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´╗┐Title: Holidays at Roselands
Author: Finley, Martha, 1828-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Holidays at Roselands" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                          HOLIDAYS AT ROSELANDS

                       A SEQUEL TO ELSIE DINSMORE

                            BY MARTHA FINLEY

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by M.W. DODD,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Southern District of New York.

Copyright, 1898, by DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.



"Hope not sunshine every hour,
Fear not clouds will always lower."

--Burns.



Elsie's Holidays at Roselands.



CHAPTER I.

"Oh Truth,
Thou art, whilst tenant in a noble breast,
A crown of crystal in an iv'ry chest."


Elsie felt in better spirits in the morning; her sleep had refreshed her,
and she arose with a stronger confidence in the love of both her earthly
and her heavenly Father.

She found her papa ready, and waiting for her. He took her in his arms
and kissed her tenderly. "My precious little daughter," he said, "papa is
very glad to see you looking so bright and cheerful this morning. I think
something was wrong with my little girl last night. Why did she not come
to papa with her trouble?"

"_Why_ did you think I was in trouble, papa?" she asked, hiding her face
on his breast.

"How could I think otherwise, when my little girl did not come to bid me
good night, though she had not seen me since dinner; and when I went to
give her a good-night kiss I found her pillow wet, and a tear on her
cheek?"

"_Did_ you come, papa?" she asked, looking up in glad surprise.

"I did. Now tell me what troubled you, my own one?"

"I am afraid you will be angry with me, papa," she said, almost under her
breath.

"Not half so angry as if you refuse to give me your confidence. I would
be glad to know that my little daughter had not a single thought or
feeling concealed from me."

He paused a moment, looking down at the little blushing face, half hidden
on his breast, then went on:

"Elsie, daughter, you are more precious to me than aught else in the
wide world, and you need not fear that any other can ever take your place
in my heart, or that I will make any connection that would render you
unhappy. I want no one to love but my little girl; and you must not let
the gossip of the servants disturb you."

Elsie looked up in unfeigned astonishment.

"Papa! you seem to know everything about me. Can you read my thoughts?"

"_Almost_, when I can see your face," he answered, smiling at her puzzled
look. "I cannot quite, though; but I can put things together and make a
pretty good guess, sometimes."

She lay still on his breast for a moment; then, raising her eyes timidly
to his face again, she said in a half-hesitating way, "I am afraid it is
very naughty in me, papa, but I can't help thinking that Miss Stevens
is very disagreeable. I felt so that very first day, and I did not want
to take a present from her, because it didn't seem exactly right when I
didn't like her, but I couldn't refuse--she wouldn't let me--and I have
tried to like her since, but I can't."

"Well, darling, I don't think I am just the proper person to reprove you
for _that_," he replied, trying to look grave, "for I am afraid I am as
naughty as you are. But we won't talk any more about her. See what I have
for you this morning."

He pointed to the table, where lay a pile of prettily bound books, which
Elsie had not noticed until this moment. They were Abbot's works. Elsie
had read several of his historical tales, and liked them very much; and
her father could hardly have given a more acceptable present.

"I was sorry for your disappointment yesterday," he said, "but I hope
these will make up for it, and they will give you a great deal of useful
information, as well as amusement; while it could only be an injury
to you to read that trashy book."

Elsie was turning over the books with eager delight.

"_Dear_ papa, you are so kind and good to me," she said, laying them down
to put her arms around his neck and kiss him. "I like these books very
much, and I don't at all care to read that other one since you have told
me you do not approve of it."

"That is my own darling child," said he, returning her caress, "your
ready obedience deserved a reward. Now put on your hat, and we will take
our walk."

Mr. Travilla joined them in the avenue, and his kind heart rejoiced to
see how the clouds of care and sorrow had all passed away from his little
friend's face, leaving it bright and beaming, as usual. Her father had
one hand, and Mr. Travilla soon possessed himself of the other.

"I don't altogether like these company-days, when you have to be banished
from the table, little Elsie," he remarked. "I cannot half enjoy my
breakfast without your bright face to look at."

"I don't like them either, Mr. Travilla, because I see so little of papa.
I haven't had a ride with him since the company came."

"You shall have one this afternoon, if nothing happens," said her father
quickly. "What do you say, Travilla, to a ride on horseback with the four
young ladies you took charge of yesterday, and myself?"

"Bravo! I shall be delighted to be of the party, if the ladies don't
object; eh! Elsie, what do you think?" with a questioning look down into
her glad face, "will they want me?"

"You needn't be a bit afraid, Mr. Travilla," laughed the little girl; "I
like you next to papa, and I believe Lucy and the rest like you better."

"Oh! take care, Elsie; are you not afraid of hurting his feelings?"

"No danger, as long as _she_ puts me first," Mr. Dinsmore said, bestowing
a smile and loving glance on her.

Caroline Howard was in Elsie's room, waiting to show her bracelet, which
had just been handed to her by her maid; Pomp having brought it from the
city late the night before.

"Oh! Elsie, I am so glad you have come at last. I have been waiting for
half an hour, I should think, to show you these," she said, as Elsie came
in from her walk. "But how bright and merry you look; so different from
last night! what ailed you then?"

"Never mind," replied Elsie, taking the bracelet from her hand, and
examining it. "Oh! this is _very_ pretty, Carry! the clasp is so
beautiful, and they have braided the hair so nicely."

"Yes, I'm sure mamma will like it. But now that Christmas is gone, I
think I will keep it for a New Year's gift. Wouldn't you, Elsie?"

"Yes, perhaps--but I want to tell you, Carry, what papa says. He and Mr.
Travilla are going to take you, and Lucy, and Mary, and me, riding on
horseback this afternoon. Don't you think it will be pleasant?"

"Oh, it will be _grand_!" exclaimed Carry. "Elsie, I think now that your
papa is very kind; and do you know I like him very much, indeed; quite as
well as I do Mr. Travilla, and I always liked _him_--he's so pleasant,
and so funny, too, sometimes. But I must go and show my bracelet to Lucy.
Hark! no, there's the bell, and I'll just leave it here until after
breakfast."

Elsie opened a drawer and laid it carefully in, and they ran off to the
nursery.

"Elsie," said her father, when they had finished the morning lessons,
"there is to be a children's party to-night, at Mr. Carleton's, and I
have an invitation for you. Would you like to go?"

"Do you wish me to go, papa?" she asked.

"Not unless _you_ wish to do so, daughter," he said kindly. "I cannot go
with you, as there are to be none but little people, and I never feel
altogether comfortable in seeing my darling go from home without me; and
you will, no doubt, be very late in returning and getting to bed, and I
fear will feel badly to-morrow in consequence; but this once, at least,
you shall just please yourself. All your little guests are going, and it
would be dull and lonesome for you at home, I am afraid."

Elsie thought a moment.

"Dear papa, you are very kind," she said, "but if you please, I would
much rather have you decide for me, because I am only a silly little
girl, and you are so much older and wiser."

He smiled, and stroked her hair softly, but said nothing.

"Are you going to stay at home, papa?" she asked presently.

"Yes, daughter, I expect to spend the evening either in this room or the
library, as I have letters to write."

"Oh, then, papa, please let me stay with you! I would like it _much_
better than going to the party; will you, papa? please say yes."

"But you know I cannot talk to you, or let you talk; so that it will be
very dull," he said, pushing back the curls from the fair forehead, and
smiling down into the eager little face.

"Oh! but if you will only let me sit beside you and read one of my new
books, I shall be quite contented, and sit as quiet as a little mouse,
and not say one word without leave. Mayn't I, papa?"

"I said you should do as you pleased, darling, and I always love to have
my pet near me."

"Oh, then I shall stay!" she cried, clapping her hands.

Then, with a happy little sigh, "It will be so nice," she said, "to have
one of our quiet evenings again." And she knew, by her father's gratified
look, that she had decided as he would have had her.

A servant put his head in at the door.

"Massa Horace, dere's a gen'leman in de library axin for to see you."

"Very well, Jim, tell him I will be there in a moment. Elsie, dear, put
away your books, and go down to your little friends."

"Yes, papa, I will," she replied, as he went out and left her.

"How kind papa is to me, and how I do love him!" she murmured to herself
as she placed the books carefully in the drawer where they belonged.

She found Lucy and Mary busily engaged in dressing a doll, and Carry
deeply interested in a book. But several of the little ones were looking
quite disconsolate.

"Oh, Elsie, do come and play with us," said Flora; "Enna won't play
anything we like. We've been playing keeping house, but Enna will be
mother all the time, and she scolds and whips us so much that we are all
tired of it."

"Well, what shall we play?" asked Elsie, good-naturedly. "Will you build
houses?"

"No, I'm tired of that, because Enna takes all the blocks," said another
little girl. "She isn't at all polite to visitors, is she, Flora?"

"No," replied Flora, "and I don't _ever_ mean to come to see her again."

"I don't care," retorted Enna, angrily, "and I don't take _all_ the
blocks, either."

"Well, _most_ all, you do," said the other, "and it isn't polite."

"They're mine, and I'll have as many as I want; and I don't care if it
_isn't_ polite," Enna answered, with a pout that by no means improved her
appearance.

"Will you play 'O sister, O Phebe?'" asked Elsie.

"No, no!" cried several little voices, "Enna always wants to be in the
middle; and besides, Arthur always wants to play, and he will kiss us;
and we don't like it."

Elsie was almost in despair; but Herbert, who was lying on a sofa,
reading, suddenly shut his book, saying, "I tell you what, Elsie! tell us
one of those nice fairy stories we all like so much!"

"Yes, do, do!" cried several of the little ones, clapping their hands.

So Elsie drew up a stool close to Herbert's sofa, and the little ones
clustered around her, Enna insisting on having the best place for
hearing; and for more than an hour she kept them quiet and interested;
but was very glad when at last the maid came to take them out walking,
thus leaving her at liberty to follow her own inclination.

"What are you going to do now, Elsie?" asked Caroline, closing her book.

"I am going down to the drawing-room to ask Aunt Adelaide to show me how
to crochet this mitten for mammy," Elsie answered.

"Won't you come along, girls?"

"Yes, let's take our sewing down there," said Lucy, gathering up the bits
of muslin and silk, and putting them in her work-box.

Elsie glanced hastily around as they entered, and gave a satisfied little
sigh on perceiving that Miss Stevens was not in the room, and that her
Aunt Adelaide was seated with her embroidery near one of the windows,
while her papa sat near by, reading the morning paper.

The little girls soon established themselves in a group on the opposite
side of Miss Adelaide's window, and she very good-naturedly gave Elsie
the assistance she needed.

"Elsie," said Lucy, presently, in an undertone, "Carry has been showing
us her bracelet, and I think it is beautiful; she won't tell whose hair
it is--I guess it's her sister's, maybe--but I'm sure yours would make
just as pretty a bracelet, and I want one for my mamma; won't you give me
one of your curls to make it? you have so many that one would never
be missed."

"No, Miss Lucy," said Mr. Dinsmore, looking at them over his paper, "you
can't have one of my curls; I can't spare it."

"I don't want one of _your_ curls, Mr. Dinsmore," laughed Lucy, merrily.
"I didn't ask for it. Your hair is very pretty, too, but it would be
quite too short."

"I beg your pardon, Miss Lucy, if my ears deceived me," said he, with
mock gravity, "but I was quite certain I heard you asking for one of my
curls. Perhaps, though, you are not aware of the fact that my curls grow
on two heads."

"I don't know what you mean, Mr. Dinsmore," replied Lucy, laughing again,
"but it was one of Elsie's curls I asked for."

"Elsie doesn't own any," said he; "they all belong to me. I let her wear
them, to be sure, but that is all; she has no right to give them away."

He turned to his paper again, and Elsie bent over her work, her face
flushed, and her little hand trembling so that she could scarcely hold
her needle.

"I'm afraid I ought to tell papa," she thought, "that I did give one of
my curls away. I never thought about his caring, but I might have known,
because when I wanted my hair cut last summer, he said they shouldn't one
of them be touched. Oh! dear, why didn't I think of that? I am afraid he
will be very much displeased."

"Don't tell him, then," whispered the tempter, "he is not likely ever to
miss it."

"Nay, but it would be _wrong_ to hide your fault," said conscience.

"I _will_ tell him," she resolved.

"Wait till to-morrow, then," whispered the tempter again; "if you tell
him now, very likely he will deprive you of your ride this afternoon, as
a punishment."

So the struggle went on in the little breast while others were chatting
and laughing around her, never suspecting what a battle the little girl
was fighting within her own heart.

Presently Lucy jumped up. "Oh! I am so tired sewing; come, girls, let's
put on our things, and take a run in the garden."

Carry and Mary readily assented.

"I must speak to papa first," Elsie said in a half whisper, "but don't
wait for me."

She had spoken low, but not so low that his quick ear did not catch the
sound. He had heard her, and laying his paper down on his knee, as the
other little girls ran away, he turned half round and held out his hand,
asking, with a smile, "Well, daughter, what is it? what have you to say
to papa?"

She went to him at once, and he was surprised to see how she was
trembling, and that her cheeks were flushed and her eyes full of tears.

"Why! what ails my darling?" he asked tenderly.

Adelaide had left the room a moment before, and there was no one near
enough to hear.

"Please, papa, don't be very angry with me," she pleaded, speaking very
low and hesitatingly. "I did not know you cared about my curls; I did not
think about their belonging to you, and I did give one to Carry."

He was silent a moment, evidently surprised at her confession; then he
said gently, "No, dearest, I will not be angry this time, and I feel sure
you will not do so again, now you know that I _do_ care."

"No, _indeed_, I will not, dear papa," she replied in a tone of intense
relief. "But you are not going to punish me?" she asked, beginning to
tremble again. "I was _so_ afraid to tell you, lest you would say I
should not have my ride this afternoon."

"Why, then, did you not put off your confession until after the ride?" he
asked, looking searchingly into her face.

"I wanted to very much, papa," she said, looking down and blushing
deeply, "but I knew it would be very wrong."

"My dear, conscientious little daughter," he said, taking her on his
knee, "your father loves you better than ever for this new proof of your
honesty and truthfulness. Deprive you of your ride? no, indeed, I feel
far more like rewarding than punishing you. Ah! I had forgotten! I have
something for you;" and he put his hand into his pocket and brought out
a letter.

"Oh! it is from Miss Rose! dear, darling Miss Rose!" was Elsie's joyful
exclamation, as he put it in her hand.

She made a movement as if to get down from his knee, but he detained her.

"Sit still and read it here, darling," he said, "I love to have you on my
knee, and if there are any hard places I can help you."

"Thank you, papa; sometimes there are hard places--at least pretty hard
for a little girl like me--though I think Miss Rose tries to write
plainly because she knows that I cannot read writing as well as big
people can."

She was eagerly tearing off the envelope while she answered him, and then
settling herself comfortably she began to read.

He watched with deep interest the varying expression of her fine open
countenance as she read. Once or twice she asked him to tell her a word,
but the most of it she got through without any difficulty.

At last she had finished.

"It is such a nice letter, papa," she said as she folded it up, "and so
good of Miss Rose to write to me again so soon."

"Are you not going to let _me_ enjoy it, too?" he asked.

She put it into his hand instantly, saying, with a blush, "I did not know
you would care to read it, papa."

"I am interested in all that gives either pleasure or pain to my little
girl," he answered gently. "I wish to be a sharer in all her joys and
sorrows."

Elsie watched him while he read, almost as intently as he had watched
her; for she was anxious that he should be pleased with Miss Rose's
letter.

It was a cheerful, pleasant letter, well suited to interest a child of
Elsie's years; giving an account of home scenes; telling of her little
brothers and sisters, their love for each other; the little gifts they
had prepared in anticipation of Christmas, etc., etc.

At the close she made some allusion to Elsie's letters, and expressed her
heartfelt sympathy in her little friend's happiness.

"I am so glad, my darling," she wrote, "that your father now loves you so
dearly, and that you are so happy in his love. My heart ached for you in
the bitter disappointment of your first meeting with him. It is true you
never said that you were disappointed, but there was a tone of deep
sadness in your dear little letter, the cause of which I--who knew so
well how you had looked and longed for his return, and how your little
heart yearned for his affection--could not fail to guess. But, dear
child, while you thus rejoice in an _earthly_ father's love, do not
forget that you have a Father in Heaven, who claims the _first_ place in
your heart; and who is the giver of every good gift, not even excepting
the precious love that now makes your young life so bright and happy.
Keep close to Jesus, dear Elsie: His is the only _truly satisfying_
love--the only one we can be certain will never fail us."

"Is it not a nice letter, papa?" asked the little girl, as he refolded
and gave it to her again.

"Very nice, daughter," he answered, in an absent way. He looked very
grave, and Elsie studied his countenance intently while, for some
moments, he sat with his eyes bent thoughtfully upon the carpet. She
feared that something in the letter had displeased him. But presently he
looked at her with his usual affectionate smile, and laying his hand
caressingly on her head, said, "Miss Allison seems to warn you not to
trust too much to the permanence of my affection; but you need not fear
that you will ever lose it, unless, indeed, you cease to be deserving of
it. No, nor even then," he added, drawing her closer to him, "for even
should you grow very naughty and troublesome, you would still be _my
child_--a part of myself and of my lost Elsie, and therefore very dear to
me."

"Ah! papa, how could I ever _bear_ to lose your love? I think I should
die," she said, dropping her head on his breast, with almost a sob. "Oh!
if I am ever very, _very_ naughty, papa, punish me as severely as you
will; but oh, never, _never_ quit _loving_ me."

"Set your heart at rest, my darling," he said, tenderly, "there is no
danger of such a thing. I could not do it, if I wished."

Ah! there came a time when Elsie had sore need of all the comfort the
memory of those words could give.

"What are you going to wear to Isabel Carleton's party, to-night, Elsie?"
asked Lucy, at the dinner table.

"Nothing," replied Elsie, with an arch smile, "I am not going, Lucy," she
added.

"Not going! well, now, that is _too_ bad," cried Lucy, indignantly. "I
think it's really mean of your papa; he never lets you go anywhere."

"Oh, Lucy! he let me go to town with Carry the other day; he has let
me stay up late two or three nights since you came; he is going to let
me ride with the rest of you this afternoon, and he said that I might
do just as I pleased about going to-night," Elsie summed up rather
triumphantly, adding, in a very pleasant tone, "It is entirely my own
choice to stay at home; so you see, Lucy, you must not blame my papa
before you know."

Lucy looked a little ashamed, while Mary Leslie exclaimed:

"Your own choice, Elsie? why, how strange! don't you like parties?"

"Not nearly so well as a quiet evening with papa," replied Elsie,
smiling.

"Well, you are a queer girl!" was Mary's comment, while Caroline
expressed her disappointment and vainly endeavored to change Elsie's
determination. The little girl was firm, because she felt sure she was
doing right, and soon managed to change the subject of conversation to
the pleasure nearest at hand--the ride they were to take immediately
after dinner.

They were a merry party, and really enjoyed themselves about as much as
they had expected; but they returned earlier than usual, as the gentlemen
decided that the little ladies needed some time to rest before the
evening entertainment.

Elsie assisted her young friends to dress for the party--generously
offering to lend them any of her ornaments that they might fancy--saw
them come down, one after another, full of mirth and eager expectation,
and looking so pretty and graceful in their beautiful evening-dresses,
heard their expressions of commiseration toward herself, and watched the
last carriage roll away without a sigh or regret that she was left
behind. And in another moment a graceful little figure glided quietly
across the library, and sitting down on a stool at Mr. Dinsmore's feet,
looked lovingly into his face with a pair of soft, dark eyes.

His pen was moving rapidly over the paper, but ere long there was a
pause, and laying his hand caressingly on the curly head, he said, "How
quiet my little girl is; but where is your book, daughter?"

"If you please, papa, I would rather answer Miss Rose's letter."

"You may," he said, "and if you want to stay with me, you may ring the
bell and tell the servant to bring your writing desk here."

She joyfully availed herself of the permission, and soon her pen was
vainly trying to keep pace with her father's. But presently his was
thrown aside, and rising, he stood behind her chair, giving her
directions how to sit, how to hold the pen, how to form this or that
letter more correctly, guiding her hand, and commending her efforts to
improve.

"There, you have spelled a word wrong, and I see you have one or two
capitals where there should be a small letter; and that last sentence is
not perfectly grammatical," he said. "You must let me correct it when you
are done, and then you must copy it off more carefully."

Elsie looked very much mortified.

"Never mind, daughter," he said kindly, patting her cheek; "you do very
well for a _little_ girl; I dare say I made a great many more mistakes at
your age, and I don't expect you to do better than I did."

"Oh, papa, the letters I sent you when you were away must have been full
of blunders, I am afraid," she said, blushing deeply; "were you not very
much ashamed of me? How could you bear to read them?"

"Ashamed of you, darling? No, indeed, neither of you nor them. I loved
them all the better for the mistakes, because they showed how entirely
your own they were; and I could not but be pleased with them when every
line breathed such love to me. My little daughter's confidence and
affection are worth more to me than the finest gold, or the most
priceless jewels."

He bent down and kissed her fondly as he spoke; then, returning to his
seat, bade her finish her letter and bring it to him when done.

He took up his pen, and Elsie collected her thoughts once more, worked
busily and silently for another half hour, and then brought her sheet to
him for inspection; presenting it with a timid, bashful air, "I am afraid
it is very full of mistakes, papa," she said.

"Never mind, daughter," he answered, encouragingly; "I know that it takes
a great deal of practice to make perfect, and it will be a great pleasure
to me to see you improve."

He looked over it, pointed out the mistakes very kindly and gently,
put the capitals in their proper places, corrected the punctuation,
and showed her how one or two of her sentences might be improved.

Then, handing it back, he said, "You had better put it in your desk now,
and leave the copying until to-morrow, as it will soon be your bedtime,
and I want you on my knee until then."

Elsie's face grew very bright, and she hastened to do his bidding.

"And may I talk, papa?" she asked, as he pushed away his writing, wheeled
his chair about toward the fire, and then took her on his knee.

"Yes," he said, smiling, "that is exactly what I want you to do. Tell me
what you have been doing all day, and how you are enjoying your holidays;
or talk to me of anything that pleases, or that troubles you. I love to
be made the confidant of my little girl's joys and sorrows; and I want
her always to feel that she is sure of papa's sympathy."

"I am so glad that I may tell you everything, my own papa," she answered,
putting her arm around his neck, and laying her cheek to his. "I have
enjoyed this day very much, because I have been with you nearly all the
time; and then, I had that nice letter from Miss Rose, too."

"Yes, it was a very pleasant letter," he said; and then he asked her
what she had been doing in those hours when she had not been with him;
and she gave him an animated account of the occurrences of that and
several of the preceding days, and told of some little accidents that
had happened--amongst them that of the broken doll; and spoke of the
sorrow it had caused her; but she did not blame either Flora or Enna,
and concluded her narrative by saying that, "good, kind Mrs. Brown had
mended it, so that it was almost as good as ever."

He listened with evident interest to all she said, expressed sympathy in
her little trials, and gave her some good advice.

But at length he drew out his watch, and with an exclamation of surprise
at the lateness of the hour, told her it was half an hour after her
bedtime, kissed her good-night, and dismissed her to her room.



CHAPTER II.

                          "There comes
Forever something between us and what
We deem our happiness."

BYRON'S SARDANAPALUS.


It was quite late when the young party returned, and the next day all
were dull, and more than one peevish and fretful; so that Elsie, on whom
fell, almost entirely, the burden of entertaining them, had quite a
trying time.

She noticed at breakfast that Arthur seemed in an uncommonly bad humor,
preserving a sullen and dogged silence, excepting once when a sly whisper
from Harry Carrington drew from him an exclamation of fierce anger that
almost frightened the children, but only made Harry laugh.

Presently after, as they were about dispersing, Arthur came to her side
and whispered that he had something to say to her in private.

Elsie started and looked extremely annoyed, but said at once that he
might come to her room, and that there they could be quite alone, as
mammy would be down-stairs getting her breakfast.

She led the way and Arthur followed. He glanced hastily around on
entering and then locked the door and stood with his back against it.

Elsie became very pale.

"You needn't be _afraid_" he said, sneeringly, "I'm not going to _hurt_
you!"

"What do you want, Arthur? tell me quickly, please, because I must soon
go to papa, and I have a lesson to look over first," she said, mildly.

"I want you to lend me some money," he replied, speaking in a rapid and
determined manner; "I know you've got some, for I saw your purse the
other day, and it hadn't less than five dollars in it, I'm sure, and
that's just the sum I want."

"What do you want it for, Arthur?" she asked in a troubled voice.

"That's none of your business," he answered, fiercely. "I want the money;
I _must_ have it, and I'll pay it back next month, and that's all you
need to know."

"No, Arthur," she said gently, but very firmly, "unless you tell me all
about it, I cannot lend you a single cent, because papa has forbidden me
to do so, and I cannot disobey him."

"Nonsense! that's nothing but an excuse because you don't choose to do me
a favor," returned the boy angrily; "you weren't so particular about
obeying last summer when he made you sit all the afternoon at the piano,
because you didn't choose to play what he told you to."

"That was because it would have been breaking God's command; but this is
very different," replied Elsie, mildly.

"Well, if you _must_ know," said he, fiercely, "I want it to pay a debt;
I've been owing Dick Percival a dollar or so for several weeks, and last
night he won from me again, and he said if I didn't pay up he'd report me
to papa, or Horace, and get the money from them; and I got off only by
promising to let him have the full amount to-day; but my pocket money's
all gone, and I can't get anything out of mamma, because she told me the
last time I went to her, that she couldn't give me any more without papa
finding out all about it. So you see there is nobody to help me but you,
Elsie, for there's never any use in asking my sisters; they never have a
cent to spare! Now be a good, obliging girl; come and let me have the
money."

"Oh! Arthur, you've been gambling; how _could_ you do so?" she exclaimed
with a horrified look. "It is so _very_ wicked! you'll go to ruin,
Arthur, if you keep on in such bad ways; do go to grandpa and tell him
all about it, and promise never to do so again, and I am sure he will
forgive you, and pay your debts, and then you will feel a great deal
happier."

"Tell papa, indeed; never! I'd _die_ first! Elsie, you _must_ lend me the
money," he said, seizing her by the wrist.

"Let go of me, Arthur," she said, trying to free herself from his grasp.
"You are stronger than I am, but you know if you hurt me, papa will be
sure to find it out."

He threw her hand from him with a violence that made her stagger, and
catch at the furniture to save herself from falling.

"Will you give me the money then?" he asked angrily.

"If I should do so, I would have to put it down in my expense book, and
tell papa all about it, because he does not allow me to spend one cent
without telling him just what it went for; and that would be much worse
for you, Arthur, than to go and confess it yourself--a _great deal_
worse, I am sure."

"You could manage it well enough, if you wanted to," said he, sullenly;
"it would be an easy matter to add a few yards to the flannel, and a few
pounds to the tobacco that you bought so much of for the old servants.
Just give _me_ your book, and I'll fix it in a minute, and he'll never
find it out."

"Arthur!" she exclaimed, "I could _never_ do such a wicked thing! I would
not deceive papa so for any money; and even if I did he would be sure to
find it out."

Some one tried the door.

Arthur put his hand on the lock; then, turning toward Elsie again, for
an instant, shook his fist in her face, muttering, with an oath, that he
would be revenged, and make her sorry for her refusal to the last day of
her life. He then opened the door and went out, leaving poor Elsie pale,
and trembling like a leaf.

The person, whoever it was, that had tried the door had gone away again,
and Elsie had a few moments alone to recover herself, before Chloe came
to tell her that her father could not have her with him that morning, as
a gentleman had called on business.

And much as Elsie had always enjoyed that hour, she was almost glad of
the respite, so fearful was she that her papa would see that something
had agitated her, and insist upon knowing what it was. She was very much
troubled that she had been made the repository of such a secret, and
fearful that she ought to tell her father or grandfather, because it
seemed so very important that Arthur should be stopped in his evil
courses. But remembering that he had said that her assistance was his
only hope for escaping detection, she at length decided that she need
not speak about the matter to any one.

She had a trying time that day, endeavoring to keep the children amused;
and her ingenuity and patience were taxed to the utmost to think of
stories and games that would please them all.

It was still early in the afternoon when she seemed to have got quite to
the end of her list. She was trying to amuse Enna's set, while her three
companions and Herbert were taking care of themselves. They had sat down
on the floor, and were playing jack-stones.

"Let us play jack-stones, too," said Flora. "I don't know how; but Elsie,
you can teach me, can't you?"

"No, Flora, I cannot indeed, for papa says I must not play that game,
because he does not like to have me sit down on the floor," replied
Elsie. "We must try to think of something else."

"We needn't sit on the floor, need we? Couldn't we play it on the table?"
asked Flora.

"I don't know; perhaps we could; but papa said I mustn't play it,"
replied Elsie, shaking her head doubtfully.

"But maybe he'd let you, if we don't sit on the floor," persisted the
little girl.

Several other little ones joined their entreaties to Flora's, and at
length Elsie said, "Well, I will go and ask papa; perhaps he may let me,
if I tell him we are not going to sit on the floor."

She went to his dressing-room, but he was not there. Next she tried the
library, and was more successful; he was in an easy chair by the fire,
reading.

But now that she had found him, Elsie, remembering how often he had told
her never to ask a second time to do what he had once forbidden, was more
than half afraid to prefer her request, and very much inclined to go back
without doing so.

But as she stood a moment irresolute, he looked up from his book, and
seeing who it was, smiled and held out his hand.

She went to him then, and said timidly, "Papa, some of the little ones
want me to play jack-stones, to teach them how; may I, if we don't sit on
the floor?"

"Elsie," he replied, in a tone of great displeasure, "it was only the
other day that I positively forbade you to play that game, and, after all
that I have said to you about not asking a second time, it surprises me
very much that you would dare to do it. Go to my dressing-room, and shut
yourself into the closet there."

Elsie burst into tears, as she turned to obey, then, hesitatingly, asked,
"May I go down first, papa, and tell the children that I can't come to
play with them?"

"Elsie!" he exclaimed, in his sternest tone; and not daring to utter
another word, trembling and weeping, she hastened from the room, and shut
herself up as he had bidden her.

The closet was large, and there was a stool she could sit on; but when
she had shut the door, it was both dark and cold. It was a dismal place
to be in, and poor Elsie wondered how long she would have to stay there.

It seemed a long, long time; so long that she began to think it must be
night, and to fear that perhaps her papa had forgotten all about having
sent her there, or that he considered her so very naughty as to deserve
to stay there all night.

But at last she heard his step, and then he opened the door and called,
"Elsie!"

"Yes, papa, I am here," she replied in a trembling voice, full of tears.

"Come to me," he said; and then, as he took her hand, "Why, how cold you
are, child," he exclaimed; "I am really sorry you have been so long in
that dismal place. I did not intend to punish you so severely, and should
not have kept you there more than half an hour, at the _very longest_;
but company came in, and I quite forgot you."

While speaking thus he had led her up to the fire and sat down with her
on his knee. "My poor darling!" he said, "these little hands are very
cold, let papa rub them; and are your feet cold too?"

"Yes sir," she replied, and he pulled off her shoes and stockings, and
moving his chair closer to the fire, held her feet out toward the blaze,
and rubbed them in his warm hands.

"You have been crying a good deal," he said, looking keenly into her
face.

"Yes, papa," she replied, dropping her face on his breast and bursting
into tears; "I thought you were going to leave me there all night."

"Did you? and were you afraid?"

"No, papa, not _afraid_, because I know you would be sleeping in the next
room; and besides, God could take care of me as well in the closet as
anywhere else. Is it getting night, papa, or morning?"

"It is beginning to grow dark," he said. "But tell me why you cried, if
you were not afraid."

"Partly because I was uncomfortable, papa, but more because I was sorry
I had been naughty, and displeased you, and afraid that I can never learn
to be good."

"It is very strange," he remarked, "that you cannot learn not to ask to
do what I have forbidden. I shall have to punish you every time you do
it; for you _must_ learn that no _means no_, and that you are never to
coax or tease after papa has once said it. I love my little girl very
dearly, and want to do all I can to make her happy, but I must have her
entirely submissive and obedient to me. But stop crying now," he added,
wiping her eyes with his handkerchief. "Kiss me, and tell me you are
going to be a good girl, and I will forgive you this time."

"I will try, papa," she said, holding up her face for the kiss; "and I
would not have asked to play that, but the children begged me so, and
I thought you only said I mustn't, because you didn't want me to sit on
the floor; and we were going to try it on the table."

"Did I give that reason?" he asked gravely.

"No, papa," she replied, hanging her head.

"Then you had no right to think so. That _was one_ reason, but not the
_only_ one. I have heard it said that that play enlarges the knuckles,
and I don't choose to have these little hands of mine robbed of their
beauty," he added, playfully raising them to his lips.

Elsie smiled faintly, then drew a deep sigh.

"Is it so very hard to give up jack-stones?" he asked.

"No, papa; I don't care anything about _that_, but I was just thinking
how very naughty I must be growing; for you have had to punish me twice
in one week; and then I have had such a hard day of it--it was so
difficult to amuse the children. I think being up so late last night
made them feel cross."

"Ah!" he said, in a sympathizing tone; "and had you all the burden of
entertaining them? Where were Louise and Lora?"

"They are hardly ever with us, papa; we are too little to play with them,
they say, and Enna won't do anything her little friends want her to,
and"--she paused, and the color rushed over her face with the sudden
thought--"I am afraid I am telling tales."

"And so they put upon you all the trouble of entertaining both your own
company and theirs, eh? It is shameful! a downright imposition, and I
shall not put up with it!" he exclaimed indignantly. "I shall speak to
Lora and Louise, and tell them they must do their share of the work."

"Please, papa, _don't_," Elsie begged in a frightened tone. "I would a
great deal rather just go on as we have been; they will be so vexed."

"And suppose they are! they shall not hurt you," he said, drawing her
closer to him; "and they have no reason to be. I think the children will
all want to go to bed early to-night," he added, "and then you can come
here and sit by me while you copy your letter; shall you like that?"

"Very much, papa, thank you."

"Well, then we will put on the shoes and stockings again," he said
pleasantly, "and then you must bathe your eyes, and go to your supper;
and, as soon as the others retire, you may come back to me."

Elsie had to make haste, for the tea-bell rang almost immediately.

The others were just taking their places at the table when she entered
the room, and thus, their attention being occupied with the business in
hand, she escaped the battery of questions and looks of curiosity which
she had feared.

Flora did turn round after a little, to ask: "Why didn't you come back,
Elsie; wouldn't your papa let you play?" But Elsie's quiet "no" seemed to
satisfy her, and she made no further remark about it.

As Mr. Dinsmore had expected, the children were all ready for bed
directly after tea; and then Elsie went to him, and had another quiet
evening, which she enjoyed so much that she thought it almost made up for
all the troubles and trials of the day; for her father, feeling a little
remorseful on account of her long imprisonment in the closet, was, if
possible, even more than usually tender and affectionate in his manner
toward her.

The next morning Mr. Dinsmore found an opportunity to remonstrate with
his sisters on their neglect of the little guests, but did it in such a
way that they had no idea that Elsie had been complaining of them--as,
indeed, she had not--but supposed that he had himself noticed their
remissness; and feeling somewhat ashamed of their want of politeness,
they went into the children's room after breakfast, and exerted
themselves for an hour or two, for the entertainment of the little ones.
It was but a spasmodic effort, however, and they soon grew weary of the
exertion, and again let the burden fall upon Elsie. She did the best she
could, poor child, but these were tiresome and trying days from that
until New Year's.

One afternoon Mr. Horace Dinsmore was sitting in his own room, buried in
an interesting book, when the door opened and closed again very quietly,
and his little girl stole softly to his side, and laying her head on his
shoulder, stood there without uttering a word.

For hours she had been exerting herself to the utmost to amuse the
young guests, her efforts thwarted again and again by the petulance
and unreasonableness of Walter and Enna; she had also borne much teasing
from Arthur, and fault-finding from Mrs. Dinsmore, to whom Enna was
continually carrying tales, until, at length, no longer able to endure
it, she had stolen away to her father to seek for comfort.

"My little girl is tired," he said, passing his arm affectionately around
her, and pressing his lips on her forehead.

She burst into tears, and sobbed quite violently.

"Why, what is it, darling? what troubles my own sweet child?" he asked,
in a tone of mingled surprise and alarm, as he hastily laid aside his
book and drew her to his knee.

"Nothing, papa; at least, nothing very bad; I believe I am very silly,"
she replied, trying to smile through her tears.

"It must have been something, Elsie," he said, very gravely; "something
quite serious, I think, to affect you so; tell me what it was, daughter."

"Please don't ask me, papa," she begged imploringly.

"I hate concealments, Elsie, and shall be very much displeased if you try
them with me," he answered, almost sternly.

"Dear papa, _don't_ be angry," she pleaded, in a tremulous tone; "I don't
want to have any concealments from you, but you know I ought not to tell
tales. You won't _make_ me do it?"

"Is that it?" he said, kissing her. "No, I shall not ask you to tell
tales, but I am not going to have you abused by anybody, and shall take
care to find out from some one else who it is that annoys you."

"Oh, papa, please don't trouble yourself about it. I do not mind it at
all, now."

"But _I_ do," replied her father, "and I shall take care that you are not
annoyed in the same way again."

The tears rose in Elsie's eyes again, and she reproached herself severely
for allowing her father to see how troubled she had been; but she said
not another word, for she well knew from his look and tone that it would
be worse than useless.



CHAPTER III.

"Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter, ere long, back on itself recoils."

MILTON'S PARADISE LOST.


"Tis easier for the generous to forgive,
Than for offence to ask it."

THOMSON'S EDMUND AND ELEONORA.


The last day of the old year had come; the afternoon was bright and warm
for the season, and the little folks at Roselands were unanimously in
favor of a long walk. They set out soon after dinner, all in high good
humor except Arthur, who was moody and silent, occasionally casting an
angry glance at Elsie, whom he had not yet forgiven for her refusal to
lend him money; but no one seemed to notice it, and for some time nothing
occurred to mar their enjoyment.

At length, some of the older ones, seeing that the sun was getting low,
called to the others that it was time to return, and all turned their
faces homeward, walking more soberly and silently along than at first,
for they were beginning to feel somewhat fatigued.

They were climbing a steep hill. Elsie and Caroline Howard reached the
top first, Arthur and Harry Carrington being but a few steps behind.

Elsie stooped to pick up a pebble, and Arthur, darting quickly past her,
managed to give her a push that sent her rolling down the bank. She gave
one frightened cry as she fell, and the next instant was lying pale and
motionless at the bottom.

All was now terror and confusion among the children; the little ones,
who all loved Elsie dearly, began to scream and cry. Harry, Lucy,
Carry, and Mary, rushed down the path again as fast as they could, and
were soon standing pale and breathless beside the still form of their
little companion. Carry was the only one who seemed to have any presence
of mind. She sat down on the ground, and lifting Elsie's head, laid it
on her lap, untied her bonnet-strings, and loosened her dress.

"Jim," she said to the black boy, who stood blubbering by her side, "run
quickly for the doctor. And you, Harry Carrington, go for her father, as
fast as you can. Lucy, crying so won't do any good. Haven't some of you
a smelling-bottle about you?"

"Yes, yes, here, here! quick! quick! Oh, Carry, say she isn't dead!"
cried Mary Leslie, diving into her pocket and bringing out a small bottle
of smelling salts that some one had presented her as a Christmas gift.

"No, she is not dead, Mary; see, she is beginning to open her eyes,"
replied Carry, now bursting into tears herself.

But Elsie opened them only for an instant, moaned as if in great pain,
and relapsed again into insensibility, so like death that Carry shuddered
and trembled with fear.

They were not more than a quarter of a mile from the house, but it
seemed almost an age to the anxious Carry before Mr. Dinsmore came;
although it was in reality but a few moments, as Harry ran very fast,
and Mr. Dinsmore sprang into the carriage--which was at the door, some
of the party having just returned from a drive--the instant he heard the
news, calling to Harry to accompany him, and bidding the coachman drive
directly to the spot, with all speed.

The moment they were off he began questioning the boy closely as to the
cause of the accident. Harry could not tell much about it. "She had
fallen down the hill," he said, "but he did not see what made her fall."

"Was she much hurt?" Mr. Dinsmore asked, his voice trembling a little in
spite of himself.

Harry "did not know, but feared she was pretty badly injured."

"Was she insensible?"

"Yes, she was when I left," Harry said.

Mr. Dinsmore leaned back in the carriage with a groan and did not speak
again.

In another moment they had stopped, and flinging open the door, he sprang
to the ground, and hurried toward the little group, who were still
gathered about Elsie just as Harry had left them; some looking on with
pale, frightened faces, others sobbing aloud. Walter was crying quite
bitterly, and even Enna had the traces of tears on her cheeks. As for
Arthur, he trembled and shuddered at the thought that he was perhaps
already a murderer, and frightened and full of remorse, shrank behind
the others as he saw his brother approach.

Elsie still lay with her head in Carry's lap.

Hastily pushing the others aside, Mr. Dinsmore stooped over her, sorrow
and intense anxiety written in every line of his countenance.

Again Elsie opened her eyes, and smiled faintly as she saw him bending
over her.

"My precious one," he murmured in a low, moved tone, as he gently lifted
her in his arms; "are you much hurt? Are you in pain?"

"Yes, papa," she answered feebly.

"Where, darling?"

"My ankle, papa; it pains me terribly; and I think I must have hit my
head, it hurts me so."

"How did she come to fall?" he asked, looking round upon the little
group.

No one replied.

"Please, papa, don't ask," she pleaded in a faint voice.

He gave her a loving, pitying look, but paid no other heed to her
remonstrance.

"Who was near her?" he asked, glancing sternly around the little circle.

"Arthur," said several voices.

Arthur quailed beneath the terrible glance of his brother's eye, as he
turned it upon him, exclaiming bitterly: "Yes, I understand it all, now!
I believe you will never be satisfied until you have killed her."

"Dear papa, please take me home, and don't scold poor Arthur," pleaded
Elsie's sweet, gentle voice; "I am not so very badly hurt, and I am sure
he is very sorry for me."

"Yes, darling," he said, "I will take you home and will try to do so
without hurting you;" and nothing could exceed the tenderness with which
he bore her to the carriage, supported her in his arms during the short
ride, and on their arrival carried her up to her room and laid her down
upon a sofa.

Jim had brought the doctor, and Mr. Dinsmore immediately requested him to
make a careful examination of the child's injuries.

He did so, and reported a badly sprained ankle, and a slight bruise on
the head; nothing more.

"Are you quite sure, doctor, that her spine has sustained no injury?"
asked the father anxiously, adding, "there is scarcely anything I should
so dread for her as that."

"None whatever," replied the physician confidently, and Mr. Dinsmore
looked greatly relieved.

"My back does not hurt me at all, papa; I don't think I struck it," Elsie
said, looking up lovingly into his face.

"How did you happen to fall, my dear?" asked the doctor.

"If you please, sir, I would rather not tell," she replied, while the
color rushed over her face, and then instantly faded away again, leaving
her deathly pale. She was suffering great pain, but bearing it bravely.

The doctor was dressing the injured ankle, and her father sat by the sofa
holding her hand.

"You need not, darling," he answered, kissing her cheek.

"Thank you, papa," she said, gratefully, then whispered, "Won't you stay
with me till tea-time, if you are not busy?"

"Yes, daughter, and all the evening, too; perhaps all night."

She looked her happiness and thanks, and the doctor praised her patience
and fortitude; and having given directions concerning the treatment of
the wounded limb, bade his little patient good-night, saying he would
call again in the morning.

Mr. Dinsmore followed him to the door.

"That's a sweet child, Mr. Dinsmore," he remarked. "I don't know how any
one could have the heart to injure her; but I think there has been foul
play somewhere, and if she were mine I should certainly sift the matter
to the bottom."

"That I shall, you may rest assured, sir; but tell me doctor, do you
think her ankle very seriously injured?"

"Not permanently, I hope; indeed, I feel quite sure of it, if she is
well taken care of, and not allowed to use it too soon; but these sprains
are tedious things, and she will not be able to walk for some weeks.
Good-night, sir; don't be too anxious, she will get over it in time,
and you may be thankful it is nothing worse."

"I am, indeed, doctor," Mr. Dinsmore said, warmly grasping the hand the
kind-hearted physician held out to him.

Everybody was asking what the doctor had said, and how much Elsie was
injured, and Mr. Dinsmore stepped into the drawing-room a moment to
answer their inquiries, and then hastened back to his child again.

She looked so glad to see him.

"My poor little pet," he said, pityingly, "you will have a sad New Year's
Day, fastened down to your couch; but you shall have as much of my
company as you wish."

"Shall I, papa?--then you will have to stay by me all day long."

"And so I will, dearest," he said, leaning fondly over her, and stroking
back the hair from her forehead. "Are you in much pain now, darling?" he
asked, as he noticed a slight contraction of her brow, and an almost
deadly pallor around her mouth.

"Yes, papa, a good deal," she answered faintly; "and I feel so weak.
Please take me in your arms, papa, I want to lay my head against you."

He raised her up gently, sat down on the end of the couch where her head
had been, lifted her to his knee, and made Chloe place a pillow for the
wounded limb to rest upon.

"There, darling, is that better?" he asked, soothingly, as she laid her
head wearily down on his breast, and he folded his arms about her.

"Yes, papa; but, oh, it aches very much," she sighed.

"My poor little daughter! my poor little pet!" he said, in a deeply
compassionate tone, "it is so hard to see you suffer; I would gladly take
your pain and bear it for you if I could."

"Oh, no, dear papa, I would much rather bear it myself," she answered
quickly.

The tea-bell rang, and Elsie half started up.

"Lie still, dearest," her father said. "I am in no hurry for my tea, so
you shall have yours first, and I will hold you while you eat it. What
will you have? You may ask for anything you want."

"I don't know, papa; whatever you please."

"Well, then, Aunt Chloe, go down and bring up whatever good things are
there, and she can take her choice. Bring a cup of hot tea, too, I think
it may do her good to-night."

"Thank you, dear papa, you are so kind," Elsie said, gratefully.

When the carriage had driven off with Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie, the rest
of the young party at once turned their steps toward the house; Arthur
skulking in the rear, and the others eagerly discussing the accident as
they went.

"Arthur pushed her down, I am _sure_ he did," said Lucy, positively. "I
believe he hates her like poison, and he has been at her about something
the several days past--I know it just by the way I've seen him look at
her--yes, ever since the morning after the Carleton party. And now I
remember I heard his voice talking angrily in her room that very morning.
I went to get a book I had left in there, and when I tried the door it
was locked, and I went away again directly."

"But what has that to do with Elsie's fall?" asked Mary Leslie.

"Why, don't you see that it shows there was some trouble between them,
and that Arthur had a _motive_ for pushing her down," returned Lucy,
somewhat impatiently. "Really, Mary, you seem quite stupid sometimes."

Mary looked hurt.

"I don't know how any one could be so wicked and cruel; especially to
such a dear, sweet little girl as Elsie," remarked Carry Howard.

"No, nor I," said Harry; "but the more I think about it the more certain
I feel that Arthur did really push her down; for now I remember
distinctly where she stood, and it seems to me she could not possibly
have fallen of herself. Besides it was evident enough that Arthur felt
guilty from the way he acted when Mr. Dinsmore came, and when he spoke
to him. But perhaps he did not do it quite on purpose."

"Oh!" exclaimed Mary, "I do think I should be frightened to death if Mr.
Dinsmore should look at me as he did at Arthur."

"Looks can't hurt," observed Harry, wisely; "but I wouldn't be in
Arthur's shoes just now for considerable; because I'll venture to say Mr.
Dinsmore will do something a good deal worse than _look_, before he is
done with him."

When they reached the house Lucy went directly to her mamma's room.
Herbert, who was more ailing than usual that day, lay on a sofa, while
his mamma sat by his side, reading to him. They had not heard of the
accident, and were quite startled by Lucy's excited manner.

"Oh, mamma!" she cried, jerking off her bonnet, and throwing herself
down on a stool at her mother's feet, "we have had such a dreadful
accident, or hardly an _accident_ either, for I feel perfectly certain
Arthur did it on purpose; and I just expect he'll kill her some day,
the mean, wicked boy!" and she burst into tears. "If I were Mr. Dinsmore
I'd have him put in jail, so I would," she sobbed.

"Lucy, my child, what _are_ you talking about?" asked her mother with a
look of mingled surprise and alarm, while Herbert started up asking, "Is
it Elsie? Oh! Lucy, is she much hurt?"

"Yes," sobbed Lucy, "we all thought she was dead, it was so long before
she spoke, or moved, or even opened her eyes."

Herbert was crying, too, now, as bitterly as his sister.

"But, Lucy dear," said her mother, wiping her eyes, "you haven't told
us anything yet. Where did it happen? What did Arthur do? And where is
poor little Elsie now?"

"Her papa brought her home, and Jim went for the doctor, and they're
doing something with her now in her own room--for Pomp said Mr. Dinsmore
carried her right up there! Oh I mamma, if you had seen him look at
Arthur!"

"But what did Arthur do?" asked Herbert anxiously.

"He pushed her down that steep hill that you remember you were afraid to
try to climb the other day; at least we all think he did."

"But surely, he did not do it intentionally," said Mrs. Carrington,
"for why should he wish to harm such a sweet, gentle little creature
as Elsie?"

"Oh! mamma," exclaimed Herbert, suddenly matching hold of her hand and he
grew very pale, and almost gasped for breath.

"What is it, Herbert dear, what is it?" she asked in alarm; for he had
fallen back on his pillow, and seemed almost ready to faint.

"Mamma," he said with a shudder, "mamma, I believe I know. Oh! why didn't
I speak before, and, perhaps, poor little Elsie might have been saved all
this."

"Why, Herbert, what can _you_ know about it?" she asked in extreme
surprise.

"I will tell you, mama, as well as I can," he said, "and then you must
tell me what I ought to do. You know, mamma, I went out to walk with the
rest the afternoon after that party at Mr. Carleton's; for if you
remember, I had stayed at home the night before, and gone to bed very
early, and so I felt pretty well and able to walk. But Elsie was not
with us. I don't know where she could have been; she always thinks of my
lameness, and walks slowly when I am along, but this time they all walked
so fast that I soon grew very tired, indeed, with trying to keep up. So
I sat down on a log to rest. Well, mamma, I had not been there very long
when I heard voices near me, on the other side of some bushes, that, I
suppose, must have prevented them from seeing me. One voice was Arthur's,
but the other I didn't know. I didn't want to be listening, but I was too
tired to move on; so I whistled a little, to let them know I was there;
they didn't seem to care, though, but went on talking quite loud, so loud
that I could not help hearing almost every word; and so I soon learned
that Arthur owed Dick Percival a gambling debt--a debt of _honor_, they
called it--and had sent this other boy, whom Arthur called Bob, to try to
collect it. He reminded Arthur that he had promised to pay that day, and
said Dick must have it to pay some debts of his own.

"Arthur acknowledged that he had promised, expecting to borrow the money
from somebody. I didn't hear the name, and it never struck me until this
moment who it was; but it must have been Elsie, for I recollect he said
she wouldn't lend him anything without telling Horace all about it, and
that, you know, is Mr. Dinsmore's name; and I have found out that Arthur
is very much afraid of him; almost more than of his father, I think.

"He talked very angrily, saying he knew that was only an excuse, because
she didn't wish to do him a favor, and he'd pay her for it some day. Then
they talked about the debt again, and finally the boy agreed that Dick
would wait until New Year's Day, when Arthur said he would receive his
monthly allowance, and so would certainly be able to pay it.

"Now, mamma," concluded Herbert, "what ought I to do? Do you think it is
my duty to tell Arthur's father?"

"Yes, Herbert, I do," said Mrs. Carrington, "because it is very important
that he should know of his son's evil courses, that he may put a stop to
them; and besides, if Arthur should escape punishment this time, Elsie
may be in danger from him again. I am sorry it happened to be you rather
than some other person who overheard the conversation; but it cannot be
helped, and we must do our duty always, even though we find it difficult
and disagreeable, and feel afraid that our motives may be misconstrued."

Herbert drew a deep sigh.

"Well, mamma, must I go just now, to tell him?" he asked, looking pale
and troubled.

Mrs. Carrington seemed to be considering the matter for a moment.

"No, my dear," she said; "I think we had better wait a little. Probably
Mr. Dinsmore will make an investigation, and perhaps he may be able to
get at the truth without your assistance; and if not, as the mischief is
already done, it will be time enough for your story to-morrow."

Herbert looked a good deal relieved, and just then they were summoned to
tea.

The elder Mr. Dinsmore had been out all the afternoon, and not returning
until just as the bell rang for tea, heard nothing of Elsie's injury
until after he had taken his seat at the table.

