"Thy injuries would teach patience to blaspheme,
Yet still thou art a dove."
—BEAUMONT'S Double Marriage.
"When forced to part from those we love,
Though sure to meet to-morrow;
We yet a kind of anguish prove
And feel a touch of sorrow.
But oh! what words can paint the fears
When from these friends we sever,
Perhaps to part for months—for years—
Perhaps to part forever."
WHEN Miss Allison had gone, and Elsie found herself once more quite alone, she rose from her chair,
and kneeling down with the open Bible before her, she
poured out her story of sins and sorrows, in simple,
child-like words, into the ears of the dear Saviour whom
she loved so well; confessing that when she had done
well and suffered for it, she had not taken it patiently,
and earnestly pleading that she might be made like
unto the meek and lowly Jesus. Low sobs burst from
her burdened heart, and the tears of penitence fell
upon the pages of the holy book. But when she rose
from her knees, her load of sin and sorrow was all
gone, and her heart made light and happy with a sweet
sense of peace and pardon. Once again, as often
before, the little Elsie was made to experience the
blessedness of "the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
She now set to work diligently at her studies, and ere
the party returned was quite prepared to meet Miss
Day, having attended faithfully to all she had required
of her. The lesson was recited without the smallest
mistake, every figure of the examples worked out correctly, and the page of the copy-book neatly and carefully written.
Miss Day had been in a very captious mood all day,
and seemed really provoked that Elsie had not given
her the smallest excuse for fault-finding. Handing the
book back to her, she said, very coldly, "I see you can
do your duties well enough when you choose."
Elsie felt keenly the injustice of the remark, and
longed to say that she had tried quite as earnestly in
the morning; but she resolutely crushed down the indignant feeling, and calling to mind the rash words
that had cost her so many repentant tears, she replied
meekly, "I am sorry I did not succeed better this
morning, Miss Day, though I did really try; and I am
still more sorry for the saucy answer I gave you; and
I ask your pardon for it."
"You ought to be sorry," replied Miss Day, severely,
"and I hope you are; for it was a very impertinent
speech indeed, and deserving of a much more severe
punishment than you received. Now go, and never
let me hear anything of the kind from you again."
Poor little Elsie's eyes filled with tears at these ungracious words, accompanied by a still more ungracious manner; but she turned away without a word,
and placing her books and slate carefully in her desk,
left the room.
Rose Allison was sitting alone in her room that
evening, thinking of her far-distant home, when hearing a gentle rap at her door, she rose and opened it to
find Elsie standing there with her little Bible in her
"Come in, darling," she said, stooping to give the
little one a kiss; "I am very glad to see you."
"I may stay with you for half an hour, Miss Allison, if you like," said the child, seating herself on the
low ottoman pointed out by Rose, "and then mammy
is coming to put me to bed."
"It will be a very pleasant half-hour to both of us,
I hope," replied Rose, opening her Bible.
They read a chapter together—Rose now and then
pausing to make a few explanations—and then kneeling down, she offered up a prayer for the teachings
of the Spirit, and for God's blessing on themselves and
all their dear ones.
"Dear little Elsie," she said, folding the child in her
arms, when they had risen from their knees, "how I
love you already, and how very glad I am to find that
there is one in this house beside myself who loves
Jesus, and loves to study His word, and to call upon
"Yes, dear Miss Allison; and there is more than
one, for mammy loves Him, too, very dearly," replied
the little girl, earnestly.
"Does she, darling? Then I must love her, too, for
I cannot help loving all who love my Saviour."
Then Rose sat down, and drawing the little girl to
a seat on her knee, they talked sweetly together of the
race they were running, and the prize they hoped to
obtain at the end of it; of the battle they were fighting,
and the invisible foes with whom they were called
to struggle—the armor that had been provided, and
of Him who had promised to be the Captain of their
salvation, and to bring them off more than conquerors.
They were pilgrims in the same straight and narrow way, and it was very pleasant thus to walk a little
while together. "Then they that feared the Lord spake
often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and
heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that
thought upon His name. And they shall be mine,
saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up
my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his
own son that serveth him."
"That is mammy coming for me," said Elsie, as a
low knock was heard at the door.
"Come in," said Rose, and the door opened, and a
very nice colored woman of middle age, looking beautifully neat in her snow-white apron and turban, entered with a low courtesy, asking, "Is my little missus
ready for bed now?"
"Yes," said Elsie, jumping off Rose's lap; "but
come here, mammy; I want to introduce you to Miss
"How do you do. Aunt Chloe ? I am very glad to
know you, since Elsie tells me you are a servant of the
same blessed Master whom I love and try to serve,"
said Rose, putting her small white hand cordially into
Chloe's dusky one.
" 'Deed I hope I is, missus," replied Chloe, pressing
it fervently in both of hers. "I's only a poor old black
sinner, but de good Lord Jesus, He loves me jes de
same as if I was white, an' I love Him an' all His
chillen with all my heart."
"Yes, Aunt Chloe," said Rose, "He is our peace, and
hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle
wall of partition between us; so that we are no more
strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the
saints and of the household of God; and are built
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus
Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."
"Yes, missus, dat's it for sure; ole Chloe knows
dat's in de Bible; an' if we be built on dat bressed
corner-stone, we's safe ebery one; I'se heard it many's
de time, an' it fills dis ole heart with joy an' peace in
believing," she exclaimed, raising her tearful eyes and
clasping her hands. "But good night, missus; I must
put my chile to bed," she added, taking Elsie's hand.
"Good-night, Aunt Chloe; come in again," said
Rose. "And good-night to you, too, dear little Elsie,"
folding the little girl again in her arms.
"Ain't dat a bressed young lady, darlin'!" exclaimed
Chloe, earnestly, as she began the business of preparing her young charge for bed.
"0 mammy, I love her so much! she's so good and
kind," replied the child, "and she loves Jesus, and
loves to talk about Him."
"She reminds me of your dear mamma, Miss Elsie,
but she's not so handsome," replied the nurse, with a
tear in her eye; "ole Chloe tinks dere's nebber any
lady so beautiful as her dear young missus was."
Elsie drew out the miniature and kissed it, murmuring, "Dear, darling mamma," then put it back in her
bosom again, for she always wore it day and night.
She was standing in her white night-dress, the tiny
white feet just peeping from under it, while Chloe
brushed back her curls and put on her night-cap.
"Dere now, darlin', you's ready for bed," she exclaimed, giving the child a hug and a kiss.
"No, mammy, not quite," replied the little girl, and
gliding away to the side of the bed, she knelt down
and offered up her evening prayer. Then, coming
back to the toilet table, she opened her little Bible,
saying, "Now, mammy, I will read you a chapter
while you are getting ready for bed."
The room was large and airy, and Aunt Chloe, who
was never willing to leave her nursling, but watched
over her night and day with the most devoted affection, slept in a cot bed in one corner.
"Tank you, my dear young missus, you's berry
good," she said, beginning the preparations for the
night by taking off her turban and replacing it by a
When the chapter was finished Elsie got into bed,
saying, "Now, mammy, you may put out the light as
soon as you please; and be sure to call me early in the
morning, for I have a lesson to learn before breakfast."
"That I will, darlin'," replied the old woman,
spreading the cover carefully over her. "Good-night,
my pet, your ole mammy hopes her chile will have
Rose Allison was an early riser, and as the breakfast hour at Roselands was eight o'clock, she always
had an hour or two for reading before it was time to
join the family circle. She had asked Elsie to come
to her at half-past seven, and punctually at the hour
the little girl's gentle rap was heard at her door.
"Come in," said Rose, and Elsie entered, looking as
bright and fresh and rosy as the morning. She had
her little Bible under her arm, and a bouquet of fresh
flowers in her hand. "Good-morning, dear Miss Allison," she said, dropping a graceful courtesy as she
presented it. "I have come to read, and I have just
been out to gather these for you, because I know
you love flowers."
"Thank you, darling, they are very lovely," said
Rose, accepting the gift and bestowing a caress upon
the giver. "You are quite punctual," she added, "and
now we can have our half-hour together before breakfast."
The time was spent profitably and pleasantly, and
passed so quickly that both were surprised when the
breakfast bell rang.
Miss Allison spent the whole fall and winter at
Roselands; and it was very seldom during all that time
that she and Elsie failed to have their morning and
evening reading and prayer together. Rose was often
made to wonder at the depth of the little girl's piety
and the knowledge of divine things she possessed. But
Elsie had had the best of teaching. Chloe, though entirely uneducated, was a simple-minded, earnest Christian, and with a heart full of love to Jesus, had, as we
have seen, early endeavored to lead the little one to
Him, and Mrs. Murray—the housekeeper whom Adelaide had mentioned, and who had assisted Chloe in
the care of the child from the time of her birth until
a few months before Rose's coming, when she had suddenly been summoned home to Scotland—had proved
a very faithful friend. She was an intelligent woman
and devotedly pious, and had carefully instructed this
lonely little one, for whom she felt almost a parent's
affection, and her efforts to bring her to a saving
knowledge of Christ had been signally owned and
blessed of God; and in answer to her earnest prayers,
the Holy Spirit had vouchsafed His teachings, without which all human instruction must ever be in vain.
And young as Elsie was, she had already a very lovely
and well-developed Christian character. Though not
a remarkably precocious child in other respects, she
seemed to have very clear and correct views on almost every subject connected with her duty to God and
her neighbor; was very truthful both in word and
deed, very strict in her observance of the Sabbath—
though the rest of the family were by no means particular in that respect—very diligent in her studies,
respectful to superiors, and kind to inferiors and
equals; and she was gentle, sweet-tempered, patient,
and forgiving to a remarkable degree. Rose became
strongly attached to her, and the little girl fully re-
turned her affection.
Elsie was very sensitive and affectionate, and felt
keenly the want of sympathy and love, for which, at
the time of Rose's coming, she had no one to look to
but poor old Chloe, who loved her with all her heart.
It is true, Adelaide sometimes treated her almost affectionately, and Lora, who had a very strong sense of
justice, occasionally interfered and took her part when
she was very unjustly accused, but no one seemed
really to care for her, and she often felt sad and lonely.
Mr. Dinsmore, though her own grandfather, treated
her with entire neglect, seemed to have not the slightest affection for her, and usually spoke of her as "old
Crayson's grandchild." Mrs. Dinsmore really disliked her, because she looked upon her as the child of
a stepson for whom she had never felt any affection,
and also as the future rival of her own children;
while the governess and the younger members of the
family, following the example of their elders, treated
her with neglect, and occasionally even with abuse.
Miss Day, knowing that she was in no danger of
incurring the displeasure of her superiors by so doing, vented upon her all the spite she dared not show
to her other pupils; and continually she was made to
give up her toys and pleasures to Enna, and even
sometimes to Arthur and Walter. It often cost her
a struggle, and had she possessed less of the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, her life had been
But in spite of all her trials and vexations, little
Elsie was the happiest person in the family; for she
had in her heart that peace which the world can neither
give nor take away; that joy which the Saviour gives
to His own, and no man taketh from them. She constantly carried all her sorrows and troubles to Him, and
the coldness and neglect of others seemed but to drive
her nearer to that Heavenly Friend, until she felt that
while possessed of His love, she could not be unhappy,
though treated with scorn and abuse by all the world.
"The good are better made by ill,
As odors crushed are sweeter still;"
And even so it seemed to be with little Elsie; her
trials seemed to have only the effect of purifying and
making more lovely her naturally amiable character.
Elsie talked much and thought more of her absent
and unknown father, and longed with an intensity of
desire for his return home. It was her dream, by day
and by night, that he had come, that he had taken
her to his heart, calling her "his own darling child,
his precious little Elsie;" for such were the loving epithets she often heard lavished upon Enna, and which
she longed to hear addressed to herself. But from
month to month, and year to year, that longed-for
return had been delayed until the little heart had grown
sick with hope deferred, and was often weary with its
almost hopeless waiting. But to return.
"Elsie," said Adelaide, as Miss Allison and the little girl entered the breakfast-room on the morning
after Elsie's disappointment, "the fair is not over yet,
and Miss Allison and I are going to ride out there
this afternoon; so, if you are a good girl in school, you
may go with us."
"Oh! thank you, dear Aunt Adelaide," exclaimed
the little girl, clapping her hands with delight; "how
kind you are! and I shall be so glad."
Miss Day frowned, and looked as if she wanted to
reprove her for her noisy demonstrations of delight,
but, standing somewhat in awe of Adelaide, said
But Elsie suddenly relapsed into silence, for at that
moment Mrs. Dinsmore entered the room, and it was
seldom that she could utter a word in her presence
without being reproved and told that "children should
be seen and not heard," though her own were allowed to talk as much as they pleased.
Miss Day seemed cross, Mrs. Dinsmore was moody
and taciturn, complaining of headache, and Mr. Dinsmore occupied with the morning paper; and so the
meal passed off in almost unbroken silence. Elsie
was glad when it was over, and hastening to the
school-room, she began her tasks without waiting for
the arrival of the regular hour for study.
She had the room entirely to herself, and had been
busily engaged for half an hour in working out her
examples, when the opening of the door caused her
to look up, and, to her dismay, Arthur entered. He
did not, however, as she feared, begin his customary
course of teasing and tormenting, but seated himself
at his desk, leaning his head upon his hand in an attitude of dejection.
Elsie wondered what ailed him, his conduct was so
unusual, and she could not help every now and then
sending an inquiring glance toward him, and at length
she asked, "What is the matter, Arthur ?"
"Nothing much," said he, gruffly, turning his back
Thus repulsed, she said no more, but gave her undivided attention to her employment; and so diligent
was she, that Miss Day had no excuse whatever for
fault-finding this morning. Her tasks were all completed within the required time, and she enjoyed her
promised ride with her aunt and Miss Allison, and
her visit to the fair, very much indeed.
It was still early when they returned; and finding
that she had nearly an hour to dispose of before tea-time, Elsie thought she would finish a drawing which
she had left in her desk in the school-room. White
searching for it and her pencil, she heard Lora's and
Arthur's voices on the veranda.
She did not notice what they were saying, until her
own name struck her ear.
"Elsie is the only person," Lora was saying, "who
can, and probably will, help you; for she has plenty
of money, and she is so kind and generous; but, if I
were you, I should be ashamed to ask her, after the
way you acted toward her."
"I wish I hadn't teased her so yesterday," replied
Arthur, disconsolately, "but it's such fun, I can't help
"Well, I know I wouldn't ask a favor of anybody I
had treated so," said Lora, walking away.
Elsie sat still a few moments, working at her drawing and wondering all the time what it was Arthur
wanted, and thinking how glad she would be of an
opportunity of returning him good for evil. She did
not like, though, to seek his confidence, but presently hearing him heave a deep sigh, she rose and
went out on the veranda.
