MoboReader> Literature > Elsie at Home

   Chapter 10 No.10

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 24445

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

"Ah! so you are up, Gracie dear," Lucilla said, looking in the next morning at the communicating door between their rooms. "I have been down in the grounds with papa for the last half hour, and he bade me come and tell you to dress for a drive; for we are to go on our shopping expedition to-day instead of to-morrow."

"Are we?" exclaimed Grace. "To-day will suit me as well as to-morrow; but why have papa and mamma changed their plans?"

"It is all for my benefit," laughed Lucilla. "You must know that Chester Dinsmore has been so good as to invite me to attend a boat ride and picnic with him to-morrow, and, to my surprise, papa gave me full permission to go."

"That was very kind of him," remarked Grace, "and I hope you will have a delightful time."

"I don't know," Lulu returned, with doubtful tone and look. "I think I shall not half enjoy it without you; and papa says you are too feeble to go on such an expedition without him; you would need him to take care of you and see that you did not overexert yourself."

"Yes; and, of course, papa is right; he always knows what is best for me and all of us."

"So I think, and I did not at all expect him to say I could go. I wasn't very anxious that he should, either; though I dare say it will be very pleasant as the Dinsmore girls are going, and, perhaps, Rosie Travilla too."

"Oh, I think you will enjoy it! I hope so, I am sure," exclaimed Grace, looking both pleased and interested. "Now please tell me what dress you are going to wear to the city to-day, and advise me about mine."

"I hadn't thought about it, yet," said Lucilla; "but there, I hear papa coming into our sitting room. I'll run and ask him what he would advise or direct about it. It is a matter of great importance, you know"; and with that she laughed merrily, turned about, and ran to meet their father.

He decided the knotty question, promptly saying: "The gray dresses made for you both a few weeks ago will be very suitable, I think." Then he bade her help Grace and also change her own dress, because they would make an early start for the city, going very soon after leaving the table.

"I am glad to hear that, papa," she returned, "for a drive in the early morning air is so pleasant. But I wish I had no occasion to change my dress, because I fear that will take up all the time of your morning call here on Gracie and me."

"I think not, if you are prompt in your movements," he said. "I shall sit here for some little time reading the morning paper."

"Oh, I am glad of that! and perhaps, papa, if you look over the advertisements you may find something that will help us in the search for the pretty things we want to buy."

"Very possibly," he replied. "I will look them over at once."

"Thank you, sir. I'll do as you bid me and be back again as soon as ever I can; for I don't like to lose a minute of my father's morning call," she said, giving him a bright, loving look, then hurrying back to her sister.

"We'll have to make haste, Gracie," she said, "if we don't want to miss altogether our morning chat with papa. We are to wear our new gray dresses, he says."

"That suits me nicely, for I think them becoming, pretty, and suitable. Don't you?"

"Yes; I think nobody has better taste or judgment about dress than our father."

"Just my opinion; and we may well think so, considering how many lovely dresses and ornaments he has bought for us, selecting them without the help or advice of anyone. There, sister dear, your dress is on all right and I shall make haste to change mine while you put the finishing touches to your attire."

They joined their father in a few moments, talked over the advertisements he had been examining and the question of the desirability of this and that article as a wedding gift to Rosie, but had reached no decision when the breakfast bell rang.

"Well, daughters," the captain said, "we will go down now to our breakfast and, while we are eating, talk the matter over with your mamma. She probably knows better than we what would be likely to please Rosie."

"But we do not need to decide until we see the things, do we, papa?" asked Lucilla.

"No, certainly not, and we may find something very handsome and suitable that we have not thought of. I hope it will be a pleasure to both of you to look over the pretty things and make a selection."

"You dear father," Grace said, smiling up into his eyes, "you are always thinking of something to give your children pleasure."

"Yes," he said, returning her smile, "perhaps because it reacts upon myself, giving me a great deal of pleasure."

They found Violet and the little ones already in the breakfast room; morning greetings were exchanged, then they seated themselves at the table, the captain asked a blessing, and the meal began.