The children had all reported that Arthur had pushed her down, and thus
the story was told to his father. The old gentleman was very angry, for
he had a great contempt for such cowardly deeds; and said before all the
guests that if it were so, Arthur should be severely punished.

Mr. Horace Dinsmore came down as the rest were about leaving the table.

"I should like to have a few moments' conversation with you, Horace, when
you have finished your tea," his father said, lingering behind the
others.

"It is just what I wish, sir," replied his son; "I will be with you
directly. Shall I find you in the library?"

"Yes. I hope the child was not hurt, Horace?" he added, inquiringly,
stepping back again just as he had reached the door.

"Pretty badly, I am afraid," said Mr. Dinsmore, gravely; "she is
suffering a good deal."

Mr. Dinsmore was not long at the table, for he was anxious to get back to
his child; yet his father, whom he found striding back and forth across
the library, in a nervous, excited way, hailed him with the impatient
exclamation, "Come at last, Horace, I thought you would never have done
eating."

Then throwing himself into a chair, "Well, what is to be done about this
bad business?" he asked. "Is it true that Arthur had a hand in it?"

"I have not a doubt of it myself, sir," replied his son. "They all agree
that he was close to her when she fell, and neither he nor she denies
that he pushed her; she only begs not to be forced to speak, and he
says nothing.

"And now, father, I have fully made up my mind that either that boy
must be sent away to school, or I must take Elsie and make a home for
her elsewhere."

"Why, Horace! that is a sudden resolution, is it not?"

"No, father, not so much as it seems. I have suspected, for some time
past, that Elsie had a good deal to bear from Arthur and Enna--to say
nothing of an older person, to whom Enna is continually carrying tales.
Elsie is too generous to tell tales, too meek and patient to complain,
and so it has been only very gradually that I have learned how much of
petulance, tyranny, and injustice she has had to endure from those from
whom she certainly had a right to expect common kindness, if not
affection.

"Yesterday afternoon she came to me in such a state of nervous excitement
as convinced me that something had gone very much amiss with her, but
what it was I did not know, for she seemed unwilling to tell, and I would
not force her to do so.

"However, by putting a few questions to some of the little guests, I have
since learned enough to fill me with indignation at the treatment to
which my child has been subjected, even during the last two weeks; and
now the occurrences of this afternoon have put the finishing stroke to
all this, and I cannot any longer feel that my child is safe where Arthur
is. It is a great mercy that she escaped being killed or crippled for
life," and he dropped his face into his hands and shuddered.

"Don't, Horace, my son," his father said kindly, laying his hand on his
shoulder. "I don't like to see you give way so. It is not worth while
troubling ourselves about what _might_ have been, and we will take
measures to prevent such occurrences in the future.

"But you mustn't think of leaving us to set up a separate establishment,
unless you are intending to marry again, and I don't believe you are."

Mr. Dinsmore shook his head.

"Nothing of the kind," he said; "but I must protect my child; she has no
one else to look to for protection, or sympathy, or love--my poor little
one!--and it would be hard indeed if she could not have them from me."

"So it would, Horace, certainly. I am afraid we have none of us treated
the poor little thing quite as kindly as we might, but I really was not
aware that she had been so much abused, and shall certainly speak
to Mrs. Dinsmore about it. And Arthur shall be sent away to school, as
you have suggested. It is what I have been wanting to do for some time,
for he is getting quite beyond Miss Day; but his mother has always
opposed it, and I have foolishly given up to her for peace sake. I set
my foot down now, however, and he _shall go_. He deserves it richly, the
young rascal! such a base, cowardly act as to attack a little girl, big,
strong boy that he is! I'm ashamed of him. You, Horace, were a wild,
headstrong fellow, but I never knew you do a _mean_ or _cowardly_ thing;
you were always above it."

"I hope so, indeed, sir. But now, to go back to the present business, do
you not think it would be well to call all the young people together and
have a thorough investigation of this affair? I have promised Elsie that
she shall not be forced to speak, but I hope we may be able to learn from
the others all that we need to know."

"Yes, yes, Horace, we will do so at once!" replied his father, ringing
the bell. "They must be all through with their tea by this time, and we
will invite them into the drawing-room, and cross-question them until we
get to the bottom of the whole thing."

A servant answered the bell, and received directions to request--on his
master's behalf--all the guests, both old and young, as well as every
member of the family, to give their attendance in the drawing-room for
a few moments.

"Stay, father," said Horace, "possibly Arthur might be induced to
confess, and so spare himself and us the pain of a public exposure; had
we not better send for him first?"

His father assented, and the servant was ordered to go in search of
Arthur, and bring him to the library.

Arthur had been expecting such a summons, and had quite made up his mind
what to do.

"Confess!" he said to himself; "no, indeed, I'll not! nobody but Elsie
knows that I did it, and she'll never tell; so I'll stick to it that it
was only an accident."

He came in with a look of sullen, dogged determination on his
countenance, and stood before his father and brother with folded arms,
and an air of injured innocence. He was careful, however, not to meet
his brother's eye.

"Arthur," began his father, sternly, "this is shameful, cowardly
behavior, utterly unworthy of a son of mine--this unprovoked assault
upon a defenceless little girl. It has always been considered a cowardly
act to attack one weaker than ourselves."

"I _didn't_ do it! she slipped and fell of herself," replied the boy
fiercely, speaking through his clenched teeth.

"Arthur," said his brother, in a calm, firm tone, "the alternative before
you is a frank and full confession here in private, or a disgraceful,
public exposure in the drawing-room. You had better confess, for I have
not the least doubt of your guilty because I well know that Elsie would
have asserted your innocence, had she been able to do so with truth."

"She _wouldn't_; she hates me," muttered the boy; "yes, and I hate her,
too," he added, almost under his breath. But his brother's quick ear
caught the words.

"Yes," he answered, bitterly; "you have given full proof of that; but
_never_, while I live, shall you have another opportunity to wreak your
hellish rage upon her."

But threats and persuasions were alike powerless to move Arthur's
stubborn will; for, trusting to their supposed inability to prove his
guilt, he persisted in denying it; and at length, much against his
inclination, was forced to accompany his father and brother to the
drawing-room, where the entire household was already assembled.

There was a good deal of excitement and whispering together, especially
amongst the younger portion of the assembly, and many conjectures as to
the cause of their being thus called together; nearly all giving it as
their decided opinion that Elsie's accident had something to do with it.

Herbert was looking pale and nervous, and kept very close to his mamma,
Harry Carrington and Carrie Howard were grave and thoughtful, while
Lucy and Mary seemed restless and excited, and the lesser ones full of
curiosity and expectation. There was quite a little buzz all over the
room as the two gentlemen and Arthur entered, but it died away instantly,
and was succeeded by an almost death-like stillness, broken the next
moment by the elder Mr. Dinsmore's voice, as he briefly stated his object
in thus calling them together, and earnestly requested any one present
who could throw the least light on the subject, to speak.

He paused, and there was a moment of profound silence.

"Who was nearest to Elsie when she fell?" he asked; "can any one tell
me?"

"Arthur, sir," replied several voices.

Another pause.

"Who else was near her?" he asked. "Miss Carrie Howard, I have noticed
that you and Elsie are usually together; can you tell me if she could
have fallen of herself? Were you near enough to see?"

Carrie answered reluctantly: "Yes, sir; I had stepped from her side at
the moment she stooped to pick up something, and feel quite certain that
she was not near enough to the edge to have fallen of herself."

"Thank you for your frank reply. And now, Master Harry Carrington, I
think I heard some one say you were quite close to Arthur at the time of
Elsie's fall; can you tell me what he did to her? You will confer a great
favor by answering with equal frankness."

"I would much rather have been excused from saying anything, sir,"
replied Harry, coloring and looking as if he wished himself a thousand
miles away; "but since you request it, I will own that I was close to
Arthur, and think he must have pushed Elsie in springing past her, but
it may have been only an accident."

"I fear not," said the old gentleman, looking sternly at his son. "And
now, does any one know that Elsie had vexed Arthur in any way, or that
he had any unkind feelings toward her?"

"Yes, papa," Walter spoke up suddenly. "I heard Arthur, the other
day, talking very crossly about Elsie, and threatening to pay her for
something; but I didn't understand what."

Mr. Dinsmore's frown was growing darker, and Arthur began to tremble and
turn pale. He darted a fierce glance at Walter, but the little fellow did
not see it.

"Does any one know what Elsie had done?" was the next question.

No one spoke, and Herbert fidgeted and grew very pale. Mr. Horace
Dinsmore noticed it, and begged him if he knew anything to tell it at
once; and Herbert reluctantly repeated what he had already told his
mother of the conversation in the woods; and as he concluded, Lora
drew a note from her pocket, which she handed to her father, saying that
she had picked it up in the school-room, from a pile of rubbish which
Arthur had carelessly thrown out of his desk.

Mr. Dinsmore took it, glanced hastily over the contents, and with a
groan, exclaimed: "Is it possible!--a gambler already! Arthur, has it
really come to this?

"Go to your room, sir," he added, sternly, "there to remain in solitary
confinement until arrangement can be made to send you to school at a
distance from the home which shall be no longer polluted by your
presence; for you are unworthy to mingle with the rest of the family."

Arthur obeyed in sullen silence, and his father, following, turned the
key upon him, and left him to solitude and his own reflections.

"Did my little daughter think papa had quite forgotten his promise?"
asked Mr. Horace Dinsmore, as again he stood by Elsie's couch.

"No, papa," she said, raising her eyes to his face with a grateful,
loving look; "it seemed very long, but I knew you would come as soon as
you could, for I know you never break your word."

Her confidence pleased him very much, and with a very gratified look he
asked whether he should sit by her side or take her again upon his knee.

"Take me on your knee again, if you please, papa," she said, "and then
will you read a little to me? I would like it so much."

"I will do anything that will give my little girl pleasure," he replied,
as he once more lifted her gently, and placed her in the desired
position.

"What shall the book be?" he asked; "one of the new ones I bought you the
other day?"

"Not that, to-night; if you please, papa; I would rather hear a little
from an old book," she answered, with a sweet smile lighting tip her
little pale face; "won't you please read me the fifty-third chapter of
Isaiah?"

"If you wish it, dearest; but I think something lively would be much
better; more likely to cheer you up."

"No, dear papa; there is nothing cheers me up like the Bible, it is so
sweet and comforting. I do so love to hear of Jesus, how he bore our
griefs and carried our sorrows."

"You are a strange child," he said, "but you shall have whatever you want
to-night. Hand me that Bible, Aunt Chloe, and set the light a little
nearer."

Mr. Dinsmore was an uncommonly fine reader, and Elsie lay listening to
that beautiful passage of Holy Writ, as one might listen to strains of
the softest, sweetest music.

"Now, dear papa, the twenty-third of Luke, if you please," she said, when
he had finished.

He turned to it, and read it without any remark.

As he closed the book and laid it aside, he saw that tears were trembling
on the long, silken lashes that rested on the fair young cheek; for her
eyes were closed, and but for those tell-tale drops he would have thought
her sleeping.

"I feared it would make you sad, darling," he said, brushing them away,
and kissing her fondly.

"No, dear papa, _oh, no_!" she answered, earnestly; "thank you very much
for reading it; it has made me feel a great deal better."

"Why did you select those particular passages?" he asked, with some
curiosity.

"Because, papa, they are all about Jesus, and tell how meekly and
patiently he bore sorrow and suffering. Oh, papa, if I could only be
like him! I am not much like him, but it makes it easier to forgive and
to be patient, and kind, and gentle, when we read about him, how good he
was, and how he forgave his murderers."

"You are thinking of Arthur," he said. "_I_ shall find it very hard to
forgive him; can _you_ do so?"

"Yes, papa, I think I can. I have been praying for him, and have asked
God to help me to forgive and love him."

"He has treated you very badly; I know all about it now."

And then, in answer to her surprised, inquiring look, he proceeded to
give her an account of all that had taken place that evening in the
library and drawing-room.

"And he hates me, papa," she said, mournfully, the tears filling her
eyes; "why should he feel so? I have always tried to be kind to him."

"Yes, I know it," he replied, "you have often done him kindnesses, and
I know of no other cause for his enmity, unless it is that you have
sometimes been obliged to bear witness against him."

"Yes, papa, on several occasions when he was putting all the blame of his
naughty deeds on little Walter, or poor Jim."

"You were perfectly right," he said, caressing her; "and he will not have
another opportunity to vent his spite upon you, as he is to be sent away
to boarding-school immediately."

"Oh, papa!" she exclaimed, "I am so sorry for him, poor fellow! It must
be so dismal to go off alone among strangers. Dear papa, _do_ ask grandpa
to forgive him, just this once; and I don't believe he will ever behave
so again."

"No, daughter, I shall not do anything of the kind," he answered,
decidedly. "I think it will be for Arthur's own good to be sent away,
where he will not have his mother to spoil him by indulgence; and
besides, I cannot feel that _you_ are safe while he is about the house,
and I consider it my first duty to take care of you; therefore, I have
insisted upon its that either _he_ must be sent away, or you and I must
go and make a home for ourselves somewhere else."

"Oh, papa, how delightful that would be, to have a home of our own!" she
exclaimed eagerly; "_will_ you do it some day?"

"Should you like it so much?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, papa, so very, _very_ much! When will you do it, papa?"

"I don't know, darling; some day, if we both live; perhaps when you are
old enough to be my housekeeper."

"But that will be such a long, long time to wait, papa," she said--the
eager, joyous expression fading away from her face, and the pale, wearied
look coming back again.

"Perhaps we will not wait for that, darling; I did not say that we
would," he replied, in a soothing tone, as he passed his hand caressingly
over her hair and cheek.

Then he added, a little mischievously, "I think, possibly, I might induce
Miss Stevens to keep house for us. Shall I ask her?"

"Oh, papa, no; that would spoil it all," she said, with a blush and a
look of surprise; "and besides, I'm sure Miss Stevens would feel insulted
if anybody should ask her to go out as housekeeper."

"No, I think not, if _I_ asked her," laughed Mr. Dinsmore; "but you need
not be alarmed; I have no notion of doing it.

"Now, daughter, I shall bathe your ankle with that liniment again, and
put you in bed, and you must try to go to sleep."

"My prayers first, papa, you know," she replied, making an effort to get
down upon the floor.

But he held her fast.

"No, daughter, you are not able to kneel to-night," he said, "and
therefore it is not required; the posture makes but little difference,
since God looks not at it, but at your heart."

"I know that, papa, but I ought to kneel if I can; and if I may, I would
much rather try."

"No, I shall not allow you to do so; it would not be right," he replied
decidedly; "you may say them here, while I have you in my arms, or after
I have put you in bed."

"Then I will say them in my bed, papa," she answered submissively.

She was very patient and quiet while her father and nurse dressed her
ankle, and prepared her for bed, and when he had laid her in and covered
her up, he sat down beside her and listened to the low, murmured words of
her prayer.

"I think you prayed for me as well as for Arthur," he remarked when she
had done; "what did you request for me?"

"I asked, as I always do, that you might love Jesus, papa, and be very
happy, indeed, both in this world and the next."

"Thank you," he said, "but why are you so anxious that I should love him?
It would not trouble _me_ if _you_ did not, so long as you loved and
obeyed me."

A tear trickled down her cheek and fell upon the pillow as she answered,
in a half tremulous tone: "Because I know, papa, that no one can go to
heaven who does not love Jesus, nor ever be really happy anywhere, for
the Bible says so. Papa, you always punish me when I am disobedient to
you, and the Bible says God is our Father and will punish us if we do not
obey him; and one of his commands is: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God;
and in another place it says: Every one that loveth him that begat loveth
him also that is begotten of him."

He did not reply, and his countenance was almost stern in its deep
gravity.

Elsie feared she had displeased him.

"Dear papa," she said, stretching out her little hand to him, "I am
afraid I have said things to you that I ought not; are you angry with
me?"

"No, daughter," he replied, as he bent down and kissed her cheek; "but
you must not talk any more to-night. I want you to shut your eyes and go
to sleep."

She threw her arm around his neck and returned his caress, saying,
"Good-night, dear, _dear_ papa; I do love you _so_ much;" then turned
away her face, shut her eyes, and in a few moments was sleeping sweetly.

The next morning quite a number of the little folks begged leave to go
in after breakfast to see Elsie, and as she seemed much better--indeed,
quite well, except that she could not put her foot to the floor--Mr.
Dinsmore gave a ready consent.

They found Elsie dressed and lying upon a sofa, with the lame foot on a
pillow. She seemed very glad to see them, looked as smiling and cheerful
as if nothing ailed her; and to all their condolences replied that she
did not mind it very much; she was doing nicely--papa and everybody else
was so kind--and the doctor said he hoped she would be able to run about
again in a few weeks.

They were all around her, talking and laughing in a very animated way,
when Mr. Dinsmore came in, and going up to her couch, said, "Elsie,
daughter, I have an errand to the city this morning; but, as I have
promised to give you all you want of my company to-day, I will commission
some one else to do it, if you are not willing to spare me for a couple
of hours; do you think you could do without your papa that long? It shall
be just as you say."

"You know I love dearly to have you by me, papa," she answered, smiling
up into his face; "but I will be quite satisfied with whatever you do,
because you always know best."

"Spoken like my own little girl," he said, patting her cheek. "Well, then
I will leave these little folks to entertain you for a short time; and I
think you will not be sorry, when I return, that you left it to me to do
as I think best. Kiss papa good-bye, darling. Aunt Chloe, take good care
of her, and don't let her be _fatigued_ with company."

He turned to look at her again, as he reached the door, and Elsie gaily
kissed her hand to him.

Before long, Chloe, seeing that her young charge was beginning to look
weary, sent away all the little folks except Herbert, who, at Elsie's
request, remained with her, and seated in her little rocking-chair,
close by her side, did his best to amuse her and make her forget her
pain, sometimes reading aloud to her, and sometimes stopping to talk.

Many an hour Elsie had spent by his couch of suffering, reading, talking
or singing to him, and he rejoiced now in the opportunity afforded him to
return some of her past kindness.

They had always been fond of each other's society, too, and the time
passed so quickly and pleasantly that Mr. Dinsmore's return, only a very
little sooner than he had promised, took them quite by surprise.

Herbert noticed that he had a bundle in his hand, and thinking it was
probably some present for Elsie, and that they might like to be alone,
slipped quietly away to his mamma's room.

"What is that, papa?" Elsie asked.

"A New Year's gift for my little girl," he answered, with a smile, as he
laid it down by her side. "But I know you are tired lying there; so I
will take you on my knee, and then you shall open it."

She looked quite as eager and interested as he could have wished, as he
settled her comfortably on his knee, and laid the bundle in her lap. Her
hands trembled with excitement and haste, as she untied the string, and
with an exclamation of joyful surprise, brought to light a large and very
beautiful wax doll.

"Oh, _papa_, how _pretty_!" she cried, in ecstasy. "And it is as large
as a real, live baby, and has such a sweet, dear little face, and such
pretty little hands, just like a real baby's--and the dearest little
toes, too," she added, kissing them. "I love it already, the little dear!
and how prettily it is dressed, too, like a little baby-girl."

He enjoyed her pleasure intensely.

"But you have not come to the bottom of your bundle yet," he said; "see
here!" and he showed her quite a pile of remnants of beautiful lawns,
muslins, silk, etc., which he had bought to be made up into clothing for
the doll.

"I did not buy them ready made," he said, "because I thought you would
enjoy making them yourself."

"Oh, how nice, papa. Yes, indeed, I shall enjoy it, and you are so _very_
good and kind to me," she said, holding up her face for a kiss. "Now,
with you beside me, and plenty to do making pretty things for this dear
new dolly, I think I shall hardly mind at all having to stay in the house
and keep still. I'll call her Rose, papa, mayn't I? for dear Miss
Allison."

"Call it what you like, darling; it is all your own," he replied,
laughing at the question.

"I'm its mother, ain't I?--and then you must be its grandfather!" she
exclaimed, with a merry laugh, in which he joined her heartily.

"You ought to have some gray hairs, papa, like other grandfathers," she
went on, running her fingers through his hair. "Do you know, papa, Carry
Howard says she thinks it is so funny for me to have such a young father;
she says you don't look a bit older than her brother Edward, who has just
come home from college. How old are you, papa?"

"You are not quite nine, and I am just about eighteen years older; can
you make that out now?"

"Twenty-seven," she answered, after a moment's thought; then, shaking her
head a little, "that's pretty old, I think, after all. But I'm glad you
haven't got gray hairs and wrinkles, like Carry's papa," she added,
putting her arms around his neck, and laying her head down on his breast.
"I think it is nice to have such a young, handsome father."

"I think it is very nice to have a dear little daughter to love me," he
said, pressing her to his heart.

Elsie was eager to show her new doll to Carry and Lucy, and presently
sent Chloe to invite them to pay her another visit.

"Bring Mary Leslie, too, mammy, if she will come; but be sure not to tell
any of them what I have got," she said.

Chloe found them all three in the little back parlor, looking as if
they did not know what to do with themselves, and Elsie's invitation
was hailed with smiles and exclamations of delight.

They all admired the doll extremely, and Carry, who had a great taste
for cutting and fitting, seized upon the pile of silks and muslins,
exclaiming eagerly, that she should like no better fun than to help
Elsie make some dresses.

"Oh, yes!" cried Lucy, "let us all help, for once in my life I'm tired to
death of play, and I'd like to sit down quietly and work at these pretty
things."

"I, too," said Mary, "if Elsie is willing to trust us not to spoil them,"

"Indeed, _I'll_ not spoil them, Miss Mary; I've made more dolls' clothes
than a few," remarked Carry, with a little toss of her head.

"I am not at all afraid to trust you, Carry, nor the others either,"
Elsie hastened to say; "and shall be very glad of your assistance."

Work-boxes were now quickly produced, and scissors and thimbles set in
motion.

Mr. Dinsmore withdrew to the other side of the room, and took up a book;
thus relieving the little ladies from the constraint of his presence,
while at the same time he could keep an eye upon Elsie, and see that she
did not over-fatigue herself with company or work.

"What a nice time we have had," remarked Mary Leslie, folding up her
work as the dinner-bell rang. "May we come back this afternoon, Elsie?
I'd like to finish this apron, and I'm to go home to-morrow."

Mr. Dinsmore answered for his little girl, "When Elsie has had an hour to
rest, Miss Mary, she will be glad to see you all again."

"Yes, do come, girls," Elsie added, "if you are not tired of work. I am
sorry that you must go to-morrow, Mary. Carry and Lucy, _you_ are not to
leave us so soon, are you?"

"No," they both replied, "we stay till Saturday afternoon. And intend to
make dolly two or three dresses before we go, if her mother will let us,"
Carry added, laughingly, as she put away her thimble and ran after the
others.

All the guests left the next morning, excepting the Carringtons and
Caroline Howard, and the house seemed very quiet--even in Elsie's room,
where the little girls were sewing--while Harry and Herbert took turns in
reading aloud; and in this way they passed the remainder of their visit
very pleasantly, indeed.

Elsie felt her confinement more when Sabbath morning came, and she could
not go to church, than she had at all before. Her father offered to stay
at home with her, remarking that she must feel very lonely now that all
her little mates were gone; but she begged him to go to church, saying
that she could employ herself in reading while he was away, and that
would keep her from being lonely, and then they could have all the
afternoon and evening together. So he kissed her good-bye, and left her
in Chloe's care.

She was sitting on his knee that evening; she had been singing hymns--he
accompanying her sweet treble with his deep bass notes; then for a while
she had talked to him in her own simple, childlike way, of what she had
been reading in her Bible and the "Pilgrim's Progress," asking him a
question now and then, which, with all his learning and worldly wisdom,
he was scarcely as capable of answering as herself. But now she had been
for some minutes sitting perfectly silent, her head resting upon his
breast, and her eyes cast down, as if in deep thought,

He had been studying with some curiosity the expression of the little
face, which was much graver than its wont, and at length he startled her
from her reverie with the question, "What is my little girl thinking
about?"

"I was thinking, papa, that if you will let me, I should like very much
to give Arthur a nice present before he goes away. May I?"

"You may if you wish," he said, stroking her hair.

"Oh, thank you, papa," she answered joyously, "I was half afraid you
would not let me; then, if you please, won't you, the next time you go to
the city, buy the very handsomest pocket Bible you can find?--and then,
if you will write his name and mine in it, and that it is a token of
affection from me, I will be so much obliged to you, dear papa."

"I will do so, daughter, but I am afraid Arthur will not feel much
gratitude to you for such a present."

"Perhaps he may like it pretty well, papa, if it is _very handsomely_
bound," she said, rather doubtfully; "at any rate I should like to try.
When does he go, papa?"

"Day after to-morrow, I believe."

"I wish he would come in for a few minutes to see me, and say good-bye;
do you think he will, papa?"

"I am afraid not," replied her father, shaking his head; "however, I will
ask him. But why do you wish to see him?"

"I want to tell him that I am not at all vexed or angry with him, and
that I feel very sorry for him, because he is obliged to go away all
alone amongst strangers, poor fellow!" she sighed.

"You need not waste any sympathy on him, my dear," said her father, "for
I think he rather likes the idea of going off to school."

"Does he, papa? Why, how strange!" exclaimed the little girl, lost in
astonishment.

As Mr. Dinsmore had predicted, Arthur utterly refused to go near Elsie;
and, at first, seemed disposed to decline her gift; but at length, on
Lora suggesting that he might require a Bible for some of his school
exercises, he accepted it, as Elsie had thought he might, on account of
the handsome binding.

Elsie was hurt and disappointed that he would not come to see her; she
shed a few quiet tears over his refusal, because she thought it showed
that he still disliked her, and then wrote him a little note, breathing
forgiveness, sisterly affection, and regard for his welfare. But the note
was not answered, and Arthur went away without showing any signs of
sorrow for his unkind treatment of her; nor, indeed, for any of his bad
conduct.

Miss Day had returned, and the rest of her pupils now resumed their
studies; but Elsie was, of course, quite unable to attend in the
school-room, as her ankle was not yet in a condition to be used in the
least. Her father said nothing to her about lessons, but allowed her to
amuse herself as she liked with reading, or working for the doll. She,
however, was growing weary of play, and wanted to go back to her books.

"Papa," she said to him one morning, "I am quite well now, excepting my
lameness, and you are with me a great deal every day, may I not learn my
lessons and recite them to you?"

"Certainly, daughter, if you wish it," he replied, looking much pleased;
"I shall consider it no trouble, but, on the contrary, a very great
pleasure to teach you, if you learn your lessons well, as I am sure you
will."

Elsie promised to be diligent, and from that day she went on with her
studies as regularly as if she had been in school with the others.

She felt her confinement very much at times, and had a great longing for
the time when she could again mount her pony, and take long rides and
walks in the sweet fresh air; but she was not often lonely, for her papa
managed to be with her a great deal, and she never cared for any other
companion when he was by. Then, Mr. Travilla came in frequently to see
her, and always brought a beautiful bouquet, or some fine fruit from his
hot-house, or some other little nicety to tempt an invalid's appetite, or
what she liked, even better still, a new book. Her aunts Adelaide and
Lora, too, felt very kindly toward her, coming in occasionally to ask how
she was, and to tell her what was going on in the house; and sometimes
Walter brought his book to ask her to help him with his lessons, which
she was always ready to do, and then he would sit and talk a while,
telling her what had occurred in the school-room, or in their walks or
rides, and expressing his regret on account of the accident that
prevented her from joining them as usual.

Her doll, too, was a great source of amusement to her, and she valued
it very highly, and was so extremely careful of it that she hardly
felt willing to trust it out of her own hands, lest it should be broken.
Especially was she annoyed when Enna, who was a very careless child,
wished to take it; but it was a dangerous thing to refuse Enna's
requests, except when Mr. Dinsmore was by, and so Elsie always endeavored
to get the doll out of sight when she heard her coming.

But one unfortunate afternoon Enna came in quite unexpectedly, just as
Elsie finished dressing it in a new suit, which she had completed only a
few moments before.

"Oh, Elsie, how pretty it looks!" she cried. "Do let me take it on my lap
a little while. I won't hurt it a bit."

Elsie reluctantly consented, begging her to be very careful, "because,
Enna," she said, "you know if you should let it fall, it would certainly
be broken."

"You needn't be afraid," replied Enna, pettishly, "I guess I can take
care of a doll as well as you."

She drew up Elsie's little rocking-chair, as she spoke, and taking the
doll from her, sat down with it in her arms.

Elsie watched nervously every movement she made, in momentary dread of a
catastrophe.

They were alone in the room, Chloe having gone down to the kitchen on
some errand.

For a few moments Enna was content to hold the doll quietly in her arms,
rocking backwards and forwards, singing to it; but ere long she laid it
down on her lap, and began fastening and unfastening its clothes, pulling
off its shoes and stockings to look at its feet--dropping them on the
floor, and stooping to pick them up again, at the same time holding the
doll in such a careless manner that Elsie expected every instant to see
it scattered in fragments on the floor.

In vain she remonstrated with Enna, and begged her to be more careful;
it only vexed her and made her more reckless; and at length Elsie sprang
from her couch and caught the doll, just in time to save it, but in so
doing gave her ankle a terrible wrench.

She almost fainted with the pain, and Enna, frightened at her pale face,
jumped up and ran out of the room, leaving her alone.

She had hardly strength to get back on to her couch; and when her father
came in, a moment after, he found her holding her ankle in both hands,
while the tears forced from her by the pain were streaming down over her
pale cheeks.

"Why, my poor darling, what is it?" he exclaimed, in a tone of mingled
surprise and alarm.

"Oh, papa," she sobbed, "Enna was going to let my doll fall, and I jumped
to catch it, and hurt my ankle."

"And what did you do it for?" he said angrily. "I would rather have
bought you a dozen such dolls than have had your ankle hurt again. It
may cripple you for life, yet, if you are not more careful."

"Oh, papa, please don't scold me, please don't be so angry with me," she
sobbed. "I didn't have a minute to think, and I won't do it again."

He made no reply, but busied himself in doing what he could to relieve
her pain; and Chloe coming in at that moment, he reproved her sharply for
leaving the child alone.

The old nurse took it very meekly, far more disturbed at seeing how her
child was suffering than she could have been by the severest rebuke
administered to herself. She silently assisted Mr. Dinsmore in his
efforts to relieve her; and at length, as Elsie's tears ceased to flow,
and the color began to come back to her cheeks, she asked, in a tone full
of loving sympathy, "Is you better now, darlin'?"

"Yes, mammy, thank you; the pain is nearly all gone now," Elsie answered
gently; and then the soft eyes were raised pleadingly to her father's
face.

"I'm not angry with you, daughter," he replied, drawing her head down to
his breast, and kissing her tenderly. "It was only my great love for my
little girl that made me feel so vexed that she should have been hurt in
trying to save a paltry toy."

After this Mr. Dinsmore gave orders that Enna should never be permitted
to enter Elsie's room in his absence, and thus she was saved all further
annoyance of that kind; and Chloe was careful never to leave her alone
again until she was quite well, and able to run about. That, however, was
not for several weeks longer, for this second injury had retarded her
recovery a good deal; and she began to grow very weary, indeed, of her
long confinement. At length, though, she was able to walk about her room
a little, and her father had several times taken her out in the carriage,
to get the fresh air, as he said.

It was Saturday afternoon. Elsie was sitting on her sofa, quietly
working, while her nurse sat on the other side of the room, knitting
busily, as usual.

"Oh, mammy!" exclaimed the little girl, with sigh, "it is such a long,
long time since I have been to church. How I wish papa would let me go
to-morrow! Do you think he would, if I should ask him?"

"Dunno, darlin'! I'se 'fraid not," replied the old woman, shaking her
head doubtfully. "Massa Horace berry careful ob you, an' dat ankle not
well yet."

"Oh! but, mammy, I wouldn't need to walk, excepting just across the
church, for you know papa could carry me down to the carriage," said the
little girl eagerly.

Mr. Dinsmore came in soon afterwards, and, greeting his little girl
affectionately, sat down beside her, and, taking a newspaper from his
pocket, began to read.

"Papa, mayn't I sit on your knee?" she asked softly, as he paused in his
reading to turn his paper.

He smiled, and without speaking lifted her to the desired position, then
went on reading.

She waited patiently until there was another slight pause; then asked in
her most coaxing tone, "Papa, may I go to church to-morrow?"

"No," he said, decidedly, and she dared not say another word; but she was
sadly disappointed, and the tears sprang to her eyes, and presently one
rolled down and fell upon her lap.

He saw it, and giving her a glance of mingled surprise and displeasure,
put her back upon the sofa again, and returned to his paper.

She burst into sobs and tears at that, and laying her head down upon the
cushion, cried bitterly.

Her father took no notice for a little while; then said, very gravely,
"Elsie, if you are crying because I have put you off my knee, that is not
the way to get back again. I must have _cheerful_ submission from my
little girl, and it was precisely _because_ you were crying that I put
you down."

"Please take me again, papa, and I won't cry any more," she answered,
wiping her eyes.

He took her in his arms again, and she nestled close to him, and laid her
head down on his breast with a sigh of satisfaction.

"You _must_ learn not to cry when I do not see fit to acquiesce in your
wishes, my daughter," he said, stroking her hair. "I do not think you
quite well enough yet to go to church; and to-morrow bids fair to be a
stormy day. But I hope by next Sabbath you may be able to go."

Elsie tried to submit cheerfully to her father's decision, but she looked
forward very anxiously all the week to the next Sabbath. When it came, to
her great delight, she was permitted to attend church, and the next
morning she took her place in the school-room again.

She was far from enjoying the change from her father's instruction
to Miss Day's; yet Arthur's absence rendered her situation far more
comfortable than it had formerly been, and she still continued several
studies with her father, and spent many happy hours with him every day.
And thus everything moved on quite smoothly with the little girl during
the remainder of the winter.



CHAPTER IV.

"Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy."
    Exod. 10:6.

"We ought to obey God rather than men."
    Acts 5:29.


"Dear papa, are you sick?" It was Elsie's sweet voice that asked the
question in a tone of alarm. She had just finished her morning lessons,
and coming into her father's room, had found him lying on the sofa,
looking flushed and feverish.

"Yes, daughter," he said, "I have a severe headache, and some fever, I
think. But don't be alarmed, my pet, 'tis nothing at all serious," he
added in a more cheerful tone, taking both her little hands in his, and
gazing fondly into the beautiful dark eyes, now filled with tears.

"You will let me be your little nurse, my own dear papa, will you not?"
she asked coaxingly. "May I bring some cool water and bathe your head?"

"Yes, darling, you may," he said, releasing her hands.

Elsie stole softly out of the room, but was back again almost in a
moment, followed by Chloe, bearing a pitcher of ice-water.

"Now, mammy, please bring a basin and napkin from the dressing-room," she
said, in a low tone, as the old nurse set down her burden. "And then you
may darken the room a little. And shall I not tell her to send Jim or
Jack for the doctor, papa?"

"It is hardly necessary, darling," he replied, with a faint smile.

"Oh! please, papa, my own dear, darling papa, do let me!" she entreated.
"You know it cannot do any harm, and may do a great deal of good."

"Ah! well, child, do as you like," he replied with a weary sigh; "but the
doctor will, no doubt, think me very foolish to be so easily frightened."

"Then, papa, I will tell him it was I, not you, who were frightened, and
that you sent for him to please your silly little daughter," Elsie said,
fondly laying her cheek to his, while he passed his arm around her, and
pressed her to his side.

"Here are de tings, darlin'," said Chloe, setting down the basin, and
filling it from the pitcher.

"That is right, you good old mammy. Now close the blinds, and then
you may go and tell Jim to saddle a horse and ride after the doctor
immediately."

Chloe left the room, and Elsie brought another pillow for her father,
smoothed his hair, bathed his forehead, and then, drawing a low chair to
the side of the sofa, sat down and fanned him gently and regularly.

"Why!" said he, in a gratified tone, "you are as nice a little nurse as
anybody need ask for; you move about so gently, and seem to know just the
right thing to do. How did you learn?"

"I have had bad headaches so often myself, papa, that I have found out
what one wants at such times," replied the little girl, coloring with
pleasure.

He closed his eyes and seemed to be sleeping, and Elsie almost held her
breath, lest she should disturb him. But presently the dinner-bell rang,
and, opening them again, he said, "Go down, my daughter, and get your
dinner."

"I am not hungry, papa," she replied. "Please let me stay and wait on
you. Won't you have something to eat?"

"No, my dear, I have no desire for food; and you see, Chloe is coming
to take care of me; so I wish you to go down at once," he said in his
decided tone, and Elsie instantly rose to obey.

"You may come back if you choose when you have eaten your dinner," he
added kindly. "I love to have you here."

"Thank you, papa, I will," she answered, with a brightened countenance,
as she left the room. She was soon in her place again by his side. He
was sleeping--and taking the fan from Chloe's hand without speaking,
she motioned her away, and resuming her seat, sat for an hour or more,
fanning him in perfect silence.

The physician had come while the family were at dinner, and leaving
some medicine, had gone again, saying he was in haste to visit another
patient; and assuring Elsie, whom he met in the hall as he was going out,
that he did not think her papa was going to be very ill. This assurance
had comforted her very much, and she felt quite happy while sitting there
watching her father's slumbers.

At length he opened his eyes, and smiling fondly on her, asked: "Does
not my little girl want some play this afternoon? Your little hand must
surely be very tired wielding that fan;" and taking it from her, he drew
her head down to his breast and stroked her hair caressingly.

"No, my own papa, I would much rather stay with you, if you will let me,"
she answered eagerly.

"I am afraid I _ought_ to be very determined, and send you out to take
some exercise," he replied, playfully running his fingers through her
curls; "but it is too pleasant to have you here, so you may stay if you
like."

"Oh, thank you, dear papa! and will you let me wait on you? What can I do
for you now?"

"You may bring that book that lies on the table there, and read to me.
You need not learn any lessons for to-morrow, for I intend to keep you
with me."

The next day, and the next, and for many succeeding ones, Mr. Dinsmore
was quite too ill to leave his bed, and during all this time Elsie was
his constant companion by day--except for an hour every afternoon, when
he compelled her to go out and take some exercise in the open air--and
she would have sat by his side at night, also, but he would by no means
permit it.

"No, Elsie," he replied to her repeated entreaties, "you must go to bed
every night at your usual hour, and stay there until your accustomed hour
for rising. I will not have you deprived of your rest unless I am
actually dying."

This was said in the determined tone that always silenced Elsie at once,
and she submitted to his decision without another word, feeling very
thankful that he kept her so constantly at his side through the day.
She proved herself the best and most attentive of nurses, seeming to
understand his wishes intuitively, and moving about so gently and
quietly--never hurried, never impatient, never weary of attending to
his wants. His eyes followed with fond delight her little figure as
it flitted noiselessly about the room, now here, now there, arranging
everything for his comfort; and often, as she returned to her station
at his side, he would draw her down to him, and stroke her hair, or pat
her cheek, or kiss the rosy lips, calling her by every fond, endearing
name--rose-bud--his pet--his bird--his darling.

It was she who bathed his head with her cool, soft hands, in his
paroxysms of fever, smoothed his hair, shook up his pillows, gave him his
medicines, fanned him, and read or sang to him, in her clear sweet tones.

He was scarcely considered in danger, but his sickness was tedious, and
would have seemed far more so without the companionship of his little
daughter. Every day seemed to draw the ties of affection more closely
between them; yet, fond as he was of her, he ever made her feel that his
will was always to be law to her; and while he required nothing contrary
to her conscience, she submitted without a murmur, both because she loved
him so well that it was a pleasure to obey him, and also because she knew
it was her duty to do so.

But, alas! duty was not always to be so easy and pleasant.

It was Sabbath morning. All the family had gone to church, excepting
Elsie, who, as usual, sat by her papa's bedside. She had her Bible in
her hand, and was reading aloud.

"There, Elsie, that will do now," he said, as she finished her chapter.
"Go and get the book you were reading to me yesterday. I wish to hear the
rest of it this morning."

Poor little Elsie! she rose to her feet, but stood irresolute. Her heart
beat fast, her color came and went by turns, and her eyes filled with
tears.

The book her father bade her read to him was simply a fictitious
moral tale, without a particle of religious truth in it, and, Elsie's
conscience told her, entirely unfit for Sabbath reading.

"Elsie!" exclaimed her father, in a tone of mingled reproof and surprise,
"did you hear me?"

"Yes, papa," she murmured, in a low tone.

"Then go at once and get the book, as I bid you; it lies yonder on the
dressing-table."

Elsie moved slowly across the room, her father looking after her somewhat
impatiently.

"Come, Elsie, make haste," he said, as she laid her hand upon the book.
"I think I never saw you move so slowly,"

Without replying she took it up and returned to the bedside. Then, as he
caught sight of her face, and saw that her cheeks were pale and wet with
tears, he exclaimed, "What, _crying_, Elsie! what ails you, my daughter?
Are you ill, darling?"

His tone was one of tender solicitude, and accompanied with a caress, as
he took her hand and drew her towards him.

"Oh, papa!" she sobbed, laying her head on the pillow beside him, "please
do not ask me to read that book to-day."

He did not reply for a moment, and when he did, Elsie was startled by the
change in his tone; it was so exceedingly stern and severe.

"Elsie," he said, "I do not _ask_ you to read that book, I _command_ you
to do it, and what is more, _I intend to be obeyed_. Sit down at once and
begin, and let me have no more of this perverseness."

"Dear papa," she answered in low, pleading, trembling tones, "I do not,
_indeed_, I do not want to be perverse and disobedient, but I cannot
break the Sabbath-day. _Please_, papa, let me finish it to-morrow."

"Elsie!" said he, in a tone a little less severe, but quite as
determined, "I see that you think that because you gained your point in
relation to that song that you will always be allowed to do as you like
in such matters; but you are mistaken; I am _determined_ to be obeyed
this time. I would not by any means bid you do anything I considered
wrong, but I can see no harm whatever in reading that book to-day;
and certainly I, who have lived so much longer, am far more capable
of judging in these matters than a little girl of your age. Why, my
daughter, I have seen ministers reading worse books than that on the
Sabbath."

"But, papa," she replied timidly, "you know the Bible says: 'They
measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among
themselves, are not wise;' and are we not just to do whatever God
commands, without stopping to ask what other people do or say? for
don't even the best people very often do wrong?"

"Very well; find me a text that says you are not to read such a book as
this on the Sabbath, and I will let you wait until to-morrow."

Elsie hesitated. "I cannot find one that says just _that_, papa," she
said, "but there is one that says we are not to think our own thoughts,
nor speak our own words on the Sabbath; and does not that mean worldly
thoughts and words? and is not that book full of such things, and only
of such?"

"Nonsense!" he exclaimed, impatiently, "let me hear no more of such
stuff! you are entirely too young and childish to attempt to reason on
such subjects. Your place is simply to obey; are you going to do it?"

"Oh, papa!" she murmured, almost under her breath, "I cannot."

"Elsie," said he, in a tone of great anger, "I should certainly be
greatly tempted to whip you into submission, had I the strength to do
it."

Elsie answered only by her tears and sobs.

There was silence for a moment, and then her father said: "Elsie, I
expect from my daughter entire, unquestioning obedience, and until you
are ready to render it, I shall cease to treat you as my child. I shall
banish you from my presence, and my affections. This is the alternative I
set before you. I will give you ten minutes to consider it. At the end of
that time, if you are ready to obey me, well and good--if not, you will
leave this room, not to enter it again until you are ready to acknowledge
your fault, ask forgiveness, and promise implicit obedience in the
future."

A low cry of utter despair broke from Elsie's lips, as she thus heard her
sentence pronounced in tones of calm, stern determination; and, hiding
her face on the bed, she sobbed convulsively.

Her father lifted his watch from a little stand by the bedside, and held
it in his hand until the ten minutes expired.

"The time is up, Elsie," he said; "are you ready to obey me?"

"Oh, papa!" she sobbed, "I cannot do it."

"Very well, then," he said, coldly; "if neither your sense of duty, nor
your affection for your sick father is strong enough to overcome your
self-will, you know what you have to do. Leave the room at once, and
send one of the servants to attend me. I will not have such a perverse,
disobedient child in my presence."

She raised her head, and he was touched by the look of anguish on her
face.

"My daughter," he said, drawing her to him, and pushing back the curls
from her face, "this separation will be as painful to me as to you; yet I
cannot yield my authority. I _must_ have obedience from you. I ask again,
will you obey me?"

He waited a moment for an answer; but Elsie's heart was too full for
speech.

Pushing her from him, he said: "Go! remember, whenever you are ready to
comply with the conditions, you may return; but _not till then_!"

Elsie seized his hand in both of hers, and covered it with kisses and
tears; then, without a word, turned and left the room.

He looked after her with a sigh, muttering to himself, "She has a spice
of my own obstinacy in her nature; but I think a few days' banishment
from me will bring her round. I am punishing myself quite as much,
however, for it will be terribly hard to do without her."

Elsie hastened to her own room, almost distracted with grief; the blow
had been so sudden, so unexpected, so terrible; for she could see no end
to her banishment; unless, indeed, a change should take place in her
father's feelings, and of that she had very little hope.

Flinging herself upon a couch, she wept long and bitterly. Her grief was
deep and despairing, but there was no anger in it; on the contrary, her
heart was filled with intense love to her father, who, she doubted not,
was acting from a mistaken sense of duty; and she could scarcely bear the
thought that now she should no longer be permitted to wait upon him, and
attend to his comfort. She had sent a servant to him, but a servant could
ill supply a daughter's place, and her heart ached to think how he would
miss her sympathy and love.

An hour passed slowly away; the family returned from church, and the bell
rang for dinner. But Elsie heeded it not; she had no desire for food, and
still lay sobbing on her couch, till Chloe came to ask why she did not go
down.

The faithful creature was much surprised and distressed at the state in
which she found her child, and raising her in her arms tenderly, inquired
into the cause of her grief.

Elsie told her in a few words, and Chloe, without finding any fault with
Mr. Dinsmore, strove to comfort the sorrowing child, assuring her of her
own unalterable affection, and talking to her of the love of Jesus, who
would help her to hear every trial, and in his own good time remove it.

Elsie grew calmer as she listened to her nurse's words; her sobs and
tears gradually ceased, and at length she allowed Chloe to bathe her
face, and smooth her disordered hair and dress; but she refused to eat,
and lay on her couch all the afternoon, with a very sad little face, a
sob now and then bursting from her bosom, and a tear trickling down her
cheek. When the tea-bell rang, she reluctantly yielded to Chloe's
persuasions, and went down. But it was a sad, uncomfortable meal to her,
for she soon perceived, from the cold and averted looks of the whole
family, that the cause of her banishment from her papa's room was known.
Even her Aunt Adelaide, who was usually so kind, now seemed determined
to take no notice of her, and before the meal was half over, Enna,
frowning at her across the table, exclaimed in a loud, angry tone,
"Naughty, bad girl! Brother Horace ought to whip you!"

"That he ought," added her grandfather, severely, "if he had the strength
to do it; but he is not likely to gain it, while worried with such a
perverse, disobedient child."

Elsie could not swallow another mouthful, for the choking sensation in
her throat; and it cost her a hard struggle to keep back the tears that
seemed determined to force their way down her cheek at Enna's unkind
speech; but the concluding sentence of her grandfather's remark caused
her to start and tremble with fear on her father's account; yet she
could not command her voice sufficiently to speak and ask if he were
worse.

There was, indeed, a very unfavorable change in Mr. Dinsmore, and he was
really more alarmingly ill than he had been at all. Elsie's resistance
to his authority had excited him so much as to bring on a return of his
fever; her absence fretted him, too, for no one else seemed to understand
quite as well how to wait upon him; and besides, he was not altogether
satisfied with himself; not entirely sure that the course he had adopted
was the right one. Could he only have got rid of all doubts of the
righteousness and justice of the sentence he had pronounced upon her, it
would have been a great relief. He was very proud, a man of indomitable
will, and very jealous of his authority; and between these on the one
hand, and his love for his child and desire for her presence, on the
other, a fierce struggle had been raging in his breast all the afternoon.

As soon as she dared leave the table Elsie stole out into the garden,
there to indulge her grief, unseen by any but the eye of God.

She paced up and down her favorite walk, weeping and sobbing bitterly.
Presently her attention was attracted by the galloping of a horse down
the avenue, and raising her head, she saw that it was the physician,
returning from a visit to her father. It was not his usual hour for
calling, and she at once conjectured that her father was worse. Her first
impulse was to hasten to him, but instantly came the recollection that he
had banished her from his presence, and sinking down upon a bank, she
burst into a fresh paroxysm of grief. It was so hard--so _very_ hard--to
know that he was ill and suffering, and not to be permitted to go to him.

At length she could bear it no longer, and springing up she hurried into
the house, and gliding softly up the stairs, stationed herself at her
papa's door, determined to intercept some one passing in or out, and
inquire how he was.

She had not been long there when her Aunt Adelaide came out, looking
troubled and anxious.

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide," cried the child in a hoarse whisper, catching her by
the dress, "dear Aunt Adelaide, _do_ tell me, is papa worse?"

"Yes, Elsie," she replied coldly, attempting to pass on; "he is much
worse."

The little girl burst into an agony of tears.

"You may well cry, Elsie," remarked her aunt severely, "for it is all
your fault, and if you are left an orphan, you may thank your own
perverseness and obstinacy for it."

Putting both hands over her face, with a low cry of anguish, Elsie fell
forward in a deep swoon.

Adelaide caught her ere she had quite reached the floor, and hastily
loosening her dress, looked anxiously around for help; but none was at
hand, and she dared not call aloud lest she should alarm her brother. So
laying her gently down on the carpet, she went in search of Chloe, whom
she found, as she had expected, in Elsie's room. In a few hurried words
Adelaide made her understand what had occurred, and that Elsie must be
removed without the slightest noise or disturbance.

Another moment and Chloe was at her darling's side, and raising her
gently in her strong arms, she bore her quickly to her room, and laying
her on a couch, proceeded to apply restoratives, murmuring the while,
in low, pitiful tones, "De dear, precious lamb! it mos' breaks your ole
mammy's heart to see you dis way."

It was long ere consciousness returned; so long that Adelaide, who stood
by, gazing sorrowfully at the little wan face, and reproaching herself
for her cruelty, trembled and grew pale with apprehension.

But at last, with a weary sigh, Elsie opened her eyes, and looked up,
with a sad, bewildered expression, into the dusky face bent so anxiously
over her, and then, with a feeling of intense relief, Adelaide slipped
away to her own room, leaving them alone together.

"What is it, mammy? Oh, I know! I remember! Oh, mammy, mammy! will my
dear, precious papa die?" sobbed the poor little girl, throwing her arms
around her nurse's neck.

"I hope not, darling" replied Chloe, soothingly. "Massa Horace am pretty
sick, I know; but I tinks de good Lord spare him, if we pray."

"Oh, yes, yes, mammy, let us pray for him. Let us both pray very
earnestly, and I am sure God will spare him, because he has _promised_
to grant whatever two shall agree to ask."

They knelt down, and Chloe prayed in her broken way; and when she had
finished, Elsie poured out such a prayer as comes only from a heart ready
to break with its load of sorrow and care.

None but he who has tried it can tell what a blessed relief comes to
those who thus "cast their care on Jesus." Elsie's burden was not less,
but she no longer bore it alone; she had rolled it upon the Lord and he
sustained her. She shed a few quiet tears after she had laid her head
upon her pillow, but soon forgot all her sorrows in a deep, sweet sleep,
that lasted until morning.

It was still early when she awoke and sprang up, with the intention of
hastening, as usual, to her father's side; but alas! in another moment
memory had recalled all the distressing events of the previous day, and,
sinking back upon her pillow, she wept long and bitterly.

But at length she dried her tears, and, kneeling at the bedside, poured
out her sorrows and supplications into the ear of her Saviour, and thus
again grew calm and strong to endure.

As soon as she was dressed she went to her papa's door, hoping to see
some one who could tell her how he was; but no one came, and she dared
not venture in, and her intense anxiety had yet found no relief when the
bell summoned the family to breakfast.

The same cold looks awaited her there as on the night before, and the
poor child could scarcely eat, and was glad when the comfortless meal was
over.

She followed Adelaide to Mr. Dinsmore's door, and begged her with tears
and sobs to ask her papa to allow her to come to him, if it was only for
one moment, just to look at him, and then go away again.

Adelaide was touched by her evident anxiety and distress, and said,
almost kindly, as she laid her hand on the handle of the door, "Well,
Elsie, I will ask him; but I have no idea that it will be of any use,
unless you will give up your foolish obstinacy."