He was leaning on the railing in an attitude of dejection, his head bent down and his eyes fixed on the
floor. She went up to him, and laying her hand softly
on his shoulder, said, in the sweet, gentle tones natural
to her. "What ails you, Arthur? Can I do anything
for you? I will be very glad if I can."
"No—yes—" he answered hesitatingly; "I wouldn't
like to ask you after—after—"
"Oh! never mind," said Elsie, quickly; "I do not care
anything about that now. I had the ride to-day, and
that was better still, because I went with Aunt Adelaide and Miss Allison. Tell me what you want."
Thus encouraged, Arthur replied, "I saw a beautiful
little ship yesterday when I was in the city; it was
only five dollars, and I've set my heart on having it, but
my pocket money's all gone, and papa won't give me a
cent until next month's allowance is due; and by that
time the ship will be gone, for it's such a beauty somebody'll be sure to buy it."
"Won't your mamma buy it for you?" asked Elsie.
"No, she says she hasn't the money to spare just
now. You know it's near the end of the month, and
they've all spent their allowances except Louise, and
she says she'll not lend her money to such a spend-thrift as I am."
Elsie drew out her purse, and seemed just about to
put it into his hand; but, apparently changing her
mind, she hesitated a moment, and then returning it
to her pocket, said, with a half smile, "I don't know,
Arthur; five dollars is a good deal for a little girl like
me to lay out at once. I must think about it a little."
"I don't ask you to give it," he replied scornfully ; "I'll pay it back in two weeks."
"Well, I will see by to-morrow morning," she said,
darting away, while he sent an angry glance after her,
muttering the word "stingy" between his teeth.
Elsie ran down to the kitchen, asking of one and another of the servants as she passed, "Where's Pompey?" The last time she put the question to Phoebe,
the cook, but was answered by Pompey himself. "Here
am Pomp, Miss Elsie; what does little missy want
wid dis chile?"
"Are you going to the city to-night, Pompey?"
"Yes, Miss Elsie, I'se got some arrants to do for
missus an' de family in ginral, an' I ben gwine start
in 'bout ten minutes. Little missy wants sumpin', eh ?"
Elsie motioned to him to come close to her, and then
putting her purse into his hands, she told him in a
whisper of Arthur's wish, and directed him to purchase the coveted toy, and bring it to her, if possible,
without letting any one else know anything about it.
"And keep half a dollar for yourself, Pompey, to pay
you for your trouble," she added in conclusion.
"Tank you, little missy," he replied, with a broad
grin of satisfaction; "dat be berry good pay, and Pomp
am de man to do dis business up for you 'bout right."
The tea-bell rang, and Elsie hastened away to answer the summons. She looked across the table at Arthur with a pleasant smile on her countenance, but he
averted his eyes with an angry scowl; and with a slight
sigh she turned away her head, and did not look at
him again during the meal.
Pompey executed his commission faithfully; and
when Elsie returned to her own room after her evening hour with Miss Rose, Chloe pointed out the little
ship standing on the mantel.
"Oh! it's a little beauty," cried Elsie, clapping her
hands and dancing up and down with delight; "how
Arthur will be pleased! Now, mammy, can you take
it to the school-room, and put it on Master Arthur's
desk, without anybody seeing you?"
"Ole Chloe'll try, darlin'," she said, taking it in her
"Oh! wait one moment," exclaimed Elsie, and taking a card, she wrote on it, "A present to Arthur, from
his niece Elsie." Then laying it on the deck of the
little vessel. "There, mammy," she said, "I think that
will do; but please look out first to see whether any one
is in the hall."
"Coast all clear, darlin'," replied Chloe, after a careful survey; "all de chillens am in bed before dis time,
I spec." And taking a candle in one hand and the little ship in the other, she started for the school-room.
She soon returned with a broad grin of satisfaction
on her black face, saying, "All right, darlin', I put him
on Massa Arthur's desk, an' nobody de wiser."
So Elsie went to bed very happy in the thought of
the pleasure Arthur would have in receiving her present.
She was hurrying down to the breakfast-room the
next morning, a little in advance of Miss Rose, who
had stopped to speak to Adelaide, when Arthur came
running up behind her, having just come in by a side
door from the garden, and seizing her round the waist,
he said, "Thank you, Elsie; you're a real good girl!
She sails beautifully. I've been trying her on the
pond. But it mustn't be a present; you must let me
pay you back when I get my allowance."
"Oh! no, Arthur, that would spoil it all," she answered quickly; "you are entirely welcome, and you
know my allowance is so large that half the time I
have more money than I know how to spend."
"I should like to see the time that would be the
case with me," said he, laughing. Then in a lower
tone, "Elsie, I'm sorry I teased you so. I'll not do it
Elsie answered him with a grateful look, as she
stepped past him and quietly took her place at the
Arthur kept his word, and for many weeks entirely
refrained from teasing Elsie, and while freed from
that annoyance she was always able to have her tasks
thoroughly prepared; and though her governess was
often unreasonable and exacting, and there was
scarcely a day in which she was not called upon to
yield her own wishes or pleasures, or in some way to
inconvenience herself to please Walter or Enna, or occasionally the older members of the family, yet it was
an unusually happy winter to her, for Rose Allison's
love and uniform kindness shed sunshine on her path.
She had learned to yield readily to others, and when
fretted or saddened by unjust or unkind treatment, a
few moments alone with her precious Bible and her
loved Saviour made all right again, and she would
come from those sweet communings looking as serenely happy as if she had never known an annoyance. She was a wonder to all the family. Her grandfather would sometimes look at her as, without a
frown or a pout, she would give up her own wishes to
Enna, and shaking his head, say, "She's no Dinsmore, or she would know how to stand up for her own
rights better than that. I don't like such tame-spirited people. She's not Horace's child; it never was
an easy matter to impose upon or conquer him. He
was a boy of spirit."
"What a strange child Elsie is?" Adelaide remarked
to her friend one day. "I am often surprised to see
how sweetly she gives up to all of us; really she
has a lovely temper. I quite envy her; it was always hard for me to give up my own way."
"I do not believe it was easy for her at first," said
Rose. "I think her sweet disposition is the fruit of
a work of grace in her heart. It is the ornament of a
meek and quiet spirit, which God alone can bestow."
"I wish I had it, then," said Adelaide, sighing.
"You have only to go to the right source to obtain
it, dear Adelaide," replied her friend, gently.
"And yet," said Adelaide, "I must say I sometimes
think that, as papa says, there is something mean-spirited and cowardly in always giving up to other
"It would indeed be cowardly and wrong to give
up principle," replied Rose, "but surely it is noble and
generous to give up our own wishes to another, where
no principle is involved."
"Certainly, you are right," said Adelaide, musingly.
"And now I recollect that, readily as Elsie gives up her
own wishes to others on ordinary occasions, I have
never known her to sacrifice principle; but, on the contrary, she has several times made mamma excessively
angry by refusing to romp and play with Enna on the
Sabbath, or to deceive papa when questioned with regard to some of Arthur's misdeeds; yet she has often
borne the blame of his faults, when she might have
escaped by telling of him. Elsie is certainly very different from any of the rest of us, and if it is piety
that makes her what she is, I think piety is a very
Elsie's mornings were spent in the school-room; in
the afternoon she walked, or rode out, sometimes in
company with her young uncles and aunts, and sometimes alone, a negro boy following at a respectful distance, as a protector. In the evening there was almost always company in the parlor, and she found it
pleasanter to sit beside the bright wood-fire in her own
room, with her fond old nurse for a companion, than
to stay there, or with the younger ones in the sitting-
room or nursery. If she had no lesson to learn, she
usually read aloud to Chloe, as she sat knitting by the
fire, and the Bible was the book generally preferred
by both; and then when she grew weary of reading, she
would often take a stool, and sitting down close to
Chloe, put her head in her lap, saying, "Now, mammy,
tell me about mamma."
And then for the hundredth time or more the old
woman would go over the story of the life and death
of her "dear young missus," as she always called her;
telling of her beauty, her goodness, and of her sorrows and sufferings during the last year of her short
It was a story which never lost its charm, for Elsie;
a story which the one never wearied of telling, nor the
other of hearing, Elsie would sit listening, with her
mother's miniature in her hand, gazing at it with tearful eyes, then press it to her lips, murmuring, "My
own mamma; poor, dear mamma." And when Chloe
had finished that story she would usually say, "Now,
mammy, tell me all about papa."
But upon this subject Chloe had very little information to give. She knew him only as a gay, handsome
young stranger, whom she had seen occasionally during a few months, and who had stolen all the sunshine
from her beloved young mistress' life, and left her to
die alone; yet she did not blame him when speaking to
his child, for the young wife had told her that he had
not forsaken her of his own free choice; and though
she could not quite banish from her own mind the
idea that he had not been. altogether innocent in the
matter, she breathed no hint of it to Elsie; for Chloe
was a sensible woman, and knew that to lead the little
one to think ill of her only remaining parent would
but tend to make her unhappy.
Sometimes Elsie would ask very earnestly, "Do you
thing papa loves Jesus, mammy?" And Chloe would
reply with a doubtful shake of the head, "Dunno, darlin' ; but ole Chloe prays for him ebery day."
"And so do I," Elsie would answer; "dear, dear
papa, how I wish he would come home!"
And so the winter glided away, and spring came, and
Miss Allison must soon return home. It was now the
last day of March, and her departure had been fixed
for the second of April. For a number of weeks Elsie
had been engaged, during all her spare moments, in
knitting a purse for Rose, wishing to give her something which was the work of her own hands, knowing
that as such it would be more prized by her friend than
a costlier gift. She had just returned from her afternoon ride, and taking out her work she sat down to
finish it. She was in her own room, with no companion but Chloe, who sat beside her knitting as usual.
Elsie worked on silently for some time, then suddenly holding up her purse, she exclaimed, "See,
mammy, it is all done but putting on the tassel! Isn't
it pretty ? and won't dear Miss Allison be pleased with
It really was very pretty indeed, of crimson and
gold, and beautifully knit, and Chloe, looking at it
with admiring eyes, said, "I spec she will, darlin'.
I tink it's berry handsome."
At this moment Enna opened the door and came in.
Elsie hastily attempted to conceal the purse by
thrusting it into her pocket, but it was too late, for
Enna had seen it, and running toward her, cried out,
"Now, Elsie, just give that to me!"
"No, Enna," replied Elsie, mildly, "I cannot let you
have it, because it is for Miss Rose."
"I will have it," exclaimed the child, resolutely, "and
if you don't give it to me at once I shall just go and
"I will let you take it in your hand a few moments
to look at it, if you will be careful not to soil it, Enna,"
said Elsie, in the same gentle tone; "and if you wish,
I will get some more silk and beads, and make you one
just like it; but I cannot give you this, because I would
not have time to make another for Miss Rose.".
"No, I shall just have that one; and I shall have it
to keep," said Enna, attempting to snatch it out of Elsie's hand.
But Elsie held it up out of her reach, and after trying several times in vain to get it, Enna left the room,
crying and screaming with passion.
Chloe locked the door, saying, "Great pity, darlin',
we forgot to do dat 'fore Miss Enna came. I'se 'fraid
she gwine bring missus for make you gib um up."
Elsie sat down to her work again, but she was very
pale, and her little hands trembled with agitation, and
her soft eyes were full of tears.
Chloe's fears were but too well founded; for the
next moment hasty steps were heard in the passage,
and the handle of the door was laid hold of with no
very gentle grasp; and then, as it refused to yield to
her touch, Mrs. Dinsmore's voice was heard in an
angry tone giving the command, "Open this door instantly."
Chloe looked at her young mistress.
"You will have to," said Elsie, tearfully, slipping her
work into her pocket again, and lifting up her heart in
prayer for patience and meekness, for she well knew
she would have need of both.
Mrs. Dinsmore entered, leading the sobbing Enna by
the hand; her face was flushed with passion, and addressing Elsie in tones of violent anger, she asked,
"What is the meaning of all this, you good-for-nothing hussy? Why are you always tormenting this poor
child? Where is that paltry trifle that all this fuss is
about? let me see it this instant."
Elsie drew the purse from her pocket, saying in
tearful, trembling tones, "It is a purse I was making
for Miss Rose, ma'am; and I offered to make another
just like it for Enna; but I cannot give her this one,
because there would not be time to make another before Miss Rose goes away."
"You can not give it to her, indeed! You will not,
you mean; but I say you shall; and I'll see if I'm not
mistress in my own house. Give it to the child this
instant; I'll not have her crying her eyes out that you
may be humored in all your whims. There are plenty
of handsomer ones to be had in the city, and if you are
too mean to make her a present of it, I'll buy you another to-morrow."
"But that would not be my work, and this is," replied Elsie, still retaining the purse, loath to let it go.
"Nonsense! what difference will that make to Miss
Rose?" said Mrs. Dinsmore; and snatching it out of
her hand, she gave it to Enna, saying, "There, my pet,
you shall have it. Elsie is a naughty, mean, stingy
girl, but she shan't plague you while your mamma's
Enna cast a look of triumph at Elsie, and ran off
with her prize, followed by her mother, while poor
Elsie hid her face in Chloe's lap. and cried bitterly.
It required all Chloe's religion to keep down her anger and indignation at this unjust and cruel treatment
of her darling, and for a few moments she allowed
her to sob and cry without a word, only soothing her
with mute caresses, not daring to trust her voice, lest
her anger should find vent in words. But at length,
when her feelings had grown somewhat calmer, she
said soothingly, "Nebber mind it, my poor darlin'
chile. Just go to de city and buy de prettiest purse you
can find, for Miss Rose."
But Elsie shook her head sadly. "I wanted it to be
my own work," she sobbed, "and now there is no
"Oh! I'll tell you what, my pet" exclaimed Chloe
suddenly, "dere's de purse you was aknittin' for your
papa, an' dey wouldn't send it for you; you can get
dat done for de lady, and knit another for your papa,
'fore he comes home."
Elsie raised her head with a look of relief, but her
face clouded again, as she replied, "But it is not quite
done, and I haven't the beads to finish it with, and Miss
Rose goes day after to-morrow."
"Nebber mind dat, darlin'," said Chloe, jumping up;
"Pomp he been gwine to de city dis berry afternoon,
an' we'll tell him to buy de beads, an' den you can get
de purse finished 'fore to-morrow night, an' de lady
don't go till de next day, an' so it gwine all come
"Oh! yes, that will do; dear old mammy, I'm so glad
you thought of it," said Elsie, joyfully. And rising,
she went to her bureau, and unlocking a drawer, took
from it a bead purse of blue and gold, quite as handsome as the one of which she had been so ruthlessly
despoiled, and rolling it up in a piece of paper, she
handed it to Chloe, saying: "There, mammy, please
give it to Pomp, and tell him to match the beads and
the silk exactly."
