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   Chapter 5 No.5

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 14149

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


A pause in the conversation upon the veranda was broken by an exclamation from little Ned. "Cousin Arthur is coming!" he cried as a carriage turned in at the great gates and came swiftly up the driveway.

"Yes," said his father, stepping forward to meet and welcome Dr. Conly, "always a visitor we are delighted to see, whether we are sick or well. Good-morning, sir! We are all glad to see you as friend and guest, though fortunately not in need of your professional services at present. I hope the demands of other patients are not so pressing that we may not keep you here till after dinner."

"Thank you, but I can stay for only a hasty call," replied the doctor, alighting and shaking hands with one after another as they crowded about him.

"You look like the bringer of good news, cousin," said Grandma Elsie, regarding him with a pleased smile.

"Yes," he said, "I feel myself a very fortunate and happy man to-day, and have come to tell my news and ask the sympathy and congratulations of you my relatives and friends. My Marian and I have a son-a fine healthy babe, now some hours old-mother and child are doing as well as possible."

The congratulations were poured forth without stint. Then Mr. Dinsmore asked, "What do you propose to call the lad?"

"Ronald. It is Marian's choice and I am well content, for it is a good name, and I highly esteem the dear old cousin who has showed such kindness to the mother."

"Yes, he is worthy of it," said Grandma Elsie. "I have always felt proud to own him as my kinsman."

"And Ronald and Conly go well together, making a very pretty name, to my thinking," said Rosie.

"Have they heard the news at Beechwood yet?" asked Lucilla.

"I think not," replied the doctor; "but I shall take it in my way home, as it will make the drive only a little longer and I need delay there but a moment." Then with a hasty adieu he took his departure.

"Art is a very happy man to-day," Mr. Dinsmore remarked with a pleased smile, as they watched the doctor's gig on its way down the drive.

"Yes; I know of no one more worthy of happiness, and it does me good to see it," said the captain.

"And no doubt dear Marian's heart is overflowing with love and gratitude," said Grandma Elsie in low, soft tones. "I quite want to see her and her new treasure."

"Both she and Art will be very proud to show it to their friends and relatives," remarked Violet with a smile, "though he will be careful not to admit even relatives for some days yet. He is very kind and careful as both husband and physician."

"Yes," said Rosie; "he will take excellent care of Marian and have her well in time to attend the wedding, I hope."

"I think we can manage that, daughter, as we have not fixed upon the day," her mother said with playful look and tone.

"Oh, yes, mamma! and I do intend it to be at least six weeks before I leave girlhood for married life," returned Rosie, laughing and blushing as she spoke.

"It is too serious a step to be taken hastily, my dear young sister," remarked the captain in a tone between jest and earnest; "a step that once taken cannot be retraced-a venture involving the happiness or misery of perhaps a lifetime; certainly the lifetime of one if not of both."

"Oh, you frighten me!" cried Rosie, drawing a long breath and lifting her hands with a gesture of alarm and despair; "what shall I do? Would you recommend single blessedness-you who have twice tried laying hold of the other horn of the dilemma?"

"Only for a time," he said. "Look well before you leap, as I did, and then you will be in little danger of wanting to leap back again."

"You don't? you never do?" she queried in mock surprise and doubt.

"Never!" he said with a smiling, admiring glance into Violet's beautiful eyes, watching him with not a shade of doubt or distrust in their azure depths; "never for a moment have I been conscious of the slightest inclination to do so."

"Thank you, my dear," Violet said. "And, Rosie, let me tell you for your encouragement that I have known no more regret than has he. I am very sure that if it were in our power to reconsider, the question would be decided exactly as it was years ago."

"I believe it," responded Rosie heartily, "and that Will and I will be able to say the same when we too have lived together for years. He is good as gold, I know, and I shall try to be worthy of him."

The call to dinner here put an end to the conversation and the talk at the table was upon other themes.