Elsie stood outside waiting with a beating heart, and though her aunt was
really gone but a moment, it seemed a long time to her ere the door again
opened.

She looked up eagerly, and read the answer in Adelaide's face, ere she
heard the coldly spoken, stern message--

"Your papa says you very well know the conditions on which you will be
admitted to his presence, and that they are as unalterable as the laws of
the Medes and Persians."

The tears gushed from Elsie's eyes, and she turned away with a gesture of
despair.

"Elsie," said her aunt, "let me advise you to give up at once; for I am
perfectly certain you never can conquer your father."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide! that is not what I want," murmured the child, in low,
broken accents.

But Adelaide went on without noticing the interruption--

"He is worse, and growing worse all the time, Elsie; his fever has been
very high ever since yesterday afternoon--and we all know that it is
nothing but your misconduct that has caused this relapse."

Elsie could bear no more, but rushing away to her own room, and locking
herself in, she gave way without restraint to her feelings of distress
and anguish.

Knowing that she was not expected in the school-room--as she had paid no
attention to study since the beginning of her father's illness--she did
not leave her room again until dinner-time.

She was on her way to the dining-room, when her Aunt Adelaide, passing
her in the hall, caught hold of her, saying, "Elsie, your papa is so ill
that the doctor trembles for his life; he says he is certain that he has
something on his mind that is distressing him and causing this alarming
change, and unless it is removed he fears he will never be any better.
Elsie, _you know what that something is_."

Elsie stood as if turned to stone, while Adelaide, letting go her arm,
moved quickly away, leaving her alone, stunned, bewildered, terrified by
the suddenness of the dreadful announcement.

She could not think or reason; she could only press her hands to her
temples, in the vain endeavor to still their wild throbbing; then,
turning back to her own room again, she threw herself upon her knees,
and, resting her head against the bed, gave vent to her over-wrought
feelings in such groans of anguish as seldom come from the heart of one
so young. At first she could neither weep nor pray; but at length tears
came to her relief, and she poured out agonizing supplications "that her
dear, _dear_ papa might be spared, at least, until he had learned
to love Jesus, and was fit to go to heaven."

She felt as though her heart would break at the very thought of being
separated from him forever in this world, but even that was as nothing
compared to the more terrible fear of not meeting him in another.

That was a long, sad afternoon to the poor child; the longest and saddest
she had ever known. Chloe now and then brought her word how her father
was, but no one else came near her to speak a word of comfort or hope.
Towards evening they had given up almost all hope; he had ceased to
recognize any one, and one after another, parents, brother, sisters, and
servants, had been permitted to take a last look--all but little Elsie,
his own and only child--the one nearest and dearest to him, and to whom
he was all the world--she alone was forbidden to come. She had begged and
plead, in tones that might have melted a heart of stone, to be permitted
to see his face once more in life; but Mrs. Dinsmore, who had taken the
direction of everything, said, "No, her father has forbidden it, and she
shall not come unless she expresses her willingness to comply with his
conditions."

Adelaide had then ventured a plea in her behalf, but the reply was: "I
don't pity her at all; it is all her own doing."

"So much the harder is it for her to bear, I presume," urged Adelaide.

"There, Adelaide, that will do now! Let me hear no more about it,"
replied her lady mother, and there the matter dropped.

Poor little Elsie tried to be submissive and forgiving, but she could not
help feeling it terribly hard and cruel, and almost more than she could
bear, thus to be kept away from her sick and dying father.

It was long ere sleep visited her weary eyes that night; hour after hour
she lay on her pillow, pouring out prayers and tears on his behalf, until
at length, completely worn out with sorrow, she fell into a deep and
heavy slumber, from which she waked to find the morning sun streaming in
at the windows, and Chloe standing gazing down upon her with a very happy
face.

She started up from her pillow, asking eagerly, "What is it, mammy? Oh!
what is it? is my papa better?"

"Yes, darling Massa Horace much better dis mornin'; de doctor say 'he
gwine git well now for sartin, if he don't git worse again.'"

"Oh, mammy! It seems too good to be true! Oh, how very, very good God has
been to me!" cried the little girl, weeping for very joy.

For a moment, in the intensity of her happiness, she forgot that she was
still in disgrace and banishment--forgot everything but the joyful fact
that her father was spared to her. But, oh! she could not forget it long.
The bitter recollection soon returned, to damp her joy and fill her with
sad forebodings.



CHAPTER V.

"I'll do whate'er thou wilt, I'll be silent;
But oh! a reined tongue, and a bursting heart,
Are hard at once to bear."

JOANNA BAILLIE'S BASIL.


Mr. Dinsmore's recovery was not very rapid. It was several weeks after he
was pronounced out of danger ere he was able to leave his room; and then
he came down looking so altered, so pale, and thin, and weak, that it
almost broke his little daughter's heart to look at him.

Very sad and lonely weeks those had been to her, poor child! She
was never once permitted to see him, and the whole family treated her
with marked coldness and neglect. She had returned to her duties in the
school-room--her father having sent her a command to that effect, as soon
as he was sufficiently recovered to think of her--and she tried to attend
faithfully to her studies, but more than once Miss Day had seen the tears
dropping upon her book or slate, and reproved her sharply for not giving
her mind to her lessons, and for indulging in what she called her
"babyish propensities."

Mr. Dinsmore made his first appearance in the family circle one morning
at breakfast, a servant assisting him down stairs and seating him in an
easy-chair at the table, just as the others were taking their places.

Warm congratulations were showered upon him from all sides. Enna ran
up to him, exclaiming, "I'm _so_ glad to see you down again, brother
Horace;" and was rewarded with a smile and a kiss; while poor little
Elsie, who had been directed, she knew not why, to take her old seat
opposite to his, was unable to utter a word, but stood with one hand on
the back of her chair, pale and trembling with emotion, watching him with
eyes so blinded by tears that she could scarcely see. But no one seemed
to notice her, and her father did not once turn his eyes that way.

She thought of the morning when she had first met him there, her poor
little heart hungering so for his love; and it seemed as if she had gone
back again to that time; and yet it was worse; for now she had learned
to love him with an intensity of affection she had then never known,
and having tasted the sweetness of his love, her sense of suffering at
its loss was proportionally great; and utterly unable to control her
feelings, she silently left the room to seek some place where she might
give her bursting heart the relief of tears, with none to observe or
reprove her.

Elsie had a rare plant, the gift of a friend, which she had long been
tending with great care, and which had blossomed that morning for the
first time.

The flower was beautiful and very fragrant, and as the little girl
stood gazing upon it with delighted eyes, while awaiting the summons to
breakfast, she had said to Chloe, "Oh! how I should like papa to see it!
He is so fond of flowers, and has been, so anxious for this one to
bloom."

But a deep sigh followed as she thought what a long, long time it was
likely to be before her father would again enter her room, or permit her
to go into his. He had not, however, forbidden her to speak to him, and
the thought struck her that, if he should be able to leave his room
before the flower had faded, so that she could see and speak to him,
she might pluck it off and present it to him.

She thought of it again, while weeping alone in her room, and a faint
hope sprang up in her heart that the little gift might open the way for a
reconciliation. But she must wait and watch for an opportunity to see him
alone; for she could not, in the present state of affairs, think of
addressing him before a third person.

The opportunity came almost sooner than she had dared to hope, for, on
passing the library door just after the morning lessons were over, she
saw him sitting there alone; and trembling between hope and fear, she
hurried at once to her room, plucked the beautiful blossom from its stem,
and with it in her hand hastened to the library.

She moved noiselessly across the thickly carpeted floor, and her papa,
who was reading, did not seem to be aware of her approach, until she was
close at his side. He then raised his head and looked at her with an
expression of surprise on his countenance.

"Dear papa," said the little girl, in faltering accents, as she presented
the flower, "my plant is bloomed at last; will you accept this first
blossom as a token of affection from your little daughter?"

Her pleading eyes were fixed upon his face, and ere she had finished her
sentence, she was trembling violently at the dark frown she saw gathering
There.

"Elsie," said he, in the cold, stern tone she so much dreaded, "I am
sorry you have broken your flower. I cannot divine your motive--affection
for me it cannot be; for that such a feeling exists in the breast of a
little girl, who not only could refuse her sick father the very small
favor of reading to him, but would rather see him _die_ than give up her
own self-will, I cannot believe. No, Elsie, take it away; I can receive
no gifts nor tokens of affection from a rebellious, disobedient child."

The flower had fallen upon the floor, and Elsie stood in an attitude of
utter despair, her head bent down upon her breast, and her hands hanging
listlessly at her side. For an instant she stood thus, and then, with
a sudden revulsion of feeling, she sank down on her knees beside her
father's chair, and seizing his hand in both of hers, pressed it to her
heart, and then to her lips, covering it with kisses and tears, while
great bursting sobs shook her whole frame.

"Oh, papa! dear, _dear_ papa! I _do love_ you! indeed, _indeed_ I do. Oh,
how could you say such cruel words to me?" she sobbed.

"Hush!" he said, withdrawing his hand. "I will have nothing but the truth
from you, and 'actions speak louder than words.' Get up immediately, and
dry your tears. Miss Day tells me that you are ruining your eyes by
continual crying; and if I hear any more such complaints, I shall punish
you severely. I will not allow it at all, for you have nothing whatever
to make you unhappy but your own misconduct. Just as soon as you are
ready to submit to my authority, you will find yourself treated with the
same indulgence and affection as formerly; but remember, _not till_
then!"

His words were like daggers to the affectionate, sensitive child. Had he
stabbed her to the heart he could not have hurt her more.

"Oh, papa!" she murmured in heart-broken accents, as in obedience to his
command she rose to her feet, struggling hard to keep back the tears he
had forbidden her to shed.

But her emotion did not seem to move him. Her conduct during his severe
illness had been so misrepresented to him, that at times he was wellnigh
convinced that her seeming affection was all hypocrisy, and that she
really regarded him only in the light of a tyrant, from whose authority
she would be glad to escape in any way.

"Pick up your flower and leave the room," he said. "I have no desire for
your company until you can learn to obey as you ought."

Silently and mechanically Elsie obeyed him, and hastening to her own room
again, threw herself into her nurse's arms, weeping as though she would
weep her very life away.

Chloe asked no questions as to the cause of her emotion--which the
flower in her hand, and the remembrance of the morning's conversation,
sufficiently explained--but tried in every way to soothe and encourage
her to hope for future reconciliation.

For some moments her efforts seemed to be quite unavailing; but suddenly
Elsie raised her head, and wiping away her tears, said, with a convulsive
sob, "Oh! I am doing wrong again, for papa has forbidden me to cry so
much, and I must try to obey him. But, oh!" she exclaimed, dropping her
head on her nurse's shoulder, with a fresh burst of tears, "how can I
help it, when my heart is bursting?"

"Jesus will help you, darlin'," replied Chloe, tenderly. "He always helps
his chillens to bear all dere troubles an' do all dere duties, an' never
leaves nor forsakes dem. But you must try, darlin', to mind Massa Horace,
kase he is your own papa; an' de Bible says, 'Chillen, obey your
parents.'"

"Yes, mammy, I know I ought, and I _will_ try," said the little girl,
raising her head and wiping her eyes; "but, mammy, you must pray for me,
for it will be very, very difficult."

Elsie had never been an eye-servant, but had always conscientiously
obeyed her father, whether present or absent, and henceforward she
constantly struggled to restrain her feelings, and even in solitude
denied her bursting heart the relief of tears; though it was not always
she could do this, for she was but young in the school of affliction, and
often, in spite of every effort, grief would have its way, and she was
ready to sink beneath her heavy weight of sorrow. Elsie had learned from
God's holy word, that "affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither
doth trouble spring out of the ground;" and she soon set herself
diligently to work to find out why this bitter trial had been sent her.

Her little Bible had never been suffered to lie a single day unused, nor
had morning or evening ever failed to find her in her closet; she had
neglected none of the forms of religion, and her devotions had been far
from heartless; yet she discovered with pain that she had of late spent
less time, and found less of her enjoyment in these duties than formerly;
that she had been, too much engrossed by an earthly love, and needed this
trial to bring her nearer to her Saviour, and teach her again to seek all
her happiness in "looking unto him." And now the hours that she had been
wont to pass in her father's society were usually spent in her own room,
alone with her Bible and her God, and there she found that sweet peace
and joy which the world can neither give nor take away; and thus she
gathered strength to bear her troubles and crosses with heavenly meekness
and patience; and she had indeed great need of a strength not her own,
for every day, and almost every hour brought with it its own peculiar
trial.

No one but the servants--who still loved her dearly--treated her with
kindness; but coldness and neglect were the least she had to bear. She
was constantly reminded, even by Walter and Enna, that she was stubborn
and disobedient, and there was so little pleasure in her walks and rides,
either when taken alone or in company with them, that she gradually gave
them up almost entirely--until one day, her father's attention being
called to it, by a remark of Mrs. Dinsmore's, "that it was no wonder the
child was growing thin and pale, for she did not take exercise enough to
keep her in health," he called her to him, reprimanded her severely, and
laid his commands upon her "to take a walk and ride every day, when the
weather would at all permit, but never dare to go alone farther than into
the garden."

Elsie answered with meek submission, promising obedience; and then turned
quickly away to hide the emotion that was swelling in her breast.

The change in her father was the bitterest part of her trial; she had so
revelled in his affection, and now it seemed to be all withdrawn from
her; and from the fond, indulgent parent, Mr. Dinsmore seemed suddenly to
have changed to the cold, pitiless tyrant. He now seldom took any notice
of his little daughter, and never addressed her unless it were to utter
a rebuke, a threat, a prohibition, or command, in tones of harshness and
severity.

Elsie bore it with all the meekness and patience of a martyr, but ere
long her health began to suffer; she grew weak and nervous, and would
start and tremble, and change color at the very sound of her father's
step or voice--those sounds which she had once so loved to hear--and the
little face became thin and pale, and an expression of deep and touching
sadness settled down upon it.

Love was as necessary to Elsie's health and happiness as sunshine to the
flowers, and even as the keen winds and biting frosts of winter wilt and
wither the tender blossoms, so did all this coldness and severity, the
gentle, sensitive spirit of the little child.

Mr. Travilla had called several times during the early part of Mr.
Dinsmore's illness, while Elsie had been his nurse, and she sometimes
wondered that she had seen nothing of him during all these sorrowful
weeks; but the truth was, Mr. Travilla had been absent from home, and
knew nothing of all that had been going on at Roselands. As soon,
however, as he returned, and heard how ill his friend had been, he
called to express his sympathy, and congratulate him on his recovery.

He found Mr. Dinsmore seated in an easy-chair in the library, still
looking weak and ill, and more depressed in spirits than he had ever
seen him.

"Ah! Dinsmore, my dear fellow, I hear you have been very ill; and,
indeed, I must say you are looking far from well yet," Travilla exclaimed
in his cheerful, hearty way, shaking his friend's hand warmly. "I think
my little friend, Elsie, has deserted her post almost too soon; but I
suppose you have sent her back to her lessons again," he remarked,
glancing around as if in search of her.

"I have no need of nursing now," replied Mr. Dinsmore, with a sad sort of
smile. "I am able to ride, and even to walk out, and shall, I hope, soon
be quite myself again."

He then introduced another topic of conversation, and they chatted for
some time.

At length Mr. Travilla drew out his watch.

"I see it is past school-hours," he said; "might I see my little friend?
I have brought a little gift for her, and should like to present it in
person."

Mr. Dinsmore had become quite animated and cheerful during their previous
conversation, but a great change came over his face while Mr. Travilla
was making his request, and the expression of his countenance was very
cold and stern, as he replied, "I thank you, Travilla, on her behalf;
but, if you please, I would much prefer your not giving her anything
at present, for, I am sorry to say, Elsie has been very stubborn and
rebellious of late, and is quite undeserving of any indulgence."

Mr. Travilla looked exceedingly astonished. "Is it _possible_!" he
exclaimed. "Really, I have had such an exalted opinion of Elsie's
goodness, that I could not have credited such a charge from any one
but her father."

"No, nor could I," replied Mr. Dinsmore, leaning his head upon his
hand with a heavy sigh; "but it is as I tell you, and you see now that
I have some cause for the depression of spirits upon which you have been
rallying me. Travilla, I love that child as I have never loved another
earthly thing except her mother, and it cuts me to the quick to have
her rebel as she has been doing for the last five weeks; it is almost
more than I can bear in my present weak state. I thought she loved me
devotedly, but it seems I was mistaken, for surely obedience is the
best test of love, and she refuses me that."

He paused for a moment, apparently quite overcome by his feelings, then
went on; "I have been compelled to banish her from my presence, but,
alas! I find I cannot tear her from my heart, and I miss her every
moment."

Mr. Travilla looked very much concerned. "I am sorry, indeed," he said,
"to hear such an account of my little friend; but her love for you I
cannot doubt, and we will hope that she will soon return to her duty."

"Thank you, Travilla; I am always sure of your sympathy in any kind of
trouble," replied Mr. Dinsmore, trying to speak cheerfully; "but we will
leave this disagreeable subject, and talk of something else."

In a few moments Mr. Travilla rose to take leave, declining Mr.
Dinsmore's urgent invitation to remain to dinner, but promising to
come again before long and stay a day or two. His kind heart was really
pained to learn that there was again a misunderstanding between his
little friend--as he had been in the habit of calling Elsie--and her
father; and as he rode home silently pondering the matter, he determined
that he would very soon fulfil his promise of paying a longer visit, for
he could not refrain from indulging a faint hope that he might be able to
accomplish something as mediator between them.

A few days after this, Elsie was passing down the hall. The doors and
windows were all open, for it was a warm spring day, and as she passed
the drawing-room door, she paused a moment and looked in. Her father sat
reading near one of the windows, and her eyes were riveted upon his face.
He was still pale from his recent illness; and his face had a troubled,
care-worn look, very different from its usual expression.

Oh! what a _longing_ desire came over the little girl at that sight, to
go to him and say that she was sorry for all the past, and that in the
future she would be and do everything that he asked. She burst into
tears and turned hastily away. She was hurrying out to the garden, but
at the door she encountered her aunt Adelaide.

"What is the matter, Elsie?" she asked, putting her hand on the child's
shoulder and forcibly detaining her.

"Oh! Aunt Adelaide," sobbed the little girl, "papa looks so ill and sad."

"And no wonder, Elsie," replied her aunt severely; "_you_ are quite
enough to make him sad, and ill, too, with your perverse, obstinate ways.
You have yourself to thank for it all, for it is just that, and nothing
else, that ails him."

She turned away as she spoke, and poor Elsie, wringing her hands in an
agony of grief, darted down the garden-walk to her favorite arbor.

Her eyes were so blinded by tears that she did not see that Mr. Travilla
was sitting there, until she was close beside him.

She turned then, and would have run away again, but he caught her by the
dress, and drawing her gently toward him, said in a mild, soothing tone--

"Don't run away from me, my poor little friend, but tell me the cause of
your sorrow, and who knows but I may be able to assist you."

Elsie shook her head mournfully, but allowed him, to set her on his knee,
and put his arm around her.

"My poor child! my poor, dear little girl!" he said, wiping away her
tears, and kissing her very much as her father had been in the habit of
doing.

It reminded her of him and his lost love, and caused a fresh burst of
tears and sobs.

"Poor child!" said Mr. Travilla again, "is there nothing I can do for
you? Will you not tell me the cause of your grief?"

"Oh, Mr. Travilla!" she sobbed, "papa is very much displeased with me,
and he looks so sad and ill, it almost breaks my heart."

"And why is he displeased with you, my dear? If you have done wrong and
are sorry for your fault, I am sure you have only to confess it, and ask
forgiveness, and all will be right again," he said kindly, drawing her
head down upon his breast, and smoothing back the curls from her flushed
and tear-stained face.

Elsie made no reply, and he went on--

"When we have done wrong, my dear little girl--as we do all sometimes--it
is much more noble to acknowledge it and ask pardon, than to try to hide
our faults; and you know, dear little Elsie," he added in a graver tone,
"that the Bible teaches us that children must obey their parents."

"Yes, Mr. Travilla," she answered, "I know that the Bible says: 'He that
covereth his sins shall not prosper,' and I know it tells me to obey my
father; and I do think I am willing to confess my faults, and I do try
to obey papa in everything that is right; but sometimes he bids me
disobey God; and you know the Bible says: 'We ought to obey God rather
than men.'"

"I am afraid, my dear," said Mr. Travilla gently, "that you are perhaps a
little too much inclined to judge for yourself about right and wrong. You
must remember that you are but a very little girl yet, and that your
father is very much older and wiser; and therefore I should say it would
be much safer to leave it to him to decide these matters. Besides, if
he _bids_ you do thus and so, I think all the responsibility of the
wrong--supposing there _is_ any--will rest with _him_, and _he_, not
_you_, will have to account for it."

"Oh! no, Mr. Travilla," replied the little girl earnestly, "my Bible
teaches me better than that; for it says: '_Every one_ of us shall give
account of _himself_ to God;' and in another place: 'The soul that
sinneth _it_ shall die.' So I know that _I_, and not papa, nor any one
else, will have to give account for _my_ sins."

"I see it will never do for me to try to quote Scripture to you," he
remarked, looking rather discomfited; "for you know a great deal more
about it than I do. But I am very anxious to see you and your father
friends again, for I cannot bear to see you both looking so unhappy.

"You have a good father, Elsie, and one that you may well be proud
of--for a more high-minded, honorable gentleman cannot be found anywhere;
and I am quite sure he would never require you to do anything very wrong.
Have you any objection, my dear, to telling me what it is?"

"He bade me read to him, one Sabbath-day, a book which was only fit for
week-day reading, because it had nothing at all in it about God, or being
good--and I could not do that; and now he says I must say I am sorry I
refused to obey him that time, and promise always to do exactly as he
bids me in future," replied Elsie, weeping; "and oh! Mr. Travilla, I
cannot do that. I cannot say I am sorry I did not disobey God, nor that
I will disobey him in future, if papa bids me."

"But if that was a sin, Elsie, it was surely a very _little_ one; I don't
think God would be very angry with you for anything so small as that," he
said very gravely.

"Mr. Travilla," Elsie replied in a tone of deep solemnity, "it is
written, 'Cursed is every one that continueth not in _all_ things which
are written in the book of the law to do them;' _that_ is in the Bible;
and the catechism says: '_Every sin_ deserveth the wrath and curse of
God!' And oh! Mr. Travilla," she added in a tone of anguish, "if you
knew how _hard_ it is for me to keep from giving up, and doing what my
conscience says is wrong, you wouldn't try to persuade me to do it."

Mr. Travilla knew not what to say; he was both perplexed and distressed.

But just at that moment a step was heard coming down the path. Elsie
recognized it instantly, and began to tremble, and the next moment her
father entered the arbor.

Mr. Dinsmore felt a pang of jealousy at seeing his little girl in
Travilla's arms, which he would have been ashamed to acknowledge to
himself, but it caused his tone to be even more than usually stern and
severe as he hastily inquired, "What are you doing here, Elsie--crying
again, after all I have said to you? Go to your room this moment, and
stay there until you can show a cheerful face!"

Mr. Travilla set her down, and she obeyed without a word, not even daring
to look at her father.

There was a moment of embarrassing silence after she had gone.

Then Travilla said, "It seems Elsie stumbled upon me here quite
unexpectedly, and I detained her somewhat against her will, I believe,
and have been doing my best to persuade her that she ought to be entirely
submissive to you."

Mr. Dinsmore looked interested, but replied with a sigh, "I fear you did
not succeed; she is sadly obstinate, and I begin to fear I shall have to
use great severity before I can conquer her."

Mr. Travilla hesitated a moment, then said, "I am afraid, Dinsmore, that
she has the right of it; she quoted Scripture to me till I really had no
more to say."

Mr. Dinsmore looked displeased.

"_I_ should think," he said almost haughtily, "that the fifth commandment
would be answer enough to any argument she could bring to excuse her
disobedience."

"We do not all see alike, Dinsmore," remarked his friend, "and though I
do not say that you are wrong, I must acknowledge that were I in your
place, I should do differently, because I should fear that the child was
acting from _principle_ rather than self-will or obstinacy."

"_Give up_ to her, Travilla? never! It astonishes me that you could
suggest such a thing!" exclaimed Mr. Dinsmore with almost fierce
determination. "No, I _will_ conquer her! I will break _her will_,
though in doing so I break my own heart."

"And _hers_, too," murmured Travilla in a low, sad tone, more as if
thinking aloud than answering his friend.

Mr. Dinsmore started. "No, no," he said hurriedly, "there is no danger of
_that_; else she would certainly have given up long ago."

Travilla shook his head, but made no reply; and presently Mr. Dinsmore
rose and led the way to the house.



CHAPTER VI.


"The storm of grief bears hard upon her youth,
And bends her, like a drooping flower, to earth."

ROWE'S FAIR PENITENT.


"You are not looking quite well yet, Mr. Dinsmore," remarked a lady
visitor, who called one day to see the family; "and your little daughter,
I think, looks as if she, too, had been ill; she is very thin, and seems
to have entirely lost her bright color."

Elsie had just left the room a moment before the remark was made.

Mr. Dinsmore started slightly.

"I believe she _is_ a little pale," he replied in a tone of annoyance;
"but as she makes no complaint, I do not think there can be anything
seriously amiss."

"Perhaps not," said the lady indifferently; "but if she were _my_ child I
should be afraid she was going into a decline."

"Really, Mrs. Grey, I don't know what should put such a notion into your
head!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinsmore, "for I assure you Elsie has always been
a perfectly healthy child since I have known her."

"Ah! well; it was but the thought of a moment," replied Mrs. Grey, rising
to take leave, "and I am glad to hear there is no ground for fear, for
Elsie is certainly a very sweet little girl."

Mr. Dinsmore handed Mrs. Grey to her carriage, and re-entering the house
went into the little back parlor where Elsie, the only other occupant of
the room, sat reading, in the corner of the sofa.

He did not speak to her, but began pacing back and forth across the
floor. Mrs. Grey's words had alarmed him; he could not forget them, and
whenever in his walk his face was turned towards his child, he bent his
eyes upon her with a keen, searching gaze; and he was surprised that he
had not before noticed how thin, and pale, and careworn that little face
had grown.

"Elsie," he said suddenly, pausing in his walk.

The child started and colored, as she raised her eyes from the book to
his face, asking, in a half tremulous tone, "What, papa?"

"Put down your book and come to me," he replied, seating himself.

His tone lacked its usual harshness, yet the little girl came to him
trembling so that she could scarcely stand.

It displeased him.

"Elsie," he said, as he took her hand and drew her in between his knees,
"why do you always start and change color when I speak to you? and why
are you trembling now as if you were venturing into the lion's jaws?--are
you afraid of me?--speak!"

"Yes, papa," she replied, the tears rolling down her cheeks, "you always
speak so sternly to me now, that I cannot help feeling frightened."

"Well, I didn't intend to be stern this time," he said more gently than
he had spoken to her for a long while; "but tell me, my daughter, are you
quite well?--you are growing very pale and thin, and I want to know if
anything ails you."

"Nothing, papa, but--" the rest of her sentence was lost in a burst of
tears.

"But what?" he asked almost kindly.

"Oh, papa! you know! I want your love. _How can I live without it_?"

"You need not, Elsie," he answered very gravely, "you have only to bow
that stubborn will of yours, to have all the love and all the caresses
you can ask for."

Wiping her eyes, she looked up beseechingly into his face, asking, in
pleading tones, "_Dear_ papa, won't you give me one kiss--just _one_?
Think how long I have been without one."

"Elsie, say 'I am sorry, papa, that I refused to obey you on that
Sabbath-day; will you please to forgive me? and I will always be obedient
in future,' That is all I require. Say it, and you will be at once
entirely restored to favor."

"I am _very sorry_, dear papa, for _all_ the naughty things I have ever
done, and I will always try to obey you, if you do not bid me break God's
commandments," she answered in a low, tremulous tone.

"That will not do, Elsie; it is not what I bid you say. I will have no
_if_ in the matter; nothing but _implicit, unconditional_ obedience," he
said in a tone of severity.

He paused for a reply, but receiving none, continued: "I see you are
still stubborn, and I shall be compelled to take severe measures to
subdue you. I do not yet know what they will be, but one thing is
certain--I will not keep a rebellious child in my sight; there are
boarding-schools where children can be sent who are unworthy to enjoy
the privileges and comforts of home."

"Oh, papa! dear, _dear_ papa, don't send me away from you! I should die!"
she cried in accents of terror and despair, throwing her arms around his
neck and clinging to him with a convulsive grasp. "Punish me in any other
way you choose; but oh! _don't_ send me where I cannot see you."

He gently disengaged her arms, and without returning her caress, said
gravely, and almost sadly, "Go now to your room. I have not yet decided
what course to take, but you have only to submit, to escape _all_
punishment."

Elsie retired, weeping bitterly, passing Adelaide as she went out.

"What is the matter now?" asked Adelaide of her brother, who was striding
impatiently up and down the room.

"Nothing but the old story," he replied; "she is the most stubborn child
I ever saw. Strange!" he added musingly, "I once thought her rather _too_
yielding. Adelaide," he said, sitting down by his sister, and leaning his
head upon his hand, with a deep-drawn sigh, "I am _terribly_ perplexed!
This estrangement is killing us both. Have you noticed how thin and pale
she is growing? It distresses me to see it; but what can I do?--give up
to her I cannot; it is not once to be thought of. I am sorry I ever began
the struggle, but since it _is_ begun she _must_ and _shall_ submit; and
it has really become a serious question with me, whether it would not be
the truest kindness just to conquer her thoroughly and at once, by an
appeal to the rod."

"Oh no, Horace, don't! don't think of such a thing, I beg of you!"
exclaimed Adelaide, with tears in her eyes; "such a delicate, sensitive
little creature as she is, I do believe it would quite break her heart to
be subjected to so ignominious a punishment; surely you could adopt some
other measure less revolting to one's feelings, and yet perhaps quite as
effectual. I couldn't _bear_ to have you do it. I would try everything
else first."

"I assure you, Adelaide, it would be _exceedingly_ painful to my
feelings," he said, "and yet so anxious am I to subdue Elsie, and end
this trying state of affairs, that were I certain of gaining my point,
even by great severity, I would not hesitate a moment, but I am very
doubtful whether she could be conquered in that way, and I would not
like to undertake it unless I could carry it through. I hinted at a
boarding-school, which seemed to alarm her very much; but I shall not
try it, at least not yet, for she is my only child, and I still love
her too well to give her up to the tender mercies of strangers. Ah!
you don't know how strongly I was tempted to give her a kiss, just now,
when she begged so hard for it. But what _shall_ I do with her,
Adelaide?--have you no suggestion to make?"

"Indeed, I don't know what to say, Horace; I shouldn't like to give up
to her, if I were you; it does seem as if you ought to conquer her, and
if you don't do it now, I do not believe you ever will."

"Yes, that is just it," he said. "I have sometimes felt sorry for having
begun the struggle, and yet perhaps it is just as well, since it must
have come sooner or later. Ten years hence I shall want to take her
occasionally to the theatre or opera, or perhaps now and then to a ball,
and unless I can eradicate these ridiculously strict notions she has got
into her head, she will be sure to rebel then, when she will be rather
too old to punish, at least in the same way in which I might punish her
now."

"A thought has just struck me, Horace," said Adelaide suddenly.

"Well, what is it?" he asked.

Adelaide hesitated. She felt some little sympathy for Elsie, and did not
quite like to propose a measure which she knew would give her great pain;
but at length she said, in a half-regretful tone--

"I think, Horace, that Aunt Chloe upholds Elsie in her obstinacy, and
makes her think herself a martyr to principle, for you know she has the
same strange notions, which they both learned from the old housekeeper,
Mrs. Murray, who was an old-fashioned Presbyterian, of the strictest
sort; and now, as Elsie is still so young, it seems to me it might be
_possible_ to change her views, if she were entirely removed from all
such influences. But take notice, Horace, I do not advise it, for I
know it would wellnigh break both their hearts."

For a moment Mr. Dinsmore seemed lost in thought. Then he spoke:

"That is a wise suggestion, Adelaide. I thank you for it, and shall
certainly take it into consideration. Yet it is a measure I feel loth to
adopt, for Chloe has been a most faithful creature. I feel that I owe her
a debt of gratitude for the excellent care she has taken of Elsie, and of
her mother before her, and as you say, I fear it would wellnigh break
both their hearts. But if less severe measures fail, I shall feel
compelled to try it, for I am more anxious than I can tell you to
bring Elsie to unconditional obedience."

"Here is a letter for you, Elsie," said her grandfather, the next
morning, at the breakfast-table. "Here, Pomp"--to the servant--"hand this
to Miss Elsie."

The child's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she held out her hand
eagerly to take it.

But her father interfered.

"No, Pomp," he said, "bring it to me; and remember, in future, that _I_
am to receive _all_ Miss Elsie's letters."

Elsie relinquished it instantly, without a word of remonstrance, but her
heart was so full that she could not eat another morsel; and in spite of
all her efforts the tears would come into her eyes, as she saw her father
deliberately open and read the letter, and then refold and put it into
his pocket. He looked at her as he did so, and seeing the tears rolling
down her cheeks, sternly bade her leave the room,

She obeyed, feeling more angry and rebellious toward him than she ever
had before. It seemed so cruel and unjust to deprive her of her own
letters; one of Miss Rose's--as she knew it must be, for she had no other
correspondent--which never contained anything but what was good, and
kind, and comforting. They were always a great treat to the little girl,
and she had been longer than usual without one, and had been looking
longingly for it every day for several weeks past; for sad and lonely as
her days now were, she felt very keenly the need of her friend's sympathy
and love; and now to have this letter taken from her just as she laid her
hand upon it, seemed a disappointment almost too great to be endured. She
had a hard struggle with herself before she could put away entirely her
feelings of anger and impatience.

"Oh! this is not honoring papa," she said to herself; "he may have good
reasons for what he has done; and as _I_ belong to him, he certainly has
a sort of right to everything that is mine. I will try to be submissive,
and wait patiently until he sees fit to give me my letter, as perhaps he
will, some time."

All the morning the thought of her letter was scarcely out of her mind,
and as soon as she was released from school duties, and dressed for
dinner, she went down to the drawing-room, hoping that her father might
be there, and that he would give it to her.

But he was not in, and when he came, brought a number of strangers with
him, who remained until after tea; so that all the afternoon passed away
without affording her an opportunity to speak to him. But, to her great
joy, the visitors all left early in the evening, excepting a very mild,
pleasant-looking, elderly gentleman, who had settled himself in the
portico, with Enna on his knees.

Elsie was watching her fathers movements, and was not sorry to see him,
after the departure of his guests, return to the drawing-room, and take
up the evening paper.

No one else was at that end of the room, so now, at last, she might speak
to him without fear of being overheard. She was glad, too, that his back
was towards her, for she had grown very timid about approaching him of
late. She stole softly up to the back of his chair, and stood there for
some moments without speaking; her heart beat so fast with mingled hope
and fear, that it seemed impossible to command her voice.

But at last, coming to his side, she said, in a tone so low and tremulous
as to be almost inaudible, "Papa."

"Well, Elsie, what do you want?" he asked, with his eyes still on the
paper.

"Dear papa, I do so want to see Miss Rose's letter; won't you please give
it to me?"

She waited a moment for a reply; then asked again, "May I not have it,
papa?"

"Yes, Elsie, you may have _that_, and _everything_ else you want, just as
soon as you show yourself a submissive, obedient child."

Tears gathered in Elsie's eyes, but she resolutely forced them back,
and made one more appeal. "_Dear_ papa," she said, in pleading, tearful
tones, "you don't know how I have looked and longed for that letter; and
I _do want_ it so _very_ much; won't you let me see it just for a few
moments?"

"You have your answer, Elsie," he said coldly; "and it is the only one I
have to give you."

Elsie turned and walked away, silently crying as she went.

But ere she had reached the door he called her back, and looking sternly
at her, as she again stood trembling and weeping at his side, "Remember,"
he said, "that from this time forth, I forbid you to write or receive any
letters which do not pass through my hands, and I shall not allow you to
correspond with Miss Allison, or any one else, indeed, until you become a
more dutiful child."

"Oh, papa! what will Miss Allison think if I don't answer her letter?"
exclaimed Elsie, weeping bitterly.

"I shall wait a few weeks," he said, "to see if you are going to be a
better girl, and then, if you remain stubborn, I shall write to her
myself, and tell her that I have stopped the correspondence, and my
reasons for doing so."

"Oh, papa! _dear_ papa! _please_ don't do that!" cried the little girl
in great distress. "I am afraid if you do she will never love me any
more, for she will think me such a very bad child."

"If she does, she will only have a just opinion of you," replied her
father coldly; "and _all_ your friends will soon cease to love you, if
you continue to show such a wilful temper; my patience is almost worn
out, Elsie, and I shall try some very severe measures before long, unless
you see proper to submit. Go now to your own room; I do not wish to see
you again to-night."

"Good-night, papa," sobbed the little girl, as she turned to obey him.

"Elsie, my daughter," he said, suddenly seizing her hand, and drawing her
to his side, "why will you not give up this strange wilfulness, and let
your papa have his own darling again? I love you dearly, my child, and it
pains me more than I can express to see you so unhappy," he added, gently
pushing back the curls from the little tear-stained face upturned to his.

His tone had all the old fondness, and Elsie's heart thrilled at the very
sound; his look, too, was tender and affectionate, and throwing down his
paper he lifted her to his knee, and passed his arm around her waist.

Elsie laid her head against his breast, as was her wont before their
unhappy estrangement, while he passed his hand caressingly over her
curls.

"Speak, my daughter," he said in a low tone, full of tenderness; "speak,
and tell papa that he has his own dutiful little daughter again. His
heart aches to receive her; must he do without her still?"

The temptation to yield was very strong. She loved him, oh, how dearly!
Could she bear to go on making him unhappy? And it was such _rest_--such
_joy_--thus once more to feel herself folded to his heart, and hear his
dear voice speaking to her in loving, tender tones. Can it be wondered at
that for a moment Elsie wavered? On the one hand she saw her father's
fond affection, indulgent kindness, and loving caresses; on the other,
banishment from his love, perhaps from home, cold, stern, harsh words
and looks; and what more might be meant by the very severe measures
threatened, she trembled to think.

For a moment she was silent, for a mighty struggle was going on in her
heart. It was hard, _very_ hard, to give up her father's love. But the
love of Jesus!--ah, that was more precious still!

The struggle was past.

"Papa," she said, raising an earnest, tearful little face to his, and
speaking in tones tremulous with emotion, "dear, _dear_ papa, I do love
you so very, _very_ much, and I do want to be to you a good, obedient
child; but, papa, Jesus says, 'He that loveth father or mother more than
me, is not worthy of me,' and I must love Jesus best, and keep _his_
commandments _always_. But you bid me say that I am sorry I refused to
break them; and that I will yield implicit obedience to you, even though
you should command me to disobey him. Oh, papa, I cannot do _that_, even
though you should never love me again; even though you should put me to
death."

The cold, stern expression had returned to his face before she had half
finished, and putting her off his knee, he said, in his severest tone,
"Go, disobedient, rebellious child! How often have I told you that you
are too young to judge of such matters, and must leave all that to me,
your father and natural guardian, whom the Bible itself commands you to
obey. I will find means to conquer you yet, Elsie. If affection and mild
measures will not do it, severity shall."

He rose and walked hastily up and down the floor, excited and angry,
while poor Elsie went weeping from the room.

"Is that one of your sisters, my dear?" asked the old gentleman of Enna,
as he saw the sobbing Elsie pass through the hall, on her way up-stairs.

"No; that is brother Horace's daughter," replied Enna scornfully; "she is
a real naughty girl, and won't mind her papa at all."

"Ah!" said the old gentleman gravely, "I am sorry to hear it; but I hope
you will always obey your papa."

"Indeed, my papa lets me do _just_ as I please," said Enna, with a little
toss of her head. "_I_ don't have to mind anybody."

"Ah! then I consider you a very unfortunate child," remarked the old
gentleman, still more gravely; "for it is by no means good for a little
one like you to have too much of her own way."

Mr. Grier--for that was the old gentleman's name--had been much
interested in the little Elsie's appearance. He had noticed the look
of sadness on her fair young face, and conjectured, from something
in the manner of the rest of the family toward her, that she was in
disgrace; yet he was sure there was no stubbornness or self-will in the
expression of that meek and gentle countenance. He began to suspect that
some injustice had been done the little girl, and determined to watch and
see if she were indeed the naughty child she was represented to be, and
if he found her as good as he was inclined to believe, to try to gain
her confidence, and see if he could help her out of her troubles.

But Elsie did not come down again that evening, and though he saw her at
the breakfast-table the next morning, she slipped away so immediately
after the conclusion of the meal, that he had no opportunity to speak to
her; and at dinner it was just the same.

But in the afternoon, seeing her walk out alone, he put on his hat and
followed at a little distance. She was going toward the quarter, and he
presently saw her enter a cabin where, he had been told, a poor old
colored woman was lying ill, perhaps on her death-bed.

Very quietly he drew near the door of the hut, and seating himself on a
low bench on the outside, found that he could both see and hear all that
was going on without himself being perceived, as Elsie had her back to
the door, and poor old Dinah was blind.

"I have come to read to you again, Aunt Dinah," said the little girl, in
her sweet, gentle tones.

"Tank you, my young missus; you is bery kind," replied the old woman
feebly.

Elsie had already opened her little Bible, and in the same sweet, gentle
voice in which she had spoken, she now read aloud the third chapter of
St. John's gospel.

When she had finished reading the sixteenth verse--"God so loved the
world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life,"--she paused and exclaimed,
"Oh! Aunt Dinah, is not that beautiful? Does it not make you glad? You
see it does not say whosoever is good and holy, or whosoever has not
sinned, but it is whosoever believes in Jesus, the only begotten Son of
God. If it was only the good, Aunt Dinah, you and I could never hope to
be saved, because we are both great sinners."

"Not you, Miss Elsie! not you, darlin'," interrupted the old woman; "ole
Dinah's a great sinner, she knows dat well nuff--but you, darlin', you
never did nuffin bad."

"Yes, Dinah," said the little voice in saddened tones, "I have a very
wicked heart, and have been a sinner all my life; but I know that Jesus
died to save sinners, and that whosoever believes in him shall have
eternal life, and I do believe, and I want you to believe, and then you,
too, will be saved."

"Did de good Lord Jesus die for poor ole Dinah, Miss Elsie?" she asked
eagerly.

"Yes, Aunt Dinah, if you will believe in him; it says for _whosoever
believeth_."

"Ole Dinah dunno how to believe, chile; can't do it nohow."

"You must ask God to teach you, Dinah," replied the little girl
earnestly, "for the Bible says 'faith'--that means believing--'is the
gift of God.'"

"You don't mean _dat_, Miss Elsie! You don't mean dat God will save poor
ole Dinah, an' gib her hebben, an' all for nuffin?" she inquired, raising
herself on her elbow in her eagerness.

"Yes, Dinah; God says without money and without price; can't you believe
him? Suppose I should come and put a hundred dollars in your hand,
saying, 'Here, Aunt Dinah, I _give_ you this; you are old, and sick, and
poor, and I know you can do nothing to earn it, but it is a _free_ gift,
just _take_ it and it is yours;' wouldn't you believe me, and take it?"

"_'Deed_ I would, Miss Elsie, kase you nebber tole nuffin but de truff."

"Well, then, can't you believe God when he says that he will save you?
Can't you believe Jesus when he says, 'I _give_ unto them eternal life'?"

"Yes, yes, Miss Elsie! I do b'lieve; read de blessed words again,
darlin'."

Elsie read the verse again, and then finished the Chapter. Then closing
the book, she asked softly,

"Shall we pray, now, Aunt Dinah?"

Dinah gave an eager assent; and Elsie, kneeling down by the bedside,
prayed in simple, childlike words that Jesus would reveal himself to poor
old Dinah, as _her_ Saviour; that the Holy Spirit would be her sanctifier
and comforter, working faith in her, and thereby uniting her to Christ;
that God would adopt her into his family, and be her God and portion
forever; and that Jesus would be her shepherd, so that she need fear no
evil, even though called to pass through the dark valley of the shadow of
death.

"Amen!" was Dinah's fervent response to each of the petitions.

"De good Lord bless you, darlin'," she said, taking Elsie's little white
hand in hers, and pressing it to her lips; "de good Lord bless an' keep
you, an' nebber let trouble come near you. You knows nuffin 'bout trouble
now, for you's young, an' handsome, an' rich, an' good; an' Massa Horace,
he doats on you; no, _you_ knows nuffin 'bout trouble, but ole Dinah
does, kase she's ole, an' sick, an' full ob aches and pains."

"Yes, Aunt Dinah, and I am very sorry for you; but remember, if you
believe in Jesus, you will soon go to heaven, where you will never be
sick or in pain any more. But, Dinah,"--and the little voice grew very
mournful--"we cannot always know when others are in trouble; and I want
you to pray for me that I may always have strength to do right."

"I will, darlin', 'deed I will," said Dinah earnestly, kissing the little
hand again ere she released it.

As Elsie ceased speaking, Mr. Grier slipped quietly away, and continued
his walk. From what he had just seen and heard, he felt fully convinced
that Elsie was not the wicked, disobedient child Enna had represented
her to be; yet he knew that Enna was not alone in her opinion, since it
was very evident that Elsie was in disgrace with the whole family--her
father especially--and that she was very unhappy. He felt his heart drawn
out in sympathy for the child, and longed to be able to assist her in
regaining her father's favor, yet he knew not how to do it, for how was
he to learn the facts in the case without seeming to pry into the family
secrets of his kind entertainers? But there was one comfort he could do
for her--what she had so earnestly asked of Dinah--and he would. As he
came to this resolution he turned about and began to retrace his steps
toward the house. To his surprise and pleasure, upon turning around a
thicket, he came suddenly upon Elsie herself, seated upon a bench under
a tree, bending over her little Bible, which lay open on her lap, and
upon which her quiet tears were dropping, one by one.

She did not seem aware of his presence, and he stood a moment gazing
compassionately upon her, ere he spoke.

"My dear little girl, what is the matter?" he asked in a gentle tone,
full of sympathy and kindness, seating himself by her side.

Elsie started, and raising her head, hastily brushed away her tears.

"Good evening, sir," she said, blushing painfully, "I did not know you
were here."

"You must excuse my seeming intrusion," replied the old gentleman, taking
her hand in his. "I came upon you unawares, not knowing you were here;
but now that we have met, will you not tell me the cause of your grief?
Perhaps I may be able to assist you."

"No, sir," she said, "you could not do anything for me; but I thank you
very much for your kindness."

"I think," said he, after a moment's pause, "that I know something of
your trouble; you have offended your father; is it not so, my dear?"

Elsie answered only by her tears, and he went on.

Laying his hand upon the Bible, "Submission to parents, my dear child,"
he said, "you know is enjoined in this blessed book; children are here
commanded to honor and obey their father and mother; it is _God's_
command, and if you love his holy word, you will obey its precepts.
Surely your father will forgive, and receive you into favor, if you show
yourself penitent and submissive?"

"I love my papa very, _very_ dearly," replied Elsie, weeping, "and I do
want to obey him; but he does not love Jesus, and sometimes he bids me
break God's commandments, and then I cannot obey him."

"Is that it, my poor child?" said her friend pityingly. "Then you are
right in not obeying; but be _very sure_ that your father's commands
_are_ opposed to those of God, before you refuse obedience; and be very
careful to obey him in all things in which you can conscientiously do
so."

"I do try, sir," replied Elsie meekly.

"Then be comforted, my dear little girl. God has surely sent you this
trial for some wise and kind purpose, and in his own good time he will
remove it. Only be patient and submissive. He can change your father's
heart, and for that you and I will both pray."

Elsie looked her thanks as they rose to return to the house, but her
heart was too full for speech, and she walked silently along beside her
new friend, who continued to speak words of comfort and encouragement
to her, until they reached the door, where he bade her good-by, saying
that he was sorry he was not likely to see her again, as he must leave
Roselands that afternoon, but promising not to forget her in his prayers.

When Elsie reached her room, Chloe told her her father had sent word that
she was to come to him as soon as she returned from her walk, and that
she would find him in his dressing-room.

Chloe had taken off the little girl's hat and smoothed her hair ere
she delivered the message, and with a beating heart Elsie proceeded
immediately to obey it.

In answer to her timid knock, her father himself opened the door.

"Mammy told me that you wanted me, papa," she said in a tremulous voice,
and looking up timidly into his face.

"Yes, I sent for you; come in," he replied; and taking her by the hand
he led her forward to the arm-chair from which he had just risen, where
he again seated himself, making her stand before him very much like a
culprit in the presence of her judge.

There was a moment's pause, in which Elsie stood with her head bent
down and her eyes upon the carpet, trembling with apprehension, and not
knowing what new trial might be in store for her. Then she ventured to
look at her father.

His face was sad and distressed, but very stern.

"Elsie," he began at length, speaking in slow, measured tones, "I told
you last evening that should you still persist in your resistance to my
authority, I should feel compelled to take severe measures with you. I
have now decided what those measures are to be. Henceforth, so long as
you continue rebellious, you are to be banished entirely from the family
circle; your meals must be taken in your own apartment, and though I
shall not reduce your fare to bread and water, it will be very plain--no
sweetmeats--no luxuries of any kind. I shall also deprive you entirely of
pocket-money, and of all books excepting your Bible and school-books, and
forbid you either to pay or receive any visits, telling all who inquire
for you, why you cannot be seen. You are also to understand that I forbid
you to enter any apartment in the house excepting your own and the
school-room--unless by my express permission--and never to go out at all,
even to the garden, excepting to take your daily exercise, accompanied
always and only by a servant. You are to go on with your studies as
usual, but need not expect to be spoken to by any one but your teacher,
as I shall request the others to hold no communication with you. This is
your sentence. It goes into effect this very hour, but becomes null and
void the moment you come to me with acknowledgments of penitence for the
past, and promises of implicit obedience for the future."

Elsie stood like a statue; her hands clasped, and her eyes fixed upon the
floor. She had grown very pale while her father was speaking, and there
was a slight quivering of the eyelids and of the muscles of the mouth,
but she showed no other sign of emotion.

"Did you hear me, Elsie?" he asked.

"Yes, papa," she murmured, in a tone so low it scarcely reached his ear.

"Well, have you anything to say for yourself before I send you back to
your room?" he asked in a somewhat softened tone.

He felt a little alarmed at the child's unnatural calmness; but it was
all gone in a moment. Sinking upon her knees she burst into a fit of
passionate weeping. "Oh! papa, papa!" she sobbed, raising her streaming
eyes to his face, "will you never, _never_ love me any more?--must I
never come near you, or speak to you again?"

He was much moved.

"I did not say _that_, Elsie," he replied. "I hope most sincerely that
you _will_ come to me before long with the confessions and promises I
require; and then, as I have told you so often, I will take you to my
heart again, as fully as ever. Will you not do it at once, and spare me
the painful necessity of putting my sentence into execution?" he asked,
raising her gently, and drawing her to his side.

"Dear papa, you know I cannot," she sobbed.

"Then return at once to your room; my sentence must be enforced, though
it break both your heart and mine, for I _will_ be obeyed. _Go_!" he
said, sternly putting her from him. And weeping and sobbing, feeling like
a homeless, friendless outcast from society, Elsie went back to her room.

The next two or three weeks were very sad and dreary ones to the poor
little girl. Her father's sentence was rigidly enforced; she scarcely
ever saw him excepting at a distance, and when once or twice he passed
her in going in and out, he neither looked at nor spoke to her. Miss Day
treated her with all her former severity and injustice, and no one else
but the servants ever addressed her.

She went out every day for an hour or two, in obedience to her father's
command, but her walks and rides were sad and lonely; and during the rest
of the day she felt like a prisoner, for she dared not venture even into
the garden, where she had always been in the habit of passing the greater
part of her leisure hours, in the summer season.

But debarred from all other pleasures, Elsie read her Bible more and more
constantly, and with ever increasing delight; it was more than meat and
drink to her; she there found consolation under every affliction, a
solace for every sorrow. Her trial was a heavy one; her little heart
often ached sadly with its intense longing for an earthly father's love
and favor; yet in the midst of it all, she was conscious of a deep,
abiding peace, flowing from a sweet sense of pardoned sin, and a
consciousness of a Saviour's love.

At first Elsie greatly feared that she would not be allowed to attend
church, as usual, on the Sabbath. But Mr. Dinsmore did not care to excite
too much remark, and so, as Elsie had always been very regular in her
attendance, to her great joy she was still permitted to go.

