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Title: Elsie in the South
Author: Finley, Martha, 1828-1909
Language: English
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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.

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                          ELSIE IN THE SOUTH

                                  BY

                             MARTHA FINLEY

            AUTHOR OF THE ELSIE BOOKS, THE MILDRED BOOKS,
                      "WANTED, A PEDIGREE," ETC.

                               NEW YORK
                        DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
                              PUBLISHERS


                           COPYRIGHT, 1899,
                                  BY
                         DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.

                        _All rights reserved._

                       THE MERSHON COMPANY PRESS,
                             RAHWAY, N. J.



                          ELSIE IN THE SOUTH



                              CHAPTER I.


"What a storm! there will be no going out to-day even for the early
stroll about the grounds with papa," sighed Lucilla Raymond one
December morning, as she lay for a moment listening to the dash of
rain and sleet against her bedroom windows. "Ah, well! I must not
fret, knowing who appoints the changes of the seasons, and that all He
does is for the best," her thoughts ran on. "Besides, what pleasures
we can all have within doors in this sweetest of homes and with the
dearest and kindest of fathers!"

With that she left her bed and began the duties of the toilet, first
softly closing the communicating door between her own and her sister's
sleeping apartments lest she should disturb Grace's slumbers, then
turning on the electric light in both bedroom and bathroom, for,
though after six, it was still dark.

The clock on the mantel struck seven before she was quite through with
these early morning duties, but the storm had in no wise abated in
violence, and as she heard it she felt sure that outdoor exercise was
entirely out of the question.

"And I'll not see Chester to-day," she sighed half-aloud. "It was
evident when he was here last night that he had taken a cold, and I
hope he won't think of venturing out in such weather as this."

Just then the door into Grace's room opened and her sweet voice said,
"Good-morning, Lu. As usual, you are up and dressed before your lazy
younger sister has begun the duties of the toilet."

"Take care what you say, young woman," laughed Lucilla, facing round
upon her. "I am not going to have my delicate younger sister slandered
in that fashion. She is much too feeble to leave her bed at the early
hour which suits her older and stronger sister."

"Very kind in you to see it in that light," laughed Grace. "But I must
make haste now with my dressing. Papa may be coming in directly, for
it is certainly much too stormy for him and you to take your usual
stroll in the grounds."

"It certainly is," assented Lu. "Just listen to the hail and rain
dashing against the windows. And there comes papa now," she added, as
a tap was heard at their sitting-room door.

She ran to open it and receive the fatherly caress that always
accompanied his morning greeting to each one of his children.

"Grace is not up yet?" he said inquiringly, as he took possession of
an easy-chair.

"Yes, papa, but not dressed yet; so that I shall have you to myself
for a while," returned Lu in a cheery tone and seating herself on an
ottoman at his knee.

"A great privilege that," he said with a smile, passing a hand
caressingly over her hair as he spoke. "It is storming hard, so that
you and I must do without our usual early exercise about the grounds."

"Yes, sir; and I am sorry to miss it, though a chat with my father
here and now is not so bad an exchange."

"I think we usually have that along with the walk," he said, smiling
down into the eyes that were gazing so lovingly up into his.

"Yes, sir, so we do; and you always manage to make the shut-in days
very enjoyable."

"It is what I wish to do. Lessons can go on as usual with you and
Grace as well as with the younger ones, and after that we can have
reading, music, and quiet games."

"And Grace and I have some pretty fancy work to do for Christmas
time."

"Ah, yes! and I presume you will both be glad to have a little--or a
good deal--of extra money with which to purchase gifts or materials
for making them."

"If you feel quite able to spare it, father," she returned with a
pleased smile; "but not if it will make you feel in the least cramped
for what you want to spend yourself."

"I can easily spare you each a hundred dollars," he said in a cheery
tone. "Will that be enough, do you think?"

"Oh, I shall feel rich!" she exclaimed. "How very good, kind, and
liberal you are to us and all your children, papa."

"And fortunate in being able to be liberal to my dear ones. There is
no greater pleasure than that of gratifying them in all right and
reasonable desires. I think that as soon as the weather is suitable
for a visit to the city we will take a trip there for a day's
shopping. Have you and Grace decided upon any particular articles that
you would like to give?"

"We have been doing some bits of fancy work, father, and making up
some warm clothing for the old folks and children among our poor
neighbors--both white and colored; also a few things for our house
servants. And to let you into a secret," she added with a smile and a
blush, "I am embroidering some handkerchiefs for Chester."

"Ah, that is right!" he said. "Chester will value a bit of your
handiwork more than anything else that you could bestow upon him."

"Except perhaps the hand itself," she returned with a low, gleeful
laugh.

"But that he knows he cannot have for some time," her father said,
taking in his the one resting on the arm of his chair. "This belongs
to me at present and it is my fixed purpose to hold it in possession
for at least some months to come."

"Yes, sir; I know that and highly approve of your intention. Please
never give up your claim to your eldest daughter so long as we both
live."

"No, daughter, nothing is further from my thoughts," he said with a
smile that was full of affection.

"What do you want from Santa Claus, papa?" she asked.

"Really, I have not considered that question," he laughed; "but
anything my daughters choose to give me will be highly appreciated."

"It is pleasant to know that, father dear; and now please tell me what
you think would be advisable to get for Mamma Vi, Elsie, and Ned."

That question was under discussion for some time, and the conclusion
was arrived at that it could not be decided until their visit to the
city stores to see what might be offered there. Then Grace joined
them, exchanged greetings and caresses with her father, and as the
call to breakfast came at that moment, the three went down together,
meeting Violet and the younger children on the way.

They were a cheerful party, all at the table seeming to enjoy their
meal and chatting pleasantly as they ate. Much of their talk was of
the approaching Christmas and what gifts would be appropriate for
different ones and likely to prove acceptable.

"Can't we send presents to brother Max, papa?" asked Ned.

"Hardly, I think," was the reply, "but we can give him some when he
comes home next month."

"And he'll miss all the good times the rest of us have. It's just too
bad!" replied Ned.

"We will try to have some more good times when he is with us," said
the captain cheerily.

"Oh, so we can!" was Neddie's glad response.

The captain and the young people spent the morning in the schoolroom
as usual. In the afternoon Dr. Conly called. "I came in principally on
your account, Lu," he said, when greetings had been exchanged.
"Chester has taken a rather severe cold so that I, as his physician,
have ordered him to keep within doors for the present; which he deeply
regrets because it cuts him off from his daily visits here."

"Oh, is he very ill?" she asked, vainly trying to make her tones quite
calm and indifferent.

"Oh, no! only in danger of becoming so unless he takes good care of
himself."

"And you will see to it that he does so, Cousin Arthur?" Violet said
in a sprightly, half-inquiring tone.

"Yes; so far as I can," returned the doctor, with a slight smile. "My
patients, unfortunately, are not always careful to obey orders."

"When they don't the doctor cannot be justly blamed for any failure to
recover," remarked the captain. "But I trust Chester will show himself
docile and obedient."

"Which I dare say he will if Lu sides strongly with the doctor," Grace
remarked, giving Lucilla an arch look and smile.

"My influence, if I have any, shall all be on that side," was
Lucilla's quiet rejoinder. "He and I might have a bit of chat over the
telephone, if he is able to go to it."

"Able enough for that," said the doctor, "but too hoarse, I think, to
make himself intelligible. However, you can talk to him, bidding him
to be careful, and for your sake to follow the doctor's directions."

"Of course I shall do that," she returned laughingly, "and surely he
will not venture to disregard my orders."

"Not while he is a lover and liable to be sent adrift by his
lady-love," said Violet, in sportive tone.

Just then the telephone bell rang and the captain and Lulu hastened to
it.

It proved to be Mrs. Dinsmore of the Oaks, who called to them with a
message from Chester to his affianced--a kindly greeting, a hope that
she and all the family were well, and an expression of keen regret
that he was, and probably would be for some days, unable to pay his
accustomed visit to Woodburn.

"There, daughter, take your place and reply as you deem fit," said
Captain Raymond, stepping aside from the instrument.

Lucilla at once availed herself of the permission.

"Aunt Sue," she called, "please tell Chester we are all very sorry for
his illness, but hope he may soon be well. We think he will if he is
careful to follow the doctor's directions. And when this storm is over
probably some of us will call at the Oaks to inquire concerning his
welfare."

A moment's silence; then came the reply. "Chester says, thank you; he
will be glad to see any or all of the Woodburn people; but you must
not venture out till the storm is over."

"We won't," returned Lucilla. "Good-by." And she and her father
returned to the parlor where they had left the others, with their
report of the interview.

Two stormy days followed; then came one that was bright and clear and
they gladly availed themselves of the opportunity to go to the city,
do their Christmas shopping, and call at the Oaks on their return.
They reached home tired, but in excellent spirits, having been very
successful in making their purchases, and found Chester recovering
from his cold.

From that day until Christmas time the ladies and little girls of the
connection were very busy in preparing gifts for their dear ones;
Grandma Elsie as well as the rest. She did not come so often to
Woodburn as was her custom, and the visits she did make were short and
hurried.

Chester was a more frequent caller after partially recovering from his
cold, but even while he was there Lucilla worked busily with her
needle, though never upon the gift intended for him. She now wore and
highly prized a beautiful diamond ring which he had given her in token
of their betrothal, though she had told him at the time of its
bestowal that she feared it had cost more than he could well afford.
At which he laughed, telling her that nothing could be too good or
expensive for one so lovely and charming as herself.

"In your partial eyes," she returned with a smile. "Ah, it is very
true that love is blind. Oh, Chester! I often wonder what you ever
found to fancy in me!"

In reply to that he went over quite a list of the attractive qualities
he had discovered in her.

"Ah," she laughed, "you are not blind to my perhaps imaginary good
qualities, but see them through multiplying glasses; which is
certainly very kind in you. But, oh, dear! I'm afraid you'll find out
your mistake one of these days!"

"Don't be disturbed. I'll risk it," he laughed. Then added more
seriously, "Oh, Lu, darling, I think I'm a wonderfully fortunate
fellow in regard to the matter of my suit for your heart and hand."

"I wish you may never see cause to change your mind, you dear boy!"
she said, glad tears springing to her eyes, "but ah, me! I fear you
will when you know me better."

"Ah," he said teasingly, "considering our long and rather intimate
acquaintance, I think you are not giving me credit for any great
amount of discernment."

"Well," she laughed, "as regards my faults and failings probably the
less you have of that the better for me."

They were alone in the library and the house was very quiet, most of
the family having already retired to their sleeping rooms.

Presently Captain Raymond came in, saying with his pleasant smile, "I
should be sorry to seem inhospitable, Chester, but it is growing late
and I am loath to have my daughter lose her beauty sleep. Don't for a
moment think I want to hurry you away from Woodburn, though; the room
you occupied during your illness is at your service and you are a most
welcome guest."

"Many thanks, captain; but I think I should go back to the Oaks at
once lest someone should be waiting up for me. I should have brought
my night key, but neglected to do so," Chester replied, and in a few
minutes took leave.

The captain secured the door after him, then turned to Lucilla,
saying:

"Now, daughter, you may bid me good-night, then make prompt
preparations for bed."

"Oh, papa, let me stay five minutes with you," she entreated. "See, I
have something to show you," holding out her hand in a way to display
Chester's gift to advantage.

Her father took the hand in his. "Ah, an engagement ring!" he said
with a smile; "and a very handsome one it is. Well, dear child, I hope
it may always have most pleasant associations to you."

"I should enjoy it more if I were quite sure Chester could well afford
it," she said with a half sigh.

"Don't let that trouble you," said her father. "Chester is doing very
well, and probably your father will be able to give some assistance to
you and him at the beginning of your career as a married couple.
Should Providence spare me my present income, my dear eldest daughter
shall not be a portionless bride."

"Papa, you are very, very good to me!" she exclaimed with emotion,
"the very dearest and best of fathers! I can hardly bear to think of
living away from you, even though it may not be miles distant."

"Dear child," he said, drawing her into his arms, "I do not intend it
shall be even one mile. My plan is to build a house for you and
Chester right here on the estate, over yonder in the grove. Some day
in the near future we three will go together and select the exact
spot."

"Oh, papa, what a delightful idea!" she exclaimed, looking up into his
face with eyes dancing with pleasure; "for I may hope to see almost as
much of you as I do now, living in the same house."

"Yes, daughter mine; that is why I want to have your home so near. Now
bid me good-night and get to bed with all speed," he concluded with a
tender caress.



                              CHAPTER II.


"They are going to have a Christmas tree at Ion, one at Fairview, one
at Roselands, and I suppose one at the Oaks," remarked Ned Raymond one
morning at the breakfast table. "But I guess folks think Elsie and I
have grown too old for such things," he added in a tone of melancholy
resignation and with a slight sigh.

"A very sensible conclusion, my son," said the captain cheerfully,
with a twinkle of amusement in his eye. "But now that you have grown
so manly you can enjoy more than ever giving to others. The presents
you have bought for your little cousins can be sent to be put on their
trees, those for the poor to the schoolhouses; and if you choose you
can be there to see the pleasure with which they are received.
Remember what the Bible says: 'It is more blessed to give than to
receive.'"

"Oh, yes, so it is!" cried the little fellow, his face brightening
very much. "I do like to give presents and see how pleased folks look
that get them."

"And as papa is so liberal to all of us in the matter of pocket money,
we can every one of us have that pleasure," said Grace.

"Yes; and I know we're going to," laughed Ned. "We didn't go so many
times to the city and stay so long there for nothing. And I don't
believe grandma and papa and mamma did either."

"No," said his mother; "and I don't believe anybody--children, friend,
relative, servant, or poor neighbor--will find himself neglected. And
I am inclined to think the gifts will be enjoyed even if we have no
tree."

"Oh, yes, mamma! and I'm glad to be the big fellow that I am, even if
it does make me have to give up some of the fun I had when I was
small," Ned remarked with an air of satisfaction.

"And to-night will be Christmas Eve, won't it, papa?" asked Elsie.

"Yes, daughter; and some of us will be going this afternoon to trim
the tree in the schoolhouse. Do you, Elsie and Ned, want to be of the
party?"

"Oh, yes, sir! yes, indeed!" was the joyous answering exclamation of
both. Then Elsie asked: "Are you going too, mamma? Sisters Lu and
Gracie too?" glancing inquiringly at them.

All three replied that they would like to go, but had some work to
finish at home.

A part of that work was the trimming of the tree, which was brought in
and set up after the departure of the captain, Elsie, and Ned for the
schoolhouse.

Violet's brothers, Harold and Herbert, came in and gave their
assistance as they had done some years before when Max, Lucilla, and
Grace had been the helpers of their father at the schoolhouse. The
young girls had enjoyed that, but this was even better, as those for
whom its fruits were intended were nearer and dearer. They had a
merry, happy time embellishing the tree with many ornaments, and
hanging here and there mysterious packages, each carefully wrapped and
labelled with the name of its intended recipient.

"There!" said Violet at length, stepping back a little and taking a
satisfied survey, "I think we have finished."

"Not quite," said Harold. "But you and the girls may please retire
while Herbert and I attend to some small commissions of our good
brother--the captain."

"Ah! I was not aware that he had given you any," laughed Violet. "But
come, girls, we will slip away and leave them to their own devices."

"I am entirely willing to do so," returned Lucilla gayly, following in
her wake as she left the room.

"I, too," said Grace, hastening after them, "for one never loses by
falling in with papa's plans."

"What is it, Harold?" asked Herbert. "The captain has not let me into
his secret."

"Only that his gifts to them--his wife and daughters--are in this
closet and to be taken out now and added to the fruits of this
wondrous tree," replied Harold, taking a key from his pocket and
unlocking a closet door.

"Ah! something sizable, I should say," laughed Herbert, as four large
pasteboard boxes came into view.

"Yes; what do you suppose they contain?" returned his brother, as they
drew them out. "Ah, this top one--somewhat smaller than the
others--bears little Elsie's name, I see, and the other three must be
for Vi, Lu, and Grace. Probably they are new cloaks or some sort of
wraps."

"Altogether likely," assented Herbert. "Well, when they are opened in
the course of the evening, we shall see how good a guess we have made.
And here," taking a little package from his pocket, "is something
Chester committed to my care as his Christmas gift to his betrothed."

"Ah! do you know what it is?"

"Not I," laughed Herbert, "but though a great deal smaller than her
father's present, it may be worth more as regards moneyed value."

"Yes; and possibly more as regards the giver; though Lu is evidently
exceedingly fond of her father."

"Yes, indeed! as all his children are and have abundant reason to be."

Herbert hung the small package on a high branch, then said: "These
large boxes we will pile at the foot of the tree; Vi's at the bottom,
Elsie's at the top, the other two in between."

"A very good arrangement," assented Herbert, assisting him.

"There, we have quite finished and I feel pretty well satisfied with
the result of our labors," said Harold, stepping a little away from
the tree and scanning it critically from top to bottom.

"Yes," assented Herbert, "it is about as attractive a Christmas tree
as I ever saw. It is nearing tea time now and the captain and the
children will doubtless soon return. I think I shall accept his and
Vi's invitation to stay to that meal; as you will, will you not?"

"Yes; if no call comes for my services elsewhere." And with that they
went out, Harold locking the door and putting the key into his pocket.

They found the ladies in one of the parlors and chatted there with
them until the Woodburn carriage was seen coming up the drive. It drew
up before the door and presently Elsie and Ned came bounding in, merry
and full of talk about all they had done and seen at the schoolhouse.

"We had just got all the things on the tree when the folks began to
come," Elsie said: "and oh, Mamma, it was nice to see how glad they
were to get their presents! I heard one little girl say to another,
'this is the purtiest bag, with the purtiest candy and the biggest
orange ever I seed.' And the one she was talking to said, 'Yes, and
so's mine. And aint these just the goodest cakes!' After that they
each--each of the girls in the school I mean--had two pair of warm
stockings and a woollen dress given them, and they went wild with
delight."

"Yes; and the boys were just as pleased with their coats and shoes,"
said Ned. "And the old folks too with what they got, I guess. I heard
some of them thank papa and say he was a very good, kind gentleman."

"As we all think," said Violet, with a pleased smile. "But come
upstairs with me now; for it is almost tea time and you need to be
made neat for your appearance at the table."

They were a merry party at the tea table and enjoyed their fare, but
did not linger long over it. On leaving the table, Violet led the way
to the room where she, her brothers, and Lucilla and Grace had been so
busy; Harold produced the key and threw the door open, giving all a
view of the Christmas tree with its tempting fruits and glittering
ornaments.

Ned, giving a shout of delight, rushed in to take a nearer view, Elsie
following close in his wake, the older ones not far behind her.
Christine, having another key to the door, had been there before them
and lighted up the room and the tree so that it could be seen to the
very best advantage.

"Oh, what a pile of big, big boxes!" exclaimed Elsie. "And there's my
name on the top one! Oh, papa, may I open it?"

His only reply was a smile as he threw off the lid and lifted out a
very handsome baby astrakhan fur coat.

"Oh! oh!" she cried, "is it for me, papa?"

"If it fits you," he replied. "Let me help you to try it on." He
suited the action to the word, while Harold lifted the box and
pointing to the next one, said, "This seems to be yours, Gracie. Shall
I lift the lid for you?"

"Oh, yes, if you please," she cried. "Oh! oh! one for me too! Oh, how
lovely!" as another baby astrakhan fur coat came to light.

He put it about her shoulders while Harold lifted away that box and,
pointing to the address on the next, asked Lucilla if he should open
that for her.

"Yes, indeed! if you please," she answered, her eyes shining with
pleasure.

He did so at once, bringing to light a very handsome sealskin coat.

"Oh, how lovely! how lovely!" she exclaimed, examining it critically.
"Papa, thank you ever so much!"

"You are heartily welcome, daughters, both of you," he said; for Grace
too was pouring out her thanks, her lovely blue eyes sparkling with
delight.

And now Violet's box yielded up its treasure--a mate to Lu's--and she
joined the young girls in their thanks to the giver and expressions of
appreciation of the gift.

"Here, Lu, I see this bears your name," said Harold, taking a small
package from the tree and handing it to her. She took it, opened it,
and held up to view a beautiful gold chain and locket. As she opened
the latter, "From Chester," she said with a blush and a smile, "and
oh, what a good likeness!"

"His own?" asked Violet. "Ah, yes! and a most excellent one," she
added, as Lucilla held it out for her inspection.

All, as they crowded around to look, expressed the same opinion.

"Oh, here's another big bundle!" exclaimed Ned; "and with your name,
mamma, on it! And it's from grandma. See!" pointing to the label.

"Let me open it for you, my dear," said the captain, and doing so
brought to light a tablecloth and dozen napkins of finest damask, with
Violet's initials beautifully embroidered in the corner of each.

"Oh, they are lovely!" she said with a look of delight, "and worth
twice as much for having such specimens of mamma's work upon them. I
know of nothing she could have given me which I would have prized more
highly."

There was still more--a great deal more fruit upon that wonderful
tree; various games, books, and toys for the children of the family
and the servants; suitable gifts for the parents of the latter, useful
and handsome articles for Christine and Alma, and small remembrances
for different members of the family from relatives and friends.

Chester joined them before the distribution was quite over and was
highly pleased with his share, especially the handkerchiefs
embroidered by the deft fingers of his betrothed.

The captain too seemed greatly pleased with his as well as with
various other gifts from his wife, children, and friends.

The distribution over, Violet's brothers hastened to Ion to go through
a similar scene there. And much the same thing was in progress at the
home of each of the other families of the connection.

Grandma Elsie's gift to each daughter, including Zoe, was similar to
that given to Violet, tablecloth and napkins of the finest damask,
embroidered by her own hands with the initials of the recipient--a
most acceptable present to each.

Ned had received a number of very gratifying presents and considered
himself as having fared well; but Christmas morning brought him a glad
surprise. When breakfast and family worship were over his father
called him to the outer door and pointing to a handsome pony grazing
near at hand, said in his pleasant tones, "There is a Christmas gift
from Captain Raymond to his youngest son. What do you think of it, my
boy?"

"Oh, papa," cried the little fellow, clapping his hands joyously,
"thank you, thank you! It's just the very best present you could have
thought of for me! He's a little beauty and I'll be just as good to
him as I know how to be."

"I hope so indeed," said his father; "and if you wish you may ride him
over to Ion this morning."

"Oh, yes, papa! but mayn't I ride him about here a while just now, so
as to be sure I'll know how to manage him on the road?"

"Why, yes; I think that's a good idea; but first put on your overcoat
and cap. The air is too cool for a ride without them."

"Oh, mamma and sisters!" cried Ned, turning about to find them
standing near as most interested spectators, "haven't I got just the
finest of all the Christmas gifts from papa?"

"The very best for you, I think, sonny boy," returned his mother,
giving him a hug and a kiss.

"And we are all very glad for you," said Grace.

"I as well as the rest, dear Ned," added Elsie, her eyes shining with
pleasure.

"And we expect you to prove yourself a brave and gallant horseman,
very kind and affectionate to your small steed," added Lucilla,
looking with loving appreciation into the glad young face.

"Yes, indeed, I do mean to be ever so good to him," rejoined the
little lad, rushing to the hat-stand and, with his mother's help,
hastily assuming his overcoat and cap. "I'm all ready, papa," he
shouted the next moment, racing out to the veranda where the captain
was giving directions to a servant.

"Yes, my son, and so shall I be when I have slipped on my coat and
cap," returned his father, taking them, with a smile of approval, from
Lucilla, who had just brought them.

The next half hour passed very delightfully to little Ned, learning
under his father's instruction to manage skilfully his small steed.
Having had some lessons before in the riding and management of a pony,
he succeeded so well that, to his extreme satisfaction, he was allowed
to ride it to Ion and exhibit it there, where its beauty and his
horsemanship were commented upon and admired to his heart's content.

The entire connection was invited to take Christmas dinner at Ion, and
when they gathered about the table not one was missing. Everybody
seemed in excellent spirits and all were well excepting Chester, who
had a troublesome cough.

"I don't quite like that cough, Chester," said Dr. Conly at length,
"and if you ask me for a prescription it will be a trip to Florida."

"Thank you, Cousin Art," returned Chester with a smile. "That would be
a most agreeable medicine if I could spare the time and take with me
the present company, or even a part of it."

"Meaning Lu, I presume, Ches," laughed Zoe.

"Among the rest; she is one of the present company," he returned
pleasantly.

"What do you say, captain, to taking your family down there for a few
weeks?" asked Dr. Conly, adding, "I don't think it would be a bad
thing for Grace."

"I should have no objection if any of my family need it, or if they
all wish to go," said the captain, looking at his wife and older
daughters as he spoke.

"A visit to Florida would be something new and very pleasant, I
think," said Violet.

"As I do, papa," said Grace. "Thank you for recommending it for me,
Cousin Arthur," she added, giving him a pleased smile.

"Being very healthy I do not believe I need it, but I should greatly
enjoy going with those who do," said Lucilla, adding in an aside to
Chester, who sat next her, "I do hope you can go and get rid of that
trying cough."

"Perhaps after a while; not just yet," was his low-toned reply. "I
hardly know what I should like better."

"Well, don't let business hinder; your life and health are of far more
importance than that, or anything else."

His only answer to that was a smile which spoke appreciation of her
solicitude for him.

No more was said on the subject just then, but it was talked over
later in the evening and quite a number of those present seemed taken
with a desire to spend a part of the winter in Florida. Chester
admitted that by the last of January he could probably go without
sacrificing the interests of his clients, and the captain remarked
that by that time Max would be at home and could go with them.

Grandma Elsie, her father and his wife, also Cousin Ronald and his
Annis, pledged themselves to be of the party, and so many of the
younger people hoped they might be able to join that it bade fair to
be a large one.

"Are we going in our yacht, papa?" asked Ned Raymond.

"Some of us, perhaps, but it is unfortunately not large enough to hold
us all comfortably," was the amused reply.

"Not by any means," said Dr. Conly, "but the journey can be taken more
quickly by rail, and probably more safely at this time of the year."

Their plans were not matured before separating for the night, but it
seemed altogether probable that quite a large company from that
connection would visit Florida before the winter was over; and at the
Woodburn breakfast the next morning the captain, in reply to some
questions in regard to the history of that State, suggested that they,
the family, should take up that study as a preparation for their
expected visit there.

"I will procure the needed books," he said, "and distribute them among
you older ones to be read at convenient times during the day and
reported upon when we are all together in the evenings."

"An excellent idea, my dear," said Violet. "I think we will all enjoy
it, for I know that Florida's history is an interesting one."

"Were you ever there, papa?" asked Elsie.

"Yes; and I found it a lovely place to visit at the right time of the
year."

"That means the winter time, I suppose?"

"Yes; we should find it unpleasantly warm in the summer."

"How soon are we going, papa?" asked Ned.

"Probably about the 1st of February."

"To stay long?"

"That will depend largely upon how we enjoy ourselves."

"The study of the history of Florida will be very interesting, I am
sure, father," said Lucilla; "but we will hardly find time for it
until next week."

"No," he replied, "I suppose not until after New Year's--as we are to
go through quite a round of family reunions. But in the meantime I
will, as I said, procure the needed books."

"And shall we learn lessons in them in school time, papa?" asked Ned.

"No, son; when we are alone together in the evenings--or have with us
only those who care to have a share in learning all they can about
Florida. Our readers may then take turns in telling the interesting
facts they have learned from the books. Do you all like the plan?"

All thought they should like it; so it was decided to carry it out.

That week except Sunday was filled with a round of most enjoyable
family festivities, now at the home of one part of the connection, now
at another, and wound up with a New Year's dinner at Woodburn. There
was a good deal of talk among them about Florida and the pleasure
probably to be found in visiting it that winter, to say nothing of the
benefit to the health of several of their company--Chester especially,
as he still had a troublesome cough.

"You should go by all means, Chester," said Dr. Conly, "and the sooner
the better."

"I think I can arrange to go by the 1st of February," replied Chester,
"and shall be glad to do so if I can secure the good company of the
rest of you, or even some of you."

"Of one in particular, I presume," laughed his brother.

"Will you take us in the yacht, my dear?" asked Violet, addressing her
husband.

"If the weather proves suitable we can go in that way--as many as the
_Dolphin_ can accommodate comfortably. Though probably some of the
company would prefer travelling by rail, as the speedier and, at this
season, the safer mode," replied Captain Raymond.

"If we take the yacht you, mamma, will go with us in it, of course,"
observed Violet. "Grandpa and Grandma, too."

"Thank you, daughter, the yacht always seems very pleasant and
homelike to me, and I have great confidence in my honored son-in-law
as her commander," returned Mrs. Travilla, with a smiling look at the
captain.

He bowed his acknowledgments, saying, "Thank you, mother, I fully
appreciate the kindness of that remark." Then turning to his wife's
grandfather, "And you, sir, and your good wife, I hope may feel
willing to be of our company should we decide to take the yacht?"

"Thank you, captain; I think it probable we will," Mr. Dinsmore said
in reply.

"I wish my three brothers may be able to accompany us also," said
Violet.

Neither one of them felt certain of his ability to do so, but all
thought it would be a pleasure indeed to visit Florida in such
company. No one seemed ready yet for definite arrangements, but as the
trip was not to be taken for a month prompt decision was not esteemed
necessary, and shortly after tea most of them bade good-night and left
for their homes.

Chester was one of the last to go, but it was not yet very late when
Lucilla and Grace sought their own little sitting-room and lingered
there for a bit of chat together.

Their father had said they need not hasten with their preparations for
bed, as he was coming in presently for a few moments. They had hardly
finished their talk when he came in.

"Well, daughters," he said, taking a seat between them on the sofa and
putting an arm about the waist of each, "I hope you have enjoyed this
first day of a new year?"

"Yes, indeed, papa," both replied. "And we hope you have also," added
Grace.

"I have," he said. "I think we may well be called a happy and favored
family. But I wonder," he added with a smiling glance from one to the
other, "if my older daughters have not been a trifle disappointed that
their father has made them no New Year's gift of any account."

"Why, papa!" they both exclaimed, "you gave us such elegant and costly
Christmas gifts and each several valuable books to-day. We should be
very ungrateful if we did not think that quite enough."

"I am well satisfied that you should think it enough," he returned
laughingly, "but I do not. Here is something more." As he spoke he
took from his pocket two sealed envelopes and put one into the hand of
each.

They took them with a pleased, "Oh, thank you, papa!" and hastened to
open them and examine the contents.

"What is it, papa?" asked Grace with a slightly puzzled look at a
folded paper found in hers.

"A certificate of stock which will increase your allowance of pocket
money to about ten dollars a week."

"Oh, how nice! how kind and generous you are, papa!" she exclaimed,
putting an arm about his neck and showering kisses on his lips and
cheek.

"And mine is just the same, is it not, papa?" asked Lucilla, taking
her turn in bestowing upon him the same sort of thanks. "But oh, I am
afraid you are giving us more than you can well spare!"

"No, daughter dear," he said, "you need trouble yourselves with no
fears on that score. Our kind heavenly Father has so prospered me that
I can well afford it; and I have confidence in my dear girls that they
will not waste it, but will use it wisely and well."

"I hope so, papa," said Grace. "You have taught us that our money is a
talent for which we will have to give an account."

"Yes, daughter, I hope you will always keep that in mind, and be
neither selfish nor wasteful in the use you put it to."

"I do not mean to be either, papa," she returned; "and I may always
consult you about it, may I not?"

"Whenever it pleases you to do so I shall be happy to listen and
advise you to the best of my ability," he answered with an
affectionate look and smile.



                             CHAPTER III.


A few days later a package of books was received at Woodburn which,
upon being opened, proved to be histories of Florida ordered by the
captain from the neighboring city. They were hailed with delight by
Violet and the older girls, who were cordially invited to help
themselves, study up the subject in private, and report progress in
the evenings. Each one of them selected a book, as did the captain
also.

"Aren't Elsie and I to help read them, papa?" asked Ned, in a slightly
disappointed tone.

"You may both do so if you choose," their father replied, "but I
hardly think the books will prove juvenile enough to interest you as
much as it will to hear from us older ones some account of their
contents."

"Oh, yes, papa! and your way is always best," exclaimed Elsie, her
eyes beaming with pleasure. "Neddie," turning to her brother, "you
know we always like listening to stories somebody tells us; even
better than reading them for ourselves."

"Yes, indeed!" he cried, "I like it a great deal better. I guess
papa's way is best after all."

Just then Chester came in and, when the usual greetings had been
exchanged, glancing at the books, he exclaimed, "Ah, so they have
come--your ordered works on Florida, captain?"

"Yes; will you help yourself to one or more and join us in the
gathering up of information in regard to the history, climate,
productions, et cetera, of that part of our country?"

"Thank you, captain, I will be very glad to do so," was the prompt and
pleased reply. "Glad to join in your studies now and your visits to
the localities afterward."

"That last, I am thinking, will be the pleasantest part," said Grace;
"but all the more enjoyable for doing this part well first."

"Father," said Lucilla, "as you have visited Florida and know a great
deal about its history, can't you begin our work of preparation for
the trip by telling us something of the facts as we sit together in
the library just after tea to-night?"

"I can if it is desired by all of you," was the pleasant-toned reply.

"Before Neddie and I have to go to bed, papa, please," exclaimed
little Elsie coaxingly.

"Yes, daughter, you and Neddie shall be of the audience," replied her
father, patting affectionately the little hand she had laid upon his
knee. "My lecture will not be a very lengthy one, and if not quite
over by your usual bedtime, you and Ned, if not too sleepy to be
interested listeners, may stay up until its conclusion."

"Oh, thank you, sir!" exclaimed the little girl joyfully.

"Thank you, papa," said her brother. "I'll not grow sleepy while you
are telling the story, unless you make it very dull and stupid."

"Why, son, have I ever done that?" asked his father, looking much
amused, and Elsie exclaimed, "Why, Ned! papa's stories are always ever
so nice and interesting."

