"To be sure we have," said Julia eagerly. "I mean to go for a governess, and then I shall cost mamma nothing, and besides I can send her the money the people give me."
"A pretty plan!" said Edward sadly; "what! we three part company? Don't you feel lonely enough without that? I do then. How can we bear our burdens at all, if we are not to be all together to cheer one another along the weary road? What! are we to break up? Is it not enough to be bereaved?"
He could say no more for the emotion his own words caused him; thinking of Jane, he broke down altogether, and ran out of the room.
However, he came back in an hour with his eyes red, but his heart indomitable; determined to play a man's part for all their sakes. "You ladies," said he, with something of his old genial way, that sounded so strange to one looking at his red eyes, and inspired a desire to hug him, "are full of talent, but empty of invention. The moment you are ruined or that sort of thing, it is, _go_ for a governess, _go_ for a companion, _go_ here, _go_ there, in search of what? Independence? No; dependence. Besides all this _going_ is bosh. Families are strong if they stick together, and if they go to pieces they are weak. I learned one bit of sense out of that mass of folly they call antiquity; and that was the story of the old bloke with his twelve sons, and fagot to match. 'Break 'em apart,' he said, and each son broke his stick as easy as shelling peas. 'Now break the twelve all tied together:' devil a bit could the duffers break it then. Now we are not twelve, we are but three: easy to break one or two of us apart, but not the lot together. No; nothing but death shall break this fagot, for nothing less shall part us three."
He stood like a colossus, and held out his hand to them; they clung round his neck in a moment, as if to illustrate his words; clung tight, and blessed him for standing so firm and forbidding them to part.
Mrs. Dodd sighed, after the first burst of enthusiastic affection, and said: "If he would only go a step further and tell us what to do in company."
"Ay, there it is," said Julia. "Begin with me. What can I do?"
"What, to sell? Oh dear, my daubs are not good enough for that."