Chloe hastened in search of Pomp, but when she
found him, he insisted that he should not have time to
attend to Miss Elsie's commission and do his other errands ; and Chloe, knowing that he, in common with all,
the other servants, was very fond of the little girl, felt
satisfied that it was not merely an excuse, therefore
did not urge her request. She stood a moment in great
perplexity, then suddenly exclaimed, "I'll go myself.
Miss Elsie will spare me, an' I'll go right long wid you,
Chloe was entirely Elsie's servant, having no other
business than to wait upon her and take care of her
clothing and her room; and the little girl, of course,
readily gave her permission to accompany Pomp and
do the errand.
But it was quite late ere Chloe returned, and the little girl spent the evening alone in her own room. She
was sadly disappointed that she could not even have
her hour with Miss Rose, who was detained in the
parlor with company whom she could not leave, and so
the evening seemed very long and wore away very
But at last Chloe came, and in answer to her eager
inquiries displayed her purchases with great satisfaction, saying, "Yes, darlin', I'se got de berry t'ings you
"Oh! yes," said Elsie, examining them with delight; "they are just right; and now I can finish it in
a couple of hours."
"Time to get ready for bed now, ain't it, pet?"
asked Chloe; but before the little girl had time to answer, a servant knocked at the door, and handed in a
note for her. It was from Miss Allison, and, hastily
tearing it open, she read:
"DEAR ELSIE—I am very sorry that we cannot have
our reading together this evening; but be sure, darling,
to come to me early in the morning; it will be our last
opportunity, for, dear child, I have another disappointment for you. I had not expected to leave before
day after to-morrow, but I have learned this evening
that the vessel sails a day sooner than I had supposed,
and therefore I shall be obliged to start on my journey to-morrow.
Elsie dropped the note on the floor and burst into
"What de matter, darlin' ?" asked Chloe, anxiously.
"Oh! Miss Rose, dear, dear Miss Rose is going tomorrow," she sobbed. Then hastily drying her eyes,
she said: "But I have no time for crying. I must sit
up and finish the purse to-night, because there will
not be time to-morrow."
It was long past her usual hour for retiring when
at last her task, or rather her labor of love, was completed. Yet she was up betimes, and at the usual
hour her gentle rap was heard at Miss Allison's door.
Rose clasped her in her arms and kissed her tenderly.
"0 Miss Rose! dear, dear Miss Rose, what shall I
do without you?" sobbed the little girl. "I shall have
nobody to love me now but mammy."
"You have another and a better friend, dear Elsie,
who has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake
thee,' " whispered Rose, with another tender caress.
"Yes," said Elsie, wiping away her tears; "and He
is your Friend, too; and don't you think, Miss Rose,
He will bring us together again some day?"
"I hope so indeed, darling. We must keep very close
to Him, dear Elsie; we must often commune with Him
in secret; often study His word, and try always to do
His will. Ah! dear child, if we can only have the assurance that that dear Friend is with us—that we have
His presence and His love, we shall be supremely
happy, though separated from all earthly friends. I
know, dear little one, that you have peculiar trials, and
that you often feel the want of sympathy and love; but
you may always find them in Jesus. And now we will
have our reading and prayer as usual."
She took the little girl in her lap, and opening the
Bible, read aloud the fourteenth chapter of John, a
part of that touching farewell of our Saviour to His
sorrowing disciples; and then they knelt to pray.
Elsie was only a listener, for her little heart was too
full to allow her to be anything more.
"My poor darling!" Rose said, again taking her in
her arms, "we will hope to meet again before very long.
Who knows but your papa may come home, and some
day bring you to see me. It seems not unlikely, as he
is so fond of traveling."
Elsie looked up, smiling through her tears, "Oh!
how delightful that would be," she said. "But it
seems as though my papa would never come," she
added, with a deep-drawn sigh.
"Well, darling, we can hope," Rose answered cheerfully. "And, dear child, though we must be separated in body for a time, we can still meet in spirit
at the mercy-seat. Shall we not do so at this hour
Elsie gave a joyful assent.
"And I shall write to you, darling," Rose said; "I
will write on my journey, if I can, so that you will get
the letter in a week from the time I leave; and then
you must write to me; will you ?"
"The morning blush was lighted up by hope-
The hope of meeting him."
"Unkindness, do thy office; poor heart, break."
A WEEK had now passed away since Miss Allison's departure, and Elsie, to whom it had been a sad and lonely one, was beginning to look eagerly for her first letter.
"It is just, a week to-day since Rose left," remarked Adelaide at the breakfast table, "and I think we ought to hear from her soon. She promised to write on her journey. Ah! here comes Pomp with the letters now," she added, as the servant man entered the room bearing in his hand the bag in which he always brought the letters of the family from the office in the neighboring city, whither he was sent every morning.
"Pomp, you are late this morning," said Mrs. Dinsmore.
"Yes, missus," replied the negro, scratching his head, "de horses am berry lazy; spec dey's got de spring fever."
"Do make haste, papa, and see if there is not one from Rose," said Adelaide coaxingly, as her father took the bag, and very deliberately adjusted his spectacles before opening it.
"Have patience, young lady," said he. "Yes, here is a letter for you, and one for Elsie," tossing them across the table as he spoke.
Elsie eagerly seized hers and ran away to her own room to read it. It was a feast to her, this first letter, and from such a dear friend, too. It gave her almost as much pleasure for the moment as Miss Rose's presence could have afforded.
She had just finished its perusal and was beginning it again, when she heard Adelaide's voice calling her by name, and the next moment she entered the room, saying: "Well, Elsie, I suppose you have read your letter; and now I have another piece of news for you. Can you guess what it is?" she asked, looking at her with a strange smile.
"Oh! no, Aunt Adelaide; please tell me. Is dear Miss Rose coming back?"
"0! nonsense; what a guess!" said Adelaide. "No, stranger than that. My brother Horace-your papa- has actually sailed for America, and is coming directly home."
Elsie sprang up, her cheeks flushed, and her little heart beating wildly.
"0 Aunt Adelaide!" she cried, "is it really true? is he coming? and will he be here soon?"
"He has really started at last; but how soon he will be here I don't know," replied her aunt, turning to leave the room. "I have told you all I know about it."
Elsie clasped her hands together, and sank down upon a sofa. Miss Rose's letter, prized so highly a moment before, lying unheeded at her feet; for her thoughts were far away, following that unknown parent as he crossed the ocean; trying to imagine how he would look, how he would speak, what would be his feelings toward her.
"Oh!" she asked, with a beating heart, "will he love me? My own papa! will he let me love him? will he take me in his arms and call me his own darling child ?"
But who could answer the anxious inquiry? She must just wait until the slow wheels of time should bring the much longed-for, yet sometimes half-dreaded arrival.
Elsie's lessons were but indifferently recited that morning, and Miss Day frowned, and said in a tone of severity that it did not agree with her to receive letters; and that, unless she wished her papa to be much displeased with her on his expected arrival, she must do a great deal better than that.
She had touched the right chord then; for Elsie, intensely anxious to please that unknown father, and, if possible, gain his approbation and affection, gave her whole mind to her studies with such a determined purpose that the governess could find no more cause for complaint.
But while the child is looking forward to the expected meeting with such longing affection for him, how is it with the father?
Horace Dinsmore was, like his father, an upright, moral man, who paid an outward respect to the forms of religion, but cared nothing for the vital power of godliness; trusted entirely to his morality, and looked upon Christians as hypocrites and deceivers. He had been told that his little Elsie was one of these, and, though he would not have acknowledged it even to himself, it had prejudiced him against her. Then, too, in common with all the Dinsmores, he had a great deal of family pride; and, though old Mr. Grayson had been a man of sterling worth, intelligent, honest, and pious, and had died very wealthy, yet because he was known to have begun life as a poor boy, the whole family were accustomed to speak as though Horace had stooped very much in marrying his heiress.
And Horace himself had come to look upon his early marriage as a piece of boyish folly, of which he was rather ashamed; and so constantly had Mr. Dinsmore spoken in his letters of Elsie as "old Grayson's grandchild," that he had got into the habit of looking upon her as a kind of disgrace to him; especially as she had always been described to him as a disagreeable, troublesome child.
He had loved his wife with all the warmth of his passionate nature, and had mourned bitterly over her untimely death; but years of study, travel and worldly pleasures had almost banished her image from his mind, and he seldom thought of her except in connection with the child for whom he felt a secret dislike.
Scarcely anything but the expected arrival was now spoken or thought of at Roselands, and Elsie was not the only one to whom. old Time seemed to move with an unusually laggard pace.
But at length a letter came telling them that they might look upon it as being but one day in advance of its writer; and now all was bustle and preparation.
"0 mammy, mammy!" exclaimed Elsie, jumping up and down, and clapping her hands for joy, as she came in from her afternoon ride, "just think! papa, dear papa, will be here to-morrow morning."
She seemed wild with delight; but suddenly sobered down, and a look of care stole over the little face, as the torturing question recurred to her mind, "Will he love me?"
She stood quite still, with her eyes fixed thought- fully, and almost sadly, upon the floor, while Chloe took off her riding dress and cap and smoothed her hair. As she finished arranging her dress she clasped the little form in her arms, and pressed a fond kiss on the fair brow, thinking to herself that was the sweetest and loveliest little face she had ever looked upon.
Just at that moment an unusual bustle was heard in the house.
Elsie started, changed color, and stood listening with a throbbing heart.
Presently little feet were heard running rapidly down the hall, and Walter, throwing open the door, called out, "Elsie, he's come!" and catching her hand, hurried her along to the parlor door.
"Stop, stop, Walter," she gasped as they reached it; and she leaned against the wall, her heart throbbing so wildly she could scarcely breathe.
"What is the matter?" said he, "are you ill? come along;" and pushing the door open, he rushed in, dragging her after him.
So over-wrought were the child's feelings that she nearly fainted; everything in the room seemed to be turning round, and for an instant she scarcely knew where she was.
But a strange voice asked, "And who is this?" and looking up as her grandfather pronounced her name, she saw a stranger standing before her-very handsome, and very youthful-looking, in spite of a heavy dark beard and mustache-who exclaimed hastily, "What! this great girl my child ? really it is enough to make a man feel old."
Then, taking her hand, he stooped and coldly kissed her lips.
She was trembling violently, and the very depth of her feelings kept her silent and still; her hand lay still in his, cold and clammy.
He held it an instant, at the same time gazing searchingly into her face; then dropped it, saying in a tone of displeasure, "I am not an ogre, that you need be so afraid of me; but there, you may go; I will not keep you in terror any longer."
She rushed away to her own room, and there, throwing herself upon the bed, wept long and wildly. It was the disappointment of a lifelong hope. Since her earliest recollection she had looked and longed for this hour; and it seemed as though the little heart would break with its weight of bitter anguish.
She was all alone, for Chloe had gone down to the kitchen to talk over the arrival, not doubting that her darling was supremely happy in the possession of her long looked-for parent.
And so the little girl lay there with her crushed and bleeding heart, sobbing, mourning, weeping as though she would weep her very life away, without an earthly friend to speak one word of comfort.
"0 papa, papa!" she sobbed, "my own papa, you do not love me; me, your own little girl. Oh! my heart will break. 0 mamma, mamma! if I could only go to you; for there is no one here to love me, and I am so lonely, oh! so lonely and desolate."
And thus Chloe found her, when she came in an hour later, weeping and sobbing out such broken exclamations of grief and anguish.
She was much surprised, but comprehending at once how her child was suffering, she raised her up in her strong arms, and laying the little head lovingly against her bosom, she smoothed the tangled hair, kissed the tear-swollen eyes, and bathed the throbbing temples, saying, "My precious pet, my darlin' chile, your ole' mammy loves you better dan life; an' did my darlin' forget de almighty Friend dat says, ' 1 have loved thee with an everlasting love,' an' 1 will never leave thee, nor forsake thee'? He sticks closer dan a brudder, precious chile, and says, 'though a woman forget her sucking child, He will not forget His chillen.' Mothers love dere chillens better dan fathers, darlin', and so you see Jesus' love is better dan all other love; an' I knows you hes got dat."
"0 mammy! ask Him to take me to Himself, and to mamma-for oh! I am very lonely, and I want to die!"
"Hush, hush, darlin'; old Chloe nebber could ask dat; dis ole heart would break for sure. Yous all de world to your old mammy, darlin'; and you know we must all wait de Lord's time."
"Then ask Him to help me to be patient," she said, in a weary tone. "And 0 mammy!" she added, with a burst of bitter tears, "ask Him to make my father love me."
"I will, darlin', I will," sobbed Chloe, pressing the little form closer to her heart; "an' don't you go for to be discouraged right away; for I'se sure Massa Horace must love you, fore long."
The tea-bell rang, and the family gathered about the table; but one chair remained unoccupied.
"Where is Miss Elsie?" asked Adelaide of one of the . servants.
"Dunno, missus," was the reply.
"Well, then, go and see," said Adelaide; "perhaps she did not hear the bell."
The servant returned in a moment, saying that Miss Elsie had a bad headache and did not want any supper. Mr. Horace Dinsmore paused in the conversation he was carrying on with his father, to listen to the servant's announcement. "I hope she is not a sickly child," said he, addressing Adelaide; "is she subject to such attacks ?"
"Not very," replied his sister dryly, for she had seen the meeting, and felt really sorry for Elsie's evident disappointment; "I imagine crying has brought this on."
He colored violently, and said in a tone of great displeasure, "Truly, the return of a parent is a cause for grief; yet I hardly expected my presence to be quite so distressing to my only child. I had no idea that she had already learned to dislike me so thoroughly."
"She doesn't," said Adelaide, "she has been looking and longing for your return ever since I have known her."
"Then she has certainly been disappointed in me; her grief is not at all complimentary, explain it as you will."
Adelaide made no reply, for she saw that he was determined to put an unfavorable construction upon Elsie's conduct, and feared that any defence she could offer would only increase his displeasure.
It was a weary, aching head the little girl laid upon her pillow that night, and the little heart was sad and sore; yet she was not altogether comfortless, for she had turned in her sorrow to Him who has said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not," and she had the sweet assurance of His love and favor.
It was with a trembling heart, hoping yet fearing, longing and yet dreading to see her father, that Elsie descended to the breakfast-room the next morning. She glanced timidly around, but he was not there.
"Where is papa. Aunt Adelaide?" she asked.
"He is not coming down to breakfast, as he feels quite fatigued with his journey," replied her aunt; "so you will not see him this morning, and perhaps not at all to-day, for there will be a good deal of company here this afternoon and evening."
Elsie sighed, and looked sadly disappointed. She found it very difficult to attend to her lessons that morning, and every time the door opened she started and looked up, half hoping it might be her papa.
But he did not come; and when the dinner hour arrived, the children were told that they were to dine in the nursery, on account of the large number of guests to be entertained in the dining-room. The company remained until bedtime; she was not called down to the parlor; and so saw nothing of her father that day.