No one spoke to her, however, or seemed to take the least notice of her;
but she sat by her father's side, as usual, both in the carriage and in
the pew, and there was some pleasure even in that, though she scarcely
dared even to lift her eyes to his face. Once during the sermon, on the
third Sabbath after their last interview, she ventured to do so, and was
so overcome by the sight of his pale, haggard looks, that utterly unable
to control her emotion, she burst into tears, and almost sobbed aloud.

"Elsie," he said, bending down, and speaking in a stern whisper, "you
_must control_ yourself."

And with a mighty effort she swallowed down her tears and sobs.

He took no further notice of her until they were again at their own door,
when, lifting her from the carriage, he took her by the hand and led her
to his own room. Shutting the door, he said sternly, "Elsie, what did you
mean by behaving so in church? I was ashamed of you."

"I could not help it, papa; indeed I could not," replied the little girl,
again bursting into tears.

"What were you crying about? tell me at once," he said, sitting down and
taking off her bonnet, while she stood trembling before him.

"Oh, papa! dear, _dear_ papa!" she cried, suddenly throwing her arms
round his neck, and laying her cheek to his; "I love you so much, that
when I looked at you, and saw how pale and thin you were, I couldn't help
crying."

"I do not understand, nor want such love, Elsie," he said gravely,
putting her from him; "it is not the right kind, or it would lead you
to be docile and obedient. You certainly deserve punishment for your
behavior this morning, and I am much inclined to say that you shall not
go to church again for some time."

"Please, papa, don't say that," she replied tearfully; "I will try never
to do so again."

"Well," he replied, after a moment's reflection, "I shall punish you
to-day by depriving you of your dinner, and if you repeat the offence I
shall whip you."

Elsie's little face flushed crimson.

"I know it is an ignominious punishment, Elsie," said her father, "and
I feel very loth to try it with you, but I greatly fear I shall be
compelled to do so before I can subdue your rebellious spirit; it will
be the _very last_ resort, however. Go now to your room."

This last threat might almost be said to have given Elsie a new dread;
for though his words on several former occasions had seemed to imply
something of the sort, she had always put away the thought as that of
something too dreadful to happen. But now he had spoken plainly, and the
trial to her seemed inevitable, for she could never give the required
promise, and she knew, too, that he prided himself on keeping his word,
to the very letter.

Poor little girl! she felt very much like a martyr in prospect of torture
or the stake. For a time she was in deep distress; but she carried _this_
trouble, like all the rest, to her Saviour, and found relief; many
precious, comforting texts being brought to her mind: "The king's heart
is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water: he turneth it
whithersoever he will." "My grace is sufficient for thee." "As thy days,
so shall thy strength be." These, and others of a like import, came to
her remembrance in this hour of fear and dread, and assured her that her
heavenly Father would either save her from that trial, or give her
strength to endure it; and she grew calm and peaceful again.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it
and is safe."



CHAPTER VII.

"Alone! alone! how drear it is
Always to be alone!"

WILLES


It was only a few days after Adelaide had suggested to her brother the
propriety of separating Elsie from her nurse, that he had the offer of a
very fine estate in the immediate neighborhood of his father's
plantation.

Mr. Granville, the present owner, was about removing to a distant part
of the country, and having become somewhat reduced in circumstances, was
anxious to sell, and as the place suited Mr. Dinsmore exactly, they were
not long in coming to an arrangement, satisfactory to both, by which it
passed into his hands.

Horace Dinsmore had inherited a large fortune from his mother, and having
plenty of money at his command, he immediately set about making sundry
improvements upon his new purchase; laying out the grounds, and repairing
and enlarging the already fine old mansion, adding all the modern
conveniences, and furnishing it in the most tasteful and elegant style.

And so "Rumor, with her thousand tongues," soon had it noised abroad that
he was about to bring home a second wife, and to that cause many
attributed Elsie's pale and altered looks.

Such, however, was not Mr. Dinsmore's intention.

"I must have a housekeeper," he said to Adelaide. "I shall send Chloe
there. She will do very well for the present, and it will give me the
opportunity I desire of separating her from Elsie, while in the meantime
I can be looking out for a better."

"But you are not going to leave us yourself, Horace?" said his sister
inquiringly.

"Not immediately, Adelaide; I intend to end this controversy with Elsie
first, and I indulge the hope that the prospect of sharing such a home
with me as soon as she submits, will go far towards subduing her."

Mr. Dinsmore shrank from the thought of Elsie's grief, if forced to part
from her nurse; but he was not a man to let his own feelings, or those of
others, prevent him from carrying out any purpose he had formed, if, as
in this case, he could persuade himself that he was doing right. And
so--all his arrangements being now made--the very morning after his late
interview with Elsie, Chloe was summoned to his presence.

He informed her of his purchase, and that it was his intention to send
her there to take charge of his house and servants, for the present.

Chloe, who was both extremely surprised and highly flattered by this
proof of her young master's confidence, looked very much delighted, as,
with a low courtesy, she expressed her thanks, and her willingness to
undertake the charge. But a sudden thought struck her, and she asked
anxiously if "her child" was to go with her.

Mr. Dinsmore said "_No_," very decidedly; and when Chloe told him that
that being the case, she would much rather stay where she was, if he
would let her, he said she could not have any choice in the matter; _she_
must go, and Elsie must stay.

Chloe burst into an agony of tears and sobs, begging to know why she was
to be separated from the child she had loved and cherished ever since her
birth; the child committed to her charge by her dying mother? What had
she done to so displease her master, that he had determined to subject
her to such a bitter trial?

Mr. Dinsmore was a good deal moved by her grief, but still not to be
turned from his purpose. He merely waited until she had grown somewhat
calmer, and then, in a tone of great kindness, but with much firmness and
decision, replied, "that he was not angry with her; that he knew she had
been very faithful in her kind care of his wife and child, and he should
always take care of her, and see that she was made comfortable as long as
she lived; but, for reasons which he did not think necessary to explain,
he considered it best to separate her from Elsie for a time; he knew it
would be hard for them both, but it _must_ be done, and tears and
entreaties would be utterly useless; she must prepare to go to her new
home that very afternoon."

So saying he dismissed her, and she went back to Elsie's room wellnigh
heart-broken; and there the little girl found her when she came in from
school duties, sitting beside the trunk she had just finished packing,
crying and sobbing as she had never seen her before.

"Oh, mammy, mammy! what _is_ the matter? _dear_ old mammy, what ails
you?" she asked, running to her, and throwing her arms around her neck.

Chloe clasped her to her breast, sobbing out that she must leave her.
"Massa Horace was going to send her away from her precious child."

Elsie was fairly stunned by the announcement, and for a moment could not
speak one word. To be separated from her beloved nurse who had always
taken care of her!--who seemed almost necessary to her existence. It was
such a calamity as even her worst fears had never suggested, for they
never had been parted, even for a single day; but wherever the little
girl went, if to stay more than a few hours, her faithful attendant had
always accompanied her, and she had never thought of the possibility of
doing without her.

She unclasped her arms from Chloe's neck, disengaging herself from her
loving grasp, stood for a moment motionless and silent; then, suddenly
sinking down upon her nurse's lap, again wound her arms about her neck,
and hid her face on her bosom, sobbing wildly: "Oh, mammy, mammy! you
shall not go! Stay with me, mammy! I've nobody to love me now but you,
and my heart will break if you leave me. Oh, mammy, say that you won't
go!"

Chloe could not speak, but she took the little form again in her arms,
and pressed it to her bosom in a close and fond embrace, while they
mingled their tears and sobs together.

But Elsie started up suddenly.

"I will go to papa!" she exclaimed; "I will beg him on my knees to let
you stay! I will tell him it will kill me to be parted from my dear old
mammy."

"'Tain't no use, darlin'! Massa Horace, he say I _must_ go; an' you know
what dat means, well as I do," said Chloe, shaking her head mournfully;
"he won't let me stay, nohow."

"But I must try, mammy," Elsie answered, moving toward the door. "I think
papa loves me a little yet, and maybe he will listen."

But she met a servant in the hall who told her that her father had gone
out, and that she heard him say he would not return before tea-time.

And Chloe was to go directly after dinner; so there was no hope of a
reprieve, nothing to do but submit as best they might to the sad
necessity of parting; and Elsie went back to her room again, to spend
the little time that remained in her nurse's arms, sobbing out her
bitter grief upon her breast. It was indeed a hard, hard trial to them
both; yet neither uttered one angry or complaining word against Mr.
Dinsmore.

Fanny, one of the maids, brought up Elsie's dinner, but she could not
eat. Chloe's appetite, too, had failed entirely; so they remained locked
in each other's embrace until Jim came to the door to tell Chloe the
carriage was waiting which was to convey her to her new home.

Once more she strained her nursling to her breast, sobbing out the words:
"Good-by, darlin'! de good Lord bless an' keep you forebber an' ebber,
an' nebber leave you alone."

"Oh, mammy, mammy, don't leave me!" almost shrieked the child, clinging
to her with a convulsive grasp.

"Don't now, darlin'! don't go for to break dis ole heart! You knows I
_must_ go," said Chloe, gently disengaging herself. "We'll ask de Lord to
bring us together again soon, dear chile, an' I think he will 'fore
long," she whispered in Elsie's ear; and with another fond caress she
left her all drowned in tears, and half fainting with grief.

An hour might have passed--it seemed longer than that to Elsie--when
the door opened, and she started up from the sofa, where she had flung
herself in the first abandonment of her sorrow. But it was only Fanny,
come to tell her that Jim had brought her horse to the door, and to
prepare her for her ride.

She quietly submitted to being dressed; but, ah! how strange it seemed to
have any other than Chloe's hands busy about her! It swelled her young
heart wellnigh to bursting, though Fanny, who evidently understood her
business well, was very kind and attentive, and full of unobtrusive
sympathy and love for her young charge.

The brisk ride in the fresh air did Elsie good, and she returned quite
calm and composed, though still very sad.

Fanny was in waiting to arrange her dress again, and when that was done,
went down to bring up her supper. It was more tempting than usual, but
Elsie turned from it with loathing.

"Do, Miss Elsie, _please_ do try to eat a little," urged Fanny, with
tears in her eyes. "What will Massa Horace say if he axes me 'bout your
eatin' an' I'm 'bliged to tell him you didn't eat never a mouthful of
dinner, an' likewise not the first crumb of your supper?"

That, as Fanny well knew, was a powerful argument with Elsie, who,
dreading nothing so much as her father's displeasure, which was sure to
be excited by such a report of her conduct, sat down at once and did her
best to make a substantial meal.

Fanny was not more than half satisfied with the result of her efforts;
but seeing it was useless to press her any further, silently cleared away
the tea-things and carried them down-stairs, and Elsie was left alone.

Alone! She looked around upon the familiar furniture with a strange
feeling of desolation; an over-powering sense of loneliness came over
her; she missed the dear face that had been familiar to her from her
earliest infancy, and had ever looked so lovingly upon her; the kind arms
wont to fold her in a fond embrace to that heart ever beating with such
true, unalterable affection for her; that breast, where she might ever
lean her aching head, and pour out all her sorrows, sure of sympathy and
comfort.

She could not stay there, but passing quickly out on to the balcony
upon which the windows of her room opened, she stood leaning against
the railing, her head resting upon the top of it, and the silent tears
dropping one by one upon the floor.

"Oh, mammy, mammy!" she murmured half aloud, "why did you leave your poor
heart-broken child? How can I live without you--without any one to love
me?"

"Elsie," said Mr. Dinsmore's voice, close at her side, "I suppose you
think me a very cruel father thus to separate you from your nurse. Is it
not so?"

"Papa, dear papa, don't say that," she cried with a burst of sobs and
tears, as she turned hastily round, and taking his hand in both of hers,
looked up pleadingly into his face. "I know you have a right to do it,
papa; I know I belong to you, and you have a right to do as you will with
me, and I will try to submit without murmuring, but I cannot help feeling
sad, and shedding some tears."

"I am not blaming you for crying now; it is quite excusable under the
circumstances," he replied in a slightly softened tone, adding, "I take
no pleasure in causing you sorrow, Elsie; and though I have sent away
your nurse, I have provided you with another servant, who will, I think,
be respectful and kind, and attentive to all your wishes. If she is not,
you have only to complain to me, and she shall be at once removed, and
her place supplied by another. And I have good reasons for what I am
doing. You have resisted my authority for a long time now, and I must try
the effect of placing you under new influences. I fear Chloe has, at
least tacitly, encouraged you in your rebellion, and therefore I intend
to keep you apart until you have learned to be submissive and obedient."

"Dear papa," replied the little girl meekly, "you wrong poor mammy, if
you think she would ever uphold me in disobedience to you; for on the
contrary, she has always told me that I ought, on all occasions, to yield
a ready and cheerful obedience to every command, or even _wish_ of yours,
unless it was contrary to the word of God."

"There! that is just it!" said he, interrupting her with a frown; "she
and Mrs. Murray have brought you up to believe that you and they are
wiser and more capable of interpreting the Bible, and deciding questions
of right and wrong, than your father; and that is precisely the notion
that I am determined to get out of your head."

She opened her lips to reply, but bidding her be silent, he turned to
leave her; but she clung to him, looking beseechingly up into his face.

"Well," he said, "what is it--what do you want?"

She struggled for utterance.

"Oh, papa!" she sobbed, "I feel so sad and lonely to-night--will you not
sit down a little while and take me on your knee?--my heart aches so to
lay my head against you just for one moment. Oh, papa, dear papa, will
you not let me--will you not kiss me once, _just once_? You know I am all
alone!--_all alone_!"

He could not resist her pleading looks and piteous accents. A tear
trembled in his eye, and hastily seating himself, he drew her to his
knee, folded her for an instant in his arms, laid her head against his
breast, kissed her lips, her brow, her cheek; and then putting her from
him, without speaking a word, walked quickly away.

Elsie stood for a moment where he had left her, then sinking on her knees
before the sofa, whence he had just risen, she laid her head down upon
it, weeping and sobbing most bitterly, "Oh! papa, papa! oh, mammy, mammy,
dear, dear mammy! you are all gone, all gone! and I am alone! alone! all
alone!--nobody to love me--nobody to speak to me. Oh, mammy! Oh, papa!
come back, come back to me--to your poor little Elsie, for my heart is
breaking."

Alas! that caress, so earnestly pleaded for, had only by contrast
increased her sense of loneliness and desolation. But in the midst of
her bitter grief a loving, gentle voice came to her ear, whispering in
sweetest tones, "_I_ will _never_ leave thee, nor forsake thee." "When
thy father and thy mother forsake thee, I, the Lord, will take thee up."
"I will deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil
touch thee." And the sobs were hushed--the tears flowed more quietly,
until at length they ceased altogether, and the little sorrowing one
fell asleep.

"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall
be comforted."



CHAPTER VIII.

"No future hour can rend my heart like this,
Save that which breaks it."

MATURIN'S BERTRAM.

"Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in
mine affliction."

PSALM 119: 92.


Elsie was sitting alone in her room when there came a light tap on the
door, immediately followed, much to the little girl's surprise, by the
entrance of her Aunt Adelaide, who shut and locked the door behind her,
saying, "I am glad you are quite alone; though, indeed, I suppose that is
almost always the case now-a-days. I see," she continued, seating herself
by the side of the astonished child, "that you are wondering what has
brought me to visit you, to whom I have not spoken for so many weeks; but
I will tell you. I come from a sincere desire to do you a kindness,
Elsie; for, though I don't know how to understand nor excuse your
obstinacy, and heartily approve of your father's determination to conquer
you, I must say that I think he is unnecessarily harsh and severe in some
of his measures--"

"Please don't, Aunt Adelaide," Elsie interrupted, in a pleading voice,
"please don't speak so of papa to me; for you know I ought not to hear
it."

"Pooh! nonsense!" said Adelaide, "it is very naughty in you to interrupt
me; but, as I was about to remark, I don't see any use in your being
forbidden to correspond with Miss Allison, because her letters could not
possibly do you any harm, but rather the contrary, for she is goodness
itself--and so I have brought you a letter from her which has just come
enclosed in one to me."

She took it from her pocket as she spoke, and handed it to Elsie.

The little girl looked longingly at it, but made no movement to take it.

"Thank you, Aunt Adelaide, you are very kind indeed," she said, with
tears in her eyes, "and I should dearly love to read it; but I cannot
touch it without papa's permission."

"Why, you silly child! he will never know anything about it," exclaimed
her aunt quickly. "_I_ shall never breathe a word to him, nor to anybody
else, and, of course, you will not tell on yourself; and if you are
afraid the letter might by some mischance fall into his hands, just
destroy it as soon as you have read it."

"Dear Aunt Adelaide, please take it away and don't tempt me any more, for
I want it so very much I am afraid I shall take it if you do, and that
would be so very wrong," said Elsie, turning away her head.

"I presume you are afraid to trust me; you needn't be, though," replied
Adelaide, in a half offended tone. "Horace will never learn it from me,
and there is no possible danger of his ever finding it out in any other
way, for I shall write to Rose at once, warning her not to send you any
more letters at present."

"I am not at all afraid to trust you, Aunt Adelaide, nor do I think there
is any danger of papa's finding it out," Elsie answered earnestly; "but I
should know it myself, and God would know it, too, and you know he has
commanded me to obey my father in everything that is not wrong; and I
_must_ obey him, no matter how hard it is."

"Well, you are a strange child," said Adelaide, as she returned the
letter to her pocket and rose to leave the room; "such a compound of
obedience and disobedience I don't pretend to understand."

Elsie was beginning to explain, but Adelaide stopped her, saying she had
no time to listen, and hastily quitted the room.

Elsie brushed away a tear and took up her book again--for she had been
engaged in preparing a lesson for the next day, when interrupted by this
unexpected visit from her aunt.

Adelaide went directly to her brother's door, and receiving an invitation
to enter in answer to her knock, was the next instant standing by his
side, with Miss Allison's letter in her hand.

"I've come, Horace," she said in a lively tone, "to seek from you a
reward of virtue in a certain little friend of mine; and because you
alone can bestow it, I come to you on her behalf, even at the expense
of having to confess a sin of my own."

"Well, take a seat, won't you?" he said good-humoredly, laying down his
book and handing her a chair, "and then speak out at once, and tell me
what you mean by all this nonsense."

"First for my own confession then," she answered laughingly, accepting
the offered seat. "I received a letter this morning from my friend, Rose
Allison, enclosing one to your little Elsie."

He began to listen with close attention, while a slight frown gathered on
his brow.

"Now, Horace," his sister went on, "though I approve in the main of your
management of that child--which, by the way, I presume, is not of the
least consequence to you--yet I must say I have thought it right hard you
should deprive her of Rose's letters. So I carried this one, and offered
it to her, assuring her that you should never know anything about it;
but what do you think?--the little goose actually refused to touch it
without papa's permission. She _must_ obey him, she said, no matter how
hard it was, whenever he did not bid her do anything wrong. And now,
Horace," she concluded, "I want you to give me the pleasure of carrying
this letter to her, with your permission to read it. I'm sure she
deserves it."

"Perhaps so; but I am sure _you_ don't, Adelaide, after tampering with
the child's conscience in that manner. You may send her to me, though, if
you will," he said, holding out his hand for the letter. "But are you
quite sure that she really wanted to see it, and felt assured that she
might do so without my knowledge?"

"Perfectly certain of it," replied his sister confidently.

They chatted for a few moments longer; Adelaide praising Elsie, and
persuading him to treat her with more indulgence; and he, much pleased
with this proof of her dutifulness, half promising to do so; and then
Adelaide went back to her room, despatching a servant on her way to tell
Elsie that her papa desired to see her immediately.

Elsie received the message with profound alarm; for not dreaming of the
true cause, her fears at once suggested that he probably intended putting
his late threat into execution. She spent one moment in earnest prayer
for strength to bear her trial, and then hastened, pale and trembling, to
his presence.

How great, then, was her surprise to see him, as she entered, hold out
his hand with a smile, saying, in the kindest tone, "Come here to me, my
daughter!"

She obeyed, gazing wonderingly into his face.

He drew her to him; lifted her to his knee; folded her in his arms,
and kissed her tenderly. He had not bestowed such a loving caress upon
her--nor indeed ever kissed her at all, excepting on the evening after
Chloe's departure--since that unhappy scene in his sick-room; and Elsie,
scarcely able to believe she was awake, and not dreaming, hid her face on
his breast, and wept for joy.

"Your aunt has been here telling me what passed between you this
afternoon," said he, repeating his caress, "and I am much pleased with
this proof of your obedience; and as a reward I will give you permission,
not only to read the letter she offered you, but also the one I retained.
And I will allow you to write to Miss Allison once, in answer to them,
the letter passing through my hands. I have also promised, at your aunt's
solicitation, to remove some of the restrictions I have placed upon you,
and I now give you the same liberty to go about the house and grounds
which you formerly enjoyed. Your books and toys shall also be returned to
you, and you may take your meals with the family whenever you choose."

"Thank you, papa, you are very kind," replied the little girl; but her
heart sank, for she understood from his words that she was not restored
to favor as she had for a moment fondly imagined.

Neither spoke again for some moments. Each felt that this delightful
reunion--for it was delightful to both--this enjoyment of the interchange
of mutual affection, could not last.

Silent caresses, mingled with sobs and tears on Elsie's part, passed
between them; and at length Mr. Dinsmore said, "Elsie, my daughter, I
hope you are now ready to make the confession and promises I require?"

"Oh, papa! dear papa!" she said, looking up into his face with the tears
streaming down her own, "have I not been punished enough for that? and
can you not just punish me whenever I disobey you, without requiring any
promise?"

"Stubborn yet, Elsie," he answered with a frown. "No; as I have told you
before, my word is as the law of the Medes and Persians, which altered
not. I have required the confession and promise, and _you must make
them_."

He set her down, but she lingered a moment. "Once more, Elsie, I ask
you," he said, "will you obey?"

She shook her head; she could not speak.

"Then go," said her father. "I have given you the last caress I ever
shall, until you submit."

He put the letters into her hand as he spoke, and motioned her to be
gone; and Elsie fled away to her own room, to throw herself upon the bed,
and weep and groan in intense mental anguish.

She cared not for the letters now; they lay neglected on the floor, where
they had fallen unheeded from her hand. The gloom on her pathway seemed
all the darker for that bright but momentary gleam of sunshine. So dark
was the cloud that overshadowed her that for the time she seemed to have
lost all hope, and to be able to think of nothing but the apparent
impossibility of ever regaining her place in her father's heart. His
last words rang in her ears.

"Oh! papa, papa! my own papa!" she sobbed, "will you never love me again?
never kiss me, or call me pet names? Oh, _how can_ I bear it! how can
I ever live without your love?"

Her nerves, already weakened by months of mental suffering, could hardly
bear the strain; and when Fanny came into the room, an hour or two later,
she was quite frightened to find her young charge lying on the bed,
holding her head with both hands and groaning, and speechless with pain.

"What's de matter darlin'?" she asked; but Elsie only answered with a
moan; and Fanny, in great alarm, hastened to Mr. Dinsmore's room, and
startled him with the exclamation: "Oh, Massa Horace, make haste for come
to de chile! she gwine die for sartain, if you don't do sumfin mighty
quick!"

"Why, what ails her, Fanny?" he asked, following the servant with all
speed.

"Dunno, Massa; but I'se sure she's berry ill," was Fanny's reply, as she
opened the door of Elsie's room, and stepped back to allow her master to
pass in first.

One glance at Elsie's face was enough to convince him that there was some
ground for her attendant's alarm. It was ghastly with its deadly pallor
and the dark circles round the eyes, and wore an expression of intense
pain.

He proceeded at once to apply remedies, and remained beside her until
they had so far taken effect that she was able to speak, and looked quite
like herself again.

"Elsie!" he said in a grave, firm tone, as he placed her more comfortably
on her pillow, "this attack has been brought on by violent crying; you
must not indulge yourself in that way again."

"I could not help it, papa," she replied, lifting her pleading eyes to
his face.

"You _must_ help it in future, Elsie," he said sternly.

Tears sprang to her eyes, but she struggled to keep them back.

He turned to leave her, but she caught his hand, and looked so
beseechingly in his face, that he stopped and asked in a softened
tone, "What is it, my daughter?"

"Oh, papa!" she murmured in low, tremulous accents, "love me a little."

"I do love you, Elsie," he replied gravely, and almost sadly, as he bent
over her and laid his hand upon her forehead. "I love you only too well,
else I should have sent my stubborn little daughter away from me long ere
this."

"Then, papa, kiss me; just _once_, dear papa!" she pleaded, raising her
tearful eyes to his face.

"No, Elsie, not _once_ until you are entirely submissive. This state
of things is as painful to me as it into you, my daughter; but I cannot
yield my authority, and I hope you will soon see that it is best for
you to give up your self-will."

So saying, he turned away and left her alone; alone with that weary
home-sickness of the heart, and the tears dropping silently down upon
her pillow.

Horace Dinsmore went back to his own room, where he spent the next half
hour in pacing rapidly to and fro, with folded arms and contracted brow.

"Strange!" he muttered, "that she is _so hard_ to conquer. I never
imagined that she could be so stubborn. One thing is certain," he added,
heaving a deep sigh; "we must separate for a time, or I shall be in
danger of yielding; for it is no easy matter to resist her tearful
pleadings, backed as they are by the yearning affection of my own heart.
How I love the perverse little thing! Truly she has wound herself around
my very heart-strings. But I _must_ get these absurd notions out of her
head, or I shall never have any comfort with her; and if I yield _now_,
I may as well just give that up entirely; besides, I have _said_ it; and
_I will_ have her to understand that my word is law."

And with another heavy sigh he threw himself upon the sofa, where he lay
in deep thought for some moments; then, suddenly springing up, he rang
the bell for his servant.

"John," he said, as the man appeared in answer to his summons, "I shall
leave for the North to-morrow morning. See that my trunk is packed, and
everything in readiness. You are to go with me, of course."

"Yes, Massa, I'll 'tend to it," replied John, bowing, and retiring with a
grin of satisfaction on his face. "Berry glad," he chuckled to himself,
as he hurried away to tell the news in the kitchen, "_berry_ glad dat
young Massa's got tired ob dis dull ole place at last. Wonder if little
Miss Elsie gwine along."

Elsie rose the next morning feeling very weak, and looking pale and sad:
and not caring to avail herself of her father's permission to join the
family, she took her breakfast in her own room, as usual. She was on her
way to the school-room soon afterwards, when, seeing her papa's man
carrying out his trunk, she stopped and inquired in a tone of alarm--

"Why, John! is papa going away?"

"Yes, Miss Elsie; but ain't you gwine along? I s'posed you was."

"No, John," she answered faintly, leaning against the wall for support;
"but where is papa going?"

"Up North, Miss Elsie; dunno no more 'bout it; better ask Massa Horace
hisself," replied the servant, looking compassionately at her pale face,
and eyes brimful of tears.

Mr. Dinsmore himself appeared at this moment, and Elsie, starting forward
with clasped hands, and the tears running down her cheeks, looked
piteously up into his face, exclaiming, "Oh, papa, dear are you going
away, and without me?"

Without replying, he took her by the hand, and turning back into his
room again, shut the door, sat down, and lifted her to his knee. His
face was very pale and sad, too, but withal wore an expression of firm
determination.

Elsie laid her head on his shoulder, and sobbed out her tears and
entreaties that he would not leave her.

"It depends entirely upon yourself, Elsie," he said presently. "I gave
you warning some time since that I would not keep a rebellious child in
my sight; and while you continue such, either you or I must be banished
from home, and I prefer to exile myself rather than you; but a submissive
child I will not leave. It is not yet too late; you have only to yield
to my requirements, and I will stay at home, or delay my journey for a
few days, and take you with me. But if you prefer separation from me to
giving up your own self-will, you have no one to blame but yourself."

He waited a moment, then said: "Once more I ask you, Elsie, will you obey
me?"

"Oh, papa, always, if--"

"Hush!" he said sternly; "you _know_ that will not do;" and setting her
down, he rose to go.

But she clung to him with desperate energy. "Oh, papa," she sobbed, "when
will you come back?"

"That depends upon _you_, Elsie," he said. "Whenever my little daughter
writes to me the words I have so vainly endeavored to induce her to
speak, that _very day_, if possible, I will start for home."

He laid his hand on the handle of the door as he spoke.

But clinging to him, and looking up beseechingly into his face, she
pleaded, in piteous tones, amid her bitter sobs and tears, "Papa, dear,
_dear_ papa, kiss me once before you go; just _once_, papa; perhaps you
may never come back--perhaps I may die. Oh, papa, papa! will you go away
without kissing me?--me, your own little daughter, that you used to love
so dearly? Oh, papa, my heart will break!"

His own eyes filled with tears, and he stooped as if to give her the
coveted caress, but hastily drawing back again, said with much of his
accustomed sternness--

"No, Elsie, I cannot break my word; and if you are determined to break
your own heart and mine by your stubbornness, on your own head be the
consequences,"

And putting her forcibly aside, he opened the door and went out, while,
with a cry of despair, she sank half-fainting upon the floor.

She was roused ere long by the sound of a carriage driving up to the
door, and the thought flashed upon her, "He is not gone yet, and I may
see him once more;" and springing to her feet, she ran downstairs, to
find the rest of the family in the hall, taking leave of her father.

He was just stooping to give Enna a farewell kiss, as his little daughter
came up. He did not seem to notice her, but was turning away, when Enna
said, "Here is Elsie; aren't you going to kiss _her_ before you go?"

He turned round again, to see those soft, hazel eyes, with their
mournful, pleading gaze, fixed upon his face. He never forgot that
look; it haunted him all his life.

He stood for an instant looking down upon her, while that mute, appealing
glance still met his, and she ventured to take his hand in both of hers
and press it to her lips.

But he turned resolutely away, saying, in his calm, cold tone, "No! Elsie
is a stubborn, disobedient child. I have no caress for her."

A moan of heart-breaking anguish burst from Elsie's pale and trembling
lips; and covering her face with her hands, she sank down upon the
door-step, vainly struggling to suppress the bitter, choking sobs that
shook her whole frame.

But her father was already in the carriage, and hearing it begin to move,
she hastily dashed away her tears, and strained her eyes to catch the
last glimpse of it, as it whirled away down the avenue.

It was quite gone; and she rose up and sadly re-entered the house.

"I don't pity her at all," she heard her grandfather say, "for it is all
her own fault, and serves her just right."

But so utterly crushed and heart-broken was she already, that the cruel
words fell quite unheeded upon her ear.

She went directly to her father's deserted room, and shutting herself in,
tottered to the bed, and laying her face on the pillow where his head had
rested a few hours before, clasped her arms around it, and wetted it with
her tears, moaning sadly to herself the while, "Oh, _papa_, my own dear,
darling papa! I shall never, _never_ see you again! Oh, how can I live
without you? who is there to love me now? Oh, papa, papa, will you never,
never come back to me? Papa, papa, my heart is breaking! I shall die."

From that time the little Elsie drooped and pined, growing paler and
thinner day by day--her step more languid, and her eye more dim--till no
one could have recognized in her the bright, rosy, joyous child, full of
health and happiness, that she had been six months before. She went about
the house like a shadow, scarcely ever speaking or being spoken to. She
made no complaint, and seldom shed tears now; but seemed to have lost her
interest in everything and to be sinking into a kind of apathy.

"I wish," said Mrs. Dinsmore one day, as Elsie passed out into the
garden, "that Horace had sent that child to boarding-school, and stayed
at home himself. Your father says he needs him, and as to her--she has
grown so melancholy of late, it is enough to give one the vapors just to
look at her."

"I am beginning to feel troubled about her," replied Adelaide, to whom
the remark had been addressed; "she seems to be losing flesh, and
strength, too, so fast. The other day I went into her room, and found
Fanny crying heartily over a dress of Elsie's which she was altering.
'Oh! Miss Adelaide,' she sobbed, 'the chile gwine die for sartain!' 'Why
no, Fanny,' I said, 'what makes you think so? she is not sick.' But she
shook her head, saying, 'Just look a here, Miss Adelaide,' showing me how
much she was obliged to take the dress in to make it fit, and then she
told me Elsie had grown so weak that the least exertion overcame her. I
think I must write to Horace."

"Oh, nonsense, Adelaide!" said her mother, "I wouldn't trouble him
about it. Children are very apt to grow thin and languid during the hot
weather, and I suppose fretting after him makes it affect her rather more
than usual; and just now in the holidays she has nothing else to occupy
her thoughts. She will do well enough."

So Adelaide's fears were relieved, and she delayed writing, thinking that
her mother surely knew best.

Mrs. Travilla sat in her cool, shady parlor, quietly knitting. She was
alone, but the glance she occasionally sent from the window seemed to say
that she was expecting some one.

"Edward is unusually late to-day," she murmured half aloud. "But there he
is at last," she added, as her son appeared, riding slowly up the avenue.
He dismounted and entered the house, and in another moment had thrown
himself down upon the sofa, by her side. She looked at him uneasily; for
with the quick ear of affection she had noticed that his step lacked its
accustomed elasticity, and his voice its cheerful, hearty tones. His
orders to the servant who came to take his horse had been given in a
lower and more subdued key than usual, and his greeting to herself,
though perfectly kind and respectful, was grave and absent in manner; and
now his thoughts seemed far away, and the expression of his countenance
was sad and troubled.

"What ails you, Edward--is anything wrong, my son?" she asked, laying her
hand on his shoulder, and looking into his face with her loving, motherly
eyes.

"Nothing with _me_ mother," he answered affectionately; "but," he added,
with a deep-drawn sigh, "I am sorely troubled about my little friend. I
called at Roselands this afternoon, and learned that Horace Dinsmore has
gone North--to be absent nobody knows how long--leaving her at home. He
has been gone nearly a week, and the child is--heart-broken."

"Poor darling! is she really so much distressed about it, Edward?" his
mother asked, taking off her spectacles to wipe them, for they had
suddenly grown dim. "You saw her, I suppose?"

"Yes, for a moment," he said, struggling to control his feelings.
"Mother, you would hardly know her for the child she was six months ago!
she is so changed, so thin and pale--but that is not the worst; she seems
to have lost all her life and animation. I felt as though it would be a
relief even to see her cry. When I spoke to her she smiled, it is true;
but ah! such a sad, hopeless, dreary sort of smile--it was far more
touching than tears, and then she turned away, as if she had scarcely
heard or understood what I said. Mother, you must go to her; she needs
just the sort of comfort you understand so well how to give, but which I
know nothing about. You will go, mother, will you not?"

"Gladly, Edward! I would go this moment, if I thought I would be
permitted to see her, and could do her any good."

"I hardly think," said her son, "that even Mrs. Dinsmore would refuse you
the privilege of a private interview with the child should you request
it, mother; but, no doubt, it would be much pleasanter for all parties if
we could go when Elsie is at home alone; and fortunately such will be the
case to-morrow, for, as I accidentally learned, the whole family, with
the exception of Elsie and the servants, are expecting to spend the day
abroad. So if it suits you, mother, we will drive over in the morning."

Mrs. Travilla expressed her readiness to do so; and about the middle of
the forenoon of the next day their carriage might have been seen turning
into the avenue at Roselands.

Pomp came out to receive the visitors. "Berry sorry, Massa and Missus,"
he said, making his best bow to them as they alighted from the carriage,
"dat de family am all from home with the single 'ception of little Miss
Elsie. But if you will be pleased to walk into the drawin'-room, an' rest
yourselves, I will call for suitable refreshments, and Fanny shall be
instantly despatched to bring de young lady down."

"No, thank you, Pomp," replied Mr. Travilla pleasantly, "we are not at
all in want of refreshments, and my mother would prefer seeing Miss Elsie
in her own room. I will step into the drawing-room, mother, until you
come down again," he added in an undertone to her.

Pomp was about to lead the way, but Mrs. Travilla gently put him aside,
saying that she would prefer to go alone, and had no need of a guide.

She found the door of Elsie's room standing wide to admit the air--for
the weather was now growing very warm indeed--and looking in, she
perceived the little girl half reclining upon a sofa, her head resting on
the arm, her hands clasped in her lap, and her sad, dreamy eyes, tearless
and dry, gazing mournfully into vacancy, as though her thoughts were far
away, following the wanderings of her absent father. She seemed to have
been reading, or trying to read, but the book had fallen from her hand,
and lay unheeded on the floor.

Mrs. Travilla, stood for several minutes gazing with tearful eyes at the
melancholy little figure, marking with an aching heart the ravages that
sorrow had already made in the wan child face; then stealing softly in,
sat down by her side, and took the little forlorn one into her kind
motherly embrace, laying the weary little head down on her breast.

Elsie did not speak, but merely raised her eyes for an instant to Mrs.
Travilla's face, with the dreary smile her son had spoken of, and then
dropped them again with a sigh that was half a sob.

Mrs. Travilla pressed her quivering lips on the child's forehead, and a
scalding tear fell on her cheek.

Elsie started, and again raising her mournful eyes, said, in a husky
whisper, "Don't, dear Mrs. Travilla _don't_ cry. I never _cry_ now."

"And why not, darling? Tears are often a blessed relief to an aching
heart, and I think it would do you good; these dry eyes need it."

"No--no--I _cannot_; they are all dried up--and it is well, for they
always displeased my papa,"

There was a dreary hopelessness in her tone, and in the mournful shake of
her head, that was very touching.

Mrs. Travilla sighed, and pressed the little form closer to her heart.

"Elsie, dear," she said, "you must not give way to despair. Your troubles
have not come by chance; you know, darling, who has sent them; and
remember, it is those whom the Lord _loveth_ he chasteneth, and he will
not _always_ chide, neither will he keep his anger forever."

"Is he angry with me?" she asked fearfully.

"No, dearest, it is all sent in _love_; we cannot see the reason now,
but one day we shall--when we get home to our Father's house, for then
everything will be made plain; it may be, Elsie dear, that you, by your
steady adherence to the right, are to be made the honored instrument in
bringing your father to a saving knowledge of Christ. You would be
willing to suffer a great deal for that, dear child, would you not?
even all you are suffering now?"

"Ah, yes, indeed!" she said earnestly, clasping her hands together; "but
I am afraid it is _not that_! I am afraid it is because I loved my papa
_too_ well, my dear, _dear_ papa--and God is angry with me--and now I
shall never, never see him again,"

She groaned aloud, and covered her face with her hands; and now the tears
fell like rain, and her whole frame shook with convulsive sobs.

Mrs. Travilla hailed this outburst of grief with deep thankfulness,
knowing that it was far better for her than that unnatural apathy, and
that when the first violence of the storm had subsided, the aching heart
would find itself relieved of half its load.

She gently soothed the little weeper until she began to grow calm again,
and the sobs were almost hushed, and the tears fell softly and quietly.

Then she said, in low, tender tones, "Yes, my darling, you will see him
again; I feel quite sure of it. God is the hearer of prayer, and he will
hear yours for your dear father."

"And will he send my papa hack to me I oh, will he come _soon_? do you
think he will, dear Mrs. Travilla?" she asked eagerly.

"I don't know, darling; I cannot tell _that_; but one thing we do know,
that it is _all_ in God's hands, and he will do just what is best both
for you and your father. He may see fit to restore you to each other in a
few weeks or months, and I hope and trust he will; but however _that_ may
be, darling, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'Your
Father knoweth that ye have _need_ of _all_ these things.' He will not
send you any unnecessary trial, nor allow you to suffer one pang that you
do not need. It may be that he saw you were loving your earthly father
too well, and has removed him from you for a time, that thus he may draw
you nearer to himself; but never doubt for one moment, dear one, that it
is all done in _love_. 'As many as I _love_, I rebuke and chasten.' They
are the dear Saviour's own words."

When Mrs. Travilla at length rose to go, Elsie clung to her tearfully,
entreating that she would stay a little longer.

"I will, dear child, since you wish it so much," said the lady, resuming
her seat, "and I will come again very soon, if you think there will be no
objection. But, Elsie, dear, can you not come to Ion, and spend the rest
of your holidays with us? Both Edward and I would be delighted to have
you, and I think we could make you happier than you are here."

"I cannot tell you how very much I should like it, dear Mrs. Travilla,
but it is quite impossible," Elsie answered, with a sorrowful shake of
the head. "I am not allowed to pay or receive visits any more; papa
forbade it some time ago."

"Ah, indeed! I am very sorry, dear, for I fear that cuts me off from
visiting you," said Mrs. Travilla, looking much disappointed. "However,"
she added more cheerfully, "I will get my son to write to your papa, and
perhaps he may give you permission to visit us."

"No, ma'am, I cannot hope that he will," replied Elsie sadly; "papa never
breaks his word or changes his mind."

"Ah! well, dear child," said her friend tenderly, "there is one precious
blessing of which no one can deprive you--the presence and love of your
Saviour; and if you have that, no one can make you wholly miserable. And
now, dear child, I must go," she added, again clasping the little girl to
her heart, and kissing her many times. "God bless and keep you, darling,
till we meet again, and we will hope that time will come ere long."

Mr. Travilla was waiting to hand his mother into the carriage.

Neither of them spoke until they had fairly left Roselands behind them,
but then he turned to her with an anxious, inquiring look, to which she
replied:

"Yes, I found her in just the state you described, poor darling! but I
think I left her a little happier; or rather, I should say, a little less
wretched than I found her. Edward, Horace Dinsmore does not know what he
is doing; that child's heart is breaking."

He gave an assenting nod, and turned away to hide his emotion.

"Can you not write to him, Edward, and describe the state she is in, and
beg him, if he will not come home, at least to permit us to take her to
Ion for a few weeks?" she asked, laying her hand on his arm.

"I will do so, mother, if you think it best," Mr. Travilla replied;
"but I think I know Horace Dinsmore better than you do, and that such a
proceeding would do more harm than good. He is very jealous of anything
that looks like interference, especially between him and his child, and
I fear it would only irritate him, and make him, if possible, still more
determined. Were I asked to describe his character in a few words, I
should say he is a man of indomitable will."

"Well, my son, perhaps you are right," said his mother, heaving a deep
sigh; "and if so, I can see nothing more we can do but pray for the
little girl."

Mrs. Travilla was right in thinking that her visit had done Elsie good;
it had roused her out of the torpor of grief into which she had sunk; it
had raised her from the depths of despair, and shown her the beacon light
of hope still shining in the distance.

This last blow had come with such crushing weight that there had seemed
to be no room left in her heart for a thought of comfort; but now her
kind friend had reminded her of the precious promises, and the tender
love that were still hers; love far exceeding that of any earthly
parent--love that was able even to bring light out of all this thick
darkness; love which was guiding and controlling all the events of her
life, and would never allow her to suffer one unnecessary pang, but
would remove the trial as soon as its needed work was done; and she was
now no longer altogether comfortless.

When Mrs. Travilla had left, she took up her Bible--that precious little
volume, her never-failing comforter--and in turning over its leaves her
eye fell upon these words: "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ,
not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."

They sent a thrill of joy to her heart; for was not _she_ suffering for
_his_ sake? was it not because she loved him too well to disobey his
commands, even to please her dearly beloved earthly father, that she
was thus deprived of one privilege, and one comfort after another, and
subjected to trials that wrung her very heart?

Yes, it was because she loved Jesus. She was bearing suffering for his
dear sake, and here she was taught that even to be permitted to _suffer_
for him, was a privilege. And she remembered, too, that in another place
it is written: "If we _suffer_, we shall also reign with him."

Ah! those are tears of joy and thankfulness that are falling now. She has
grown calm and peaceful, even happy, for the time, in the midst of all
her sorrow.



CHAPTER IX.

"Heaven oft in mercy smites, e'en when the blow
Severest is."

JOANNA BAILLIE'S ORRA.


"The heart knoweth his own bitterness."

PROV. 14:10.



But only a few days after Mrs. Travilla's visit, an event occurred,
which, by exciting Elsie's sympathy for the sorrows of another, and thus
preventing her from dwelling so constantly upon her own, was of great
benefit to her.

Adelaide received a letter bringing tidings of the death of one who had
been very dear to her. The blow was very sudden--entirely unexpected--and
the poor girl was overwhelmed with grief, made all the harder to endure
by the want of sympathy in her family.

Her parents had indeed given their consent to the contemplated union,
but because the gentleman, though honorable, intelligent, educated and
talented, was neither rich nor high-born, they had never very heartily
approved of the connection, and were evidently rather relieved than
afflicted by his death.

Elsie was the only one who really felt deeply for her aunt; and her
silent, unobtrusive sympathy was very grateful.

The little girl seemed almost to forget her own sorrows, for the time, in
trying to relieve those of her bereaved aunt. Elsie knew--and this made
her sympathy far deeper and more heartfelt--that Adelaide had no
consolation in her sore distress, but such miserable comfort as may be
found in the things of earth. She had no compassionate Saviour to whom
to carry her sorrows, but must bear them all alone; and while Elsie was
permitted to walk in the light of his countenance, and to her ear there
ever came the soft whispers of his love--"Fear not: thou art mine"--"_I_
have loved thee with an _everlasting_ love"--"_I_ will _never_ leave thee
nor forsake thee," to Adelaide all was darkness and silence.

At first Elsie's sympathy was shown in various little kind offices;
sitting for hours beside her aunt's couch, gently fanning her, handing
her a drink of cold water, bringing her sweet-scented flowers, and
anticipating every want. But at last she ventured to speak.

"Dear Aunt Adelaide," she whispered, "I am so sorry for you. I wish I
knew how to comfort you."

"Oh, Elsie!" sobbed the mourner, "there is no comfort for me, I have lost
my dearest treasure--my all--and no one cares."

"Dear Aunt Adelaide," replied the child timidly, "it is true I am only a
little girl, but I do care very much for your grief; and surely your papa
and mamma are very sorry for you."

Adelaide shook her head mournfully. "They are more glad than sorry," she
said, bursting into tears.

"Well, dear aunty," said Elsie softly, "there is One who does feel for
you, and who is able to comfort you if you will only go to him. One who
loved you so well that he died to save you."

"No, no, Elsie! not me! He cannot care for me! He cannot love me, or he
would never have taken away my Ernest," she sobbed.

"Dear Aunt Adelaide," said Elsie's low, sweet voice, "we cannot always
tell what is best for us, and will make us happiest in the end.

"I remember once when I was a very little child, I was walking with mammy
in a part of my guardian's grounds where we seldom went. I was running on
before her, and I found a bush with some most beautiful red berries; they
looked delicious, and I hastily gathered some, and was just putting them
to my mouth when mammy, seeing what I was about, suddenly sprang forward,
snatched them out of my hand, threw them on the ground, and tramped upon
them; and then tearing up the bushes treated them in the same manner,
while I stood by crying and calling her a naughty, cross mammy, to take
my nice berries from me."

"Well," asked Adelaide, as the little girl paused in her narrative, "what
do you mean by your story? You haven't finished it, but, of course, the
berries were poisonous."

"Yes," said Elsie; "and mammy was wiser than I, and knew that what I so
earnestly coveted would do me great injury."

"And now for the application," said Adelaide, interrupting her; "you mean
that just as mammy was wiser than you, and took your treasure from you in
kindness, so God is wise and kind in taking mine from me; but ah! Elsie,
the analogy will not hold good; for my good, wise, kind Ernest could
never have harmed me as the poisonous berries would you. No, no, no, he
always did me good!" she cried with a passionate burst of grief.

Elsie waited until she grew calm again, and then said gently, "The Bible
says, dear aunty, that God 'does not willingly afflict nor grieve the
children of men.' Perhaps he saw that you loved your friend too well,
and would never give your heart to Jesus unless he took him away, and
so you could only live with him for a little while in this world. But
now he has taken him to heaven, I hope--for Lora told me Mr. St. Clair
was a Christian--and if you will only come to Jesus and take him for
your Saviour, you can look forward to spending a happy eternity there
with your friend.

"So, dear Aunt Adelaide, may we not believe that God, who is infinitely
wise, and good, and kind, has sent you this great sorrow in love and
compassion?"

Adelaide's only answer was a gentle pressure of the little hand she held,
accompanied by a flood of tears. But after that she seemed to love Elsie
better than, she ever had before, and to want her always by her side,
often asking her to read a chapter in the Bible, a request with which the
little girl always complied most gladly.

Adelaide was very silent, burying her thoughts almost entirely in her
own bosom; but it was evident that the blessed teachings of the holy book
were not altogether lost upon her, for the extreme violence of her grief
gradually abated, and the expression of her countenance, though still
sad, became gentle and patient.

And could Elsie thus minister consolation to another, and yet find no
lessening of her own burden of sorrow? Assuredly not.

She could not repeat to her aunt the many sweet and precious promises of
God's holy word, without having them brought home to her own heart with
renewed power; she could not preach Jesus to another without finding him
still nearer and dearer to her own soul; and though there were yet times
when she was almost overwhelmed with grief, she could truly say that the
"consolations of God were not small with her." There was often a weary,
weary aching at her heart--such an unutterable longing for her father's
love and favor as would send her weeping to her knees to plead long and
earnestly that this trial might be removed; yet she well knew who had
sent it, and was satisfied that it was one of the "_all_ things which
shall work together for good to them that love God," and she was at
length enabled to say in reference to it: "Thy will, not mine, be done,"
and to bear her cross with patient submission.

But ah! there was many a bitter struggle, first! She had many sad and
lonely hours; and there were times when the yearning of the poor little
heart for her father's presence, and her father's love, was almost more
than weak human nature could endure.

Sometimes she would walk her room, wringing her hands and weeping
bitterly.

"Oh, papa! papa!" she would exclaim, again and again, "how can I bear it?
how _can_ I bear it? will you never, never come back? will you never,
never love me again?"

And then would come up the memory of his words on that sad, sad day, when
he left her--"Whenever my little daughter writes to me the words I have
so vainly endeavored to induce her to speak, that very day, if possible,
I will start for home"--and the thought that it was in her power to
recall him at any time; it was but to write a few words and send them
to him, and soon he would be with her--he would take her to his heart
again, and this terrible trial would be over.

The temptation was fearfully strong; the struggle often long and
terrible; and this fierce battle had to be fought again and again,
and once the victory had wellnigh been lost.

She had struggled long; again and again had she resolved that she would
not, could not, _dare_ not yield! but vainly she strove to put away the
sense of that weary, aching void in her heart--that longing, yearning
desire for her father's love.

"I cannot bear it! oh, I _cannot_ bear it!" she exclaimed, at length; and
seizing a pen, she wrote hastily, and with trembling fingers, while the
hot, blinding tears dropped thick and fast upon the paper--"Papa, come
back! oh, come to me, and I will be and do all you ask, all you require."

But the pen dropped from her fingers, and she bowed her face upon her
clasped hands with a cry of bitter anguish.

"How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" The words
darted through her mind like a flash of lightning, and then the words of
Jesus seemed to come to her ear in solemn tones: "He that loveth father
and mother more than me, is not worthy of me!"

"What have I done?" she cried. "Has it come to this, that I must choose
between my father and my Saviour? and _can_ I give up the love of Jesus?
oh, never, _never_!--

'Jesus, I my cross have taken
_All_ to leave and follow thee.'"

she repeated, half aloud, with clasped hands, and an upward glance of her
tearful eyes. Then, tearing into fragments what she had just written, she
fell on her knees and prayed earnestly for pardon, and for strength to
resist temptation, and to be "faithful unto death," that she might
"receive the crown of life."

When Elsie rapped at her aunt's dressing-room door the next morning, no
answer was returned, and after waiting a moment, she softly opened it,
and entered, expecting to find her aunt sleeping. But no, though extended
upon a couch, Adelaide was not sleeping, but lay with her face buried in
the pillows, sobbing violently.

Elsie's eyes filled with tears, and softly approaching the mourner, she
attempted to soothe her grief with words of gentle, loving sympathy.

"Oh! Elsie, you cannot feel for me; it is impossible!" exclaimed her aunt
passionately. "_You_ have never known sorrow to be compared to mine! You
have never loved, and lost--you have known none but mere childish
griefs."

"'The heart knoweth his own bitterness!'" thought Elsie, silent tears
stealing down her cheeks, and her breast heaving with emotion.

"Dear Aunt Adelaide," she said in tremulous tones, "_I_ think I _can_
feel for you. Have I not known _some_ sorrow? Is it nothing that I have
pined all my life long for a mother's love? nothing to have been
separated from the dear nurse, who had almost supplied her place? Oh,
Aunt Adelaide!" she continued, with a burst of uncontrollable anguish,
"is it nothing, _nothing_ to be separated from my beloved father, my
dear, only parent, whom I love better than my life--to be refused even a
parting caress--to live month after month, and year after year under his
frown--and to fear that his love may be lost to me forever? Oh! papa,
papa, will you never, _never_ love me again?" she cried, sinking on her
knees, and covering her face with her hands, while the tears trickled
fast between the slender fingers.

Her aunt's presence was for the moment entirely forgotten, and she was
alone with her bitter grief.