"Most always," returned the little fellow, hanging his head and
blushing with mortification; "but I have got sleepy sometimes because
I couldn't help it."

"For which papa doesn't blame his little boy in the least," said the
captain soothingly, drawing the little fellow to him and stroking his
hair with caressing hand.

At that moment wheels were heard on the drive and Grace, glancing from
the window, exclaimed joyfully, "Oh, here comes the Ion carriage with
Grandma Elsie and Evelyn in it. Now, papa, you will have quite an
audience."

"If they happen to want the same thing that the rest of you do,"
returned her father, as he left the room to welcome the visitors and
help them to alight.

They had come only for a call, but it was not very difficult to
persuade them to stay and spend the night, sending back word to their
homes by the coachman. In prospect of their intended visit to Florida
they were as greatly interested as the others in learning all they
could of its history and what would be the best points to visit in
search of pleasure and profit.

On leaving the tea table all gathered in the library, the ladies with
their fancy needlework, Chester seated near his betrothed, the captain
in an easy-chair with the little ones close beside him--one at each
knee and both looking eagerly expectant; for they knew their father to
be a good story-teller and thought the subject in hand one sure to
prove very interesting.

After a moment's silence in which the captain seemed to be absorbed in
quiet thought, he began:

"In the year 1512--that is nearly four hundred years ago--a Spaniard
named Juan Ponce De Leon, who had amassed a fortune by subjugating the
natives of the island of Puerto Rico, but had grown old and wanted to
be young again, having heard of an Indian tradition that there was a
land to the north where was a fountain, bathing in which, and drinking
of the water freely, would restore youth and make one live
forever--set sail in search of it. On the 21st day of April he landed
upon the eastern shore of Florida, near the mouth of the St. Johns
River.

"The day was what the Romanists called Paschal Sunday, or the Sunday
of the Feast of Flowers, and the land was very beautiful--with
magnificent trees of various kinds, stalwart live-oaks, tall palm
trees, the mournful cypress, and the brilliant dogwood. Waving moss
drooped from the hanging boughs of the forest trees; golden fruit and
lovely blossoms adorned those of the orange trees; while singing birds
filled the air of the woods with music, and white-winged waterfowls
skimmed quietly on the surface of the water. The ground was carpeted
with green grass and beautiful flowers of various hues; also in the
forest was an abundance of wild game, deer, turkeys, and so forth.

"De Leon thought he had found the paradise of which he was in search.
He went up the river, but by mistake took a chain of lakes, supposing
them to be a part of the main river, and finally reached a great
sulphur and mineral spring which is now called by his name. He did not
stay long, but soon sailed southward to the end of the peninsula, then
back to Puerto Rico. Nine years afterward he tried to plant a colony
in Florida, but the Indians resisted and mortally wounded him. He
retreated to Cuba and soon afterward died there."

The captain paused in his narrative and Elsie asked, "Then did the
Spaniards let the Indians have their own country in peace, papa?"

"No," replied her father. "Cortez had meanwhile conquered Mexico,
finding quantities of gold there, of which he basely robbed its
people. He landed there in 1519 and captured the City of Mexico in
1521.

"In the meantime Narvaez had tried to get possession of Florida, and
its supposed treasures. He had asked and obtained of the king of Spain
authority to conquer and govern it, with the title of Adelantado, his
dominion to extend from Cape Florida to the River of Palms.

"On the 14th of April he landed near Tampa Bay with four hundred armed
men and eighty horses.

"He and his men were entirely unsuccessful: they found no gold, the
Indians were hostile, provisions scarce; and finally they built boats
in which to escape from Florida. The boats were of a very rude sort
and the men knew nothing about managing them. So, though they set
sail, it was to make a most unsuccessful voyage. They nearly perished
with cold and hunger and many were drowned in the sea. The boat that
carried Narvaez was driven out to sea and nothing more was ever heard
of him. Not more than four of his followers escaped."

The captain paused for a moment, then turning to his wife, said
pleasantly, "Well, my dear, suppose you take your turn now as narrator
and give us a brief sketch of the doings of Fernando de Soto, the
Spaniard who next undertook to conquer Florida."

"Yes," said Violet, "I have been reading his story to-day with great
interest, and though I cannot hope to nearly equal my husband as
narrator, I shall just do the best I can.

"History tells us that Cabeca de Vaca--one of the four survivors of
the ill-fated expedition of Narvaez--went back to Spain and for
purposes of his own spread abroad the story that Florida was the
richest country yet discovered. That raised a great furor for going
there. De Soto began preparations for an expedition and nobles and
gentlemen contended for the privilege of joining it.

"It was on the 18th of May, 1539, that De Soto left Cuba with
one thousand men-at-arms and three hundred and fifty horses. He
landed at Tampa Bay--on the west coast--on Whitsunday, 25th of May.
His force was larger and of more respectable quality than any that
had preceded it. And he was not so bad and cruel a man as his
predecessor--Narvaez."

"Did Narvaez do very bad things to the poor Indians, mamma?" asked
Elsie.

"Yes, indeed!" replied her mother; "in his treatment of them he showed
himself a most cruel, heartless wretch. Wilmer, in his 'Ferdinand De
Soto,' tells of a chief whom he calls Cacique Ucita, who, after
forming a treaty of peace and amity with Pamphilo de Narvaez, had been
most outrageously abused by him--his aged mother torn to pieces by
dogs, in his absence from home, and when he returned and showed his
grief and anger, himself seized and his nose cut off."

"Oh, mamma, how very, very cruel!" cried Elsie. "Had Ucita's mother
done anything to Narvaez to make him treat her so?"

"Nothing except that she complained to her son of a Spaniard who had
treated a young Indian girl very badly indeed.

"Narvaez had shown himself an atrociously cruel man. So that it was no
wonder the poor Indians hated him. How could anything else be expected
of poor Ucita when he learned of the dreadful, undeserved death his
poor mother had died, than that he would be, as he was, frantic with
grief and anger, and make, as he did, threats of terrible vengeance
against the Spaniards? But instead of acknowledging his cruelty and
trying to make some amends, as I have said, Narvaez ordered him to be
seized, scourged, and sadly mutilated.

"Then, as soon as Ucita's subjects heard of all this, they hastened
from every part of his dominions to avenge him upon the Spaniards.
Perceiving their danger the Spaniards then fled with all expedition,
and so barely escaped the vengeance they so richly deserved.

"But to go back to my story of De Soto--he had landed a few miles from
an Indian town which stood on the site of the present town of Tampa.
He had with him two Indians whom he had been training for guides and
interpreters; but to his great disappointment they escaped.

"The Spaniards had captured some Indian women, and from them De Soto
learned that a neighboring chief had in his keeping a captured
Spaniard, one of the men of Narvaez.

"After Narvaez landed he had sent back to Cuba one of his smaller
vessels--on board of which was this Juan Ortiz--to carry the news of
his safe arrival to his wife. She at once sent additional supplies by
the same vessel and it reached the bay the day after Narvaez and his
men had fled, as I have already told you, from the vengeance of the
outraged Ucita and his indignant subjects.

"Ortiz and those with him, seeing a letter fixed in a cleft of a stick
on shore, asked some Indians whom they saw to bring it to them. They
refused and made signs for the Spaniards to come for it. Juan Ortiz,
then a boy of eighteen, with some comrades, took a boat and went on
shore, when they were at once seized by the Indians, one of them, who
resisted, instantly killed, and the rest taken to the cruelly wronged
and enraged chief Ucita, who had made a vow to punish with death any
Spaniard who should fall into his hands.

"Ortiz' mind, as they hurried him onward, was filled with the most
horrible forebodings. When they reached the village the chief was
waiting in the public square to receive them. One of the Spaniards was
at once seized, stripped of his clothes and bade to run for his life.

"The square was enclosed by palisades and the only gateway was guarded
by well-armed Indians. As soon as the naked Spaniard began to run one
of the Indians shot an arrow, the barbed edge of which sank deeply
into his shoulder. Another and another arrow followed, the man in a
frenzy of pain hurrying round and round in a desperate effort to find
some opening by which he might escape; the Indians looking on with
evident delight.

"This scene lasted for more than an hour, and when the wretched victim
fell to the ground there were no less than thirty arrows fixed in his
flesh, and the whole surface of his body was covered with blood.

"The Indians let him lie there in a dying condition and chose another
victim to go through the same tortures; then another and another till
all were slain except Ortiz. By that time the Indians seemed to be
tired of the cruel sport and he saw them consulting together, the
chief apparently giving the others some directions.

"It seems that from some real or fancied resemblance Ucita saw in the
lad to the cruel wretch, Pamphilo de Narvaez, he supposed him to be a
relative; and therefore intended him to suffer some even more
agonizing death than than just meted out to his fellows. For that
purpose some of them now busied themselves in making a wooden frame.
They laid parallel to each other two stout pieces of wood--six or
seven feet long and three feet apart, then laid a number of others
across them so as to form a sort of grate or hurdle to which they then
bound Ortiz with leathern thongs. They then placed it on four stakes
driven into the ground, and kindled a fire underneath, using for it
such things as would burn slowly, scarcely making a blaze!

"Oh, mamma! were they going to burn him to death?" exclaimed Elsie,
aghast with horror.

"Yes," replied her mother; "and he was soon suffering terribly. But
one of the Indian women who was present felt sorry for him and
hastened away to the house of Ucita and told his daughter Ulelah what
was going on. She was a girl of eighteen and not so hard as the men.
She was sorry for the poor young man and made haste to run to the
scene of his sufferings, where he was shrieking with pain and begging
for mercy.

"Hearing those sounds before she reached the spot she ran faster and
got there panting for breath. At once she threw herself at her
father's feet and begged him to stop the execution for a few minutes.
He did so, ordering some of his men to lift the frame to which Ortiz
was fastened, and lay it on the ground. Ulelah then begged her father
to remember that Ortiz had never offended him, and that it would be
more humane--more to his honor--to keep him as a prisoner, than to put
him to death without any reason or justification.

"The chief sternly replied that he had sentenced the Spaniard to death
and no consideration should prevent him from executing him. Then
Ulelah begged him to put it off for a day that was annually celebrated
as a religious festival, at which time he might be offered as a
sacrifice to their gods.

"To that at length Ucita consented. Ortiz was unbound and the princess
placed him under the care of the best physician of their tribe.

"As soon as Ortiz began to recover every care was taken that he should
not escape. He was made to busy himself in the most laborious and
slavish occupations. Sometimes he was compelled to run incessantly,
from the rising of the sun to its setting, in the public square where
his comrades had been put to death, Indians armed with bows and arrows
standing ready to shoot him if he should halt for a moment. That over,
he would lie exhausted, and almost insensible, on the hard earthen
floor of a hut, the best lodging the chief would allow him.

"At such times Ulelah and her maids would come to him with food,
restoratives, medicines, and words of consolation and encouragement,
all of which helped him to live and endure.

"When Ortiz had been there about nine months the Princess Ulelah came
to him one evening and told him that their religious festival would be
celebrated on the first day of the new moon. Ortiz had heard that the
chief intended to sacrifice him on that occasion and of course he was
sorely distressed at the dreadful prospect before him, and as the time
drew near he tried to prepare his mind for his doom, for he could see
no way of escape. Ulelah told him she had done all she could to induce
her father to spare his life, but could gain nothing more than a
promise to delay the execution of the sentence for a year--on one
condition, that he should keep guard over the cemetery of the tribe,
where, according to the custom of their people, the bodies of the dead
were exposed above ground until the flesh wasted away, leaving only
the naked skeletons.

"The cemetery was about three miles from the village, in an open space
of ground surrounded by forests. The bodies lay on biers on stages
raised several feet above the ground, and it was necessary to keep a
watch over them every night to protect them from the wild beasts of
prey in the surrounding woods. Generally those who were compelled to
keep this watch were criminals under sentence of death, who were
permitted to live, if they could, so long as they performed that duty
faithfully. But they ran great risks from the wild beasts of prey in
the surrounding forests and from effluvia arising from the decaying
bodies.

"It seemed a terrible alternative, but Ortiz took it rather than
suffer immediate death. Ulelah wept over him, and her sympathy abated
something of the horror of his hard fate and helped him to meet it
manfully.

"Next day he was taken to the place by the chief's officers, who gave
him a bow and arrows and other weapons, told him to be vigilant, and
warned him against any attempt to escape.

"His little hut of reeds was in the midst of the cemetery. The stench
was horrible and for several hours overpowered him with sickness and
stupor such as he had never known before. But from that he partially
recovered before night, and toward morning the howling of wolves
helped to arouse him; yet presently he nearly lost consciousness
again.

"In the early part of the night he had contrived to scare away the
wolves by waring a lighted torch which was kept ready for the purpose.
But at length he became conscious that some living thing was near him,
as he could hear the sound of breathing; then by the light of his
torch he saw a large animal dragging away the body of a child.

"Before he could arouse himself sufficiently to attack the animal it
had reached the woods and was out of sight. He was very ill, but
roused all his energies, fitted an arrow to his bow and staggered
toward that part of the forest where the beast had disappeared. As he
reached the edge of the wood he heard a sound like the gnawing of a
bone. He could not see the creature that made it, but sent an arrow in
the direction of the sound, and at the same moment he fell to the
ground in a faint; for the exertion had entirely exhausted his small
portion of strength.

"There he lay till daybreak, then recovering consciousness, he by
great and determined effort managed to crawl back to his hut.

"Sometime later came the officers whose duty it was to make a daily
examination. They at once missed the child's body and were about to
dash out the brains of Ortiz, but he made haste to tell of his night
adventure; they went to the part of the forest which he pointed out as
the spot where he had fired at the wild animal; found the body of the
child, and lying near it, that of a large dead animal of the tiger
kind. The arrow of Ortiz had struck it between the shoulders,
penetrated to the heart, and doubtless killed it instantly.

"The Indians greatly admired the skill Ortiz had shown by that shot,
and as they recovered the body of the child they held him blameless.

"Gradually he grew accustomed to that tainted air and strong enough to
drive away the wolves, killing several of them. The Indian officers
brought him provisions, and so he lived for about two weeks. Then one
night he was alarmed by the sound of footsteps which seemed those of
human beings. He thought some new trouble was coming upon him, but as
they drew near he saw by the light of his torch that they were three
women--the Princess Ulelah and two female attendants. He recognized
the princess by her graceful form and the richness of her dress. She
told him the priests of her tribe would not consent to any change of
his sentence or delay in carrying it out. That Ucita had promised them
he should be sacrificed at the approaching festival, and they were
determined not to allow their deity to be defrauded of his victim. She
said she had exposed herself to great risk by coming to warn him of
his danger, for if the priests should learn that she had helped him to
escape they would take her life--not even her father's authority could
save her from them,--and to save his life she advised him to fly at
once.

"He thought all this proved that she loved him, and told her he loved
her; that in his own country he belonged to an ancient and honorable
family and was heir to a large estate. He begged her to go with him
and become his wife.

"When he had finished speaking she was silent for a few moments; then
answered in a tone that seemed to show some displeasure. 'I regret,'
she said, 'that any part of my conduct should have led you into so
great an error. In all my efforts to serve you I have had no motives
but those of humanity; and I would have done no less for any other
human being in the same circumstances. To fully convince you of your
mistake I will tell you that I am betrothed to a neighboring cacique,
to whose protection I am about to recommend you. Before daybreak I
will send a faithful guide to conduct you to the village. Lose no time
on the way, and when you are presented to Mocoso, give him this girdle
as a token that you come from me. He will then consider himself bound
to defend you from all danger, at the hazard of his own life.'

"Ulelah and her maidens then left him and before morning came the
promised guide, who conducted Ortiz through the trackless forest in a
northerly direction, urging him to walk very fast, as he would
certainly be pursued as soon as his absence was discovered.

"In telling his story afterward Ortiz said they travelled about eight
leagues and reached Mocoso's village, at whose entrance the guide,
fearing to be recognized by some one of Mocoso's subjects, left him to
enter it alone.

"Some Indians were fishing in a stream near by. They saw Ortiz come
out of the woods, and frightened by his outlandish appearance,
snatched up their arms with the intention of attacking him. But when
he showed the girdle which Ulelah had given him they understood that
he was the bearer of a message to their chief, and one of them came
forward to give the usual welcome, and then led him to the village,
where his Spanish dress, which he still wore, attracted much
attention, and he was ushered into the presence of Mocoso. He found
that chief a youthful Indian of noble bearing, tall and graceful in
person, and possessed of a handsome and intelligent face. Ortiz
presented the girdle. Mocoso examined it attentively, and greatly to
the surprise of Ortiz seemed to gain from it as much information as if
its ornamental work had been in written words.

"Presently raising his eyes from the girdle Mocoso said, 'Christian, I
am requested to protect you and it shall be done. You are safe in my
village; but do not venture beyond it, or you may have the misfortune
to be recaptured by your enemies.'

"From that time Mocoso treated Ortiz with the affection of a brother."

"Oh, how nice!" exclaimed little Elsie. "But when Ucita heard that
Ortiz was gone, what did he do about it?"

"When he heard where he was he sent ambassadors to demand that he be
given up. Mocoso refused. That caused a misunderstanding between the
two chiefs and delayed the marriage of Ulelah and Mocoso for several
years. At the end of three years the priests interposed and the
wedding was allowed to take place, but the two chiefs did not become
reconciled and held no communication with each other.

"For twelve years Ortiz was kept in safety by Mocoso, then De Soto and
his men came and Ortiz, hearing of their arrival, wanted to join them
and set out to do so in company with some of his Indian friends.

"At the same time a Spaniard named Porcalla had started out to hunt
some Indians for slaves. On his way he saw Ortiz with his party of ten
or twelve Indians, and with uplifted weapons he and his men spurred
their horses toward them. All but one fled, but he drew near and,
speaking in Spanish, said, 'Cavaliers, do not kill me. I am one of
your own countrymen; and I beg you not to molest these Indians who are
with me; for I am indebted to them for the preservation of my life.'

"He then made signs for his Indian friends to come back, which some
few did, and he and they were taken on horseback behind some of the
cavaliers, and so conveyed to De Soto's camp where Ortiz told his
story; the same that I have been telling you.

"'As soon as Mocoso heard of your arrival,' he went on, 'he asked me
to come to you with the offer of his friendship, and I was on my way
to your camp with several of his officers when I met your cavaliers.'

"While listening to this story De Soto's sympathies had been much
excited for Ortiz. He at once presented him with a fine horse, a suit
of handsome clothes, and all the arms and equipments of a captain of
cavalry.

"Then he sent two Indians to Mocoso with a message, accepting his
offers of friendship and inviting him to visit the camp; which he
shortly afterward did, bringing with him some of his principal
warriors. His appearance and manners were such as at once to
prepossess the Spaniards in his favor. De Soto received him with
cordiality and thanked him for his kindness to the Spaniard who had
sought his protection.

"Mocoso's reply was one that could not fail to be pleasing to the
Spaniards. It was that he had done nothing deserving of thanks; that
Ortiz had come to him well recommended and his honor was pledged for
his safety. 'His own valor and other good qualities,' he added,
'entitled him to all the respect which I and my people could show him.
My acquaintance with him disposes me to be friendly to all his
countrymen.'

"The historian goes on to tell us that when Mocoso's mother heard
where he had gone she was terrified at the thought of what injury
might be done to him--no doubt remembering the sad misfortune of Ucita
and his mother, so cruelly dealt with by the treacherous Spaniards. In
the greatest distress she hurried to the camp of De Soto and implored
him to set her son at liberty and not treat him as Ucita had been
treated by Pamphilo. 'If he has offended you,' she said, 'consider
that he is but young and look upon his fault as one of the common
indiscretions of youth. Let him go back to his people and I will
remain here and undergo whatever sufferings you may choose to
inflict.'"

"What a good kind mother!" exclaimed Elsie Raymond. "I hope they
didn't hurt her or her son either."

"No," said her mother; "De Soto tried to convince her that he
considered himself under obligations to Mocoso, and that he had only
intended to treat him in a most friendly manner. But all he could say
did not remove the anxiety of the poor frightened woman, for she had
come to believe the whole Spanish nation treacherous and cruel. Mocoso
himself at last persuaded her that he was entirely free to go or stay
as he pleased. Still she could not altogether banish her fears, and
before leaving she took Juan Ortiz aside and entreated him to watch
over the safety of his friend, and especially to take heed that the
other Spaniards did not poison him."

"Did Mocoso stay long? and did they harm him, mamma?" asked Elsie.

"He stayed eight days in the Spanish camp," replied Violet; "being
inspired with perfect confidence in the Christians."

"Christians, mamma? What Christians?" asked Ned.

"That was what the Spaniards called themselves," she answered; "but it
was a sad misnomer; for theirs was anything else than the spirit of
Christ."



                              CHAPTER IV.


The next evening the same company, with some additions, gathered in
the library at Woodburn, all full of interest in the history of
Florida and anxious to learn what they could of its climate,
productions, and anything that might be known of the tribes of Indians
inhabiting it before the invasion of the Spaniards.

At the earnest request of the others Grandma Elsie was the first
narrator of the evening.

"I have been reading Wilmer's 'Travels and Adventures of De Soto,'"
she said. "He tells much that is interesting in regard to the Indians
inhabiting Florida when the Spaniards invaded it. One tribe was the
Natchez, and he says that they and other tribes also had made some
progress in civilization; but the effect of that invasion was a
relapse into barbarism from which they have never recovered. At the
time of De Soto's coming they had none of the nomadic habits for which
the North American Indians have since been remarkable. They then lived
in permanent habitations and cultivated the land, deriving their
subsistence chiefly from it, though practising hunting and fishing,
partly for subsistence and partly for sport. They were not entirely
ignorant of arts and manufactures and some which they practised were
extremely ingenious. They had domestic utensils and household
furniture which were both artistic and elegant. Their dresses,
especially those of the females, were very tasteful and ornate. Some
specimens of their earthenware are still preserved and are highly
creditable to their skill in that branch of industry. Among their
household goods they had boxes made of split cane and other material,
ingeniously wrought and ornamented; also mats for their floors. Their
wearing apparel was composed partly of skins handsomely dressed and
colored, and partly of a sort of woven cloth made of the fibrous bark
of the mulberry tree and a certain species of wild hemp. Their finest
fabrics, used by the wives and daughters of the caciques, were
obtained from the bark of the young mulberry shoots beaten into small
fibres, then bleached and twisted or spun into threads of a convenient
size for weaving, which was done in a very simple manner by driving
small stakes into the ground, stretching a warp across from one to
another, then inserting the weft by using the fingers instead of a
shuttle. By this tedious process they made very beautiful shawls and
mantillas, with figured borders of most exquisite patterns."

"They must have been very industrious, I think," said Elsie.

"Yes," assented her grandmother. "The weavers I presume were women;
but the men also seem to have been industrious, for they manufactured
articles of gold, silver, and copper. None of iron, however. Some of
their axes, hatchets, and weapons of war were made of copper, and
they, like the Peruvians, possessed the art of imparting a temper to
that metal which made it nearly equal to iron for the manufacture of
edge tools. The Peruvians, it is said, used an alloy of copper and tin
for such purposes; and that might perhaps be harder than brass, which
is composed chiefly of copper and zinc."

"Had they good houses to live in, grandma?" asked Ned.

"Yes," she replied; "even those of the common people were much better
than the log huts of our Western settlers, or the turf-built shanties
of the Irish peasantry. Some were thirty feet square and contained
several rooms each, and some had cellars in which the people stored
their grain. The houses of the caciques were built on mounds or
terraces, and sometimes had porticos, and the walls of some were hung
with prepared buckskin which resembled tapestry, while others had
carpets of the same material. Some of their temples had sculptured
ornaments. A Portuguese gentleman tells of one on the roof or cupola
of a temple which was a carved bird with gilded eyes.

"The religion of the Natchez resembled that of the Peruvians; they
worshipped the sun as the source of light and heat, or a symbol of the
divine goodness and wisdom. They believed in the immortality of the
human soul and in future rewards and punishments; in the existence of
a supreme and omnipotent Deity called the Great Spirit and also in an
evil spirit of inferior power, who was supposed to govern the seasons
and control the elements. They seem not to have been image-worshippers
until the Spaniards made them such. Their government was despotic, but
not tyrannical. They were ruled by their chiefs, whose authority was
patriarchal, who were like popes or bishops, rather than princes, but
who never abused their power."

Grandma Elsie paused as if she had finished her narration and Ned
exclaimed, "Oh, that isn't all, grandma, is it?"

"All of my part of the account, for the present at least," she said
with her sweet smile. Then turning to Lucilla:

"You will tell us the story of the Princess Xualla, will you not?"

"You could surely do it much better than I, Grandma Elsie," was the
modest rejoinder; "but if you wish it I will do my best."

"We do," replied several voices, and Lucilla, encouraged by a look and
smile from her father which seemed to speak confidence in her ability,
at once began.

"It seems that De Soto, not finding there the gold for which he had
come, and encouraged by the Indians, who wanted to be rid of him, to
think that it might be discovered in regions still remote, started
again upon his quest, taking a northerly or northwesterly direction.

"As they journeyed on they came to a part of Florida governed by a
female cacique--a beautiful young girl called the Princess Xualla. Her
country was a fine open one, well cultivated. They reached the
neighborhood of her capital--a town on the farther side of a
river--about an hour before nightfall. Here they encamped and were
about to seize some Indians to get from them information of the
country and people. But some others on the farther side of the stream
hastened over in a canoe to ask what was wanted.

"De Soto had had a chair of state placed on the margin of the stream
and placed himself in it. The Indians saluted him and asked whether he
was for peace or for war. He replied that he wished to be at peace and
hoped they would supply him with provisions for his army.

"They answered that they wished to be at peace, but the season had
been one of scarcity and they had barely enough food for themselves.
Their land, they said, was governed by a maiden lady and they would
report to her of the arrival of the strangers and what they demanded.

"They then returned to their canoe and paddled back to the town to
carry the news to the princess and chieftains. The Spaniards, watching
the canoe, saw those in it received by a crowd of their countrymen at
the landing place, and that their news seemed to cause some commotion.
But soon several canoes left the wharf and came toward the Spaniards.
The first was fitted up with a tasteful canopy and various
decorations. It was filled with women all gayly dressed, among them
the princess, the splendor of whose appearance almost dazzled the eyes
of the beholders. There were five or six other canoes, which held her
principal officers and attendants.

"When the boats reached the shore the Indians disembarked and placed a
seat for their lady opposite to De Soto's chair of state. She saluted
the strangers with grace and dignity, then, taking her seat, waited in
silence as if expecting her visitors to begin the conference.

"For several minutes De Soto gazed upon her with feelings of
admiration and reverence. He had seldom seen a more beautiful female,
or one in whom the conscious pride of elevated rank was so nicely
balanced with womanly reserve and youthful modesty. She seemed about
nineteen years of age, had perfectly regular features and an
intellectual countenance, a beautiful form, and she was richly
dressed. Her robe and mantilla were of the finest woven cloth of
native manufacture and as white and delicate of texture as the finest
linen of Europe. Her garments were bordered with a rich brocade
composed of feathers and beads of various colors interwoven with the
material of the cloth. She wore also a profusion of pearls and some
glittering ornaments which the Spaniards supposed to be of gold. Her
name was Xualla and she ruled over several provinces.

"Juan Ortiz, being acquainted with several Indian dialects, acted as
interpreter and told of the needs of the Spaniards. Xualla was sorry
the harvest had been so poor that she had little ability to relieve
their wants. She invited them to fix their quarters in her principal
village while it was convenient for them to stay in the neighborhood.
Then she took from her neck a necklace of pearls of great value and
requested Juan Ortiz to present it to the governor, as it would not be
modest for her to give it herself.

"De Soto arose, took it respectfully, and presented a ruby ring in
return, taking it from his own finger. That seems to have been
considered a ratification of peace between them. The Spanish troops
were taken over the river and quartered in the public square in the
centre of the town and the princess sent them a supply of good
provisions, and poultry and other delicacies for De Soto's table.

"Xualla's mother was living in retirement about twelve leagues from
her daughter's capital. Xualla invited her to come and see these
strange people--the Spaniards--but she declined and reproved her
daughter for entertaining travellers of whom she knew nothing. And
events soon showed that she was right; for the Spaniards, acting with
their usual perfidy, made Xualla a prisoner, robbed the people, the
temples and burial places, and tried to get possession of her mother.
Xualla was urged and probably finally compelled by threats to direct
them to the mother's abode.

"A young Indian warrior, evidently occupying some prominent position
under her government, was given directions which were not heard or
understood by the Spaniards. He made a sign of obedience, then turned
to the Spaniards and gave them to understand that he was ready to be
their conductor. One of them, named Juan Anasco, had been selected to
go in search of the widow, and now thirty Spaniards, under his
command, started on that errand.

"As they proceeded on their way the young chief seemed to grow more
melancholy. After travelling about five miles they stopped for a rest,
and while the soldiers were taking some refreshments the guide sat in
pensive silence by the side of the road, refusing to partake of the
repast. He laid aside his mantle, or cloak, which was made of the
finest of sable furs, took off his quiver, and began to draw out the
arrows one by one.

"The curiosity of the Spaniards was excited; they drew near and
admired the arrows, which were made of reeds, feathered with the dark
plumage of the crow or raven, and variously pointed, some with bones
properly shaped, others with barbs of very hard wood, while the last
one in the quiver was armed with a piece of flint cut in a triangular
form and exceedingly sharp. This he held in his hand while the
Spaniards were examining the others, and suddenly he plunged the barb
of flint into his throat and fell dead.

"The other Indians stood aghast and began to fill the air with their
lamentations. From them I presume it was that the Spaniards then
learned that the young chief was affianced to the princess and was
very much beloved and respected by the whole nation. He had committed
suicide to escape betraying the mother of his betrothed into the hands
of the Spaniards. In obedience to the order of the princess he had
undertaken to guide those cruel enemies to the widow's hiding place,
but he well knew that she was forced to give the order and that the
carrying out of it would be the cause of increased trouble to her and
her parent, and he had told one of the Indians who were of the party
that it would be better for him to die than to be the means of
increasing the afflictions of those whom he so dearly loved.

"The grief and despair of Xualla, when she heard of the death of her
betrothed, were so great that even the Spaniards were moved to pity.
For several days she shut herself up in her own dwelling and was not
seen by either the Spaniards or her own people.

"In the meantime the Spaniards were robbing the tombs and temples of
the country, finding great spoil there.

"About a week after the death of the young chief, De Soto told Xualla
she must send another guide with a party of Spaniards to her mother's
habitation. She promptly and decidedly refused to do so, saying she
had been justly punished once for consenting to place her poor mother
in his power, and no fears for herself would ever make her do so
again. She said he had made her as miserable as she could be, and now
she set him at defiance. She wished she had listened to the advice of
her wise counsellors and driven him away from her shores when he first
came with his false and deceitful promises of peace and friendship;
for she would have saved herself from that sorrow and remorse which
now made her life insupportable. 'Why do you still remain in my
country?' she asked. 'Are there no other lands to be robbed, no other
people to be made miserable? Here there is nothing for you to do; you
have taken all we had, and you can add nothing to our wretchedness.
Go, coward as you are! Cease to make war on helpless women; and if you
must be a villain, let your conduct prove that you are a man!'"

"I think she was very brave to talk to him in that way," said Elsie.
"Did he kill her for it?"

"No," replied Lucilla, "he was polite and courteous as usual, but told
her that the King of Spain was the true sovereign and lawful
proprietor of the country over which she claimed to be princess, and
that, in all those matters which had offended her, the Spanish army
had acted under the authority of that great monarch, to whom she
herself was bound to render obedience.

"Next he told her she must accompany the Spaniards on their march as
far as the border of her dominions and that she would be expected to
control her subjects and to make them entirely submissive to the
Spaniards. He promised that she should be treated with the respect and
delicacy due to her rank and sex.

"But the one who tells the story says she did not receive such usage
as she deserved. It was on the 3d day of May, 1540, that the Spaniards
left Cofachiqui, compelling the princess to accompany them and
requiring her to call upon her subjects to carry burdens for them from
one stopping place to another. They passed through a delightful valley
called Xualla, which had many groves, plantations, and pasture
grounds. On the seventh day they came to a province called Chulaque,
supposed to have been inhabited by a tribe of Cherokees. But before
the Spaniards had reached this point Xualla had contrived to escape,
assisted by two of her female slaves who were in attendance upon her."

"Oh, I hope they didn't catch her again--the Spaniards, I mean,"
exclaimed Ned.

"No," replied Lucilla; "De Soto would not allow her to be pursued."

"Did he and his men stay there in that beautiful valley, Lu?" asked
Elsie.

"No; as he could not find the gold he so coveted in Florida, he
travelled on in a westerly direction till he reached the Mississippi;
a hard journey through a wilderness of forests and marshes. He could
nowhere find the gold he so coveted, became discouraged and worn out,
was stricken with malignant fever, and died on the banks of the
Mississippi in June, 1542."

"A victim to the love of gold, like so many of his countrymen," sighed
Grandma Elsie. "The Bible tells us 'the love of money is the root of
all evil,' and history repeats the lesson. The love of money led to
Pizarro's wicked attack upon the Peruvians, and the conquest of that
country was a source of trouble and calamity to all, or nearly all who
were concerned in it. As soon as De Soto left, after the capture of
Cuzco, the victors began to quarrel with each other for the spoils.
Almagro provoked a war with Pizarro, was taken prisoner and strangled.
Gonzalo Pizarro was beheaded by his own countrymen. Another of the
brothers, Hernando, returned to Spain, where he was thrown into prison
and kept there for many years. Francisco Pizarro himself fell a victim
to the resentment of Almagro's soldiers. He was assaulted in his own
palace, where he had just finished his dinner when the avengers
entered. All his servants and guests except his half-brother, Martinez
de Alcantara, instantly fled and abandoned him to his fate. It was
midday when the assassins entered the palace with drawn weapons and
loudly proclaiming their intention to kill the tyrant. There were
upward of a thousand persons in the plaza, but no one opposed them;
they merely looked coldly on, saying to each other, 'These men are
going to kill the governor.'"

