you, dear Uncle Compton,” and duplicated the curtsy of Pearl.

Francis and Peggy, wondering what the laughter from the grown folks was
all about, each in turn made the selfsame speech in the selfsame way.

Mr. Compton in struggling to keep a straight face while witnessing the
new “Imitation” feared for the moment that he was on the point of an
apoplectic seizure.

“Suppose we say grace,” he suggested.

Within a few minutes, the table was cleared, everybody taking a hand.
The next thing was the entertainment.

“Look here, Mrs. Sansone,” whispered Compton. “Do you and the other
women take the children into Bobby’s room and arrange a program. Besides
Peggy’s violin playing and Pearl’s dancing, we want Bobby and Francis to
do some little stunt, too. Get them ready in fifteen minutes at the
least. Meantime, I want to have a word with Mrs. Vernon.”

Presently the two were alone, standing beneath the picture of the
guardian angel.

“Barbara, you remember your remarking this morning that you had
something to say to me?”

“Distinctly, John. But since that time I have seen and learned so much
that I have ever so many things to say to you.”

“But what was it you intended this morning?”

“This, John: when I saw your face on the screen in San Luis Obispo last
night, I went back to the years when you and I were so much together. I
recalled how I had refused you because I couldn’t bring myself to marry
a man who did not believe in God. I think still that I was right in my
decision, but I feel that I should have been gentler, more patient. I
was young and severe. And last night I felt that, if ever I met you
again, I would try to explain how sorry I was not for what I did, but
for the way in which I did it.”

“And I,” returned Compton, “have been thinking of you always, indeed,
but almost constantly since I picked Bobby up from the roadside, and
I’ve recalled bitterly my leaving you as abruptly and in a temper. Every
night for the past three weeks I have said over and over again Newman’s
‘Lead, Kindly Light,’ and I have over and over reflected each time in
sorrow and, I hope, true contrition on the line, ‘Pride ruled my will:
remember not past years.’ Barbara, my father was an infidel and my
mother never bothered about religion.”

“I should have considered that,” said Barbara.

“However, that only extenuates my conduct. Now, Barbara, I want to ask
you a very serious question. Did you love me in those days?”

“I don’t know, John dear, whether I can make myself plain in answering.
I liked you immensely and I was so close to the border line of love that
it was only by a strong struggle that I didn’t cross it. Had I yielded
to your request that night, love would, I am sure, have come in the
yielding.”

“Oh, what a fool I was!” exclaimed Compton. “I was at the gate of
Paradise and turned my back on it, and went out into the night; and I
have been dwelling in outer darkness since. Barbara, since I left you,
I’ve been no good. I have been light, frivolous, irresponsible. My
career has amounted to nothing. If God gave me any talents, I have
buried them. All this was true till the coming of Bobby. Bobby came and
he brought _you_ back. Before God, I believe I am a changed man. I have
seen the light and to-morrow I will arise and go into my Father’s house.
To-morrow I am to be received into the Church, and on Sunday I go to
Holy Communion. Of course, I do not know the future. How do I know
whether I shall be able to persevere and not go back? But honestly, I
believe I am a changed man. I believe and I hope.”

“I have known faith to move mountains,” observed Barbara.

“Now, Barbara, you know how I love your little boy.”

“And more,” assented Barbara, “I know how he loves you.”

“Taking this into consideration, do you think you could possibly love
me?”

“John,” said Barbara, holding out her hand to him, “there’s no thinking
about it after this wonderful day. I love you with all my heart.”

“Oh, I say,” cried Bobby, a second later, and seeing what he saw
suddenly ceased to speak.

“Come here, Bobby,” said Compton, recovering his composure quickly. “I
want to ask you a question. What relation are you to me?”

“First,” answered Bobby, “you were my aunt; then you were my
grandfather, then you were my nephew. Just at present you are my uncle.”

“And, dear Bobby, how would you like me to be your father?”

Bobby looked at his blushing mother and understood. Catching now one,
now the other, he delivered a hearty kiss and a hug to each, then
throwing himself flat on the floor, he closed his eyes and said softly
but joyously:

“Good night!”