Adelaide looked at her with a good deal of surprise. She had never before
seen her give way to such a burst of sorrow, for Elsie was usually calm
in the presence of others.

"Poor child!" she said, drawing the little girl towards her, and gently
pushing back the hair from her forehead, "I should not have said that;
you have your own troubles, I know; hard enough to bear, too. I think
Horace is really cruel, and if I were you, Elsie, I would just give up
loving him entirely, and never care for his absence or his displeasure."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide! not love my own dear papa? I _must_ love him! I could
not help it if I would--no, not even if he were going to kill me; and
please don't blame him; he does not mean to be cruel. But oh! if he would
only love me!" sobbed the little girl.

"I am sure he does, Elsie, if that is any comfort; here is a letter from
him; he speaks of you in the postscript; you may take it to your room and
read it, if you like," replied her aunt, putting a letter into Elsie's
hand. "Go now, child, and see if you can extract any comfort from it."

Elsie replied with a gush of tears and a kiss of thanks, for her little
heart was much too full for speech. Clasping the precious letter tightly
in her hand, she hastened to her own room and locked herself in. Then
drawing it from the envelope, she kissed the well-known characters again
and again, dashing away the blinding tears ere she could see to read.

It was short; merely a letter of condolence to Adelaide, expressing a
brother's sympathy in her sorrow; but the postscript sent one ray of joy
to the little sad heart of his daughter.

"Is Elsie well? I cannot altogether banish a feeling of anxiety regarding
her health, for she was looking pale and thin when I left home. I trust
to _you_, my dear sister, to send _immediately_ for a physician, and also
to write at once should she show any symptoms of disease. Remember she is
my _only_ and darling child--very near and dear to me still, in spite of
the sad estrangement between us."

"Ah! then papa has not forgotten me! he does love me still--he calls me
his darling child," murmured the little girl, dropping her tears upon the
paper. "Oh, how glad, how glad I am! surely he will come back to me some
day;" and she felt that she would be very willing to be sick if that
would hasten his return.



CHAPTER X.

"In this wild world the fondest and the best
Are the most tried, most troubled, and distress'd."

CRABBE.


It was about a week after this that Elsie's grandfather handed her a
letter directed to her in her father's handwriting, and the little girl
rushed away to her room with it, her heart beating wildly between hope
and fear. Her hand trembled so that she could scarcely tear it open, and
her eyes were so dimmed with tears that it was some moments before she
could read a line.

It was kind, yes, even affectionate, and in some parts tender. But ah! it
has brought no comfort to the little girl! else why does she finish with
a burst of tears and sobs, and sinking upon her knees, hide her face in
her hands, crying with a bitter, wailing cry, "Oh, papa! papa! papa!"

He told her of the estate he had purchased, and the improvements he had
been making; of a suite of rooms he had had prepared and furnished
expressly for her, close to his own apartments--and of the pleasant home
he hoped they would have there together, promising to dispense with a
governess and teach her himself, for that he knew she would greatly
prefer.

He drew a bright picture of the peaceful, happy life they might lead;
but finished by telling her that the condition was entire, unconditional
submission on her part, and the alternative a boarding-school, at a
distance from home and friends.

He had, on separating her from her nurse, forbidden her to hold any
communication with her, or even to ride in the direction of the Oaks--as
his estate was called--and Elsie had scrupulously obeyed him; but now he
bade her go and see the lovely home and beautiful apartments he had
prepared for her, and judge for herself of the happiness she might enjoy
there--loved, and caressed, and taught by him--and then decide.

"If she were ready to give up her wilfulness," he wrote, "she might
answer him immediately; and he would then return and their new home
should receive them, and their new life begin at once. But if she were
still inclined to be stubborn and rebellious, she must take a month to
consider, ere he would receive her reply."

Ah! to little Elsie it was a most enchanting picture he had drawn. To
live in her father's house--his own home and hers--to be his constant
and loved companion--to exchange Miss Day's teaching for his--to walk,
to ride, to sit with him--in a word, to live in the sunshine of his
love--oh, it would be paradise upon earth!

And then the alternative! Oh, how dreadful seemed to the shrinking,
sensitive child, the very thought of being sent away amongst entire
strangers, who could not be expected to care for her, or love her; who
would have no sympathy with her highest hopes and desires, and instead of
assisting her to walk in the narrow way, would strive to turn her feet
aside into the paths of worldly conformity and sin: for, alas! she well
knew it was only to the care of such persons her father would be likely
to commit her, wishing, as he did, to root out of her mind what he was
pleased to call the "narrow prejudices of her unfortunate early
training." Poor child! she shrank from it in terror and dismay.

But should she choose that which her poor, hungry heart so yearned
for--the home with her father--she must pledge herself to take as her
rule of faith and practice, _not_ God's holy word, which had hitherto
been her guide-book, but her father's wishes and commands, which she well
knew would often be entirely opposed to its teachings.

It was indeed a hard choice; but Elsie could not hesitate where the path
of duty was so plain. She seemed to hear a voice saying to her: "This is
the way, walk ye in it." "We ought to obey God rather than men."

"Ah!" she murmured, "I _cannot_ do this great wickedness and sin against
God, for if my earthly father's frown is so dreadful, so _very_ hard to
bear, how much worse would be my heavenly Father's? But, oh, that
boarding-school! How can I ever endure its trials and temptations? I am
so weak and sinful! Ah! if papa would but spare me this trial--if he
would only let me stay at home--but he will not--for he has _said_ I must
go, and never breaks his word;" and again her tears fell fast, but she
dashed them away and took up her Bible.

It opened at the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah, and her eye fell upon
these words: "For the Lord God will help me: therefore shall I not be
confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that
I shall not be ashamed. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that
obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no
light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."

Ah! here was comfort. "The Lord God will help me!" she repeated; and
bowing her face over the holy book she gave thanks for the precious
promise, and earnestly, tearfully pleaded that it might be fulfilled
unto her.

Then rising from her knees, she bathed her eyes and rang for Fanny to
prepare her for her ride. It was the usual hour for it, her horse was
already at the door, and very soon the little girl might have been seen
galloping up the road towards the Oaks, quite alone, excepting that Jim,
her constant attendant, rode some yards in the rear.

It was a pleasant summer morning; there had been just rain enough the
night before to cool the air and lay the dust, and everything was looking
fresh and beautiful--and had the little Elsie's heart been as light and
free from care as would have seemed natural to one of her age, she would
no doubt have enjoyed her ride extremely. It was but a short one, and the
place well known to her, for she had often passed it, though she had
never yet been in the grounds.

In a few moments she reached the gate, and Jim having dismounted and
opened it for her, she rode leisurely up a broad, gravelled carriage-way,
which wound about through the grounds, giving the traveller a number of
beautiful views ere he reached the house, a large building of dark-gray
stone, which stood so far back, and was so entirely hidden by trees and
shrubbery, as to be quite invisible from the highway. Now the road was
shaded on either hand by large trees, their branches almost meeting
overhead, and anon, an opening in their ranks afforded a glimpse of some
charming little valley, some sequestered nook amongst the hills, some
grassy meadow, or field of golden wheat, or a far-off view of the sea.

"Oh, how lovely!" murmured the little girl, dropping the reins on her
horse's neck and gazing about her with eyes now sparkling with pleasure,
now dimmed with tears; for, alas! these lovely scenes were not for her;
at least not now, and it might be, never; and her heart was very sad.

At length she reached the house. Chloe met her at the door, and clasped
her to her bosom with tears of joy and thankfulness.

"Bless de Lord for his goodness in sendin' my chile back to her ole mammy
again," she said; "I'se so glad, darlin', so berry glad!"

And as she spoke she drew the little girl into a pleasant room, fitted up
with books and pictures, couches and easy-chairs and tables, with every
convenience for writing, drawing, etc.

"Dis am Massa Horace's study," she said, in answer to the eager,
inquiring glance Elsie sent round the room, while she removed her hat
and habit, and seated her in one of the softly-cushioned chairs; "an'
de next room is your own little sittin' room, an' jes de prettiest ever
was seen, your ole mammy tinks; and now dat she's got her chile back
again she'll be as happy as de day am long."

"Oh, mammy," sobbed the child, "I am not to stay."

Chloe's look of delight changed to one of blank dismay.

"But you are comin' soon, darlin'?" she said inquiringly. "I tink Massa
Horace 'tends to be here 'fore long, sartain, kase he's had de whole
house fixed up so fine; an' I'se sure he never take so much trouble, an'
spend such loads ob money fixin' up such pretty rooms for you, ef he
didn't love you dearly, an' 'tend to have you here 'long with himself."

Elsie shook her head sorrowfully. "No, mammy, he says not unless I give
up my wilfulness, and promise to do exactly as he bids me; and if I will
not do that, I am to be sent away to boarding-school."

The last words came with a great sob, as she flung herself into Chloe's
outstretched arms, and hid her face on her bosom.

"Poor darlin'! poor little pet!" murmured the nurse, hugging her tight,
while her own tears fell in great drops on the golden curls. "I thought
your troubles were all over. I s'posed Massa Horace had found out you
wasn't bad after all, an' was comin' right home to live with you in dis
beautiful place. But dere, don't, don't you go for to break your little
heart 'bout it, dear; I'se sure de good Lord make um all come right in
de end."

Elsie made no reply, and for a little while they mingled their tears in
silence. Then she raised her head, and gently releasing herself from
Chloe's embrace, said, "Now, mammy, I must go all about and see
everything, for that was papa's command."

Chloe silently led the way through halls, parlors, drawing-room,
library, dining, sitting and bed-rooms, servants' apartments, kitchen,
pantry, and all; then out into the grounds, visiting in turn vegetable
and flower gardens, lawn, hot-houses and grapery; and finally, bringing
the little girl back to her papa's study, she led her from there into
his bed-room and dressing-room, and then to her own apartments, which
she had reserved to the last. These were three--bed-room, sitting-room,
and dressing-room--all beautifully furnished with every comfort and
convenience.

Elsie had gazed on all with a yearning heart, and eyes constantly
swimming in tears. "Ah! mammy," she exclaimed more than once, "what a
lovely, _lovely_ home! how happy we might be here!"

The sight of her father's rooms and her own affected her the most, and
the tears fell fast as she passed slowly from one to another. Her own
little sitting-room was the last; and here sinking down in an easy-chair,
she gazed about her silently and tearfully. On one side the windows
looked out upon a beautiful flower-garden, while beyond were hills and
woods; on the other, glass doors opened out upon a grassy lawn, shaded by
large trees, and beyond, far away in the distance, rolled the blue sea;
all around her she saw the evidences of a father's thoughtful love; a
beautiful piano, a harp, a small work-table, well furnished with every
requisite; books, drawing materials--everything to give pleasure and
employment; while luxurious couches and easy-chairs invited to rest and
repose. Several rare pictures, too, adorned the walls.

Elsie was very fond of paintings, and when she had gazed her fill upon
the lovely landscape without, she turned from one of these to another
with interest and pleasure; but one was covered, and she was in the act
of raising her hand to draw aside the curtain, when her nurse stopped
her, saying, "Not now, darlin', try de piano first."

She opened the instrument as she spoke, and Elsie, running her fingers
over the keys, remarked that it was the sweetest-toned she had ever
heard.

Chloe begged her to play, urging her request on the plea that it was so
very long since she had heard her, and she might not have another
opportunity soon.

Just at that instant a little bird on a tree near the door poured forth
his joy in a gush of glad melody, and Elsie, again running her fingers
lightly over the keys, sang with touching sweetness and pathos--

"Ye banks an' braes o' bonny Doon,
How can ye look sae bright an' fair?
How can you sing, ye little bird,
An' I sae weary, full of care?" etc.

The words seemed to come from her very heart, and her voice, though sweet
and clear, was full of tears.

Chloe sobbed aloud, and Elsie, looking lovingly at her, said softly,
"Don't, dear mammy! I will sing a better one;" and she played and sang--

"He doeth all things well."

Then rising, she closed the instrument, saying, "Now, mammy, let me see
the picture."

Chloe then drew aside the curtain; and Elsie, with clasped hands and
streaming eyes, stood for many minutes gazing upon a life-sized and
speaking portrait of her father.

"Papa! papa!" she sobbed, "my own darling, precious papa! Oh! could you
but know how dearly your little Elsie loves you!"

"Don't now, darlin'! don't take on so dreadful! It jes breaks your ole
mammy's heart to see her chile so 'stressed," Chloe said, passing her arm
around the little girl's waist, and laying her head on her bosom.

"Oh, mammy, will he ever smile on me again? Shall I ever live with him in
this dear home?" sobbed the poor child. "Oh! it is hard, hard to give it
all up--to have papa always displeased with me. Oh, mammy, there is such
a weary aching at my heart--is it _never_ to be satisfied?"

"My poor, poor chile! my poor little pet, I'se _sure_ it'll all come
right by-an'-by," replied Chloe soothingly, as soon as emotion would
suffer her to speak. "You know it is de Lord that sends all our
'flictions, an' you must 'member de pretty words you was jes a singin',
'He doeth _all_ things well.' He says, 'What I do thou knowest not now,
but thou shalt know here after.' De great God can change your father's
heart, and 'cline him to 'spect your principles, and I _do_ blieve he
will do it."

Elsie sobbed out her dread of the boarding-school, with its loneliness
and its temptations.

"Now don't you go for to be 'fraid of all dat, darlin'," replied her
nurse. "Has you forgotten how it says in de good book, 'Lo, I am with you
_always_, even unto the end of the world'? an' if _he_ is with you, who
can hurt you? Jes _nobody_."

A text came to Elsie's mind: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and
underneath are the everlasting arms!" and lifting her head, she dashed
away her tears.

"No," she said, "I will _not_ be afraid; at least I will _try_ not to
be. 'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord
is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?' But, oh! mammy,
I must go now, and I feel as if I were saying farewell to you and
this sweet home forever; as if I were never to live in these pretty
rooms--never to see them again."

"Hush! hush, darlin'! 'tain't never best to borrow trouble, an' I'se sure
you'll come back one ob dese days," replied Chloe, forcing herself to
speak cheerfully, though her heart ached as she looked into the soft,
hazel eyes, all dimmed with tears, and marked how thin and pale the dear
little face had grown.

Elsie was passing around the room again, taking a farewell look at each
picture and piece of furniture; then she stood a moment gazing out over
the lawn, to the rolling sea beyond.

She was murmuring something to herself, and Chloe started as her ear
faintly caught the words: "In my Father's house are many mansions."

"Mammy!" said the child, suddenly turning and taking her hand, "look
yonder!" and she pointed with her finger. "Do you see that beautiful,
tall tree that casts such a thick shade? I want to be buried right there,
where papa can see my grave when he sits in here, and think that I am
with him yet. When I am gone, mammy, you must tell him that I told you
this. It would be so pleasant to be there--it is such a lovely spot, and
the distant murmur of the sea seems like a lullaby to sing the weary one
to rest." She added, dreamily, "I would like to lie down there now."

"Why, what you talkin' 'bout, Miss Elsie? My chile musn't say such
tings!" exclaimed Chloe in great alarm. "Your ole mammy 'spects to die
long 'nough 'fore you do. You's berry young, an? 'tain't worth while to
begin talkin' 'bout dyin' yet."

Elsie smiled sadly.

"But you know, mammy," she said, "that death often comes to the youngest.
Mamma died young, and so may I. I am afraid it isn't right, but sometimes
I am so sad and weary that I cannot help longing very much to die, and go
to be with her and with Jesus; for they would always love me, and I
should never be lonely any more. Oh! mammy, mammy, must we part?--shall
I ever see you again?" she cried, throwing herself into her nurse's arms.

"God bless an' keep you, darlin'!" Chloe said, folding her to her heart;
"de good Lord take care ob my precious lamb, an' bring her back to her
ole mammy again, 'fore long."

Elsie shut herself into her own room on her return to Roselands, and was
not seen again that day by any one but her maid, until just at dusk
Adelaide rapped softly at her door.

Elsie's voice, in a low, tremulous tone, answered, "Come in," and
Adelaide entered.

The little girl was just in the act of closing her writing-desk, and her
aunt thought she had been weeping, but the light was so uncertain that
she might have been mistaken.

"My poor darling!" she said in low, pitiful accents, as, passing her arm
around the child's waist, she drew her down to a seat beside herself upon
the sofa.

Elsie did not speak, but dropping her head upon Adelaide's shoulder,
burst into tears.

"My poor child! don't cry so; better days will come," said her aunt
soothingly, running her fingers through Elsie's soft curls.

"I know what has been the trial of to-day," she continued, still using
the same gentle, caressing tone, "for I, too, had a letter from your
papa, in which he told me what he had said to you. You have been to see
your new home. I have seen it several times and think it very lovely, and
some day I hope and expect you and your papa will be very happy there."

Elsie shook her head sorrowfully.

"Not _now_, I know," said Adelaide, "for I have no need to ask what your
decision has been; but I am hoping and praying that God may work the same
change in your father's views and feelings which has been lately wrought
in mine; and then he will love you all the better for your steadfast
determination to obey God rather than man."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide! will it _ever_ be?" sighed the poor child; "the time
seems so very long! It is so dreadful to live without my papa's love!"

"He does love you, Elsie, and I really think he suffers nearly as much
as you do; but he thinks he is right in what he requires of you, and he
is so very determined, and so anxious to make a gay, fashionable woman
of you--cure you of those absurd, puritanical notions, as he expresses
it--that I fear he will never relent until his heart is changed; but God
is able to do that."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide!" said the little girl mournfully, "pray for me, that
I may be enabled to wait patiently until that time shall come, and never
permitted to indulge rebellious feelings towards papa."

Adelaide kissed her softly. "Poor child!" she whispered, "it is a hard
trial; but try, dearest, to remember who sends it."

She was silent a moment; then said, reluctantly, "Elsie, your papa has
entrusted me with a message to you, which I was to deliver after your
visit to the Oaks, unless you had then come to the resolution to comply
with his wishes, or rather, his commands."

She paused, and Elsie, trembling, and almost holding her breath, asked
fearfully, "What is it, Aunt Adelaide?"

"Poor darling!" murmured Adelaide, clasping the little form more closely,
and pressing her lips to the fair brow; "I wish I could save you from it.
He says that if you continue obdurate, he has quite determined to send
you to a convent to be educated."

As Adelaide made this announcement, she pitied the child from the bottom
of her heart; for she knew that much of Elsie's reading had been on the
subject of Popery and Papal institutions; that she had pored over
histories of the terrible tortures of the Inquisition and stories of
martyrs and captive nuns, until she had imbibed an intense horror and
dread of everything connected with that form of error and superstition.
Yet, knowing all this, Adelaide was hardly prepared for the effect of
her communication.

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide!" almost shrieked the little girl, throwing her arms
around her aunt's neck, and clinging to her, as if in mortal terror,
"Save me! save me! Oh! tell papa I would rather he would kill me at once,
than send me to such a place."

And she wept and sobbed, and wrung her hands in such grief and terror,
that Adelaide grew absolutely frightened.

"They will not dare to hurt you, Elsie," she hastened to say.

"Oh, they will! they will!--they will try to make me go to mass, and
pray to the Virgin, and bow to the crucifixes; and when I refuse, they
will put me in a dungeon and torture me."

"Oh, no, child," replied Adelaide soothingly, "they will not _dare_ to do
so to _you_, because you will not be a nun, but only a boarder, and your
papa would be sure to find it all out."

"No, no!" sobbed the little girl, "they will hide me from papa when he
comes, and tell him that I want to take the veil, and refuse to see him;
or else they will say that I am dead and buried. Oh, Aunt Adelaide, beg
him not to put me there! I shall go crazy! I feel as if I were going
crazy now!" and she put her hand to her head.

"Poor, poor child!" said Adelaide, weeping. "I wish it was in my power to
help you. I would once have advised you to submit to all your father
requires. I cannot do that now, but I will return some of your lessons to
me. It is God, my poor darling, who sends you this trial, and he will
give you strength according to your day. _He_ will be with you, wherever
you are, even should it be in a convent; for you know he says: '_I_ will
_never_ leave thee, nor forsake thee;' and 'not a hair of your head shall
fall to the ground without your Father.'"

"Yes, I know! I know!" Elsie answered, again pressing her hands to her
head; "but I cannot think, and everything seems so dreadful."

Adelaide was much alarmed, for Elsie looked quite wild for a moment; but
after staying with her for a considerable time, saying all she could to
soothe and comfort her--reminding her that it would be some weeks ere the
plan could be carried out, and that in that time something might occur to
change her father's mind, she left her, though still in deep distress,
apparently calm and composed.



CHAPTER XI.

"In vain she seeks to close her weary eyes,
Those eyes still swim incessantly in tears--
Hope in her cheerless bosom fading dies,
Distracted by a thousand cruel fears,
While banish'd from his love forever she appears."

MRS. TIGHE'S PSYCHE.


When thus alone the little Elsie fell upon her knees, weeping and
sobbing. "Oh!" she groaned, "I cannot, _cannot_ bear it!"

Then she thought of the agony in the garden, and that bitter cry,
"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" followed by the
submissive prayer, "If this cup may not pass from me except I drink it,
thy will, not mine be done."

She opened her Bible and read of his sufferings, so meekly and patiently
borne, without a single murmur or complaint; borne by One who was free
from all stain of sin; born not for himself, but for others; sufferings
to which her own were not for a moment to be compared; and then she
prayed that she might bear the image of Jesus; that like him she might be
enabled to yield a perfect submission to her heavenly Father's will, and
to endure with patience and meekness whatever trial he might see fit to
appoint her.

Elsie was far from well, and for many long hours after she had sought
her pillow she lay tossing restlessly from side to side in mental and
physical pain, her temples throbbing, and her heart aching with its
intense longing for the love that now seemed farther from her than ever.
And thought--troubled, anxious, distracting thought--was busy in her
brain; all the stories of martyrs and captive nuns which she had ever
read--all the descriptions of the horrible tortures inflicted by Rome
upon her wretched victims, came vividly to her recollection, and when at
length she fell asleep, it was but to wake again, trembling with fright
from a dream that she was in the dungeons of the Inquisition.

Then again she slept, but only to dream of new horrors which seemed
terribly real even when she awoke; and thus, between sleeping and waking,
the hours dragged slowly along, until at last the day dawned, after what
had seemed to the little girl the longest night she had ever known.

Her maid came in at the usual hour, and was surprised and alarmed to find
her young mistress still in bed, with cheeks burning and eyes sparkling
with fever, and talking in a wild, incoherent manner.

Rushing out of the room, Fanny hastened in search of Miss Adelaide, who,
she had long since discovered, was the only one of the family that cared
for Elsie; and in a few moments the young aunt was standing at the
bedside, looking with tearful eyes at the little sufferer.

"Oh, Miss Adelaide!" whispered the girl, "I tink she's _berry_ sick;
shan't we send for de doctah?"

"Yes, tell Jim to go for him _immediately_, and to stop on his way back
and tell Aunt Chloe that she is wanted here just as soon as she can
possibly come," replied Adelaide quickly, and then she set herself to
work to make the child as comfortable as possible, remaining beside her
until Chloe came to take her place, which was in less than an hour after
she had received the summons, and just as the breakfast-bell rang at
Roselands.

"So Elsie has taken a fever, and there is no knowing what it is, or
whether it is contagious or not," remarked Mrs. Dinsmore. "It is really
fortunate that we were just going away for our summer trip. I shall take
all the children now, and we will start this very day; what a good thing
it is that Elsie has kept her room so constantly of late! Can you pack
in time for the afternoon train, Adelaide?"

"I shall not go now, mamma," replied Adelaide quietly.

"Why not?" asked her mother in a tone of surprise.

"Because I prefer to stay with Elsie."

"What absurd folly!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinsmore. "Aunt Chloe will do
everything that is necessary, and you don't know to what infection you
may be exposing yourself."

"I don't think there is any danger, mamma; and if Elsie should be very
ill Aunt Chloe will need assistance; and I am not willing to leave
Horace's child to the care of servants. Elsie has been a great comfort
to me in my sorrow," she added, with tears in her eyes, "and I will not
forsake her now; and you know, mamma, it is no self-denial, for I have
no heart for gayety. I would _much_ rather stay."

"Certainly; stay if you like," answered her father, speaking for the
first time. "I do not imagine that Elsie's disease is contagious; she has
doubtless worried herself sick, and it would not look well to the
neighbors for us all to run away and leave the child so ill. Ah! there is
the doctor, and we will have his opinion," he exclaimed, as through the
half-open door he caught a glimpse of the family physician descending the
stairs. "Ask him in to breakfast, Pomp. Good-morning, doctor! how do you
find your patient?"

"I think her quite a sick child, sir, though of the precise nature of her
disease I am not yet able to form a decided opinion," replied the
physician, accepting the offered seat at the table.

"Is it anything contagious?" inquired Mrs. Dinsmore anxiously.

"I cannot yet say certainly, madam, but I think not."

"Shall we send for Horace? that is, would you advise it?" asked Mr.
Dinsmore hesitatingly.

"Oh, no," was the reply; "not until we have had more time to judge
whether she is likely to be very ill; it may prove but a slight attack."

"I shall write this very day," was Adelaide's mental resolve, though she
said nothing.

Mrs. Dinsmore hurried her preparations, and the middle of the afternoon
found Adelaide and Elsie sole occupants of the house, with the exception
of the servants. Adelaide watched the carriage as it rolled away, and
then, with feelings of sadness and desolation, and a mind filled with
anxious forebodings, returned to her station at Elsie's bedside.

The child was tossing about, moaning, and talking incoherently, and
Adelaide sighed deeply at the thought that this was perhaps but the
beginning of a long and serious illness, while she was painfully
conscious of her own inexperience and want of skill in nursing.

"Oh!" she exclaimed half aloud, "if I only had some kind, experienced
friend to advise and assist me, what a blessed relief it would be!"

There was a sound of carriage-wheels on the gravel walk below, and
hastily turning to Chloe, she said, "Go down and tell them I must be
excused. I cannot see visitors while my little niece is so very ill."

Chloe went, but returned almost immediately, followed by Mrs. Travilla.

With a half-smothered exclamation of delight, Adelaide threw herself into
the kind, motherly arms extended to receive her, and burst into tears.
Mrs. Travilla let them have their way for a moment, while she stroked
her hair caressingly, and murmured a few soothing words. Then she said,
softly, "Edward called at the gate this morning, and learned all about
it; and I knew you were but young, and would feel lonely and anxious, and
I love the dear child as if she were my own, and so I have come to stay
and help you nurse her, if you will let me."

_"Let_ you! dear Mrs. Travilla; I can never repay your kindness."

Mrs. Travilla only smiled, and pressed the hand she held; and then
quietly laying aside her bonnet and shawl, took up her post at the
bedside, with the air of one quite at home, and intending to be useful.

"It is such an inexpressible relief to see you sitting there," whispered
Adelaide. "You don't know what a load you have taken off my mind."

But before Mrs. Travilla could reply, Elsie started up in the bed, with
a wild outcry: "Oh, don't, papa! don't send me there! They will kill me!
they will torture me! Oh, let me stay at home with you, and I will be
very good."

Mrs. Travilla spoke soothingly to her, and persuaded her to lie down
again.

Elsie looked at her quite rationally, and holding out her hand, with a
faint smile, said: "Thank you, Mrs. Travilla; you are very kind to come
to see me; I am very sick; my head hurts me so;" and she put her hand up
to it, while again her eyes rolled wildly, and she shrieked out, "Oh,
Aunt Adelaide! save me! save me! don't let them take me away to that
dreadful place! Must I go now? to-day?" she asked in piteous accents.
"Oh! I don't want to go!" and she clung shuddering to her aunt, who was
bending over her, with eyes swimming in tears.

"No, darling, no," she said, "no one shall take you away; nobody shall
hurt you." Then in answer to Mrs. Travilla's inquiring look, she
explained, speaking in an undertone: "He had decided to place her in a
convent, to complete her education. I told her of it last night," she
added mournfully, "as he requested, and I very much fear that the fright
and terror she suffered on that account have helped to bring on this
attack."

"Poor, dear, precious lamb!" sighed Chloe, who stood at the foot of the
bed, gazing sadly at her nursling, and wiping away tear after tear, as
they chased each other down her sable cheek. "I wish Massa Horace could
see her now. I'se sure he nebber say such cruel tings no more."

"He ought surely to be here! You have sent for him, Adelaide?" Mrs.
Travilla said inquiringly. "She is very ill, and it is of great
importance that her mind should be set at rest, if indeed it _can_ be
done at present."

"I wrote this morning," Adelaide said, "and I shall write every day until
he comes."

Elsie caught the words, and turning with an eager look to her aunt, she
again spoke quite rationally, "Are you writing to papa, Aunt Adelaide?"
she asked. "Oh! _beg_ him to come home soon, _very_ soon; tell him I want
to see him once more. Oh, Aunt Adelaide, he _will_ kiss me when I am
dying, won't he? Oh, say you think he will."

"I am _sure_ of it, darling," replied Adelaide soothingly, as she bent
down and kissed the little feverish cheek; "but we are not going to let
you die yet."

"But will you ask papa? will you _beg_ him to come?" pleaded the little
voice still more eagerly.

"I will, I _have_, darling," replied the aunt; "and I doubt not that he
will start for home immediately on receiving my letter."

Day after day the fever raged in Elsie's veins, and when at length it was
subdued, it left her very weak indeed; but the doctor pronounced her free
from disease, and said she only needed good nursing and nutritious diet
to restore her to health; and Mrs. Travilla and Chloe, who had watched
day and night by her couch with intense anxiety, wept for joy and
thankfulness that their precious one was yet spared to them.

But alas! their hopes faded again, as day after day the little girl lay
on her bed, weak and languid, making no progress toward recovery, but
rather losing strength.

The doctor shook his head with a disappointed air, and drawing Adelaide
aside, said, "I cannot understand it, Miss Dinsmore; has she any mental
trouble? She seems to me like one who has some weight of care or sorrow
pressing upon her, and sapping the very springs of life. She appears to
have no desire to recover; she needs something to rouse her, and revive
her love of life. _Is_ there anything on her mind? If so, it must be
removed, or she will certainly die."

"She is very anxious to see her father," said Adelaide, weeping. "Oh,
_how_ I wish he would come! I cannot imagine what keeps him. I have
written again and again."

"I wish he was here, indeed," replied the doctor, with a look of great
anxiety. "Miss Adelaide," he suddenly exclaimed, "if she were ten years
older I should say she was dying of a broken heart, but she is so young
the idea is absurd."

"You are right, doctor! it is nothing but that. Oh! how I wish Horace
would come!" cried Adelaide, walking up and down the room, and wringing
her hands. "Do you notice, doctor," she asked, stopping before him, "how
she watches the opening of the door, and starts and trembles at every
sound? It is killing her, for she is too weak to bear it. Oh! If Horace
would only come, and set her mind at rest! He has been displeased with
her, and threatened to send her to a convent, of which she has a great
horror and dread--and she idolizes him; and so his anger and his threats
have had this sad effect upon her, poor child!"

"Write again, Miss Adelaide, and tell him that her _life_ depends upon
his speedy return and a reconciliation with him. If he would not lose
her he must at _once_ relieve her of every fear and anxiety," said the
physician, taking up his hat. "_That_ is the medicine she needs, and the
_only_ one that will do her much good. Good-morning. I will be in again
at noon."

And Adelaide, scarcely waiting to see him off, rushed away to her room to
write to her brother exactly what he had told her, beseeching him, if he
had any love for his child, to return immediately. The paper was all
blistered with her tears, for they fell so fast it was with difficulty
she could see to write.

"_She_ has spoken from the first as though it were a settled thing that
this sickness was to be her last; and now a great, a terrible dread is
coming over me that she is right. Oh, Horace, will you not come and
save her?"

Thus Adelaide closed her note; then sealing and despatching it, she
returned to the bedside of her little niece.

Elsie lay quietly with her eyes closed, but there was an expression of
pain upon her features. Mrs. Travilla sat beside her, holding one little
hand in hers, and gazing with tearful eyes upon the little wan face she
had learned to love so well.

Presently those beautiful eyes unclosed, and turned upon her with an
expression of anguish that touched her to the very heart.

"What is it, darling--are you in pain?" she asked, leaning over her, and
speaking in tones of the tenderest solicitude.

"Oh! Mrs. Travilla," moaned the little girl, "my sins--my sins--they are
so many--so black. 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.' God says
it; and I--I am _not_ holy--I am _vile_--oh, _so_ vile, so sinful! Shall
I ever see his face? how can I dare to venture into his presence!"

She spoke slowly, gaspingly--her voice sometimes sinking almost to a
whisper; so that, but for the death-like stillness of the room, her words
would scarcely have been audible.

Mrs. Travilla's tears were falling very fast, and it was a moment ere she
could command her voice to reply.

"My precious, _precious_ child," she said, "_He_ is able to save to the
_uttermost_. 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from _all_ sin.' He
will wash you in that precious fountain opened for sin, and for all
uncleanness. He will clothe you with the robe of his own righteousness,
and present you faultless before the throne of God, without spot or
wrinkle, or any such thing. _He_ has said it, and shall it not come
to pass, my darling? Yes, dear child, I am confident of this very thing,
that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day
of Jesus Christ."

"Oh, yes, he will, I know he will. Precious Jesus! _my_ Saviour,"
murmured the little one, a smile of heavenly peace and joy overspreading
her features; and, closing: her eyes, she seemed to sleep, while
Adelaide, unable longer to control her feelings, stole softly from
the room, to seek a place where she might weep without restraint.

An hour later Adelaide sat alone by the bedside, Mrs. Travilla having
found it necessary to return to Ion for a few hours, while Chloe had gone
down to the kitchen to see to the preparation of some new delicacy with
which she hoped to tempt Elsie's failing appetite.

Adelaide had been sitting for some moments gazing sadly at the little
pale, thin face, so fair, so sad, yet so full of meekness and
resignation. Her eyes filled as she looked, and thought of all
that they feared.

"Elsie, darling! precious little one," she murmured in low, tremulous
tones, as she leant over the child in tender solicitude.

"Dear Aunt Adelaide, how kind you are to me," said the little girl,
opening her eyes and looking up lovingly into her aunt's face.

There was a sound of carriage-wheels.

"Is it my papa?" asked Elsie, starting and trembling.

Adelaide sprang to the window. No, it was only a kind neighbor, come to
inquire how the invalid was.

A look of keen disappointment passed over the expressive countenance of
the little girl--the white lids drooped over the soft eyes, and large
tears stole from beneath the long dark lashes, and rolled silently
down her cheeks.

"He will not come in time," she whispered, as if talking to herself. "Oh,
papa, I want to hear you say you forgive all my naughtiness. I want one
kiss before I go. Oh, take me in your arms, papa, and press me to your
heart, and say you love me yet!"

Adelaide could bear it no longer; the mournful, pleading tones went to
her very heart. "Dear, _dear_ child," she cried, bending over her with
streaming eyes, "he _does_ love you! I _know_ it. _You_ are the very idol
of his heart; and you must not die. Oh, darling, live for his sake, and
for mine. He will soon, be here, and then it will be all right; he will
be so thankful that he has not lost you, that he will never allow you to
be separated from him again."

"No, oh, no! he said he did not love a rebellious child," she sobbed; "he
said he would never kiss me again until I submit; and you know I cannot
do that; and oh, Aunt Adelaide, _he never breaks his word_!"

"Oh, Horace! Horace! will you _never_ come? will you let her die? so
young, so sweet, so fair!" wept Adelaide, wringing her hands.

But Elsie was speaking again, and she controlled herself to listen.

"Aunt Adelaide," she murmured, in low, feeble tones, "I am too weak to
hold a pen; will you write something for me?"

"I will, darling; I will do anything I can for you," she replied.

Then turning to the maid, who had just entered the room: "Fanny," she
said, "bring Miss Elsie's writing-desk here, and set it close to the
bedside. Now you may take that waiter down-stairs, and you need not
come in again until I ring for you."

Elsie had started and turned her head on the opening of the door, as she
invariably did, looking longingly, eagerly toward it--then turned away
again with a sigh of disappointment.

"Poor papa! poor, dear papa!" she murmured to herself; "he will be so
lonely without his little daughter. My heart aches for you, my own papa."

"I am quite ready now, Elsie, dear. What do you wish me to write?" asked
her aunt.

"Aunt Adelaide," said the little girl, looking earnestly at her, "do you
know how much mamma was worth? how much money I would have if I lived
to grow up?"

"No, dear," she replied, much surprised at the question, for even in
health Elsie had never seemed to care for riches; "I cannot say exactly,
but I know it is a great many thousands."

"And it will all be papa's when I am gone, I suppose. I am glad of that.
But I would like to give some of it away, if I might. I know I have no
_right_, because I am so young--papa has told me that several times--but
I think he will like to do what I wish with a part of it; don't you think
so, too, Aunt Adelaide?"

Adelaide nodded assent; she dared not trust herself to speak, for she
began to comprehend that it was neither more nor less than the last will
and testament of her little niece, which she was requesting her to write.

"Well, then, Aunt Adelaide," said the feeble little voice, "please write
down that I want my dear papa to support one missionary to the heathen
out of my money. Now say that I know he will take care of my poor old
mammy as long as she lives, and I hope that, for his little Elsie's sake,
he will be very, _very_ kind to her, and give her everything she wants.
And I want him to do something for Mrs. Murray, too. Mamma loved her, and
so do I; for she was very kind to me always, and taught me about Jesus;
and so I want papa to give her a certain sum every year; enough to keep
her quite comfortable, for she is getting old, and I am afraid she is
very poor."

"I have written all that, Elsie; is there anything more?" asked Adelaide,
scarcely able to command her voice.

"Yes, if you please," replied the little girl; and she went on to
name every member of the family, from her grandfather down--servants
included--setting apart some little gift for each; most of them things
already in her possession, though some few were to be bought, if her
papa was willing. Even Miss Day was not forgotten, and to her Elsie
bequeathed a valuable ring. To her Aunt Adelaide she gave her papa's
miniature, a lock of her own hair, and a small Testament.

"Are you really willing to part with your papa's picture, Elsie, dear?"
asked Adelaide. "I thought you valued it very highly."

"I cannot take it with me, dear Aunt Adelaide," was the quiet reply, "and
he will not want it himself, and I believe you love him better than any
one else. Oh, Aunt Adelaide, comfort my poor papa when I am gone, and he
is left _all alone_!" she exclaimed, the big tears chasing each other
down her cheeks. "It is so sad to be alone, with nobody to love you; my
poor, poor papa! I am all he has."

"You have given nothing to him, Elsie," said Adelaide, wiping away her
tears, and glancing over what she had just written.

"Yes, there is a little packet in my desk directed to him. Please give
him that, and my dear, precious little Bible. I can't part with it yet,
but when I am gone."

She then mentioned that she had pointed out to her nurse the spot where
she wished to be buried, and added that she did not want any monument,
but just a plain white stone with her name and age, and a text of
Scripture.

"That is all, and thank you very much, dear auntie," she said, when
Adelaide had finished writing down her directions; "now, please put the
pen in my fingers and hold the paper here, and I think I can sign my
name."

She did so quite legibly, although her hand trembled with weakness; and
then, at her request, the paper was folded, sealed, and placed in her
desk, to be given after her death to her father, along with the packet.

It was evidently a great relief to Elsie to get these things off her
mind, yet talking so long had exhausted all her little strength, and
Adelaide, much alarmed at the death-like pallor of her countenance,
and the sinking of her voice, now insisted that she should lie quiet and
try to sleep.

Elsie made an effort to obey, but her fever was returning, and she was
growing very restless again.

"I cannot, Aunt Adelaide," she said at length, "and I want to tell you a
little more to say to papa, for I may not be able again. I am afraid he
will not come until I am gone, and he will be so sorry; my poor, poor
papa! Tell him that I loved him to the very last; that I longed to ask
him to forgive me for all the naughty, rebellious feelings I have ever
had towards him. Twice, since he has been displeased with me, I have
rebelled in my heart--once when he refused to give me Miss Allison's
letter, and again when he sent mammy away; it was only for a few moments
each time; but it was very wicked, and I am very sorry."

Sobs choked her utterance.

"Poor darling!" said Adelaide, crying bitterly. "I don't think an angel
could have borne it better, and I know he will reproach himself for his
cruelty to you."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide, _don't_ say that; don't _let_ him reproach himself,
but say all you can to comfort him. I am his child--he had a right--and
he only wanted to make me good--and I needed it all, or God would not
have permitted it."

"Oh, Elsie, darling, I _cannot_ give you up! you _must not_ die!" sobbed
Adelaide, bending over her, her tears falling fast on Elsie's bright
curls. "It is too hard to see you die so young, and with so much to live
for."

"It is very _sweet_ to go home so soon," murmured the soft, low voice of
the little one, "so sweet to go and live with Jesus, and be free from sin
forever!"

Adelaide made no reply, and for a moment her bitter sobbing was the only
sound that broke the stillness of the room.

"Don't cry so, dear auntie," Elsie said faintly. "I am very happy--only
I want to see my father." She added something incoherently, and Adelaide
perceived, with excessive alarm, that her mind was again beginning to
wander.

She hastily summoned a servant and despatched a message to the physician,
urging him to come immediately, as there was an alarming change in his
patient.

Never in all her life had Adelaide suffered such anxiety and distress as
during the next half-hour, which she and the faithful Chloe spent by the
bedside, watching the restless tossings of the little sufferer, whose
fever and delirium seemed to increase every moment. Jim had not been able
to find the doctor, and Mrs. Travilla was staying away longer than she
had intended.

But at length she came, and, though evidently grieved and concerned at
the change in Elsie, her quiet, collected manner calmed and soothed
Adelaide.

"Oh, Mrs. Travilla," she whispered, "do you think she will die?"

"We will not give up hope yet, my dear," replied the old lady, trying to
speak cheerfully; "but my greatest comfort, just at present, is the sure
knowledge that she is prepared for any event. No one can doubt that she
is a lamb of the Saviour's fold, and if he is about to gather her into
his bosom--" She paused, overcome by emotion, then added in a tremulous
tone, "It will be a sad thing to _us_, no doubt, but to her--dear little
one--a blessed, _blessed_ change."

"I cannot bear the thought," sobbed Adelaide, "but I have scarcely any
hope now, because--" and then she told Mrs. Travilla what they had been
doing in her absence.

"Don't let that discourage you, my dear," replied her friend soothingly.
"I have no faith in presentiments, and while there is life there is
hope."

Dr. Barton, the physician, came in at that moment, looked at his young
patient, felt her pulse, and shook his head sorrowfully.

Adelaide watched his face with the deepest anxiety.

He passed his hand over Elsie's beautiful curls.

"It seems a sad pity," he remarked in a low tone to her aunt, "but they
will have to be sacrificed; they must be cut off immediately, and her
head shaved."

Adelaide shuddered and trembled. "Is there any hope, doctor?" she
faltered almost under her breath.

"There is _life_ yet, Miss Adelaide," he said, "and we must use all the
means within our reach; but I wish her father was here. Have you heard
nothing yet?"

"No, nothing, nothing!" she answered, in a tone of keen distress; then
hastily left the room to give the necessary orders for carrying out the
doctor's directions.

"No, no, you must not! Papa will not allow it--he will be very angry--he
will punish me if you cut off my curls!" and Elsie's little hand was
raised in a feeble attempt to push away the remorseless scissors that
were severing the bright locks from her head.

"No, darling, he will not be displeased, because it is quite necessary to
make you well." said Mrs. Travilla in her gentle, soothing tones; "and
your papa would bid us do it, if he were here."

"No, no, don't cut it off. I _will_ not, I _cannot_ be a nun! Oh, papa,
save me! save me!" she shrieked.

"Dear child, you are safe at home, with none but friends around you."

It was Mrs. Travilla's gentle voice again, and for a moment the child
seemed calmed; but only for a moment; another wild fancy possessed her
brain, and she cried out wildly, "Don't! don't!--take it away! I will not
bow down to images! No, no, I will not." Then, with a bitter, wailing
cry, that went to the heart of every one who heard it: "Oh, papa, don't
be angry! I will be good! Oh, I am all alone, nobody to love me."

"Elsie, darling, we are all here, and we love you dearly, _dearly_," said
Adelaide in quivering tones, while her scalding tears fell like rain upon
the little hand she had taken in hers.

"My papa--I want my papa; but he said he would never kiss me till I
submit;" the tone was low and plaintive, and the large mournful eyes were
fixed upon Adelaide's face.

Then suddenly her gaze was directed upward, a bright smile overspread
her features, and she exclaimed in joyous accents, "Yes, mamma, yes; I
am coming! I will go with you!"

Adelaide turned away and went weeping from the room, unable to bear any
more.

"Oh, Horace! Horace, what have you done!" she sobbed, as she walked up
and down the hall, wringing her hands.

The doctor came out, but she was too much absorbed in her grief to notice
him. He went to her, however, and took her hand.

"Miss Adelaide," he said kindly, "it is true your little niece is very
ill, but we will not give up all hope yet. It is possible her father's
presence may do something, and surely he will be here ere long. But try
to calm yourself, my dear young lady, and hope for the best, or I fear I
shall have another patient on my hands. I will stay with the little girl
myself to-night, and I wish I could prevail upon you to lie down and take
some rest, for I see you need it sadly. Have you had your tea?"

Adelaide shook her head. "I _could_ not eat," she said sadly.

"You ought at least to _try_; it would do you good," he urged.

"No, you will not? well, then, you will lie down; indeed, you must; you
will certainly be ill."

Adelaide looked the question she dared not ask.

"No," he said, "there's no _immediate_ danger, and if there should be any
important change I will call you."

And, reassured on that point, she yielded to his persuasions and went to
bed.



CHAPTER XII.

                                  "I drink
So deep of grief, that he must only think,
Not dare to speak, that would express my woe:
Small rivers murmur, deep gulfs silent flow."

MARSTON'S SOPHONIESA.


It was no want of love for his child that had kept Mr. Dinsmore from at
once obeying Adelaide's summons. He had left the place where she supposed
him to be, and thus it happened that her letters did not reach him nearly
so soon as she had expected.

But when at length they were put into his hands, and he read of Elsie's
entreaty that he would come to her, and saw by the date how long she had
been ill, his distress and alarm were most excessive, and within an hour
he had set out on his return, travelling night and day with the greatest
possible despatch.

Strangers wondered at the young, fine-looking man, who seemed in such
desperate haste to reach the end of his journey--sat half the time with
his watch in his hand, and looked so despairingly wretched whenever the
train stopped for a moment.

Elsie was indeed, as Adelaide had said, the very idol of his heart;
and at times he suffered but little less than she did; but his will was
stronger even than his love, and he had fondly hoped that this separation
from him would produce the change in her which he so much desired; and
had thus far persuaded himself that he was only using the legitimate
authority of a parent, and therefore acting quite right; and, in fact,
with the truest kindness, because, as he reasoned, she would be happier
all her life if once relieved from the supposed necessity of conforming
to rules so strict and unbending. But suddenly his eyes seemed to have
been opened to see his conduct in a new light, and he called himself a
brute, a monster, a cruel persecutor, and longed to annihilate time and
space, that he might clasp his child in his arms, tell her how dearly he
loved her, and assure her that never again would he require her to do
aught against her conscience.

Again and again he took out his sister's letters and read and re-read
them, vainly trying to assure himself that there was no danger; that she
_could_ not be so very ill. "She is so young," he said to himself, "and
has always been healthy, it _cannot_ be that she will die." He started
and shuddered at the word. "Oh, no! it is impossible!" he mentally
exclaimed. "God is too merciful to send me so terrible an affliction."

He had not received Adelaide's last, and was therefore quite unprepared
to find his child so near the borders of the grave.

It was early on the morning of the day after her fearful relapse, that a
carriage drove rapidly up the avenue, and Horace Dinsmore looked from its
window, half expecting to see again the little graceful figure that had
been wont to stand upon the steps of the portico, ready to greet his
arrival with such outgushings of joy and love.

But, "Pshaw!" he exclaimed to himself, "of course she is not yet able to
leave her room; but my return will soon set her up again--the darling! My
poor little pet!" he added, with a sigh, as memory brought her vividly
before him as he had last seen her, and recalled her sorrowful, pleading
looks and words; "my poor darling, you shall have all the love and
caresses now that your heart can desire." And he sprang out, glancing up
at the windows above, to see if she were not looking down at him; but she
was not to be seen; yet it did not strike him as strange that all the
shutters were closed, since it was the east side of the house, and a warm
summer's sun was shining full upon them.

A servant met him at the door, looking grave and sad, but Mr. Dinsmore
waited not to ask any questions, and merely giving the man a nod,
sprang up the stairs, and hurried to his daughter's room, all dusty
and travel-stained as he was.

He heard her laugh as he reached the door. "Ah! she must be a great deal
better; she will soon be quite well again, now that I have come," he
murmured to himself, with a smile, as he pushed it open.

But alas! what a sight met his eye. The doctor, Mrs. Travilla, Adelaide,
and Chloe, all grouped about the bed, where lay his little daughter,
tossing about and raving in the wildest delirium; now shrieking with
fear, now laughing an unnatural, hysterical laugh, and so changed that
no one could have recognized her; the little face so thin, the beautiful
hair of which he had been so proud all gone, the eyes sunken deep in
her head, and their soft light changed to the glare of insanity. Could it
be Elsie, his own beautiful little Elsie? He could scarcely believe it,
and a sickening feeling of horror and remorse crept over him.

No one seemed aware of his entrance, for all eyes were fixed upon the
little sufferer. But as he drew near the bed, with a heart too full for
speech, Elsie's eye fell upon him, and with a wild shriek of mortal
terror, she clung to her aunt, crying out, "Oh, save me! save me! he's
coming to take me away to the Inquisition! Go away! go away!" and she
looked at him with a countenance so full of fear and horror, that the
doctor hastily took him by the arm to lead him away.

But Mr. Dinsmore resisted.

"Elsie! my daughter! it is I! your own father, who loves you dearly!" he
said in tones of the keenest anguish, as he bent over her, and tried to
take her hand. But she snatched it away, and clung to her aunt again,
hiding her face, and shuddering with fear.

Mr. Dinsmore groaned aloud, and no longer resisted the physician's
efforts to lead him from the room. "It is the delirium of _fever_," Dr.
Barton said, in answer to the father's agonized look of inquiry; "she
will recover her reason--if she lives."

The last words were added in a lower, quicker tone.

Mr. Dinsmore covered his face, and uttered a groan of agony.

"Doctor, is there _no_ hope?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.

"Do you wish me to tell you precisely what I think?" asked the physician.

"I do! I do! let me know the worst!" was the quick, passionate rejoinder.

"Then, Mr. Dinsmore, I will be frank with you. Had you returned one week
ago, I think she _might_ have been saved; _possibly_, even had you been
here yesterday morning, while she was still in possession of her reason;
but now, I see not one ray of hope. I never knew one so low to recover."

He started, as Mr. Dinsmore raised his face again, so pale, so haggard,
so grief-stricken had it become in that one moment.

"Doctor," he said in a hollow, broken voice, "save my child, and you may
take all I am worth. I cannot live without her."

"I will do all I can," replied the physician in a tone of deep
compassion, "but the Great Physician alone can save her. We must look
to him."

"Doctor," said Mr. Dinsmore hoarsely, "if that child dies, I must go to
my grave with the brand of Cain upon me, for I have killed her by my
cruelty; and oh! doctor, she is the very light of my eyes--the joy of
my heart! How _can_ I give her up? Save her, doctor, and you will be
entitled to my everlasting gratitude."

"Surely, my dear sir, you are reproaching yourself unjustly," said the
physician soothingly, replying to the first part of Mr. Dinsmore's
remark. "I have heard you spoken of as a very fond father, and have
formed the same opinion from my own observation, and your little girl's
evident affection for you."

"And I _was_, but in _one_ respect. I insisted upon obedience, even when
my commands came in collision with her conscientious scruples; and she
was firm; she had the spirit of a martyr--and I was very severe in my
efforts to subdue what I called wilfulness and obstinacy," said the
distracted father in a voice often, scarcely audible from emotion. "I
thought I was right, but now I see that I was fearfully wrong."

"There is _life_ yet, Mr. Dinsmore," remarked the doctor compassionately;
"and though human skill can do no more, he who raised the dead child of
the ruler of the synagogue, and restored the son of the widow of Nain to
her arms, can give back your child to your embrace; let me entreat you to
go to _him_, my dear sir. And now I must return to my patient. I fear it
will be necessary for you to keep out of sight until there is some
change, as your presence seems to excite her so much. But do not let that
distress you," he added kindly, as he noticed an expression of the
keenest anguish sweep over Mr. Dinsmore's features; "it is a common thing
in such cases for them to turn away from the very one they love best when
in health."