"He deserved it for killing Almagro, didn't he, grandma?" asked Ned.

"He certainly did," replied Grandma Elsie. "But they should, if
possible, have given him a trial; everyone has a right to that. It is
right that murderers should be put to death, lawfully--for the Bible
says, 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.'
History tells us it is probable that not more than twenty Spaniards in
getting the mastery of the great empire of Peru--one of the largest
upon earth--became rich, and in the end they made nothing; all that
they gained was ruin--individual and national. Few, if any of them,
carried back to their own land any evidences of their success. They
dissipated their ill-gotten riches in riotous living, or lost them by
unfortunate speculations.

"I must tell you of the fate of another of Pizarro's band--the priest
Vincent, or Valverde. He counselled, or consented to, many of the most
enormous crimes committed by that monster of cruelty and avarice
Pizarro, who, after some years of their association in crime, made him
Bishop of Cuzco. In November, 1541, he (Vincent) went with a
considerable number of Spaniards, who had served under Pizarro, to the
island of Puna, where they were all massacred by the Indians. On that
very island, about nine years before, Pizarro had butchered the
people, Vincent conniving at the crime. The historian says 'the
murderers slandered the Archangel Michael, by pretending that he
assisted them in their bloody performance; but no angel interposed
when Vincent and his fellow assassins were about to be put to death by
the infidels.'"



                              CHAPTER V.


The next day, by Grandma Elsie's invitation, the students of the
history of Florida gathered at Ion, and Chester took his turn in
relating some of the facts he had come upon in his reading.

"De Soto," he said, "died in June, 1542. Nearly twenty years later--in
February, 1562--two good vessels under command of Captain Jean Ribaut,
a French naval officer of experience and repute, were sent out by
Admiral Coligny, the chief of the Protestants in France, to establish
colonies in unexplored countries where the Protestants would be at
liberty to follow the dictates of their consciences without fear of
persecution.

"The admiral obtained a patent from Charles IX., armed those two
ships, put in them five hundred and fifty veteran soldiers and
sailors, besides many young noblemen who embarked as volunteers, and
appointed Ribaut as commander.

"They made a prosperous voyage, going directly to the coast of
Florida, avoiding the routes in which they were likely to meet Spanish
vessels, as the success of their expedition depended upon secrecy.

"On the 30th of April they sighted a cape which Ribaut named François.
It is now one of the headlands of Matanzas inlet. The next day he
discovered the mouth of a river which he named May, because they
entered it on the 1st day of that month, but which is now called the
St. Johns. Here they landed and erected a monument of stone with the
arms of France engraved upon it. It is said to have been placed upon a
little sand hillock in the river. They re-embarked and sailed
northward, landing occasionally and finding themselves well received
by the many Indians, to whom they made little presents such as
looking-glasses and bracelets. They continued to sail northward till
they entered the harbor of Port Royal, where they anchored. There they
built a small fort upon a little island and called it Fort Charles, in
honor of the King of France.

"Ribaut then selected twenty-five men to remain in the fort, and one
of his trusted lieutenants, Charles d'Albert, to command them; gave
them a supply of ammunition and provisions and left with a parting
salute of artillery, replied to from the fort. With that the vessels
sailed away for France, from which they had been absent about four
months.

"For some time the colony prospered, and made various excursions among
the Indians, who received and treated them well. But finally this
effort to found a colony proved a failure.

"In 1564 René de Laudonnière was charged with the direction of a new
one--this also sent out by Coligny. Three vessels were given him, and
Charles IX. made him a present of fifty thousand crowns. He took with
him skilful workmen and several young gentlemen who asked permission
to go at their own expense. He landed in Florida on the 22d of June,
sailed up the River St. Johns, and began the building of a fort which
he named Caroline in honor of the king.

"The Indians proved friendly. But soon the young gentlemen who had
volunteered to come with him complained of being forced to labor like
common workmen, and fearing that they would excite a mutiny, he sent
the most turbulent of them back to France on one of his vessels.

"But the trouble increased among the remaining colonists and he sent
out part of them under the orders of his lieutenant, to explore the
country. A few days later some sailors fled, taking with them the two
boats used in procuring provisions; and others, who had left France
only with the hope of making their fortunes, seized one of his ships
and went cruising in the Gulf of Mexico. Also the deserters had had a
bad influence upon the Indians, who now refused to supply the
colonists with provisions, and they were soon threatened with famine.
I cannot see why they should have been, with abundance of fish in
river and sea, and wild game and fruits in the woods," remarked
Chester, then went on with his story. "The historians tell us that
they lived for some time on acorns and roots, and when at the last
extremity were saved by the arrival of Captain John Hawkins, August 3,
1565. He showed them great kindness, furnishing them with provisions
and selling to Laudonnière one of his ships in which they might return
to France.

"In telling the story of his visit to Florida Hawkins mentions the
abundance of tobacco, sorrel, maize, and grapes, and ascribes the
failure of the French colony 'to their lack of thrift, as in such a
climate and soil, with marvellous store of deer and divers other
beasts, all men may live.'

"Laudonnière was waiting for a favorable wind to set sail, when Jean
Ribaut arrived with seven vessels carrying supplies and provisions,
some emigrants of both sexes, and four hundred soldiers. He told
Laudonnière his loyalty was suspected by the French court, and that he
had been deprived of the governorship of Florida. That news only made
Laudonnière the more eager to go back to France that he might justify
himself.

"After landing his troops Ribaut went to explore the country, leaving
some of his men to guard the ships. Ribaut's arrival was on the 29th
of August. On the 4th of September the French in his vessels sighted a
large fleet approaching and asked their object. 'I am Pedro Menendez
de Aviles, who has come to hang and behead all Protestants in these
regions,' was the haughty reply of the fleet's commander. 'If I find
any Catholic he shall be well treated, but every heretic shall die.'

"The French fleet, surprised and not strong enough to cope with the
Spaniards, cut their cables and left, and Menendez entered an inlet
which he called St. Augustin, and there began to intrench himself.

"Ribaut called together all his forces and resolved to attack the
Spaniards, contrary to the advice of Laudonnière and all his officers.
On the 10th of September he embarked for that purpose, but was
scarcely at sea when a hurricane dispersed his fleet. Then the
Spaniards attacked Fort Caroline.

"Laudonnière was still in the fort, but was sick and had only about a
hundred men, scarcely twenty of them capable of bearing arms. The
Spaniards took the fort, massacred all the sick, the women and
children, and hanged the soldiers who fell into their hands.

"After doing all he could to defend the fort Laudonnière cut his way
through the enemy and plunged into the woods, where he found some of
his soldiers who had escaped. He said what he could for their
encouragement and during the night led them to the seashore, where
they found a son of Ribaut with three vessels. On one of these--a
small brig--Laudonnière, Jacques Ribaut, and a few others escaped from
the Spaniards and carried the news of the disaster to France.

"Laudonnière's purpose had been to rejoin and help Jean Ribaut, but
his vessel being driven out to sea, he was unable to carry out that
intention.

"Three days after the fort was taken Ribaut's ships were wrecked near
Cape Canaveral, and he at once marched in three divisions toward Fort
Caroline. When the first division came near the site of the fort they
were attacked by the Spaniards, surrendered to Menendez, and were all
put to death. A few days later Ribaut arrived with his party, and as
Menendez pledged his word that they should be spared, they surrendered
and were all murdered, Menendez killing Ribaut with his own hand.
Their bodies were hung on the surrounding trees with the inscription,
'Executed, not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans.'"

"Lutherans?" echoed Ned inquiringly.

"Yes; meaning Protestants," replied Chester. "That was an age of great
cruelty. Satan was very busy, and multitudes were called upon to seal
their testimony to Christ with their blood.

"But to go on with the story. About two years after a gallant
Frenchman--Dominic de Gourgues, by name--got up an expedition to
avenge the massacre of his countrymen by the Spaniards at Fort
Caroline. He came to Florida with three small vessels and a hundred
and eighty-four men, secured the help of the natives, attacked the
fort--now called by the Spaniards Fort San Mateo--and captured the
entire garrison. Many of the captives were killed by the Indians, the
rest De Gourgues hanged upon the trees on which Menendez had hanged
the Huguenots, putting over the corpses the inscription, 'I do this,
not as to Spaniards, nor as to outcasts, but as to traitors, thieves,
and murderers.' His work of revenge accomplished, De Gourgues set sail
for France."

"Oh," sighed little Elsie, "what dreadful things people did do in
those days! I'm glad I didn't live then instead of now."

"As we all are," responded her mother; "glad for you and for
ourselves."

"Yes," said Chester; "and I think I have now come to a suitable
stopping place. There seems to me little more in Florida's history
that we need recount."

"No," said Grandma Elsie, "it seems to be nothing but a round of
building and destroying, fighting and bloodshed, kept up between the
Spaniards and the French; the English also taking part; the Indians
too, and in later years negroes also. In 1762 the British captured
Havana and in the treaty following the next year Great Britain gave
Cuba to Spain in exchange for Florida.

"Florida took no part in the Revolutionary War and became a refuge for
many loyalists, as it was afterward for fugitive slaves. In 1783
Florida was returned to Spanish rule, Great Britain exchanging it for
the Bahamas."

"And when did we get it, grandma?" asked Ned.

"In 1819, by a treaty between our country and Spain."

"Then the fighting stopped, I suppose?"

"No; the Seminole wars followed, lasting from 1835 to 1842. Florida
was admitted into the Union in 1845, seceded in 1861, bore her part
bravely and well through the Civil War, and at its close a State
Convention repealed the ordinance of secession."

"So since that she has been a part of our Union like the rest of our
States; hasn't she, grandma?" asked Ned.

"Yes; a part of our own dear country--a large and beautiful State."

"And probably it won't be long now till some of us, at least, will see
her," observed Grace with satisfaction.

"How soon will the _Dolphin_ be ready, papa?"

"By the time we are," replied the captain, "which will be as soon as
Max can join us."

"Dear Max! I long for the time when he will be with us again," said
Violet.

"I suppose by this time he knows how to manage a vessel almost as well
as you do, papa?" observed Ned in an inquiring tone.

"I hope so," his father replied with a smile.

"So the passengers may all feel very safe, I suppose," said Mrs.
Lilburn.

"And that being the case you are willing to be one of them, Cousin
Annis, are you not?" queried Violet hospitably.

"More than willing; glad and grateful to you and the captain for the
invitation to be, as my husband is also, I know."

"I am neither able nor desirous to deny that, my dear," laughed Cousin
Ronald. "Ah, ha; ah, ha; um, hm! It will be my first visit to Florida,
and I'm thinking we'll have a grand time of it--looking up the sites
and scenes of the old histories we've been reading and chatting over."



                              CHAPTER VI.


The yacht was ready in due season, and the weather being favorable
Captain Raymond invited as many of the connection as could be
comfortably accommodated on board, to go with him to witness the
graduation of Max and his classmates. Certainly his own immediate
family, Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore and Grandma Elsie would be of that
number; Evelyn Leland also and Cousins Ronald and Annis Lilburn.

Max's joy in meeting them all--especially his father and the others of
his own immediate family--was evidently very great, for it was the
first sight he had had of any of them for two years or more. He passed
his examination successfully, received his diploma, and was appointed
to the engineer corps of the navy. He received many warm
congratulations and valuable gifts from friends and relatives; but the
pleasure in his father's eyes, accompanied by the warm, affectionate
clasp of his hand, and his look of parental pride in his firstborn,
was a sweeter reward to the young man than all else put together.

"You are satisfied with me, father?" he asked in a low aside.

"Entirely so, my dear boy," was the prompt and smiling rejoinder; "you
have done well and made me a proud and happy father. And now, if you
are quite ready for the homeward-bound trip, we will go aboard the
yacht at once."

"I am entirely ready, sir," responded Max in joyful tones; "trunk
packed and good-byes said."

But they were detained for a little, some of Captain Raymond's old
friends coming up to congratulate him and his son on the latter's
successful entrance into the most desirable corps of the navy. Then,
on walking down to the wharf, they found the _Dolphin's_ dory waiting
for them and saw that the rest of their party was already on board, on
deck and evidently looking with eager interest for their coming.

Max remarked it with a smile, adding, "How the girls have grown,
father! and how lovely they all are! girls that any fellow might be
proud to claim as his sisters--and friend. Evelyn, I suppose, would
hardly let me claim her as a sister."

"I don't know," laughed his father; "she once very willingly agreed to
a proposition from me to adopt her as my daughter."

"Yes? I think she might well be glad enough to do that; but to take me
for a brother would not perhaps be quite so agreeable."

"Well, your Mamma Vi objecting to having so old a daughter, we agreed
to consider ourselves brother and sister; so I suppose you can
consider her your aunt, if you wish."

"There now, father, what a ridiculous idea!" laughed Max.

"Not so very," returned his father, "since aunts are sometimes younger
than their nephews."

But they had reached the yacht and the conversation went no farther.
In another moment they were on deck, and the dear relatives and
friends there crowding about Max to tell of their joy in having him in
their midst again and in knowing that he had so successfully finished
his course of tuition and fully entered upon the profession chosen as
his life work.

Max, blushing with pleasure, returned hearty thanks and expressed his
joy in being with them again. "The two years of absence have seemed a
long time to be without a sight of your dear faces," he said, "and I
feel it a very great pleasure to be with you all again."

"And it will be a delight to get home once more, won't it?" asked
Grace, hanging lovingly on his arm.

"Indeed it will," he responded; "and getting aboard the dear old yacht
seems like a long step in that direction; particularly as all the
family and so many other of my dear friends are here to welcome me."

"Well, we're starting," said Ned. "The sailors have lifted anchor and
we begin to move down stream."

At that a silence fell upon the company, all gazing out upon the
wintry landscape and the vessels lying at anchor in the river as they
passed them one after another. But a breeze had sprung up, the air was
too cool for comfort, and presently all went below.

Then came the call to the table, where they found an abundance of good
cheer awaiting them. The meal was enlivened by much cheerful chat, Max
doing his full share of it in reply to many questions in regard to his
experiences during the two years of his absence; especially of the
last few weeks in which he had not been heard from, except in a rather
hurried announcement of his arrival at Annapolis. They were all making
much of the fine young fellow, but, as his father noticed with
pleasure, it did not seem to spoil him. His manner and speech were
modest and unassuming, and he listened with quiet respect to the
remarks and queries of the older people. The younger ones were quiet
listeners to all.

At the conclusion of the meal all withdrew to the saloon and the
younger ones collected in a group by themselves. Max, seated near to
Evelyn Leland, turned to her and in a grave and quiet tone remarked,
"It seems a long time since we have had a bit of chat together, Aunt
Evelyn."

At that her eyes opened wide in astonishment.

"Aunt?" she repeated. "Why--why, Max, what do you mean by calling me
that?"

"I supposed it was the proper title for my father's sister," he
returned with a twinkle of fun in his eye.

"Oh!" she laughed. "I had nearly forgotten that bargain made with the
captain so long ago. And he has told you of it?"

"Yes; it was in answer to a remark of mine showing that I should like
to include you among my sisters. But can you hold that relationship to
my father and to me at the same time?"

"That is a question to be carefully considered," she laughed; "and in
the meantime suppose you just go back to the old way of calling me
simply Evelyn or Eva. And shall I call you Max, as of old?"

"Yes, yes, indeed! it's a bargain! And now, girls," glancing from her
to his sisters, "as I haven't heard from home in some weeks, perhaps
you may have some news to tell me. Has anything happened? or is
anything out of the usual course of events likely to happen?"

At that Grace laughed, Lucilla blushed and smiled, and little Ned
burst out in eager, joyful tones, "Oh, yes, brother Max! papa is going
to take us all to Florida in a day or two, you as well as the rest."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Max, "that will be very pleasant, I think."

"Yes," continued Neddie, "it's because Cousin Dr. Arthur says Chester
must go to get cured of his bad cough that he's had so long; and of
course Lu must go if he does--Cousin Chester, I mean--and if Lu goes
the rest of us ought to go too. Don't you think so, brother Max?"

Max's only reply for the moment was a puzzled look from one to
another.

"You may as well know it at once, Max," Lucilla said with a smile.
"Chester and I are engaged, and naturally he wants us all with him."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Max, giving her a look of surprise and
interest. "Why, Lu, I thought father was quite determined to keep his
daughters single till they were far beyond your present age."

"Yes," she returned with a smile; "but circumstances alter cases.
Chester saved my life--at nearly the expense of his own," she added
with a tremble in her voice. "So father let him tell me--what he
wanted to, and allowed us to become engaged. But that is to be all,
for a year or more."

"Saved your life, Lu? Tell me all about it, do, for I haven't heard
the story."

"You remember the anger of the burglar whom you and I testified
against some years ago, and his threat to be revenged on me?"

"Yes; and that in one of father's letters I was told that he had
escaped from prison. And he attacked you?"

"Yes; he fired at me from some bushes by the roadside, but missed,
Chester, who was with me, backing our horses just in time; then they
fired simultaneously at each other and the convict fell dead, and
Chester terribly wounded, while I escaped unhurt. But I thought father
had written you all about it."

"If so that letter must have missed me," said Max. "And Chester hasn't
recovered entirely?"

"Not quite; his lungs seem weak, but we are hoping that a visit to
Florida will perfect his cure."

"I hope so indeed! I have always liked Chester and shall welcome him
as a brother-in-law, since he has saved my sister's life and won her
heart."

"And that of her father," added the captain, coming up at that moment
and laying a hand on Lucilla's shoulder while he looked down at her
with eyes of love and pride. "He has proved himself worthy of the gift
of her hand."

"I think I must have missed one of your letters, father," said Max;
"for surely you did not intend to keep me in ignorance of all this?"

"No, my son; I wrote you a full account of all but the engagement,
leaving that to be told on your arrival here. One or more of my recent
letters must have missed you."

"Too bad!" exclaimed Max, "for a letter from my father, or from any
one of the home folks, is a great treat when I am far away on
shipboard or on some distant shore."

"And, oh, Max, but we feel it a great treat when one comes from you,"
said Grace.

"Ah! that's very good of you all," he returned with a pleased smile.
"But I think we may look forward to a fine time for the next few weeks
or months, as we expect to spend them together."

"Yes," said his father, then asked, "Are you well up in the history of
Florida, my son?"

"Not so well as I should like to be, sir," returned Max. "But perhaps
I can refresh my memory, and also learn something new on that subject,
while we are on the way there."

"Yes; we have a good supply of books in that line, which we will carry
along for your benefit--and to perhaps refresh our own memories
occasionally. And possibly the girls may like to recount to you some
of the tales of early times in that part of our country, which have
interested them of late," the captain continued with a smiling glance
at Evelyn and his daughters. All three at once and heartily expressed
their entire willingness to do so, and Max returned his thanks with
the gallant remark that that would be even more delightful than
reading the accounts for himself.

"Papa, can't we keep right on now to Florida?" asked Ned.

"No, my son; there are several reasons why that is not
practicable--matters to be attended to at home, luggage to be brought
aboard the yacht, and so forth. Besides, your brother no doubt wants a
sight of Woodburn before setting out upon a journey that is likely to
keep us away from there for some weeks."

"Yes, indeed, father, you are right about that," said Max. "I have
always esteemed my Woodburn home a lovely and delightful place, and
dare say I shall find it even more beautiful now than when I saw it
last."

"Then we'll expect to hear you say so when you get there," said
Lucilla, with a smile of pleasure and assurance.

And she was not disappointed; when at length Woodburn was reached
Max's admiration and delight were evident and fully equal to her
expectations. But of necessity his stay at this time must be brief,
scarce allowing opportunity to see all the relatives and connections
residing in that neighborhood, if he would not miss having a share in
the contemplated trip to Florida.



                             CHAPTER VII.


The _Dolphin_ carried to Florida the same party that she had brought
from Annapolis, with the addition of Chester Dinsmore and Dr. Harold
Travilla; while some others of the connection were intending to travel
thither by land. The voyage was but a short one, the weather
pleasant--though cool enough to make the cabin a more comfortable
place for family gatherings than the deck--the vessel in fine
condition, well manned, well officered, and provided with everything
necessary for convenience, comfort, and enjoyment. Amusements--such as
music, books, and games--were always to be had in abundance aboard the
yacht, but on this occasion the collection of information in regard to
the history and geography of Florida took precedence of everything
else. As soon as the vessel was well under way they gathered about a
table in the saloon on which were maps and books bearing upon the
subject, and while examining them chatted freely and gayly in regard
to which points they should visit, and how long remain in each place.

"That last is a question which would better be decided upon the spot,"
Captain Raymond said when it had been asked once or twice. "There is
little or nothing to hurry us, so that we may move forward, or tarry
in one place or another, as suits our convenience or inclination."

"We will call at Jacksonville, I suppose, father?" Lucilla said
inquiringly. "I see it is spoken of as the travel-centre and
metropolis of the State."

"Yes; and if my passengers desire to go there we will do so."

"Can we go all the way in the _Dolphin_, papa?" asked little Elsie.

"Yes; I think, however, we will call at Fernandina first, as it is
nearer."

"It is on an island, is it not?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes; Amelia Island, at the mouth of St. Mary's River."

"There are a very great many islands on Florida's coast, I think,"
said Elsie. "I was looking at the map to-day and it seemed to me there
were thousands."

"So there are," said her father; "islands of various sizes, from a
mere dot in some cases to from thirty to fifty miles of length in
others."

"Then we won't stop at all of them, I suppose," remarked Ned sagely;
"only at the big ones, won't we, papa?"

"Yes; and not at every one of them either," answered his father, with
a look of amusement. "Ten thousand or more stoppages would use up
rather too much of our time."

"Yes, indeed!" laughed Ned. "Most of them I'd rather just look at as
we pass by."

"We will want to see St. Augustine and other places mentioned in the
history we have been reading," said Grace.

"Certainly," replied her father, "we will not neglect them. The mouth
of St. John's River is about the first we will come to. Do you
remember, Elsie, what they called it, and what they did there?"

"Oh, yes, papa," she answered eagerly. "They named the river May, and
set up a monument of stone on a little sand bank in the river and
engraved the arms of France upon it."

"Quite correct, daughter," the captain said in a tone of pleased
commendation; "I see you have paid good attention to our reading and
talks on the subject, and I hope soon to reward you with a sight of
the scenes of the occurrences mentioned; though of course they are
greatly changed from what they were nearly four hundred years ago."

"Wasn't Jacksonville formerly known by another name, captain?" asked
Evelyn.

"Yes," he replied, "the Indian name was Waccapilatka--meaning Cowford
or Oxford--but in 1816 it became a white man's town and in 1822 its
name was changed to Jackson, in honor of General Andrew Jackson. I
think we should go up the St. Johns to that city before going farther
down the coast."

"Yes," said Mrs. Travilla, "and then on up the river and through the
lakes to De Leon Springs. We all want to see that place."

All in the company seemed to approve of that plan and it was presently
decided to carry it out. They did not stop at Fernandina, only gazed
upon it in passing, made but a short stay at Jacksonville, then passed
on up the river and through the lakes to De Leon Springs.

Here they found much to interest them;--the great mineral spring, one
hundred feet in diameter and thirty feet deep, its water so clear that
the bottom could be distinctly seen and so impregnated with soda and
sulphur as to make it most healthful, giving ground for the legend
that it is the veritable Fountain of Perpetual Youth sought out by
Ponce de Leon.

The ruins of an old Spanish mill close at hand interested them also.
These consisted of an immense brick smokestack and furnace covered
with vines; two large iron wheels, thrown down when the mill was
destroyed, in a way to cause one to overlap the other, and now a gum
tree grows up through them so that the arms of the wheels are deeply
imbedded in its trunk.

Our friends found this so charming a spot that they spent some days
there. Then returning down the river, to the ocean, they continued
their voyage in a southerly direction.

Their next pause was at St. Augustine, which they found a most
interesting old city--the oldest in the United States--noted for its
picturesque beauty, its odd streets ten to twenty feet wide, without
sidewalks, its crumbling old city gates, its governor's palace, its
coquina-built houses with overhanging balconies, its sea walls and old
fort, its Moorish cathedral, and the finest and most striking hotel in
the world.

But what interested our party more than anything else was the old
fort--called San Marco by the Spaniard, but now bearing the American
name of Fort Marion. They went together to visit it and were all
greatly interested in its ancient and foreign appearance; in the
dried-up moat, the drawbridges, the massive arched entrance, dark
under-ways and dungeons.

"Papa," said Elsie, "it's a dreadful place, and very, very old, isn't
it?"

"Yes," he answered; "it was probably begun in 1565. About how long ago
was that?"

"More than three hundred years," she returned after a moment's
thought. "Oh, that is a long, long while!"

"Yes," he said, "a very long while, and we may be very thankful that
our lives were given us in this time rather than in that; for it was a
time of ignorance and persecution."

"Yes, yes, ignorance and persecution;" the words came in sepulchral
tones from the depths of the nearest dungeon, "here have I lain for
three hundred years with none to pity or help. Oh, 'tis a weary while!
Shall I never, never escape?"

"Oh, papa," cried Elsie in tones of affright, and clinging to his
hand, "how dreadful! Can't we help him out?"

"I don't think there is anyone in there, daughter," the captain said
in reassuring tones, her Uncle Harold adding, with a slight laugh,
"And if there is he must surely be pretty well used to it by this
time."

All their little company had been startled at first and felt a thrill
of horror at thought of such misery, but now they all laughed and
turned to Cousin Ronald, as if saying surely it was his doing.

"Yes," he said, "the voice was mine; and thankful we may be that those
poor victims of such hellish cruelty have long, long since been
released from their pain."

"Oh, I am glad to know that," exclaimed Elsie with a sigh of relief;
"but please let's go away from here, for I think it's a dreadful
place."

"Yes," said her father, "we have seen it all now and will try to find
something pleasanter to look at." And with that they turned and left
the old fort.

Captain Raymond and his little company, feeling in no haste to
continue their journey, lingered for some time in St. Augustine and
its neighborhood. One day they visited an island where some friends
were boarding. It was a very pretty place. There were several cottages
standing near together amid the orange groves, one of them occupied by
the proprietor--a finely educated Austrian physician--and his wife,
the others by the boarders. The party from the _Dolphin_ were much
interested in the story of these people told them by their friend.

"The doctor," he said, "had come over to America before our Civil War,
and was on the island when Union troops came into the neighborhood. He
was one day walking in the woods when suddenly a party of Union
soldiers appeared and, seeing him, took him for a spy, seized him and
declared their intention to shoot him. They tied his hands behind his
back, led him to what they deemed a suitable spot on the edge of a
thick part of the wood, then turned and walked away to station
themselves at the proper distance for firing. But the instant their
eyes were off him the prisoner started into the wood and was out of
sight before they were aware that he was making an attempt to escape.

"They pursued, but favored by the thick growth of trees and shrubs, he
kept out of sight until he reached a palmetto, which he
climbed--having contrived to get his hands free as he ran--and there
concealed himself among the leaves. He had hardly ensconced himself
there before he could see and hear his foes running past beneath his
place of shelter, beating about the bushes and calling to each other
to make sure of catching the rascally spy. But he was safely hidden
and at length they gave up the search for the time.

"But they had encamped in the neighborhood and for several days and
nights the Austrian remained in the tree, afraid to descend lest he
should be caught and shot. He did not starve, as he could eat of the
cabbage which grows at the top of that tree, but he suffered from
thirst and lack of sleep, as he could rest but insecurely in the
treetop. When two or three days and nights had passed he felt that he
could stand it no longer; he must get water and food though at the
risk of his life. Waiting only for darkness and a silence that led him
to hope his foes were not near at hand, he descended and cautiously
made his way through the wood. He presently reached a house occupied
by a woman only, told her his story and asked for food and drink. Her
heart was touched with pity for his hard case, she supplied his wants
and told him she would put food in a certain spot where he could get
it the next night.

"He thanked her and told her he wanted to get away from that
neighborhood, as there was no safety for him there. She said she
thought she might be able to secure a skiff in which he could go up or
down the coast and so perhaps escape the soldiers. He was, you know, a
physician--not a sailor--and knew but little about managing a boat;
but anything seemed better than his present situation, so he thanked
her and said he would be glad to try it.

"Shortly afterward she informed him that the boat was ready. He
entered it, took up the oars, and started down the coast. But a storm
came on, he was unable to manage his small craft, it was upset by the
waves, he was thrown into the water and presently lost consciousness.
When he recovered it he was lying in a berth on board a much larger
vessel than the canoe, a kindly-looking man leaning over him using
restoratives. 'Ah, doctor,' he said with a pleased smile, 'I am glad,
very glad to have succeeded in restoring you to consciousness; glad to
have been able to rescue you from a watery grave.'

"The doctor expressed his thanks, but acknowledged that he did not
know this new friend, who seemed to know him; then the other asked if
he did not remember having prescribed for a sick man in such a time
and at such a place. 'It was I,' he added; 'you then saved my life,
and I am most happy to have been enabled to save yours from being lost
in the ocean.'

"The talk went on; the doctor told of his danger, his escape, and his
anxiety to keep out of the way of the soldiers until the war should be
over.

"The captain told him he was bound for Philadelphia, and that if he
chose he could go there and live in safety to the end of the war and
longer. So that was what he did; he stayed there till peace came, and
in the meantime met and married a countrywoman of his own, a lovely
and amiable lady, whom he brought back with him to Florida."

"I noticed her as we passed," said Grandma Elsie; "she is a
lovely-looking woman. But have they no children?"

"None now; they had two--a son and a daughter--who lived to grow up,
were children to be proud of, highly educated by their father, and
very fond of each other and of their parents. The son used to act as
guide to visitors boarding here in the cottages, going with them on
fishing expeditions and so forth. On one of those occasions he was
caught in a storm and took cold; that led to consumption and he
finally died. They buried him under the orange trees. His sister was
so overwhelmed with grief that she fretted herself to death, and now
lies by his side."

"Ah, the poor mother!" sighed Grandma Elsie. "And the father too,"
added Captain Raymond in a moved tone.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Leaving St. Augustine the _Dolphin_ pursued her way down the Florida
coast, pausing here and there for a day or two at the most attractive
places, continuing on to the southernmost part of the State, around
it, past Cape Sable and out into the Gulf of Mexico. Then, having
accepted an invitation from Grandma Elsie to visit Viamede, they
sailed on in a westerly direction.

They had pleasant weather during their sojourn in and about Florida,
but as they entered the Gulf a rain storm came up and continued until
they neared the port of New Orleans. That confined the women and
children pretty closely to the cabin and active little Ned grew very
weary of it.

"I wish I could go on deck," he sighed on the afternoon of the second
day. "I'm so tired of staying down here where there's nothing to see."

As he concluded a voice that sounded like that of a boy about his own
age, and seemed to come from the stairway to the deck, said, "I'm
sorry for that little chap. Suppose I come down there and try to get
up a bit of fun for him."

"By all means," replied the captain. "We will be happy to have you do
so."

Ned straightened himself up and looked eagerly in the direction of the
stairway.

"Who is it, papa?" he asked.

"Why, don't you know me?" asked the voice, this time seeming to come
from the door of one of the staterooms.

"No, I don't," returned Ned. "I didn't know there was any boy on
board, except myself."

"Nor did I," said a rough man's voice, "What are you doing here, you
young rascal? came aboard to steal, did you?"

"Nothing but my passage, sir; and I'm not doing a bit of harm,"
replied the boyish voice.

"Oh, I guess I know who you are," laughed Ned. "At least I'm pretty
sure you're either Cousin Ronald or brother Max."

At that a loud guffaw right at his ear made the little boy jump with
an outcry, "Oh, who was that?"

"Why don't you look and see?" laughed Lucilla.

"Why, it doesn't seem to have been anybody," returned Ned, looking
around this way and that. "But I'm not going to be frightened, for I
just know it's one or the other of our ventriloquists. Now, good sirs,
please let's have some more of it, for it's real fun."

"Not much, I should think, after you are in the secret," said Max.

"It's some, though," said Ned, "because it seems so real even when you
do know--or guess--who it is that's doing it."

"Well, now, I'm glad you are so easily pleased and entertained, little
fellow," said the voice from the state-room door. "Perhaps now the
captain will let me pay my fare on the yacht by providing fun for his
little son. That oldest one doesn't seem to need any; he gets enough
talking with the ladies."

"Oh, do you, brother Max?" asked Ned, turning to him.

"Yes," laughed Max; "it's very good fun."

"Hello!" shouted a voice, apparently from the deck, "Mr. Raymond, sir,
better come up here and see that we don't run foul of that big
steamer--or she of us."

The captain started to his feet, but Max laughed, and said in a
mirthful tone, "Never mind, father, it's a false alarm, given for
Ned's amusement."

"Please don't scare anybody else to amuse me, brother Max," said Ned,
with the air of one practising great self-denial.

"I don't think father was really very badly scared," laughed Lucilla;
"and we may feel pretty safe with two good naval officers and a
skilful crew to look out for threatening dangers and help us to avoid
them."

"That's right, miss; no occasion for anxiety or alarm," said the man's
rough voice that had spoken before.

"Thank you; I don't feel a particle of either," laughed Lucilla.

"And I am sure neither you nor any of us should, under the care of two
such excellent and skilful seamen," added Violet in a sprightly tone.

"That's right and I reckon you may feel pretty safe--all o' you," said
the man's voice.

"Of course; who's afraid?" cried the boyish voice, close at Ned's
side. "Some of those old Spaniards were drowned in this gulf, but that
was because they knew nothing about managing a vessel."

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Ned, "but my father does know how, and so does
brother Max."