But the next morning Chloe told her the children were to breakfast with the family, as all the visitors had left excepting one or two gentlemen. So Elsie went down to the breakfast-room, where, to her surprise, she found her papa sitting alone, reading the morning paper.
He looked up as she entered.
"Good-morning, papa," she said, in half-trembling tones.
He started a little-for it was the first time he had ever been addressed by that title, and it sounded strange to his ears-gave her a glance of mingled curiosity and interest, half held out his hand, but drawing it back again, simply said, "Good-morning, Elsie," and returned to his paper.
Elsie stood irresolutely in the middle of the floor, wanting, yet not daring to go to him.
But just at that instant the door opened, and Enna, looking rosy and happy, came running in, and rushing up to her brother, climbed upon his knee, and put her arms around his neck, saying, "Good-morning, brother Horace. I want a kiss."
"You shall have it, little pet," said he, throwing down his paper.
Then, kissing her several times and bugging- her in his arms, he said, " You are not afraid of me, are you ? nor sorry that I have come home ?"
"No, indeed," said Enna.
He glanced at Elsie as she stood looking at them, her large soft eyes full of tears. She could not help feeling that Enna had her place, and was receiving the caresses that should have been lavished upon herself.
"Jealous," thought her father; "I cannot bear jealous people;" and he gave her a look of displeasure that cut her to the heart, and she turned quickly away and left the room to hide the tears she could no longer keep back.
"I am envious," she thought, "jealous of Enna. Oh! how wicked!" And she prayed silently, "Dear Saviour, help me! take away these sinful feelings."
Young as she was, she was learning to have some control over her feelings, and in a few moments she had so far recovered her composure as to be able to return to the breakfast-room and take her place at the table, where the rest were already seated, her sweet little face sad indeed and bearing the traces of tears, but quite calm and peaceful.
Her father took no further notice of her, and she did not dare trust herself to look at him. The servants filled her plate, and she ate in silence, feeling it a great relief that all were too busily engaged in talking and eating to pay any attention to her. She scarcely raised her eyes from her plate, and did not know how often a strange gentleman, who sat nearly opposite, fixed his upon her.
As she left the room at the conclusion of the meal, he asked, while following her with his eyes, "Is that one of your sisters, Dinsmore?"
"No," said he, coloring slightly; "she is my daughter."
"Ah, indeed!" said his friend. "I remember to have heard that you had a child, but had forgotten it. Well, you have no reason to be ashamed of her; she is lovely, perfectly lovely! has the sweetest little face I ever saw."
"Will you ride, Travilla?" asked Mr. Dinsmore hastily, as though anxious to change the subject.
"I don't care if I do," was the reply, and they went out together.
Some hours later in the day Elsie was at the piano in the music-room practising, when a sudden feeling that some one was in the room caused her to turn and look behind her.
Mr. Travilla was standing there.
"Excuse me," said he, bowing politely, "but I heard the sound of the instrument, and, being very fond of music, I ventured to walk in."
Elsie was very modest, and rather timid, too, but also very polite; so she said, "No excuse is necessary; but will you not take a seat, sir? though I fear my music will not afford you any pleasure, for you know I am only a little girl, and cannot play very well yet."
"Thank you," said he, taking a seat by her side. "And now will you do me the favor to repeat the song I heard you singing a few moments since ?"
Elsie immediately complied, though her cheeks burned, and her voice trembled at first from embarrassment ; but it grew stronger as she proceeded and in the last verse was quite steady and full. She had a very . fine voice for a child of her age; its sweetness was remarkable both in singing and speaking; and she had also a good deal of musical talent, which had been well cultivated, for she had had good teachers, and had practised with great patience and perseverance. Her music was simple, as suited her years, but her performance of it was very good indeed.
Mr. Travilla thanked her very heartily, and complimented her singing; then asked for another and another song, another and another piece, chatting with her about each, until they grew quite familiar, and Elsie lost all feeling of embarrassment.
"Elsie, I think, is your name, is it not?" he asked after a little.
"Yes, sir," said she, "Elsie Dinsmore." "And you are the daughter of my friend, Mr. Horace Dinsmore ?"
"Your papa has been absent a long time, and I suppose you must have quite forgotten him."
"No, sir, not forgotten, for I never had seen him."
"Indeed!" said he, in a tone of surprise; "then, since he is an entire stranger to you, I suppose you cannot have much affection for him ?"
Elsie raised her large, dark eyes to his face, with an expression of astonishment. "Not love papa, my own dear papa, who has no child but me ? Oh! sir, how could you think that?"
"Ah! I see I was mistaken," said he, smiling; "I thought you could hardly care for him at all; but do you think that he loves you?"
Elsie dropped her face into her hands, and burst into an agony of tears.
The young gentleman looked extremely vexed with himself.
"My poor little girl, my poor, dear little girl," he said, stroking her hair, "forgive me. I am very, very sorry for my thoughtless question. Do be comforted, my poor child, for whether your papa loves you now or not, I am quite sure he soon will."
Elsie now dried her tears, rose and closed the instrument. He assisted her, and then asked if she would not take a little walk with him in the garden. She complied, and, feeling really very sorry for the wound he had so thoughtlessly inflicted, as well as interested in his little companion, he exerted all his powers to entertain her-talked with her about the plants and flowers, described those he had seen in foreign lands, and related incidents of travel, usually choosing those in which her father had borne a part, because he perceived that they were doubly interesting to her.
Elsie, having been thrown very much upon her own resources for amusement, and having a natural love for books, and constant access to her grandfather's well-stocked library, had read many more, and with much more thought, than most children of her age, so that Mr. Travilla found her a not uninteresting companion, and was often surprised at the intelligence shown by her questions and replies.
When the dinner-bell rang he led her in, and seated her by himself, and never was any lady more carefully waited upon than little Elsie at this meal. Two or three other gentlemen guests were present, giving their attention to the older ladies of the company, and thus Mr. Travilla seemed to feel quite at liberty to devote himself entirely to her, attending to all her wants, talking with her, and making her talk.
Elsie now and then stole a glance at Mrs. Dinsmore, fearing her displeasure; but to her great relief, the lady seemed too much occupied to notice her. Once she looked timidly at her father, and her eyes met his. He was looking at her with an expression half curious, half amused. She was at a loss to understand the look, but, satisfied that there was no displeasure in it, her heart grew light, and her cheeks flushed with happiness.
"Really, Dinsmore," said Mr. Travilla, as they stood together near one of the windows of the drawing-room soon after dinner, "your little girl is remarkably intelligent, as well as remarkably pretty; and I have discovered that she has quite a good deal of musical talent."
"Indeed! I think it is quite a pity that she does not belong to you, Travilla, instead of me, since you seem to appreciate her so much more highly," replied the father, laughing.
"I wish she did," said his friend. "But, seriously, Dinsmore, you ought to love that child, for she certainly loves you devotedly."
He looked surprised. "How do you know?" he asked.
"It was evident enough from what I saw and heard this morning. Dinsmore, she would value a caress from you more than the richest jewel."
"Doubtful," replied Horace, hastily quitting the room, for Elsie had come out on to the portico in her riding suit, and Jim, her usual attendant, was bringing up her horse.
"Are you going to ride, Elsie?" asked her father, coming up to her.
"Yes, papa," she said, raising her eyes to his face. He lifted her in his arms and placed her on the horse, saying to the servant as he did so, "Now, Jim, you must take good care of my little girl."
Tears of happiness rose in Elsie's eyes as she turned her horse's head and rode down the avenue. "He called me his little girl," she murmured to herself, "and bade Jim take good care of me. Oh! he will love me soon, as good, kind Mr. Travilla said he would."
Her father was still standing on the portico, looking after her.
"How well she sits her horse!" remarked Travilla, who had stepped out and stood close by his side.
"Yes, I think she does," was the reply, in an absent tone. He was thinking of a time some eight or nine years before, when he had assisted another Elsie to mount her horse, and had ridden for hours at her side.
All the afternoon memories of the past came crowding thickly on his mind, and an emotion of tenderness began to spring up in his heart toward the child of her who had once been so dear to him; and as he saw the little girl ride up to the house on her return, he again went out, and lifting her from her horse, asked kindly, "Had you a pleasant ride, my dear ?"
"Oh! yes, papa, very pleasant," she said, looking up at him with a face beaming with delight. He stooped and kissed her, saying, "I think I shall ride with you one of these days; should you like it?"
"Oh! so very, very much, papa," she answered, eagerly.
He smiled at her earnestness, and she hastened away to her room to change her dress and tell Chloe of her happiness.
Alas! it was but a transient gleam of sunshine that darted across her path, to be lost again almost instantly behind the gathering clouds.
More company came, so that the drawing-room was quite full in the evening; and, though Elsie was there. her father seemed too much occupied with the guests to give her even a glance. She sat alone and unnoticed in a corner, her eyes following him wherever he moved, and her ear strained to catch every tone of his voice; until Mr. Travilla, disengaging himself from a group of ladies and gentlemen on the opposite side of the room, came up to her, and taking her by the hand, led her to a pleasant-looking elderly lady, who sat at a centre-table examining some choice engravings which Mr. Dinsmore had brought with him from Europe.
"Mother," said Mr. Travilla, "this is my little friend Elsie."
"Ah!" said she, giving the little girl a kiss, "I am glad to see you, my dear."
Mr. Travilla set a chair for her close to his mother and then sat down on her other side, and taking up the engravings one after another, he explained them to her in a most entertaining manner, generally having some anecdote to tell in connection with each.
Elsie was so much amused and delighted with what he was saying that she at last quite forgot her father, and did not notice where he was.
Suddenly Mr. Travilla laid down the engraving he had in his hand, saying: "Come, Miss Elsie, I want my mother to hear you play and sing; will you not do me the favor to repeat that song I admired so much this morning?"
"Oh! Mr. Travilla!" exclaimed the little girl, blushing and trembling, "I could not play or sing before so many people. Please excuse me."
"Elsie," said her father's voice just at her side, "go immediately, and do as the gentleman requests."
His tone was very stern, and as she lifted her eyes to his face, she saw that his look was still more so; and tremblingly and tearfully she rose to obey.
"Stay," said Mr. Travilla kindly, pitying her distress, "I withdraw my request."
"But I do not withdraw my command," said her father in the same stern tone; "go at once, Elsie, and do as I bid you."
She obeyed instantly, struggling hard to overcome her emotion.
Mr. Travilla, scolding himself inwardly all the time for having brought her into such trouble, selected her music, and placing it before her as she took her seat at the instrument, whispered encouragingly, "Now, Miss Elsie, only have confidence in yourself; that is all that is necessary to your success."
But Elsie was not only embarrassed, but her heart was well-nigh broken by her father's sternness, and the tears would fill her eyes so that she could see neither notes nor words. She attempted to play the prelude, but blundered sadly, her embarrassment increasing every moment.
"Never mind," said Mr. Travilla, "never mind the prelude, but just begin the song."
She made the attempt, but fairly broke down, and burst into tears before she had got through the first verse. Her father had come up behind her, and was standing there, looking much mortified.
"Elsie," he said, leaning down and speaking in a low, stern tone, close to her ear, "I am ashamed of you; go to your room and to your bed immediately."
With a heart almost bursting with grief and mortification she obeyed him, and her pillow was wet with many bitter tears ere the weary eyes closed in slumber.
When she came down the next morning she learned to her great grief that Mr. Travilla and his mother had returned to their own home; she was very sorry she had not been permitted to say good-bye to her friend, and for several days she felt very sad and lonely, for all her father's coldness of manner had returned, and he scarcely ever spoke to her; while the younger members of the family ridiculed her for her failure in at- tempting to play for company; and Miss Day, who seemed unusually cross and exacting, often taunted her with it also.
These were sad, dark days for the little girl; she tried most earnestly to attend to all her duties, but so depressed were her spirits, so troubled was her mind, that she failed repeatedly in her lessons, and so was in continual disgrace with Miss Day, who threatened more than once to tell her papa.
It was a threat which Elsie dreaded extremely to have put in execution, and Miss Day, seeing that it distressed her, used it the more frequently, and thus kept the poor child in constant terror.
How to gain her father's love was the constant subject of her thoughts, and she tried in many ways to win his affection. She always yielded a ready and cheerful obedience to his commands, and strove to anticipate and fulfil all his wishes. But he seldom noticed her, unless to give a command or administer a rebuke, while he lavished many a caress upon his little sister, Enna. Often Elsie would watch him fondling her, until, unable any longer to control her feelings, she would rush away to her own room to weep and mourn in secret, and pray that her father might some day learn to love her. She never complained even to poor old Aunt Chloe, but the anxious nurse watched all these things with the jealous eye of affection; she saw that her child-as she delighted to call her-was very unhappy, and was growing pale and melancholy; and her heart ached for her, and many were the tears she shed in secret over the sorrows of her nursling.
"Don't 'pear so sorrowful, darlin'," she sometimes said to her; "try to be merry, like Miss Enna, and run and jump on Massa Horace's knee, and den I tink he will like you better."
"0 mammy! I can't," Elsie would say; "I don't dare to do it."
And Chloe would sigh and shake her head sorrowfully.
"With more capacity for love than earth
Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth."
"What are our hopes?
Like garlands, on afflictions's forehead worn,
Kissed in the morning, and at evening torn."
-DAVENPORT'S King John and Matilda.
SUCH had been the state of affairs for about a week, when one morning Elsie and her father met at the breakfast-room door.
"Good morning, papa," she said timidly.
"Good morning, Elsie," he replied in an unusually pleasant tone.
Then, taking her by the hand, he led her in and seated her beside himself at the table.
Elsie's cheek glowed and her eyes sparkled with pleasure.
There were several guests present, and she waited patiently while they and the older members of the family were being helped. At length it was her turn.
"Elsie, will you have some meat?" asked her grandfather.
"No," said her father, answering for her; "once a day is as often as a child of her age ought to eat meat; she may have it at dinner, but never for breakfast or tea."
The elder Mr. Dinsmore laughed, saying, "Really, Horace, I had no idea you were so notionate. I always allowed you to eat whatever you pleased, and I never saw that it hurt you. But, of course, you must manage your own child in your own way."
"If you please, papa, I had rather have some of those hot cakes," said Elsie, timidly, as her father laid a slice of bread upon her plate.
"No," said he decidedly; "I don't approve of hot bread for children; you must eat the cold." Then to a servant who was setting down a cup of coffee beside the little girl's plate, "Take that away, Pomp, and bring Miss Elsie a tumbler of milk. Or would you prefer water, Elsie?"
"Milk, if you please, papa," she replied with a little sigh; for she was extremely fond of coffee, and it was something of a trial to give it up.
Her father put a spoonful of stewed fruit upon her plate, and as Pompey set down a tumbler of rich milk beside it, said, "Now you have your breakfast before you, Elsie. Children in England are not allowed to eat butter until they are ten or eleven years of age, and I think it an excellent plan, to make them grow up rosy and healthy. I have neglected my little girl too long, but I intend to begin to take good care of her now," he added, with a smile, and laying his hand for an instant upon her head.