Mr. Dinsmore replied only by a convulsive grasp of the friendly hand
held out to him, and hurrying away to his own apartments, shut himself
up there to give way to his bitter grief and remorse where no human eye
could see him.

For hours he paced backward and forward, weeping and groaning in such
mental agony as he had never known before.

His usual fastidious neatness in person and dress was entirely forgotten,
and it never once occurred to his recollection that he had been
travelling for several days and nights in succession, through heat and
dust, without making any change in his clothing. And he was equally
unconscious that he had passed many hours without tasting any food.

The breakfast-bell rang, but he paid no heed to the summons. Then John,
his faithful servant, knocked at his door, but was refused admittance,
and went sorrowfully back to the kitchen with the waiter of tempting
viands he had so carefully prepared, hoping to induce his master to eat.

But Horace Dinsmore could not stay away from his child while she yet
lived; and though he might not watch by her bed of suffering, nor clasp
her little form in his arms, as he longed to do, he must be where he
could hear the sound of that voice, so soon, alas! to be hushed in death.

He entered the room noiselessly, and took his station in a distant
corner, where she could not possibly see him.

She was moaning, as if in pain, and the sound went to his very heart.
Sinking down upon a seat, he bowed his head upon his hands, and struggled
to suppress his emotion, increased tenfold by the words which the next
instant fell upon his ear, spoken in his little daughter's own sweet
voice.

"Yes, mamma; yes," she said, "I am coming! Take me to Jesus."

Then, in a pitiful, wailing tone, "I'm _all alone_! There's nobody to
love me. Oh, papa, kiss me just once! I will be good; but I must love
Jesus best, and obey him always."

He rose hastily, as if to go to her, but the doctor shook his head, and
he sank into his seat again with a deep groan.

"Oh, papa!" she shrieked, as if in mortal terror, "don't send me there!
they will kill me! Oh, papa, have mercy on your own little daughter!"

It was only by the strongest effort of his will that he could keep his
seat.

But Adelaide was speaking soothingly to her.

"Darling," she said, "your papa loves you; he will not send you away."

And Elsie answered, in her natural tone, "But I'm going to mamma. Dear
Aunt Adelaide, comfort my poor papa when I am gone."

Her father started, and trembled between hope and fear. Surely she was
talking rationally now; but ah! those ominous words! Was she indeed about
to leave him, and go to her mother?

But she was speaking again in trembling, tearful tones: "He wouldn't kiss
me! he said he never would till I submit; and oh! he never breaks his
word. Oh! papa, papa, will you _never_ love me any more? I love _you_ so
_very_ dearly. You'll kiss me when I'm dying, papa dear, won't you?"

Mr. Dinsmore could bear no more, but starting up he would have approached
the bed, but a warning gesture from the physician prevented him, and he
hurried from the room.

He met Travilla in the hall.

Neither spoke, but Edward wrung his friend's hand convulsively, then
hastily turned away to hide his emotion, while Mr. Dinsmore hurried to
his room, and locked himself in.

He did not come down to dinner, and Adelaide, hearing from the anxious
John how long he had been without food, began to feel seriously alarmed
on his account, and carried up a biscuit and a cup of coffee with her
own hands.

He opened the door at her earnest solicitation, but only shook his head
mournfully, saying that he had no desire for food. She urged him, even
with tears in her eyes, but all in vain; he replied that "he could not
eat; it was impossible."

Adelaide had at first felt inclined to reproach him bitterly for his
long delay in returning home, but he looked so very wretched, so utterly
crushed by the weight of this great sorrow, that she had not the heart to
say one reproachful word, but on the contrary longed to comfort him.

He begged her to sit down and give him a few moments' conversation. He
told her why he had been so long in answering her summons, and how he
had travelled night and day since receiving it; and then he questioned
her closely about the whole course of Elsie's sickness--every change in
her condition, from first to last--all that had been done for her--and
all that she had said and done.

Adelaide told him everything; dwelling particularly on the child's
restless longing for him, her earnest desire to receive his forgiveness
and caress before she died, and her entreaties to her to comfort her
"dear papa" when she was gone. She told him, too, of her last will and
testament, and of the little package which was, after her death, to be
given to him, along with her dearly loved Bible.

He was deeply moved during this recital, sometimes sitting with his head
bowed down, hiding his face in his hands; at others, rising and pacing
the floor, his breast heaving with emotion, and a groan of anguish ever
and anon bursting from his overburdened heart, in spite of the mighty
effort he was evidently making to control himself.

But at last she was done; she had told him all that there was to tell,
and for a few moments both sat silent, Adelaide weeping quietly, and he
striving in vain to be calm.

At length he said, in a husky tone, "Sister Adelaide, I can never thank
you as you deserve for your kindness to her--my precious child."

"Oh, brother!" replied Adelaide, sobbing, "I owe her a debt of gratitude
I can never pay. She has been all my comfort in my great sorrow; she has
taught me the way to heaven, and now she is going before." Then, with a
burst of uncontrollable grief, she exclaimed: "Oh, Elsie! Elsie! darling
child! how _can_ I give you up?"

Mr. Dinsmore hid his face, and his whole frame shook with emotion.

"My punishment is greater than I can bear!" he exclaimed in a voice
choked with grief. "Adelaide, do you not despise and hate me for my
cruelty to that angel-child?"

"My poor brother, I am very sorry for you," she replied, laying her hand
on his arm, while the tears trembled in her eyes.

There was a light tap at the door. It was Doctor Barton. "Mr. Dinsmore,"
he said, "she is begging so piteously for her papa that, perhaps, it
would be well for you to show yourself again; it is just possible she
may recognize you"

Mr. Dinsmore waited for no second bidding, but following the physician
with eager haste, was the next moment at the bedside.

The little girl was moving restlessly about, moaning, "Oh! papa, papa,
will you never come?"

"I am here, darling," he replied in tones of the tenderest affection. "I
_have_ come back to my little girl"

She turned her head to look at him. "No, no," she said, "I want my papa."

"My darling, do you not know me?" he asked in a voice quivering with
emotion.

"No, no, you shall not! I will never do it--_never_. Oh! make him go
away," she shrieked, clinging to Mrs. Travilla, and glaring at him with a
look of the wildest affright, "he has come to torture me because I won't
pray to the Virgin."

"It is quite useless," said the doctor, shaking his head sorrowfully;
"she evidently does not know you."

And the unhappy father turned away and left the room to shut himself up
again alone with his agony and remorse.

No one saw him again that night, and when the maid came to attend to his
room in the morning, she was surprised and alarmed to find that the bed
had not been touched.

Mr. Travilla, who was keeping a sorrowful vigil in the room below, had he
been questioned, could have told that there had been scarcely a cessation
in the sound of the footsteps pacing to and fro over his head. It had
been a night of anguish and heart-searching, such as Horace Dinsmore had
never passed through before. For the first time he saw himself to be what
he really was in the sight of God, a guilty, hell-deserving sinner--lost,
ruined, and undone. He had never believed it before, and the prayers
which he had occasionally offered up had been very much in the spirit of
the Pharisee's, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are!"

He had been blessed with a pious mother, who was early taken from him;
yet not too early to have had some influence in forming the character of
her son; and the faint but tender recollection of that mother's prayers
and teachings had proved a safeguard to him in many an hour of
temptation, and had kept him from falling into the open vices of some
of his less scrupulous companions. But he had been very proud of his
morality and his upright life, unstained by any dishonorable act. He had
always thought of himself as quite deserving of the prosperity with which
he had been blessed in the affairs of this world, and just as likely as
any one to be happy in the next.

The news of Elsie's illness had first opened his eyes to the enormity
of his conduct in relation to her; and now, as he thought of her pure
life, her constant anxiety to do right, her deep humility, her love to
Jesus, and steadfast adherence to what she believed to be her duty, her
martyr-like spirit in parting with everything she most esteemed and
valued rather than be guilty of what seemed to others but a very slight
infringement of the law of God--as he thought of all this, and contrasted
it with his own worldly-mindedness and self-righteousness, his utter
neglect of the Saviour, and determined efforts to make his child as
worldly as himself, he shrank back appalled at the picture, and was
constrained to cry out in bitterness of soul: "God be merciful to me, a
sinner."

It was the first _real_ prayer he had ever offered. He would fain have
asked for the life of his child, but dared not; feeling that he had so
utterly abused his trust that he richly deserved to have it taken from
him. The very thought was agony; but he dared not ask to have it
otherwise.

He had given up all hope that she would be spared to him, but pleaded
earnestly that one lucid interval might be granted her, in which he could
tell her of his deep sorrow on account of his severity toward her, and
ask her forgiveness.

He did not go down to breakfast, but Adelaide again brought him some
refreshment, and at length he yielded to her entreaties that he would try
to eat a little.

She set down the salver, and turned away to hide the tears she could not
keep back. Her heart ached for him. She had never seen such a change in a
few hours as had passed over him. He seemed to have grown ten years older
in that one night--he was so pale and haggard--his eyes so sunken in his
head, and there were deep, hard lines of suffering on his brow and around
his mouth.

His meal was soon concluded.

"Adelaide, how is she?" he asked in a voice which he vainly endeavored to
make calm and steady.

"Much the same; there seems to be very little change," replied his
sister, wiping away her tears. Then drawing Elsie's little Bible from her
pocket, she put it into his hand, saying, "I thought it might help to
comfort you, my poor brother;" and with a fresh burst of tears she
hastily left the room and hurried to her own, to spend a few moments in
pleading for him that this heavy affliction might be made the means of
leading him to Christ.

And he--ah! he could not at first trust himself even to look at the
little volume that had been so constantly in his darling's hands, that
it seemed almost a part of herself.

He held it in a close, loving grasp, while his averted eyes were dim with
unshed tears; but at length, passing his hand over them to clear away the
blinding mist, he opened the little book and turned over its pages with
trembling fingers, and a heart swelling with emotion.

There were many texts marked with her pencil, and many pages blistered
with her tears. Oh, what a pang that sight sent to her father's heart! In
some parts these evidences of her frequent and sorrowful perusal were
more numerous than in others. Many of the Psalms, the Lamentations of
Jeremiah, and the books of Job and Isaiah, in the Old Testament, and St.
John's gospel, and the latter part of Hebrews, in the New.

Hour after hour he sat there reading that little book; at first
interested in it only because of its association with her--his loved one;
but at length beginning to feel the importance of its teachings and their
adaptedness to his needs. As he read, his convictions deepened the
inspired declaration that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord,"
and the solemn warning, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if
they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not
we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven," filled
him with fear of the wrath to come; for well he remembered how all his
life he had turned away from the Saviour of sinners, despising that blood
of sprinkling, and rejecting all the offers of mercy; and he trembled
lest he should not escape.

Several times during the day and evening he laid the book aside, and
stole softly into Elsie's room to learn if there had been any change;
but there was none, and at length, quite worn out with fatigue and
sorrow--for he had been several nights without any rest--he threw himself
down on a couch, and fell into a heavy slumber.

About midnight Adelaide came and woke him to say that Elsie had become
calm, the fever had left her, and she had fallen asleep.

"The doctor," she added, "says this is the crisis, and he begins to have
a _little_ hope--very faint, indeed, but still a _hope_--that she may
awake refreshed from this slumber; yet it might be--he is fearful it
is--only the precursor of death."

The last word was almost inaudible.

Mr. Dinsmore trembled with excitement.

"I will go to her," he said in an agitated tone. "She will not know of
my presence, now that she is sleeping, and I may at least have the sad
satisfaction of looking at her dear little face."

But Adelaide shook her head.

"No, no," she replied, "that will never do; for we know not at what
moment she may awake, and the agitation she would probably feel at the
sight of you would be almost certain to prove fatal. Had you not better
remain here? and I will call you the moment she wakes."

Mr. Dinsmore acquiesced with a deep sigh, and she went back to her post.

Hour after hour they sat there--Mrs. Travilla, Adelaide, the doctor, and
poor old Chloe--silent and still as statues, watching that quiet slumber,
straining their ears to catch the faint sound of the gentle breathing--a
sound so low that ever and anon their hearts thrilled with the sudden
fear that it had ceased forever; and one or another, rising noiselessly,
would bend over the little form in speechless alarm, until again they
caught the low, fitful sound.

The first faint streak of dawn was beginning in the eastern sky when
the doctor, who had been bending over her for several minutes, suddenly
laid his finger on her pulse for an instant; then turned to his
fellow-watchers with a look that there was no mistaking.

There was weeping and wailing then in that room, where death-like
stillness had reigned so long.

"Precious, precious child! dear lamb safely gathered into the Saviour's
fold," said Mrs. Travilla in quivering tones, as she gently laid her hand
upon the closed eyes, and straightened the limbs as tenderly as though it
had been a living, breathing form.

"Oh, Elsie! Elsie! dear, _dear_ little Elsie!" cried Adelaide, flinging
herself upon the bed, and pressing her lips to the cold cheek. "I have
only just learned to know your value, and now you are taken from me.
Oh! Elsie, darling, precious one; oh! that I had sooner learned your
worth! that I had done more to make your short life happy!"

Chloe was sobbing at the foot of the bed, "Oh! my child! my child! Oh!
now dis ole heart will break for sure!" while the kind-hearted physician
stood wiping his eyes and sighing deeply.

"Her poor father!" exclaimed Mrs. Travilla at length.

"Yes, yes, I will go to him," said Adelaide quickly. "I promised to call
him the moment she waked, and _now_--oh, _now_, I must tell him she will
never wake again."

"No!" replied Mrs. Travilla, "rather tell him that she has waked in
heaven, and is even now singing the song of the redeemed."

Adelaide turned to Elsie's writing-desk, and taking from it the packet
which the child had directed to be given to her father as soon as she was
gone, she carried it to him.

Her low knock was instantly followed by the opening of the door, for he
had been awaiting her coming in torturing suspense.

She could not look at him, but hastily thrusting the packet into his
hand, turned weeping away.

He well understood the meaning of her silence and her tears, and with a
groan of anguish that Adelaide never could forget, he shut and locked
himself in again; while she hurried to her room to indulge her grief in
solitude, leaving Mrs. Travilla and Chloe to attend to the last sad
offices of love to the dear remains of the little departed one.

The news had quickly spread through the house, and sobs and bitter
weeping were heard in every part of it; for Elsie had been dearly loved
by all.

Chloe was assisting Mrs. Travilla.

Suddenly the lady paused in her work, saying, in an agitated tone,
"Quick! quick! Aunt Chloe, throw open that shutter wide. I thought I felt
a little warmth about the heart, and--yes! yes! I was not mistaken; there
_is_ a slight quivering of the eyelid. Go, Chloe! call the doctor! she
may live yet!"

The doctor was only in the room below, and in a moment was at the
bedside, doing all that could be done to fan into a flame that little
spark of life.

And they were successful. In a few moments those eyes, which they had
thought closed forever to all the beauties of earth, opened again, and
a faint, weak voice asked for water.

The doctor was obliged to banish Chloe from the room, lest the noisy
manifestation of her joy should injure her nursling, yet trembling upon
the very verge of the grave; and as he did so, he cautioned her to
refrain from yet communicating the glad tidings to any one, lest some
sound of their rejoicing might reach the sick-chamber, and disturb the
little sufferer.

And then he and the motherly old lady took their stations at the bedside
once more, watching in perfect silence, and administering every few
moments a little stimulant, for she was weak as a new-born infant, and
only in this way could they keep the flickering flame of life from dying
out again.

It was not until more than an hour had passed in this way, and hope began
to grow stronger in their breasts, until it became almost certainty that
Elsie would live, that they thought of her father and aunt, so entirely
had their attention been engrossed by the critical condition of their
little patient.

It was many minutes after Adelaide left him ere Mr. Dinsmore could think
of anything but the terrible, crushing blow which had fallen upon him,
and his agonized feelings found vent in groans of bitter anguish, fit to
melt a heart of stone; but at length he grew somewhat calmer; and as his
eye fell upon the little packet he remembered that it was her dying gift
to him, and with a deep sigh he took it up and opened it.

It contained his wife's miniature--the same that Elsie had always worn
suspended from her neck--one of the child's glossy ringlets, severed from
her head by her own little hands the day before she was taken ill--and a
letter, directed in her handwriting to himself.

He pressed the lock of hair to his lips, then laid it gently down, and
opened the letter.

"Dear, dear papa," it began, "my heart is very sad to-night! There is
such a weary, aching pain there, that will never be gone till I can lay
my head against your breast, and feel your arms folding me tight, and
your kisses on my cheek. Ah! papa, how often I wish you could just look
down into my heart and see how _full_ of love to you it is! I am always
thinking of you, and longing to be with you. You bade me go and see the
home you have prepared, and I have obeyed you. You say, if I will only be
submissive we will live there, and be so very happy together, and I
cannot tell you how my heart longs for such a life with you in that
lovely, lovely home; nor how happy I could be there, or _anywhere_ with
you, if you would only let me make God's law the rule of my life; but, my
own dear father, if I have found your frown so dreadful, so _hard_ to
bear, how much more terrible would my Heavenly Father's be! Oh, papa,
_that_ would make me wretched indeed! But oh, I cannot _bear_ to think of
being sent away from you amongst strangers! Dear, _dear_ papa, will you
not spare your little daughter this trial? I will try to be so very good
and obedient in everything that my conscience will allow. I am so sad,
papa, so very sad, as if something terrible was coming, and my head feels
strangely. I fear I am going to be ill, perhaps to die! Oh, papa, will I
never see you again? I want to ask you to forgive me for all the naughty
thoughts and feelings I have ever had towards you. I think I have never
disobeyed you in _deed_, papa--except the few times you have known of,
when I forgot, or thought you bade me break God's law--but twice I have
rebelled in my heart. Once when you took Miss Rose's letter from me, and
again when mammy told me you had said she must go away. It was only for a
little while each time, papa, but it was very wicked, and I am very,
_very_ sorry; will you please forgive me? and I will try never to indulge
such wicked feelings again."

The paper was blistered with Elsie's tears, and _other_ tears were
falling thick and fast upon it now.

"_She_ to ask forgiveness of me, for a momentary feeling of indignation
when I so abused my authority," he groaned. "Oh, my darling! I would give
all I am worth to bring you back for one hour, that I might ask _your_
forgiveness, on my knees."

But there was more of the letter, and he read on:

"Dear papa," she continued, "should I die, and never see you again in
this world, don't ever feel vexed with yourself, and think that you have
been too severe with me. I know you have only done what you had a right
to do--for am I not your own? Oh, I _love_ to belong to you, papa! and
you meant it all to make me good; and I needed it, for I was loving you
_too_ dearly. I was getting away from my Saviour. But when you put me
away from your arms and separated me from my nurse, I had no one to go
to but Jesus, and he drew me closer to him, and I found his love very
sweet and precious; it has been all my comfort in my great sorrow. Dear
papa, when I am gone, and you feel sad and lonely, will not _you_ go to
Jesus, too? I will leave you my dear little Bible, papa. Please read
it for Elsie's sake, and God grant it may comfort you as it has your
little daughter. And, dear papa, try to forget these sad days of our
estrangement, and remember only the time when your little girl was always
on your knee, or by your side. Oh! it breaks my heart to think of those
sweet times, and that they will never come again! Oh, for one kiss, one
caress, one word of love from you! for oh, how _I love_ you, my own dear,
be loved, precious papa!

"Your little daughter,
"ELSIE."

Mr. Dinsmore dropped his head upon his hands, and groaned aloud. It was
his turn now to long, with an _unutterable_ longing, for one caress, one
word of love from those sweet lips that should never speak again. A long
time he sat there, living over again in memory every scene in his life in
which his child had borne a part, and repenting, oh, so bitterly! of
every harsh word he had ever spoken to her, of every act of unjust
severity; and, alas! how many and how cruel they seemed to him now!
Remorse was eating into his very soul, and he would have given worlds
to be able to recall the past.



CHAPTER XIII.

"Joy! the lost one is restored!!
Sunshine comes to hearth and board."

MRS. HEMANS.


                "O remembrance!
Why dost thou open all my wounds again?"

LEE'S THEODOSIUS.


             "I am a fool,
To weep at what I am glad of."

SHAKS. TEMPEST.


"But these are tears of joy! to see you thus, has filled
My eyes with more delight than they can hold."


CONGREVE.


Mr. Dinsmore was roused from the painful reverie into which he had
fallen by a light rap on his dressing-room door; and, supposing it to
be some one sent to consult him concerning the necessary arrangements
for the funeral, he rose and opened it at once, showing to the doctor,
who stood there, such a grief-stricken countenance as caused him to
hesitate whether to communicate his glad tidings without some previous
preparation, lest the sudden reaction from such despairing grief to joy
so intense should be too great for the father to bear.

"You wish to speak to me about the--"

Mr. Dinsmore's voice was husky and low, and he paused, unable to finish
his sentence.

"Come in, doctor," he said, "it is very kind in you, and--"

"Mr. Dinsmore," said the doctor, interrupting him, "are you prepared for
good news? can you bear it, my dear sir?"

Mr. Dinsmore caught at the furniture for support, and gasped for breath.

"What is it?" he asked hoarsely.

"_Good_ news, I said," Dr. Barton hastened to say, as he sprang to his
side to prevent him from falling. "Your child yet lives, and though her
life still hangs by a thread, the crisis is past, and I have some hope
that she may recover."

"Thank God! thank God!" exclaimed the father, sinking into a seat; and
burying his face in his hands, he sobbed aloud.

The doctor went out and closed the door softly; and Horace Dinsmore,
falling upon his knees, poured out his thanksgivings, and then and there
consecrated himself, with all his talents and possessions, to the service
of that God who had so mercifully spared to him his heart's best
treasure.

Adelaide's joy and thankfulness were scarcely less than his, when to her,
also, the glad and wondrous tidings were communicated. And Mr. Travilla
and his mother shared their happiness, as they had shared their sorrow.
Yet they all rejoiced with trembling, for that little life was still for
many days trembling in the balance; and to the father's anxiety was also
added the heavy trial of being excluded from her room.

The physician had early informed him that it would be risking her life
for him to enter her presence until she should herself inquire for him,
as they could not tell how great might be the agitation it would cause
her. And so he waited, day after day, hoping for the summons, but
constantly doomed to disappointment; for even after she had become strong
enough to look about her, and ask questions, and to notice her friends
with a gentle smile, and a word of thanks to each, several days passed
away, and she had neither inquired for him nor even once so much as
mentioned his name.

It seemed passing strange, and the thought that perhaps his cruelty had
so estranged her from him that she no longer cared for his presence or
his love, caused him many a bitter pang, and at times rendered him so
desperate that, but for the doctor's repeated warnings, he would have
ended this torturing suspense by going to her, and begging to hear from
her own lips whether she had indeed ceased to love him.

Adelaide tried to comfort and encourage him to wait patiently, but
she, too, thought it very strange, and began to have vague fears that
something was wrong with her little niece.

She wondered that Dr. Barton treated the matter so lightly.

"But, then," thought she, "he has no idea how strongly the child was
attached to her father, and therefore her strange silence on the subject
does not strike him as it does us. I will ask if I may not venture to
mention Horace to her."

But when she put the question, the doctor shook his head.

"No," he said; "better let her broach the subject herself; it will be
much the safer plan."

Adelaide reluctantly acquiesced in his decision, for she was growing
almost as impatient as her brother. But fortunately she was not kept
much longer in suspense.

The next day Elsie, who had been lying for some time wide awake, but
without speaking, suddenly asked: "Aunt Adelaide, have you heard from
Miss Allison since she went away?"

"Yes, dear, a number of times," replied her aunt, much surprised at the
question; "once since you were taken sick, and she was very sorry to hear
of your illness."

"Dear Miss Rose, how I want to see her," murmured the little girl
musingly. "Aunt Adelaide," she asked quickly, "has there been any letter
from papa since I have been sick?"

"Yes, dear," said Adelaide, beginning to tremble a little; "one, but it
was written before he heard of your illness."

"Did he say when he would sail for America, Aunt Adelaide?" she asked
eagerly.

"No, dear," replied her aunt, becoming still more alarmed, for she feared
the child was losing her reason.

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide, do you think he will _ever_ come home? Shall I ever
see him? And do you think he will love me?" moaned the little girl.

"I am sure he _does_ love you, darling, for indeed he mentions you very
affectionately in his letters," Adelaide said, bending down to kiss the
little pale cheek. "Now go to sleep, dear child," she added, "I am afraid
you have been talking quite too much, for you are very weak yet."

Elsie was, in fact, quite exhausted, and closing her eyes, fell asleep
directly.

Then resigning her place to Chloe, Adelaide stole softly from the room,
and seeking her brother, repeated to him all that had just passed between
Elsie and herself. She simply told her story, keeping her doubts and
fears confined to her own breast; but she watched him closely to see
if he shared them.

He listened at first eagerly; then sat with folded arms and head bent
down, so that she could not see his face; then rising up hastily, he
paced the floor to and fro with rapid strides, sighing heavily to
himself.

"Oh, Adelaide! Adelaide!" he exclaimed, suddenly pausing before her,
"are _my_ sins thus to be visited on my innocent child? better death a
thousand times!" And sinking shuddering into a seat, he covered his face
with his hands, and groaned aloud.

"Don't be so distressed, dear brother, I am sure it cannot be so bad as
you think," whispered Adelaide, passing her arm around his neck and
kissing him softly. "She looks bright enough, and seems to perfectly
understand all that is said to her."

"Dr. Barton!" announced Pompey, throwing open the door of the parlor
where they were sitting.

Mr. Dinsmore rose hastily to greet him.

"What is the matter? is anything wrong with my patient?" he asked
hurriedly, looking from one to the other, and noticing the signs of
unusual emotion in each face.

"Tell him, Adelaide," entreated her brother, turning away his head to
hide his feelings.

Adelaide repeated her story, not without showing considerable emotion,
though she did not mention the nature of their fears.

"Don't be alarmed," said the physician, cheerfully; "she is _not_ losing
her mind, as I see you both fear; it is simply a failure of memory for
the time being; she has been fearfully ill, and the mind at present
partakes of the weakness of the body, but I hope ere long to see them
both grow strong together.

"Let me see--Miss Allison left, when? a year ago last April, I think you
said, Miss Adelaide, and this is October. Ah! well, the little girl has
only lost about a year and a half from her life, and it is altogether
likely she will recover it; but even supposing she does not, it is no
great matter after all."

Mr. Dinsmore looked unspeakably relieved, and Adelaide hardly less so.

"And this gives you one advantage, Mr. Dinsmore," continued the doctor,
looking smilingly at him; "you can now go to her as soon as Miss Adelaide
has cautiously broken to her the news of your arrival."

When Elsie waked, Adelaide cautiously communicated to her the tidings
that her father had landed in America, in safety and health, and hoped to
be with them in a day or two.

A faint tinge of color came to the little girl's cheek, her eyes
sparkled, and, clasping her little, thin hands together, she exclaimed,
"Oh! can it really be true that I shall see my own dear father? and do
you think he will _love_ me, Aunt Adelaide?"

"Yes, indeed, darling; he _says_ he loves you dearly, and longs to have
you in his arms."

Elsie's eyes filled with happy tears.

"Now you must try to be very calm, darling, and not let the good news
hurt you," said her aunt kindly; "or I am afraid the doctor will say
you are not well enough to see your papa when, he comes."

"I will try to be very quiet," replied the little girl; "but, oh! I
_hope_ he will come soon, and that the doctor will let me see him."

"I shall read to you now, dear," remarked Adelaide, taking up Elsie's
little Bible, which had been returned to her some days before; for she
had asked for it almost as soon as she was able to speak.

Adelaide opened to one of her favorite passages in Isaiah, and read in a
low, quiet tone that soon soothed the little one to sleep.

"Has my papa come?" was her first question on awaking.

"Do you think you are strong enough to see him?" asked Adelaide, smiling.

"Oh, yes, Aunt Adelaide; is he here?" she inquired, beginning to tremble
with agitation.

"I am afraid you are not strong enough yet," said Adelaide doubtfully;
"you are trembling very much."

"Dear Aunt Adelaide, I will try to be very calm; _do_ let me see him,"
she urged beseechingly; "it won't hurt me half so much as to be kept
waiting."

"Yes, Adelaide, she is right. My precious, precious child! they shall
keep us apart no longer." And Elsie was gently raised in her father's
arms, and folded to his beating heart.

She looked up eagerly into his face.

It was full of the tenderest love and pity.

"Papa, papa, my _own_ papa," she murmured, dropping her head upon his
breast.

He held her for some moments, caressing her silently; then laid her
gently down upon her pillow, and sat by her side with one little hand
held fast in his.

She raised her large, soft eyes, all dim with tears, to his face.

"Do you love me, my own papa?" she asked in a voice so low and weak he
could scarcely catch the words.

"Better than life," he said, his voice trembling with emotion; and he
leaned over her, passing his hand caressingly over her face.

"Does my little daughter love me?" he asked.

"Oh, so very, _very_ much," she said, and closing her eyes wearily, she
fell asleep again.

And now Mr. Dinsmore was constantly with his little girl. She could
scarcely bear to have him out of her sight, but clung to him with the
fondest affection, which he fully returned; and he never willingly
left her for an hour. She seemed to have entirely forgotten their first
meeting, and everything which had occurred since, up to the beginning of
her illness, and always talked to her father as though they had but just
begun their acquaintance; and it was with feelings half pleasurable, half
painful, that he listened to her.

It was certainly a relief to have her so unconscious of their
estrangement, and yet such an utter failure of memory distressed him
with fears of permanent and serious injury to her intellect; and thus
it was, with mingled hope and dread, that he looked forward to the
fulfilment of the doctor's prophecy that her memory would return.

She was growing stronger, so that she was able to be moved from her bed
to a couch during the day; and when she was very weary of lying, her
father would take her in his arms and carry her back and forth, or,
seating himself in a large rocking-chair, soothe her to sleep on his
breast, holding her there for hours, never caring for the aching of his
arms, but really enjoying the consciousness that he was adding to her
comfort by suffering a little himself.

Mrs. Travilla had some time since found it absolutely necessary to give
her personal attention to her own household, and Adelaide, quite worn out
with nursing, needed rest; and so, with a little help from Chloe, Mr.
Dinsmore took the whole care of his little girl, mixing and administering
her medicines with his own hand, giving her her food, soothing her in her
hours of restlessness, reading, talking, singing to her--exerting all his
powers for her entertainment, and never weary of waiting upon her. He
watched by her couch night and day; only now and then snatching a few
hours of sleep on a sofa in her room, while the faithful old nurse took
his place by her side.

One day he had been reading to Elsie, while she lay on her sofa.
Presently he closed the book, and looking at her, noticed that her eyes
were fixed upon his face with a troubled expression.

"What is it, dearest?" he asked.

"Papa," she said in a doubtful, hesitating way, "it seems as if I had
seen you before; have I, papa?"

"Why, surely, darling," he answered, trying to laugh, though he trembled
inwardly, "I have been with you for nearly two weeks, and you have seen
me every day."

"No, papa; but I mean before. Did I _dream_ that you gave me a doll once?
Were you ever vexed with me? Oh, papa, help me to think," she said in a
troubled, anxious tone, rubbing her hand across her forehead as she
spoke.

"Don't try to think, darling," he replied cheerfully, as he raised her,
shook up her pillows, and settled her more comfortably on them. "I am not
in the least vexed with you; there is nothing wrong, and I love you very,
_very_ dearly. So shut your eyes and try to go to sleep."

She looked only half satisfied, but closed her eyes as he bade her, and
was soon asleep. She seemed thoughtful and absent all the rest of the
day, every now and then fixing the same troubled, questioning look on
him, and it was quite impossible to interest her in any subject for more
than a few moments at a time.

That night, for the first time, he went to his own room, leaving her
entirely to Chloe's care. He had watched by her after she was put in bed
for the night, until she had fallen asleep; but he left her, feeling a
little anxious, for the same troubled look was on her face, as though
even in sleep memory was reasserting her sway.

When he entered her room again in the morning, although it was still
early, he found her already dressed for the day, in a pretty, loose
wrapper, and laid upon the sofa.

"Good-morning, little daughter; you are quite an early bird to-day, for a
sick one," he said gayly.

But as he drew near, he was surprised and pained to see that she was
trembling very much, and that her eyes were red with weeping.

"What is it, dearest?" he asked, bending over her in tender solicitude;
"what ails my little one?"

"Oh, papa," she said, bursting into tears, "I remember it all now. Are
you angry with me yet? and must I go away from you as soon as--"

But she was unable to finish her sentence.

He had knelt down by her side, and now raising her gently up, and laying
her head against his breast, he kissed her tenderly, saying in a moved
tone, in the beautiful words of Ruth, the Moabitess, "The Lord do so to
me, and more also, if aught but death part me and thee." He paused a
moment, as if unable to proceed; then, in tones tremulous with emotion,
said: "Elsie, my dear, my _darling_ daughter, I have been a very cruel
father to you; I have most shamefully abused my authority; but never
again will I require you to do anything contrary to the teachings of
God's word. Will you forgive your father, dearest, for all he has made
you suffer?"

"Dear papa, don't! oh, _please_ don't say such words to me!" she said;
"I cannot bear to hear them. You had a right to do whatever you pleased
with your own child."

"No, daughter; not to force you to disobey God," he answered with deep
solemnity. "I have learned to look upon you now, not as absolutely my
own, but as belonging first to him, and only lent to me for a time; and
I know that I will have to give an account of my stewardship."

He paused a moment, then went on: "Elsie, darling, your prayers for me
have been answered; your father has learned to know and love Jesus, and
has consecrated to his service the remainder of his days. And now, dear
one, we are travelling the same road at last."

Her happiness was too deep for words--for anything but tears; and putting
her little arms around his neck, she sobbed out her joy and gratitude
upon his breast.

Aunt Chloe had gone down to the kitchen, immediately upon Mr. Dinsmore's
entrance, to prepare Elsie's breakfast, and so they were quite alone. He
held her to his heart for a moment; then kissing away her tears, laid her
gently back upon her pillow again, and took up the Bible, which lay
beside her.

"I have learned to love it almost as well as you do, dearest," he said.
"Shall we read together, as you and Miss Rose used to do long ago?"

Her glad look was answer enough; and opening to one of her favorite
passages, he read it in his deep, rich voice, while she lay listening,
with a full heart, to the dearly loved words, which sounded sweeter
than ever before.

He closed the book. He had taken one of her little hands in his ere he
began to read, and still holding it fast in a close, loving grasp, he
knelt down and prayed.

He thanked God for their spared lives, and especially for the recovery of
his dear little one, who had so lately been tottering upon the very verge
of the grave--and his voice trembled with emotion as he alluded to that
time of trial--and confessed that it was undeserved mercy to him, for he
had been most unfaithful to his trust. And then he asked for grace and
wisdom to guide and guard her, and train her up aright, both by precept
and example. He confessed that he had been all his days a wanderer from
the right path, and that if left to himself he never would have sought
it; but thanked God that he had been led by the gracious influences of
the Holy Spirit to turn his feet into that straight and narrow way; and
he prayed that he might be kept from ever turning aside again into the
broad road, and that he and his little girl might now walk hand in hand
together on their journey to the celestial city.

Elsie's heart swelled with emotion, and glad tears rained down her
cheeks, as thus, for the first time, she heard her father's voice in
prayer. It was the happiest hour she had ever known.

"Take me, papa, please," she begged, holding out her hands to him, as he
rose from his knees, and drawing his chair close to her couch sat down by
her side.

He took her in his arms, and she laid her head on his breast again,
saying, "I am _so_ happy, so _very_ happy! Dear papa, it is worth all
the sickness and everything else that I have suffered."

He only answered with a kiss.

"Will you read and pray with me every morning, papa?" she asked,

"Yes, darling," he said, "and when we get into our own home we will call
in the servants morning and evening, and have family worship. Shall you
like that?"

"_Very_ much, papa! Oh, how nice it will be! and will we go _soon_ to our
own home, papa?" she asked eagerly.

"Just as soon as you are well enough to be moved, dearest. But here is
Aunt Chloe with your breakfast, so now we must stop talking, and let you
eat."

"May I talk a little more now, papa?" she asked, when she had done
eating.

"Yes, a little, if it is anything of importance," he answered smilingly.

"I wanted to say that I think our new home is very, very lovely, and that
I think we shall be _so_ happy there. Dear papa, you were so very kind to
furnish those pretty rooms for me! thank you _very_ much," she said,
pressing his hand to her lips. "I will try to be so good and obedient
that you will never regret having spent so much money, and taken so much
trouble for me."

"I know you will, daughter; you have always been a dutiful child," he
said tenderly, "and I shall never regret anything that adds to your
happiness."

"And will you do all that you said in that letter, papa? will you teach
me yourself?" she asked eagerly.

"If you wish it, my pet; but if you prefer a governess, I will try to
get one who will be more kind and patient than Miss Day. One thing is
certain, _she_ shall never teach you again."

"Oh, no, papa, please teach me yourself. I will try to be very good, and
not give you much trouble," she said coaxingly.

"I will," he said with a smile. "The doctor thinks that in a day or two
you may be able to take a short ride, and I hope it will not be very
long before we will be in our own home. Now I am going to wrap you up,
and carry you to my dressing-room to spend the day; for I know you are
tired of this room."

"How pleasant!" she exclaimed; "how kind you are to think of it, papa! I
feel as glad as I used to when I was going to take a long ride on my
pony."

He smiled on her a pleased, affectionate smile, and bade Chloe go and see
if the room was in order for them.

Chloe returned almost immediately to say that all was in readiness; and
Elsie was then raised in her father's strong arms, and borne quickly
through the hall and into the dressing-room, where she was laid upon a
sofa, and propped up with pillows. She looked very comfortable; and very
glad she was to have a little change of scene, after her long confinement
to one room.

Just as she was fairly settled in her new quarters, the breakfast-bell
rang, and her father left her in Chloe's care for a few moments, while he
went down to take his meal.

"I have brought you a visitor, Elsie," he said when he returned.

She looked up, and, to her surprise, saw her grandfather standing near
the door.

He came forward then, and taking the little, thin hand she held out to
him, he stooped and kissed her cheek.

"I am sorry to see you looking so ill, my dear," he said, not without a
touch of feeling in his tone--"but I hope you will get well very fast
now."

"Yes, grandpa, thank you; I am a great deal better than I was," she
answered, with a tear in her eye; for it was the first caress she ever
remembered having received from him, and she felt quite touched.

"Have the others come, grandpa?" she asked.

"Yes, my dear, they are all at home now, and I think Lora will be coming
to speak to you presently, she has been quite anxious to see you."

"Don't let her come until afternoon, father? if you please," said his
son, looking anxiously at his little girl. "Elsie cannot bear much yet,
and I see she is beginning to look exhausted already." And he laid his
finger on her pulse.

"I shall caution her on the subject," replied his father, turning to
leave the room. Then to Elsie, "You had better go to sleep now, child!
sleep and eat all you can, and get strong fast."

"Yes, sir," she said faintly, closing her eyes with a weary look.

Her father placed her more comfortably on the pillows, smoothed the
cover, closed the blinds to shut out the sunlight, and sat down to
watch her while she slept.

It was a long, deep sleep, for she was quite worn out by the excitement
of the morning; the dinner-hour had passed, and still she slumbered on,
and he began to grow uneasy. He was leaning over her, with his finger on
her slender wrist, watching her breathing and counting her pulse, when
she opened her eyes, and looking up lovingly into his face, said "Dear
papa, I feel so much better."

"I am very glad, daughter," he replied; "you have had a long sleep; and
now I will take you on my knee, and Aunt Chloe will bring up your
dinner."

Elsie's appetite was poor, and her father spared neither trouble nor
expense in procuring her every dainty that could be thought of which was
at all suited to her state of health, and he was delighted when he could
tempt her to eat with tolerable heartiness. She seemed to enjoy her
dinner, and he watched her with intense pleasure.

"Can I see Lora now, papa?" she asked, when Chloe had removed the dishes.

"Yes," he said. "Aunt Chloe, you may tell Miss Lora that we are ready to
receive her now."

Lora came in quite gay and full of spirits; but when she caught sight of
Elsie, lying so pale and languid in her father's arms, she had hard work
to keep from bursting into tears, and could scarcely command her voice to
speak.

"Dear Lora, I am so glad to see you," said the little girl, holding out
her small, thin hand.

Lora took it and kissed it, saying, in a tremulous tone, "How ill you
look!"

Elsie held up her face, and Lora stooped and kissed her lips; then
bursting into tears and sobs, she ran out of the room.

"Oh, Adelaide!" she cried, rushing into her sister's room, "how she is
changed! I should never have known her! Oh! do you think she can ever
get well?"

"If you had seen her two or three weeks ago, you would be quite
encouraged by her appearance now," replied her sister. "The doctor
considers her out of danger now, though he says she must have careful
nursing; and that I assure you she gets from her father. He seems to
feel that he can never do enough for her, and won't let me share the
labor at all, although I would often be very glad to do it."

"He _ought_ to do all he can for her! he would be a _brute_ if he
didn't, for it was all his doing, her being so ill!" exclaimed Lora
indignantly. "No, no; I ought not to say that," she added, correcting
herself immediately, "for we were _all_ unkind to her; I as well as the
rest. Oh, Adelaide! what a bitter thought that was to me when I heard she
was dying! I never realized before how lovely, and how very different
from all the rest of us she was."

"Yes, poor darling! she has had a hard life amongst us," replied
Adelaide, sighing, while the tears rose to her eyes. "You can never know,
Lora, what an agonizing thought it was at the moment when I believed that
she had left us forever. I would have given worlds to have been able to
live the last six years over again. But Horace--oh, Lora! I don't believe
there was a more wretched being on the face of the earth than he! I was
very angry with him at first, but when I saw how utterly crushed and
heartbroken he was, I couldn't say one word."

Adelaide was crying now in good earnest, as well as Lora.

Presently Lora asked for a full account of Elsie's illness, which
Adelaide was beginning to give, when a servant came to say that Elsie
wanted to see her; so, with a promise to Lora to finish her story another
time, she hastened to obey the summons.

She found the little girl still lying languidly in her father's arms.

"Dear Aunt Adelaide," she said, "I wanted to see you; you haven't been in
to-day to look at your little patient."

Adelaide smiled, and patted her cheek.

"Yes, my dear," she said, "I have been in twice, but found you sleeping
both times, and your father keeping guard over you, like a tiger watching
his cub."

"No, no, Aunt Adelaide; papa isn't a bit like a tiger," said Elsie,
passing her small, white hand caressingly over his face. "You mustn't
say that."

"I don't know," replied Adelaide, laughing and shaking her head; "I think
anybody who should be daring enough to disturb your slumbers would find
there was considerable of the tiger in him."

Elsie looked up into her father's face as if expecting him to deny the
charge.

"Never mind," said he, smiling; "Aunt Adelaide is only trying to tease us
a little."

A servant came in and whispered something to Adelaide.

"Mr. and Mrs. Travilla," she said, turning to her brother; "is Elsie able
to see them?"

"Oh, yes, papa, please," begged the little girl in a coaxing tone.

"Well, then, for a few moments, I suppose," he answered rather
doubtfully; and Adelaide went down and brought them up.

Elsie was very glad to see them; but seeing that she looked weak and
weary they did not stay long, but soon took an affectionate leave of her,
expressing the hope that it would not be many weeks before she would be
able to pay a visit to Ion.

Her father promised to take her to spend a day there as soon as she was
well enough, and then they went away.

Elsie's strength returned very slowly, and she had many trying hours of
weakness and nervous prostration to endure. She was almost always very
patient, but on a few rare occasions, when suffering more than usual,
there was a slight peevishness in her tone. Once it was to her father she
was speaking, and the instant she had done so, she looked up at him with
eyes brimful of tears, expecting a stern rebuke, or, at the very least, a
look of great displeasure.

But he did not seem to have heard her, and only busied himself in trying
to make her more comfortable; and when she seemed to feel easier again,
he kissed her tenderly, saying softly: "My poor little one! papa knows
she suffers a great deal, and feels very sorry for her. Are you better
now, dearest?"

"Yes, papa, thank you," she answered, the tears coming into her eyes
again. "I don't know what makes me so cross; you are very good not to
scold me."

"I think my little girl is very patient," he said, caressing her again;
"and if she were not, I couldn't have the heart to _scold_ her after all
she has suffered. Shall I sing to you now?"

"Yes, papa; please sing 'I want to be like Jesus.' Oh, I _do_ want to be
like him! and then I should never even _feel_ impatient."

He did as she requested, singing in a low, soothing tone that soon lulled
her to sleep. He was an indefatigable nurse, never weary, never in the
least impatient, and nothing that skill and kindness could do for the
comfort and recovery of his little daughter was left undone. He carried
her in his arms from room to room; and then, as she grew stronger, down
into the garden. Then he sent for a garden chair, in which he drew her
about the gardens with his own hands; or if he called a servant to do it,
he walked by her side, doing all he could to amuse her, and when she was
ready to be carried indoors again, no one was allowed to touch her but
himself. At last she was able to take short and easy rides in the
carriage--not more than a quarter of a mile at first, for he was very
much afraid of trying her strength too far--but gradually they were
lengthened, as she seemed able to bear it.

One day he was unusually eager to get her into the carriage, and after
they had started, instead of calling her attention to the scenery, as he
often did, he began relating a story which interested her so much that
she did not notice in what direction they were travelling until the
carriage stopped, the foot-man threw open the door, and her father,
breaking off in the middle of a sentence, sprang out hastily, lifted her
in his arms, and carried her into the house.

She did not know where she was until he had laid her on a sofa, and,
giving her a rapturous kiss, exclaimed--

"Welcome home, my darling! welcome to your father's house."

Then she looked up and saw that she was indeed in the dear home he had
prepared for her months before.

She was too glad to speak a word, or do anything but gaze about her
with eyes brimming over with delight; while her father took off her
bonnet and shawl, and setting her on her feet, led her across the room to
an easy-chair, where he seated her in state.

He then threw open a door, and there was another pleasant surprise; for
who but her old friend, Mrs. Murray, should rush in and take her in her
arms, kissing her and crying over her.

"Dear, _dear_ bairn," she exclaimed, "you are looking pale and ill, but
it does my auld heart gude to see your winsome wee face once more. I hope
it will soon grow as round and rosy as ever, now that you've won to your
ain home at last. But where, darling, are all your bonny curls?" she
asked suddenly.

"In the drawer, in my room at grandpa's," replied the little girl with a
faint smile. "They had to be cut off when I was so sick. You were not
vexed, papa?" she asked, raising her eyes timidly to his face.

"No, darling, not _vexed_ certainly, though very sorry indeed that it was
necessary," he said in a kind, gentle tone, passing his hand caressingly
over her head.

"Ah, well," remarked Mrs. Murray cheerfully, "we winna fret about it;
it will soon grow again, and these little, soft rings of hair are very
pretty, too."

"I thought you were in Scotland, Mrs. Murray; when did you come back?"
asked the little girl.

"I came to this place only yesterday, darling; but it is about a week
since I landed in America."

"I am so glad to see you, dear Mrs. Murray," Elsie said, holding fast to
her hand, and looking lovingly into her face. "I haven't forgotten any
of the good things you taught me." Then turning to her father, she said,
very earnestly, "Papa, you won't need now to have me grow up for a long
while, because Mrs. Murray is such an excellent housekeeper."

He smiled and patted her cheek, saying pleasantly, "No, dear, I shall
keep you a little girl as long as ever I can; and give Mrs. Murray plenty
of time to make a good housekeeper of you."

"At what hour will you have dinner, sir?" asked the old lady, turning to
leave the room.

"At one, if you please," he said, looking at his watch. "I want Elsie to
eat with me, and it must be early, on her account."

Elsie's little face was quite bright with pleasure. "I am so glad, papa,"
she said, "it will be very delightful to dine together in our own house.
May I always dine with you?"

"I hope so," he said, smiling. "I am not fond of eating alone."

They were in Mr. Dinsmore's study, into which Elsie's own little
sitting-room opened.

"Do you feel equal to a walk through your rooms, daughter, or shall I
carry you?" he asked, bending over her.

"I think I will try to walk, papa, if you please," she said, putting her
hand in his.

He led her slowly forward, but her step seemed tottering, and he passed
his arm around her waist, and supported her to the sofa in her own pretty
little boudoir.

Although it was now quite late in the fall, the weather was still
warm and pleasant in that southern clime--flowers were blooming in
the gardens, and doors and windows stood wide open.

Elsie glanced out of the window, and then around the room.

"What a lovely place it is, papa!" she said; "and everything in this dear
little room is so complete, so very pretty. Dear papa, you are very,
_very_ kind to me! I will have to be a very good girl to deserve it all."

"Does it please you, darling? I am very glad," he said, drawing her
closer to him. "I have tried to think of everything that would be useful
to you, or give you pleasure; but if there is anything else you want,
just tell me what it is, and you shall have it."

"Indeed, papa," she said, smiling up at him, "I could never have thought
of half the pretty things that are here already; and I don't believe
there is anything else I could possibly want. Ah! papa, how happy I am
to-day; so very much happier than when I was here before. Then I thought
I should never be happy again in this world. There is your picture. I
cried very much when I looked at it that day, but it does not make me
feel like crying now, and I am so _glad_ to have it. Thank you a thousand
times for giving it to me."

"You are very welcome, darling; you deserve it all, and more than all,"
replied her father tenderly. "And now," he asked, "will you look at the
other rooms, or are you too tired?"

"I want to try the piano first, if you please, papa," she said; "it is so
long since I touched one."

He opened the instrument, and then picked her up and seated her on the
stool, saying, "I am afraid you will find yourself hardly equal to the
exertion; but you may try."

She began a little piece which had always been a favorite of his--he
standing beside her, and supporting her with his arm--but it seemed hard
work; the tiny hands trembled so with weakness and he would not let her
finish.

"You must wait until another day, dearest," he said, taking her in his
arms; "you are not strong enough yet, and I think I will have to _carry_
you through the other rooms, if you are to see them at all. Shall I?"

She assented, laying her head down languidly on his shoulder, and had
very little to say, as he bore her along through the dressing-room, and
into the bed-room beyond.

The bed looked very inviting with its snowy drapery, and he laid her
gently down upon it, saying, "You are too much fatigued to attempt
anything more, and must take a nap now, my pet, to recruit yourself
a little before dinner."

"Don't leave me, papa! _please_ don't!" she exclaimed, half starting up
as he turned toward the door.

"No, dearest," he said, "I am only going to get your shawl to lay over
you, and will be back again in a moment."

He returned almost immediately, but found her already fast asleep.

"Poor darling! she is quite worn out," he murmured, as he spread the
shawl carefully over her. Then taking a book from his pocket, he sat down
by her side, and read until she awoke.

It was the sound of the dinner-bell which had roused her, and as she sat
up looking quite bright and cheerful again, he asked if she thought she
could eat some dinner, and would like to be taken to the dining-room.
She assented, and he carried her there, seated her in an easy-chair,
wheeled it up to the table, and then sat down opposite to her, looking
supremely happy.

The servants were about to uncover the dishes, but motioning them to
wait a moment, Mr. Dinsmore bowed his head over his plate, and asked a
blessing on their food. It sent a glow of happiness to Elsie's little,
pale face, and she loved and respected her father more than ever. She
seemed to enjoy her dinner, and he watched her with a pleased look.

"The change of air has done you good already, I think," he remarked; "you
seem to have a better appetite than you have had since your sickness."

"Yes, papa, I believe everything tastes good because it is home," she
answered, smiling lovingly up at him.

After dinner he held her on his knee a while, chatting pleasantly with
her about their plans for the future; and then, laying her on the sofa
in her pretty boudoir, he brought a book from his library, and read
to her.

It was a very interesting story he had chosen; and he had been reading
for more than an hour, when, happening to look at her he noticed that her
eyes were very bright, and her cheeks flushed, as if with fever. He
suddenly closed the book, and laid his finger on her pulse.

"Oh! papa, please go on," she begged; "I am so much interested."

"No, daughter, your pulse is very quick, and I fear this book is entirely
too exciting for you at present--so I shall not read you any more of it
to-day," he said, laying it aside.

"Oh! papa, I want to hear it so much; do please read a _little_ more, or
else let me have the book myself," she pleaded in a coaxing tone.

"My little daughter must not forget old lessons," he replied very
gravely.

She turned away her head with almost a pout on her lip, and her eyes full
of tears.

He did not reprove her, though, as he once would have done; but seeming
not to notice her ill-humor, exerted himself to soothe and amuse her, by
talking in a cheerful strain of other matters; and in a very few moments
all traces of it had disappeared, and she was answering him in her usual
pleasant tone.

They had both been silent for several minutes, when she said, "Please,
papa, put your head close down to me, I want to say something to you."