"That's a mighty good thing," said the voice, "and we needn't fear
shipwreck, but can just devote ourselves to having a good time."

"So we can," said Ned. "And we do have good times here in the
_Dolphin_. Anybody is pretty sure of good times when papa is at the
head of affairs."

"Quite a complimentary speech from my little son," laughed the
captain.

"And where are you going in this _Dolphin_?" asked the voice.

"To New Orleans, then to Berwick Bay and on through the lakes and
bayous to my grandma's place--Viamede. I've been there before and it's
just beautiful."

"Then I'd like to go too," said the voice. "Won't you take me along?"

"Yes, yes, indeed! whether you are Cousin Ronald or brother Max, I
know grandma will make you welcome."

At that everybody laughed and his grandma said:

"Yes, indeed, they are both heartily welcome."

"And whichever you are I'm obliged to you for making this fun for me,"
continued Ned. "Oh, what was that!" as a loud whistle was heard
seemingly close in his rear. He turned hastily about, then laughed as
he perceived that there was no one there. "Was it you did that,
brother Max?" he asked.

"Did it sound like my voice?" asked Max.

"As much as like any other. But oh, there's the call to supper and I
suppose the fun will have to stop for this time."

"Yes, you can have the fun of eating instead," said his father,
leading the way to the table.

In due time the next day they reached New Orleans, where they paused
for a few days of rest and sight-seeing, then returning to their
yacht, they passed out into the Gulf, up the bay into Teche Bayou and
beyond, through lake and lakelet, past plain and forest, plantation
and swamp. The scenery was beautiful; there were miles of smoothly
shaven and velvety green lawns, shaded by magnificent oaks and
magnolias; there were cool, shady dells carpeted with a rich growth of
flowers; lordly villas peering through groves of orange trees, tall
white sugar-houses, and long rows of cabins for the laborers. The
scenes were not entirely new to anyone on the boat, but were scarcely
the less enjoyable for that--so great was their beauty.

When they reached their destination and the boat rounded to at the
wharf, they perceived a welcoming group awaiting their landing--all
the relatives from Magnolia, the Parsonage, and Torriswood. There was
a joyful exchange of greetings with them and then with the group of
servants standing a little in the rear.

In accordance with written directions sent by Grandma Elsie some days
in advance of her arrival, a feast had been prepared and the whole
connection in that neighborhood invited to partake of it. And not one
older or younger had failed to come, for she was too dearly loved for
an invitation from her to be neglected unless the hinderance were such
as could not be ignored or set aside. Dr. Dick Percival and his Maud
were there among the rest; Dick's half brother Dr. Robert Johnson, and
Maud's sister Sidney also. They gave a very joyful and affectionate
greeting to their brother Chester and to Lucilla Raymond, then
attached themselves to her for the short walk from the wharf up to the
house.

"Oh, Lu," said Maud, "we are so glad that we are to have you for our
sister. I don't know any other girl I should be so pleased to have
come into the family. And Ches will make a good kind husband, I am
sure, for he has always been a dear good brother."

"Indeed he has," said Sidney. "And we are hoping that he and Frank
will come and settle down here near us."

"Oh, no, indeed!" exclaimed Lulu. "I should like to live near you two,
but nothing would induce me to make my home so far away from my
father. And Chester has promised never to take me away from him."

"Oh, I was hoping you would want to come," said Maud. "But Ches is one
to keep his word; so that settles it."

But they had reached the house and here the talk ended for the time.

The new arrivals retired to their rooms for a little attention to the
duties of the toilet, then all gathered about the well-spread board
and made a hearty meal, enlivened by cheerful chat mingled with many
an innocent jest and not a little mirthful laughter. It was still
early when the meal was concluded, and the next hour or two were spent
in pleasant, familiar intercourse upon the verandas or in the
beautiful grounds. Then the guests began to return to their homes,
those with young children leaving first. The Torriswood family stayed
a little longer, and at their urgent request Chester consented to
become their guest for the first few days, if no longer.

"There are two good reasons why you should do so," said Dick in a
half-jesting tone: "firstly, I having married your sister, by that we
are the most nearly related; and secondly, as Bob and I are both
physicians, we may be better able to take proper care of you than
these good and kind relatives."

"Dick, Dick," remonstrated Violet, "how you forget! or is it
professional jealousy? Have we not been careful to bring along with us
one of the very physicians who have had charge of Chester's case?"

"Why, sure enough!" exclaimed Dick. "Harold, old fellow, I beg your
pardon! and to make amends, should I get sick I shall certainly have
you called in at once."

"Which will quite make amends," returned Harold, laughing; "as it will
give me a good opportunity to punish your impertinence in ignoring my
claims as one of the family physicians."

"Ah!" returned Dick, "I perceive that my wiser plan will be to keep
well."

There was a general laugh, a moment's pause, then Robert, sending a
smiling glance in Sidney's direction, said, "Now, dear friends and
relatives, Sid and I have a communication to make. We have decided to
follow the good example set us by our brother and sister--Maud and
Dick--and so we expect in two or three weeks to take each other for
better or for worse."

The announcement caused a little surprise to most of those present,
but everyone seemed pleased; thinking it a suitable match in every
way.

"I think you have chosen wisely--both of you," said Grandma Elsie,
"and I hope there are many years of happiness in store for you;
happiness and usefulness. And, Chester," turning to him, "remember
that these doors are wide open to you at all times. Come back when you
will and stay as long as you will."

"Thank you, cousin; you are most kindly hospitable," Chester said with
a gratified look and smile. "The two places are so near together that
I can readily divide my time between them; which--both being so
attractive--is certainly very fortunate for me."

"And for all of us," said Violet; "as we shall be able to see more of
each other than we could if farther apart."

"Yes; I shall hope and expect to see you all coming in every day,"
added her mother with hospitable cordiality.

"Thank you, Cousin Elsie," said Maud, "but, though it is delightful to
come here, we must not let it be altogether a one-sided affair. Please
remember to return our visits whenever you find it convenient and
pleasant to do so."

With that they took leave and departed, and a little later those
constituting the family for the time bade each other good-night, and
most of them retired to their sleeping apartments.

Not quite all of them, however. Max, Evelyn, and Lucilla stepped out
upon the veranda again, Max remarking, "The grounds are looking
bewitchingly beautiful in the moonlight; suppose we take a little
stroll down to the bayou."

"You two go if you like, but I want to have a word or two with papa,"
said Lucilla, glancing toward her father, who was standing quietly and
alone at some little distance, seemingly absorbed in gazing upon the
beauties of the landscape.

"Well, we will not be gone long," said Evelyn, as she and Max
descended the steps while Lucilla glided softly in her father's
direction.

He did not seem aware of her approach until she was close at his side,
and laying a hand on his arm, said in her low, sweet tones:

"I have come for my dear father's good-night caresses, and to hear
anything he may have to say to his eldest daughter."

"Ah, that is right," he said, turning and putting an arm about her and
drawing her into a close embrace. "I hope all goes well with you, dear
child. If not, your father is the very one to bring your troubles to."

"Thank you, dear papa," she said; "if I had any troubles I should
certainly bring them to you; but I have not. Oh, I do think I am the
happiest girl in the land! with your dear love and Chester's too. And
Max with us again; and all of us well and in this lovely, lovely
place!"

"Yes, we have a great deal to be thankful for," he returned. "But you
will miss Chester, now that he has left here for Torriswood."

"Oh, not very much," she said with a happy little laugh; "for he has
assured me that he will be here at least a part of every day; the ride
or walk from Torriswood being not too long to be taken with pleasure
and profit."

"And doubtless some of the time you will be there. By the way, you
should give Sidney something handsome as a wedding present. You may
consider what would be suitable and likely to please, consult with the
other ladies, and let your father know what the decision is--that he
may get the article, or supply the means."

"Thank you ever so much, father dear," she replied in grateful tones,
"but you have given me such a generous supply of pocket money that I
don't think I shall need to call upon you for help about this. But I
shall ask your advice about what the gift shall be and be sure not to
buy anything of which you do not approve."

"Spoken like my own dear, loving daughter," he said approvingly, and
with a slight caress. "By the way, did Robert Johnson's bit of news
make my daughter and her lover a trifle jealous that their engagement
must be so long a one?"

"Not me, papa; I am entirely willing--yes, very glad--to be subject to
your orders; very loath to leave the dear home with you and pass from
under your care and protection. Oh, I sometimes feel as if I could
never do it. But then I say to myself, 'But I shall always be my dear
father's child and we need not--we will not love each other the less
because another claims a share of my affection.' Is that not so,
papa?"

"Yes, daughter; and I do not believe anything can ever make either one
of us love the other less. But it is growing late and about time for
my eldest daughter to be seeking her nest, if she wants to be up with
the birds in the morning and ready to share a stroll with her father
through these beautiful grounds before breakfast."

"Yes, sir; but, if you are willing, I should like to wait for Evelyn.
She and Max will be in presently, I think. Papa, I do think they have
begun to be lovers, and I am glad; for I should dearly love to have
Eva for a sister."

"And I should not object to having her for a daughter," returned the
captain, with a pleased little laugh. "And you are not mistaken, so
far as Max is concerned. He asked me to-day if I were willing that he
should try to win the dear girl, and I told him most decidedly so;
that I heartily wished him success in his wooing. Though, as in your
case, I think marriage would better be deferred for a year or two."

"Yes, Max would be quite as much too young for a bridegroom as I for a
bride," she said with a slight and amused laugh; "and I don't believe
he would disregard his father's advice. All your children love you
dearly and have great confidence in your opinion on every subject,
father dear."

"As I have in their love and willingness to be guided by me," the
captain responded in a tone of gratification. "You may wait for
Evelyn. I think she and Max will be in presently. Ah, yes; see they
are turning this way now."

Max had given his arm to Evelyn as they left the house, and crossing
the lawn together they strolled slowly along the bank of the bayou.

"Oh, such a beautiful night as it is!" exclaimed Evelyn, "and the air
is so soft and balmy one can hardly realize that in our more northern
homes cold February reigns."

"No," said Max, "and I am glad we are escaping the blustering March
winds that will soon be visiting that section. Still, for the year
round I prefer that climate to this."

"Yes; but it is very pleasant to be able to go from one section to
another as the seasons change," said Eva. "I think we are very
fortunate people in being able to do it."

"Yes," returned Max, "but after all one's happiness depends far more
upon being in congenial society and with loved ones than upon climate,
scenery--or anything else. Eva," and he turned to her as with sudden
determination, "I--I think I can never again be happy away from you. I
love you and want you for my own. You have said you would like to be
my father's daughter, and I can make you that if you will only let me.
Say, dearest, oh, say that you will let me--that you will be mine--my
own dear little wife."

"Max, oh, Max," she answered in low, trembling tones, "I--I am afraid
you don't know me quite as I am--that you would be disappointed--would
repent of having said what you have."

"Never, never! if you will only say yes; if you will only promise to
be mine--my own love, my own dear little wife." And putting an arm
about her he drew her close, pressing an ardent kiss upon her lips.

She did not repulse him, and continuing his endearments and entreaties
he at length drew from her an acknowledgment that she returned his
love.

Then presently they turned their steps toward the mansion, as happy a
pair as could be found in the whole length and breadth of the land.

Captain Raymond and Lucilla were waiting for them, and Max, leading
Evelyn to his father, said in joyous tones, "I have won a new daughter
for you, father, and a dear sweet wife for myself. At least she has
promised to be both to us one of these days."

"Ah, I am well pleased," the captain said, taking Eva's hand in his,
and bending down to give her a fatherly caress. "I have always felt
that I should like to take her into my family and do a father's part
by her."

"Oh, captain, you are very, very kind," returned Eva, low and
feelingly; "there is nobody in the wide world whose daughter I should
prefer to be."

"And oh, Eva, I shall be so glad to have you really my sister!"
exclaimed Lucilla, giving her friend a warm embrace. "Max, you dear
fellow, I'm ever so glad and so much obliged to you."

"You needn't to be, sis. Eva is the one deserving of thanks for
accepting one so little worthy of her as this sailor brother of
yours," returned Max, with a happy laugh.

"Yes, we will give her all the credit," said the captain; "and hope
that you, my son, will do your best to prove yourself worthy of the
prize you have won. And now, my dears, it is high time we were all
retiring to rest; in order that we may have strength and spirits for
the duties and pleasures of to-morrow."

Evelyn and Lucilla were sharing a room communicating directly with the
one occupied by Grace and little Elsie, and that opened into the one
where the captain and Violet slept.

In compliance with the captain's advice the young girls at once
retired to their room to seek their couches for the night; but first
they indulged in a bit of loving chat.

"Oh, Eva," Lucilla exclaimed, holding her friend in a loving embrace,
"I am so glad, so very, very glad that we are to be sisters. And Max I
am sure will make you a good, kind husband. He has always been the
best and dearest of brothers to me--as well as to Grace and the little
ones."

"Yes, I know it," said Evelyn softly. "I know too that your father has
always been the best and kindest of husbands and that Max is very much
like him."

"And you love Max?"

"How could I help it?" asked Evelyn, blushing as she spoke. "I thought
it was as a dear brother I cared for him, till--till he asked me
to--to be his wife; but then I knew better. Oh, it was so sweet to
learn that he loved me so! and I am so happy! I am not the lonely girl
I was this morning--fatherless and motherless and without brother or
sister. Oh, I have them all now--except the mother," she added with a
slight laugh--"for of course your Mamma Vi is much too young to be
that to me."

"Yes; as she is to be a mother to Max, Gracie, and me. But with such a
father as ours one could do pretty well without a mother. Don't you
think so?"

"Yes; he seems to be father and mother both to those of his children
who have lost their mother."

"He is indeed. But now I must obey his last order by getting to bed as
quickly as I can."

"I, too," laughed Evelyn; "it seems really delightful to have a father
to obey." She ended with a slight sigh, thinking of the dear father
who had been so long in the better land.



                              CHAPTER IX.


Lucilla woke at her usual early hour, rose at once, and moving so
quietly about as not to disturb Evelyn's slumbers, attended to all the
duties of the time, then went softly from the room and down to the
front veranda, where she found her father pacing slowly to and fro.

"Ah, daughter," he said, holding out his hand with a welcoming smile,
"good-morning. I am glad to see you looking bright and well;" and
drawing her into his arms he gave her the usual welcoming caress.

"As I feel, papa," she returned, "and I hope you too are quite well."

"Yes; entirely so. It is a lovely morning and I think we will find a
stroll along the bank of the bayou very enjoyable. However, I want you
to eat a bit of something first; and here is Aunt Phillis with oranges
prepared in the usual way for an early morning lunch," he added as an
elderly negress stepped from the doorway bearing a small silver waiter
on which was a dish of oranges ready for eating.

"Yes, Massa Captain, and I hopes you, sah, and Miss Lu kin eat what's
heah; dere's plenty moah for de res' ob de folks when dey gets out o'
dere beds."

"Yes," said the captain, helping Lucilla and himself, "there is always
a great abundance of good cheer where your Miss Elsie is at the head
of affairs."

"Father," Lucilla said as they set off across the lawn, "I am so
pleased that Max and Eva are engaged. I should prefer her for a
sister-in-law to anyone else; for I have always loved her dearly since
we first met."

"Yes; I can say the same; she is a dear girl, and Max could have done
nothing to please me better," was the captain's answering remark.

"And she loves you, father," returned Lucilla, smiling up into his
eyes; "which of course seems very strange to me."

"Ah? although I know you to be guilty of the very same thing
yourself," he returned with an assured smile and pressing
affectionately the hand he held in his.

"Ah, but having been born your child, how can I help it?" she asked
with a happy little laugh. Then went on, "Father, I've been thinking
how it would do for you to make that house you have been talking of
building near your own, big enough for two families--Max's and Eva's,
Chester's and mine."

"Perhaps it might do," he answered pleasantly, "but it is hardly
necessary to consider the question yet."

"No, sir," she returned. "Oh, I am glad I do not have to leave my
sweet home in my father's house for months or maybe years yet. I do so
love to be with you that I don't know how I can ever feel willing to
leave you; even for Chester, whom I do really love very dearly."

"And I shall find it very hard to have you leave me," he said. "But we
expect to be near enough to see almost as much of each other as we do
now."

"Yes, papa, that's the pleasant part of it," she said with a joyous
look; then went on, "Chester has been talking to me about plans for
the house, but I tell him that, as you said just now, it is hardly
time to think about them yet."

"There would be no harm in doing so, however," her father said; "no
harm in deciding just what you want before work on it is begun. I
should like to make it an ideal home for my dear eldest daughter."

"Thank you, father dear," she said. "I do think you are just the
kindest father ever anyone had."

"I have no objection to your thinking so," he returned with a pleased
smile; then went on to speak of some plans for the building that had
occurred to him. "We will examine the plans," he said, "and try to
think in what respect each might be improved. I intend my daughter's
home to be as convenient, cosey, and comfortable as possible; and you
must not hesitate to suggest any improvement that may occur to you."

"Thank you, papa; how good and kind you are to me! Oh, I wish I had
been a better daughter to you--never wilful or disobedient."

"Dear child, you are a great comfort to me and have been for years
past," he said; then went on speaking of the plans that he had been
considering.

In the meantime they had walked some distance along the bank of the
bayou, and glancing at his watch the captain said it was time to
return, as it was not far from the breakfast hour, and probably they
would find most, if not all of the others ready for and awaiting the
summons to the table.

Lucilla had scarcely left her sleeping apartment when Eva awoke, and
seeing that the sun was shining, arose and made a rapid toilet;
careful, though--thinking of Max and his interest in her--that it
should be neat and becoming.

She descended the stairs just as the captain and Lucilla were
approaching the house on their return from their walk; and Max was
waiting on the veranda while most of the other guests had gathered in
the nearest parlor. Eva stepped out upon the veranda and Max came
swiftly to meet her.

"My darling!" he said, low and tenderly, putting his arm about her and
giving her an ardent kiss, "my own promised one. You are lovelier than
ever. A treasure far beyond my deserts. But as you have given your
dear self to me you are mine; and let this seal our compact," slipping
upon her finger, as he spoke, a ring set with a very large and
brilliant diamond.

"Oh, how lovely!" she exclaimed, looking at it and then lifting to his
face eyes filled with love and joy. "It is very beautiful, dear Max,
valuable for that reason, but still more for being the emblem of your
dear love--love that makes me the happiest girl in the land."

"As yours makes me the happiest man. Ah, Eva dear, I am not worthy of
you."

"Ah," she laughed, "I shall take your opinion on most subjects, but
not on that. Here comes your father and Lu."

"Good-morning," they said, coming up the steps, the captain adding in
jesting tones, "Ah, Max, my son, you seem to be making an early return
to the business begun yesterday."

"And something more, captain," Eva said, displaying his gift. "Is it
not lovely?"

"Oh, beautiful!" exclaimed Lucilla.

"As handsome a diamond as ever I saw," remarked the captain, examining
it critically; "but none too handsome or expensive for a gift to my
new daughter that is to be," he added with a smile, and imprinting a
kiss upon the small white hand which wore the ring. "Shall we join the
others in the parlor now? and will you let Max tell them of his good
fortune? You will neither of you, surely, wish to keep it a secret
from friends so near and dear."

"I do not," said Max; "but it shall be just as you decide, Eva dear,"
he added in low and tender tones, drawing her hand within his arm as
he spoke.

"I think your--our father's opinions are always right, Max," she said
with a smile and a blush.

"Will you go in first, father? you and Lu--and we will follow," said
Max, and the captain at once, taking Lucilla's hand in his, led the
way.

"Good-morning to you all, friends and relatives," was his
cheerful-toned and smiling address as he entered the room, "I hope you
are all well and in good spirits."

Then, stepping aside, he allowed Max to pass him with the blushing
Evelyn on his arm.

He led her up to Mrs. Travilla, saying, "Good-morning, Grandma Elsie.
I want to introduce to you my future wife. For this dear girl has, to
my great joy, promised to become that one of these days."

"Ah! is that so, Max? I know of nothing that could please me better,"
exclaimed that dear lady, rising to her feet and bestowing a warm
embrace upon the blushing, happy-faced Evelyn.

Violet was beside them in an instant, exclaiming in joyous tones, "Oh,
Eva and Max! how glad I am! for I am sure you were made for each
other, and will be very happy together."

"And are you willing now to let me be the captain's daughter?" asked
Eva, with a charming blush, accompanied by a slightly roguish laugh.

"Yes; seeing that Max calls me Mamma Vi, and you are really younger
than he," was Violet's laughing reply.

But Grace, little Elsie, and the others were crowding around with
expressions of surprise and pleasure and many congratulations and good
wishes. For everybody who knew them loved both Max and Eva.

But now came the call to breakfast and they repaired to the dining
room and gathered about the table, as cheerful and gay a party as
could be found in the whole length and breadth of the land.

"You seem likely to have a rapid increase in your family, captain,"
said Dr. Harold Travilla, with a smiling glance directed toward
Lucilla, Max, and Eva, seated near together.

"Some time hence," returned the captain pleasantly. "I consider them
all young enough to wait a little, and they are dutifully willing to
do as I desire."

"As they certainly should be, considering what a good and kind father
you are, sir, and how young they are."

"And how pleasant are the days of courtship," added Mr. Lilburn; "as
no doubt they will prove with them."

"And how wise as well as kind our father is," said Max, giving the
captain an ardently appreciative look and smile; "how patiently and
earnestly he has striven to bring his children up for usefulness and
happiness in this world and the next."

"That is true," said Violet. "I think no one ever had a better father
than yours, Max."

"And certainly no one had a more appreciative wife or children than
I," remarked Captain Raymond, with a smile. "We seem to have formed a
mutual admiration society this morning."

"Surely the very best kind of society for families to form among
themselves," laughed Herbert.

"And I like the way our young people are pairing off," remarked Mr.
Dinsmore; "the matches arranged for among them seem to be very
suitable. By the way, Elsie, we must be planning for some wedding
gifts for Bob and Sidney."

"Yes, sir," replied Mrs. Travilla, "I have been thinking of that, but
have not decided upon any particular article yet. I suppose our better
plan will be to buy in New Orleans."

"Yes, I think so. And it will be well for us to have a consultation on
the subject, in order to avoid giving duplicates."

"A very good idea, grandpa," said Violet, "and as there are so many of
us--counting the Magnolia and Parsonage people, as well as those of
Torriswood--might it not be well to have that consultation soon, to
determine what each will give, and then set about securing the
articles in good season for the wedding, which will probably take
place in about three weeks?"

There was a general approval of that idea and it was decided to take
prompt measures for carrying it out.

The meal concluded, all gathered in the family parlor and held the
usual morning service of prayer, praise, and reading of the
Scriptures. That over, they gathered upon the front veranda and were
again engaged in discussing the subject of wedding gifts, when Dr.
Percival drove up with his wife and her brother. They were most
cordially greeted and invited to give their views in regard to the
subject which was engaging the thoughts of the others at the moment.

"I think it would be wise for us all to agree as to what each one
shall give, so that there will be no duplicates," said Maud.

"Yes," said Violet, "that is the conclusion we have all come to."

"Very good," said Maud. "And Sidney wanted me to consult with you
older ladies in regard to the material of her wedding dress--whether
it should be silk or satin; and about the veil. They are to be married
in the morning, out under the orange trees."

"Oh, that will be lovely," said Violet.

"Yes; I think so; and it will allow plenty of room," continued Maud;
"and we need plenty because our two doctors want to invite so many of
their patients lest somebody should feel hurt by being left out. Our
idea is to have the ceremony about noon and the wedding breakfast on
the lawn immediately after it."

"I like that," said Violet. "As to the wedding-dress question--suppose
we send to New Orleans for samples, let Sidney choose from them and
order the quantity she wants?"

"That strikes me as a very good idea," said Chester; "and I want it
distinctly understood that I pay for this wedding dress. I had no
opportunity to do a brother's part by Maud at the time of her
marriage, but I insist that I shall be allowed to do so by this only
remaining sister."

"Yes, Chester, you and I will both insist upon being allowed our
rights this time," laughed Dick; "especially as there will be no
single sister left to either of us."

"And between you, and with the other relatives to help, Sidney will
fare well, I hope and believe," remarked Mr. Dinsmore with a smile.

"Chester," said Lucilla in a low aside, "I want your help in choosing
my gift for your sister. I have the greatest confidence in your
judgment and taste."

"Thank you, dearest," he returned with a pleased smile. "I shall be
very glad to give my opinion for what it is worth."

"I presume you have sent or will promptly send word to Frank that his
sister is about to marry?" Mr. Dinsmore remarked in a tone between
assertion and inquiry.

"We have written," replied Dick, "but are not at all certain that the
letter will reach him in time, as he may have left Florida before it
could be received."

"I do not quite despair of getting him here in season," remarked
Chester. "I think we will hear of his whereabouts in time to send him
a telegram."

Just at that moment the Magnolia carriage was seen coming up the
driveway with Mr. and Mrs. Embury in it.

They had come to consult with the Viamede relatives and friends in
regard to preparations for the approaching wedding and suitable and
desirable gifts for the bride; for Mrs. Embury, being own sister to
Dr. Percival and half-sister to Dr. Robert Johnson, felt particularly
interested and desirous to do her full share in helping the young
couple with their preparations for making a home for themselves.

"Do they intend to go to housekeeping?" she asked of Maud.

"It is hardly decided yet," replied Maud. "We are trying to persuade
them that it will be best for us all to continue to be one family. I
think that will be the way for a time at least; and when we tire of
that we can easily occupy the house as two families. It is large
enough and so planned that it can readily be used in that way."

"A very good thing," remarked Mr. Embury. "I think you will be the
more likely to agree if you do not feel that you are shut up to the
necessity of remaining one family."

"You have hardly sent out your invitations yet?" Molly said half
inquiringly.

"Only to the more distant relatives," replied Maud. "Of course we
cannot expect that they will all come, but we did not want to neglect
any of them."

"We must arrange to accommodate them if they should come," said Molly,
"and I hope most of them will. Now about making purchases--of wedding
gifts, wedding finery, and so forth. New Orleans will of course be our
best place for shopping if we want to see the goods before buying.
Does anybody feel inclined to go there and attend to the matter?"

There was silence for a moment. Then Captain Raymond said, "The
_Dolphin_ and I are at the service of any one--or any number--who
would like to go."

Both Maud and Molly thought themselves too busy with home
preparations, and after some discussion it was finally decided that
Mrs. Travilla, Violet, and the captain, Eva and Max, Lulu and Chester,
Grace and Harold should form the deputation and that they would go the
next Monday morning--this being Saturday. That matter settled, the
Emburys and Percivals took their departure.

Then a thought seemed to strike Grandma Elsie. "Annis," she said,
turning to her cousin, "cannot you and Cousin Ronald go with us? I
wish you would."

"Why, yes; if you want us I think we can," laughed Annis, turning an
inquiring look upon her husband.

"If you wish it, my dear," he answered pleasantly. "I always enjoy
being with the cousins." And so it was decided they would be of the
party.



                              CHAPTER X.


"Now, my daughters, Lucilla and Grace, if you have any preparations to
make for your trip to New Orleans, my advice is that you attend to
them at once," Captain Raymond said when their callers had gone.

"Yes, sir," they both returned, making prompt movement to obey;
Lucilla adding, "though I am sure we have but little to do."

"And what are your directions to me, Captain Raymond? or am I to be
left entirely to my own devices?" laughed Violet.

"I think my wife is wise enough to be safely so left," he replied in
his usual pleasant tones, and with a look of fond appreciation; "and
perhaps might give some advice to my daughters," he added.

"And now I think of it, perhaps it might be well to consult with them
in regard to some matters," said Violet, and hurried away after the
girls, who had gone up to their sleeping apartments.

"Have not you some preparations to make also, Elsie?" asked Mr.
Dinsmore of his daughter.

"Very little," she answered with a smile; "only some packing that my
maid can do in a few minutes. Ah, there is someone wanting to speak to
me, I think," as an elderly negro came out upon the veranda, bowed to
the company in general, then looked toward her with a sort of pleading
expression, as if he had a petition to offer.

She rose and went to him, asking in kindly inquiring tone, "What is
it, Uncle Joe?"

"Ise come to ax a favor, mistiss," he replied, bowing low. "Ole Aunt
Silvy she mighty porely--mos' likely gwine die befo' many days--an'
she doan pear to feel pow'ful sure ob de road for to git to de bes'
place on de furder side ob de river. She says Miss Elsie knows da way
and maybe she come and 'struct her how to find it."

"Indeed I shall be very glad if I can help her to find it," Elsie
answered with emotion. "I will go with you at once." Then turning to
her son, "Harold," she said, "Uncle Joe reports a woman at the quarter
as very ill; will you go down there with me and see if your medical
skill can give her any relief?"

"Certainly, mother dear;" replied Harold, hastening to her side; and
excusing herself to her guests and taking her son's arm, Mrs. Travilla
at once set off for the quarter, Uncle Joe following respectfully at a
little distance, ready to point out the cabin where the ailing negress
lay.

They found her tossing about on her bed, moaning and groaning. "Oh,
mistiss," she cried as they entered, "you's berry good comin' fo' to
see dis po' ole darky. I'se pow'ful glad for to see you, mistiss, an'
de young massa too. Uncle Joe, set out dat cheer fo' de mistiss and
dat oder one for de young massa."

Uncle Joe hastened to do her bidding, while Harold felt her pulse and
questioned her in regard to her illness.

She complained of misery in her head, misery in her back, and being
"pow'ful weak," finishing up with the query, "Is I gwine die dis day,
suh?"

"I think not," he replied, "you may live for weeks or months. But life
is very uncertain with us all, and I advise you to promptly make every
preparation for death and eternity."

"Dat's what I gwine do when mistiss tell me how," she groaned, with a
look of keen distress directed toward Mrs. Travilla.

"I will try to make the way plain to you," that lady returned in
compassionate tones. "It is just to come to the Lord Jesus confessing
that you are a helpless, undone sinner and asking him to help you--to
take away the love of sinning and wash you in his own precious blood.
The Bible tells us 'He is able also to save them to the uttermost that
come unto God by him.' And he says, 'Him that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out.' So that if you come, truly seeking him with all
your heart--desiring to be saved, not only from eternal death but from
sin and the love of it--he will hear and save you."

"Won' you pray de good Lawd for dis ole darky, mistiss?" pleaded the
woman. "You knows bes' how to say de words, an' dis chile foller you
in her heart."

At that Mrs. Travilla knelt beside the bed and offered up an earnest
prayer couched in the simplest words, so that the poor ignorant
creature on the bed could readily understand and feel it all.

"Dis chile am berry much 'bliged, mistiss," she said, when Mrs.
Travilla had resumed her seat by the bedside. "I t'ink de good Lawd
hear dat prayer an open de gate ob heaben to ole Silvy when she git
dar."

"I hope so indeed," Mrs. Travilla replied. "Put all your trust in
Jesus and you will be safe; for he died to save sinners such as you
and I. We cannot do anything to save ourselves, but to all who come to
him he gives salvation without money and without price. Don't think
you can do anything to earn it; it is his free gift."

"But de Lawd's chillens got to be good, mistiss, aint dey?"

"Yes; they are not his children if they do not try to know and do all
his holy will. Jesus said, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' 'Ye
are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.' We have no right
to consider ourselves Christians if we do not try earnestly to keep
all his commands, and do all his holy will."

Harold had sat there listening quietly to all his mother said and had
knelt with her when she prayed. Now, when she paused for a little, he
questioned Aunt Silvy about her ailments, gave her directions for
taking some medicine, and said he would send it presently from the
house. Mrs. Travilla added that she would send some delicacies to
tempt the sickly appetite; then with a few more kindly words they left
the cabin, bidding Uncle Joe a kindly good-by as they went.

"You do not think Aunt Silvy really a dying woman, Harold?" his mother
said in a tone of inquiry, as they walked on together.

"No, mamma; I shall not be surprised if she lives for years yet,"
Harold answered cheerily. "No doubt she is suffering, but I think
medicine, rest, and suitable food will relieve her and she will
probably be about again in a week or two. But preparation for death
and eternity can do her no harm."

"No, certainly; to become truly a Christian must add to the
happiness--as well as safety--of anyone."

"And you have brought that happiness to many a one, my dear mother,"
Harold said, giving her a tenderly affectionate look. "How often in
thinking of you I recall those words of the prophet Daniel, 'And they
that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they
that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.'"

"'Tis a precious promise," she said with emotion. "Oh, my son, make it
the business of your life to do that; to help to the healing of
souls--the immortal part--even more than that of the frail bodies
which must soon die."

"Yes, mother," he said with emotion, "I do try constantly to do that;
and it is a great comfort and help to me to know that my dear mother
is often asking for me help from on high."

"Yes," she said; "without that none of us could accomplish anything in
the way of winning souls for Christ; and every Christian should feel
that that is his principal work. This life is so short and the
never-ending ages of eternity are so long. 'Whatsoever thy hand
findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work nor device,
nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.'"

They walked on in silence for a little, then Harold remarked that the
air was delightful and a little more extended walk might prove
beneficial to them both.

"Yes," replied his mother, "let us take a stroll through the orange
orchard; the sight and perfume of the fruit and blossoms are
delightful."

"Yes, indeed!" he said, "and you can see, mother, whether everything
is properly cared for."

"I expect to find it so," she returned, "as I have every reason to
believe my overseer both faithful and competent."

They enjoyed their stroll greatly and she found no reason to change
her estimate of the overseer.

It was lunch time when they returned to the house, and on leaving the
table some of their party went for a row on the bayou while the rest
chose riding or driving through the beautiful woods. Evelyn and Max,
Lucilla and Chester formed the riding party and greatly enjoyed their
little excursion. The courting of the two young couples was carried on
in a very quiet way, but was none the less satisfactory and enjoyable
for that. But all four of them felt a great interest in the
approaching wedding and much of their talk as they rode was of it, and
what gifts to the bride would be the most appropriate and acceptable.