They chatted pleasantly while eating, the principal subject of discourse being their errand to the city. Violet had not heard Rosie express a desire for any particular thing, but thought they would probably see something in the stores that would strike them as handsome and suitable.

"Is Elsie going with you to-day, papa? and am I?" asked Neddie.

"Yes, my son, if you want to go," the captain replied. "And would you like to buy some gifts for Aunt Rosie, too?"

"Oh, yes, yes indeed, papa!" cried, both children, Elsie adding: "But I have only a little money. I'm afraid it won't be enough to buy anything handsome enough for a wedding present."

"Well," their father said reflectively, "you have been good children, and I feel inclined to give you each a present of ten dollars, which you may dispose of as you like."

"Oh, thank you, papa!" both cried delightedly, Ned adding: "I s'pose it's for us to buy something for Aunt Rosie with; isn't it, papa?"

"If you want to use it for that you may; but you are not compelled to do so; you can spend it for someone else, or for yourself if you choose."

"I'm going to spend mine for Aunt Rosie," Elsie announced. "It was very nice and kind in her to choose me for a flower girl at her wedding, and I'd like to give her something very pretty; something that she would like. Mamma, you will help me to choose my present, won't you?"

"With pleasure, daughter; and I am sure your papa and sisters will help us in our selection. They all have good taste."

"And y'll all help me, too, won't you?" asked Ned. "I want to buy the prettiest thing I can find for Aunt Rosie."

"Yes; you shall have all the advice you want, my son," his father said. "And now, as you have all finished eating, we will go to the library and have family worship; then make ourselves ready and set off upon our trip to the city."

"I think we couldn't have selected a better time for our expedition," Violet said as they entered their carriage; "the air is bracing, the weather delightful, and the roads are in excellent order, are they not, my dear?"

"Yes," the captain answered, "we could ask no improvement, and I think will travel rapidly enough to reach the city in very good season." They did so and were successful in finding what they esteemed beautiful gifts for the coming bridal. And Rosie's pleasure on receiving them was as great as they, the givers, had hoped. She had many handsome and valuable presents, but none seemed to gratify her more than these from her Woodburn relatives and friends.

"I like those gray dresses of yours, girls; they are both pretty and becoming, and very suitable for such a trip as we have taken to-day," remarked Violet as they rode homeward. "You will wear yours to the picnic to-morrow, I suppose, Lu?"

"If papa approves," answered Lucilla with a laughing look at him.

"Entirely," he said; "though I shall not insist if you prefer something else."

"That reminds me of some of my Nantucket experiences of years ago," she remarked. "Do you remember, papa, how I missed going to the 'squantum' with the rest of you because I took off the suitable dress Mamma Vi had directed me to wear, and donned some very unsuitable finery?"

"Yes," he replied, "that was an unhappy time for both the rebellious little girl and her father."

"Yes, papa; oh, I'm afraid I gave you many a heartache in those days. I remember I wanted very much to dress in white for the clambake, some weeks after that, but you wouldn't allow it. I was a very foolish little girl, and now I am very glad I had a wise, kind father to keep me in order."

"You were not rebellious about that second disappointment," he said with a smile, "and in the years that have passed since then you have learned to be very submissive to your father's wishes and directions."

"Yes, sir, because I have found out from experience that he is far wiser than I, and always seeks my best interests."

"That is certainly what he wishes to do, daughter; for the welfare of all his dear children lies very near his heart."

"Yes, papa; you love us all, I know," little Elsie said with a bright, glad look up into his face.

"Of course papa does," said Neddie; "if he didn't he wouldn't give us money to spend, and ever so many other nice things; or take us to the city for such a good time as we have had to-day."

"Yes, our dear papa is very good to us all," said Grace. "We have had a delightful drive, a fine time in the city, and now here we are at our own lovely home again," she added as the carriage turned in at the great gates.

"It is nearing tea time, daughters, and you had better go at once to your rooms and make yourselves neat for the evening," the captain said as he helped Lucilla and Grace to alight.

"Yes, sir," they answered and hastened up the broad stairway, following Violet and the two little ones.

"Dere's a gemman in de parlour a-waitin' for to see you, cap'in," said a servant, coming leisurely in from the back veranda.

