She sat still, saying nothing. Then he remembered the difference in natures, and the law by which we are not permitted always to take delight in the same cause or be equally afraid of the same thing. He remembered she was but a girl.
“Of what are you thinking, Esther?” he said, in his common, home-like way. “If the thought have the form of a wish, give it me, little one, while the power remains mine. For power, you know, is a fretful thing, and hath its wings always spread for flight.”
She answered with a simplicity almost childish- “Send for him, father. Send for him to-night, and do not let him go into the Circus.”
“Ah!” he said, prolonging the exclamation; and again his eyes fell upon the river, where the shadows were more shadowy than ever, since the moon had sunk far down behind Sulpius, leaving the city to the ineffectual stars. Shall we say it, reader? He was touched by a twinge of jealousy. If she should really love the young master! Oh no! That could not be; she was too young. But the idea had fast grip, and directly held him still and cold. She was sixteen. He knew it well. On the last natal day he had gone with her to the shipyard where there was a launch, and the yellow flag which the galley bore to its bridal with the waves had on it “Esther;” so they celebrated the day together. Yet the fact struck him now with the force of a surprise. There are realizations which come to us all painfully; mostly, however, such as pertain to ourselves; that we are growing old, for instance, and, more terrible, that we must die. Such a one crept into his heart, shadowy as the shadows, yet substantial enough to wring from him a sigh which was almost a groan. It was not sufficient that she should enter upon her young womanhood a servant, but she must carry to her master her affections, the truth and tenderness and delicacy of which he the father so well knew, because to this time they had all been his own undividedly. The fiend whose task it is to torture us with fears and bitter thoughts seldom does his work by halves. In the pang of the moment, the brave old man lost sight of his new scheme, and of the miraculous king its subject. By a mighty effort, however, he controlled himself, and asked, calmly, “Not go into the Circus, Esther? Why, child?”
“It is not a place for a son of Israel, father.”
“Rabbinical, rabbinical, Esther! Is that all?”
The tone of the inquiry was searching, and went to her heart, which began to beat loudly- so loudly she could not answer. A confusion new and strangely pleasant fell upon her.
“The young man is to have the fortune,” he said, taking her hand, and speaking more tenderly; “he is to have the ships and the shekels- all, Esther, all. Yet I did not feel poor, for thou wert left me, and thy love so like the dead Rachel’s. Tell me, is he to have that too?”