He complied, and putting her little arm around his neck, she said, in a
very humble tone, "Dear papa, I was very naughty and cross just now; and
I think I have been cross several times lately; and you have been so good
and kind not to reprove or punish me, as I deserved. Please, papa,
forgive me; I am very sorry, and I will try to be a better girl."

He kissed her very tenderly.

"I do forgive you freely, my little one," he said, "I know it seemed hard
to give up the story just there, but it was for your good, and you must
try always to believe that papa knows best. You are very precious to your
father's heart, Elsie, but I am not going to _spoil_ my little girl
because I love her so dearly; nor because I have been so near losing
her."

His voice trembled as he pronounced the last words, and for a moment
emotion kept him silent. Then he went on again.

"I shall never again bid you do violence to your conscience, my daughter,
but to all the commands which I _do_ lay upon you I shall still expect
and require the same ready and cheerful obedience that I have heretofore.
It is my duty to require, and yours to yield it."

"Yes, papa, I know it is," she said with a little sigh, "but, it is very
difficult sometimes to keep from wanting to have my own way."

"Yes, darling, I know it, for I find it so with myself," replied her
father gently; "but we must, ask God to help us to give up our own wills,
and be satisfied to do and have what we _ought_, rather than what we
would _like_."

"I will, papa," she whispered, hugging him tighter and tighter. "I am so
glad you teach me that."

They were quite quiet again for a little while. She was running her
fingers through his hair.

"Oh, papa!" she exclaimed, "I see two or three white hairs! I am so
sorry! I don't want you to get old. What made these come so soon, papa?"

He did not reply immediately, but, taking her in his arms, held her close
to his heart. It was beating very fast.

Suddenly she seemed to comprehend.

"Was it because you were afraid I was going to die, papa?" she asked.

"Yes, dearest, and because I had reason, to think that my own cruelty had
killed you."

The words were almost inaudible, but she heard them.

"Dear _dear_ papa, how I love you!" she said, putting her arms around his
neck again; "and I am so glad, for your sake, that I did not die."

He pressed her closer and closer, caressing her silently with a heart too
full for words.

They sat thus for some time, but were at length interrupted by the
entrance of Chloe, who had been left behind at Roselands to attend to the
packing and removal of Elsie's clothes, and all her little possessions.
She had finished her work, and her entrance was immediately followed by
that of the men-servants bearing several large trunks and boxes, the
contents of which she proceeded at once to unpack and rearrange in the
new apartments.

Elsie watched this operation with a good deal of interest, occasionally
directing where this or that article should be put; but in the midst of
it all was carried off by her father to the tea-table.

Soon after tea the servants were all called together, and Mr. Dinsmore,
after addressing a few words to them on the importance of calling upon
God--the blessings promised to those who did, and the curses pronounced
upon those individuals and families who did not--read a chapter from the
Bible and offered up a prayer.

All were solemn and attentive, and all seemed pleased with the
arrangement--for Mr. Dinsmore had told them it was to be the regular
custom of the house, morning and evening--but Elsie, Mrs. Murray, and
Chloe fairly wept for joy and thankfulness.

Elsie begged for another chapter and prayer in the privacy of her own
rooms, and then Chloe undressed her, and her father carried her to her
bed and placed her in it with a loving good-night kiss. And thus ended
the first happy day in her own dear home.



CHAPTER XIV.

"Her world was ever joyous;
  She thought of grief and pain
As giants in the olden time,
  That ne'er would come again."

MRS. HALE'S ALICE RAY.


      "Then all was jollity,
Feasting, and mirth."

ROWE'S JANE SHORE.


It was with a start, and a momentary feeling of perplexity as to her
whereabouts, followed almost instantly by the glad remembrance that she
was indeed at _home_, that the little Elsie awoke the next morning. She
sat up in the bed and gazed about her. Everything had a new, fresh look,
and an air of simple elegance, that struck her as very charming.

A door on her right, communicating with her father's sleeping apartment,
was slightly ajar, and she could hear him moving about.

"Papa!" she called, in her sweet, silvery tones.

"Good-morning, daughter," he said, appearing in answer to her summons.
"Why, how bright my little girl is looking this morning!"

"Yes, papa, I feel so well and strong I do believe I can walk to the
dining-room. Please, may I get up now?"

"Yes; Aunt Chloe may dress you, and call me when you are ready," he
replied, bending down to give her a kiss.

Chloe was just coming in from a small adjoining room which had been
appropriated to her use, and exclaimed with delight at her darling's
bright looks.

"Dress her very nicely, Aunt Chloe," said Mr. Dinsmore, "for I think it
is quite possible we may have visitors to-day; and besides, I want her to
look her best for my own enjoyment," he added, with a loving look and
smile directed toward his little girl.

Chloe promised to do her best; and he seemed entirely satisfied with the
result of her labors, as well he might, for Elsie looked very lovely in
her simple white dress, and little embroidered pink sacque, which seemed
to lend a faint tinge of color to her pale cheeks. She was tired, though,
with the dressing, and quite willing to give up her plan of walking to
the dining-room, and let her father carry her.

After breakfast he sat with her on his knee for a little while, and then,
laying her on the sofa and giving her a kiss, he told her he must leave
her with Chloe for an hour or two, as he had some business matters to
arrange with her grandfather, after which he would take her to ride.

"I wish you didn't have to go, papa; but please come back as soon as you
can," she said coaxingly.

"I will, darling. And now, Aunt Chloe, I leave her in your care; don't
let her do anything to tire herself," he said as he went out.

Elsie listened until she heard the sound of his horse's hoofs as he
galloped down the avenue, and then turning to her nurse, she exclaimed
eagerly,

"Now, mammy, please hand me my work-box and that unfinished slipper."

"You's not fit to sew, darlin' chile," objected the careful old woman,
doing as she was asked, nevertheless.

"Well, mammy, I want to try, and I'll stop directly if it tires me,"
replied the little girl. "Please put me in my rocking-chair. They are
for papa, you see, and I want to get them done before Christmas."

"Dere's plenty ob time yet 'fore Christmas, darlin', to do dat little
bit," Chloe said; "'tain't comin' dis four or five weeks; better wait
till you git stronger."

Elsie was not to be dissuaded, however, from making the attempt; but
a very few moments' work satisfied her that she was still too weak for
such an employment; and she readily consented to let Chloe put away her
work-box and lay her on her sofa again, where she spent the rest of the
time in reading her Bible until her father returned. Then came her ride,
and then a nap, which took up all the morning until near dinner-time.

She found Mr. Travilla sitting there, talking with her father, when she
awoke. She was very glad to see him, and to hear that he was going to
stay to dinner; and they had quite a little chat together about the new
home and its surroundings.

After dinner, her Aunt Adelaide, Lora, and Walter called to see them and
the house; but both they and Mr. Travilla went away early--he promising
to bring his mother to see her very soon--and then she was left alone
with her father again.

"Would you like now to hear the remainder of the story we were reading
yesterday, daughter?" he asked.

"Very much, papa; I have been wanting it all day."

"Why did you not ask for it, then?" he inquired.

"Because, papa, I was ashamed, after being so naughty about it
yesterday," she answered, hanging her head and blushing deeply.

"Well, you shall have it now, daughter," he said luridly, pressing his
lips to the little blushing cheek. "I had forgotten about it, or I would
have given you the book to read while I was out this morning."

A very pleasant, happy life had now begun for our little Elsie: all her
troubles seemed to be over, and she was surrounded by everything that
heart could wish. Her father watched over her with the tenderest love
and care; devoting the greater part of his time to her entertainment and
instruction, sparing neither trouble nor expense to give her pleasure,
and though still requiring unhesitating, cheerful obedience to his wishes
and commands--yet ruling her not less gently than firmly. He never spoke
to her now in his stern tone, and after a while she ceased to expect and
dread it.

Her health improved quite rapidly after their removal to the Oaks, and
before Christmas came again she was entirely equal to a little stroll in
the grounds, or a short ride on her favorite pony.

Her cheeks were becoming round and rosy again, and her hair had grown
long enough to curl in soft, glossy little ringlets all over her head,
and her father thought her almost prettier than ever. But he was very
careful of her still, scarcely willing to have her a moment out of his
sight, lest she should become over-fatigued, or her health be injured
in some way; and he always accompanied her in her walks and rides, ever
watching over her with the most unwearied love. As her health and
strength returned he permitted her, in accordance with her own wishes,
gradually to resume her studies, and took great pleasure in instructing
her; but he was very particular to see that she did not attempt too much,
nor sit poring over her books when she needed exercise and recreation,
as she was sometimes rather inclined to do.

"Massa, dere's a gentleman wants to speak to you," said a servant,
looking in at the study door one afternoon a few days before Christmas.

"Very well, John, show him into the library, and I will be there in a
moment," replied Mr. Dinsmore, putting down his book.

He glanced at Elsie's little figure, half buried in the cushions of a
great easy-chair near one of the windows, into which she had climbed
more than an hour before, and where she had been sitting ever since,
completely lost to all that might be going on about her, in the deep
interest with which she was following the adventures of FitzJames in
Scott's "Lady of the Lake."

"Daughter, I am afraid you are reading more to-day than is quite good for
you," he said, looking at his watch. "You must put up your book very soon
now, and go out for a walk. I shall probably be down in ten or fifteen
minutes; but if I am not, you must not wait for me, but take Aunt Chloe
with you."

"Yes, papa," she replied, looking up from her book for an instant, and
then returning to it again as he left the room.

She had not the least intention of disobeying, but soon forgot everything
else in the interest of her story.

The stranger detained Mr. Dinsmore much longer than he had expected, and
the short winter day was drawing rapidly to a close when he returned to
his study, to find Elsie--much to his surprise and displeasure--precisely
where he had left her.

She was not aware of his entrance until he was close beside her; then,
looking up with a start, she colored violently.

He gently took the book from her hand and laid it away, then, lifting her
from the chair, led her across the room, where he seated himself upon the
sofa, and drawing her in between his knees, regarded her with a look of
grave, sad displeasure.

"Has my little daughter any idea how long it is since her father bade her
put up her book?" he asked in a gently reproving tone.

Elsie hung her head in silence, and a tear rolled quickly down her
burning cheek.

"It grieves me very much," he said, "to find that my little girl can be
so disobedient! it almost makes me fear that she does not love me very
much."

"Oh, papa, don't! oh, don't say that! I can't bear to hear it!" she
cried, bursting into an agony of tears and sobs, and hiding her face on
his breast. "I do love you _very_ much, papa, and I can't bear to think
I've grieved you," she sobbed. "I know I am very naughty, and deserve
to be punished--but I didn't mean to disobey, only the book was so
interesting I didn't know at all how the time went."

He sighed, but said nothing; only drew her closer to him, pulling his arm
around her, and stroking her hair in a gentle, caressing way.

There was no sound for some moments but Elsie's sobs.

Then she asked in a half whisper, "Are you going to punish me, papa?"

"I shall take the book from you for a few days; I hope that will be
punishment enough to make you pay better attention to my commands in
future," he said very gravely.

"Dear papa how kind you are! I am sure I deserve a great deal worse
punishment than that," she exclaimed, raising her head and looking up
gratefully and lovingly into his face, "but I am very, very sorry for
my disobedience; will you please forgive me?"

"I will, daughter," and he bent down and kissed her lips.

"Now go," he said, "and get your cloak and hood. I think we will still
have time for a little stroll through the grounds before dark."

Elsie had very little to say during their walk, but moved silently along
by her father's side, with her hand clasped in his; and he, too, seemed
unusually abstracted.

It was quite dusk when they entered the house again, and when the little
girl returned to the study, after Chloe had taken off her wrappings,
she found her father seated in an easy-chair, drawn up on one side of
a bright wood fire that was blazing and crackling on the hearth.

Elsie dearly loved the twilight hour, and it was one of her greatest
pleasures to climb upon her father's knee and sit there talking or
singing, or perhaps, oftener, just laying her head down on his breast
and watching the play of the fire-light on the carpet, or the leaping
of the flame hither and thither.

Mr. Dinsmore sat leaning back in his chair, apparently in deep thought,
and did not hear Elsie's light step.

She paused for one instant in the doorway, casting a wistful, longing
look at him, then, with a little sigh, walked softly to the other side of
the fire-place, and seated herself in her little rocking-chair.

For several minutes she sat very quietly gazing into the fire, her little
face wearing a very sober, thoughtful look. But she was startled out of
her reverie by the sound of her father's voice.

"Why am I not to have my little girl on my knee to-night?" he was asking.

She rose instantly, in a quick, eager way, and ran to him.

"If you prefer the rocking-chair, stay there, by all means," he said.

But she had already climbed to her accustomed seat, and, twining her arms
around his neck, she laid her cheek to his, saying, "No, indeed, papa;
you know I don't like the rocking-chair half so well as your knee; so
please let me stay here."

"Why did you not come at first, then?" he asked in a playful tone.

"Because I was afraid, papa," she whispered,

"_Afraid_!" he repeated, with an accent of surprise, and looking as if he
felt a little hurt.

"Yes, papa," she answered in a low tone, "because I have been so very
naughty this afternoon that I know I don't deserve to come."

"Did you not hear me say I forgave you?" he asked.

"Yes, papa."

"Very well, then, if you are forgiven you are taken back into favor, just
as if you had not transgressed; and if you had quite believed me, you
would have come to me at once, and claimed a daughter's privilege, as
usual," he said very gravely.

"I do believe you, papa; I know you always speak the truth and mean just
what you say," she replied in half-tearful tones, "but I know I don't
deserve a place on your knee to-night."

"What you _deserve_ is not the question at present; we are talking about
what you can _have_, whether you _deserve_ it or not.

"Ah!" he continued in a low, musing tone, more as if thinking aloud than
speaking to her, "just so it is with us all in reference to our Heavenly
Father's forgiveness; when he offers us a full and free pardon of all our
offences, and adoption into his family, we don't more than half believe
him, but still go about groaning under the burden of our sins, and afraid
to claim the privileges of children.

"It hurts and displeases me when my child doubts my word, and yet how
often I dishonor my Father by doubting his. 'He that believeth not God,
maketh him a liar.' 'Without faith it is impossible to please him.'"

He relapsed into silence, and for some moments neither of them spoke.

He was passing his hand caressingly over her hair, and she resting in his
arms and gazing thoughtfully into the fire.

"What is my little one thinking of?" he asked at last.

"I was thinking what a very naughty girl I have been this afternoon,
and what a dear, kind papa I have," she said, looking up lovingly into
his face. "You were so kind, papa, not to punish me as I deserved. I was
afraid you would send me directly to bed, and I should miss my pleasant
evening with you."

"I hope, my darling," he answered gently, "that you do not think, when
I punish you, it is from anything like a feeling of revenge, or because
I take pleasure in giving you pain? Not at all. I do it for your own
good--and in this instance, as I thought you were sorry enough for having
grieved and displeased me to keep you from repeating the offence, I
did not consider any further punishment necessary. But perhaps I was
mistaken, and it was only fear of punishment that caused your tears,"
he added, looking keenly at her.

"Oh, no, papa! no indeed!" she exclaimed earnestly, the tears rushing
into her eyes again; "it is worse than any punishment to know that I have
grieved and displeased you, because I love you so very, _very_ dearly!"
and the little arm crept round his neck again, and the soft cheek was
laid to his.

"I know it, darling," he said, "I fully believe that you would prefer any
physical suffering to the pain of my displeasure."

"Papa," she said, after a few moments' silence, "I want to tell you
something."

"Well, daughter, I am ready to listen," he answered pleasantly; "what is
it?"

"I was looking in my desk to-day, papa, for a letter that I wrote to you
the evening before I was taken sick, and I couldn't find it. Did Aunt
Adelaide give it to you?"

"Yes, dear, I have it, and one of your curls," he said, pressing her
closer to him.

"Yes, papa, _that_ was what I wanted to tell you about. I am afraid I was
very naughty to cut it off after all you said about it last Christmas;
but everything was so strange that night--it seems like a dreadful dream
to me now. I don't think I was quite in my right mind sometimes, and I
thought I was going to die, and something seemed to tell me that you
would want some of my hair when I was gone, and that nobody would save
it for you; and so I cut it off myself. You do not mind about it, papa,
dear, do you? You don't think it was _very_ naughty in me?" she asked
anxiously.

"No, darling, no; it was very right and kind, and much more than I
deserved," he answered with emotion.

"I am glad you are not angry, papa," she said in a relieved tone, "and,
indeed, I did not mean to be naughty or disobedient."

John was just bringing in the lights, and Mr. Dinsmore took a note from
his pocket, saying, "I will read this to you, daughter, as it concerns
you as well as myself."

It was an invitation from Mrs. Howard--the mother of Elsie's friend,
Caroline--to Mr. Dinsmore and his little girl, to come and spend the
Christmas holidays with them.

"Well, my pet, what do you say to it? would you like to go?" he asked, as
he refolded the note and returned it to his pocket.

"I don't know, papa; it seems as if it would be pleasant, as we are both
invited; but home is so sweet, and I am so happy just alone with you that
I hardly want to go away; so if you please, papa, I would much rather
just leave it all to you."

"Well, then, we will stay quietly at home," he said, with a gratified
look; "and I think it will be much the better plan, for you are not
strong enough yet for gayety, and it would be very little pleasure for
you to be there while unable to join in the sports, and obliged always
to keep early hours.

"But we might have a Christmas dinner at home, and invite a few friends
to help us eat it. Whom would you like to have?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Travilla, and Aunt Adelaide, and Lora, if you please, papa,
and anybody else you like," she replied, looking very much pleased. "I
should like to have Carry Howard, but of course I can't--as she is going
to have company of her own; and I believe nearly all the little girls I
am acquainted with are to be there."

"Yes, I suppose so. Well, we will ask those you have mentioned, and I
hope they will come. But there is the tea-bell, and I shall carry my
dolly out to the dining-room," he said, rising with her in his arms.

"Papa," she said, when they had returned to their seats by the study
fire, "may I give mammy a nice present this Christmas?"

"Yes," he replied kindly, "I supposed you would want to give some
presents, and I have just been thinking how it might be managed,
as you are not fit to shop for yourself. As you have not had any
pocket-money for several months, I will allow you now to spend as
much as you choose--provided you keep within tolerably reasonable
bounds," he added, smiling; "so you may make out a list of all the
articles you want, and I will purchase them for you. Will that do?"

"Oh, nicely, papa!" she cried, clapping her hands with delight, "it
was very good of you to think of all that."

"De slippers is come, darlin'; Bill, he fotched 'em from de city dis
afternoon," remarked Chloe, as she was preparing her little charge for
bed that night.

"Oh, have they, mammy? let me see them!" was Elsie's eager exclamation.

Chloe went to her room and was back again in a moment with a bundle in
her hand, which Elsie immediately seized and opened with eager haste.

"Oh, how pretty!" she cried, capering about with them in her hands,
"aren't they, mammy? Won't papa be pleased?"

Then starting at the sound of his step in the adjoining room, she threw
them into a drawer which Chloe had hastily opened for the purpose.

"Elsie," said her father, opening the door and putting in his head, "why
are you not in bed, my daughter? you will take cold standing there half
undressed. Go to bed immediately."

"Yes, papa, I will," she replied submissively; and he drew back his head
again and shut the door.

"'Mighty narrow 'scape dat," remarked Chloe, laughing; "ef Massa had come
jes a minute sooner, de cat been out de bag sure 'nough."

Elsie made out her list the next day, with the help of some suggestions
from her father, and by Christmas eve all the purchases had been made,
and one of the closets in her bed-room was quite filled with packages
of various sizes and shapes.

The little girl was all excitement, and did not want to go to bed when
the hour came.

"Please, papa, let me stay up a little longer," she pleaded coaxingly.
"I am not a bit sleepy."

"No, my daughter; you must go at once," he said; "early hours are of
great importance in your present state of health, and you must try to put
away all exciting thoughts, and go to sleep as soon as you can. You will
try to obey me in this?"

"Yes, papa; I am sure I ought to be very good when you are so kind and
indulgent to me," she replied, as she put up her face for the usual
good-night kiss.

"God bless and keep my little one, and give her many happy returns of
this Christmas eve," said Mr. Dinsmore, folding her to his heart.

Elsie had intended to stay awake until her father should be in bed and
asleep, and then to steal softly into his room and take away the slippers
he usually wore, replacing them with the new ones which she had worked.
But now she engaged Chloe to do this for her, and in obedience to his
directions endeavored to put away all exciting thoughts and go to sleep,
in which she succeeded much sooner than she could have believed possible.

She was up and dressed, and saying "Merry Christmas!" at her papa's door,
quite early the next morning.

"Come in," said he, "and tell me what fairy has been here, changing my
old slippers to new ones."

"No fairy at all, papa; but just dear old mammy," she cried, springing
into his arms with a merry, ringing laugh.

"Ah, but I know very well it wasn't Aunt Chloe's fingers that worked
them," he said, kissing her first on one cheek, then on the other. "I
wish you a very merry Christmas, and a _very happy_ New Year, my darling.
Thank you for your gift; I like it very much, indeed; and now see what
papa has for _you_."

And opening a pretty little box that stood on his dressing-table, he took
from it a beautiful pearl necklace and bracelets, and clasped them round
her neck and arms.

"Oh, how beautiful! dear papa, thank you very much," she exclaimed,
delighted.

"Your Aunt Adelaide thought you didn't care much for ornaments," he
remarked, looking much pleased.

"I do when _you_ give them to me, papa," she answered, raising her eyes
to his face with one of her sweet, loving smiles.

"I am very glad my present pleases you," he said, "but for fear it
should not, I have provided another," and he placed in her hand a very
handsomely bound volume of Scott's poems.

"I don't deserve it, papa," she said, coloring deeply, and dropping her
eyes on the carpet.

"You shall have it, at any rate," he replied, laying his hand gently on
her drooping head; "and now you can finish the 'Lady of the Lake' this
afternoon, if you like. His prose works I may perhaps give you at some
future day; but I do not choose you should read them for some years to
come. But now we will lay this book aside for the present, and have
our morning chapter together."

They had finished their devotions, and she was sitting on his knee,
waiting for the breakfast-bell to ring.

"When did you find an opportunity to work these without letting me into
the secret?" he asked, extending his foot, and turning it from side to
side to look at his slipper. "It puzzles me to understand it, since I
know that for weeks past you have scarcely been an hour out of my sight
during the day--not since you were well enough to sew," he said, smiling
down at her.

There was an expression of deep gravity, almost amounting to sadness, on
Elsie's little face, that surprised her father a good deal.

"All, papa!" she murmured, "it makes me feel sad, and glad, too, to look
at those slippers."

"Why, darling?" he asked in a tender tone.

"Because, papa, I worked almost the whole of them last summer, in those
sorrowful days when I was all alone. I thought I was going to die, papa,
for I was sure I could not live very long without you to love me, and I
wanted to make something for you that would remind you of your little
girl when she was gone, and perhaps convince you that she did really
love you, although she seemed so naughty and rebellious,"

The tears were streaming down her cheeks, and there was a momentary
struggle to keep down a rising sob; and then she added--

"I finished them since I came here, papa, a little at a time, whenever
you were not with me."

He was deeply moved. "My poor darling!" he sighed, drawing her closer to
him, and caressing her tenderly, "those were sad days to us both, and
though I _then_ persuaded myself that I was doing my duty toward you, if
you had been taken away from me I could never have forgiven myself, or
known another happy moment. But God has treated me with undeserved
mercy."

After breakfast the house-servants were all called in to family
worship, as usual; and when that had been attended to, Elsie uncovered
a large basket which stood on a side-table, and with a face beaming
with delight, distributed the Christmas gifts--a nice new calico dress,
or a bright-colored hand-kerchief to each, accompanied by a paper of
confectionery.

They were received with bows and courtesies, broad grins of satisfaction,
and many repetitions of "Tank you, Miss Elsie! dese berry handsome--berry
nice, jes de ting for dis chile."

Mr. Dinsmore stood looking on highly gratified, and coming in for a share
of the thanks.

An hour or two later, Elsie's little pony, and her father's larger but
equally beautiful steed, were brought up to the door, and they rode down
to the quarter, followed by Jim and Bill, each carrying a good-sized
basket; and there a very similar scene was gone through with--Elsie
finishing up the business by showering sugar-plums into the outstretched
aprons of the little ones, laughing merrily at their eagerness, and
highly enjoying their delight.

She half wished for an instant, as she turned her horse's head to ride
away again, that she was one of them, so much did she want a share of the
candy, which her father refused to let her taste, saying it was not fit
for her when she was well, and much less now while she had yet hardly
recovered from severe illness.

But it was a lovely morning, the air pure and bracing, and everything
else was speedily forgotten in the pleasure of a brisk ride with her
father. They rode several miles, and on their return were overtaken
by Mr. Travilla, who remarked that Elsie had quite a color, and was
looking more like herself than he had seen her since her sickness. He was
on horseback, and his mother arrived a little later in the carriage,
having called at Roselands on the way, and picked up Adelaide. Lora did
not come, as she had accepted an invitation to spend the holidays at Mr.
Howard's, where a little girl about her own age, a cousin of Carry's,
from the North, was spending the winter.

Mr. Travilla put a beautiful little pearl ring on Elsie's finger, which
she gracefully thanked him for, and then showing it to her father, "See,
papa," she said, "how nicely it matches the bracelets."

"Yes, daughter, it is very pretty," he replied, "and one of these days,
when you are old enough to wear it, you shall have a pin to match."

Mrs. Travilla and Adelaide each gave her a handsome book--Adelaide's was
a beautifully bound Bible--and Elsie was delighted with all her presents,
and thought no little girl could be richer in Christmas gifts than
herself.

The day passed very pleasantly, for they were quite like a family party,
every one seeming to feel perfectly at home and at ease.

The negroes were to have a grand dinner at the quarter, and Elsie, who
had been deeply interested in the preparations--cake-baking, etc.--was
now very anxious to see them enjoying their feast; so about one o'clock
she and her father invited their guests to walk down there with them to
enjoy the sight.

"_I_, for one, would like nothing better," said Mr. Travilla, offering
his arm to Adelaide, while Mr. Dinsmore took Mrs. Travilla, Elsie walking
on the other side and keeping fast hold of his hand.

They found it a very merry scene; and the actors in it scarcely enjoyed
it more than the spectators.

Their own dinner was served up somewhat later in the day, and with
appetites rendered keen by their walk in the bracing air, they were ready
to do it full justice.

Adelaide, at her brother's request, took the head of the table, and
played the part of hostess very gracefully.

"Ah, Dinsmore," remarked Travilla, a little mischievously, glancing from
one to the other, "you have a grand establishment here, but it still
lacks its chief ornament. Miss Adelaide fills the place _to-day_, most
gracefully, it is true; but then we all know she is only borrowed for
the occasion."

Mr. Dinsmore colored a little and looked slightly annoyed.

"Elsie will supply that deficiency in a few years," he said, "and until
then, I think I can depend upon the kindness of my sisters. Besides,
Travilla," he added laughingly, "you must not forget the old proverb
about people who live in glass houses."

"Ah," replied Travilla, looking affectionately at his mother, "_I have_ a
mistress for my establishment, and so can _afford_ to wait for Elsie."

The child looked up quickly, with a slight flush on her face.

"You needn't, Mr. Travilla!" she said, "for I am _never_ going to leave
my father; and you know he promised not to give me away, so if you want a
little girl you will have to look somewhere else."

"Ah! well, I will not despair yet," he replied laughingly, "for I have
learned that ladies, both little and large, very often change their
minds, and so I shall still live in hopes."

"You know I like you very much indeed, Mr. Travilla--next best to
papa--but then I couldn't leave him for _anybody_, you see," Elsie
said in a deprecating tone, and looking affectionately up into his face.

"No, my dear, that is quite right, and I don't feel at all hurt," he
answered with a good-natured smile, which seemed to relieve her very
much.

Tea was over, the guests had returned to their homes, and Mr. Dinsmore
sat by the fire, as usual, with his little girl upon his knee.

"We have had a very pleasant day, papa, haven't we?" she remarked.

"Yes, darling, I have enjoyed it, and I hope you have, too."

"Very much indeed, papa; and I do like all my presents so much."

"If I should ask you to give me something of yours, would you be willing
to do it?" he inquired in a grave tone.

"Why, papa!" she said, looking up quickly into his face, "doesn't
everything I have belong to you?"

"In some sense it does, certainly," he replied, "and yet I like you to
feel that you have some rights of property. But you did not answer my
question."

"I can't think what it can be, papa; but I am sure there is nothing of
mine that I wouldn't be very glad to give you, if you wanted it," she
said earnestly.

"Well, then," said he, "your aunt gave you a new Bible to-day, and as you
don't need two, will you give the old one to me?"

A slight shade had come over the little girl's face, and she sat for a
moment apparently in deep thought; then, looking up lovingly into his
face, she replied, "I love it very much, papa, and I don't know whether
any other Bible could ever seem _quite_ the same to me--it was mamma's,
you know--and it has been with me in all my troubles, and I don't think
I could be quite willing to give it to anybody else; but I am very glad
to give it to you, my own dear, dear papa!" and she threw her arms around
his neck.

"Thank you very much, my darling. I know it is a very strong proof of
your affection, and I shall value it more than its weight in gold," he
said, pressing her to his heart, and kissing her tenderly.



CHAPTER XV.

"Wide flush the fields; the softening air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles;
And every sense, and every heart, is joy."

THOMSON.


It was spring again; early in April; the air was filled with the melody
of birds, and balmy with the breath of flowers. All nature was awaking to
renewed life and vigor; but not so with our little friend. She had never
fully recovered her strength, and as the season advanced, and the weather
became warmer she seemed to grow more languid.

Her father was very anxious about her, and sending for Dr. Barton one
morning, held a long consultation with him, the result of which was a
determination on Mr. Dinsmore's part that he would take his little girl
travelling for some months. They would go North immediately; for the
doctor said it was the best thing that could be done; in fact the only
thing that would be likely to benefit her.

When the doctor had gone, Mr. Dinsmore went into Elsie's little
sitting-room, where she was busily engaged with her lessons.

"I am not quite ready yet, papa," she said, looking up as he entered;
"isn't it a little before the time?"

"Yes, a little," he replied, consulting his watch, "but you needn't mind
that lesson, daughter; I'm afraid I have been working you too hard."

"Oh, no, papa! and if you please, I would rather finish the lesson."

"Very well, then, I will wait for you," he said, taking up a book.

She came to him in a few moments, saying that she was quite ready
now, and when he had heard her recitations, and praised her for their
excellence, he bade her put her books away and come and sit on his
knee, for he had something to tell her.

"Is it good news, papa?" she asked, as he lifted her to her accustomed
seat.

"Yes, I hope you will think so: it is that you and I, and mammy, and John
are about to set out upon our travels. I am going to take you North to
spend the summer, as the doctor thinks that is the best thing that can be
done to bring back your health and strength."

Elsie's eyes were dancing with joy. "Oh, how delightful that will be!"
she exclaimed. "And will you take me to see Miss Rose, papa?"

"Yes, anywhere that you would like to go. Suppose we make out a list of
the places we would like to visit," he said, taking out pencil and paper.

"Oh, yes, papa," she answered eagerly; "I would like to go to Washington,
to see the Capitol, and the President's house, and then to Philadelphia
to see Independence Hall, where they signed the Declaration, you know,
and then to New York, and then to Boston; for I want to see Bunker Hill,
and Faneuil Hall, and all the places that we read so much about in the
history of the Revolution, and--but, papa, may I _really_ go _wherever_
I want to?" she asked, interrupting herself in the midst of her rapid
enumeration, to which he was listening with an amused expression.

"I said so, did I not?" he replied, smiling at her eagerness.

"Well, then, papa, I want to see Lakes Champlain and Ontario; yes, and
all those great lakes--and Niagara Fails; and to sail up or down the
Hudson River and the Connecticut, and I would like to visit the White
Mountains, and--I don't know where else I would like to go, but--"

"That will do pretty well for a beginning, I think," he said, laughing,
"and by the time we are through with all those, if you are not ready to
return home, you may be able to think of some more. Now for the time of
starting. This is Wednesday--I think we will leave next Tuesday morning."

"I am glad it is so soon," Elsie said, with a look of great satisfaction,
"for I am in such a hurry to see Miss Rose. Must I go on with lessons
this week, papa?"

"With your music and drawing; but that will be all, except that we will
read history together for an hour every day. I know a little regular
employment will make the time pass much more quickly and pleasantly to
you."

Elsie could now talk of very little but her expected journey, and thought
that time moved much more slowly than usual; yet when Monday evening came
and she and her father walked over the grounds, taking leave of all her
favorite haunts, everything was looking so lovely that she half regretted
the necessity of leaving her beautiful home even for a few months.

They started very early in the morning, before the sun was up, travelling
to the city in their own carriage, and then taking the cars.

They visited Baltimore and Washington, staying just long enough in each
place to see all that was worth seeing; then went on to Philadelphia,
where they expected to remain several weeks, as it was there Miss Rose
resided. Mr. Allison was a prosperous merchant, with a fine establishment
in the city, and a very elegant country-seat a few miles out of it.

On reaching the city Elsie was in such haste to see her friend, that she
entreated her father to go directly to Mr. Allison's, saying she was
certain that Miss Rose would wish them to do so.

But Mr. Dinsmore would not consent. "It would never do," he said, "to
rush in upon our friends in that way, without giving them any warning;
we might put them to great inconvenience."

So John was sent for a carriage, and they drove to one of the first
hotels in the city, where Mr. Dinsmore at once engaged rooms for himself,
daughter, and servants.

"You are looking tired, my child," he said, as he led Elsie to her room
and seated her upon a sofa; "and you are warm and dusty. But mammy must
give you a bath, and put on your loose wrapper, and I will have your
supper brought up here, and then you must go early to bed, and I hope
you will feel quite bright again in the morning."

"Yes, papa, I hope so; and then you will take me to see Miss Rose, won't
you?" she asked coaxingly.

"I will send them our cards to-night, my dear, since you feel in such
haste," he replied in a pleasant tone, "and probably Miss Rose will be
here in the morning if she is well, and cares to see us."

John and the porter were bringing up the trunks. They set them down and
went out again, followed by Mr. Dinsmore, who did not return until half
an hour afterwards, when he found Elsie lying on the sofa, seeming much
refreshed by her bath and change of clothing. "You look better already,
dearest," he said, stooping to press a kiss on her lips.

"And you, too, papa," she answered, smiling up at him. "I think it
improves any one to get the dust washed off. Won't you take your tea
up here with me? I should like it so much."

"I will, darling," he said kindly; "it is a great pleasure to me to
gratify you in any harmless wish." And then he asked her what she would
like for her supper, and told Chloe to ring for the waiter, that she
might order it.

After their tea they had their reading and prayer together; then he bade
her good-night and left her, telling Chloe to put her to bed immediately.
Chloe obeyed, and the little girl rose the next morning, feeling quite
rested, and looking very well and bright.

"How early do you think Miss Rose will come, papa?" was the first
question she put to him on his entrance into her room.

"Indeed, my child, I do not know, but I certainly should not advise you
to expect her before ten o'clock, at the very earliest."

"And it isn't eight yet," murmured Elsie, disconsolately. "Oh, papa, I
wish you would take me to see her as soon as breakfast is over."

He shook his head. "You must not be so impatient, my little daughter,"
he said, drawing her towards him. "Shall I take you to Independence Hall
to-day?"

"Not until Miss Rose has been here, if you please, papa; because I am so
afraid of missing her."

"Very well, you may stay in this morning, if you wish," he replied
in an indulgent tone, as he took her hand to lead her down to the
breakfast-table.

So Elsie remained in her room all the morning, starting at every
footstep, and turning her head eagerly every time the door opened:
but no Miss Rose appeared, and she met her father at dinner-time with
a very disconsolate face. He sympathized in her disappointment, and
said all he could to raise her drooping spirits.

When dinner was over, he did not ask if he should take her out, but
quietly bade her go to Chloe and get her bonnet put on. She obeyed, as
she knew she must, without a word, but as he took her hand on her return,
to lead her out, she asked, "Is there no danger that Miss Rose will come
while we are gone, papa?"

"If she does, my dear, she will leave her card, and then we can go to
see her; or very possibly she may wait until we return," he answered
in a kind, cheerful tone. "But at any rate, you must have a walk this
afternoon."

Elsie sighed a little, but said no more, and her father led her along,
talking so kindly, and finding so many pretty things to show her, that
after a little she almost forgot her anxiety and disappointment.

They were passing a confectioner's, where the display of sweetmeats in
the window was unusually tempting. Elsie called his attention to it.

"See, papa, how _very_ nice those candies look!"

He smiled a little, asking, "Which do you think looks the most inviting?"

"I don't know, papa, there is such a variety."

"I will indulge you for once--it isn't often I do," he said, leading her
into the store; "so now choose what you want and I will pay for it."

"Thank you, papa!" and the smile that accompanied the words was a very
bright one.

When they returned to their hotel Elsie eagerly inquired of Chloe if Miss
Rose had been there, and was again sadly disappointed to learn that she
had not.

"Oh, papa!" she said, bursting into tears, "what _can_ be the reason she
doesn't come?"

"I don't know, darling," he answered soothingly; "but never mind; she is
probably away from home, and perhaps will return in a day or two."

The next morning Mr. Dinsmore would not hear of staying in to wait for
a call that was so uncertain, but ordered a carriage immediately after
breakfast, and had Elsie out sight-seeing and shopping all day. One of
their visits--one which particularly pleased and interested the little
girl--was to Independence Hall, where they were shown the bell which in
Revolutionary days had, in accordance with its motto, "Proclaimed liberty
throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof."

"I am so glad to have seen it, papa," Elsie said. "I have always felt so
interested in its story, and shall never forget it so long as I live."

"Yes," he said, with a pleased smile, "I was sure you would enjoy seeing
it; for I know my little girl is very patriotic."

Other historical scenes were visited after that, and thus several days
passed very pleasantly. Still there were no tidings of Miss Allison,
and at last Elsie gave up expecting her; for her father said it must
certainly be that the family had left the city for the summer, although
it was so early in the season; so he decided that they would go on and
visit Boston, and the White Mountains; and perhaps go up the Hudson
River, too, and to Niagara Falls, and the lakes, stopping in Philadelphia
again on their return; when their friends would probably be in the city
again.

It was on Saturday morning that he announced this decision to Elsie,
adding that they would remain where they were over the Sabbath, and leave
for New York early Monday morning.

Elsie sighed at the thought of giving up for so long a time all hope of
seeing Miss Rose, and looked very sober for a little while, though she
said nothing.

"Well, I believe we have seen all the sights in this city of Brotherly
Love, so what shall we do with ourselves to-day?" her father asked gayly,
as he drew her towards him, and playfully patted her cheek.

"I should like to go back to the Academy of Fine Arts, if you will take
me, papa; there are several pictures there which I want very much to see
again."

"Then get your bonnet, my pet, and we will go at once," he said; and
Elsie hastened to do his bidding.

There were very few other visitors in the Academy when Mr. Dinsmore and
his little girl entered. They spent several hours there, almost too much
absorbed in studying the different paintings to notice who were coming or
going, or what might be passing about them. They themselves, however,
were by no means unobserved, and more than once the remark might have
been heard from some one whose eyes were turned in that direction, "What
a very fine-looking gentleman!" or, "What a lovely little girl!"

One young lady and gentleman watched them for some time.

"What a very handsome and distinguished-looking man he is," remarked the
lady in an undertone, "His face looks familiar, too, and yet I surely
cannot have met him before."

"Yes, he is a fine, gentlemanly looking fellow," replied her companion in
the same low tone, "but it is the little girl that attracts my attention.
She is perfectly lovely! his sister, I presume. There, Rose, now you can
see her face," he added, as at that moment Elsie turned toward them.

"Oh, it is a dear little face! But can it be? no, surely it is
impossible! yes, yes, it _is_, my own little Elsie!"

For at that instant their eyes met, and uttering a joyful exclamation,
the little girl darted across the room, and threw herself into the lady's
arms, crying, "Oh, Miss Rose! dear, dear Miss Rose, how glad I am!"

"Elsie! darling! why, where did you come from?" and Rose's arms were
clasped about the little girl's waist, and she was showering kisses upon
the sweet little face.

"I did not even know you were in the North," she said presently,
releasing her from her embrace, but still keeping fast hold of her hand,
and looking down lovingly into her face. "When did you come? and who is
with you? but I need scarcely ask, for it must be your papa, of course."

"Yes, ma'am," replied Elsie, looking round, "there he is, and see! he is
coming toward us. Papa, this is Miss Rose."

Rose held out her hand with one of her sweetest smiles. "I am very glad
to see you, Mr. Dinsmore, especially as you have brought my dear little
friend with you. This is my brother Edward," she added, turning to her
companion. "Mr. Dinsmore, Edward, and little Elsie, of whom you have so
often heard me speak."

There was a cordial greeting all around; then questions were asked and
answered until everything had been explained; Mr. Dinsmore learning that
Mr. Allison's family were out of the city, passing the summer at their
country-seat, and had never received his cards; but that to-day, Rose and
her brother had come in to do a little shopping, and finding that they
had an hour to spare, had fortunately decided to pay a visit to the
Academy.

When these explanations had been made, Edward and Rose urged Mr. Dinsmore
to return with them to their home and pay them a long visit, saying that
they knew nothing else would at all satisfy their parents, and at length
he consented to do so, on condition that they first dined with him at his
hotel, to which they finally agreed.

Elsie was delighted with the arrangement, and looked happier, her father
laughingly affirmed, than she had done for a week.

She was seated by Miss Rose at dinner, and also in the carriage during
their ride, which was a beautiful one, and just long enough to be
pleasant.

They had passed a number of very handsome residences, which Rose had
pointed out to Elsie, generally giving the name of the occupant, and
asking how she liked the place. "Now, Elsie, we are coming to another,"
she said, laying her hand on the little girl's arm, "and I want you to
tell me what you think of it. See! that large, old-fashioned house
built of gray stone; there, beyond the avenue of elms."

"Oh, I like it so much! better than any of the others! I think I should
like to live there."

"I am very glad it pleases you," Rose answered with a smile, "and I hope
you will live there, at least for some weeks or months."

"Oh, it is your home? how glad I am!" exclaimed the little girl as the
carriage turned into the avenue.

"This is a very fine old place, Miss Allison," remarked Mr. Dinsmore,
turning toward her; "I think one might well be content to spend his days
here."

Rose looked gratified, and pointed out several improvements her father
had been making. "I am very proud of my home," she said, "but I do not
think it more lovely than Roselands."

"Ah! Miss Rose, but you ought to see the Oaks--papa's new place," said
Elsie, eagerly. "It is much handsomer than Roselands, I think. Miss Rose
must visit us next time, papa, must she not?"

"If she will, daughter, Miss Allison, or any other member of her father's
family, will always find a warm welcome at my house."

Rose had only time to say "Thank you," before the carriage had stopped,
and Edward, springing out, was ready to assist the others to alight.

Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie were left standing upon the piazza, looking about
them, while Edward was engaged for a moment in giving some directions to
the coachman, and Rose was speaking to a servant who had come out on
their approach.

"Mamma is lying down with a bad headache, Mr. Dinsmore, and papa has
not yet returned from the city," said Rose, turning to her guests; "but
I hope you will excuse them, and Edward will show you to your room, and
try to make you feel at home."

Mr. Dinsmore politely expressed his regret at Mrs. Allison's illness, and
his hope that their arrival would not be allowed to disturb her.

Miss Allison then left him to her brother's care, and taking Elsie's
hand, led her to her own room. It was a large, airy apartment, very
prettily furnished, with another a little smaller opening into it.

"This is my room, Elsie," said Miss Rose, "and that is Sophy's. You will
sleep with her, and so I can take care of you both, for though Chloe can
attend you morning and evening as usual, she will have to sleep in one of
the servants' rooms in the attic."

She had been taking off Elsie's bonnet, and smoothing her hair as she
spoke, and now removing her own, she sat down on a low seat, and taking
the little girl on her lap, folded her in her arms, and kissed her over
and over again, saying softly, "My darling, darling child! I cannot tell
you how glad and thankful I am to have you in my arms once more. I love
you very dearly, little Elsie."

Elsie was almost too glad to speak, but presently she whispered, "Not
better than I love you, dear Miss Rose. I love you next to papa."

"And you are very happy now?"

"Very, very happy. Do you like my papa, Miss Rose?"

"Very much, dear, so far," Rose replied with simple truthfulness; "he
seems to be a very polished gentleman, and I think is extremely handsome;
but what is best of all, I can see he is a very fond father," she added,
bestowing another kiss upon the little rosy cheek.

"I am so glad!" exclaimed the little girl, her eyes sparkling with
pleasure. Then she added, in a deprecating tone, "But he doesn't spoil
me, Miss Rose; indeed he does not. I always know I must obey, and
promptly and cheerfully, too."

"No, dearest, I did not think you had been spoiled; indeed, I doubt if it
would be possible to spoil you," Rose answered in a tone of fondness.

"Ah! you don't know me, Miss Rose," said Elsie, shaking her head. "If
papa were not very firm and decided with me, I know I should be very
wilful sometimes, and he knows it, too; but he is too really kind to
indulge me in naughtiness. My dear, dear papa! Miss Rose, I love him
so much."

"I am so glad for you, my poor little one," murmured Rose, drawing the
little girl closer to her. "It seemed so sad and lonely for you, with
neither father nor mother to love you. And you were very ill last summer,
darling? and very unhappy before that? Your Aunt Adelaide wrote me all
about it, and my heart ached for my poor darling; oh, how I longed to
comfort her!"

"Yes, Miss Rose, that was a dreadful time; but papa only did what he
thought was right, and you cannot think how kind he was when I was
getting better." Elsie's eyes were full of tears.

"I know it, darling, and I pitied him, too, and often prayed for you
both," said Rose. "But tell me, dearest, was Jesus near to you in your
troubles?"

"Yes, Miss Rose, very near, and very precious; else how could I have
borne it at all? for oh, Miss Rose, I thought sometimes my heart would
break!"

"It was a bitter trial, dearest, I know; and certain I am that you must
have had much more than your own strength to enable you to be so firm,"
said Rose, tenderly.

"Ah, there is Sophy!" she added quickly, as a mass of flaxen curls,
accompanied by a pair of dancing blue eyes, appeared for an instant at
the door, and then as suddenly vanished. "Sophy! Sophy, come here!" she
called, and again the door opened and the owner of the blue eyes and
flaxen ringlets--a little girl about Elsie's age, came in, and moved
slowly towards them, looking at the stranger in her sister's lap with a
mingled expression of fun, curiosity, and bashfulness.

"Come, Sophy, this is Elsie Dinsmore, whom you have so often wished to
see," said Rose. "Elsie, this is my little sister Sophy. I want you to be
friends, and learn to love one another dearly. There, Sophy, take her
into your room, and show her all your toys and books, while I am changing
my dress; that will be the way for you to get acquainted."

Sophy did as she was desired, and, as Rose had foreseen, the first
feeling of bashfulness soon wore off, and in a few moments they were
talking and laughing together as though they had been acquainted as
many months. Sophy had brought out a number of dolls, and they were
discussing their several claims to beauty in a very animated way when
Rose called to them to come with her.

"I am going to carry you off to the nursery, Elsie, to see the little
ones," she said, taking her young visitor's hand; "should you like to see
them?"

"Oh, so much!" Elsie exclaimed eagerly; "if Sophy may go, too."

"Oh, yes, Sophy will come along, of course," Miss Rose said, leading the
way as she spoke.

Elsie found the nursery, a beautiful, large room, fitted up with every
comfort and convenience, and abounding in a variety of toys for the
amusement of the children, of whom there were three--the baby crowing in
its nurse's arms, little May, a merry, romping child of four, with flaxen
curls and blue eyes like Sophy's, and Freddie, a boy of seven.

Harold, who was thirteen, sat by one of the windows busily engaged
covering a ball for Fred, who with May stood intently watching the
movements of his needle.

Elsie was introduced to them all, one after another.

Harold gave her a cordial shake of the hand, and a pleasant "Welcome to
Elmgrove," and the little ones put up their faces to be kissed.

Elsie thought Harold a kind, pleasant-looking boy, not at all like
Arthur, Fred and May, dear little things, and the baby perfectly
charming, as she afterwards confided to her father.

"May I take the baby, Miss Rose?" she asked coaxingly.

Miss Rose said "Yes," and the nurse put it in her arms for a moment.

"Dear, pretty little thing!" she exclaimed, kissing it softly. "How old
is it, Miss Rose? and what is its name?"

"She is nearly a year old, and we call her Daisy."

"I'm sure your arms must be getting tired, miss, for she's quite heavy,"
remarked the nurse presently, taking the child again.

Miss Rose now said it was time to go down-stairs, and left the room,
followed by Elsie, Harold, and Sophy, the last-named putting her arm
around Elsie's waist, saying what a delightful time they would have
together, and that she hoped she would stay all summer.

They had not quite reached the end of the hall when Elsie saw her father
come out of the door of another room, and hastily releasing herself from
Sophy's arm, she ran to him, and catching hold of his hand, looked up
eagerly into his face, saying, "Oh, papa, do come into the nursery and
see the dear little children and the baby! it is so pretty."

He looked inquiringly at Miss Allison.

"If you care to see it, Mr. Dinsmore," she said, smiling, "there is no
objection; we are very proud of our baby."

"Then I should like to go," he replied, "both to gratify Elsie and
because I am fond of children."

Rose led the way and they all went back to the nursery, where Mr.
Dinsmore kissed the little folks all round, patted their heads and talked
kindly to them, then took the babe in his arms, praising its beauty, and
tossing it up till he made it laugh and crow right merrily.

"I often wish I had seen my baby," he remarked to Rose, as he returned
it to the nurse. Then laying his hand on Elsie's head, "Do you know, Miss
Allison," he asked, "that I never saw my little girl until she was nearly
eight years old?"

"Yes," she replied, "I knew her before you did, and sympathized strongly
in her longing for a father's love."

"Ah! we both lost a good deal in those years, and if I could live them
over again it should be very different," he said, with a loving glance
at his daughter's face; "nothing should keep me from my child. Though no
doubt it has all been for the best," he added, with a slight sigh, as he
thought of the worldly wisdom he would have taught her.

They all now went down to the parlor, where Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie were
introduced to Richard Allison, a wild boy full of fun and frolic, between
Rose and Harold in age.

Edward was the eldest of the family, and quite sober and sedate.

Richard took a great fancy to Elsie from the first moment, and very
soon had coaxed her out to the lawn, where he presently engaged her in
a merry game of romps with Sophy, Harold, and himself, which was finally
brought to a conclusion by the arrival of the elder Mr. Allison, almost
immediately followed by the call to supper.

Mr. Allison had a pleasant face, and was a younger looking man than might
have been expected in the father of such a family. He welcomed his guests
with the greatest cordiality, expressing the hope that they intended
paying a long visit to Elmgrove, which he said they owed him in return
for Rose's lengthened sojourn at Roselands.

Mrs. Allison also made her appearance at the tea-table, saying that she
had nearly recovered from her headache; although she still looked pale
and languid.

She had a kind, motherly look, and a gentle, winning address that quite
took Elsie's fancy; and was evidently pleased at their arrival, and
anxious to entertain them in the most hospitable manner.

Mr. Dinsmore and his little girl were the only guests, and all the
children, excepting the baby, were allowed to come to the table.

They seemed to be well-bred children, behaved in a quiet, orderly way,
and asked politely for what they wanted, but were rather too much
indulged, Mr. Dinsmore thought, as he observed that they all ate and
drank whatever they fancied, without any remonstrance from their parents.

Elsie was seated between her father and Miss Rose.

"Will your little girl take tea or coffee, Mr. Dinsmore?" asked Mrs.
Allison.

"Neither, thank you, madam: she will take a glass of milk if you have it;
if not, cold water will do very well,"

"Why, Elsie, I thought I remembered that you were very fond of coffee,"
Rose remarked, as she filled a tumbler with milk and set it down beside
the little girl's plate.

"Elsie is a good child, and eats and drinks just whatever her father
thinks best for her, Miss Allison," said Mr. Dinsmore, preventing Elsie's
reply. "No, no; not any of those, if you please," for Rose was putting
hot, buttered waffles upon Elsie's plate; "I don't allow her to eat hot
cakes, especially at night."

"Excuse me, Mr. Dinsmore, but are you not eating them yourself?" asked
Rose, with an arch smile.

"Yes, Miss Rose; and so may she when she is my age," he answered in a
pleasant tone, accompanied by an affectionate glance and smile bestowed
upon his little daughter.

"I think you are quite right, Mr. Dinsmore," remarked Mrs. Allison.
"I know we pamper our children's appetites entirely too much, as I have
often said to their father; but he does not agree with me, and I have not
sufficient firmness to carry out the reform by myself."