"Ah! has he been here long?"

"'Bout ten minutes, I reckon, sah."

The captain hastened into the parlour and found Chester Dinsmore there. Cordial greetings were exchanged, and Chester received a warm invitation to stay to tea, which, however, he declined, saying that he had a little professional work on hand which must be done that evening if he was to take to-morrow for a holiday. "I came over, captain," he added, "to thank you for allowing me the privilege of taking your daughter, Miss Lucilla, to the picnic to-morrow, and to ask if-if you would not be so very kind as to remove your prohibition of-of love-making on my part, and--"

"No, Chester," the captain said in kindly but grave accents, as the young man halted in his speech, "you surely forget that my objection was on account of my daughter's youth, and that she is only a few months older now than she was then. I do not want her to begin to think of lovers for several years yet, and am objecting to your suit for that reason only. I show no greater favour in this matter to anyone else. And you may feel that I am showing confidence in you in permitting her to go to to-morrow's picnic in your care."

"Yes, sir; thank you, sir. I shall not abuse your confidence, and, though I find it hard not to be permitted to speak and use my best efforts to win the prize I so covet, it is some consolation that you treat other suitors in the same way."

"Perhaps, too, that my daughter is equally indifferent to them all," the captain remarked with a smile. "And by the way, my young friend, don't you suppose it may be a trifle hard for Lucilla's father to resign the first place in her heart to someone else?"

"It is according to nature, sir," Chester said, returning the smile. "You served Cousin Elsie so when you stole Cousin Violet's heart; and Cousin Elsie's husband had taken her from her father. It has been the way almost ever since the world began; so I suppose it is all right."

"Yes; but a father has a right to say it shall not begin too soon with his own daughter. Wedlock brings cares and responsibilities that should not be allowed to fall too soon upon young shoulders, and it is my desire and purpose to keep my dear young daughters free from them until they reach years of maturity."

"Putting it so, captain, it does seem that you are acting kindly by them, though I must

insist that it is hard on the lovers," Chester returned between a smile and a sigh. "But I think you may trust your daughter with me to-morrow without much fear that I will abuse your confidence. And I am not at all sure that I could gain anything by speaking. We are good friends,-she and I,-but I doubt if she cares a cent for me any other way."

"As to that," the captain said in kindly tone and with his pleasant smile, "I still have the happiness of believing that, as yet, her father holds the first place in her heart. I cannot hope that it will be so always-perhaps I ought not to wish it; but I do rejoice in the firm conviction that such is the fact at present."

"No one can blame you for that, sir," Chester said, rising to take leave, "but, ungenerous as it sounds, I cannot help hoping that, one of these days, I may be able to shift your position to the second place, taking the first myself. It sounds dreadful selfish, but fathers have to give way to lovers and husbands if the human race is to continue. I hope to be here in the morning, captain, a little after nine o'clock, with a carriage, to take Miss Lu to the wharf where the boat will be lying. I promise to take the best of care of her, to do and say nothing of which her father would disapprove, and to bring her home safely, Providence permitting, before dark."

"I have no doubt you will, Chester, and I trust her-one of my choice treasures-to you with confidence in your purpose to be the faithful guardian of her safety, and perfectly trustworthy as regards the matter of which we have been speaking," were the captain's parting words to his young visitor as he saw him out to the veranda.

"Thank you, sir; I hope to prove faithful to the trust. Good-evening," Chester returned, then sped away down the drive.

He thought it best, as did the captain also, that Lucilla should be left in ignorance of his call.

She came downstairs when the tea bell summoned the family to partake of their evening meal, and at its conclusion all gathered upon the front veranda, as was their custom. They had not been there very long when the Fairview carriage was seen to turn in at the great gates and come swiftly up the drive. As it drew up before the entrance they perceived with pleasure that it contained Mr. and Mrs. Leland and Evelyn, Grandma Elsie, and Rosie. A warm welcome was given them, all were comfortably seated-the young girls in a group together a little to one side of the older people-and soon an animated chat was being carried on by each party.