Shortly after the conclusion of the meal Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore returned to Ion, while the others, some on horseback, the rest in the family carriage, went over to the Oaks to call upon the relatives there and consult with them on the arrangements for the wedding, particularly the dress of the bride and her attendants-a subject of great interest to the ladies, especially such to the young girls, but one which the two gentlemen-Captain Raymond and young Mr. Dinsmore-were so entirely willing to leave to their decision that they presently excused themselves and walked out into the grounds, Mr. Dinsmore wishing to consult the captain in regard to some improvements that he had in contemplation.

Then Rosie announced her errand and gave her invitation to Maud and Sydney. It was accepted promptly and with evident pleasure by both. Then Rosie went on to speak of her idea of having the two little Elsies act as flower girls.

"My niece and my cousin, and both bearing mamma's name; about the same size, too; would it not be pretty?" she asked, and received a chorus of approving replies.

"Oh, I'd like to!" cried Elsie Dinsmore, clapping her hands in delight. "It's ever so good in you, Cousin Rosie, to choose us! and I suppose we will be dressed alike, won't we?"

"That is my idea," said Rosie, "and I presume your mothers will not withhold their consent."

"Oh, you will let us, mamma-you and Cousin Vi-won't you?" cried the child, turning to them.

"I am entirely willing, if that suits Cousin Vi and her Elsie," replied her mother.

"As it will, I am sure," said Violet.

"Yes, mamma," said her Elsie, "I shall like it, for I am sure you and the other ladies will choose a pretty dress for us."

"Probably no prettier than some that you already own," Violet returned with an amused look. "Try not to think or care too much for dress, daughter; there are so many things which are much more important."

"But it isn't wrong to like to be tastefully dressed, is it, mamma?" asked the little girl with a slightly troubled look.

"No, I think not, dear," returned her mother with a loving smile into the inquiring eyes; "if it were wrong to love pretty things, surely God would not have made so many for our eyes to look upon-the beautiful flowers and fruits, the sunset clouds, the stars, to mention only a few-but he-our kind Heavenly Father-loves to give us enjoyment."

"And I do enjoy all the pretty things very much indeed, mamma," responded the little girl with a look of relief and pleasure, "and I'm glad it isn't wrong

; I like to see pretty clothes on you and my sisters quite as much as on myself. And don't you think papa likes to have us all nicely dressed?"

"I am sure he does; and you may feel very certain that papa approves of nothing but what is right."

"Those are exactly mine and my husband's sentiments upon the subject in question," remarked Mrs. Dinsmore in a lively tone. "But now let us hear what those girls are talking about."

"You will be married in church?" Maud was saying inquiringly.

"No," said Rosie in a tone of decision; "I mean to follow the good example of my mother and older sisters in having a home wedding."

"And you will want ushers? I was just going to ask who were to serve in that capacity."

"I believe Mr. Croly has engaged my brothers Harold and Herbert, who are his most intimate friends," replied Rosie; "but of course there will be plenty of time for all those arrangements."

"I dare say he will ask Uncle Harold to be best man," said Grace.

"Very likely," said Rosie, "and Herbert, Chester, and Frank for ushers. We may as well make it a family affair," she added with a satisfied little laugh.

"And if either you or Will conclude that you would prefer a larger number it will be an easy matter to think of, and invite them to serve a little later," remarked Violet.

"Yes, there is plenty of time," said their mother, smiling lovingly into Rosie's bright eyes. "I am in no hurry to give my youngest daughter to even so entirely a good, worthy, and amiable young man as William Croly."

"Please do not look at it in that way, mother dear. Please remember that you are not to lose your daughter, but to gain another good son."

"That is right, Rosie; I do believe it is going to prove a gain all round," said Violet.

"Why, of course it is," said Maud; "that is settled; so now let us consider and decide the important question what colours we are to wear on the grand occasion. Lu, you wore canary colour at Betty Norris' wedding; suppose I take that this time and you wear pink; it will become you quite as well, I think."

"I suppose so," said Lucilla, "and am perfectly willing to wear it."

"And pink beside my white will look very pretty," said Rosie. "Lu is to be maid of honor, you know, girls."