The slight caress and the few kind words were quite enough to reconcile Elsie to the rather meagre fare, and she ate it with a happy heart. But the meagre fare became a constant thing, while the caresses and kind words were not; and though she submitted without a murmur, she could not help sometimes looking with longing eyes at the coffee and hot buttered rolls, of which she was very fond. But she tried to be contented, saying to herself, "Papa knows best, and I ought to be satisfied with whatever he gives me."
"Isn't it delightful to have your papa at home, Elsie?" Mr. Dinsmore one morning overheard Arthur saying to his little girl in a mocking tone. "It's very pleasant to live on bread and water, isn't it, eh?"
"I don't live on bread and water," Elsie replied, a little indignantly. "Papa always allows me to have as much good, rich milk, and cream, and fruit as I want, or I can have eggs, or cheese, or honey, or anything else, except meat and hot cakes, and butter, and coffee; and who wouldn't rather do without such things all their lives than not have a papa to love them? And besides, you know, Arthur, that I can have all the meat I want at dinner."
"Pooh! that's nothing; and I wouldn't give much for all the love you get from him," said Arthur, scorn- fully.
There was something like a sob from Elsie; and as her father rose and went to the window, he just caught a glimpse of her white dress disappearing down the garden walk.
"What do you mean, sir, by teasing Elsie in that manner?" he exclaimed angrily to Arthur, who still stood where the litle [sic] girl had left him, leaning against one of the pillars of the portico.
"I only wanted to have a little fun," returned the boy doggedly.
"Well, sir, I don't approve of such fun, and you will please to let the child alone in future," replied his brother as he returned to his newspaper again.
But somehow the paper had lost its interest. He seemed constantly to hear that little sob, and to see a little face all wet with tears of wounded feeling.
Just then the school-bell rang, and suddenly throwing down his paper, he took a card from his pocket, wrote a few words upon it, and calling a servant, said, "Take this to Miss Day."
Elsie was seated at her desk, beginning her morning's work, when the servant entered and handed the card to the governess.
Miss Day glanced at it and said:
"Elsie, your father wants you. You may go."
Elsie rose in some trepidation and left the room, wondering what her papa could want with her.
"Where is papa, Fanny?" she asked of the servant.
"In de drawin'-room, Miss Elsie," was the reply; and she hastened to seek him there.
He held out his hand as she entered, saying with a smile, "Come here, daughter."
It was the first time he had called her that, and it sent a thrill of joy to her heart.
She sprang to his side, and, taking her hand in one of his, and laying the other gently on her head, and bending it back a little, he looked keenly into her face.
It was bright enough now, yet the traces of tears were very evident.
"You have been crying," he said, in a slightly reproving tone. "I am afraid you do a great deal more of that than is good for you. It is a very babyish habit, and you must try to break yourself of it."
The little face flushed painfully, and the eyes filled again.
"There," he said, stroking her hair, "don't begin it again. I am going to drive over to Ion, where your friend Mr. Travilla lives, to spend the day; would my little daughter like to go with me?"
"Oh! so very much, papa!" she answered eagerly.
"There are no little folks there," he said smiling, "nobody to see but Mr. Travilla and his mother. But I see you want to go; so run and ask Aunt Chloe to get you ready. Tell her I want you nicely dressed, and the carriage will be at the door in half an hour."
Elsie bounded away to do his bidding, her face radiant with happiness; and at the specified time came down again, looking so very lovely that her father gazed at her with proud delight, and could not refrain from giving her a kiss as he lifted her up to place her in the carriage.
Then, seating himself beside her, he took her hand in his; and, closing the door with the other, bade the coachman drive on.
"I suppose you have never been to Ion, Elsie?" he said, inquiringly.
"No, sir; but I have heard Aunt Adelaide say she thought it a very pretty place," replied the little girl.
"So it is-almost as pretty as Roselands," said her father. "Travilla and I have known each other from boyhood, and I spent many a happy day at Ion, and we had many a boyish frolic together, before I ever thought of you."
He smiled, and patted her cheek as he spoke.
Elsie's eyes sparkled. "0 papa!" she said eagerly; "won't you tell me about those times? It seems so strange that you were ever a little boy and I was nowhere."
He laughed. Then said, musingly, "It seems but a very little while to me, Elsie, since I was no older than you are now."
He heaved a sigh, and relapsed into silence.
Elsie wished very much that he would grant her request, but did not dare to disturb him by speaking a word; and they rode on quietly for some time, until a squirrel darting up a tree caught her eye, and she uttered an exclamation. "0 papa! did you see that squirrel? look at him now, perched up on that branch. There, we have passed the tree, and now he is out of sight.
This reminded Mr. Dinsmore of a day he had spent in those woods hunting squirrels, when quite a boy, and he gave Elsie an animated account of it. One of the incidents of the day had been the accidental discharge of the fowling-piece of one of his young companions, close at Horace Dinsmore's side, missing him by but a hair's breadth.
"I felt faint and sick when I knew how near I had been to death," he said, as he finished his narrative.
Elsie had been listening with breathless interest.
"Dear papa," she murmured, laying her little cheek against his hand, "how good God was to spare your life! If you had been killed I could never have had you for my papa."
"Perhaps you might have had a much better one, Elsie," he said gravely.
"Oh! no, papa, I wouldn't want any other," she replied earnestly, pressing his hand to her lips.
"Ah! here we are," exclaimed her father, as at that instant the carriage turned into a broad avenue, up which they drove quite rapidly, and the next moment they had stopped, the coachman had thrown open the carriage door, and Mr. Dinsmore, springing out, lifted his little girl in his arms and set her down on the steps of the veranda.
"Ah! Dinsmore, how do you do? Glad to see you, and my little friend Elsie, too. Why this is really kind," cried Mr. Travilla, in his cheerful, hearty way, as, hurrying out to welcome them, he shook Mr. Dinsmore cordially by the hand, and kissed Elsie's cheek.
"Walk in, walk in," he continued, leading the way into the house, "my mother will be delighted to see you both; Miss Elsie especially, for she seems to have taken a very great fancy to her."
If Mrs. Travilla's greeting was less boisterous, it certainly was not lacking in cordiality, and she made Elsie feel at home at once; taking off her bonnet, smoothing her hair, and kissing her affectionately.
The gentlemen soon went out together, and Elsie spent the morning in Mrs. Travilla's room, chatting with her and assisting her with some coarse garments she was making for her servants.
Mrs. Travilla was an earnest Christian, and the lady and the little girl were not long in discovering the tie which existed between them.
Mrs. Travilla, being also a woman of great discernment, and having known Horace Dinsmore nearly all his life, had conceived a very correct idea of the trials and difficulties of Elsie's situation, and without alluding to them at all, gave her some most excellent advice, which the little girl received very thankfully.
They were still chatting together when Mr. Travilla came in, saying, "Come, Elsie, I want to take you out to see my garden, hot-house, etc. We will just have time before dinner. Will you go along, mother ?"
"No; I have some little matters to attend to before dinner, and will leave you to do the honors," replied the lady; and taking the little girl's hand he led her out.
"Where is papa?" asked Elsie.
"Oh! he's in the library, looking over some new books," replied Mr. Travilla. "He always cared more for books than anything else. But what do you think of my flowers ?"
"Oh! they are lovely! What a variety you have! what a splendid cape-jessamine that is, and there is a variety of cactus I never saw before! Oh! you have a great many more, and handsomer, I think, than we have at Roselands," exclaimed Elsie, as she passed admiringly from one to another.
Mr. Travilla was much pleased with the admiration she expressed, for he was very fond of his flowers, and took great pride in showing them.
But they were soon called in to dinner, where Elsie was seated by her father.
"I hope this little girl has not given you any trouble, Mrs. Travilla," said he, looking gravely at her.
"Oh! no," the lady hastened to say, "I have enjoyed her company very much indeed, and hope you will bring her to see me again very soon."
After dinner, as the day was very warm, they adjourned to the veranda, which was the coolest place to be found; it being on the shady side of the house, and also protected by thick trees, underneath which a beautiful fountain was playing.
But the conversation was upon some subject which did not interest Elsie, and she presently stole away to the library, and seating herself in a corner of the sofa, was soon lost to everything around her in the intense interest with which she was reading a book she had taken from the table.
"Ah! that is what you are about, Miss Elsie! a bookworm, just like your father, I see. I had been wondering what had become of you for the last two hours," exclaimed Mr. Travilla's pleasant voice; and sitting down beside her, he took the book from her hand, and putting it behind him, said, "Put it away now; you will have time enough to finish it, and I want you to talk to me."
"Oh! please let me have it," she pleaded. "I shall not have much time, for papa will soon be calling me to go home."
"No, no, he is not to take you away; I have made a bargain with him to let me keep you," said Mr. Travilla, very gravely. "We both think that there are children enough at Roselands without you; and so your papa has given you to me; and you are to be my little girl, and call me papa in future."
Elsie gazed earnestly in his face for an instant, saying in a half-frightened tone, "You are only joking, Mr. Travilla."
"Not a bit of it," said he; "can't you see that I'm in earnest?"
His tone and look were both so serious that for an instant Elsie believed he meant all that he was saying, and springing to her feet with a little cry of alarm, she hastily withdrew her hand which he had taken, and rushing out to the veranda, where her father still sat conversing with Mrs. Travilla, she flung herself into his arms, and clinging to him, hid her face on his breast, sobbing, "0 papa, dear papa! don't give me away; please don't-I will be so good-I will do everything you bid me-I-"
"Why, Elsie, what does all this mean!" exclaimed Mr. Dinsmore in great surprise and perplexity; while Mr. Travilla stood in the doorway looking half amused, half sorry for what he had done.
"0 papa!" sobbed the little girl, still clinging to him as though fearing she should be torn from his arms, "Mr. Travilla says you have given me to him. 0 papa! don't give me away."
"Pooh! nonsense, Elsie! I am ashamed of you! how can you be so very silly as to believe for one moment anything so perfectly absurd as that I should think of giving you away ? Why, I would as soon think of parting with my eyes."
Elsie raised her head and gazed searchingly into his face; then with a deep-drawn sigh of relief, dropped it again, saying, "Oh! I am so glad."
"Really, Miss Elsie," said Travilla, coming up and patting her on the shoulder, "I can't say that I feel much complimented; and, indeed, I don't see why you need have been so very much distressed at the prospect before you; for I must say I have vanity enough to imagine that I should make the better-or at least the more indulgent-father of the two. Come, now, wouldn't you be willing to try me for a month, if your papa will give consent?"
Elsie shook her head.
"I will let you have your own way in everything," urged Travilla, coaxingly; "and I know that is more than he does."
"I don't want my own way, Mr. Travilla; I know it wouldn't always be a good way," replied Elsie, decidedly.
Her father laughed and passed his hand caressingly over her curls.
"I thought you liked me, little Elsie," said Travilla, in a tone of disappointment.
"So I do, Mr. Travilla; I like you very much," she replied.
"Well, don't you think I would make a good father?" "I am sure you would be very kind, and that I should love you very much; but not so much as I love my own papa; because, you know, you are not my papa, and never can be, even if he should give me to you."
Mr. Dinsmore laughed heartily, saying, "I think you may as well give it up, Travilla; it seems I'll have to keep her whether or no, for she clings to me like a leech."
"Well, Elsie, you will at least come to the piano and play a little for me, will you not?" asked Travilla, smiling.
But Elsie still clung to her father, seeming loath to leave him, until he said, in his grave, decided way, "Go, Elsie; go at once, and do as you are requested."
Then she rose instantly to obey.
Travilla looked somewhat vexed. "I wish," he afterward remarked to his mother, "that Dinsmore was not quite so ready to second my requests with his commands. I want Elsie's compliance to be voluntary; else I think it worth very little."
Elsie played and sang until they were called to tea; after which she sat quietly by her father's side, listening to the conversation of her elders until the carriage was announced.
"Well, my daughter," said Mr. Dinsmore, when they were fairly upon their way to Roselands, "have you had a pleasant day ?"
"Oh! very pleasant, papa, excepting-" She paused, looking a little embarrassed.
"Well, excepting what?" he asked, smiling down at her.
"Excepting when Mr. Travilla frightened me so, papa," she replied, moving closer to his side, blushing and casting down her eyes.
"And you do love your own papa best, and don't want to exchange him for another?" he said, inquiringly, as he passed his arm affectionately around her waist.
"Oh! no, dear papa, not for anybody else in all the world," she said earnestly.
He made no reply in words, but, looking highly gratified, bent down and kissed her cheek.
He did not speak again during their ride, but when the carriage stopped he lifted her out, and setting her gently down, bade her a kind good-night, saying it was time for mammy to put her to bed.
She ran lightly up-stairs, and springing into her nurse's arms, exclaimed, "0 mammy, mammy! what a pleasant, pleasant day I have had! Papa has been so kind, and so were Mr. Travilla and his mother."
"I'se berry glad, darlin', an' I hope you gwine hab many more such days," replied Chloe, embracing her fondly and then proceeding to take off her bonnet and prepare her for bed, while Elsie gave her a minute account of all the occurrences of the day, not omitting the fright Mr. Travilla had given her, and how happily her fears had been relieved.
"You look berry happy, my darlin' pet," said Chloe, clasping her nursling again in her arms when her task was finished.
"Yes, mammy, I am happy, oh! so happy, because I do believe that papa is beginning to love me a little, and I hope that perhaps, after a while, he will love me very much."
The tears gathered in her eyes as she spoke.
The next afternoon, as Elsie was returning from her walk, she met her father.
"Elsie," said he, in a reproving tone, "I have forbidden you to walk out alone; are you disobeying me?"
"No, papa," she replied meekly, raising her eyes to his face, "I was not alone until about five minutes ago, when Aunt Adelaide and Louise left me. They said it did not matter, as I was so near home; and they were going to make a call, and did not want me along."
"Very well," he said, taking hold of her hand and making her walk by his side. "How far have you been?"
"We went down the river bank to the big spring, papa. I believe it is a little more than a mile that way; but when we came home, we made it shorter by coming across some of the fields and through the meadow."
"Through the meadow ?" said Mr. Dinsmore; "don't you go there again, Elsie, unless I give you express permission."
"Why, papa?" she asked, looking up at him in some surprise.
"Because I forbid it," he replied sternly; "that is quite enough for you to know; all you have to do is to obey, and you need never ask me why, when I give you an order."
Elsie's eyes filled, and a big tear rolled quickly down her cheek.
"I did not mean to be naughty, papa," she said, struggling to keep down a sob, "and I will try never to ask why again."
"There is another thing," said he. "You cry quite too easily; it is entirely too babyish for a girl of your age; you must quit it."
"I will try, papa," said the little girl, wiping her eyes, and making a great effort to control her feelings.