"Well, Lu," the captain presently overheard Rosie saying, "I suppose you are invited to to-morrow's picnic; I heard you were to be-you and Gracie both. Are you going?"

"I believe I am," replied Lucilla. "I have had an invitation, and papa has given me permission to accept it; but he thinks Gracie is not strong enough to go on such an excursion without him along to take care of her."

"Yes, I suppose that is so," said Rosie. "I am sorry, for I am going and I should like to have Gracie's company. Rather than do without it I would even take Brother Levis' too," she added with a laugh and in a little louder tone, turning a playful look upon him as she spoke.

His quick ear had caught the words.

"Can that be so, Sister Rosie," he said with assumed gravity. "Well, unfortunately, I cannot go, as I have had no invitation. Also as I have already declined the invitation for Grace, she cannot go. But I trust she is not greatly afflicted by this state of affairs."

"No, indeed, papa," responded Grace with a contented little laugh. "It is very far from being a trial to have to stay in this sweet home with you and mamma, Elsie and Ned."

"I hardly supposed you would have time and inclination to go, Rosie," said Lucilla.

"Oh, yes, indeed!" laughed Rosie. "I think it advisable to seize all the pleasures of single blessedness while I can."

"But married folks can go to picnics."

"Yes, so they can-to some of them; but this is only for the unmarried, who have gotten it up."

"Did you have a hand in that?" asked Lucilla.

"No; it was the work of our young gentlemen friends-my brothers, cousins, and some others."

"Of course you have not yet heard from your friends, the Crolys?" Lulu said inquiringly.

"No; there has not been time; unless they had telegraphed; as, perhaps, they may, to Cousin Arthur. Speak of angels! here he comes!" she exclaimed, as, at that moment, a gig turned in at the great gates and came on rapidly toward the house.

Dr. Arthur Conly was in it, and, presently, having reached the veranda steps, drew rein, bade good-evening, and announced to his cousins Elsie and Rosie that he had received a telegram from the Crolys thanking him for his invitation and saying that it was accepted and they might be expected in a few days.

"Ah! that is good news, if it suits you all at Roselands," said Grandma Elsie.

"As I think it does, cousin," returned the doctor. "At all events they all seemed pleased; which I think is particularly kind in Sister Mary and Cal."

"Yes," said Rosie, "and I hope and believe the Crolys will prove so agreeable as guests, or boarders, that they will never regret it."

"So do I," Arthur said; "also I think that the Crolys will find us all so agreeable that they will never regret it."

"Won't you alight and take a seat among us, doctor?" asked the captain hospitably.

"Thank you; I should enjoy doing so, but duty calls in another direction, a sick patient needing prompt attention. Good-evening to you all"; and, turning with the last words, he drove away.

"So, Rosie, you are likely soon to be able to make the acquaintance of your future mother-in-law," said Violet. "But you don't seem alarmed at the prospect."

"No; because I am not. From all Will has told me I think she must be a lovely and lovable woman; as he thinks his future mother-in-law is."

"And as all to whom she bears that relation can testify," remarked the captain with an affectionate, appreciative glance at the sweet face of Grandma Elsie.

"I, for one," said Mr. Leland heartily; "and I feel entirely sure of Zoe, the only other one to whom she bears that relationship."

"You are all very kind, very ready to pass my imperfections by," responded Mrs. Travilla's sweet voice. "And if I am a good mother, I can assure you that it is at least partly as a a consequence of having good sons and daughters."

"May you always be able to say that, mother," responded the captain heartily. "It would be a sorry sort of man or woman who could be any other than a good son or daughter to you."

"Oh, Lu!" said Evelyn presently, "didn't you tell me you were going into the city to-morrow to do some shopping?"

"Yes; but we did it to-day, in order that I might have to-morrow free for the picnic. We all went to the city and had a very pleasant and successful time."

"Shopping is apt to be very fatiguing work," said Grandma Elsie. "I see Grace looks weary. Dear child, if you feel like retiring, do not let our presence hinder you for a moment."

"Thank you, Grandma Elsie; but I don't like to miss a minute of your call," returned Grace, exerting herself to speak in a lively tone.