"Yes; and I for one highly approve your choice, Rosie," said Evelyn with an affectionate, admiring look at Lucilla.

"Yes; and suppose we dress your little flower girls in pink, also," suggested Mrs. Dinsmore.

That idea seemed to suit everybody.

"I like that colour," remarked Elsie Dinsmore sagely, "but I shall be particular about having very handsome material."

"It shall be handsome enough to accord well with the others," said her mother with an amused laugh.

"I think straw colour becomes me," remarked Maud; "so that is what I shall wear, if the rest of the party approve."

"And blue will be the thing for Gracie and me," said Sydney. "What do you say to that, Gracie?"

"I am satisfied if Rosie and the rest approve," was Grace's pleasant-toned reply.

"So that is settled," said Sydney. "Wouldn't it be well for us all to go into the city to-morrow, see what we can find there to suit us, and order other things sent for?"

"What do you say to that, mamma?" asked Rosie.

"I see no objection to it," replied Grandma Elsie. "But we will consult the captain in regard to that matter," she added, as at that moment he and her brother came in.

"Ah! upon what is my valuable opinion desired, mother?" he asked in playful tones; then, in response to the explanation given, said that he thought it a very good plan, as it would surely do no harm to begin needed preparations promptly.

"Then, papa, won't you excuse Gracie and me from lessons for the next few days?" asked Lucilla.

"I will; you may consider the remainder of the week a holiday," he replied.

"For Ned and me too, papa?" asked Elsie.

"Yes; if you think you can assist in the shopping."

"I should like to help choose my own things if you and mamma are willing," she said with a persuasive look from one to the other.

"I think you will be allowed a voice in the selection," he replied, patting her cheek as she leaned upon his knee, looking up affectionately and pleadingly into his face.

"Yes," said Violet, "and I am sure we shall be able to find dress goods and whatever else is needed, that will suit all three of us."

"And it will be four days' holiday we'll have," remarked Ned with satisfaction.

"You are planning to have your wedding a good deal after the pattern of Cousin Betty's, Rosie," remarked Mrs. Dinsmore.

"Yes; in some respects, for I thought it a very pretty wedding; but that ceremony took place in the church, while I mean to be married at home; also there will probably be a difference in the number of attendants and their dress," replied Rosie. "And by the way, mamma," she added, turning to her mother, "we must send Betty an invitation in good season for her to arrange matters so that she can come to my wedding. I was one of her bridesmaids, you remember, and should be sorry indeed to neglect her at this time."

"She shall not be forgotten, daughter," was Grandma Elsie's ready response; "we will shortly make out a list of those you wish to invite, that none may be forgotten or overlooked."

"Yes, mamma; if our list contains only relatives and very intimate friends we will be quite a large party, should all accept."

"Now about to-morrow's shopping," said Sydney. "We need to settle when we will set out on our expedition, where we will meet, or whether we will divide our forces and each division decide questions of taste and expense independently of the others."

"As there are so many of us I think the latter plan would be the better one," said Grandma Elsie.

"And as regards dress goods, we can secure samples and hold a consultation over them before making the purchases," said Violet; adding with a smiling glance at her Elsie, "that will be only fair where two or more are to be dressed alike."

"I like that plan, mamma," said the little girl, "and I do intend to be satisfied with whatever you and papa choose for me."

"With some help from my mamma and me," said the other Elsie in a tone that seemed to imply some fear that their choice might not be altogether to her taste.

"Tut! tut!" said her father. "You need not be in the least afraid that such good judges will fail to select as handsome and suitable material as could be desired."

"But please, Uncle Horace, let her have a vote on the question," said Violet pleasantly. "There may be several pieces of goods of the chosen colour, equally desirable; nor is it necessary that the two dresses should be off the same piece; only that they match in colour."

"And I feel sure there will be no difficulty in settling upon which will be satisfactory to all parties," added Mrs. Dinsmore.

With a little more chat all the arrangements for the morrow's shopping expedition were concluded. Then the Woodburn party bade good-bye and returned to their home.

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