They had entered the avenue while this conversation was going on, and were now drawing near the house; and just at this moment a little girl about Elsie's age came running to meet them, exclaiming, "0 Elsie! I'm glad you've come at last. We've been here a whole hour-mamma, and Herbert, and I-and I've been looking for you all this time."
"How do you do. Miss Lucy Carrington? I see you can talk as fast as ever," said Mr. Dinsmore, laughing, and holding out his hand.
Lucy took it, saying with a little pout, "To be sure, Mr. Dinsmore, it isn't more than two or three weeks since you were at our house, and I wouldn't forget how to talk in that time." Then, looking at Elsie, she went on, "We've come to stay a week; won't we have a fine time ?" and, catching her friend round the waist, she gave her a hearty squeeze.
"I hope so," said Elsie, returning the embrace. "I am glad you have come."
"Is your papa here, Miss Lucy?" asked Mr. Dinsmore.
"Yes, sir; but he's going home again to-night, and then he'll come back for us next week."
"I must go in and speak to him," said Mr. Dinsmore. "Elsie, do you entertain Lucy."
"Yes, sir, I will," said Elsie. "Come with me to my room, won't you, Lucy?"
"Yes; but won't you speak to mamma first? and Herbert, too; you are such a favorite with both of them; and they still are in the dressing-room, for mamma is not very well, and was quite fatigued with her ride."
Lucy led the way to her mamma's room, as she spoke, Elsie following.
"Ah! Elsie dear, how do you do? I'm delighted ;o see you," said Mrs. Carrington, rising from the sofa as they entered.
Then, drawing the little girl closer to her, she passed her arm affectionately around her waist, and kissed her several times.
"I suppose you are very happy now that your papa has come home at last?" she said, looking searchingly into Elsie's face. "I remember you used to be looking forward so to his return; constantly talking of it and longing for it."
Poor Elsie, conscious that her father's presence had not brought with it the happiness she had anticipated, and yet unwilling either to acknowledge that fact or tell an untruth, was at a loss what to say.
But she was relieved from the necessity of replying by Herbert, Lucy's twin brother, a pale, sickly-looking boy, who had for several years been a sufferer from hip complaint.
"0 Elsie!" he exclaimed, catching hold of her hand and squeezing it between both of his, "I'm ever so glad to see you again."
"Yes," said Mrs. Carrington, "Herbert always says nobody can tell him such beautiful stories as Elsie; and .nobody but his mother and his old mammy was half so kind to run and wait on him when he was laid on his back for so many weeks. He missed you very much when we went home, and often wished he was at Roselands again."
"How is your hip now, Herbert?" asked Elsie, looking pityingly at the boy's pale face.
"Oh! a great deal better, thank you. I can take quite long walks sometimes now, though I still limp, and cannot run and leap like other boys."
They chatted a few moments longer, and then Elsie went to her room to have her hat taken off, and her hair made smooth before the tea-bell should ring.
The two little girls were seated together at the table, Elsie's papa being on her other side.
"How nice these muffins are! Don't you like them, Elsie?" asked Lucy, as she helped herself to a third or fourth.
"Yes, very much," said Elsie, cheerfully.
"Then what are you eating that cold bread for ? and you haven't got any butter, either. Pompey, why don't hand Miss Elsie the butter?"
"No, Lucy, I mustn't have it. Papa does not allow me to eat hot cakes or butter," said Elsie, in the same cheerful tone in which she had spoken before.
Lucy opened her eyes very wide, and drew in her breath.
"Well," she exclaimed, "I guess if my papa should try that on me, I'd make such a fuss he'd have to let me eat just whatever I wanted."
"Elsie knows better than to do that," said Mr. Dinsmore, who had overheard the conversation; "she would only get sent away from the table and punished for her naughtiness."
"I wouldn't do it anyhow, papa," said Elsie, raising her eyes beseechingly to his face.
"No, daughter, I don't believe you would," he replied in an unusually kind tone, and Elsie's face flushed with pleasure.
Several days passed away very pleasantly, Lucy sharing Elsie's studies in the mornings, while Herbert remained with his mamma; and then in the afternoon all walking or riding out together, unless the weather was too warm, when they spent the afternoon playing in the veranda, on the shady side of the house, and took their ride or walk after the sun was down.
Arthur and Walter paid but little attention to Herbert, as his lameness prevented him from sharing in the active sports which they preferred; for they had never been taught to yield their wishes to others, and were consequently extremely selfish and overbearing; but Elsie was very kind, and did all in her power to interest and amuse him.
One afternoon they all walked out together, attended by Jim; but Arthur and Walter, unwilling to accommodate their pace to Herbert's slow movements, were soon far in advance, Jim following close at their heels.
"They're quite out of sight," said Herbert presently, "and I'm very tired. Let's sit down on this bank, girls; I want to try my new bow, and you may run and pick up my arrows for me."
"Thank you, sir," said Lucy, laughing; "Elsie may do it if she likes, but as for me, I mean to take a nap; this nice, soft grass will make an elegant couch;" and throwing herself down, she soon was, or pretended to be, in a sound slumber; while Herbert, seating himself with his back against a tree, amused himself with shooting his arrows here and there, Elsie running for them and bringing them to him, until she was quite heated and out of breath.
"Now I must rest a little, Herbert," she said at length, sitting down beside him. "Shall I tell you a story?"
"'Oh! yes, do; I like your stories, and I don't mind leaving off shooting till you're done," said he, laying down his bow.
Elsie's story lasted about ten minutes, and when she had finished, Herbert took up his bow again, saying, "I guess you're rested now, Elsie," and sent an arrow over into the meadow.
"There! just see how far I sent that! do run and bring it to me, Elsie!" he cried, "and let me see if I can't hit that tree next time; I've but just missed it."
"I'm tired, Herbert; but I'll run and bring it to you this once," replied Elsie, forgetting entirely her father's prohibition; "but then you must try to wait until Jim comes back before you shoot any more."
So saying, she darted away, and came back in a moment with the arrow in her hand. But a sudden recollection had come over her just as she left the meadow, and throwing down the arrow at the boy's feet, she exclaimed in an agitated tone, "0 Herbert! I must go home just as quickly as I can; I had forgotten-oh! how could I forget! oh! what will papa say!"
"Why, what's the matter?" asked Herbert in alarm.
"Never mind," said Elsie, sobbing. "There are the boys coming; they will take care of you, and I must go home. Good-bye."
And she ran quickly up the road, Herbert following her retreating form with wondering eyes.
Elsie sped onward, crying bitterly as she went.
"Where is papa!" she inquired of a servant whom she met in the avenue.
"Dunno, Miss Elsie, but I reckon Massa Horace am in de house, kase his horse am in de stable."
Elsie hardly waited for the answer, but hurrying into the house, went from room to room, looking and asking in vain for her father. He was not in the drawing-room, or the library, or his own apartments. She had just come out of this, and meeting a chamber-maid in the hall, she exclaimed, "0 Fanny! where is papa? can't you tell me ? for I must see him."
"Here I am, Elsie; what do you want with me ?" called out her father's voice from the veranda, where she had neglected to look.
"What do you want?" he repeated, as his little girl appeared before him with her flushed and tearful face. Elsie moved slowly toward him, with a timid air and downcast eyes.
"I wanted to tell you something, papa," she said in a low, tremulous tone.
"Well, I am listening," said he, taking hold of her hand and drawing her to his side. "What is it ? are you sick or hurt ?"
"No, papa, not either; but-but, 0 papa! I have been a very naughty girl," she exclaimed, bursting into tears, and sobbing violently. "I disobeyed you, papa. I-I have been in the meadow."
"Is it possible! Would you dare to do so when I so positively forbade it only the other day ?" he said in his sternest tone, while a dark frown gathered on his brow. "Elsie, I shall have to punish you."
"I did not intend to disobey you, papa," she sobbed; "I quite forgot that you had forbidden me to go there."
"That is no excuse, no excuse at all," said he severely ; "You must remember my commands; and if your memory is so poor I shall find means to strengthen it."
He paused a moment, still looking sternly at the little, trembling, sobbing girl at his side; then asked, "What were you doing in the meadow? tell me the whole story, that I may understand just how severely I ought to punish you."
Elsie gave him all the particulars; and when, upon questioning her closely, he perceived how entirely voluntary her confession had been, his tone and manner became less stern, and he said quite mildly, "Well, Elsie, I shall not be very severe with you this time, as you seem to be very penitent, and have made so full and frank a confession; but beware how you disobey me again, for you will not escape so easily another time; and remember I will not take forgetfulness as any excuse. Go now to Aunt Chloe, and tell her from me that she is to put you immediately to bed."
"It is only the middle of the afternoon, papa," said Elsie, deprecatingly.
"If it were much earlier, Elsie, it would make no difference; you must go at once to your bed, and stay there until to-morrow morning.'"
"What will Lucy and Herbert think when they come in and can't find me, papa?" she said, weeping afresh.
"You should have thought of that before you disobeyed me," he answered very gravely. "If you are hungry," he added, "you may ask Chloe to get you a slice of bread or a cracker for your supper, but you can have nothing else."
Elsie lingered, looking timidly up into his face as though wanting to say something, but afraid to venture.
"Speak, Elsie, if you have anything more to say," he said encouragingly.
"Dear papa, I am so sorry I have been so naughty," she murmured, leaning her head against the arm of his chair, while the tears rolled fast down her cheeks; "won't you please forgive me, papa? it seems to me I can't go to sleep to-night if you are angry with me."
He seemed quite touched by her penitence. "Yes, Elsie," he said, "I do forgive you. I am not at all angry with you now, and you may go to sleep in peace. Good night, my little daughter," and he bent down and pressed his lips to her brow.
Elsie held up her face for another, and he kissed her lips.
"Good night, dear papa," she said, "I hope I shall never be such a naughty girl again." And she went to her room, made almost happy by that kiss of forgiveness.
Elsie was up quite early the next morning and had learned all her lessons before breakfast. As she came down the stairs she saw, through the open door, her papa standing with some of the men-servants, apparently gazing at some object lying on the ground. She ran out and stood on the steps of the portico, looking at them and wondering what they were doing.
Presently her father turned round, and seeing her, held out his hand, calling, "Come here, Elsie."
She sprang quickly down the steps, and running to him, put her hand in his, saying, "Good morning, papa."
"Good morning, daughter," said he, "I have something to show you."
And leading her forward a few paces, he pointed to a large rattlesnake lying there.
"0 papa!" she cried, starting back and clinging to him.
"It will not hurt you now," he said; "it is dead; the men killed it this morning in the meadow. Do you see now why I forbade you to go there?"
"0 papa!" she murmured, in a low tone of deep feeling, laying her cheek affectionately against his hand, "I might have lost my life by my disobedience. How good God was to take care of me! Oh! I hope I shall never be so naughty again."
"I hope not," said he gravely, but not unkindly,' "and I hope that you will always, after this, believe that your father has some good reason for his commands, even although he may not choose to explain it to you."
"Yes, papa, I think I will," she answered, humbly.
The breakfast-bell had rung, and he now led her in and seated her at the table.
Lucy Carrington looked curiously at her, and soon took an opportunity to whisper, "Where were you last night, Elsie? I couldn't find you, and your papa wouldn't say what had become of you, though I am quite sure he knew."
"I'll tell you after breakfast," replied Elsie, blushing deeply.
Lucy waited rather impatiently until all had risen from the table, and then, putting her arm round Elsie's waist, she drew her out on to the veranda, saying, "now, Elsie, tell me; you know you promised."
"I was in bed," replied Elsie, dropping her eyes, while the color mounted to her very hair.
"In bed! before five o'clock!" exclaimed Lucy in a tone of astonishment. "Why, what was that for?"
"Papa sent me," replied Elsie, with an effort. "I had been naughty, and disobeyed him."
"Why, how strange! Do tell me what you had done!" exclaimed Lucy, with a face full of curiosity.
"Papa had forbidden me to go into the meadow, and I forgot all about it, and ran in there to get Herbert's arrow for him," replied Elsie, looking very much ashamed.
"Was that all? why my papa wouldn't have punished me for that," said Lucy. "He might have scolded me a little if I had done it on purpose, but if I had told him I had forgotten, he would only have said, 'You must remember better next time.' "
"Papa says that forgetfulness is no excuse; that I am to remember his commands, and if I forget, he will have to punish me, to make me remember better next time," said Elsie.
"He must be very strict indeed; I'm glad he is not my papa," replied Lucy, in a tone of great satisfaction.
"Come, little girls, make haste and get ready; we are to start in half an hour," said Adelaide Dinsmore, calling to them from the hall door.
The whole family, old and young, including visitors, were on that day to go on a picnic up the river, taking their dinner along, and spending the day in the woods. They had been planning this excursion for several days, and the children especially had been looking forward to it with a great deal of pleasure.
"Am I to go, Aunt Adelaide? did papa say so?" asked Elsie anxiously, as she and Lucy hastened to obey the summons.
"I presume you are to goof course, Elsie; we have been discussing the matter for the last three days, always taking it for granted that you were to make one of the party, and he has never said you should not," replied Adelaide, good-naturedly; "so make haste, or you will be too late. But here comes your papa now," she added, as the library door opened, and Mr. Dinsmore stepped out into the hall where they were standing.
"Horace, Elsie is to go of course?"
"I do not see the of course, Adelaide," said he dryly. "No; Elsie is not to go; she must stay at home and attend to her lessons as usual."
A look of keen disappointment came over Elsie's face, but she turned away without a word and went upstairs ; while Lucy, casting a look of wrathful indignation at Mr. Dinsmore, ran after her, and following her into her room, she put her arm round her neck, saying, "Never mind, Elsie; it's too bad, and I wouldn't bear it. I'd go in spite of him."
"No, no, Lucy, I must obey my father; God says so; and besides, I couldn't do that if I wanted to, for papa is stronger than I am, and would punish me severely if I were to attempt such a thing," replied Elsie hastily, brushing away a tear that would come into her eye.
"Then I'd coax him," said Lucy. "Come, I'll go with you, and we will both try."
"No," replied Elsie, with a hopeless shake of the head, "I have found out already that my papa never breaks his word; and nothing could induce him to let me go, now that he has once said I should not. But you will have to leave me, Lucy, or you will be too late."
"Good-bye, then," said Lucy, turning to go; "but I think it is a great shame, and I sha'n't half enjoy myself without you."
"Well now, Horace, I think you might let the child go," was Adelaide's somewhat indignant rejoinder to her brother, as the two little girls disappeared; "I can't conceive what reason you can have for keeping her at home, and she looks so terribly disappointed. Indeed, Horace, I am sometimes half inclined to think you take pleasure in thwarting that child."
"You had better call me a tyrant at once, Adelaide," said he angrily, and turning very red; "but I must beg to be permitted to manage my own child in my own way; and I cannot see that I am under any obligation to give my reasons either to you or to any one else."