"Chester, you know you have promised to advise me what to give to
Sidney," Lucilla said, with a smile into his eyes.

"You dear girl! so I will and I make that same request of you, for I
am sure you know far more about such matters than I do," he returned
with a very loverlike look.

"Quite a mistake, Mr. Dinsmore," she laughed. "But I understood you
intended to give some part of the trousseau--perhaps the wedding
dress."

"Yes; that and pretty much all the rest of it. And I am sure your help
will be invaluable in the choice of the various articles."

"Thank you," she said, with a pleased laugh. "It is very nice to have
you think so highly of my judgment and taste; but I hope you will let
Grandma Elsie and Mamma Vi and Eva assist in the selection."

"Certainly, if you wish it, but I do not promise to let their opinions
have as much weight with me as yours."

"No, you needn't," she returned merrily; "it is by no means
disagreeable to have you consider mine the most valuable, even though
it be really worthless in other people's esteem. It is very possible
Sidney might prefer their choice to mine."

"Ah! but she won't have the chance. By the way, your father has a good
deal of taste in the line of ladies' dress, has he not?"

"I think so," she returned with a pleased smile; "he has selected many
an article of dress for me, and always suited my taste as well as if I
had been permitted to choose for myself. What he buys is sure to be of
excellent quality and suited to the intended wearer's age, complexion,
and needs."

"You are very fond of your father," Chester said with a smile.

"Indeed I am," she returned in an earnest tone. "I believe I give him
all the love that should have been divided between him and my mother,
had she lived. Mamma Vi calls him my idol; but I don't think I make
him quite that. He has at least one rival in my affection," she added
with a blush, and in a tone so low that he barely caught the words.

"And I may guess who that is, may I, dearest?" he returned in the same
low key and with a look that spoke volumes of love, and joy in the
certainty of her affection.

Max and Eva, riding on a trifle faster, were just far enough ahead and
sufficiently absorbed in their own private chat to miss this little
colloquy. There were some love passages between them also; some talk
of what they hoped the future held in store for them when they should
be old enough for the dear, honored father to give his consent to
their immediate marriage. Neither of them seemed to have a thought of
going contrary to his wishes; so strong was their affection for him
and their faith in his wisdom and his love for them.

All four greatly enjoyed their ride and returned to their temporary
home in fine health and spirits.

Chester had gotten rid of his troublesome cough before landing in
Louisiana and was now looking younger and handsomer than he had before
that almost fatal wound--a fact which greatly rejoiced the hearts of
his numerous relatives and friends. None more so than that of his
betrothed, for whose defence he had risked his life.

By the time the Viamede dinner hour had arrived all the pleasure
parties had returned and were ready to do justice to the good cheer
provided in abundance. And the meal was enlivened by cheerful chat.
The evening was spent much as the previous one had been and all
retired early, that Sabbath morning might find them rested, refreshed,
and ready for the duties and enjoyments of the sacred day.



                              CHAPTER XI.


Sabbath morning dawned bright and clear and as in former days all the
family, old and young, attended church and the pastor's Bible class.
And in the afternoon the house and plantation servants collected on
the lawn and were addressed by Captain Raymond and Dr. Harold
Travilla. Hymns were sung too, and prayers offered.

The services over, the little congregation slowly dispersed; some
lingering a few minutes for a shake of the hand and a few kind words
from their loved mistress Mrs. Travilla, her father, her son, and
Captain Raymond; then as the last one turned to depart, the captain
and the doctor walked down to the quarter for a short call upon old
Aunt Silvy, still lying in her bed.

Mrs. Travilla had seated herself in the veranda and seemed to be doing
nothing but gaze out upon the lovely landscape--the velvety,
flower-bespangled lawn, the bayou, and the fields and woods beyond.
But the slight patter of little feet drew her attention from that and
turning she found Elsie and Ned at her side.

"Grandma, will it be disturbing if I talk to you and ask some
questions?" asked the little girl.

"No, dear child, not at all," was the kindly-spoken reply. "I am
always glad to help my dear little grandchildren to information when
it is in my power. Here is an empty chair on each side of me. Draw
them up closely, you and Ned, and seat yourselves and then I hope we
can have a nice talk."

"Yes, ma'am; and it will be a pleasant rest too," returned the little
girl, as she and her brother followed the directions. "Papa told me
once that the meaning of the word Sabbath is rest. But what I wanted
particularly to ask about this time, grandma, is the Feast of the
Passover. Will you please tell us why it was kept and why they called
it that?"

"Surely, my dear children, you have heard the story of the institution
of that feast of the Jews called the Passover!" said Grandma Elsie in
some surprise. "In the twelfth chapter of Exodus there is a full
account of its institution. Every householder in Israel was to take a
lamb of a year old, without blemish; and at even on the 14th day of
the month it was to be slain. The householder was then to take of the
blood of the lamb and sprinkle the door-posts of his house. That was
to be a sign to the destroying angel, who was to slay all the
firstborn of the Egyptians that night, not to enter and slay here.
Then they were to roast the flesh of the lamb and eat it that night
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The lives of the Israelites
were saved by the angel passing over, instead of entering the house to
destroy life."

"Oh, yes, grandma, I understand," said the little girl. "But why is
Christ called our passover? You know the text--'for even Christ our
Passover is sacrificed for us.'"

"You know," said her grandmother, "that Jesus is often called the
'Lamb of God'; that paschal lamb was a type of Christ and is so spoken
of in many Scriptures."

"Thank you, grandma, for telling me," Elsie said gratefully. "And the
Jews kept that feast every year from that time till the time of
Christ, I suppose. And he kept it too. Wasn't it at that feast that he
instituted what we call the Lord's Supper?"

"Yes," replied her grandmother; "he used the bread and wine which were
a part of that feast, saying, 'Take, eat; this is my body. And he took
the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of
it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many
for the remission of sins.'"

"Oh, grandma, how good and kind he was to shed his blood for us! To
die that dreadful, dreadful death of the cross that we might go to
heaven!" exclaimed the little girl with tears in her sweet blue eyes.
"I do love him for it, and I want to be his servant, doing everything
he would have me do."

"That is as we all should feel, dear child," replied her grandmother,
bending down to press a kiss upon the rosy cheek.

"I do, grandma," said Ned. "Do you think the Lord Jesus takes notice
that we love him and want to do as he tells us?"

"Yes, Neddie dear, I am quite sure of it," replied his grandmother.
"The Psalmist says, 'Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and
art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue,
but, lo, oh, Lord, thou knowest it altogether.'"

"It is so good, grandma, that God doesn't think us not worth
noticing," said Elsie; "that he sees and cares for us all the time and
lets us ask his help whenever we will."

"It is indeed good, my child, and we are sure of it. Jesus said, 'Are
not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall
to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are
all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many
sparrows.'"

"I think God was very good to give us our father and mother and
grandma; brother Max too and our nice sisters and--and all the rest of
the folks," remarked Ned reflectively.

"I am very glad you appreciate all those blessings, my little son,"
said his mother's voice close at his side.

"Yes, mamma. And oh, mamma! can't Elsie and I go along with the rest
of you to New Orleans to-morrow?"

"I think so," she replied with a smile. "I am pretty sure your father
will say yes if you ask him. Then he will have all his children along,
and that is what he likes."

"He and Uncle Harold went down to the quarter," said Elsie, "and here
they come now."

Ned hurried to meet them, preferred his request, and the next moment
came running back with the joyful announcement, "Papa says, yes we
may. Oh, Elsie, aren't you glad?"

"Yes," she said. "I always like to be with papa and mamma and grandma,
and it's ever so pleasant to be on our yacht."

"'Specially when we have both papa and brother Max to make it go all
right," said Ned.

"You think it takes the two of us, do you?" laughed his father, taking
a seat near his wife and drawing the little fellow in between his
knees.

"No, papa; I know you could do it all by your own self," returned Ned.
"But when brother Max is there you don't have to take the trouble to
mind how things are going all the time."

"No, that's a fact," returned his father, with a pleased laugh.
"Brother Max can be trusted, and knows how to manage that large vessel
quite as well as papa does. But what will you and Elsie do while we
older people are shopping?"

"Why, my dear, there will be so many of us that we will hardly all
want to go at once," remarked Violet. "I think there will always be
someone willing to stay with the little folks."

"Yes, mamma," said Grace, who had drawn near, "I shall. Shopping is
apt to tire me a good deal, and I think I shall prefer to spend the
most of the time on the _Dolphin_."

"Yes, daughter, it will certainly be better for you," her father said,
giving her an appreciative smile. "You can go when you wish and feel
able, and keep quiet and rest when you will. But we will leave the
rest of our talk about the trip until to-morrow, choosing for the
present some subject better suited to the sacredness of the day. I
will now hear the texts which my children have got ready to recite to
me."

"Yes, sir," said Grace. "Shall I go and tell Max and Lu that you are
ready?"

"You may," the captain answered and she went, to return in a moment
with her brother and sister, Chester and Eva.

"Why, I have quite a class," the captain said, with a look of
pleasure.

"I for my part esteem it a privilege to be permitted to make one of
the number, captain," said Chester.

"As we all do, I think," said Eva.

"Thank you both," said the captain. "Our principal subject to-day is
grace; God's grace to us. Can you give me a text that teaches it,
Chester?"

"Yes, sir. Paul says in his epistle to the Ephesians, 'That in the
ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his
kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.'"

"'Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is
in Christ Jesus,'" quoted Max in his turn.

Then Evelyn, "'Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to
the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only
which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of
Abraham; who is the father of us all.'"

Lucilla's turn came next and she repeated a text from 2d Peter: "'Grow
in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.'"

"I have two texts that seem to go well together," said Violet. "The
first is in Proverbs, 'Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth
grace unto the lowly.' The other is in James, 'But he giveth more
grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud but giveth grace
unto the humble.'"

It was Grace's turn and she repeated, with a look of joy, "'For the
Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no
good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Oh, Lord of
hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.'"

"I have a little one, papa," said his daughter Elsie: "'Looking
diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.'"

"This is mine and it is short too," said Ned. "'Thou therefore, my
son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.'"

"Yes, my boy, that is a short verse, but long enough if you will be
careful to put it in practice," said his father.

Grandma Elsie, sitting near, had been listening attentively to the
quotations of the younger people and now she joined in with one: "'And
of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law
was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.'
'Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the
end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of
Jesus Christ.'"

As she ceased, Cousin Ronald, who had drawn near, joined in the
exercise, repeating the text, "'What shall we say then? Shall we
continue in sin that grace may abound?... Shall we sin because we are
not under the law, but under grace? God forbid,'" then, at the
captain's request, followed them with a few pertinent remarks. A
little familiar talk from the captain followed and then came the call
to the tea table. All retired early to their beds that night that they
might be ready to leave them betimes in the morning and set out in
good season on their trip to the city. They succeeded in so doing, all
feeling well and in the best of spirits.

The weather was fine, their voyage a prosperous one without any
remarkable adventure, and the shopping proved quite as interesting and
enjoyable as any of the shoppers had expected.

They all made the yacht their headquarters while they stayed, and the
little ones hardly left it at all. They had always a companion;
generally it was Grace, and she exerted herself for their
entertainment--playing games with them and telling them stories or
reading aloud from some interesting book.

All enjoyed the return voyage to Viamede and the warm welcome from
Grandpa and Grandma Dinsmore on their arrival there. Then it was a
pleasure to display their purchases and hear the admiring comments
upon them. The bridal veil and the material for the wedding dress were
greatly admired and all the purchases highly approved of by both these
grandparents and the relatives from the Parsonage, Magnolia, and
Torriswood, all of whom came in early in the evening, full of interest
in the results of the shopping expedition.

They had a pleasant social time together, the principal topic of
conversation being the bride's trousseau and so forth, and the various
arrangements for the coming festivities to be had in connection with
the approaching marriage.

Chester had been very generous in providing the trousseau, and Sidney
was very grateful to him. Each of the Raymonds made her a gift of a
handsome piece of sliver, Grandma Elsie adding a beautiful set of
jewelry. Sidney was delighted with her gifts. "Oh, Ches, but you are
good to me!" she exclaimed with glad tears in her eyes; "and all the
rest of you, dear friends and relatives. This jewelry, Cousin Elsie,
is lovely, and I shall always think of you when I wear it. All the
silver is just beautiful too, and indeed everything. I feel as rich as
a queen."

"And when you have Cousin Bob added to all the rest, how do you
suppose you are going to stand it?" laughed Harold.

"Oh, as the gifts are partly to him, he will help me to stand it,"
Sidney returned, with a smiling glance at her affianced.

"I'll do my best," he answered, returning the smile.

"You must not allow yourselves to be overwhelmed yet," remarked Mr.
Embury, "when not half the relatives and friends have been heard
from."

"And I'll warrant my sister Betty will remember my bride with
something worth while," remarked the bridegroom-elect.

"Yes, she will; I haven't a doubt of it," said Mrs. Embury; "and as
they are in good circumstances it will no doubt be something
handsome."

"Of course it will," said Dick. "Sister Betty was always a generous
soul, taking delight in giving."

"Being related to you both, Bob and Sid, I want to give you something
worth while. What would you like it to be?" said Mrs. Keith.

"Oh, never mind, Isa," exclaimed Dr. Johnson, jocosely, "your husband
is to tie the knot, and if he does it right--as no doubt he will--he
will give me my bride, and that will be the best, most valuable gift
any one could bestow upon me."

"Yes," laughed Isa; "but it won't hurt you to have something
else--something from me too."

"Oh, by the way, why shouldn't we have a triple wedding?" exclaimed
Maud. "I think it would be just lovely! It struck me so when I heard
yesterday of the engagement of Max and Eva."

At that the young people colored, the girls looking slightly
embarrassed, but no one spoke for a moment.

"Don't you think it would make a pretty wedding, Cousin Vi?" asked
Maud.

"I dare say it would, Maud," replied Mrs. Raymond, "but our young
folks are too young yet for marriage, my husband thinks, and should
all wait for a year or two. Besides," she added with playful look and
tone, "there would be hardly time to make ready a proper trousseau for
either, and certainly not for both."

"Oh, well, I hardly expected to be able to bring it about," returned
Maud, "but I certainly do think it would be pretty."

"So it would," said Mrs. Embury; "very pretty indeed, but that
wouldn't pay for hurrying anyone into marriage before he or she is
ready."

"No," said Cousin Ronald, "it is always best to make haste slowly in
matters so vitally important."

"Wouldn't you be willing to make haste quickly in this instance,
dearest?" queried Chester in a low aside to Lucilla; for as usual they
sat near together.

"No," she returned with a saucy smile, "I find courting times too
pleasant to be willing to cut them short; even if father would let me;
and I know he would not."

"And he won't let the other couple; which is good, since misery loves
company."

"Ah, is courting me such hard work?" she asked, knitting her brows in
pretended anger and disgust.

"Delightful work, but taking you for my very own would be still
better."

"Ah, but you see that Captain Raymond considers me one of the little
girls who are still too young to leave their fathers."

"Well, you know I am pledged never to take you away from him."

"Yes, I am too happy in the knowledge of that ever to forget it. But
do you know I for one should not fancy being married along with other
couples--one ceremony serving for all. I should hardly feel sure the
thing had been thoroughly and rightly done."

"Shouldn't you?" laughed Chester. "Well, then, we will have the
minister and ceremony all to ourselves whenever we do have it."

Just then the lady visitors rose to take leave, and Chester, who had
promised to return with Dr. and Mrs. Percival to Torriswood for the
night, had time for but a few words with Lucilla. "I hope to be here
again to-morrow pretty soon after breakfast," he said. "I grudge every
hour spent away from your side."

"Really, you flatter me," she laughed. "I doubt if anybody else
appreciates my society so highly."

"You are probably mistaken as to that," he said. "I am quite aware
that I am not your only admirer, and I feel highly flattered by your
preference for me."

"Do you?" she laughed. "Well, I think it would not be prudent to tell
you how great it is--if I could. Good-night," giving him her hand,
which he lifted to his lips.

As usual she had a bit of chat with her father before retiring to her
sleeping apartment for the night, and in that she repeated something
of this little talk with Chester. "Yes, he is very much in love, and
finds it hard to wait," said the captain; "but I am no more ready to
give up my daughter than he is to wait for her."

"I am in no hurry, papa," said Lucilla, "I do so love to be with you
and under your care--and authority," she added with a mirthful, loving
look up into his eyes.

"Yes, daughter dear, but do you expect to escape entirely from that
last when you marry?"

"No, sir; and I don't want to. I really do love to be directed and
controlled by you--my own dear father."

"I think no man ever had a dearer child than this one of mine," he
said with emotion, drawing her into his arms and caressing her with
great tenderness. He held her close for a moment, then releasing her
bade her go and prepare for her night's rest.

Max and Evelyn were again sauntering along near the bayou, enjoying a
bit of private chat before separating for the night.

"What do you think of Maud's proposition, Eva?" he asked.

"It seems hardly worth while to think about it at all, Max," she
replied in a mirthful tone; "at least not if one cares for a
trousseau; or for pleasing your father in regard to the time
of--taking that important step; tying that knot that we cannot untie
again should we grow ever so tired of it."

"I have no fear of that last so far as my feelings are concerned,
dearest, and I hope you have none," he said in a tone that spoke some
slight uneasiness.

"Not the slightest," she hastened to reply. "I think we know each
other too thoroughly to indulge any such doubts and fears. Still, as I
have great faith in your father's wisdom, and courting times are not
by any means unpleasant, I feel in no haste to bring them to an end.
You make such a delightful lover, Max, that the only thing I feel in a
hurry about is the right to call the dear captain father."

"Ah, I don't wonder that you are in haste for that," returned Max. "I
should be sorry indeed not to have that right. He is a father to love
and to be proud of."

"He is indeed," she responded. "I fell in love with him at first sight
and have loved him more and more ever since; for the better one knows
him the more admirable and lovable he seems."

"I think that is true," said Max. "I am very proud of my father and
earnestly desire to have him proud of me."

"Which he evidently is," returned Eva, "and I don't wonder at it."

"Thank you," laughed Max; then added more gravely, "I hope I may never
do anything to disgrace him."

"I am sure you never will," returned Eva in a tone that seemed to say
such a thing could not be possible. "Had we not better retrace our
steps to the house now?" she asked the next moment.

"Probably," said Max. "I presume father would say I ought not to
deprive you of your beauty sleep. But these private walks and chats
are so delightful to me that I am apt to be selfish about prolonging
them."

"And your experience on shipboard has accustomed you to late hours, I
suppose?"

"Yes; to rather irregular times of sleeping and waking. A matter of
small importance, however, when one gets used to it."

"But there would be the rub with me," she laughed, "in the getting
used to it."



                             CHAPTER XII.


"Cousin Ronald, can't you make some fun for us?" asked Ned at the
breakfast table the next morning. "We haven't had any of your kind
since we came here."

"Well, and what of that, youngster? must you live on fun all the
time?" asked a rough voice directly behind the little boy.

"Oh! who are you? and how did you come in here?" he asked, turning
half round in his chair, in the effort to see the speaker. "Oh, pshaw!
you're nobody. Was it you, Cousin Ronald? or was it brother Max?"

"Polite little boys do not call gentlemen nobodies," remarked another
voice that seemed to come from a distant corner of the room.

"And I didn't mean to," said Ned, "but the things I want to say will
twist up, somehow."

"That bird you are eating looks good," said the same voice; "couldn't
you spare me a leg?"

"Oh, yes," laughed Ned, "if you'll come and get it. But one of these
little legs wouldn't be much more than a bite for you."

"Well, a bite would be better than no breakfast at all; and somebody
might give me one of those nice-looking rolls."

"I'm sure of it if you'll come to the table and show yourself,"
replied Ned.

"Here I am then," said the voice close at his side.

"Oh, are you?" returned Ned. "Well, help yourself. You can have
anything you choose to take."

"Now, Ned, do you call that polite?" laughed Lucilla. "As you invited
him to the table you surely ought to help him to what he has asked
for."

At that Ned looked scrutinizingly at Cousin Ronald's plate, then at
his brother's, and seeing that both were well filled remarked, "I see
he's well helped already and oughtn't to be asking for more till he
gets that eaten up."

"Oh, you know too much, young man," laughed Max. "It isn't worth while
for Cousin Ronald and me to waste our talents upon you."

"Oh, yes, it is, Brother Max," said the little fellow, "for it's fun,
even though I do know it's one or the other or both of you."

"Oh, Cousin Ronald," exclaimed Elsie, "can't you make some fun at the
wedding, as you did when Cousin Betty was married? I don't remember
much of it myself, but I've heard other folks tell about it."

"Why not ask Max instead of me?" queried Mr. Lilburn.

"Oh!" cried the little girl, "I'd like to have both of you do it. It's
more fun with two than with only one."

"And it might be well to consult cousins Maud and Dick about it,"
suggested Grandma Elsie. "You can do so to-day, as we are all invited
to take lunch at Torriswood."

"Are we? oh, that's nice!" exclaimed Elsie, smiling brightly. "You
will let us go, papa, won't you?"

"Yes; I expect to take you there."

"And if we all go Cousin Ronald and Max might make some fun for us
there. I guess the Torriswood folks would like it," remarked Ned
insinuatingly.

"But might not you grow tired--having so much of it?" asked Max.

"No, indeed!" cried the little fellow. "It's too much fun for anybody
to get tired of it."

"Any little chap like you, perhaps," remarked the strange voice from
the distant corner.

"Pooh! I'm not so very little now," returned Ned.

"Not too little to talk a good deal," laughed Grandpa Dinsmore.

"This is a lovely morning," remarked Dr. Harold, "the roads are in
fine condition too, and I think the distance to Torriswood is not too
great to make a very pleasant walk for those of us who are young and
strong."

"And there are riding horses and conveyances in plenty for any who
prefer to use them," added his mother.

Evelyn, Lucilla, and Max all expressed their desire to try the walk,
and Grace said, "I should like to try it too;" but both her father and
Dr. Harold put a veto upon that, saying she was not strong enough, so
must be content to ride.

"Cousin Ronald and brother Max, can't we have some fun there to-day,
as well as at the wedding time?" said Ned in his most coaxing tones.

"Possibly, bit laddie," returned the old gentleman pleasantly. "If I
am not too auld, your good brother is no' too young."

"But you are the more expert of the two, sir," said Max; "and perhaps
it may be the better plan for us both to take part."

"Ah, well, we'll see when the time comes," responded the old
gentleman. "I like well to please the bit laddie, if it can be done
without vexing or disturbing anybody else."

"I don't think it can do that," observed Ned wisely, "for it's good
fun and everybody likes fun. Even my papa does," he added with a
smiling glance up into his father's face.

"Yes; when it does not annoy or weary anyone else," the captain said
in return.

"Will Chester be over here this morning, Lu?" asked Violet.

"He expected to when he went away last night," was the reply. "But
possibly he may not come if he hears that we are to go there."

"I think he is too much a man of his word to be hindered by that," her
father said, giving her a reassuring smile.

And he was right, for Chester was with them even a little earlier than
usual.

"Maud told me you were all coming over to lunch with her," he said,
"but as some of you have never seen the place, I thought you might not
object to a pilot, and the exercise would be rather beneficial to me."

"You are right there," said Harold. "You know that as your physician I
have prescribed a good deal of outdoor exercise."

"Yes; I have been taking the prescription, too, and I find it
beneficial; especially when I am so fortunate as to secure pleasant
company." His glance at Lucilla as he spoke seemed to imply that there
was none more desirable than hers.

"Then, as the walk is a long one, I would suggest that we start as
soon as may suit the convenience of the ladies," said Harold, and
Evelyn and Lucilla hastened to make such preparation as they deemed
necessary or desirable.

The Parsonage was scarce a stone's throw out of their path and they
called there on their way. They owed Isadore a call and were willing
to make one upon her sister Virginia also--now making her home at the
Parsonage--though she had not as yet called upon them.

They found both ladies upon the veranda. Isadore gave them a joyful
welcome, Virginia a cool one, saying, "I should have called upon you
before now, but I know poor relations are not apt to prove welcome
visitors."

"But I had thought you were making your home at Viamede," said Dr.
Harold.

"No; not since Dick and Bob removed to Torriswood. I couldn't think of
living on there alone; so came here to Isa, she being my nearest of
kin in this part of the world."

Harold thought he did not envy Isa on that account, but prudently
refrained from saying so.

Isa invited them to stay and spend the day there, but they declined,
stating that they were on their way to Torriswood by invitation.

"Yes," said Virginia; "they can invite rich relations but entirely
neglect poor me."

"Why, Virgie," exclaimed Isadore in surprise, "I am sure you have been
invited there more than once since you have been here."

"Well, I knew it was only a duty invitation and they didn't really
want me; so I didn't go. I have a little more sense than to impose my
company upon people who don't really want it."

"I shouldn't think anybody would while you show such an ugly temper,"
thought Lucilla, but refrained from saying it. She and her companions
made but a short call, presently bade good-by and continued on their
way to Torriswood.

They received a warm welcome there and were presently joined by the
rest of their party from Viamede. There was some lively and animated
chat in regard to letters sent and letters received, the making of the
wedding dress and various other preparations for the coming ceremony,
to all of which little Ned listened rather impatiently; then, as soon
as a pause in the conversation gave him an opportunity, he turned to
Dr. Percival, saying, "Cousin Dick, wouldn't it be right nice to have
a little fun?"

"Fun, Neddie? Why, certainly, my boy; fun is often quite beneficial to
the health. But how shall we manage it? have you a good joke for us?"

"No, sir," said Ned, "but you know we have two ventriloquists here
and--and I like the kind of fun they make. Don't you?"

"It is certainly very amusing sometimes, and I see no objection if our
friends are willing to favor us with some specimens of their skill,"
was the reply, accompanied by a glance first at Mr. Milburn, then at
Max.

"Oh!" exclaimed Maud, "that might be a good entertainment for our
wedding guests!"

"Probably," returned her husband, "but if it is to be used then it
would be well not to let our servants into the secret beforehand."

"Decidedly so, I should say," said Max. "It would be better to reserve
that entertainment for that time."

"But surely it would do no harm to give us a few examples of your
skill to-day, when the servants are out of the room," said Maud.

"No, certainly not, if anything worth while could be thought of," said
Max; "but it seems to me that it must be quite an old story with all
of us here."

"Not to me, brother Max," exclaimed Ned. "And the funny things you and
Cousin Ronald seem to make invisible folks say make other people laugh
as well as me."

"And laughter is helpful to digestion," said a strange voice,
apparently speaking from the doorway. "But should folks digest too
well these doctors might find very little to do. So it is not to be
wondered at if they object to letting much fun be made."

"But the doctors haven't objected," laughed Dr. Percival, "and I have
no fear that work for them will fail even if some of their patients
should laugh and grow fat."

"I presume that's what the little fellow that wants the fun has been
doing," said the voice; "for as regards fat he is in prime condition."

At that Ned colored and looked slightly vexed. "Papa, am I so very
fat?" he asked.

"None too fat to suit my taste, my son," replied the captain, smiling
kindly on the little fellow.

"And you wouldn't want to be a bag of bones, would you?" queried the
voice.

"No," returned Ned sturdily, "I'd a great deal rather be fat; bones
are ugly things any way."

"Good to cover up with fat, but very necessary underneath it," said
the voice. "You couldn't stand or walk if you had no bones."

"No; to be sure not; though I never thought about it before," returned
Ned. "Some ugly things are worth more, after all, than some pretty
ones."

"Very true," said the voice; "so we must not despise anything merely
because it lacks beauty."

"Is it you talking, Cousin Ronald, or is it brother Max?" asked Ned,
looking searchingly first at one and then at the other.

"No matter which, laddie," said the old gentleman; "and who shall say
it hasn't been both of us?"

"Oh, yes, maybe it was! I couldn't tell," exclaimed Ned.

But lunch was now ready and all repaired to the table. The blessing
had been asked and all were sitting quietly as Dr. Percival took up a
knife to carve a fowl. "Don't, oh, don't!" seemed to come from it in a
terrified scream. "I'm all right. No need of a surgeon's knife."

Everyone was startled for an instant, the doctor nearly dropping his
knife; then there was a general laugh and the carving proceeded
without further objection. The servants were all out of the room at
the moment.

"Ah, Cousin Ronald, that reminds me of very old times, when I was a
little child," said Violet, giving the old gentleman a mirthful look.

"Ah, yes!" he said, "I remember now that I was near depriving you of
your share of the fowl when breakfasting one morning at your father's
hospitable board. Have you not yet forgiven that act of indiscretion?"

"Indeed, yes; fully and freely long ago. But it was really nothing to
forgive--your intention having been to afford amusement to us all."

"Neddie, shall I help you? are you willing to eat of a fowl that can
scream out so much like a human creature?" asked Dr. Percival.

"Oh, yes, Cousin Doctor; 'cause I know just how he did it," laughed
the little boy.

Then the talk about the table turned upon various matters connected
with the subject of the approaching wedding--whether this or that
relative would be likely to come; when he or she might be expected to
arrive, and where be entertained; the adornment of the grounds for the
occasion; the fashion in which each of the brides's new dresses should
be made and what jewelry, if any, she should wear when dressed for the
ceremony. Also about a maid of honor and bridesmaids.

"I want to have two or three little flower girls," said Sidney; "and I
have thought of Elsie Dinsmore, Elsie Embury, and Elsie Raymond as the
ones I should prefer; they are near enough of an age, all related to
me and all quite pretty; at least they will look so when handsomely
dressed," she added with a laughing look at the one present, who
blushed and seemed slightly embarrassed for a moment, but said not a
word.

"I highly approve if we can get the other two here in season," said
Maud.

"Then for my maid of honor I must have one of you older girls,"
continued Sidney. "Perhaps I'll want all three. I don't know yet how
many groomsmen Robert is going to have."

"Cousin Harold and my friend Max, if they will serve," said Robert,
glancing inquiringly at them in turn.

"Thank you, Bob," said Harold; "seeing you are a brother
physician--cousin as well--I cannot think of refusing. In fact I
consider myself quite honored."

Max also accepted the invitation with suitable words and the talk went
on.

"Are you expecting to take a trip?" asked Harold.

"Yes; we talk of going to the Bahamas," said Robert. "It is said to be
a delightful winter resort and neither of us has ever been there."

"Then I think you will be likely to enjoy your visit there greatly,"
responded Harold.

"So we think," said Robert. "But now about groomsmen; I'd like to add
your brother Herbert and Sidney's brother Frank if we can get them
here, and they are willing to serve. Chester won't, because Lu must
not be a bridesmaid, having served twice or thrice already in that
capacity--and you know the old saying, 'Three times a bridesmaid never
a bride.'"

"I have little doubt of the willingness of the lads if they are here
in season," returned Harold; "but I think Herbert's movements will
depend largely upon those of Cousin Arthur Conly. It would hardly do
for all three of us to absent ourselves from professional duties at
the same time."

"But Frank can be spared from his, I suppose?" Robert said
inquiringly, turning to Chester as he spoke.

"Yes; for a short time, I think," was Chester's reply.

"Come, let us all go out on the lawn and consult in regard to the best
place for having the arch made under which our bridal party are to
stand," Maud said, addressing the company in general as they left the
table. The invitation was accepted and they spent some time in
strolling about under the trees, chatting familiarly; the principal
topic being the one proposed by Mrs. Percival, but considering also
the question where it would be best to set the tables for the wedding
guests.

"It is likely to be a large company," said Maud, "but I think we can
accommodate them all comfortably."

"Yes; I should think so," said Grandma Elsie. "Your lawn is large and
lovely. I am very glad, Dick, that you secured so beautiful a place."

"Thank you, cousin," he returned, "I think I was fortunate in getting
it; as Maud does too. She likes it well."

"And you prefer it to Viamede?"

"Only because it is my own," he answered with a smile. "One could not
find a lovelier place than Viamede."

"But you lost the housekeeping of your cousin Virginia by making the
change," Harold observed with a humorous look.

"Hardly!" laughed Dick; "she was that but in name. And the change to
Isa's housekeeping and companionship must be rather agreeable to her,
I should think."

"She seems to me much the more agreeable of the two," said Harold.

"Yes; Isa is a lovely woman. And Virginia has her good qualities,
too."

As Torriswood was but little farther from the bayou than Viamede, it
was presently decided by the young people that they would return by
boat, and upon starting they found it so pleasant that they took a
much longer sail, reaching their destination barely in time for
dinner.

"Does Sidney's evident happiness in the near approach of her marriage
make my little girl unhappy and discontented with her father's
decision in regard to hers?" asked Captain Raymond, when Lucilla came
to him for the usual bit of good-night chat.

"Oh, no, papa; no indeed!" she exclaimed with a low, happy laugh.
"Have you forgotten, or don't you know yet, how dearly that same
little girl loves to be with you?"

"Really, I believe she does," he said, caressing her with tenderness,
"and though it is undeniably partly for his own--her father's--sake,
that he insists upon delay, it is still more for yours--believing as
he does that you are yet much too young for the cares and duties of
married life. I want you to have a good play-day before going into
them," he added, with another caress.

"You dear, kind father!" she said in response. "I could wish to be
always a child if so I might be always with you."

"Well, daughter, we may hope for many years together in this world and
a blessed eternity together in heaven."

"Yes, papa, there is great happiness in that thought. Oh, I am glad
and thankful that God gave me a Christian father."

"And I that I have every reason to believe that my dear eldest
daughter has learned to know and love him. To belong to Christ is
better than to have the wealth of the world. Riches take to themselves
wings and fly away; but he has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee.'"

"Such a sweet, precious promise, father!"

"Yes; it may well relieve us from care and anxiety about the future;
especially as taken in connection with that other precious promise,
'As thy days, so shall thy strength be.'"

"Don't you think, papa, that if we always remembered and fully
believed the promises of God's word we might--we should be happy under
all circumstances?"