"No, I like to see them enjoy themselves, and whatever I have, I want my
children to have, too," said Mr. Allison, bluntly.

"It would seem the kindest treatment at first sight, but I don't think
it is in the end," replied Mr. Dinsmore. "To buy present enjoyment at
the expense of an enfeebled constitution is paying much too dear for it,
I think."

"Ah! young people are full of notions," said the elder gentleman, shaking
his head wisely, "and are very apt to be much more strict with the first
child than with any of the rest. You are bringing this one up by rule,
I see; but mark my words: if you live to be the father of as many as I
have, you will grow less and less strict with each one, until you will
be ready to spoil the youngest completely."

"I hope not, sir; I am very sure I could not possibly love another better
than I do this," Mr. Dinsmore said with a smile, and coloring slightly,
too; then adroitly changed the subject by a remark addressed to Edward.

Immediately after tea the whole family adjourned to the sitting-room, the
servants were called in, and Mr. Allison read a portion of Scripture and
prayed; afterwards remarking to Mr. Dinsmore that it was his custom to
attend to this duty early in the evening, that the younger children might
have the benefit of it without being kept up too late.

Mr. Dinsmore expressed his approval, adding that it was his plan also.

"Papa," whispered Elsie, who was close to him, "I am to sleep with
Sophy."

"Ah! that will be very pleasant for you," he said, "but you must be a
good girl, and not give any unnecessary trouble."

"I will try, papa. There, Sophy is calling me; may I go to her?"

"Certainly;" and he released her hand, which he had been holding in his.

"I want to show you my garden," said Sophy, whom Elsie found in the hall;
and she led the way out through a back door which opened into a garden
now gay with spring flowers and early roses.

Sophy pointed out the corner which was her especial property, and
exhibited her plants and flowers with a great deal of honest pride.

"I planted every one of them myself," she said. "Harold dug up the ground
for me, and I did all the rest, I work an hour every morning pulling up
the weeds and watering the flowers."

"Oh? won't you let me help you while I am here?" asked Elsie, eagerly.

"Why, yes, if you like, and your papa won't mind I think it would be real
fun. But he's very strict, isn't he, Elsie? I feel quite afraid of him."

"Yes, he is strict, but he is very kind, too."

"Let's go in now," said Sophy; "I've got a beautiful picture-book that
I want to show you; and to-morrow's Sunday, you know, so if you don't see
it to-night, you'll have to wait till Monday, because it isn't a Sunday
book."

"What time is it?" asked Elsie. "I always have to go to bed at half-past
eight."

"I don't know," said Sophy, "but we'll look at the clock in the
dining-room," and she ran in, closely followed by her little guest.

"Just eight! we've only got half an hour; so come along. But won't your
papa let you stay up longer?"

"No," Elsie answered in a very decided tone; and they hurried to the
parlor, where they seated themselves in a corner, and were soon eagerly
discussing the pictures in Sophy's book.

They had just finished, and Sophy was beginning a very animated
description of a child's party she had attended a short time before,
when Elsie, who had been anxiously watching her father for the last
five minutes, saw him take out his watch and look at her.

"There, Sophy," she said, rising, "I know papa means it is time for me
to go to bed."

"Oh, just wait one minute!"

But Elsie was already half way across the room.

"It is your bedtime, daughter," said Mr. Dinsmore, smiling affectionately
on her.

"Yes, papa; good-night," and she held up her face for the accustomed
kiss.

"Good-night, daughter," he replied, bestowing the caress. Then laying his
hand gently on her head, he said softly, "God bless and keep my little
one."

Rose, who was seated on the sofa beside him, drew Elsie to her, saying,
"I must have a kiss, too, darling."

"Now go, daughter," said Mr. Dinsmore, as Rose released her from her
embrace, "go to bed as soon as you can, and don't lie awake talking."

"Mayn't I talk at all, after I go to bed, papa?"

"No, not at all."

Seeing that Elsie was really going, Sophy had put away her book, and was
now ready to accompany her. She was quite a talker, and rattled on very
fast until she saw Elsie take out her Bible; but then became perfectly
quiet until Elsie was through with her devotions, and Chloe had come to
prepare her for bed. Then she began chatting again in her lively way,
Elsie answering very pleasantly until she was just ready to step into
bed, when she said gently, "Sophy, papa said, before I came up, that I
must not talk at all after I got into bed, so please don't be vexed if
I don't answer you, because you know I _must_ obey my father."

"Pshaw! how provoking. I thought we were going to have such a good time,
and I've got ever so much to say to you."

"I'm just as sorry as you are, Sophy, but I can't disobey papa."

"He'd never know it," suggested Sophy in a voice scarcely above a
whisper.

Elsie started with astonishment to hear Miss Rose's sister speaking thus.

"Oh, Sophy! you can't mean to advise me to deceive and disobey my
father?" she said. "God would know it, and papa would soon know it, too,
for I could never look him in the face again until I had confessed it."

Sophy blushed deeply. "I didn't think about its being deceitful. But
would your papa punish you for such a little thing?"

"Papa says disobedience is never a little thing, and he always punishes
me when I disobey him; but I wouldn't care so much for that, as for
knowing that I had grieved him so; because I love my papa very dearly.
But I must not talk any more; so good-night;" and she climbed into bed,
laid her head on the pillow, and in a very few moments was fast asleep.



CHAPTER XVI.

"Hail, Holy Day! the blessing from above
Brightens thy presence like a smile of love,
Smoothing, like oil upon a stormy sea,
The roughest waves of human destiny--
Cheering the good, and to the poor oppresse'd
Bearing the promise of their heavenly rest."

MRS. HALE'S PRIME OF LIFE.


When Chloe came in to dress her young charge the next morning, she found
her already up and sitting with her Bible in her hand.

"Don't make a noise, mammy," she whispered; "Sophy is still asleep."

Chloe nodded acquiescence, and moving softly about, got through the
business of washing and dressing her nursling, and brushing her curls,
without disturbing the sleeper. Then they both quietly left the room, and
Elsie, with her Bible in her hand, rapped gently at her father's door.

He opened it, and giving her a kiss and a "Good-morning, darling," led
her across the room to where he had been sitting by a window looking into
the garden. Then taking her on his knee, and stroking her hair fondly, he
said with a smile, "My little girl looks very bright this morning, and as
if she had had a good night's rest. I think she obeyed me, and did not
lie awake talking."

"No, papa, I did not, though I wanted to very much," she answered with a
slight blush.

"We did not have our chapter together last night," he said, opening the
Bible, "but I hope we will not miss it very often."

Their plan was to read verse about, Elsie asking questions about
anything she did not understand, and her father explaining and making
remarks, he having read it first in the original, and generally consulted
a commentator also. Then Elsie usually had one or two texts to recite,
which she had learned while Chloe was dressing her; after that they knelt
down and Mr. Dinsmore prayed. They never read more than a few verses, and
his prayer was always short, so that there was no room for weariness, and
Elsie always enjoyed it very much. They had still a little time to talk
together before the breakfast-bell rang, of which Elsie was very glad,
for she had a great deal to say to her father.

"It is such a sweet, sweet Sabbath-day, papa," she said, "is it not? and
this is such a nice place, almost as pretty as our own dear home; and are
they not pleasant people? I think they seem so kind to one another, and
to everybody."

"Which must mean you and me, I suppose; there is no one else here," he
answered smilingly.

"Oh! the servants, you know, papa, and the people at the hotel: but don't
you think they are kind?"

"Yes, dear, they certainly seem to be, and I have no doubt they are."

"And the baby, papa! isn't it pretty, and oh, papa, _don't_ you like Miss
Rose?"

"I hardly know her yet, daughter, but I think she is very sweet looking,
and seems to be gentle and amiable."

"I am glad you like her, papa; and I knew you would," Elsie said in a
tone of great satisfaction.

The church the Allisons attended was within easy walking distance of
Elmgrove, and service was held in it twice a day; the whole family, with
the exception of the very little children and one servant, who stayed at
home to take care of them, went both morning and afternoon, and Mr.
Dinsmore and Elsie accompanied them.

The interval between dinner and afternoon service Elsie spent in her
father's room, sitting on a stool at his feet quietly reading. When they
had returned from church Miss Allison gathered all the little ones in the
nursery and showed them pictures, and told them Bible stories, until the
tea-bell rang; after which the whole family, including children and
servants, were called together into the sitting-room to be catechized
by Mr. Allison; that was succeeded by family worship, and then they sang
hymns until it was time for the children to go to bed.

As Elsie laid her head on her pillow that night, she said to herself that
it had been a very pleasant day, and she could be quite willing to live
at Elmgrove, were it not for the thought of her own dear home in the
"sunny South."

The next morning her father told her they would be there for
several weeks, and that he would expect her to practise an hour every
morning--Miss Rose having kindly offered the use of her piano--and every
afternoon to read for an hour with him; but all the rest of the day she
might have to herself, to spend just as she pleased; only, of course, she
must manage to take sufficient exercise, and not get into any mischief.

Elsie was delighted with the arrangement, and ran off at once to tell
Sophy the good news.

"Oh! I am ever so glad you are going to stay!" exclaimed Sophy joyfully.
"But why need your papa make you say lessons at all? I think he might
just as well let you play all the time."

"No," replied Elsie, "papa says I will enjoy my play a great deal better
for doing a little work first, and I know it is so. Indeed, I always find
papa knows best."

"Oh, Elsie!" Sophy exclaimed, as if struck with a bright thought, "I'll
tell you what we can do! let us learn some duets together."

"Yes, that's a good thought," said Elsie; "so we will."

"And perhaps Sophy would like to join us in our reading, too," said Mr.
Dinsmore's voice behind them.

Both little girls turned round with an exclamation of surprise, and
Elsie, taking hold of his hand, looked up lovingly into his face, saying,
"Oh, thank you, papa; that will be so pleasant."

He held out his other hand to Sophy, asking, with a smile, "Will you
come, my dear?"

"If you won't ask me any questions," she answered a little bashfully.

"Sophy is afraid of you, papa," whispered Elsie with an arch glance at
her friend's blushing face.

"And are not you, too?" he asked, pinching her cheek.

"Not a bit, papa, except when I've been naughty," she said, laying her
cheek lovingly against his hand.

He bent down and kissed her with a very gratified look. Then patting
Sophy's head, said pleasantly, "You needn't be afraid of the questions,
Sophy; I will make Elsie answer them all."

Elsie and her papa stayed for nearly two months at Elmgrove, and her life
there agreed so well with the little girl that she became as strong,
healthy and rosy as she had ever been. She and Sophy and Harold spent the
greater part of almost every day in the open air--working in the garden,
racing about the grounds, taking long walks in search of wild flowers,
hunting eggs in the barn, or building baby-houses and making tea-parties
in the shade of the trees down by the brook.

There was a district school-house not very far from Elmgrove, and in
their rambles the children had made acquaintance with two or three of
the scholars--nice, quiet little girls--who, after a while, got into
the habit of bringing their dinner-baskets to the rendezvous by the
brook-side, and spending their noon-recess with Elsie and Sophy; the
dinner hour at Mr. Allison's being somewhat later in the day.

Sophy and Elsie were sitting under the trees one warm June morning
dressing their dolls. Fred and May were rolling marbles, and Harold lay
on the grass with a book in his hand.

"There come Hetty Allen and Maggie Wilson," said Sophy, raising her head.
"See how earnestly they are talking together! I wonder what it is all
about. What's the matter, girls?" she asked, as they drew near.

"Oh, nothing's the matter," replied Hetty, "but we are getting up a party
to go strawberrying. We've heard of a field only two miles from here--or
at least not much over two miles from the school-house--where the berries
are very thick. We are going to-morrow, because it's Saturday, and
there's no school, and we've come to ask if you and Elsie and Harold
won't go along."

"Yes, indeed!" exclaimed Sophy, clapping her hands; "it will be such fun,
and I'm sure mamma will let us go."

"Oh, that's a first-rate idea!" cried Harold, throwing aside his book;
"to be sure we must all go."

"Will you go, Elsie?" asked Maggie; adding, "we want you so very much."

"Oh, yes, if papa will let me, and I think he will, for he allows me
to run about here all day, which I should think was pretty much the
same thing, only there will be more fun and frolic with so many of us
together, and the berries to pick, too; oh, I should like to go very much
indeed!"

Hetty and Maggie had seated themselves on the grass, and now the
whole plan was eagerly discussed. The children were all to meet at
the school-house at nine o'clock, and proceed in a body to the field,
taking their dinners along so as to be able to stay all day if they
chose.

The more the plan was discussed, the more attractive it seemed to our
little friends, and the stronger grew their desire to be permitted to go.

"I wish I knew for certain that mamma would say yes," said Sophy.
"Suppose we go up to the house now and ask."

"No," objected Harold, "mamma will be busy now, and less likely to say
yes, than after dinner. So we had better wait."

"Well, then, you all ask leave when you go up to dinner, and we will call
here on our way home from school to know whether you are going or not,"
said Hetty, as she and Maggie rose to go.

Harold and Sophy agreed, but Elsie said that she could not know then,
because her father had gone to the city and would not be back until near
tea-time.

"Oh, well, never mind! he'll be sure to say yes if mamma does," said
Harold, hopefully. And then, as Hetty and Maggie walked away, he began
consulting with Sophy on the best plan for approaching their mother on
the subject. They resolved to wait until after dinner, and then, when she
had settled down to her sewing, to present their request.

Mrs. Allison raised several objections; the weather was very warm, the
road would be very dusty, and she was sure they would get overheated and
fatigued, and heartily wish themselves at home long before the day was
over.

"Well, then, mamma, we can come home; there is nothing to prevent us,"
said Harold.

"Oh, mamma, do let us go just this once," urged Sophy; "and if we find it
as disagreeable as you think, you know we won't ask again."

And so at last Mrs. Allison gave a rather reluctant consent, but only on
condition that Mr. Dinsmore would allow Elsie to go, as she said it would
be very rude indeed for them to go and leave their little guest at home
alone.

This conversation had taken place in Mrs. Allison's dressing-room, and
Elsie was waiting in the hall to learn the result of their application.

"Mamma says we may go if your papa says yes," cried Sophy, rushing out
and throwing her arms round Elsie's neck. "Oh, aren't you glad? Now,
Elsie, coax him hard and make him let you go."

"I wouldn't dare to do it; I should only get punished if I did, for papa
never allows me to coax or tease, nor even to ask him a second time,"
Elsie said, with a little shake of her head.

"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed Sophy, "I often get what I want by teasing.
I guess you never tried it."

"My papa is not at all like your father and mother," replied Elsie, "and
it would be worse than useless to coax after he has once said no."

"Then coax him before he has a chance to say it," suggested Sophy,
laughing.

"Perhaps that might do if I can manage it," said Elsie, thoughtfully.
"I wish he would come!" she added, walking to the window and looking out.

"He won't be here for an hour or two, at any rate, if he dined in the
city," said Sophy. "Oh, how warm it is! let's go to our room, Elsie, and
take off our dresses and have a nap. It will help to pass away the time
until your papa comes."

Elsie agreed to the proposal, and before long they were both sound
asleep, having tired themselves out with romping and running.

When Elsie awoke she found Chloe standing over her. "You's had a berry
good nap, darlin', an' you's berry warm," she whispered, as she wiped the
perspiration from the little girl's face. "Let your ole mammy take you up
an' give you a bath an' dress you up nice an' clean, 'fore Miss Sophy
gits her blue eyes open."

"Oh, yes, that will make me feel so much better," agreed the little girl,
"and you must make me look very nice, mammy, to please papa. Has he come
yet?"

"Yes, darlin'; master's been home dis hour, an' I 'specs he's in de
parlor dis minute talkin' 'long of Miss Rose an' de rest."

"Then hurry, mammy, and dress me quickly, because I want to ask papa
something," Elsie said in an eager whisper, as she stepped hastily off
the bed.

Chloe did her best, and in half an hour Elsie, looking as sweet and fresh
as a new-blown rose in her clean white frock and nicely brushed curls,
entered the parlor where her father, Mrs. Allison, Miss Rose, and her
elder brother were seated.

Mr. Dinsmore was talking with Edward Allison, but he turned his head as
Elsie came in, and held out his hand to her with a proud, fond smile.

She sprang to his side, and, still going on with his conversation, he
passed his arm around her waist and kissed her cheek, while she leaned
against his knee, and with her eyes feed lovingly upon his face waited
patiently for an opportunity to prefer her request.

Miss Rose was watching them, as she often did, with a look of intense
satisfaction, for it rejoiced her heart to see how her little friend
revelled in her father's affection.

The gentlemen were discussing some scientific question with great
earnestness, and Elsie began to feel a little impatient as they talked on
and on without seeming to come any nearer to a conclusion: but at last
Edward rose and left the room in search of a book which he thought would
throw some light on the subject; and then her father turned to her and
asked, "How has my little girl enjoyed herself to-day?"

"Very much, thank you, papa; but I have something to ask you, and I want
you to say yes. Please, papa, _do!_ won't you?" she pleaded eagerly, but
in a low tone only meant for his ears.

"You know I love to gratify you, daughter," he said kindly, "but I cannot
possibly say yes until I know what you want."

"Well, papa," she replied, speaking very fast, as if she feared he would
interrupt her, "a good many little girls and boys are going after
strawberries to-morrow: they are to start from the school-house, at
nine o'clock in the morning, and walk two miles to a field where the
berries are very thick; and they've asked us to go--I mean Harold and
Sophy and me--and we all want to go _so much_; we think it will be
such fun, and Mrs. Allison says we may if you will only say yes. Oh,
papa, _do please_ let me go, _won't_ you?"

Her tone was very coaxing, and her eyes pleaded as earnestly as her
tongue.

He seemed to be considering for a moment, and she watched his face
eagerly, trying to read in it what his answer would be.

At length it came, gently, but firmly spoken, "No, daughter, you cannot
go. I do not at all approve of the plan."

Elsie did not utter another word, of remonstrance or entreaty, for she
knew it would be useless; but the disappointment was very great, and two
or three tears rolled quickly down her cheeks.

Her father looked at her a moment in some surprise, and then said,
speaking in a low tone, and very gravely, "This will never do, my
daughter. Go up to my room and stay there until you can be quite
cheerful and pleasant; then you may come down again."

Elsie hurried out of the room, the tears coming thick and fast now, and
almost ran against Edward in the hall.

"Why, what is the matter, my dear?" he asked in a tone of surprise and
alarm, laying his hand on her shoulder to detain her.

"Please don't ask me, Mr. Edward. Please let me go," she sobbed, breaking
away from him and rushing up the stairs.

He stood for an instant looking after her, then turning to go back to the
parlor, encountered Rose, who was just coming out.

"What ails her?" he asked.

"I don't know. Something that passed between her and her father. I rather
suspect he sent her upstairs as a punishment."

"Pshaw! I've no patience with him. The dear little thing! I don't believe
she deserved it."

Rose made no reply, but glided up-stairs, and he returned to the parlor
to finish the discussion with Mr. Dinsmore.

In the meantime Elsie had shut herself into her father's room, where she
indulged for a few moments in a hearty cry, which seemed to do her a
great deal of good. But presently she wiped away her tears, bathed her
eyes, and sat down by the window.

"What a silly little girl I am," she said to herself, "to be crying just
because I can't have my own way, when I know it will not alter papa's
determination in the least; and when I know, too, that I have always
found his way the best in the end! Oh, dear, I have quite disgraced
myself before Miss Rose and her mother, and the rest, and vexed papa,
too! I wish I could be good and then I might be down-stairs with the
others, instead of alone up here. Well, papa said I might come down again
as soon as I could be pleasant and cheerful, and I think I can now, and
there is the tea-bell."

She ran down just in time to take her place with the others. She raised
her eyes to her father's face as he drew her chair up closer to the
table. The look seemed to ask forgiveness and reconciliation, and the
answering smile told that it was granted; and the little heart bounded
lightly once more, and the sweet little face was wreathed in smiles.

Sophy and Harold were watching her from the other side of the table, and
their hopes rose high, for they very naturally concluded from her beaming
countenance that she had carried her point, and they would all be allowed
to go to the strawberry party next day.

Their disappointment was proportionally great, when, after supper, Elsie
told them what her father's answer had really been.

"How provoking!" they both exclaimed; "why, you looked so pleased we were
sure he had said yes; and we had quite set our hearts on it."

"What is the matter?" asked Richard, who had just come up to them.

They explained.

"Ah! so that was what you were crying about this afternoon, eh?" he said,
pinching Elsie's cheek.

"Did you really, Elsie?" asked Sophy, in surprise.

Elsie blushed deeply, and Richard said, "Oh, never mind; I dare say we've
all cried about more trifling things than that in our day. Let's have a
good game of romps out here on the lawn. Come, what shall it be, Elsie?"

"I don't care," she replied, struggling to keep down an inclination to
cry again.

"Puss wants a corner," suggested Harold; "trees for corners."

"Here goes, then!" cried Richard. "Sophy, you stand here; Elsie, you take
that tree yonder. Here, Fred and May, you can play, too. One here and
another there: and now I'll be the puss."

So the game commenced, and very soon every disappointment seemed to be
forgotten, and they were all in the wildest spirits.

But after a while, as one romping game succeeded another, Elsie began to
grow weary, and seeing that her father was sitting alone upon the piazza,
she stole softly to his side, and putting her arm round his neck, laid
her cheek to his.

He passed his arm around her waist and drew her to his knee.

"Which was my little daughter doubting this afternoon," he asked gently,
as he laid her head against his breast; "papa's wisdom or his love?"

"I don't know, papa; please don't ask me. I'm very sorry and ashamed,"
she said, hanging her head and blushing deeply.

"I should be very happy," he said, "if my little girl could learn
to trust me so entirely that she would always be satisfied with my
decisions--always believe that my reasons for refusing to gratify her
are good and sufficient, even without having them explained."

"I do believe it, papa, and I am quite satisfied now," she murmured. "I
don't want to go at all. Please forgive me, dear papa."

"I will, daughter; and now listen to me. I know that you are not very
strong, and I think that a walk of two miles or more in this hot June
sun, to say nothing of stooping for hours afterwards picking berries,
exposed to its rays, would be more than you could bear without injury;
and if you want strawberries to eat, you may buy just as many as you
please, and indeed you can get much finer ones in that way than you
could find in any field. You need not tell me it is the fun you want,
and not the berries," he said, as she seemed about to interrupt him, "I
understand that perfectly; but I know it would not be enough to pay you
for the trouble and fatigue.

"And now to show you that your father does not take pleasure in thwarting
you, but really loves to see you happy, I will tell you what we have been
planning. Miss Rose and her brothers tell me there is a very pretty place
a few miles from here where strawberries and cream can be had; and we are
going to make up a family party to-morrow, if the weather is favorable,
and set out quite early in the morning in carriages. Mrs. Allison will
provide a collation for us to carry along--to which we will add the
berries and cream after we get there--and we will take books to read,
and the ladies will have their work, and the little girls their dolls,
and we will spend the day in the woods. Will not that be quite as
pleasant as going with the school-children?"

The little arm had been stealing round his neck again while he was
telling her all this, and now hugging him tighter and tighter, she
whispered: "Dear papa, you are very kind to me, and it makes me feel
so ashamed of my naughtiness. I always find in the end that your way is
best, and then I think I will never want my own way again, but the very
next time it is just the same thing over. Oh, papa, you will not get out
of patience with me, and quit loving me, and doing what is best for me,
because I am foolish enough to wish for what is not?"

"No, darling, never. I shall always do what seems to me to be for your
good, even in spite of yourself. I who have so often been guilty of
murmuring against the will of my heavenly Father, who, I well know,
is infinite in wisdom and goodness, ought to be very patient with your
distrust of a fallible, short-sighted earthly parent. But come, darling,
we will go up-stairs; we have just time for a few moments together before
you go to bed."

On going to their bedroom after leaving her father, Elsie found Sophie
already there, impatiently waiting to tell her of the plan for the
morrow, which she had just learned from Richard.

She was a little disappointed to find that it was no news to Elsie, but
soon got over that, and was full of lively talk about the pleasure they
would have.

"It will be so much pleasanter," she said, "than going berrying with
those school-children, for I dare say we would have found it hot and
tiresome walking all that distance in the sun; so I'm right glad now that
your father said no, instead of yes. Aren't you, Elsie?"

"Yes," Elsie said with a sigh.

Sophy was down on the floor, pulling off her shoes and stockings. "Why,
what's the matter?" she asked, stopping with her shoe in her hand to look
up into Elsie's face, which struck her as unusually grave.

"Nothing, only I'm so ashamed of crying when papa said I shouldn't go,"
Elsie answered, with a blush. "Dear papa! I always find he knows best,
and yet I'm so often naughty about giving up."

"Never mind, it wasn't much. I wouldn't care about it," said Sophy,
tossing away her shoe, and proceeding to pull off the stocking.

Chloe whispered in Elsie's ear, "Massa not vexed wid you, darlin'?"

Elsie smiled and shook her head. "No, mammy, not now."

The little girls were awake unusually early the next morning, and the
first thing they did was to run to the window to ascertain the state of
the weather. It was all they could desire; a little cooler than the
day before, but without the slightest appearance of rain; so the young
faces that surrounded the breakfast table were very bright and happy.

The carriages were at the door very soon after they left the table. It
did not take many minutes to pack them, and then they set off all in high
glee; more especially the little ones.

Everything passed off well; there was no accident, all were in good
humor, the children on their best behavior, and they found the
strawberries and cream very fine; so that when the day was over,
it was unanimously voted a decided success.

A few days after this the children were again in their favorite spot down
by the brook. They were sitting on the grass talking, for it was almost
too warm to play.

"How nice and cool the water looks!" remarked Sophy, "Let's pull off our
shoes and stockings, and hold up our dresses and wade about in it. It
isn't at all deep, and I know it would feel so good and cool to our
feet."

"Bravo! that's a capital idea!" cried Harold, beginning at once to divest
himself of his shoos and stockings; then rolling his pantaloons up to his
knees he stepped in, followed by Sophy, who had made her preparations
with equal dispatch.

"Come, Elsie, aren't you going to get in, too?" she asked, for Elsie
still sat on the bank making no movement towards following their example.

"I should like to, very much; but I don't know whether papa would approve
of it."

"Why, what objection could he have? it can't do us any harm, for I'm sure
we couldn't drown if we tried," said Harold. "Come now, Elsie, don't be
so silly. I wouldn't ask you to do anything your papa had forbidden, but
he never said you shouldn't wade in the brook, did he?"

"No, he never said anything about it," she answered, smiling, "for I
never thought of doing such a thing before."

"Come, Elsie, do," urged Sophy; "it is such fun;" and at length Elsie
yielded, and was soon enjoying the sport as keenly as the others.

But after a while they grew tired of wading, and began to amuse
themselves by sailing bits of bark and leaves on the water. Then Harold
proposed building a dam; and altogether they enjoyed themselves so
thoroughly, that they quite forgot how time was passing until the
lengthening shadows warned them that it was long past their usual hour
for returning home.

"Oh, we must make haste home," exclaimed Harold suddenly; "it can't be
very far from tea-time, and mamma won't like it if we are late."

They hurried out of the water, dried their feet as well as they could,
put on their shoes and stockings, and started on a run for the house.

But they had not gone more than half-way when Elsie cried out that she
had lost her rings.

"Those beautiful rings! Oh, dear! where did you lose them?" asked Sophy.

"I don't know at all; I just missed them this minute, and I am afraid
they are in the brook;" and Elsie turned and ran back as fast as she
could; followed by the others.

"We'll all hunt," said Harold, kindly, "and I guess we'll find them; so
don't cry, Elsie;" for the little girl was looking much distressed.

"O Elsie, I'm afraid your papa will be very angry; and perhaps whip you
very hard," exclaimed Sophy; "they were such pretty rings."

"No, he won't whip me; he never did in his life," replied Elsie quickly,
"and he has often told me he would never punish me for an accident, even
though it should cost the loss of something very valuable. But I am very
sorry to lose my rings, because, besides being pretty, and worth a good
deal of money, they were presents, one from papa, and the other from Mr.
Travilla."

"But, Elsie, I thought your papa was awfully strict, and punished you for
every little thing,"

"No; for _disobedience_, but not for accidents."

They searched for some time, looking all about the part of the stream
where they had been playing, and all over the bank, but without finding
the rings; and at last Elsie gave it up, saying it would not do to stay
any longer, and they could look again to-morrow.

"O Elsie!" cried Sophy, as they were starting again for home, "you must
have got your dress in the water, and then on the ground, for it is all
muddy."

"Oh, dear!" sighed Elsie, examining it, "how very dirty and slovenly I
must look; and that will vex papa, for he can't bear to see me untidy.
Can't we get in the back way, Sophy? so that I can get a clean dress on
before he sees me? I don't mean to _deceive_ him. I will tell him all
about it afterwards, but I know he wouldn't like to see me looking so."

"Yes, to be sure," Sophy said in reply; "we can go in at the side door,
and run up the back stairs."

"And we may be in time for tea yet, if papa is as late getting home as he
is sometimes," remarked Harold; "so let us run."

Mr. Allison was late that evening, as Harold had hoped, and tea was still
waiting for him, as they learned from a servant whom they met in passing
through the grounds: but when they reached the porch upon which the side
door opened, they found, much to their surprise and chagrin, that the
ladies were seated there with their work, and Mr. Dinsmore was reading to
them.

He looked up from his book as they approached, and catching sight of his
little girl's soiled dress, "Why, Elsie," he exclaimed, in a mortified
tone, "can that be you? such a figure as you are! Where have you been,
child, to get yourself in such a plight?"

"I was playing in the brook, papa," she answered in a low voice, and
casting down her eyes, while the color mounted to her hair.

"Playing in the brook! that is a new business for you, I think. Well, run
up to Aunt Chloe, and tell her I want you made decent with all possible
haste or you will be too late for tea. But stay," he added as she was
turning to go, "you have been crying; what is the matter?"

"I have lost my rings, papa," she said, bursting into tears.

"Ah! I am sorry, more particularly because it distresses you, though. But
where did you lose them, daughter?"

"I don't know, papa, but I am afraid it was in the brook."

"Ah, yes! that comes of playing in the water. I think you had better keep
out of it in the future: but run up and get dressed, and don't cry any
more; it is not worth while to waste tears over them."

Elsie hurried upstairs, delivered her father's message, and Chloe
immediately set to work, and exerting herself to the utmost, soon had
her nursling looking as neat as usual.

Rose had followed the little girls upstairs, and was helping Sophy to
dress.

"Dere now, darlin'; now I tink you'll do," said Chloe, giving the glossy
hair a final smooth. "But what's de matter? what my chile been cryin'
'bout?"

"Because, mammy, I lost my rings in the brook, and I'm afraid I will
never find them again."

"No such ting, honey! here dey is safe an' sound," and Chloe opened a
little jewel-box that stood on the toilet-table, and picking up the
rings, slipped them upon the finger of the astonished and delighted
child; explaining as she did so, that she had found them on the bureau
where Elsie must have laid them before going out, having probably taken
them off to wash her hands after eating her dinner.

Elsie tripped joyfully downstairs. "See, papa! see!" she cried holding up
her hand before him, "they were not lost, after all. Oh, I am so glad!
aren't you, papa?"

"Yes, my dear, and now I hope you will be more careful in future."

"I will try, papa; but must I never play in the brook any more? I like it
so much."

"No, I don't like to forbid it entirely, because I remember how much I
used to enjoy such things myself at your age. But you must not stay in
too long, and must be careful not to go in when you are heated with
running, and always remember to dip your hands in first. And another
thing, you must not stay out so late again, or you may give trouble. You
must always be ready at the usual hour, or I shall have to say you must
sup on bread and water."

"Oh! I think that would be rather too hard, Mr. Dinsmore," interposed
Mrs. Allison, "and I hope you will not compel me to be so inhospitable."

"I hope there is not much danger that I shall ever have to put my threat
into execution, Mrs. Allison, for it is not often that Elsie is twice
guilty of the same fault; one talking generally does her," he answered
with an affectionate glance at his little daughter.

"Then I call her a very good child," remarked the lady emphatically; "it
is no unusual thing for mine to require telling half a dozen times. But
walk in to tea," she added, folding up her work. "Ah! Sophy, I am glad
to see you looking neat again. I think you were in no better plight than
Elsie when you came in."

For some time after this, the young people were very careful to come in
from their play in good season; but one afternoon they had taken a longer
walk than usual, going farther down their little brook, and establishing
themselves in a new spot where they imagined the grass was greener, and
the shade deeper. The day was cloudy, and they could not judge of the
time so well as when they could see the sun, and so it happened that they
stayed much later than they should have done.

Elsie was feeling a little anxious, and had once or twice proposed
going home, but was always overruled by Harold and Sophy, who insisted
that it was not at all late. But at length Elsie rose with an air of
determination, saying she was sure it _must_ be getting late, and if
they would not go with her, she must go alone.

"Well, then, we will go, and I guess it's about time," said Harold; "so
come along, Soph, or we'll, leave you behind."

Elsie hurried along with nervous haste, and the others had to exert
themselves to keep up with her, but just as they reached the door the
tea-bell rang.

The children exchanged glances of fright and mortification.

"What shall we do?" whispered Elsie.

"Dear! if we were only dressed!" said Sophy. "Let's go in just as we are;
maybe no one will notice."

"No," replied Elsie, shaking her head, "that would never do for me; papa
would see it in a moment and send me away from the table. It would be
worse than waiting to dress."

"Then we will all go upstairs and make ourselves decent, and afterwards
take the scolding as well as we can," said Harold, leading the way.

Chloe was in Sophy's room, waiting to attend to her child. She did not
fret the little girl with lamentations over her tardiness, but set about
adjusting her hair and dress as quickly as possible.

Elsie looked troubled and anxious.

"Papa will be very much vexed, and ashamed of me, too, I am afraid," she
said with tears in her eyes. "And, Sophy, what will your mamma say? Oh!
how I wish I had come in sooner!"

"Never mind," replied Sophy; "mamma won't be very angry, and we'll tell
her the sun wouldn't shine, and so how were we to know the time."

Elsie was ready first, but waited a moment for Sophy, and they went down
together. Her first sensation on entering the room and seeing that her
father's chair was empty, was certainly one of relief. When her eye
sought Mrs. Allison's face, it was quite as pleasant as usual.

"You are rather late, little girls," she said in a cheerful tone, "but as
you are usually so punctual, we will have to excuse you this once. Come,
take your places."

"It was cloudy, you know, mamma, and we couldn't see the sun," said
Harold, who was already at the table.

"Very well, Harold, you must try to guess better next time. Rose, help
Elsie to some of that omelet and a bit of the cold tongue."

"No, thank you, ma'am; papa does not allow me to eat meat at night," said
the little girl resolutely, turning her eyes away from the tempting dish.

"Ah! I forgot, but you can eat the omelet, dear," Mrs. Allison said;
"and help her to the honey, and a piece of that cheese, Rose, and put
some butter on her plate."

It cost Elsie quite a struggle, for she was as fond of good things as
other children, but she said firmly, "No, thank you, ma'am, I should like
the omelet, and the honey and the cheese too, very much, but as I was
late to-night, I can only have dry bread, because you know my papa said
so."

Harold spoke up earnestly. "But, mamma, it wasn't her fault; she wanted
to come home in time, and Sophy and I wouldn't."

"No, mamma, it wasn't her fault at all," said Sophy, eagerly, "and so she
needn't have just bread, need she?"

"No, Elsie dear, I think not. Do, dear child, let me help you to
something; here's a saucer of berries and cream; won't you take it?
I feel quite sure your papa would not insist upon the bread and water
if he were here, and I am sorry he and Edward happen to be away to tea."

"As it was not your fault, Elsie dear, I think you might venture," said
Rose, kindly. "I wouldn't want you to disobey your papa, but under the
circumstances, I don't think that it would be disobedience."

"You are very kind, Miss Rose, but you don't know papa as well as I do,"
Elsie replied, a little sadly. "He told me I must always be in in time to
be ready for tea, and he says nothing excuses disobedience; and you know
I could have come in without the others; so I feel quite sure I should
get nothing but bread for my supper if he were here."

"Well, dear, I am very sorry, but if you think it is really your duty to
sup on dry bread, we will all honor you for doing it," Mrs. Allison said.

And then the matter dropped, and Elsie quietly ate her slice of bread and
drank a little cold water, then went out to play on the lawn with the
others.

"Did you ever see such a perfectly conscientious child?" said Mrs.
Allison to Rose. "Dear little thing! I could hardly stand it to see her
eating that dry bread, when the rest were enjoying all the luxuries of
the table."

"No, mamma, it fairly made my heart ache. I shall tell her father all
about it when he comes in. Don't you think, mamma, he is rather too
strict and particular with her?"

"I don't know, Rose, dear; I'm afraid she is much better trained than
mine; and he certainly is very fond of her, and quite indulgent in some
respects."

"Fond of her! yes, indeed he is, and she loves him with her whole heart.
Ah! mamma, you don't know how glad it makes me to see it. The poor little
thing seemed to be literally famishing for love when I first knew her."

When Elsie had done anything which she knew would displease her father,
she never could rest satisfied until she had confessed it and been
forgiven. Through all her play that evening she was conscious of a
burden on her heart; and every now and then her eyes were turned
wistfully in the direction from which she expected him to come. But
the clock struck eight, and there were no signs of his approach, and
soon it was half-past, and she found she must go to bed without seeing
him. She sighed several times while Chloe was undressing her, and just
as she was about leaving her, said, "If papa comes home before I go to
sleep, mammy, please ask him to let me come to him for one minute."

"I will, darlin'; but don't you try for to stay awake; kase maybe massa
ain't gwine be home till berry late, an' den he might be vexed wid you."

It was nearly ten o'clock when Mr. Dinsmore returned, and he was
talking on the piazza with Mr. and Miss Allison for nearly half an
hour afterwards; but Chloe was patiently waiting for him, and meeting
him in the hall on the way to his room, presented Elsie's request.

"Yes," he said, "see if she is awake, but don't disturb her if she is
not."

Chloe softly opened the door, and the little girl started up, asking in
an eager whisper, "Did he say I might come, mammy?"

"Yes, darlin'," said Chloe, lifting her in her arms and setting her
down on the floor. And then the little fairy-like figure in its white
night-dress stole softly out into the hall, and ran with swift, noiseless
steps across it, and into the open door of Mr. Dinsmore's room.

He caught her in his arms and kissed her several times with passionate
fondness. Then sitting down with her on his knee, he asked tenderly,
"What does my darling want with papa to-night?"

"I wanted to tell you that I was very naughty this afternoon, and didn't
get home until just as the tea-bell rang."

"And you were very glad to find that papa was not here to make you sup
upon bread and water, eh?"

"No, papa, I didn't eat anything else," she said in a hurt tone; "I
wouldn't take such a mean advantage of your absence."

"No, dearest, I know you would not. I know my little girl is the soul
of honor," he said, soothingly, pressing another kiss on her cheek;
"and besides, I have just heard the whole story from Miss Rose and her
mother."

"And you _wouldn't_ have let me have anything but bread, papa, would
you?" she asked, raising her head to look up in his face.

"No, dear, nothing else, for you know I must keep my word, however trying
it may be to my feelings."

"Yes, papa; and I am so glad you do, because then I always know just what
to expect. You are not angry with me now, papa?"

"No, darling, not in the very least; you are entirely forgiven. And now I
want you to go back to your bed, and try to get a good night's sleep, and
be ready to come to me in the morning. So good-night, my pet, my precious
one. God bless and keep my darling. May He ever cause His face to shine
upon you, and give you peace."

He held her to his heart a moment, then let her go: and she glided back
to her room, and laid her head on her pillow to sleep sweetly, and dream
happy dreams of her father's love and tenderness.

She was with him again the next morning, an hour before it was time for
the breakfast-bell to ring, sitting on his knee beside the open window,
chatting and laughing as gleefully as the birds were singing on the trees
outside.

"What do you think of this?" he asked, laying an open jewel-case in her
lap.

She looked down, and there, contrasting so prettily with the dark blue
velvet lining, lay a beautiful gold chain and a tiny gold watch set with
pearls all around its edge.

"Oh, papa!" she cried, "is it for me?"

"Yes, my pet. Do you like it?"

"Indeed I do, papa! it is just as lovely as it can be!" she said, taking
it up and turning it about in her hands. "It looks like mamma's, only
brighter, and newer; and this is a different kind of chain from hers."

"Yes, that is entirely new; but the watch is the one she wore. It is an
excellent one, and I have had it put in order for her daughter to wear.
I think you are old enough to need it now, and to take proper care of
it."

"I shall try to, indeed. Dear, darling mamma! I would rather have her
watch than any other," she murmured, a shade of tender sadness coming
over her face for a moment. Then, looking up brightly, "Thank you, papa,"
she said, giving him a hug and a kiss; "it was so kind in you to do it.
Was that what you went to the city for yesterday?"

"It was my principal errand there."

"And now how sorry and ashamed I should be if I had taken advantage of
your absence to eat all sorts of good things."

"I think we are never sorry for doing our duty," her father said, softly
stroking her hair, "and I think, too, that my little girl quite deserves
the watch."

"And I'm _so_ glad to have it!" she cried, holding it up, and gazing at
it with a face full of delight. "I must run and show it to Sophy!"

She was getting down from his knee; but he drew her back. "Wait a little,
daughter; I have something to tell you."

"What, papa?"

"We have paid our friends a very long visit, and I think it is time for
us to go, if we would not have them grow weary of us: so I have decided
to leave Elmgrove to-morrow."

"Have you, papa? I like to travel, but I shall be so sorry to leave
Sophy, and Miss Rose, and all the rest; they are so kind, and I have had
such a pleasant time with them."

"I have told you the bad news first," he said, smiling; "now I have some
good. We are going to take a trip through New England and the State of
New York; and Miss Rose and Mr. Edward have promised to accompany us: so
you see you will not have to part with them just yet."

Elsie clapped her hands at this piece of good news.

"O papa, how pleasant it will be! Dear, _dear_ Miss Rose; I am so glad
she is going."

"And Mr. Edward?"

"Yes, papa, I like him too, but I love Miss Rose the best of all. Don't
you, papa?"

Her father only smiled, and said "Miss Rose was very lovely, certainly."

The breakfast-bell rang, and she ran down, eager to show her watch. It
was much admired by all; but there was great lamentation, especially
amongst the younger members of the family, when it was announced that
their guests were to leave them so soon.

"Why couldn't Elsie stay always?" they asked. "Why couldn't she live with
them? they would only be too glad to have her."

Mr. Dinsmore laughed, and told them he could not possibly spare Elsie,
for she was his only child, and he had no one else to share his home.

"But you may stay too, Mr. Dinsmore," said Sophy; "there's plenty of
room, and mamma and Rose like to have you read to them."

Rose blushed, and shook her head at Sophy, and Mr. Dinsmore replied that
it would be very pleasant to live at Elmgrove, but that Elsie and he had
a home of their own to which they must soon return, and where she would
be very glad to receive a visit from any or all of them.



CHAPTER XVII.


"Have you arranged your plans in regard to what places you will visit
and in what order you will take them?" asked Mr. Allison, addressing Mr.
Dinsmore.

"We have not," he replied; "that is, not very definitely; only that we
will visit New England and New York."

"Elsie looks as if she could make a suggestion," remarked Miss Rose, with
a smiling glance at the bright, animated face of the little girl.

"I should like to if I were old enough," said the child, dropping her
eyes and blushing as she perceived that at that moment she was the object
of the attention of every one at the table.

"We will consider you so, my dear," laughed Mr. Allison. "Come, give us
the benefit of your ideas."

Still Elsie hesitated till her father said pleasantly, "Yes, daughter,
let us have them. We can reject or adopt them as we see fit."

"Yes, papa," she returned. "I was just thinking that Valley Forge and
Paoli are both in this State, and I should like very much to see them
both."

"I call that a very good idea," said Mr. Edward Allison. "I have always
intended to visit those historical places, but have never done so yet."

"Then let us go," said Rose, "for I, too, should like very much to see
them; if the plan suits you, Mr. Dinsmore," she added, giving him a
smiling glance.

"Perfectly," he said; "it will be a new and interesting experience to me,
as I have never visited either spot, though quite familiar with their
history, as doubtless you all are."

"Then we may consider that matter as settled," remarked Edward with
satisfaction.

Elsie hardly knew whether to be more glad or sorry when the time came for
the final leave-taking; but the joyful thought that Miss Rose was to
accompany them fairly turned the scale in favor of the former feeling;
and though she brushed away a tear or two at parting from Sophy, she set
off with a bright and happy face.

They spent several weeks most delightfully in travelling about from place
to place, going first to Valley Forge--a little valley so called because
a man named Isaac Potts had a forge there on a creek which empties into
the Schuylkill River. He was an extensive iron manufacturer. The valley
is a deep, short hollow, seemingly scooped out from a low, rugged
mountain.

The Americans had their camp on a range of hills back of the village,
Washington his quarters at the house of Isaac Potts. It was a stone
building standing near the mouth of the creek. Our friends were invited
in by a cheerful old lady living there, and shown Washington's room. It
was very small, but they found it interesting. The old lady took them
into it, and, leading-the way to an east window, said: "From here
Washington could look to those slopes yonder and see a large part of his
camp." Then, lifting a blue sill, she showed a little trap-door and
beneath it a cavity, which she said had been arranged by Washington as
a hiding place for his papers.

On leaving that house, our little party went to view the ruins of an old
flour-mill near by.

"This was going in those revolutionary days," said the old lady, who was
still with them, "and soon after the battle of Brandywine, before the
encampment in this valley, the Americans had a large quantity of stores
here in this mill. Washington heard that the British General Howe had
sent troops to destroy them, and he sent some of his men, under Alexander
Hamilton and Captain Henry Lee, to get ahead of the British; which they
did. Knowing there was danger of a surprise, they had a flat-bottomed
boat ready to cross the river in, and two videttes out on the hill to the
south yonder"--pointing with her finger. "Well, the soldiers had crossed
the river and were just going to begin the work they had come to do, when
the guns of the videttes were heard, and they were seen running down the
hill with the British close after them. Lee, the videttes, and four of
the other men ran across the bridge--the enemy sending a shower of
bullets after them--while the others, with Hamilton, took to the boat.
They were fired upon too, but got away safely. The two parties had got
separated, and neither one knew just how the other had fared. Lee sent a
note to Washington telling his fears for Hamilton and his men; and while
Washington was reading it Hamilton rode up with a face full of distress,
and began telling the general his fears for Lee; then Washington relieved
him by handing him Lee's note to read."

Our party thanked the old lady for her story, and Mr. Dinsmore asked what
more there was to see.

"There's an observatory over yonder on that south hill," she said,
pointing to it. "It was there a large part of the American army was
quartered--on the hill, I mean. If you go up to the top of the building
you can see a good deal of the camping ground from it."

"Thank you," he returned, slipping a silver dollar into her hand. "We
are all greatly obliged for your kindness in showing us about this
interesting place and refreshing our memories in regard to its history."

The others thanked her also; then taking a carriage they drove to the
observatory she had pointed out.

They were told that it stood on the spot where Washington's marquee was
placed on his arrival at Valley Forge. It was a neat octagonal structure
about forty feet high, with a spiral staircase in the centre leading up
to an open gallery on the top. They went up, and found it gave them a
fine view of the greater part of what had been the camping ground. "Our
troops came here from Whitemarsh, if my memory serves me right," said
Edward Allison.

"Yes," assented Mr. Dinsmore. "It was Washington's decision that they
should do so, as here he would be near enough to watch the movements of
the British army, then in possession of Philadelphia. He wished, for one
thing, to keep the foraging parties in check, protecting the people from
their depredations."

"Wasn't it in the winter they were here, papa?" asked Elsie.

"Yes; and the poor fellows found it terribly cold; especially for men so
poorly provided as they were with what are esteemed by most civilized
people as the barest necessities of life--food, clothing, shoes, and
blankets."

"Yes, I remember reading about it--how their poor feet bled on the ground
as they marched over it, with neither shoes nor stockings," said Elsie,
tears springing to her eyes as she spoke. "And didn't they suffer from
hunger too, papa?"

"Yes, they did, poor fellows!" he sighed. "They endured a great deal in
the hope of winning freedom for themselves, their children, and their
country. They had not even material to raise their beds from the ground,
and in consequence many sickened and died from the dampness."

"It is really wonderful how they bore it all," said Edward. "They
certainly must have been true and ardent patriots."

"We were told that Washington's marquee stood just here in that time,"
said Elsie. "What did he want with it when he had a room in Mr. Potts'
house?"

"He occupied the marquee only while his men were building their huts,"
explained her father, "then afterward took up his quarters in that
house."

Our party now returned to their carriage and drove to Paoli--some nine
miles distant. They were told that the place of the massacre was about
a quarter of a mile from the highway, and leaving their vehicle at the
nearest point, they followed a path leading through open fields till they
came to the monument. They found it a blue clouded marble pedestal,
surmounted by a white marble pyramid, standing over the broad grave in
which lie the remains of the fifty-three Americans found in that field
the morning after the massacre, and buried by the neighboring farmers.

"Papa," said Elsie, "won't you please go over the story?"

"If a short rehearsal will not be unpleasant to our friends," he answered
kindly.

Both Rose and Edward assured him they would be glad to listen to it, and
he at once began.

"It was but a few days after the battle of Brandywine that Wayne was here
with about fifteen hundred men and four pieces of cannon, Washington
having given him directions to annoy the enemy's rear and try to cut off
his baggage train. This place was some two or three miles southwest of
the British lines, away from the public roads, and at that time covered
with a forest.

"But for the treachery of a Tory the British would have known nothing of
the whereabouts of these patriots who were struggling to free their
country from unbearable oppression. But Howe, learning it all from the
Tory, resolved to attempt to surprise and slaughter the Americans. He
despatched General Grey (who was afterwards a murderer and plunderer at
Tappan and along the New England coast) to steal upon the patriot camp at
night and destroy as many as he could.

"Wayne heard that something of the kind was intended, but did not believe
it. Still, he took every precaution; ordered his men to sleep on their
arms with their ammunition under their coats--to keep it dry I suppose,
as the night was dark and stormy.

"Grey and his men marched stealthily on them in the night, passing
through the woods and up a narrow defile. It was about one o'clock in the
morning that they gained Wayne's left. Grey was a most cruel wretch,
called the no-flint general because of his orders to his soldiers to take
the flints from their guns; his object being to compel them to use the
bayonet; his orders were to rush upon the patriots with the bayonet and
give no quarter. In that way, in the darkness and silence, they killed
several of the pickets near the highway.

"The patrolling officer missed these men, his suspicions were aroused,
and he hastened with his news to Wayne's tent. Wayne at once paraded his
men, but unfortunately in the light of his fires, which enabled the enemy
to see and shoot them down. Grey and his men came on in silence, but with
the fierceness of tigers; they leaped from the thick darkness upon the
Americans, who did not know from which quarter to expect them. The
Americans fired several volleys, but so sudden and violent was the attack
that their column was at once broken into fragments, and they fled in
confusion. One hundred and fifty Americans were killed and wounded in
this assault. It is said that some of the wounded were cruelly butchered
after surrendering and asking for quarter. But for Wayne's coolness and
skill his whole command would have been killed or taken prisoners. He
quickly rallied a few companies, ordered Colonel Humpton to wheel the
line, and with the cavalry and a part of the infantry successfully
covered a retreat."

"Then did all who had not already been killed get away from the British,
papa?" asked Elsie.

"Not quite all; they captured between seventy and eighty men, taking,
besides, a good many small arms, two pieces of cannon, and eight
wagon-loads of baggage and stores."

"Weren't some of the British killed?" she asked.

"Only one captain and three privates; and four men were wounded."

The story was finished, and having seen all there was to see in
connection with it, our travellers went on their way and pursued their
journey, not feeling at all hurried, seeing all they wanted to see, and
stopping to rest whenever they felt the need of it. Elsie enjoyed it all
thoroughly. There was no abatement of the tender, watchful care her
father had bestowed upon her in their former journey, and added to that
was the pleasant companionship of Miss Rose and her brother.

Mr. Edward was very kind and attentive to both his sister and Elsie,
always thinking of something to please them or add to their comfort; and
both he and Rose treated the little girl as though she were a dear,
younger sister.

Elsie was seldom absent from her father's side for many minutes, yet
sometimes in their walks she found herself left to Mr. Edward's care,
while Rose had Mr. Dinsmore's arm. But that did not trouble the little
girl; for loving them both so dearly, she was very anxious that they
should like each other; and then she could leave Mr. Edward and run to
her papa whenever she pleased, sure of being always received with the
same loving smile, and not at all as though they felt that she was in
the way.





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