"Well, if you did not intend to let her go, I think you might have said so at first, and not left the poor child to build her hopes upon it, only to be disappointed. I must say I think it was cruel."
"Until this morning, Adelaide," he replied, "I did intend to let her go, for I expected to go myself; but I find I shall not be able to do so, as I must meet a gentleman on business; and as I know that accidents frequently occur to such pleasure parties, I don't feel willing to let Elsie go, unless I could be there myself to take care of her. Whether you believe it or not, it is really regard for my child's safety, and not cruelty, that leads me to refuse her this gratification."
"You are full of notions about that child, Horace," said Adelaide, a little impatiently. "I'm sure some of the rest of us could take care of her."
"No; in case of accident you would all have enough to do to take care of yourselves, and I shall not think of trusting Elsie in the company, since I cannot be there myself," he answered decidedly; and Adelaide, seeing he was not to be moved from his determination, gav [sic] up the attempt, and left the room to prepare for her ride.
It was a great disappointment to Elsie, and for a few moments her heart rose up in rebellion against her father. She tried to put away the feeling, but it would come back; for she could not imagine any reason for his refusal to let her go, excepting the disobedience of the day before, and it seemed hard and unjust to punish her twice for the same fault, especially as he would have known nothing about it but for her own frank and voluntary confession. It was a great pity she had not heard the reasons he gave her Aunt Adelaide, for then she would have been quite submissive and content. It is indeed true that she ought to have been as it was; but our little Elsie, though sincerely desirous to do right, was not yet perfect, and had already strangely forgotten the lesson of the morning.
She watched from the veranda the departure of the pleasure-seekers, all apparently in the gayest spirits. She was surprised to see that her father was not with them, and it half reconciled her to staying at home, although she hardly expected to see much of him; but there was something pleasant in the thought that he wanted her at home because he was to be there himself ; it looked as though he really had some affection for her, and even a selfish love was better than none. I do not mean that these were Elsie's thoughts; no, she never would have dreamed of calling her father selfish; but the undefined feeling was there, as she watched him hand the ladies into the carriage, and then turn and reenter the house as they drove off.
But Miss Day's bell rang, and Elsie gathered up her books and hastened to the school-room. Her patience and endurance were sorely tried that morning, for Miss Day was in an exceedingly bad humor, being greatly mortified and also highly indignant that she had not been invited to make one of the picnic party; and Elsie had never found her more unreasonable and difficult to please; and her incessant fault-finding and scolding were almost more than the little girl could bear in addition to her own sad disappointment. But at last the morning, which had seldom seemed so long, was over, and Elsie dismissed from the school-room for the day.
At dinner, instead of the usual large party, there were only her father and the gentleman with whom he was transacting business, Miss Day, and herself.
The gentleman was not one of those who care to notice children, but continued to discuss business and politics with Mr. Dinsmore, without seeming to be in the least aware of the presence of the little girl, who sat in perfect silence, eating whatever her father saw fit to put upon her plate; and Elsie was very glad indeed when at length Miss Day rose to leave the table, and her papa told her she might go too.
He called her back though, before she had gone across the room, to say that he had intended to ride with her that afternoon, but found he should not be able to do so, and she must take Jim for a protector, as he did not wish her either to miss her ride or to go entirely alone.
He spoke very kindly; Elsie thought with remorse of the rebellious feelings of the morning, and, had she been alone with her father, would certainly have confessed them, expressing her sorrow and asking forgiveness; but she could not do so before a third person, more especially a stranger; and merely saying, "Yes, papa, I will," she turned away and left the room. Jim was bringing up her horse as she passed the open door, and she hastened up-stairs to prepare for her ride.
"0 mammy!" she suddenly exclaimed, as Chloe was trying on her hat, "is Pomp going to the city to-day ?"
"Yes, darlin', he gwine start directly," said Chloe, arranging her nursling's curls to better advantage, and finishing her work with a fond caress.
"Oh! then, mammy, take some money out of my purse, and tell him to buy me a pound of the very nicest candy he can find," said the little girl, eagerly. "I haven't had any for a long time, and I feel hungry for it to-day. What they had bought for the picnic looked so good, but you know I didn't get any of it."
The picnic party returned just before tea-time, and Lucy Carrington rushed into Elsie's room eager to tell her what a delightful day they had had. She gave a very glowing account of their sports and entertainment, interrupting herself every now and then to lament over Elsie's absence, assuring her again and again that it had been the only drawback upon her own pleasure, and that she thought that Elsie's papa was very unkind indeed to refuse her permission to go.
As Elsie listened the morning's feelings of vexation and disappointment returned in full force; and though she said nothing, she allowed her friend to accuse her father of cruelty and injustice without offering any remonstrance.
In the midst of their talk the tea-bell rang, and they hurried down to take their places at the table, where Lucy went on with her narrative, though in a rather subdued tone, Elsie now and then asking a question, until Mr. Dinsmore turned to his daughter, saying, in his stern way, "Be quiet, Elsie; you are talking entirely too much for a child of your age; don't let me hear you speak again until you have left the table."
Elsie's face flushed, and her eyes fell, under the rebuke ; and during the rest of the meal not a sound escaped her lips.
"Come, Elsie, let us go into the garden and finish our talk," said Lucy, putting her arm affectionately around her friend's waist as they left the table; "your papa can't hear us there, and we'll have a good time."
"Papa only stopped us because we were talking too much at the table," said Elsie, apologetically; "I'm sure he is willing you should tell me all about what a nice time you all had. But, Lucy," she added, lowering her voice, "please don't say again that you think papa was unkind to keep me at home to-day. I'm sure he knows best, and I ought not to have listened to a word of that kind about him."
"0! well, never mind, I won't talk so any more," said Lucy, good-naturedly, as they skipped down the walk together; "but I do think he's cross, and I wish you were my sister, that you might have my kind, good papa for yours too," she added, drawing her arm more closely about her friend's waist.
"Thank you, Lucy," said Elsie, with a little sigh, "I would like to be your sister, but indeed I would not like to give up my own dear papa, for I love him, oh! so much."
"Why, how funny, when he's so cross to you!" exclaimed Lucy, laughing.
Elsie put her hand over her friend's mouth, and Lucy pushed it away, saying, "Excuse me; I forgot; but I'll try not to say it again."
While the little girls were enjoying their talk in the garden, a servant with a small bundle in her hand came out on the veranda, where Mr. Horace Dinsmore was sitting smoking a cigar, and, casting an inquiring glance around, asked if he knew where Miss Elsie was?
"What do you want with her ?" he asked.
"Only to give her dis bundle, massa, dat Pomp jus brought from de city."
"Give it to me," he said, extending his hand to receive it.
A few moments afterward Elsie and her friend returned to the house, and meeting Pomp, she asked him if he had brought her candy.
He replied that he had got some that was very nice indeed, and he thought that Fanny had carried it to her; and seeing Fanny near, he called to her to know what she had done with it.
"Why, Pomp, Massa Horace he told me to give it to him," said the girl.
Elsie turned away with a very disappointed look.
"You'll go and ask him .for it, won't you?" asked Lucy; who was anxious to enjoy a share of the candy as well as to see Elsie gratified.
"No," said Elsie, sighing, "I had rather do without it."
Lucy coaxed for a little while, but finding it impossible to persuade Elsie to approach her father on the subject, finally volunteered to do the errand herself.
Elsie readily consented, and Lucy, trembling a little in spite of her boast that she was not afraid of him, walked out on to the veranda where Mr. Dinsmore was still sitting, and putting on an air of great confidence, said:
"Mr. Dinsmore, will you please to give me Elsie's candy? she wants it."
"Did Elsie send you ?" he asked in a cold, grave tone.
"Yes, sir," replied Lucy, somewhat frightened.
"Then, if you please, Miss Lucy, you may tell Elsie to come directly to me."
Lucy ran back to her friend, and Elsie received the message in some trepidation, but as no choice was now left her, she went immediately to her father.
"Did you want me, papa?" she asked timidly.
"Yes, Elsie; I wish to know why you send another person to me for what you want, instead of coming yourself. It displeases me very much, and you may rest assured that you will never get anything that you ask for in that way."
Elsie hung her head in silence.
"Are you going to answer me?" he asked, in his severe tone. "Why did you send Lucy instead of coming yourself?"
"I was afraid, papa," she whispered, almost under her breath.
"Afraid! afraid of what?" he asked, with increasing displeasure.
"Of you, papa," she replied, in a tone so low that he could scarcely catch the words, although he bent down his ear to receive her reply.
"If I were a drunken brute, in the habit of knocking you about, beating and abusing you, there might be some reason for your fear, Elsie," he said, coloring with anger; "but, as it is, I see no excuse for it at all, and I am both hurt and displeased by it."
"I am very sorry, papa; I won't do so again," she said, tremblingly.
There was a moment's pause, and then she asked in a timid hesitating way, "Papa, may I have my candy, if you please?"
"No, you may not," he said decidedly; "and understand and remember that I positively forbid you either to buy or eat anything of the kind again without my express permission."
Elsie's eyes filled, and she had a hard struggle to keep down a rising sob as she turned away and went slowly back to the place where she had left her friend.
"Have you got it?" asked Lucy, eagerly. Elsie shook her head.
"What a shame!" exclaimed Lucy, indignantly; "he's just as cross as he can be. He's a tyrant, so he is! just a hateful old tyrant, and I wouldn't care a cent for him, if I were you, Elsie. I'm glad he is not my father, so I am."
"I'm afraid he doesn't love me much," sighed Elsie in low, tearful tones, "for he hardly ever lets me have anything, or go anywhere that I want to."
"Well, never mind, I'll send and buy a good lot tomorrow, and we'll have a regular feast," said Lucy, soothingly, as she passed her arm around her friend's waist and drew her down to a seat on the portico step.
"Thank you, Lucy; you can buy for yourself if you like, but not for me, for papa has forbidden me to eat anything of the sort."
"Oh! of course we'll not let him know anything about it," said Lucy.
But Elsie shook her head sadly, saying with a little sigh, "No, Lucy, you are very kind, but I cannot disobey papa, even if he should never know it, because that would be disobeying God, and He would know it."
"Dear me, how particular you are!" exclaimed Lucy a little pettishly.
"Elsie," said Mr. Dinsmore, speaking from the door, "what are you doing there? Did I not forbid you to be out in the evening air?"
"I did not know you meant the doorstep, papa. I thought I was only not to go down into the garden," replied the little girl, rising to go in.
"I see you intend to make as near an approach to disobedience as you dare," said her father. "Go immediately to your room, and tell mammy to put you to bed."
Elsie silently obeyed, and Lucy, casting an indignant glance at Mr. Dinsmore, was about to follow her, when he said, "I wish her to go alone, if you please, Miss Lucy;" and with a frown and a pout the little girl walked into the drawing-room and seated herself on the sofa beside her mamma.
Mr. Dinsmore walked out on to the portico, and stood there watching the moon which was just rising over the treetops.
"Horace," said Arthur, emerging from the shadow of a tree near by and approaching his brother, "Elsie thinks you're a tyrant. She says you never let her have anything, or go anywhere, and you're always punishing her. She and Lucy have had a fine time out here talking over your bad treatment of her, and planning to have some candy in spite of you."
"Arthur, I do not believe that Elsie would deliberately plan to disobey me; and whatever faults she may have, I am very sure she is above the meanness of telling tales," replied Mr. Dinsmore, in a tone of severity, as he turned and went into the house, while Arthur, looking sadly crestfallen, crept away out of sight.
When Elsie reached her room, she found that Chloe was not there; for, not expecting that her services would be required at so early an hour, she had gone down to the kitchen to have a little chat with her fellow-servants. Elsie rang for her, and then walking to the window, stood looking down into the garden in an attitude of thoughtfulness and dejection. She was mentally taking a review of the manner in which she had spent the day, as was her custom before retiring. The retrospect had seldom been so painful to the little girl. She had a very tender conscience, and it told her now that she had more than once during the day indulged in wrong feelings toward her father; that she had also allowed another to speak disrespectfully of him, giving by her silence a tacit approval of the sentiments uttered, and, more than that, had spoken complainingly of him herself.
"Oh!" she murmured half aloud as she covered her face with her hands, and the tears trickled through her fingers, "how soon I have forgotten the lesson papa taught me this morning, and my promise to trust him without knowing his reasons. I don't deserve that he should love me or be kind and indulgent, when I am so rebellious."
"What's de matter, darlin'?" asked Chloe's voice in pitiful tones, as she took her nursling in her arms and laid her little head against her bosom, passing her hand caressingly over the soft bright curls; "your ole mammy can't bear to see her pet cryin' like dat."
"0 mammy, mammy! I've been such a wicked girl to-day! Oh! I'm afraid I shall never be good, never be like Jesus. I'm afraid He is angry with me, for I have disobeyed Him to-day," sobbed the child.
"Darlin'," said Chloe, earnestly, "didn't you read to your ole mammy dis very morning dese bressed words: 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,' an' de other: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.' Go to de dear, bressed Lord Jesus, darlin', an' ax Him to forgive you, an' I knows He will."
"Yes, He will," replied the little girl, raising her head and dashing away her tears, "He will forgive my sins, and take away my wicked heart, and give me right thoughts and feelings. How glad I am you remembered those sweet texts, you dear old mammy," she added, twining her arms lovingly around her nurse's neck. And then she delivered her papa's message, and Chloe began at once to prepare her for bed.
Elsie's tears had ceased to flow, but they were still trembling in her eyes, and the little face wore a very sad and troubled expression as she stood patiently passive in her nurse's hands. Chloe had soon finished her labors, and then the little girl opened her Bible, and, as usual, read a few verses aloud, though her voice trembled, and once or twice a tear fell on the page; then closing the book she stole away to the side of the bed and knelt down.
She was a good while on her knees, and several times, as the sound of a low sob fell upon Chloe's ear, she sighed and murmured to herself: "Poor, darlin' I. dear, bressed lamb, your ole mammy don't like to hear dat."
Then as the child rose from her kneeling posture she went to her, and taking her in her arms, folded her in a fond embrace, calling her by the most tender and endearing epithets, and telling her that her old mammy loved her better than life-better than any- thing in the wide world.
Elsie flung her arms around her nurse's neck, and hid her head upon her bosom, saying, "Yes, my dear old mammy, I know you love me, and I love you, too. But put me in bed now, or papa will be displeased."
"What makes you so onrestless, darlin'?" asked Chloe, half an hour afterward; "can't you go to sleep no how ?"
"0 mammy! if I could only see papa just for one moment to tell him something. Do you think he would come to me ?" sighed the little girl. "Please, mammy, go down and see if he is busy. Don't say a word if he is; but if not, ask him to come to me for just one minute."
Chloe left the room immediately, but returned the next moment, saying, "I jes looked into de parlor, darlin', an' Mass Horace he mighty busy playin' chess wid Miss Lucy's mamma, an' I didn't say nuffin' to him. Jes you go sleep, my pet, an' tell Mass Horace all 'bout it in de mornin'."