"I do indeed," he said emphatically. "We all need to pray as the
disciples did, 'Lord increase our faith,' for 'without faith it is
impossible to please him.'"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


The next three weeks passed very delightfully to our friends at
Viamede. There were rides, drives, boating, and fishing excursions,
not to speak of rambles through the woods and fields and quiet home
pleasures. Also the approaching wedding and the preparations for it
greatly interested them all, especially the young girls. It was
pleasantly exciting to watch the making of the bride's dresses and of
their own, intended to be worn on that important occasion. Besides,
after a little there were various arrivals of relations and friends to
whom invitations had been sent: the whole families from Riverside,
Ion, Fairview, the Oaks, the Laurels, Beechwood, and Roselands.

Herbert Travilla would have denied himself the pleasure of the trip in
order that Dr. Arthur Conly might take a much-needed rest, but it was
finally decided that both might venture to absent themselves from
their practice for a short season.

All Grandma Elsie's children and grandchildren were taken in at
Viamede, making the house very full, and the rest were accommodated
with the other relatives at the Parsonage, Magnolia Hall, and
Torriswood; in which last-named place the family from the Oaks were
domiciled. It was not until a very few days before that appointed for
the wedding that the last of the relatives from a distance arrived.

To the extreme satisfaction of all concerned the wedding day dawned
bright and beautiful--not a cloud in the sky. The ceremony was to be
at noon, and the guests came pouring in shortly before that hour.

The grounds were looking their loveliest--the grass like emerald
velvet bespangled with fragrant flowers of every hue, the trees laden
with foliage, some of them--the oranges and magnolias in
particular--bearing blossoms; the former their green and golden fruit
also. Under these an arch, covered with smilax, had been erected, and
from its centre hung a large bell formed of the lovely and fragrant
orange blossoms; the clapper made of crimson roses. Under that the
bridal party presently took their stand.

First came the three little flower girls--Elsie Dinsmore, Elsie
Raymond, and Elsie Embury--dressed in white silk mull, and each
carrying a basket of white roses; then the bridesmaids and
groomsmen--Frank Dinsmore with Corinne Embury, Harold Travilla with
Grace Raymond, Herbert Travilla and Mary Embury--the girls all dressed
in white and carrying bouquets of smilax and white flowers.

Max had declined to serve on hearing that Eva could not serve with him
on account of being still in mourning for her mother.

Lastly came the bride and groom, Sidney looking very charming in a
white silk trimmed with abundance of costly lace, wearing a beautiful
bridal veil and wreath of fresh and fragrant orange blossoms, and
carrying a bouquet of the same in her hand.

The party stood underneath the arch, the bride and groom directly
beneath the bell in its centre, while the guests gathered about them,
the nearest relatives taking the nearest stations.

Mr. Cyril Keith was the officiating minister. It was a pretty
ceremony, but short, and then the congratulations and good wishes
began.

Those over, the guests were invited to seat themselves about a number
of tables scattered here and there under the trees and loaded with
tempting viands. The minister craved a blessing upon the food and the
feast began.

An effort had been made to some extent so to seat the guests that
relatives and friends would be near each other. The entire bridal
party was at one table, the other young people of the connection were
pretty close at hand--the older ones and their children not much
farther off.

Everybody had been helped and cheery chat, mingled with some mirth,
was going on, when suddenly a shrill voice, that seemed to come from
the branches overhead, cried out, "What you 'bout, all you folks?
Polly wants some breakfast."

Everybody started and looked up into the tree from which the sounds
had seemed to come; but no parrot was visible there.

"Why, where is the bird?" asked several voices in tones of surprise.
But hardly had the question been asked when another parrot seemed to
speak from a table near that at which the bridal party sat. "Polly's
hungry. Poor old Polly--poor old soul!"

"Is that so, Polly? Then just help yourself," said Dr. Percival.

"Polly wants her coffee. Poor old Polly, poor old soul!" came in
reply, sounding as if the bird had gone farther down the table.

Then a whistle was heard that seemed to come from some distance among
the trees, and hardly had it ceased when there was a loud call, "Come
on, my merry men, and let us get our share of this grand wedding
feast."

"Tramps about! and bold ones they must be!" exclaimed one of the
neighborhood guests.

"Really I hope they are not going to make any trouble!" cried another.
"I fear we have no weapons of defence among us; and if we had I for
one would be loath to turn a wedding feast into a fight."

"Hark! hark!" cried another as the notes of a bugle came floating on
the breeze, the next minute accompanied by what seemed to be the sound
of a drum and fife playing a national air, "what, what can it mean? I
have heard of no troops in this neighborhood. But that's martial
music, and now," as another sound met the ear, "don't you hear the
tramp, tramp?"

"Yes, yes, it certainly must be troops. But who or what can have
called them out?" asked a third guest, starting to his feet as if
contemplating rushing away to try to catch a glimpse of the
approaching soldiers.

"Oh, sit down and let us go on with our breakfast," expostulated still
another. "Of course they are American troops on some trifling errand
in the neighborhood and not going to interfere with us. There! the
music has stopped and I don't hear their tramp either. Dr. Percival,"
turning in his host's direction and raising his voice, "can you
account for that martial music playing a moment since?"

"I haven't heard of any troops about, but am quite sure they will not
interfere with us," returned the doctor. "Please, friends, don't let
it disturb you at all." Little Ned Raymond was looking and listening
in an ecstasy of delight.

"Oh, Cousin Ronald and brother Max, do some more!" he entreated in a
subdued, but urgent tone. "Folks do believe it's real soldiers and
it's such fun to see how they look and talk about it."

The martial music and the tramp, tramp began again and seemed to draw
nearer and nearer, and several dogs belonging on the place rushed away
in that direction, barking furiously.

It seemed to excite and disturb many of the guests, and Violet said,
"There, my little son, I think that ought to satisfy you for the
present. Let our gentlemen and everybody else have their breakfast in
peace."

"Good advice, Cousin Vi," said Mr. Lilburn, "and the bit laddie may
get his fill of such fun at another time."

"Really I don't understand this at all," remarked a lady seated at the
same table with the gentleman who had called to Dr. Percival; "that
martial music has ceased with great suddenness, and I no longer hear
the tramp, tramp of the troops."

"I begin to have a very strong suspicion that ventriloquism is
responsible for it all," returned the gentleman with a smile. "Did you
not hear at the time of the marriage of Dr. Johnson's sister that a
ventriloquist was present and made rare sport for the guests?"

"Oh, yes, I think I did and that he was one of the relatives. I
presume he is here now and responsible for these strange sounds. But,"
she added thoughtfully, "there are several sounds going on at once;
could he make them all, do you think?"

"Perhaps the talent runs in the family and there is more than one here
possessing it."

"Ah, yes, that must be it," remarked another guest, nodding wisely. "I
presume it is in the family, and what sport it must make for them."

"But what has become of those tramps--the merry men who were going to
claim a share of this feast?" queried a young girl seated at the same
table.

"Perhaps they have joined the troops," laughed another. "But hark!
they are at it again," as a shrill whistle once more came floating on
the breeze from the same direction as before, followed by the words,
"Come on, my merry men; let us make haste ere all the best of the
viands have disappeared down the throats of the fellows already
there."

Mr. Hugh Lilburn had overheard the chat about the neighboring table
and thought best to gratify the desire to hear further from the merry
men of the wood.

A good many eyes were turned in the direction of the sounds, but none
could see even one of the merry men so loudly summoned to make a raid
upon the feasting company.

Then another voice seemed to reply from the same quarter as the first.

"The days of Robin Hood and his merry men are over lang syne; and this
is no' the country for ony sic doin's. If we want a share o' the grand
feast we maun ask it like decent, honest folk, tendering payment if
that wad no' be considered an insult by the host an' hostess."

At that Dr. Percival laughed and called out in a tone of amusement,
"Come on, friends, and let me help you to a share of the eatables; we
have enough and to spare, and you will be heartily welcome."

"Thanks, sir," said the voice; "perhaps we may accept when your
invited guests have eaten their fill and departed."

"Very well; manage it to suit yourselves," laughed the doctor.

Then another voice from the wood said, "Well, comrades, let us sit
down here under the trees and wait for our turn."

All this had caused quite an excitement and a great buzz of talk among
the comparatively stranger guests; yet they seemed to enjoy the dainty
fare provided and ate heartily of it as they talked, listening, too,
for a renewal of the efforts of the ventriloquists.

But the latter refrained from any further exercise of their skill, as
the time was drawing near when the bride and groom were to set out
upon their bridal trip. They and their principal attendants repaired
to the house, where the bride exchanged her wedding gown for a very
pretty and becoming travelling dress, her bridesmaids and intimate
girl friends assisting her. Her toilet finished, they all ran down
into the lower hall--already almost crowded with other guests--and,
laughing and excited, stood awaiting her appearance at the head of the
stairway. She was there in a moment--her bouquet of orange blossoms in
her hand.

The hands of the laughing young girls were instantly extended toward
her and she threw the bouquet, saying merrily:

"Catch it who can, and you will be the first to follow me into wedded
happiness."

It so happened that Evelyn Leland and Lucilla Raymond stood so near
together that their hands almost touched and that the bouquet fell to
both--each catching it with one hand. Their success was hailed by a
peal of laughter from all present, Chester Dinsmore and Max Raymond
particularly seeming to enjoy the sport.

The bride came tripping down the stairway, closely followed by her
groom, and the adieus began; not especially sad ones, as so many of
the near and dear relatives left behind expected to see them again ere
many weeks should pass--and quite a goodly number followed them down
to the edge of the bayou, where lay the boat that was to carry them
over the first part of their wedding journey. They stepped aboard amid
showers of rice, accompanied by an old shoe or two, merry laughter,
and many good wishes for a happy and prosperous trip; and as they
seated themselves, a beautiful horseshoe formed of lovely orange
blossoms fell into the bride's lap.

The little vessel was bountifully adorned with flags of various
sizes--by the previous arrangement of Dr. Percival, who knew them both
to be devoted admirers of the flag of our Union--and as the vessel
moved away there came again from among the trees at a little distance,
the sound of a bugle, the drum and the fife playing the "Star-Spangled
Banner," than which nothing could have been more appropriate.

As the boat disappeared and the music died away something of a lonely
feeling came over many of those left behind, and the guests not
related began to make their adieus and depart to their homes. But the
relatives tarried somewhat longer, chatting familiarly among
themselves and re-examining the many handsome bridal gifts.

"They have fared well," said Mrs. Betty Norton, Dr. Robert's sister,
"I am so glad for them both. I'm fond of my brother Bob, and well
pleased with the match he has made. And not less so with Dick's," she
added, turning with a smile to Maud, who stood at her side.

"Thank you, Betty," said Maud. "I was well pleased with the
relationship we held to each other before, and am glad it has been
made nearer. Though at first--when Dick proposed--I was afraid it--the
relationship--ought to be a bar to our union. However, he said it was
not near enough for that, and as he is a good physician I supposed he
knew--so did not say him nay," she added, with a laughing look up into
her husband's face as at that moment he drew near and stood at her
side.

"Ah, don't you wish you had?" he returned, laying a hand lightly on
her shoulder and giving her a very loverlike look and smile.

"I have serious objections to being questioned too closely," she said
laughingly; "and please to remember, sir, that I did not promise never
to have a secret from you even if you're my other--and perhaps better
half."

"Oh, I always understood it was the woman's privilege to be that," he
laughed; "and I certainly expect it of you, my dear."

"Why, how absurd in you!" she exclaimed. "With such a husband as mine
it would be utterly impossible for me to be the better half."

"But it is quite the thing for each to think the other is," said
Grandma Elsie, regarding them with an affectionate smile.

"A state of feeling that is certain to make both very happy," remarked
Captain Raymond, who happened to be standing near.

"As you and I know by experience," said Violet with a bright look up
into his face.

"Yes," said her cousin Betty, "and anybody who knows you two as well
as I do may see the exemplification of that doctrine in your lives. I
have always known that you were a decidedly happy couple."

"But needn't plume yourself very much on that discovery, Cousin
Betty," laughed Lucilla, "I think everybody makes it who is with them
for even a day or two."

"And his children are not much, if at all, behind his wife in love for
him, or behind him in love for her," added Grace, smiling up into her
father's face.

"All doing their best to fill him with conceit," he said, returning
the smile, but with a warning shake of the head. "Where are Elsie and
Ned?" he asked, adding, "It is about time we were returning home--to
Viamede."

"Yes," said Violet, "we must hunt them up at once."

"I will find them, papa and mamma," Grace answered, hastening from the
room.

The children were playing games on the lawn, but all ceased and came
running to Grace as she stepped out upon the veranda and called in
musical tones to her little sister and brother.

"What is it?" they asked as they drew near, "time to go home?"

"Yes; so papa and mamma think; and we must always do what they say,
you know."

"Yes, indeed!" answered Elsie, "and it's just a pleasure because they
always know best and are so kind and love us so dearly."

"We've been having an elegant time and it's just lovely here at
Torriswood," said little Elsie Embury, "but as it is Uncle Dick's
place we can come here often; and besides Viamede is quite as pretty,
and we are to go there for the rest of the day."

"Oh, yes! aren't you glad?" responded several other young voices.

The carriages which had brought them were now seen to be in
preparation to convey them to that desired destination, and presently
one after another received its quota and departed.

One three-seated vehicle contained Mrs. Travilla, her father and his
wife, Captain and Mrs. Raymond and their little boy and girl.
Naturally the talk ran upon the scenes through which they had just
been passing.

"It was right odd that Eva and Lu should have caught that bridal
bouquet together," laughed Violet. "My dear, does it not make you
tremble with apprehension lest those two weddings should take place
somewhat sooner than you wish?"

"I cannot say that I am greatly alarmed," the captain returned
pleasantly. "I have too much confidence in the affection and desire to
please their father of my eldest son and daughter, to greatly fear
that they will disregard my wishes and opinion in reference to that,
or anything else indeed."

"And I feel very sure that your confidence is not misplaced," said
Mrs. Travilla. "Also I think you are wise in wishing them--young as
they are--to defer marriage for a few years."

Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore expressed a hearty agreement in that opinion,
and Violet said it was hers also. "But I could see," she added with
playful look and tone, "that the lovers were both pleased and elated.
However, it is not supposed to mean speedy matrimony, but merely that
they will be the first of those engaged in the sport to enter into
it."

"Yes," Captain Raymond said laughingly, "and I have known of one case
in which the successful catcher--though the first of the competitors
to enter into the bonds of matrimony--did not do so until six years
afterward. So, naturally, I am not greatly alarmed."

A smaller vehicle, driving at some little distance in their rear, held
the two young couples of whom they were speaking, and with them also
the episode of the throwing and catching of the bouquet was the
subject of conversation.

"It was capitally done, girls," laughed Max, "and possibly may
encourage father to shorten our probation--somewhat at least."

"Yes, I am sure I wish it may," said Chester. "I hope you will not
object, Lu?"

"I don't believe it would make a particle of difference in the result
whether I did or not," she laughed. "If you knew father as well as I
do you would know that he does not often retreat from a position that
he has once taken. And he is not superstitious enough to pay any
attention to such an omen as we have had to-day. Nor would I wish him
to, as I have the greatest confidence in his wisdom and his love for
his children."

"To all of which I add an unqualified assent," said Max heartily. "My
father's opinion on almost any subject has far more weight with me
than that of any other man."



                             CHAPTER XIV.


Viamede presently showed as beautiful and festive a scene as had
Torriswood earlier in the day--the velvety grass bespangled with
sweet-scented flowers of varied hues, the giant oaks and magnolias,
the orange trees with their beautiful glossy leaves, green fruit and
ripe, lovely blossoms; also many flags floating here and there from
upper windows, verandas, and tree tops. There were not a few
exclamations of admiration and delight from the young people and
children as carriage after carriage drove up and deposited its living
load.

A very gay and mirthful time followed; sports begun at Torriswood were
renewed here with as much zest and spirit as had been shown there; the
large company scattering about the extensive grounds and forming
groups engaged in one or another game suited to the ages and capacity
of its members. But some preferred strolling here and there through
the alleys and groves, engaging in nothing more exciting or wearying
than sprightly chat and laughter, while the older ladies and
gentlemen--among them Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald and
Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Lilburn, Mr. and Mrs. Embury, and Mr. and Mrs.
Keith, Mrs. Travilla, and Mr. and Mrs. Leland, Dr. Arthur Conly and
his Marian--gathered in groups on the verandas or the nearer parts of
the lawn.

Edward Travilla and his Zoe were down among the little folks,
overseeing the sports of their own twin boy and girl and their mates,
as were also Captain Raymond and his Violet, with their Elsie and Ned.
His older son and daughters, with Chester Dinsmore and his brother
Frank, could be seen at some little distance, occupying rustic seats
under a wide-spreading tree and seemingly enjoying an animated and
amusing chat. Drs. Harold and Herbert Travilla, strolling along with
the two older daughters of Mr. Embury, presently joined them, and Dr.
and Mrs. Percival shortly followed, the mirth and jollity apparently
increasing with every addition.

"They seem to be very merry over yonder," remarked Mrs. Embury, with a
smiling glance at that particular group. "It does me good to see Dick
take a little relaxation--he is usually so busy in the practice of his
profession."

"Yes," said Grandma Elsie, "and the evidently strong affection between
him and Maud is very delightful to see."

"As is that between the captain and Violet," added her cousin Annis.
"I thought her young for him when they married, but I never saw a more
attached couple. They make no display of it before people, but no
close observer could be with them long without becoming convinced of
the fact."

"That is so, I think," said Mrs. Leland. "The captain is a fond
father, but he has told Vi more than once that to lose her would be
worse to him than being called to part with all his children."

"Ah, I hope neither trial may ever be appointed him," said Grandma
Elsie, low and softly, ending with a slight sigh.

"And so Chester and Lucilla, Max and Eva are engaged," remarked Mrs.
Embury in a reflective tone; "and so far as I know the entire
connection seems satisfied with the arrangement."

"I have yet to hear of objection from any quarter," Mrs. Leland said
with a smile, "and I can say with certainty that Lester and I are well
satisfied, so far as our niece Eva is concerned. I think the captain
is right and wise though, in bidding them delay marriage for at least
a year or two--all of them being so young."

"I think," said Mrs. Arthur Conly, joining in the talk, "that Frank
Dinsmore is evidently very much in love with Grace."

"In which I sincerely hope he will get no encouragement from the
captain," Dr. Conly added quickly and with strong emphasis. "Grace is
much too young, and entirely too feeble to safely venture into wedlock
for years to come."

"And I think you may safely trust her father to see that she does
not," said Grandma Elsie. "I am sure he agrees in your opinion and
that Grace is too good and obedient a daughter ever to go contrary to
his wishes."

Gradually, as the sun drew near his setting, the participants in the
sports gave them up and gathered in the parlors or upon the verandas,
most of them just about weary enough with the pleasant exercise they
had been taking to enjoy a little quiet rest before being summoned to
partake of the grand dinner in process of preparation by Viamede's
famous cooks.

Lucilla and her sister Grace, wishing to make some slight change in
the arrangement of hair or dress, hastened up the broad stairway
together on their way to the room now occupied by Grace and Elsie. In
the upper hall they met their father, coming from a similar errand to
his own apartment.

"Ah, daughters," he said in his usual kindly tones, "we have had much
less than usual to say to each other to-day, but I hope you have been
enjoying yourselves?" and as he spoke he put an arm around each and
drew them closer to him.

"Oh, yes, yes, indeed, papa!" both replied, smilingly and in mirthful
tones, Lucilla adding, "Everything seems to have gone swimmingly
to-day."

"Even to the catching of the bride's bouquet, I suppose," returned her
father, giving her an amused yet searching and half-inquiring look.

At that Lucilla laughed.

"Yes, papa; wasn't it odd that Eva and I happened to catch it
together?"

"And were both highly elated over the happy augury?" he queried, still
gazing searchingly into her eyes.

"Hardly, I think, papa; though Chester and Max seemed rather elated by
it. But really," she added with a mirthful look, "I depend far more
upon my father's decision than upon dozens of such auguries; and
besides am in no haste to leave his care and protection or go from
under his authority."

"Spoken like my own dear eldest daughter," he returned with a
gratified look, and giving her a slight caress.

"It would be strange indeed, if any one of your children did want to
get from under it, papa," said Grace, with a look of ardent affection
up into his eyes.

"I am glad to hear you say that, daughter," he returned with a smile,
and softly smoothing the shining, golden hair, "because it will be
years before I can feel willing to resign the care of my still rather
feeble little Grace to another, or let her take up the burdens and
anxieties of married life."

"You may be perfectly sure I don't want to, papa," she returned with a
gleeful, happy laugh. "It is just a joy and delight to me to feel that
I belong to you and always shall as long as you want to keep me."

"Which will be just as long as you enjoy it--and we both live," he
added a little more gravely.

Then releasing them with an injunction not to waste too much time over
their toilet, he passed on down the stairway while they went on into
their tiring-room.

"Oh, Lu," said Grace as she pulled down her hair before the glass,
"haven't we the best and dearest father in the world? I like Chester
ever so much, but I sometimes wonder how you can bear the very thought
of leaving papa for him."

"It does not seem an easy thing to do," sighed Lucilla, "and yet----"
But she paused, leaving her sentence unfinished.

"Yet what?" asked Grace, turning an inquiring look upon her sister.

"Well, I believe I'll tell you," returned Lucilla in a half-hesitating
way. "I have always valued father's love oh, so highly, and once when
I happened accidentally to overhear something he said to Mamma Vi, it
nearly broke my heart--for a while." Her voice quivered with the last
words, and she seemed unable to go on for emotion.

"Why, Lu, what could it have been?" exclaimed Grace in surprise, and
giving her sister a look of mingled love and compassion.

With an evident effort Lucilla went on: "It was that she was dearer to
him than all his children put together--that he would lose every one
of them rather than part with her. It made me feel for a while as if I
had lost everything worth having--papa's love for me must be so very
slight. But after a long and bitter cry over it I was comforted by
remembering what the Bible says, 'Let every one of you in particular
so love his wife even as himself.' And the words of Jesus, 'For this
cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife: and
they twain shall be one flesh.' So I could see it was right for my
father to love his wife best of all earthly creatures--she being but a
part of himself--and besides I could not doubt that he loved me and
each one of his children very, very dearly."

"Yes, I am sure he does," said Grace, vainly trying to speak in her
usual cheery, light-hearted tones. "Oh, Lu, I don't wonder you cried
over it. It would just kill me to think papa didn't care very much
about me."

"Oh, Gracie, he does! I know he does! I am sure he would not hesitate
a moment to risk his life for any one of us."

"Yes, I am sure of it! and what but his love for you makes him so
unwilling to give you up to Chester? I can see that Ches feels it hard
to wait, but father certainly has the best of rights to keep his
daughters to himself as long as they are under age."

"And as much longer as he chooses, so far as I am concerned. I am only
too glad that he seems so loath to give me up. My dear, dear father!
Words cannot express my love for him or the regret I feel for the
rebellious conduct which gave him so much pain and trouble in days
long gone by."

"Dear Lu," said Grace, "I am perfectly sure our dear father forgave
all that long ago."

"Yes, but I can never forget or forgive it myself. Nor can I forget
how glad and thankful he was that I was not the one killed by the bear
out at Minersville, or his saving me that time when I was so nearly
swept into Lake Erie by the wind; how closely he hugged me to his
breast--a tear falling on my head--when he got me safely into the
cabin, and the low-breathed words, 'Thank God, my darling, precious
child is safe in my arms.' Oh, Gracie, I have seemed to hear the very
words and tones many a time since. So I cannot doubt that he does love
me very much; even if I am not so dear to him as his wife is."

"And you love mamma, too?"

"Yes, indeed! she is just like a dear older sister. I may well love
her since she is so dear to papa, and was so kind and forbearing with
me in those early years of her married life when I certainly was very
far from being the good and lovable child I ought to have been. She
was very forbearing, and never gave papa the slightest hint of my
badness."

"She has always been very good and kind to us," said Grace, "and I
love her very dearly."

"And papa showed his love for me in allowing Chester to offer himself
because he had saved my life--for otherwise he would have forbidden it
for at least another year or two."

"Yes, I know," said Grace. "We certainly have plenty of proofs that
father does love us very much."

"But we must not delay at this business, as he bade us hasten down
again," Lucilla said, quickening her movements as she spoke.

"No; I'm afraid he is beginning to wonder what is keeping us so long,"
said Grace, following her example.

They had no idea how their father was engaged at that moment. As he
reached the lower hall Frank Dinsmore stepped forward and accosted
him. "Can I have a moment's chat with you, captain?" he asked in an
undertone, and with a slightly embarrassed air.

"Certainly, Frank. It is a very modest request," was the kindly-toned
response, "What can I do for you?"

"Very nearly the same thing that you have so kindly done for my
brother, sir," replied the young man, coloring and hesitating somewhat
in his speech. "I--I am deeply, desperately in love with your
daughter, Miss Grace, and----"

"Go no farther, my young friend," interrupted the captain in a grave
though still kindly tone. "I have no objection to you personally, but
Grace is entirely too young and too delicate for her father to
consider for a moment the idea of allowing her to think of such a
thing as marriage. Understand distinctly that I should be not a whit
more ready to listen to such a request from any other man--older or
younger, richer or poorer."

"But she is well worth waiting for, sir, and if you would only let me
speak and try to win her affections, I----"

"That must be waited for, Frank. I cannot and will not have her
approached upon the subject," was the almost stern rejoinder. "Promise
me that you will not do or say anything to give her the idea that you
want to be more to her than a friend."

"That is a hard thing you are requiring, sir," sighed Frank.

"But quite necessary if you would be permitted to see much of Grace,"
returned the captain with great decision. "And, seeing that you feel
toward her as you have just told me you do, I think the less you see
of each other--or hold intercourse together--the better. Should she be
in good, firm health some six or eight years hence, and you and she
then have a fancy for each other, her father will not, probably, raise
any objection to your suit; but until then I positively forbid
anything and everything of the kind."

"I must say I find that a hard sentence, captain," sighed the would-be
suitor. "It strikes me that most fathers would be a trifle more ready
to make an eligible match for a daughter of Miss Grace's age. She is
very young, I acknowledge, but I have known some girls to marry even
younger. And you will not even allow her to enter into an engagement?"

"No; I have no desire to rid myself of my daughter; very far from it.
For my first set of children I have a peculiarly tender feeling
because--excepting each other--they have no very near relative but
myself. They were quite young when they lost their mother, and for
years I have felt that I must fill to them the place of both parents
as far as possible, and have tried to do so. As one result," he added
with his pleasant smile, "I find that I am exceedingly loath to give
them up into any other care and keeping."

"But since we are neighbors and distant connections, and my brother
engaged to Miss Lu, you do not absolutely forbid me your house,
captain?"

"No; you may see Grace in my presence--perhaps occasionally out of
it--provided you carefully obey my injunction to refrain from anything
like love-making."

"Thank you, sir; I accept the conditions," was Frank's response, and
the two separated just as Lucilla and Grace appeared at the top of the
stairway near which they had been standing, Frank passing out to the
veranda, the captain moving slowly in the opposite direction.

"There's father now!" exclaimed Grace, tripping down the stairs.
"Papa," as he turned at the sound of her voice and glanced up at her,
"I've been re-arranging my hair. Please tell me if you like it in this
style."

"Certainly, daughter; I like it in any style in which I have ever seen
it arranged," he returned, regarding it critically, but with an
evidently admiring gaze. "I am glad and thankful that you have an
abundance of it--such as it is," he added sportively, taking her hand
in his as she reached his side. Then turning to Lucilla, "And yours,
too, Lulu, seems to be in well-cared-for condition."

"Thank you, papa dear; I like occasionally to hear you call me by that
name so constantly used in the happy days of my childhood."

"Ah! I hope that does not mean that these are not happy days?" he
said, giving her a look of kind and fatherly scrutiny.

"Oh, no, indeed, father! I don't believe there is a happier girl than
I in all this broad land."

"I am thankful for that," he said with a tenderly affectionate look
into her eyes as she stood at his side gazing up into his; "for there
is nothing I desire more than the happiness of these two dear
daughters of mine."

"Yes, father dear, we both know you would take any amount of trouble
for our pleasure or profit," said Grace gayly; "but just to know that
we belong to you is enough for us. Isn't it, Lu?"

"And are so dear to him," added Lucilla. "I couldn't be the happy girl
I am if I didn't know that."

"Never doubt it, my darlings; never for a moment," he said in a moved
tone.

"Oh, so here you are, girls!" exclaimed a familiar voice just in their
rear. "I have been all round the verandas, looking for you, but you
seemed to be lost in the crowd or to have vanished into thin air."

"Certainly not that last, sister Rose," laughed the captain. "I am
happy to say there is something a good deal more substantial than that
about them."

"Yes, I see there is; they are both looking remarkably well. And now I
hope we can have a good chat. There has hardly been an opportunity for
it yet--there being such a crowd of relations and friends, and such a
commotion over the wedding--and you know I want to hear all about what
you did and saw in Florida. Also to tell you of the improvements we
are talking of making at Riverside."

"You will have hardly time for a very long talk, Rosie," said her
mother, joining them at that moment. "The call to dinner will come
soon. But here are comfortable chairs and a sofa in which you can rest
and chat until then."

"Yes, mamma, and you will join us, will you not? And you too, brother
Levis?" as the captain turned toward the outer door.

"I shall be pleased to do so if my company is desired," he replied,
taking a chair near the little group already seated.

"Of course it is, sir. I always enjoyed your company even when you
were my respected and revered instructor with the right and power to
punish me if I failed in conduct or recitation," returned Rosie in the
bantering tone she had so often adopted in days gone by.

"I am rejoiced to hear it," he laughed.

"And you may as well make yourself useful as story-teller of all you
folks saw and did in Florida," she continued.

"Much too long a tale for the few minutes we are likely to be able to
give to it at present," he said. "Let us reserve that for another time
and now hear the story of your own prospective doings at Riverside."

"Or talk about this morning's wedding. It was a pretty one; wasn't it?
I never saw Sidney look so charming as she did in that wedding gown
and veil. I hope they will have as pleasant a wedding trip as my Will
and I had; and be as happy afterward as we are."

"I hope so, indeed," said her mother, "and that their after life may
be a happy and prosperous one."

"Yes, mamma, I join you in that. And, Lu, how soon do you expect to
follow suit and give her the right to call you sister?"

"When my father bids me; not a moment sooner," replied Lucilla,
turning an affectionately smiling look upon him.

He returned it, saying, "Which will not be for many months to come. He
is far from feeling ready yet to resign even one of his heart's best
treasures."

"Oh, it is a joy to have you call me that, papa!" she exclaimed low
and feelingly.

They chatted on for a few minutes longer, when they were interrupted
by the call to the dinner table. A very welcome one, for the sports
had given good appetites and the viands were toothsome and delicious.
The meal was not eaten in haste or silence, but amid cheerful,
mirthful chat and low-toned, musical laughter, and with its numerous
courses occupied more than an hour.

On leaving the banqueting room they again scattered about the parlors,
verandas, and grounds, resuming the intimate and friendly intercourse
held there before the summons to their feast.

Captain Raymond had kept a watchful eye upon his daughters--Grace in
especial--and now took pains to seat her near himself on the veranda,
saying, "I want you to rest here a while, daughter, for I see you are
looking weary; which is not strange, considering how much more than
your usual amount of exercise you have already taken to-day."

"Yes, I am a little tired, papa," she answered, with a loving smile up
into his eyes as she sank somewhat wearily into the chair, "and it is
very, very pleasant to have you so kindly careful of me."

"Ah!" he returned, patting her cheek and smiling affectionately upon
her, "it behooves everyone to be careful of his own particular
treasures."

"And our dear Gracie is certainly one of those," said Violet, coming
to the other side of the young girl and looking down a little
anxiously into the sweet, fair face. "Are you very weary, dearest?"

"Oh, not so very, mamma dear," she answered blithely. "This is a
delightful chair papa has put me into, and a little rest in it, while
digesting the good hearty meal I have just eaten, will make me all
right again, I think."

"Won't you take this other one by her side, my love? I think you too
need a little rest," said the captain gallantly.

"Thank you, I will if you will occupy that one on her other side, so
that we will have her between us. And here come Lu and Rosie, so that
we can perhaps finish the chat she tells me she was holding with you
and the girls before the call to dinner."

"I don't believe we can, mamma," laughed Grace, "for here come Will
Croly and Chester to take possession of them; Eva and Max too, and
Frank."

"Then we will just defer it until another time," said Violet. "Those
who have children will soon be leaving for their homes and those left
behind will form a smaller, quieter party."

Violet's surmises proved correct, those with young children presently
taking their departure in order that the little ones might seek their
nests for the night.

The air began to grow cool and the family and remaining guests found
it now pleasanter within doors than upon the verandas. Music and
conversation made the time pass rapidly, a light tea was served, Mr.
Dinsmore--Mrs. Travilla's father--read a portion of Scripture and led
in a short prayer, a little chat followed, and the remaining guests
bade adieu for the present and went their ways; Maud's two brothers
and the Dinsmores from the Oaks among them.

"Now, Grace, my child, linger not a moment longer, but get to bed as
fast as you can," said Captain Raymond to his second daughter as they
stood upon the veranda, looking after the departing guests. His tone
was tenderly affectionate and he gave her a good-night caress as he
spoke.

"I will, father dear," she answered cheerfully and made haste to do
his bidding.

"She is looking very weary. I fear I have let her exert herself to-day
far more than was for her good," he remarked somewhat anxiously to his
wife and Lucilla standing near.

"But I hope a good night's rest will make it all right with her,"
Violet returned in a cheery tone, adding playfully, "and we certainly
have plenty of doctors at hand, if anything should go wrong with her
or any of us."

"Excellent ones, too," said Lucilla; "but I hope and really expect
that a good night's rest will quite restore her to her usual health
and strength. So, father, don't feel anxious and troubled."