"I'd like to tell about what we bought," said Ned, "but I suppose I must not."

"Better wait till you have the articles here to show, my son," said his father.

"Yes; we had to leave them to be marked; but Aunt Rosie will see them some of these days," said the little fellow.

"And she is very willing to wait till the right time comes," Rosie said, putting an arm about him and giving him a kiss; for he had gone to her side.

"I'm afraid it will be a good while to wait," he returned. "Papa was so kind, he gave us-Elsie and me-each ten dollars to do what we pleased with. Lu and Gracie had a good deal more, 'cause they are older, you know, and--"

"There, that will do, Ned," laughed his mother. "It is your bed time. Say good-night to grandma and the rest, and Elsie and you and I will run away for the present."

The callers did not stay very long after Violet's return to the veranda, and soon after their departure the captain held his evening service and then advised Lucilla and Grace to retire at once, that the coming day might find them fully rested and refreshed.

They obeyed with cheerful alacrity, and arose the next morning feeling none the worse for the exertion of the previous day.

Chester came promptly at the appointed hour, found Lucilla ready for the excursion, and they drove away in fine spirits. Chester spared no pains to make himself agreeable to his companion, but was careful not to do or say anything of which her father could disapprove. He brought her home again before dark, slightly fatigued, but gay and lively, with much to tell of the pleasant experiences of the day.

"Did Rosie go?" asked Grace.

"Yes, and was very merry; indeed, so we all were. We were rowing about and fishing most of the time."

"Both at once?" queried her father with an amused look.

"No, sir; we kept still enough while trying to catch the fish, and we caught as many as we could eat, then landed, made a fire,-the young men did, I mean,-cooked the fish, made coffee, and we had our dinner. We girls spread a tablecloth on the grass and got out the good things in the baskets. They were in great plenty, quite a variety, and all very good and palatable. I think the air and rowing had given us all fine appetites so that everybody ate heartily and seemed to enjoy it."

"And you were not sorry you went?"

"No, indeed! I am much obliged to you, father, for letting me go," she added, turning to him with a look of love and gratitude.

"You are very welcome, daughter," he said, "and I am glad you enjoyed it. There is an old saying that 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,' and I think girl nature does not differ in that respect."

"Oh, you dear papa! none of your children are ever allowed to have all work and no play," she exclaimed, giving him a look of ardent affection. "You take a great deal of trouble to give us pleasure; you always have."

"Yes, indeed," said Grace; "it seems to be papa's greatest delight to give pleasure to his wife and children. Don't you think so, mamma?"

"Indeed I do," returned Violet heartily. "I have never known a more generous or unselfish person than my husband and your father."

"And what shall I say?" queried the captain. "That when I am the person under discussion no greater flatterers can be found than my wife and older daughters?"

"Oh! we will excuse you from saying anything on the subject, sir," laughed Violet.

"Now, what kind of a time did you all have staying at home without me?" asked Lucilla. "I hope you have missed me a little."

"Of course we did," replied Grace.

"Your father missed both his daughter and his amanuensis," said the captain.

"Oh! there were letters to be answered?" she exclaimed. "Please let me do it now, papa?"

"No, dear child, I answered them myself; and if I had not I should not let you work to-night, after all the fatigue of the day."

"You are so kindly careful of me and all of us, papa," she said with a grateful, loving look into his eyes. "I am somewhat tired, but not too much so to use the typewriter, if you wanted any work done on it. It is such a pleasure to be of even a little service to my dear father."

"And such a pleasure to your father to be served by so dear and loving a daughter," he returned; "one so valuable to me that I cannot consent to have her broken down with too much of either work or pleasure. You must go to bed presently and try to take a good night's rest after the exertions of the day."

"I am ready to go whenever my father bids me," she said in a cheerful tone; "and I want to begin my night's sleep early enough to be ready for my usual stroll with him about the grounds before breakfast."

"Yes; I should be sorry to have to take that without the pleasant company of my early bird of a daughter," he said. "I should miss her sadly."

Lucilla's eyes shone. "Thank you, papa! it is very nice in you to say that," she said, "and I dearly love those early walks with you."

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top