Elsie sighed deeply, and turning over on her pillow, cried herself to sleep.
Chloe was just putting the finishing touches to the little girl's dress the next morning, when Lucy Carrington rapped at the door.
"Good morning, Elsie," she said; "I was in a hurry to come to you, because it is my last day, you know. Wasn't it too bad of your father to send you off to bed so early last night ?"
"No, Lucy, papa has a right to send me to bed whenever he pleases; and besides, I was naughty and deserved to be punished; and it was not much more than half an hour earlier than my usual bedtime."
"You naughty!" exclaimed Lucy, opening her eyes very wide. "Mamma often says she wishes I was half as good."
Elsie sighed, but made no answer. Her thoughts seemed far away. She was thinking of what she had been so anxious, the night before, to say to her father, and trying to gain courage to do it this morning. "If I could only get close to him when nobody was by, and he would look and speak kindly to me, I could do it then," she murmured to herself.
"Come, Aunt Chloe, aren't you done? I want to have a run in the garden before breakfast," said Lucy, somewhat impatiently, as Chloe tied and untied Elsie's sash several times.
"Well, Miss Lucy, I'se done now," she answered, passing her hand once more over her nursling's curls; "but Mass Horace he mighty pertickler 'bout Miss Elsie."
"Yes," said Elsie, "papa wants me always to look very nice and neat; and when I go down in the morning he just gives me one glance from head to foot, and if anything is wrong he is sure to see it and send me back immediately to have it made right. Now, mammy, please give me my hat and let us go."
"You's got plenty ob time, chillens; de bell won't go for to ring dis hour," remarked the old nurse, tying on Elsie's hat.
"My chile looks sweet an' fresh as a moss rosebud dis mornin'," she added, talking to herself, as she watched the two little girls tripping down-stairs hand in hand.
They skipped up and down the avenue several times, and ran all round the garden before it was time to go in. Then Elsie went up to Chloe to have her hair made smooth again. She was just descending for the second time to the hall, where she had left Lucy, when they saw a carriage drive up to the front door.
"There's papa!" cried Lucy, joyfully, as it stopped and a gentleman sprang out and came up the steps into the portico; and in an instant she was in his arms, receiving such kisses and caresses as Elsie had vainly longed for all her life.
Lucy had several brothers, but was an only daughter, and a very great pet, especially with her father.
Elsie watched them with a wistful look and a strange aching at her heart.
' But presently Mr. Carrington set Lucy down and turning to her, gave her a shake of the hand, and then a kiss, saying, "How do you do this morning, my dear? I'm afraid you are hardly glad to see me, as I come to take Lucy away, for I suppose you have been having fine times together."
"Yes, sir, indeed we have; and I hope you will let her come again."
"Oh! yes, certainly; but the visits must not be all on one side. I shall talk to your papa about it, and perhaps persuade him to let us take you along this afternoon to spend a week at Ashlands."
"Oh! how delightful!" cried Lucy, clapping her hands. "Elsie, do you think he will let you go ?"
"I don't know, I'm afraid not," replied the little girl, doubtfully.
"You must coax him, as I do my papa," said Lucy. But at this Elsie only shook her head, and just then the breakfast-bell rang.
Mr. Dinsmore was already in the breakfast-room, and Elsie, going up to him, said, "Good morning, papa."
"Good morning, Elsie," he replied, but his tone was so cold that even if no one else had been by, she could not have said another word.
He had not intended to be influenced by the information Arthur had so maliciously given him the night before ; yet unconsciously he was, and his manner to his little daughter was many degrees colder than it had been for some time.
After breakfast Lucy reminded Elsie of a promise she had made to show her some beautiful shells which her father had collected in his travels, and Elsie led the way to the cabinet, a small room opening into the library, and filled with curiosities.
They had gone in alone, but were soon followed by Arthur, Walter and Enna.
Almost everything in the room belonged to Mr. Horace Dinsmore; and Elsie, knowing that many of the articles were rare and costly, and that he was very careful of them, begged Enna and the boys to go out, lest they should accidentally do some mischief.
"I won't," replied Arthur. "I've just as good a right to be here as you."
As he spoke he gave her a push, which almost knocked her over, and in catching at a table to save herself from falling, she threw down a beautiful vase of rare old china, which Mr. Dinsmore prized very highly. It fell with a loud crash, and lay scattered in fragments at their feet.
"There, see what you've done!" exclaimed Arthur, as the little group stood aghast at the mischief.
It happened that Mr. Dinsmore was just then in the library, and the noise soon brought him upon the scene of action.
"Who did this?" he asked, in a wrathful tone, looking from one to the other.
"Elsie," said Arthur; "she threw it down and broke it."
"Troublesome, careless child! I would not have taken a hundred dollars for that vase," he exclaimed. "Go to your room! go this instant, and stay there until I send for you; and remember, if you ever come in here again without permission I shall punish you."
He opened the door as he spoke, and Elsie flew across the hall, up the stairs, and into her own room, without once pausing or looking back.
"Now go out, every one of you, and don't come in here again; this is no place for children," said Mr. Dinsmore, turning the others into the hall, and shutting and locking the door upon them.
"You ought to be ashamed, Arthur Dinsmore," exclaimed Lucy indignantly; "it was all your own fault, and Elsie was .not to blame at all, and you know it."
"I didn't touch the old vase, and I'm not going to take the blame of it, either, I can tell you, miss," replied Arthur, moving off, followed by Walter and Enna, while Lucy walked to the other end of the hall, and stood looking out of the window, debating in her own mind whether she had sufficient courage to face Mr. Dinsmore, and make him understand where the blame of the accident ought to lie.
At length she seemed to have solved the question; for turning about and moving noiselessly down the passage to the library door, she gave a timid little rap, which was immediately answered by Mr. Dinsmore's voice saying, "Come in."
Lucy opened the door and walked in, closing it after her.
Mr. Dinsmore sat at a table writing, and he looked up with an expression of mingled surprise and impatience.
"What do you want, Miss Lucy?" he said, "speak quickly, for I am very busy."
"I just wanted to tell you, sir," replied Lucy, speaking up quite boldly, "that Elsie was not at all to blame about the vase; for it was Arthur who pushed her and made her fall against the table, and that was the way the vase came to fall and break."
"What made him push her?" he asked.
"Just because Elsie asked him, and Walter, and Enna to go out, for fear they might do some mischief."
Mr. Dinsmore's pen was suspended over the paper for a moment, while he sat thinking with a somewhat clouded brow; but presently turning to the little girl, he said quite pleasantly, "Very well, Miss Lucy, I am much obliged to you for your information, for I should be very sorry to punish Elsie unjustly. And now will you do me the favor to go to her and tell her that her papa says she need not stay in her room any longer ?"
"Yes, sir, I will," replied Lucy, her face sparkling with delight as she hurried off with great alacrity to do his bidding.
She found Elsie in her room crying violently, and throwing her arms around her neck she delivered Mr. Dinsmore's message, concluding with, "So now, Elsie, you see you needn't cry, nor feel sorry any more; but just dry your eyes and let us go down into the garden and have a good time."
Elsie was very thankful to Lucy, and very glad that her papa now knew that she was not to blame; but she was still sorry for his loss, and his words had wounded her too deeply to be immediately forgotten; indeed it was some time before the sore spot they had made in her heart was entirely healed. But she tried to forget it all and enter heartily into the sports proposed by Lucy.
The Carringtons were not to leave until the afternoon, and the little girls spent nearly the whole morning in the garden, coming into the drawing-room a few moments before the dinner-bell rang.
Mrs. Carrington sat on a sofa engaged with some fancy work, while Herbert, who had not felt well enough to join the other children, had stretched himself out beside her, putting his head in her lap.
Mr. Carrington and Mr. Horace Dinsmore were conversing near by.
Lucy ran up to her papa and seated herself upon his knee with her arm around his neck; while Elsie stopped a moment to speak to Herbert, and then timidly approaching her father, with her eyes upon the floor, said in a low, half-frightened tone, that reached no ear but his, "I am very sorry about the vase, papa."
He took her hand, and drawing her close to him, pushed back the hair from her forehead with his other hand, and bending down to her, said almost in a whisper, "Never mind, daughter, we will forget all about it. I am sorry I spoke so harshly to you, since Lucy tells me you were not so much to blame."
Elsie's face flushed with pleasure, and she looked up gratefully; but before she had time to reply, Mrs. Carrington said, "Elsie, we want to take you home with us to spend a week; will you go ?"
"I should like to, very much, indeed, ma'am, if papa will let me," replied the little girl, looking wistfully up into his face.
"Well, Mr. Dinsmore, what do you say? I hope you can have no objection," said Mrs. Carrington, looking inquiringly at him; while her husband added, "Oh! yes, Dinsmore, you must let her go by all means; you can certainly spare her for a week, and it need be no interruption to her lessons, as she can share with Lucy in the instructions of our governess, who is really a superior teacher."
Mr. Dinsmore was looking very grave, and Elsie knew from the expression of his countenance what his answer would be, before he spoke. He had noticed the indignant glance Lucy had once or twice bestowed upon him, and remembering Arthur's report of the conversation between the two little girls the night before, had decided in his own mind that the less Elsie saw of Lucy the better.
"I thank you both for your kind attention to my little girl," he replied courteously, "but while fully appreciating your kindness in extending the invitation, I must beg leave to decline it, as I am satisfied that home is the best place for her at present."
"Ah! no, I suppose we ought hardly to have expected you to spare her so soon after your return," said Mrs. Carrington; "but, really, I am very sorry to be refused, for Elsie is such a good child that I am always delighted to have Lucy and Herbert with her."
"Perhaps you think better of her than she deserves, Mrs. Carrington. I find that Elsie is sometimes naughty and in need of correction, as well as other children, and therefore, I think it best to keep her as much as possible under my own eye," replied Mr. Dinsmore, looking very gravely at his little daughter as he spoke.
Elsie's face flushed painfully, and she had hard work to keep from bursting into tears. It was a great relief to her that just at that moment the dinner-bell rang, and there was a general movement in the direction of the dining-room. Her look was touchingly humble as her father led her in and seated her at the table.
She was thinking, "Papa says I am naughty sometimes, but oh! how very naughty he would think me if he knew all the wicked feelings I had yesterday."
As soon as they had risen from the table, Mrs. Carrington bade Lucy go up to her maid to have her bonnet put on, as the carriage was already at the door.
Elsie would have gone with her, but her father had taken her hand again, and he held it fast.
She looked up inquiringly into his face.
"Stay here," he said. "Lucy will be down again in a moment."
And Elsie stood quietly at his side until Lucy returned.
But even then her father did not relinquish his hold of her hand, and all the talking the little girls could do must be done close at his side.
Yet, as he was engaged in earnest conversation with Mr. Carrington, and did not seem to be listening to them, Lucy ventured to whisper to Elsie, "I think it's real mean of him; he might let you go."
"No," replied Elsie, in the same low tone, "I'm sure papa knows best; and besides, I have been naughty, and don't deserve to go, though I should like to, dearly."
"Well, good-bye," said Lucy, giving her a kiss.
It was not until Mr. Carrington's carriage was fairly on its way down the avenue, that Mr. Dinsmore dropped his little girl's hand; and then he said, "I want you in the library, Elsie; come to me in half an hour."
"Yes, papa, I will," she replied, looking a little frightened.
"You need not be afraid," he said, in a tone of displeasure ; "I am not going to hurt you."
Elsie blushed and hung her head, but made no reply, and he turned away and left her. She could not help wondering what he wanted with her, and though she tried not to feel afraid, it was impossible to keep from trembling a little as she knocked at the library door.
Her father's voice said, "Come in," and entering, she found him alone, seated at a table covered with papers and writing materials, while beside the account book in which he was writing lay a pile of money, in bank notes, and gold and silver.
"Here, Elsie," he said, laying down his pen, "I want to give you your month's allowance. Your grandfather has paid it to you heretofore, but of course, now that I am at home, I attend to everything that concerns you. You have been receiving eight dollars-1 shall give you ten," and he counted out the money and laid it before her as he spoke; "but I shall require a strict account of all that you spend. I want you to learn to keep accounts, for if you live, you will some day have a great deal of money to take care of; and here is a blank book that I have prepared, so that you can do so very easily. Every time that you lay out or give away any money, you must set it down here as soon as you come home; be particular about that, lest you should forget something, because you must bring your book to me at the end of every month, and let me see how much you have spent, and what is the balance in hand; and if you are not able to make it come out square, and tell me what you have done with every penny, you will lose either the whole or a part of your allowance for the next month, according to the extent of your delinquency. Do you understand ?"
"Very well. Let me see now how much you can remember of your last month's expenditures. Take the book and set down everything you can think of."
Elsie had a good memory, and was able to remember how she had spent almost every cent during the time specified; and she set down one item after another, and then added up the column without any mistake.
"That was very well done," said her father approvingly. And then running over the items half aloud, "Candy, half a dollar; remember, Elsie, there is to be no more money disposed of in that way; not as a matter of economy, by any means, but because I consider is very injurious. I am very anxious that you should grow up strong and healthy. I would not for anything have you a miserable dyspeptic."
Then suddenly closing the book and handing it to her, he said, inquiringly, "You were very anxious to go to Ashlands?"
"I would have liked to go, papa, if you had been willing," she replied meekly.
"I am afraid Lucy is not a suitable companion for you, Elsie. I think she puts bad notions into your head," he said very gravely.
Elsie flushed and trembled, and was just opening her lips to make her confession, when the door opened and her grandfather entered. She could not speak before him, and so remained silent.
"Does she not sometimes say naughty things to you?" asked her father, speaking so low that her grandfather could not have heard.
"Yes, sir," replied the little girl, almost under her breath.
"I thought so," said he, "'and therefore I shall keep you apart as entirely as possible; and I hope there will be no murmuring on your part."
"No, papa, you know best," she answered, very humbly.
Then, putting the money into her hands, he dismissed her. When she had gone out he sat for a moment in deep thought. Elsie's list of articles bought with her last month's allowance consisted almost entirely of gifts for others, generally the servants. There were some beads and sewing-silk for making a purse, and a few drawing materials; but with the exception of the candy, she had bought nothing else for herself. This was what her father was thinking of.
"She is a dear, unselfish, generous little thing," he said to himself. "However, I may be mistaken; I must not allow myself to judge from only one month. She seems submissive, too,"-he had overheard what passed between her and Lucy at parting-"but perhaps that was for effect; she probably suspected I could hear her-and she thinks me a tyrant, and obeys from fear, not love."
This thought drove away all the tender feeling that had been creeping into his heart; and when he next met his little daughter, his manner was as cold and distant as ever, and Elsie found it impossible to approach him with sufficient freedom to tell him what was in her heart.
On to chapter 5
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