"I shall endeavor not to, my wise young mentor," he returned with a
slight laugh, laying a hand lightly upon her shoulder as he spoke.

"Oh, papa, please excuse me if I seemed to be trying to teach you!"
she exclaimed in a tone of penitence. "I'm afraid it sounded very
conceited and disrespectful."

"If it did it was not, I am sure, so intended, so I shall not punish
you this time," he replied in a tone which puzzled her with the
question whether he were jesting or in earnest.

"I hope you will if you think I deserve it, father," she said low and
humbly, Violet having left them and gone within doors, and no one else
being near enough to overhear her words.

At that he put his arm about her and drew her closer. "I but jested,
daughter," he said in tender tones, "and am not in the least
displeased with you. So your only punishment shall be an order
presently to go directly to your room and prepare for bed. But first
let us have our usual bit of bedtime chat, which I believe I enjoy as
fully as does my little girl herself."

"Oh, father, how kind in you to say that!" she exclaimed in low, but
joyous tones. "I do dearly love to make you my confidant--you are so
wise and kind and I am so sure that you love me dearly, as your very
own God-given property. Am I not that still as truly as I ever was?"

"Indeed you are! as truly now as when you were a babe in arms," he
said, with a happy laugh and drawing her closer to his heart. "A
treasure that no amount of money could buy from me. Your price is
above rubies, my own darling."

"What sweet words, papa!" she exclaimed with a happy sigh. "But
sometimes when I think of all my past naughtiness--giving you so much
pain and trouble--I wonder that you can love me half so well as you
do."

"Dear child, I think I never loved you the less because of all that,
nor you me less because of the severity of my discipline."

"Papa, I believe I always loved you better for your strictness and
severity. You made it so clear to me that it was done for my best good
and that it hurt you when you felt it your duty to give me pain."

"It did indeed!" he said; "but for a long time now my eldest daughter
has been to me only a joy, a comfort, a delight--so that I can ill
bear the thought of resigning her to another."

"Ah, father, what sweet, sweet words to hear from your lips! they make
me so glad, so happy."

"Pleasant words those for me to hear, and a pleasant thought that my
dear eldest daughter is not in haste to leave my protecting care for
that of another. I trust Chester is inclined to wait patiently until
the right time comes?"

"He has made it evident to me that he would much rather shorten the
time of waiting if there were a possibility of gaining my father's
consent."

"But that there is not," the captain replied with decision. "If I
should consider only my own feeling and inclination and my belief as
to what would be really best for you, I should certainly keep full
possession of my eldest daughter for several years to come. I have had
a talk with Dr. Conly on the subject, and he, as a physician, tells me
it would be far better in most cases, for a girl to remain single
until well on toward twenty-five."

"Which would make her quite an old maid, I should think, papa,"
laughed Lucilla. "Yet if you bid me wait that long and can make
Chester content--I'll not be at all rebellious."

"No, I don't believe you would; but I have really no idea of trying
you so far. By the way, Rosie and her Will, Maud and Dick seem two
very happy couples."

"Yes, indeed, father; it is a pleasure to watch them. And do you know
I think Frank Dinsmore is casting longing eyes at our Grace."

"But you don't think the dear child cares at all for him?"

"Oh, no, sir! no, indeed! Grace doesn't care in the least for beaux,
and loves no other man half so well as she does her father and mine."

"Just as I thought; but I want you quietly to help me prevent any
private interviews between them--lest she might learn to care for
him."

"Thank you for trusting me, papa; I will do any best," she responded.

Then they bade good-night and Lucilla went to her room. She found Eva
there and they chatted pleasantly together as they prepared for bed.
Eva had noticed Frank's evident devotion to Grace and spoke of it,
adding, "It is a pity, for of course your father--I had very nearly
said father, for I begin to feel as if I belonged in his
flock--considering us older ones too young to marry, will say she is
very far from being old enough for loverlike attentions."

"Yes, he does," replied Lucilla, "and I want your help in a task he
has set me--the endeavor to keep them from being alone together."

"I'll do so with pleasure," laughed Evelyn, "and I think probably it
would be just as well to take Grace herself into the plot, for I'm
very sure she doesn't care a pin for Frank, but dotes upon her
father."



                              CHAPTER XV.


The ladies of the Torriswood party retired for the night almost
immediately on their arrival there, but the gentlemen lingered a
little in the room used by Dr. Percival as his office. There was some
cheerful chat over the events of the day in which, however, Frank
Dinsmore took no part. He sat in moody silence, seeming scarcely to
hear what the others were saying.

"What's the matter with you, Frank?" queried the doctor at length.
"Didn't things go off to suit you to-day?"

"Well enough," grumbled Frank, "except that I don't seem to be
considered as worthy as my brother is of being taken into--a certain
family really no better than my own, unless as regards wealth."

"Oh, ho! so that's the way the land lies! It's Grace Raymond you're
after, eh? And she won't consent?"

"Her father won't. I must not say a word to her on the subject."

"And he is right, Frank," returned the doctor gravely. "She is far too
young and too delicate to begin with such things. Art would tell you
that in a moment if you should ask him. My opinion as a physician is
that marriage now would be likely to kill her within a year; or, if
she lived, make her an invalid for life."

"I'd be willing to let marriage wait if I might only speak and win her
promise; but no, I'm positively forbidden to say a word."

"You would gain nothing by it if you did," said Chester. "She is
devoted to her father and hasn't the least idea of falling in love
with any other man."

"Ridiculous!" growled Frank. "Well, things being as they are, I'll not
tarry long in this part of the country. I'll go back and attend to the
business of our clients, and you, Chester, can stay on here with your
fiancée and her family, and perhaps gather up a larger amount of
health and strength."

"Don't be in a hurry about leaving us, Frank," said Dick cordially.
"Maud has been calculating on at least a few days more of your good
company; and there's no telling when you may find it convenient to pay
us another visit."

"Thanks, Dick; you are hospitality itself; and this is a lovely home
you have secured, for yourself and Maud. I'll sleep on the question of
the time of departure. And now good-night and pleasant dreams. I hope
none of your patients will call you out before sunrise."

And with that they separated, each to seek his own sleeping apartment.

For some hours all was darkness and silence within and without the
house. Then the doctor was awakened by the ringing of his night bell.

"What is wanted?" he asked, going to the open window.

"You, doctah, fast as you kin git dar, down to Lamont--ole Massa
Gest's place. Leetle Miss Nellie she got a fit."

"Indeed! I am very sorry to hear it. I'll be there as soon as
possible," and turning from the window the doctor rang for his
servant, ordered horses saddled and brought to a side door, then
hurried on his clothes, explaining matters to the now awakened Maud as
he did so--gathered up the remedies likely to be needed, and hastened
away.

Directing his servant to keep close in his rear he rode rapidly in the
direction of the place named by the messenger. He found the child very
ill and not fit to be left by him until early morning.

It was in the darkest hour, just before day, that he started for home
again. All went well till he was within a few rods of home, but then
his horse--a rather wild young animal--took fright at the hoot of an
owl in a tree close at hand, reared suddenly and threw him violently
to the ground, then rushed away in the direction of his stable.

"Oh, doctah, sah, is you bad hurted?" queried the servant man, hastily
alighting and coming to his master's side.

"Pretty badly, I'm afraid, Pete," groaned the doctor. "Help me to the
house, and then you must ride over to Viamede as fast as you can, wake
up Dr. Harold Travilla and ask him to come to me immediately to set
some broken bones. Take one of the other horses with you for him to
ride. Ah," as he attempted to rise, "I'm hardly able to walk, Pete;
you will have to pretty nearly carry me to the house."

"I kin do dat, doctah; Ise a strong-built nigger; jes lemme tote you
'long like de mammies do de leetle darkies."

And with that Pete lifted Dr. Percival in his arms carried him to the
house and on up to his own sleeping room, where he laid him gently
down upon his bed in an almost fainting condition.

Maud was greatly alarmed, and bade Pete hasten with all speed for one
or another of the doctor cousins.

"Harold, Harold!" groaned the sufferer, "he is older than Herbert and
nearer than Art, who is at the Parsonage. And he can bring Herbert
with him should he see fit."

Pete, alarmed at the condition of his master, to whom he had become
strongly attached, made all the haste he could to bring the needed
help; but the sun was already above the tree tops when he reached
Viamede.

The first person he saw there was Captain Raymond, who had just
stepped out upon the veranda.

"Morning, sah! is you uns one ob de doctahs?" he queried in anxious
tones, as he reined in his horse at the foot of the veranda steps.

"No," replied the captain; "but there are doctors in the house. You
are from Torriswood, I think. Is any one ill there?"

"Massa doctah, he's 'most killed! Horse frowed him. Please, sah, where
de doctahs? I'se in pow'ful big hurry to git dem dere fore----"

"Here," called the voice of Harold from an upper window; "is it I that
am wanted? I'll be down there in five minutes or less."

"Yes, I think it is you, and probably Herbert also, who are wanted in
all haste at Torriswood," answered Captain Raymond, his voice
betraying both anxiety and alarm. "It seems Dick has met with a
serious accident and has sent for one or both of you."

"Yes," replied Herbert, speaking as Harold had from the window, "we
will both go to him as speedily as possible and do what we can for his
relief. Please, captain, order another horse saddled and brought round
immediately."

The captain at once complied with the request, and in a very few
minutes both doctors were riding briskly toward Torriswood. They found
their patient in much pain from a dislocated shoulder and some broken
bones; all of which they proceeded to set as promptly as possible. But
there were symptoms of some internal injury which occasioned more
alarm than the displacement and fracture of the bones. They held a
consultation outside of the sick room.

"I think we should have Cousin Arthur here," said Harold. "'In
multitude of counsellors is safety,' Solomon tells us, and Art excels
us both in wisdom and experience."

"Certainly," responded Herbert; "let us summon him at once. I am glad
indeed that he is still within reach."

"As I am. I will speak to Maud and have him sent for immediately."

A messenger was promptly despatched to the Parsonage and returned
shortly, bringing Dr. Conly with him. Another examination and
consultation followed and Dr. Percival, who had become slightly
delirious, was pronounced in a critical condition; yet the physicians,
though anxious, by no means despaired of his ultimate recovery.

The news of the accident had by this time reached all of the
connection in that neighborhood, and silent petitions on his behalf
were going up from many hearts. On behalf of his young wife also, for
poor Maud seemed well-nigh distracted with grief and the fear of the
bereavement that threatened her.

Mrs. Embury, too, was greatly distressed, for Dick and she had been
all their lives a devotedly attached brother and sister. No day now
passed in which she did not visit Torriswood that she might catch a
sight of his dear face and learn as far as possible his exact state;
though neither her nursing nor that of other loving relatives was
needed--the doctors and an old negress, skilled in that line of work,
doing all that could be done for his relief and comfort.

Mrs. Betty Norton, his half-sister, was scarcely less pained and
anxious; as indeed were Maud's brothers and all the relatives in that
region.

It was from her father Lucilla first heard of the accident--when she
joined him on the veranda at Viamede directly after the departure of
the doctors and Pete for Torriswood.

"Oh, father," she exclaimed, "I do hope he is not seriously injured!
Poor Maud! She must be sorely distressed, for he has proved such a
good, kind husband, and she almost idolizes him."

"Yes, I feel deeply for her as well as for him. We will pray for them
both, asking that if it be consistent with the will of God, he may be
speedily restored to perfect health and strength."

"Yes, papa; what a comfort it is that we may cast upon the Lord all
our care for ourselves and others!"

"It is indeed! I have found it so in many a sore trial sent to myself
or to some one dear to me. I am glad for Maud that she has her
brothers with her now."

"I too, papa, and I suppose Chester will stay with her to-day."

"Most likely; and my daughter must not feel hurt should he not show
himself here at his usual early hour, or even at all to-day."

"I'll try not, papa. I am sure it would be very selfish in me to
grudge poor dear Maud any show of sympathy or any comfort she might
receive from him--her own dear eldest brother."

"Yes, so I think," said her father, "and I should not expect it of any
one of my daughters."

Chester came at length, some hours later than his wont, and looking
grave and troubled. In answer to inquiries, "Yes, poor Dick is
certainly badly hurt," he said, "and Maud well-nigh distracted with
grief and anxiety. She is a most devoted wife and considers him her
all."

"But the case is not thought to be hopeless?" Mr. Dinsmore said
inquiringly.

"No, not exactly that, but the doctors are not yet able to decide just
what the internal injury may be."

"And while there is life there is hope," said Grandma Elsie in
determinately cheerful tones. "It is certainly in his favor that he is
a strong, healthy man, in the prime of life."

"And still more that he is a Christian man; therefore ready for any
event," added her father.

"And so loved and useful a man that we may well unite in prayer for
his recovery, if consistent with the will of God," said Captain
Raymond.

"And so we will," said Cousin Ronald. "I feel assured that no one of
us will refuse or neglect the performance of that duty."

"And we can plead the promise, 'If two of you shall agree on earth as
touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven,'" said Mrs. Dinsmore. "So I have strong
hope that dear Dick will be spared to us. He is certainly a much loved
and very useful man."

"And Maud must be relieved as far as possible from other cares,"
remarked Mrs. Travilla. "I shall at once invite my brother and his
family here. There is room enough, especially as my two sons are there
and will be nearly, if not all, the time while Dick is so ill."

"No, cousin," said Chester, "thank you very much, but Cousin Sue is
making herself very useful and could not well be spared. She has
undertaken the housekeeping, leaving Maud to devote herself entirely
to Dick."

"Oh, that is good and kind in her," was the quick response from
several voices.

"And very fortunate it is that she happened to be there, ready for the
undertaking," said Mrs. Rose Croly; "and if Dick had to have that
accident he couldn't have found a better time for it than now, while
there are three good doctors at hand to attend to him."

"True enough," assented Chester. "Things are never so bad but they
might be worse."

Days of anxiety and suspense followed, during which Dr. Percival's
life seemed trembling in the balance. Drs. Harold and Herbert scarcely
left the house and spent much of their time in the sick room, while
Dr. Conly made several visits every day, sometimes remaining for
hours, and the rest of the relatives and near friends came and went
with kind offers and inquiries, doing all in their power to show
sympathy, and give help, while carefully avoiding unwelcome intrusion
or disturbance of the quiet that brooded over Torriswood and seemed so
essential under the circumstances. Nothing was neglected that could be
done for the restoration of the loved sufferer, and no one of the many
relatives and connections there felt willing to leave the neighborhood
while his life hung in the balance.

Chester spent a part of each day with his distressed and anxious
sister, and a part with his betrothed, from whom he felt very
unwilling to absent himself for even one whole day.

The young people and some of the older ones made little excursions, as
before, on the bayou and about the woods and fields, Captain Raymond
and Violet usually forming a part of the company; especially if his
daughter Grace and Frank Dinsmore were in it.

At other times they gathered upon the veranda or in the parlors and
entertained each other with conversation, music, or games of the quiet
and innocent kind.

In the meantime many earnest prayers were sent up on behalf of the
injured one--the beloved physician--in the closet, in the family
worship, and in the sanctuary when they assembled there on the Sabbath
day; and many a silent petition as one and another thought of him on
his bed of suffering. They prayed in faith, believing that if it were
best in the sight of Him who is all-wise and all-powerful and with
whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning, their petition
would be granted.

And at length so it proved; the fever left him, consciousness and
reason were restored, and presently the rejoicing physicians were able
to declare the danger past, the recovery certain should nothing occur
to cause a relapse.

Then there was great rejoicing among those who were of his kith and
kin, and those to whom he was the beloved physician. Then such as were
needed at their places of residence presently bade farewell and
departed for their homes; Drs. Conly and Herbert Travilla among them,
leaving Dr. Harold in sole charge of the invalid.

Those who had come on the _Dolphin_ decided to return on it, though
they would linger somewhat longer--no one feeling it a trial to have
to delay for days or weeks where they were.

Frank Dinsmore was one of the earliest to leave, and Chester, finding
that more Southern climate beneficial to him at that season of the
year, was entirely willing to entrust the business of the firm to his
brother for a time.

So, relieved of anxiety in regard to Dick and still numerous enough to
make a very pleasant party, the time passed swiftly and most agreeably
to them--especially to the two affianced pairs and the children;
Cousin Ronald and Max now and then entertaining them by the exertion
of their ventriloquial powers. The young people from Magnolia Hall
were often with them and their presence added zest to the enjoyment of
little Elsie and Ned in the fun made by their indulgent
ventriloquists. That particular sport was apt to begin unexpectedly to
the children, making it a little more difficult to recognize it as the
doings of the ventriloquists.

One afternoon, after playing romping games upon the lawn until weary
enough to enjoy a quiet rest on the veranda where the older people
were, they had hardly seated themselves when they heard a sound of
approaching footsteps, then a voice that seemed like that of a little
girl, asking, "Dear little ladies and gentlemen, may I sit here with
you for a while? I'm lonesome and would be glad of good company, such
as I am sure yours must be."

Some of the children, hearing the voice but not able to see the
speaker, seemed struck dumb with surprise.

It was Violet who answered, "Oh, yes, little girl. Take this empty
chair by me and tell me who you are."

"Oh, madam, I really can't tell you my name," answered the voice, now
seeming to come from the empty chair by Violet's side. "It seems an
odd thing to happen, but there are folks who do sometimes forget their
own name."

"And that is the case with you now, is it?" laughed Violet. "Your
voice sounds like that of a girl, but I very much doubt if you belong
to our sex."

"Isn't that rather insulting, madam?" asked the voice in an offended
tone.

"Oh, I know you're not a girl or a woman either!" cried Ned Raymond
gleefully, clapping his hands and laughing with delight. "You're a
man, just pretending to be a little girl."

"That is insulting, you rude little chap, and I shall just go away,"
returned the voice in indignant tones, followed immediately by the
sound of footsteps starting from the chair beside Violet and gradually
dying away in the distance.

"Why, she went off in a hurry and I couldn't see her at all!"
exclaimed one of the young visitors; then, as everybody laughed, "Oh,
of course it was Cousin Ronald or Cousin Max!"

"Why, the voice sounded to me like that of a little girl," said
Violet, "and Cousin Ronald and Max are men."

"Of course they are, and could not talk in the sweet tones of my
little girl," said a rough masculine voice that seemed to come from
the doorway into the hall.

Involuntarily nearly everybody turned to look for the speaker, but he
was not to be seen.

"And who are you and your girl?" asked another voice, seeming to speak
from the farther end of the veranda.

"People of consequence, whom you should treat with courtesy," answered
the other, who seemed to stand in the doorway.

"As we will if you will come forward and show yourselves," laughed
Lucilla, putting up her hand as she spoke to drive away a bee that
seemed to buzz about her ears.

"Never mind, Lu; its sting won't damage you seriously," said Max,
giving her a look of amusement.

"Oh, hark! here come the soldiers again!" exclaimed Elsie Embury, as
the notes of a bugle, quickly followed by those of the drum and fife,
seemed to come from a distant point on the farther side of the bayou.

"Don't be alarmed, miss; American soldiers don't harm ladies," said
the voice from the farther end of the veranda.

"No, I am not at all alarmed," she returned with a look of amusement
directed first at Cousin Ronald, then at Max; "not in the least afraid
of them."

The music continued for a few minutes, all listening silently to it,
then as the last strain died away a voice spoke in tones apparently
trembling with affright, "Oh, please somebody hide me! hide me quick!
quick! before those troops get here. I'm falsely accused and who knows
but they may shoot me down on sight?"

The speaker was not visible, but from the sounds seemed to be on the
lawn and very near at hand.

"Oh, run round the house and get the servants to hide you in the
kitchen or one of the cellars," cried Ned, not quite able, in the
excitement of the moment, to realize that there was not a stranger
there who might be really in sore peril.

"Thanks!" returned the voice, and a sound as of some one running
swiftly in the prescribed direction accompanied and followed the word.

Then the tramp, tramp, as of soldiers on the march, and the music of
the drum and fife seemed to draw nearer and nearer.

"Why, it's real, isn't it?" exclaimed one of the children, jumping up
and trying to get a nearer view of the approaching troop.

"Oh, don't be afraid," laughed Grace; "I'm sure they won't hurt us or
that poor, frightened man either."

"No," chuckled Ned. "If he went to the kitchen, as I told him to,
he'll have plenty of time to hide before they can get here."

"Sure enough, laddie," laughed Cousin Ronald, "they don't appear to be
coming on very fast. I hear no more o' their music or their tramp,
tramp. Do you?"

"No, sir; and I won't believe they are real live fellows till I see
them."

"Well now, Ned," said Lucilla, "I really believe they are very much
alive and kindly making a good deal of fun for us."

"Who, who, who?" came at that instant from among the branches of the
tree near at hand--or at least seemed to come from there.

"Our two ventriloquist friends," replied Lucilla, gazing up into the
tree as if expecting to see and recognize the bird.

"Oh, what was that?" exclaimed one of the little girls, jumping up in
affright, as the squeak of a mouse seemed to come from among the folds
of her dress.

"Nothing dangerous, my dear," said Mr. Dinsmore, drawing her into the
shelter of his arms. "It was no mouse; only a little noise."

"Oh, yes, uncle, I might have known that," she said with a rather
hysterical little laugh.

Just then the tramp, tramp was heard again apparently near at hand, at
one side of the house, where the troops might be concealed by the
trees and shrubs; the music of the drum and fife following the next
moment.

"Oh," cried Ned, "won't they catch that fellow who just ran round to
the kitchen as I told him to?"

"If they do I hope they won't hurt him," laughed Lucilla.

The music seemed to arouse the anger of several dogs belonging on the
place and at that moment they set up a furious barking. The music
continued and seemed to come nearer and nearer, the dogs barked more
and more furiously; but presently the drum and fife became silent, the
dogs ceased barking and all was quiet. But not for long; the voice
that had asked for a hiding-place spoke again close at hand.

"Here I am, safe and sound, thanks to the little chap who told me
where to hide. The fellows didn't find me and I'm off. But if they
come here looking for me, please don't tell which way I've gone.
Good-by."

"Wait a minute and tell us who you are before you go," called out Eric
Leland, and from the tree came the owl's "Who, who, who?"

"Who I am?" returned the manlike voice, seeming to speak from a
greater distance, "Well, sir, that's for me to know and you to find
out."

"Now please tell us which of you it was--Cousin Ronald and Max," said
Ned, looking from one to the other.

"That's for us to know and you to find out, little brother," laughed
Max.

"Papa," said Ned, turning to their father, "I wish you'd order Max to
tell."

"Max is of age now and not at present under my orders," replied
Captain Raymond, with a humorous look and smile, and just then came
the call to the tea table.

Ned was unusually quiet during the meal, gazing scrutinizingly every
now and then at his father or Max. When they had returned to the
veranda he watched his opportunity and seized upon a moment when he
could speak to his brother without being overheard by anyone else.

"Brother Max," he queried, "won't you ever have to obey papa any
more?"

"Yes, little brother," returned Max, looking slightly amused, "I
consider it my duty to obey papa now whenever it pleases him to give
me an order; and that it will be my duty as long as he and I both
live."

"And you mean to do it?"

"Yes, indeed."

"So do I," returned Ned with great decision. "And I think all our
sisters do too; because the Bible tells us to; and besides papa knows
best about everything."

"Very true, Ned; and I hope none of us will ever forget that or fail
to obey his orders or wishes or to follow his advice."



                             CHAPTER XVI.


Dr. Percival had so far recovered as to be considered able to lie in a
hammock upon an upper veranda where he could look out upon the
beauties of the lawn, the bayou, and the fields and woods beyond. Dr.
Harold Travilla was still in attendance and seldom left him for any
great length of time, never alone, seldom with only the nurse--Maud,
one of Dick's sisters, or some other relative being always near at
hand, ready to wait upon him, chat pleasantly for his entertainment,
or remain silent as seemed best to suit his mood at the moment.

He was very patient, cheerful, and easily entertained, but did not
usually talk very much himself.

One day he and Harold were alone for a time. Both had been silent for
some moments when Dick, turning an affectionate look upon his cousin,
said in grateful tones, "How very good, kind, and attentive you have
been to me, Harold. I think that but for you and the other two
doctors--Cousins Arthur and Herbert--I should now be lying under the
sod; and I must acknowledge that you are a most excellent physician
and surgeon," he added with an appreciative smile and holding out his
hand.

Harold took the hand and, pressing it affectionately in both of his,
said with feeling, "Thank you, Dick. I consider your opinion worth a
great deal, and it is a joy to me that I have been permitted to aid in
helping on your recovery; but I am no more deserving of thanks than
the others. Indeed both Herbert and I felt it to be a very great help
to be able to call Cousin Arthur in to give his opinion, advice,
assistance; which he did freely and faithfully. He is an excellent
physician and surgeon--as I know you to be also: knowledge which
increases the delight of having been--by God's blessing upon our
efforts--able to pull you through, thus saving a most useful life."

"Thank you," replied Dick in a moved tone. "By God's help I shall try
to make it more useful in the future than it has been in the
past--should he see fit to restore me to health and vigor. I feel at
present as if I might never again be able to walk or ride."

"I think you need change of climate for a while," said Harold. "What
do you say to going North with us, if Captain Raymond should give you
and Maud an invitation to take passage in his yacht?"

"Why, that is a splendid idea, Harold!" exclaimed Dick, with such a
look of animation and pleasure as had not been seen upon his features
for many a day. "Should I get the invitation and Bob come back in time
to attend to our practice, I--I really shall, I think, be strongly
inclined to accept."

"I hope so indeed," Harold said with a smile, "and I haven't a doubt
that you will get it; for I know of no one who loves better than the
captain to do good or give pleasure. Ah! speak of angels! here he is
with his wife and yours," as just at that moment the three stepped out
from the open doorway upon the veranda.

"The three of us, Harold? Are we all angels to-day?" asked Violet,
with a smile, stepping forward and taking Dick's hand in hers.

"Quite as welcome as if you were, cousin," said Dick. "Ah, captain! it
was you we were speaking of at the moment of your arrival."

"Ah? a poor substitute for an angel, I fear," was the rejoinder in the
captain's usual pleasant tones. "But I hope it was the thought of
something which it may be in my power to do for you, Cousin Dick."

"Thanks, captain; you are always most kind," returned Dick, asking
Harold by a look to give the desired explanation, which he did at once
by repeating what had just passed between him and Dr. Percival in
regard to a Northern trip to be taken by the latter upon his partner's
return from his bridal trip.

Captain Raymond's countenance brightened as he listened and scarcely
waiting for the conclusion, "Why, certainly," he said. "It will be an
easy matter to make room for Cousins Dick and Maud, and a delight to
have them with us on the voyage and after we reach home until the warm
weather sends us all farther North for the summer."

"Oh, delightful!" cried Maud. "Oh, Dick, my dear, it will set you up
as nothing else could; and you may hope to come back in the fall as
well and strong as ever."

Dr. Percival looked inquiringly at Violet.

"Yes, cousin," she said with a smile, "I think we can make you very
comfortable; and that without inconveniencing anybody; especially as
Grandpa and Grandma Dinsmore decline to return in the _Dolphin_. They
go from here to Philadelphia by rail, to visit her relations there or
in that region. So you need not hesitate about it for a moment, and,"
glancing at her brother, "you will have your doctor along to see that
you are well taken care of and not allowed to expose yourself on deck
when you should be down in the saloon or lying in your berth."

"Yes," laughed Harold, "I shall do my best to keep my patient within
bounds and see that he does nothing to bring on a relapse and so do
discredit to my medical and surgical knowledge and skill."

"Which I should certainly be most sorry to do," smiled Dick. "If I do
not do credit to it all, it shall be no fault of mine. Never again,
cousin, can I for a moment forget that you stand at about the head of
your profession--or deserve to, certainly--as both physician and
surgeon. Captain, I accept your kind offer with most hearty thanks. I
feel already something like fifty per cent. better for the very
thought of the rest and pleasure of the voyage, the visit to my old
home and friends, and then a sojourn during the hot months in the
cooler regions of the North."

From that time his improvement was far more rapid than it had been,
and Maud was very happy over that and her preparations for the
contemplated trip, in which Grandma Elsie and Cousins Annis and Violet
gave her valuable assistance.

At length a letter was received telling that the newly-married pair
might be expected two days later. Chester brought the news to Viamede
shortly after breakfast and all heard it with pleasure, for they were
beginning to feel a strong drawing toward their northern homes.

"It is good news," said Grandma Elsie; "and now I want to carry out a
plan of which I have been thinking for some time."

"In regard to what?" asked her father.

"The reception to be given our bride and groom," she answered. "I want
it to be given here; all the connection now in these parts to be
invited, house and lawn to be decorated as they were for our large
party just after the wedding, and such a feast of fat things as we had
then to be provided."

"That is just like you, mother," said Captain Raymond; "always
thinking how to give pleasure and save trouble to other people."

"Ah, it seems to me that I am the one to do it in this instance," she
returned with a gratified smile, "having the most means, the most room
of any of the connection about here, abundance of excellent help as
regards all the work of preparation and the entertainment of the
guests; indeed everything that the occasion calls for. Dick and Maud
are in no case to do the entertaining, though I do certainly hope they
may both be able to attend--he, poor fellow, lying in a hammock on the
veranda or under the trees. If they like they may as well come fully
prepared for their journey and start with us from here."

"A most excellent and kind plan, cousin, as yours always are," said
Chester, giving Mrs. Travilla a pleased and grateful look. "I have no
doubt it will be accepted if Dr. Harold approves."

"As he surely should, since it is his mother's," remarked Violet in
her sprightly way. "Suppose you drive over at once, mamma, see the
three, and have the whole thing settled."

"A very good idea I think, Vi," was the smiling rejoinder. "Captain,
will you order a carriage brought round promptly, and you and Vi go
with me?--taking Elsie and Ned also, if they would care for a drive,"
she added, giving the little folks a kindly inquiring look.

Both joyfully accepted the invitation, if papa and mamma were willing;
Elsie adding:

"And if Cousin Dick is not well enough for us to go in, we can stay in
the carriage or out in the grounds, till you and papa and mamma are
ready to come back."

"Yes," said her father; "so there is no objection to your going."

"There will still be a vacant seat," said Grandma Elsie, "will you
not go with us also, Grace? I have heard Harold say driving was good
exercise for you."

"Oh, thank you, ma'am," said Grace. "I should like it very much, if
papa approves," glancing with an inquiring smile at him.

"Certainly. I am quite sure that my daughter Grace's company will add
to my enjoyment of the drive," was the captain's kindly response.

"And, Grandma Elsie, cannot you find some use for the stay-at-homes?"
asked Max. "Chester and myself for instance. Would there be any
objection to having 'Old Glory' set waving from the tree tops to-day?"

"None whatever," she returned with her sweet smile. "I, for one, never
weary of seeing it 'wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the
brave.'"

"I think anyone who does isn't worthy to be called an American!"
exclaimed Lucilla with warmth.

"Unless so unfortunate as to be only a South American," remarked Eva
with a smile. "You would not expect such an one to care for our Old
Glory."

"Oh, no, certainly not; it is no more to them than to the rest of the
world."

"But I dare say it is a good deal to some of the rest of the world;
judging from the way they flock to these shores," said Chester.

"Which I sincerely wish some of them wouldn't," said Lucilla; "the
ignorant, idle, and vicious. To read of the great numbers constantly
coming in often makes me tremble for our liberties."

"Honest and industrious ones we are always glad to welcome," said
Chester, "but the idle and vicious ought to be kept out. And as our
own native born boys must be twenty-one years old before being allowed
to vote, I think every foreigner should be required to wait here that
same length of time before receiving the right of suffrage."

"And I heartily agree with you in that," said Captain Raymond.

"But unfortunately we have too many selfish politicians--men who are
selfishly set upon their own advancement to wealth and power and care
little, if anything, for their country and their country's good--who,
to gain votes for themselves, have managed to have the right of
suffrage given those worthless, ignorant foreigners in order to get
into place and power through them."

"I haven't a particle of respect for such men," exclaimed Lucilla
hotly; "and not much, more for some others who are so engrossed in
the management of their own affairs--the making of money by such close
attention to business, that they can't, or won't look at all after the
interests of their country."

"Very true, my dear sister," said Max, with a roguish look and smile,
"so it is high time the ladies should be given the right of suffrage."

"The right! I think they have that already," she returned with rising
color and an indignant look, "but domineering men won't allow them to
use it."

"Why, daughter," laughed the captain, "I had no idea that you were
such a woman's rights woman. Surely it is not the result of my
training."

"No, indeed, papa; though you have tried to teach me to think for
myself," she returned with a blush and smile, adding, "I am not
wanting to vote--even if I were old enough, which I know I am not
yet--but I do want the laws made and administered by my own
countrymen, and that without any assistance from ignorant foreigners."

"Ah, and that is perhaps the result of my teachings. Are you not
afraid, Chester," turning to him, "that one of these days she may
prove too independent for you?"

"Ah, captain, if you are thinking of frightening me out of my bargain
let me assure you at once that it is perfectly useless," laughed
Chester in return.

"Ah, yes; I suppose so," sighed the captain in mock distress. "But I
must go now and order the carriage," he added, rising and hastening
away in the direction of the stables.

"And we to make our preparations for the drive and call at
Torriswood," said Grandma Elsie, addressing Violet and the younger
ones, expecting to be of the party. "Dick and Maud should have as
early a report of our plans and purposes as we can well give them."

To that Violet and Grace gave a hearty assent, the little ones echoing
it joyfully, and by the time the carriage could be brought to the door
they were all ready to enter it.

They found Maud and Dick full of pleasurable excitement, the former
already at work upon her packing. Grandma Elsie's plan and invitation
were highly appreciated by both and joyfully accepted.

The arrangements were soon made. If all went well with Dr. and Mrs.
Johnson they would reach Viamede the next afternoon, stay there in the
enjoyment of its hospitality until toward bedtime of that evening,
then come on to Torriswood, and a day or two later the others would
start upon their northward journey; all going together to New Orleans,
Grandpa and Grandma Dinsmore taking the cars there for Philadelphia,
and the rest starting for home by water--along the Gulf of Mexico,
around Florida, and up the Atlantic coast.

The whole plan met Dr. Harold's unqualified approval, while Dr.
Percival was so charmed with it that he insisted that the very
prospect of it all had nearly restored him to health and strength.

"Is that so, cousin?" exclaimed Violet with a pleased laugh, "why, you
will be another Samson by the time we reach our homes."

"Ah, if I can only recover the amount of strength I had before my
accident I shall be satisfied," said he, "and I shall know how to
appreciate it as I never did in the past."

All the necessary arrangements having now been made, the Viamede party
presently returned to their temporary home, which they found looking
very gay and patriotic with flags fluttering from tree tops, gables,
windows, and verandas; for the young folks left behind had been very
busy in their work of adornment. The result of their labors met with
warm approval from Grandma Elsie, the captain, and Violet. Grace and
Elsie Raymond, too, expressed themselves as highly pleased, while Ned
quite went into raptures at the sight of so fine a display of the
"Star-spangled Banner."

"Now, Cousin Ronald," he exclaimed, turning to Mr. Lilburn, "don't you
think it is the very prettiest flag that floats?"

"As bonny a one as ever I saw, laddie," responded the old gentleman
with a genial smile. "And don't you know that having adopted this as
my country, I now consider it as truly my ain banner as it is yours?"

"Oh, yes, sir, and I like you to," returned Ned with a pleased look.
"I like this to be your country as well as mine."

"It's a grand country, laddie," was the pleasant-toned response, "and
the native land of my bonny young wife and the dear little bairns of
my son Hugh; so I may well give it a share of my affection."

The weather continued fine, all the preparations were carried forward
successfully, and by noon of the next day the Percivals were ready to
enjoy a brief stay at Viamede and gaining strength, but carefully
attended and watched over by his cousin Harold, and Maud full of life
and gayety because of his improvement and the pleasant prospect before
them. It would be so delightful, she thought and said, to see her old
home and friends and acquaintances about there, Dick taking his ease
among them all for a time; and then to spend some weeks or months,
farther north, enjoying sea breezes and sea bathing.

All the cousins, older and younger, from Magnolia Hall and the
Parsonage were gathered there before the hour when the boat bringing
their bride and groom might be expected, and as it rounded to at the
wharf quite a little crowd could be seen waiting to receive them.

The Johnsons had not been apprised of the reception awaiting them and
were expecting to go on immediately to Torriswood, but the boat was
hailed and stopped by Chester, and at the same time seeing the festive
preparations and the assemblage of relatives, they understood what was
going on and expected, and stepped quickly ashore, where glad
greetings were exchanged; then all moved on to the house where Dr.
Percival lay in a hammock on the front veranda.

"Oh, Dick, dear fellow, are you still unable to move about?" asked Dr.
Johnson, grasping his hand and looking down into his thin, pale face
with eyes that filled with tears in spite of himself.

"Oh, I'll soon be all right, Bob; though if it hadn't been for Harold
here," giving the latter a warmly affectionate glance, "I doubt if you
would have found a partner in your practice on your return."

"In that case I am certainly under great obligations to you, Harold,"
Robert said with feeling, as he and Harold grasped hands with cousinly
warmth. "You could hardly have done me a greater service."

"Don't talk of obligations," said Harold with emotion. "Dick and you
and I are not only all members of the same profession, but all near
kinsmen; so that Dick had a double and strong claim upon me and my
services."

"And we all think he needs a change," said Maud, standing near, "and
so, by Cousin Elsie's kind invitation, we are going with her and the
rest, in the captain's yacht, to visit them and our old homes; then on
farther North to the seashore."

"The very best thing that could be done, I think," said Robert; "it
certainly is Dick's turn to have a holiday while I stay and attend to
our practice."

The mirth, jollity, and feasting that followed, filling up the rest of
the day, were very similar to those of the day of the wedding, weeks
before.

Dr. Percival was still feeble, and Mrs. Travilla had some arrangements
to make in regard to the conduct of affairs at Viamede after her
departure, which together made it best to delay for a few days. But at
length all was ready, the good-byes were said, and the return journey
to their northern homes was begun.

As had been planned Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore took the cars at New
Orleans, while the _Dolphin_, bearing the remaining members of their
party, passed from west to east along the Gulf of Mexico, around the
southern coast of Florida and up its eastern coast and that of the
Carolinas. Quite a voyage, but neither tedious nor tiresome to the
passengers, so pleasant did they find each other's society and the
variety of books and sports provided for their entertainment.

During the greater part of the voyage the weather was pleasant enough
to allow them to spend the most of their days upon deck, where they
could walk about or sit and chat beneath an awning.

"Grandma," said little Elsie, coming to Mrs. Travilla's side one
morning as she sat on deck busied with a bit of fancy work, "would it
trouble you to talk to Ned and me a little while?"

"No, dear," was the smiling reply, "but what is it that you wish to
hear from me?"

"Something about General Marion, grandma, if you please. I know a
little about him and admire him very much indeed. He was a South
Carolina man, I know, and when I heard papa say a while ago that we
were on the South Carolina coast, it made me think of Marion and that
I should be very glad to hear something more of what he did in the
Revolution."

"And so would I, grandma; ever so much," added Ned, who was close at
his sister's side.

"Then sit down, one on each side of me, and I will tell you some
things that I have read about General Francis Marion, one of the
boldest, most energetic, and faithful patriots of the Revolution. He
was born in South Carolina in 1732, and it is said was so small a baby
that he might have been easily put into a quart pot."

"He must have had to grow a good deal before he could be a soldier,
grandma," laughed Ned.

"Yes, but he had forty-three years to do it in," said Elsie.

"That many years before the Revolutionary War began," said her
grandma, "but he was only twenty-seven when he became a soldier by
joining an expedition against the Cherokees and other hostile Indian
tribes on the western frontier of his State. When the Revolution began
he was made a captain in the second South Carolina regiment. He fought
in the battle at Fort Sullivan, on Sullivan's Island, in the contest
at Savannah, and many another. He organized a brigade and became
brigadier of the militia of South Carolina. After the battle of Eutaw
he became senator in the Legislature, but soon went back into the army
and remained there till the close of the war."

"Grandma, didn't he and his soldiers camp in the swamps a good deal of
the time?" asked Elsie.

"Yes; and often had but little to eat--sometimes sweet potatoes only,
and but a scant supply of them. A story is told of a young British
officer from Georgetown coming to treat with him respecting prisoners,
when Marion was camping on Snow's Island--at the confluence of the
Pedee River and Lynch's Creek. The Briton was led blindfolded to
Marion's camp. There for the first time he saw that general--a small
man--with groups of his men about him, lounging under the magnificent
trees draped with moss. When they had concluded their business Marion
invited the Englishman to dine with him. The invitation was accepted,
and great was the astonishment of the guest when the dinner was
served; only some roasted potatoes on a piece of bark. 'Surely,
general,' he said, 'this cannot be your ordinary fare?' 'Indeed it
is,' replied Marion, 'and we are fortunate on this occasion,
entertaining company, to have more than our usual allowance.'

"It is said that the young officer gave up his commission on his
return, saying that such a people could not, and ought not to be
subdued."

"Marion and his men must have loved their country and liberty to be
willing to live in swamps with nothing but potatoes to eat," said
Elsie; "it makes me think of the stories I've read and heard about
Robin Hood and his merry men."

"Yes," said her grandmother, "and Lossing tells us Marion's men were
as devoted to him as those of Robin Hood were to their leader. Our
poet Bryant has drawn a telling picture of that noble band in his


                        "SONG OF MARION'S MEN.

  "Our band is few, but true and tried,
    Our leader frank and bold;
  The British soldier trembles
    When Marion's name is told.
  Our fortress is the good greenwood,
    Our tent the cypress-tree;
  We know the forest round us
    As seamen know the sea.
  We know its walls of thorny vines,
    Its glades of reedy grass;
  Its safe and silent islands
    Within the dark morass.

  "Woe to the English soldiery,
    That little dread us near!
  On them shall light at midnight
    A strange and sudden fear;
  When, waking to their tents on fire,
    They grasp their arms in vain,
  And they who stand to face us
    Are beat to earth again;
  And they who fly in terror deem
    A mighty host behind,
  And hear the tramp of thousands
    Upon the hollow wind.

  "Then sweet the hour that brings release
    From danger and from toil;
  We talk the battle over,
    And share the battle's spoil.
  The woodland rings with laugh and shout,
    As if a hunt were up,
  And woodland flowers are gather'd
    To crown the soldier's cup.
  With merry songs we mock the wind
    That in the pine-top grieves,
  And slumber long and sweetly
    On beds of oaken leaves.

  "Well knows the fair and friendly moon
    The band that Marion leads--
  The glitter of their rifles.
    The scampering of their steeds.
  'Tis life to guide the fiery barb
    Across the moonlight plain;
  'Tis life to feel the night wind
    That lifts his tossing mane.
  A moment in the British camp--
    A moment--and away
  Back to the pathless forest,
    Before the peep of day.

  "Grave men there are by broad Santee,
    Grave men with hoary hairs,
  Their hearts are all with Marion,
    For Marion are their prayers.
  And lovely ladies greet our band
    With kindliest welcoming,
  With smiles like those of summer,
    With tears like those of spring.
  For them we wear these trusty arms,
    And lay them down no more
  Till we have driven the Briton
    Forever from our shore."

"And we did drive the British away--or Marion and his men, and the
rest of our brave soldiers did," exclaimed Ned when the recitation of
the poem was finished, "didn't they, grandma?"

"Yes, Neddie boy, God helped us to get free and become the great
nation which we are to-day; and to him let us give all the glory and
the praise."

"Yes, grandma, I know that even those brave and good fighters couldn't
have done it if God hadn't helped them. Did Marion live long after the
war was over?"

"About a dozen years. He died on the 29th of February, 1795. We are
told his last words were, 'Thank God, since I came to man's estate I
have never intentionally done wrong to any man.'"

"And is that all the story about him?" asked Ned regretfully.

"Enough for the present, I think," replied his grandma; "when you are
older you can read of him in history for yourself. However, some of
his work will come in incidentally as I go on with some other
historical sketches. I want to tell you something of Mrs. Rebecca
Motte--one of the brave and patriotic women living in South Carolina
at that time--and the doings of the British and Americans on her
estate.

"Mrs. Motte was a rich widow. She had a fine large mansion occupying
a commanding position on the road between Charleston and Camden. The
British, knowing that she was a patriot, drove her and her family from
their home to a farmhouse which she owned, upon a hill north of her
mansion, into which they put a garrison of one hundred and fifty men
under Captain M'Pherson, a brave British officer.

"Early in May he was joined by a small detachment of dragoons sent
from Charleston with despatches for Lord Rawdon. They were about to
leave when Marion and Lee, with their troops, were seen upon the
height at the farmhouse where Mrs. Motte was now living. So the
dragoons remained to give their help in the defense of the fort.

"Lee took position at the farmhouse, and his men, with a fieldpiece
which General Greene had sent them, were stationed on the eastern
slope of the high plain on which Fort Motte stood. Marion at once
threw up a mound and planted the fieldpiece upon it in a position to
rake the northern face of the parapet of the fort against which Lee
was about to move.

"M'Pherson was without artillery. Between Fort Motte and the height
where Lee was posted was a narrow valley which enabled his men to
come within a few hundred yards of the fort. From that they began to
advance by a parallel--a wide trench--and by the 10th of the month
they were so far successful that they felt warranted in demanding a
surrender. They sent a summons to M'Pherson, but he gallantly refused
to comply.

"That evening our men heard that Lord Rawdon had retreated from
Camden, was coming in that direction, and would relieve Fort Motte.
The next morning beacon fires could be seen on the high hills of
Santee, and that night the besieged were greatly rejoiced to see their
gleam on the highest ground of the country opposite Fort Motte. They
were delighted, but soon found that they had rejoiced too soon.

"Lee proposed a quicker plan for dislodging them than had been thought
of before. Mrs. Motte's mansion, in the center of their works, was
covered with a roof of shingles now very dry, as there had been no
rain for several days and the heat of the sun had been great. Lee's
idea was to set those shingles on fire and so drive the enemy out. He
had been enjoying Mrs. Motte's hospitality and her only marriageable
daughter was the wife of a friend of his, so he was very loath to
destroy her property, but on telling her his plan, he was much
relieved to find that she was not only willing, but desirous to serve
her country by the sacrifice of her property.

"He then told his plan to Marion and they made haste to execute it. It
was proposed to set the roof on fire with lighted torches attached to
arrows which should be shot against it. Mrs. Motte, seeing that the
arrows the men were preparing were not very good, brought out a fine
bow and bundle of arrows which had come from the East Indies, and gave
them to Lee.

"The next morning Lee again sent a flag of truce to M'Pherson, the
bearer telling him that Rawdon had not yet crossed the Santee, and
that immediate surrender would save many lives.

"But M'Pherson still refused, and at noon Nathan Savage, a private in
Marion's brigade, shot toward the house several arrows with lighted
torches attached. Two struck the dry shingles and instantly a bright
flame was creeping along the roof. Soldiers were sent up to knock off
the shingles and put out the fire, but a few shots from Marion's
battery raked the loft and drove them below. Then M'Pherson hung out a
white flag, the Americans ceased firing, the flames were put out, and
at one o'clock the garrison surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

"Then Mrs. Motte invited both the American and the British officers to
a sumptuous dinner which she had had made ready for them."

Grace Raymond had drawn near and was listening in a very interested
way to the story as told by Mrs. Travilla.

"Grandma Elsie," she said as that lady paused in her narrative, "do
you remember a little talk between the American and British officers
at that dinner of Mrs. Motte's?"

"I am not sure that I do," was the reply. "Can you repeat it for us?"

"I think I can give at least the substance," said Grace. "One of the
prisoners was an officer named Captain Ferguson. He was seated near
Colonel Horry, one of our American officers. Addressing him, Ferguson
said, 'You are Colonel Horry, I presume, sir?' Horry replied that he
was and Ferguson went on, 'Well, I was with Colonel Watson when he
fought your General Marion on Sampit. I think I saw you there with a
party of horse, and also at Nelson's Ferry, when Marion surprised our
party at the house. But I was hid in high grass and escaped. You were
fortunate in your escape at Sampit, for Watson and Small had twelve
hundred men.'

"'If so,' said Horry, 'I certainly was fortunate, for I did not
suppose they had more than half that number,' Then Ferguson said, 'I
consider myself equally fortunate in escaping at Nelson's Old Field.'

"'Truly you were,' Horry returned sarcastically, 'for Marion had but
thirty militia on that occasion,' The other officers at the table
could not refrain from laughing. General Greene afterward asked Horry
how he came to affront Captain Ferguson, and Horry answered that he
affronted himself by telling his own story.'"

"Ah, I think our soldiers were the bravest," was little Elsie's
comment upon that anecdote.

"Yes," said her grandma, "probably because they were fighting for
liberty and home."

"Please, grandma, tell us another Revolutionary story," pleaded Ned.

"Did you ever hear the story of what Emily Geiger did for the good
cause?" asked Grandma Elsie in reply.

"No, ma'am; won't you please tell it?"

"Yes. Emily was the daughter of a German planter in Fairfield
District. She was not more than eighteen years old, but very brave.
General Greene had an important message to send to Sumter, but because
of the danger from the numbers of Tories and British likely to be
encountered on the way none of his men seemed willing to take it;
therefore he was delighted when this young girl came forward and
offered to carry his letter to Sumter. But fearing she might lose it
on the way, he made her acquainted with its contents.

"She mounted a fleet horse, crossed the Wateree at the Camden Ferry,
and hastened on toward Sumter's camp. On the second day of her
journey, while passing through a dry swamp, she was stopped and made
prisoner by some Tory scouts, who suspected her because she came from
the direction of Greene's army. They took her to a house on the edge
of the swamp and shut her up in a room, while they sent for a woman to
search her person.

"Emily was by no means willing to have the letter found upon her
person, so as soon as left alone she began tearing it up and
swallowing it piece by piece. After a while the woman came and
searched her carefully, but found nothing to criminate the girl, as
the last piece of the letter had already gone down her throat.

"Her captors, now convinced of her innocence, made many apologies and
allowed her to go on her way. She reached Sumter's camp, gave him
Greene's message, and soon the British under Rawdon were flying before
the Americans toward Orangeburg."

"Is that all, grandma?" asked Ned, as Mrs. Travilla paused and glanced
up smilingly at Captain Raymond, who now drew near.

"All for the present, Neddie," she replied. "Some other time I may
perhaps think of other incidents to give you."

"Ah, mother, so you have been kindly entertaining my children, who are
great lovers of stories," remarked the captain. "I hope they have not
been too exacting in their entreaties for such amusement?"

"Oh, no," she replied; "they wanted some episodes in the history of
the State we are passing, and I have been giving them some account of
the gallant deeds of General Marion and others."

"He was a brave, gallant man, was Francis Marion, thoroughly
patriotic, and one of the finest characters of that time; a countryman
of whom we may well be proud," remarked the captain, speaking with
earnestness and enthusiasm; "and with it all he was most humane; a
great contrast to some of the British officers who burnt houses,
robbed and wronged women and children--rendering them shelterless,
stripping them of all clothes except those they wore, not to speak of
even worse acts of barbarity. Bancroft tells us that when the British
were burning houses on the Little Pedee, Marion permitted his men of
that district to go home and protect their wives and families; but
that he would not suffer retaliation and wrote with truth, 'There is
not one house burned by my orders or by any of my people. It is what I
detest, to distress poor women and children.'"

"I am proud of him as one of my countrymen," said Grace. "He was
sometimes called 'The swamp Fox,' was he not, papa?"

"Yes; the swamps were his usual place of refuge and camping ground."

"I admire him very much and like to hear about him and all he did for
our country," said little Elsie; "but I am glad and thankful that I
didn't live in those dreadful war times."

"As you well may be, my dear child," said her father. "We cannot be
too thankful for the liberty we enjoy in these days and which was
largely won for us by Marion and other brave and gallant patriots of
those darker days. They, and our debt of gratitude to them, should
never be forgotten or ignored."



                             CHAPTER XVII.


The _Dolphin's_ passengers greatly enjoyed their voyage up the
Atlantic coast, yet were not sorry when they reached their desired
haven--the city within a few miles of their homes.

Dr. Percival had gained strength every day and now could go about very
well with the help of a friend's arm or a cane, and spent but a part
of his time lounging in an easy-chair or resting upon a couch.

A telegram had carried to their home friends the information that they
expected to reach port on that day, and carriages were there in
waiting to convey them to their several places of abode.

Dr. Conly had come for Dr. and Mrs. Percival, as had also Mr. Dinsmore
from the Oaks; the one claiming that Roselands was Dick's old home,
therefore undoubtedly the proper place for him at present--the other
that Maud belonged at the Oaks and of course her husband with her.
Grandma Elsie had already given them a warm invitation to Ion, and
Captain Raymond and Violet the same to Woodburn. It seemed a little
difficult to decide which had the prior claim. Dr. Harold said it
should be Ion first in order that he might still have his patient
where he could keep continued and careful watch over him; and as he
grew better and stronger the others could have their turns at
entertaining him and Maud.

To that Dick laughingly replied that he was now tolerably used to
obeying Harold's orders, so should submit to his decision, still
hoping that in time he and Maud might have the pleasure of accepting
the other invitations in turn.

That seemed to give tolerable satisfaction as about as good an
arrangement as could well be made.

The Beechwood and Woodburn family carriages and Max's pony were there,
also the carriage from Fairview for Evelyn. Max helped her into it,
then mounted his steed and rode alongside, the Woodburn carriage
driving a little ahead of them, while the other vehicles were somewhat
in their rear.

All reached their destinations in safety, each party receiving a
joyful welcome on their arrival. Chester, after a brief but
affectionate good-by, "for a short time," to Lucilla, had taken a seat
in Mr. Dinsmore's carriage, as he and his brother still made their
home at the Oaks. Both pairs of lovers had greatly enjoyed their daily
intercourse upon the _Dolphin_ and gave that up with some feeling of
regret, but comforted themselves with the thought that twenty-four
hours would seldom pass without allowing them at least a brief
interview.

Bidding good-by to Eva at the gate into Fairview Avenue, Max rode
rapidly onward and entered the Woodburn grounds just in the rear of
his father's carriage, then dismounted at the veranda in time to take
part in assisting the ladies and children to alight.

"Oh, how delightful it is to be at home again!" exclaimed Grace,
dancing about and gazing this way and that into the beautifully kept
grounds. "I am always glad to go, but still gladder to get back."

"And so am I," "And I," exclaimed the younger ones.

"And I am as glad as anybody else, I think," said Max, "though I
should not be if I were here alone--without father, Mamma Vi, and the
sisters and little brother."

"No, indeed! the dear ones make more than half of home," Lucilla said
with a loving glance around upon the others, then one of ardent
affection up into her father's face.

"Yes," said Grace, "father alone is more than half of home to each and
every one of us."

An assertion which no one was in the least inclined to contradict.

"He certainly is to me--his wife," said Violet, giving him a look that
spoke volumes of respect and love.

"And I certainly know of no man who has less reason to complain of the
lack of appreciation by his nearest and dearest," responded the
captain in tones slightly tremulous with feeling, and a look of fond,
proud affection, first at his wife, then at his children, each in
turn.

"This is certainly a happy home-coming to us all," said Max, "to me in
especial, I think, as the one who has seen so little of it for years
past. It is to me the dearest spot on earth; though it would not be
without the dear ones it holds."

But housekeeper and servants had now come crowding about with glad
greetings, which were warmly returned, and then the family scattered
to their rooms to prepare for the dinner just ready to be served.

All our returned travellers were received with joyful greetings at
their homes, not excepting Dr. Harold Travilla at Ion; and all there
seemed to rejoice that they were to be the first to entertain the
cousins--Dr. Percival and Maud. They were warmly welcomed and speedily
installed in most comfortable quarters--a suite of beautifully
furnished apartments--on the ground floor, that Dick might be spared
the exertion of going up and down even the easiest flight of stairs.
They were more than content.

"We seem to have come into a haven of rest, Maud, my love," Dick
remarked as he lay back in his reclining chair, and gazed about with
eyes that kindled with joy and admiration.

"Yes, my dear," laughed Maud, "it would seem almost appropriate to put
another letter into that noun and call it a heaven--so beautiful and
tasteful is everything around us."

"Yes; I wish everybody had as good, kind, capable, and helpful friends
and relatives as ours, and as able to give them such royal
entertainment."

"Cousin Elsie is the very person to have large means," said Maud, "for
she seems to be always thinking of others and what she can do for
their comfort and happiness. There is not a particle of selfishness or
self-righteousness about her."

"I heartily agree with you there," said Dick. "I have known her since
I was the merest child and she has always seemed to live to do good
and show kindness to all around her. She evidently looks upon her
wealth as simply a trust--something the Lord has put into her hands to
be used for his glory and the good of her fellow creatures."

"I am sure you are right about that," said Maud. "And her children
resemble her in it. What could have exceeded the kindness of Cousins
Harold and Herbert--Cousin Arthur Conly, too--when you were so ill?
Oh, Dick dear, I thought I was going to lose you! Oh, how could I ever
have borne that?" she added with a sob; "and I am sure you and I owe
your life to their skilful treatment, their untiring care and
devotion."

"We do indeed," he said with emotion; "but for their untiring efforts
and God's blessing upon them I should now be under the sod--and my
darling a widow," he added tenderly and in quivering tones, drawing
her down to give her a fond caress. "And how kind Vi and her husband
have been," he went on. "The captain is a grand good man and quite as
anxious to use all he has for the glory of God and the good of his
fellow creatures as dear Cousin Elsie herself."

"Yes; I don't wonder his wife and children love him so dearly; and I
could hardly love him better were he my own brother," said Maud. "I am
so glad he and Cousin Violet fancied each other and married when they
did."

"Yes, they are the most enjoyable of relatives to us and very happy in
each other."

Here their bit of chat was interrupted by a tap on the door opening
into the hall. Dr. Harold had come to say that dinner was on the
table, and ask if his patient felt able, and if it would be enjoyable
to join the family at their meal.

"Indeed I should like it," was Dick's prompt response, "and I think
too that I am entirely equal to the exertion."

"Perhaps even with only your cane, if I give you the support of my
arm," suggested Harold.

"Thank you, yes," returned Dick, with a pleased look, as Harold
assisted him to rise and Maud handed him his cane.

So the little journey was made successfully and the social meal
greatly enjoyed. At its conclusion Harold assisted Dr. Percival to his
couch again, where he lay down, just weary enough to take a long,
refreshing nap.

On leaving the table, Grandma Elsie went to the telephone and called
to Woodburn. Violet answered, "What is it, mother?" and received the
reply, "I expect the whole connection here to take tea and spend the
evening, and I want you all to come."

The captain, standing near, heard the message also, and as Violet
turned inquiringly to him, "Surely there is nothing to prevent any of
us from going," he said, and she at once answered, "Thank you, mother,
you may expect us all."

The same invitation had been already sent to, and accepted by, the
others, and some time before the tea hour they were all there, glad to
meet and exchange greetings, and chat about all that had occurred
since they last saw each other. And Dr. Percival, refreshed and
strengthened by his dinner and a long, sound sleep after it, was able
to enjoy it all, perhaps as keenly as anyone else. They talked of
whatever had occurred among them during the time that they had been
separated, and of their plans for the coming heated term--who would
pass it at home and who go North to find a cooler climate. But it was
not necessary to decide fully upon their plans, as some weeks must
elapse ere carrying them out and there would be a good deal of
intercourse among them in the meantime.

They scattered to their homes early in the evening that Dr. Percival
might not be kept up or awake, and that the little ones might be
safely and in good season bestowed in their nests for the night.

Dr. Percival improved rapidly in the next few weeks; so rapidly that
he was able to make a visit to Roselands, the Oaks, and Woodburn, each
in turn, and felt that he should greatly enjoy the journey to the
North and the sojourn by the seaside there which awaited him, his
wife, and friends.

Our two pairs of lovers went quietly and happily on with their
courting, considered plans for future house-building and housekeeping,
and what should be done and enjoyed in the meantime, and it seemed but
a little while till they were again on board the _Dolphin_ and
speeding on their northward course.

It was the same party that had come in her on that last voyage from
the South. Max was still in the enjoyment of his furlough and by his
father's request now took command of the vessel; but, the weather
being fine throughout the voyage, his duties were not arduous and
Evelyn had no reason to complain of want of attention from her fiancé.
Nor had Lucilla; Chester being seldom absent from her side during the
day or evening. So that Captain Raymond began to feel at times that he
was already losing--to some extent--his eldest daughter. He sighed
over it to himself, but made no complaint to either of them.

Lucilla's affection for him did not seem to have suffered any
abatement; as had been her custom, she often came to him for a bit of
private chat early in the morning or in the evening after the others
had gone to their staterooms; and in these private interviews she was
the same ardently affectionate daughter she had been for years; so
that he felt he had no reason to fear that her lover had stolen all
her heart.

But she was very keen-sighted as regarded him and his feelings toward
her. One evening as, according to his custom, he paced the deck after
all the passengers had retired for the night, he heard her light step
at his side and then her voice asking in its sweetest tones, "Papa
dear, mayn't I walk with you for at least a few minutes? I am neither
sleepy nor tired, and it is so seldom now that I can have my own dear
father all to myself."

"Yes, daughter dear," he said, putting an arm about her and caressing
her with tenderness. "I am very glad to have your company if it is not
going to weary you or rob you of needed sleep." Then he drew her hand
within his arm and they paced slowly back and forth, conversing in
subdued tones.

"It is so sweet to be alone with you once in a while, my own dear
father," she said. "I think, papa, if my engagement has made any
change in my feelings toward you it has been to make you seem to me
nearer and dearer, if possible, than ever. Oh, I think it would break
my heart if I should ever have to go so far away from you that I could
not see and talk with you every day!"

"Dear child, those are sweet words to my ear," he said in moved tones,
"and I am most thankful that, so far as we can see into the future,
there seems little or no danger that we will ever be so separated in
this world."

"Yes, papa; that assurance is one of my greatest joys. And I am so
glad that my dear father is so strong and well, and not so very old,"
she added with a smile and a look of loving admiration up into his
face.

"I am not very young, daughter," he returned pleasantly, "though I
think my natural strength has not abated, and life seems as enjoyable
to me as ever. But the happy thought is that God our heavenly Father
rules and reigns and shall choose all our changes for us; for to his
wisdom and love there is no limit. How sweet are the words, 'I have
loved thee with an everlasting love,' 'As the Father hath loved me, so
have I loved you.' If we are his children we need not fear to trust
our all in his hands. We need not desire to choose for ourselves as
regards the things of this life, or the time when he shall call us to
our heavenly home."

"That is a very sweet thought, father," she said. "What a care and
anxiety it would be to us to have to choose all those changes for
ourselves. How kind in the dear Lord Jesus to bid his disciples to
take no thought--which you have explained to me means no care or
anxiety--for the morrow--telling them that 'Sufficient unto the day is
the evil thereof.'"

"Yes; and when troubled with cares and fears for the future we may be
sure that it is because we are lacking in that faith which trusts all
in his hands."

"Oh, I want that faith!" she exclaimed earnestly, though her voice was
low and sweet. "Papa, pray for me that I may have it."

"I will, daughter, I do," he said; "there is nothing I desire more
strongly for you and all my dear children than that."

They were silent for a moment, then she asked, "Where are we now,
papa? and to what port bound as the first?"

"We are nearing Delaware Bay," he replied, "and expect to pass up it
and the river to Philadelphia, where we will add Grandpa and Grandma
Dinsmore to our party, then come down and round the southern part of
New Jersey and on up the eastern coast to Atlantic City. Rooms have
been engaged for us at Haddon Hall and there we purpose staying for
perhaps a fortnight, then we think of going on up the New England
coast, perhaps as far as Bar Harbor in Maine."

"Oh, I like that plan," she said; "for we have never yet visited
either of those places, and I have wanted to see them both."

"I shall be glad to give you that pleasure, daughter," he said. "Now
it is high time you were in bed and asleep; so bid me good-night and
go."

Our travellers reached Philadelphia the next day, took on board Mr.
and Mrs. Dinsmore, passed down the river and bay again, and up the
Atlantic coast to the city of that name, as the captain had planned.

They were charmed with their quarters; rooms near the sea--looking out
directly upon it--with a private porch where they could sit and enjoy
the breeze and an extended view of the ocean, watching the vessels
pass and repass, outward bound or coming from distant ports to the
harbors farther up the coast. Strolling along the broad plank walk,
four miles in length and close to the sea, was another pleasure; as
were also the driving down on the beach at low tide, and the little
excursions out to Longport and other adjacent villages.

Most of the days were spent in making these little trips--sometimes in
carriages, at others in the electric cars--and the evenings in
wandering by moonlight along the board walk.

There were various places of innocent amusement too--such as the
Japanese garden and the piers, where seals and other curiosities were
on exhibition.

They found the table excellent and everything about the establishment
homelike, neat, and refined, and their hostess so agreeable, so
charming, that their only regret was that they saw so little of
her--so many were the calls upon her time and attention.

"She certainly must need an occasional rest," said Grandma Elsie one
day, talking with Violet and the captain, "and we must invite her to
pay us a visit in our southern homes."

To that proposal both Captain Raymond and Violet gave an unqualified
assent, saying that they would be pleased indeed to entertain her.

A fortnight was spent there most pleasantly, after which the _Dolphin_
carried them up the coast to Bar Harbor, where we will leave them for
the present.



          A LIST OF THE ELSIE BOOKS AND OTHER POPULAR BOOKS
                                  BY
                            MARTHA FINLEY


  _ELSIE DINSMORE._
  _ELSIE'S HOLIDAYS AT ROSELANDS._
  _ELSIE'S GIRLHOOD._
  _ELSIE'S WOMANHOOD._
  _ELSIE'S MOTHERHOOD._
  _ELSIE'S CHILDREN._
  _ELSIE'S WIDOWHOOD._
  _GRANDMOTHER ELSIE._
  _ELSIE'S NEW RELATIONS._
  _ELSIE AT NANTUCKET._
  _THE TWO ELSIES._
  _ELSIE'S KITH AND KIN._
  _ELSIE'S FRIENDS AT WOODBURN._
  _CHRISTMAS WITH GRANDMA ELSIE._
  _ELSIE AND THE RAYMONDS._
  _ELSIE YACHTING WITH THE RAYMONDS._
  _ELSIE'S VACATION._
  _ELSIE AT VIAMEDE._
  _ELSIE AT ION._
  _ELSIE AT THE WORLD'S FAIR._
  _ELSIE'S JOURNEY ON INLAND WATERS._
  _ELSIE AT HOME._
  _ELSIE ON THE HUDSON._
  _ELSIE IN THE SOUTH._

  _MILDRED KEITH._
  _MILDRED AT ROSELANDS._
  _MILDRED'S MARRIED LIFE._
  _MILDRED AND ELSIE._
  _MILDRED AT HOME._
  _MILDRED'S BOYS AND GIRLS._
  _MILDRED'S NEW DAUGHTER._

  _CASELLA._
  _SIGNING THE CONTRACT AND WHAT IT COST._
  _THE TRAGEDY OF WILD RIVER VALLEY._
  _OUR FRED._
  _AN OLD-FASHIONED BOY._
  _WANTED, A PEDIGREE._
  _THE THORN IN THE NEST._



                         TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES


Some quotes are opened with marks but are not closed. Obvious errors
have been silently closed, while those requiring interpretation have
been left open. Other than the corrections listed above, printer's
inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been
retained.





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