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   Chapter 12 No.12

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 12619

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Captain Raymond and his eldest daughter were out in the Woodburn grounds the next morning at their usual early hour, wandering here and there along the shaded paths and among the shrubs and flowers, noting their growth in size and beauty, gathering blossoms, and chatting together in their usual familiar and affectionate manner; Lucilla expressing her thoughts and feelings as freely and openly as though her companion had been one of her own age and sex.

"I am glad for Rosie," she said when the talk turned upon the subject of what was expected to be the great event of the day, "she seems so happy; though how she can be in the prospect of leaving the dear home of her childhood and the mother who loves her so fondly, I cannot understand. Oh, father! I do think I can never, never bear to go away from you! It seems impossible that anyone else can ever be half so dear to me, and I am so glad that you want to keep me your own little girl for years longer."

"For all our life on earth, daughter, if you are satisfied to have it so," he returned, bestowing upon her a look and smile of tenderest fatherly affection. "You are still one of my chief treasures, which I should be very loath to bestow upon anyone else; dearer to me-as all my children are-than tongue can tell."

"Yes, papa," she said, looking up into his eyes with a joyous smile, "so you have told me many, many times; but I love to hear it just as if you had never said it before."

"As I do your expressions of ardent love for me, daughter," he returned. "Very glad I am that I am not the one who must to-day resign to another the ownership of a daughter."

"I am sorry for Grandma Elsie," said Lucilla; "but then I suppose she must feel rather used to it-having given away two daughters before."

"And having none left to be a care and trouble, eh?" laughed her father.

"No, sir; having both near enough to be seen and enjoyed every day if she chooses. Don't you hope that will be the way with you if you have to give any of yours up to somebody else?"

"I certainly do," he said. "I should be very loath to consent to having any one of them carried off to a distance. But let us not trouble ourselves with anxious thought of what may lie in the future. Remember the dear Master's word, 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'"

"Yes, papa; and I remember your teaching me that his 'Take no thought,' means no anxiety, and that it tends greatly to one's happiness to live one day at a time, just leaving all the future in his hands."

"Yes, daughter; just as a little child leaves its future and the supply of its daily wants in the care of its parents."

"Such kind teaching, and easy to understand when one has such a father as mine," she said, with a look of grateful love.

"I am thankful, indeed, daughter, if anything in my treatment and teaching helps you to a clearer understanding of how the Master would have you to act and feel," he said in tones that spoke full appreciation of her filial affection.

"Ah! there is our mail," he added, as a servant was seen carrying it toward the house; "so we will go in now and see if it contains anything important for you or me."

"And if there is anything you want answered on the typewriter you will let me do it at once, won't you, papa?" she asked, as they quickened their footsteps, taking the direction toward the house.

"If you have time, and wish to do so, daughter."

"Yes, sir; I have hardly anything to do till it is time for the drive to Ion."

"Unless you should find a letter, or more than one, of your own, calling for a reply," he returned, smiling down into her bright, animated face.

"That is not very likely, considering how few correspondents I have," she laughed.

They reached the veranda from one direction as the servant entered it from another, and the captain, taking the mail bag from him, walked on into the library, Lucilla following. He emptied the contents of the bag upon the table, and going rapidly over them, said: "Several letters for our guests" (laying them aside as he spoke), "one for your mamma; none for any of my children, and only two business letters for me. Well, daughter," glancing at the clock on the mantel, "you may sit down to your typewriter and answer these at my dictation; as I see there will be time to do so before the ringing of the breakfast bell. Ah, good-morning, Keith!" as at that moment that gentleman entered the room. "Here are letters which I was just about to send up to you."

"Thank you," said Keith, taking them from his host's outstretched hand. "I am glad to have saved you the trouble. I hope you and Miss Lucilla are both quite well?" giving her a bow and smile as he spoke.

"Entirely, thank you, and have just come in from our usual early stroll together about the grounds. I hope you rested well. Take that easy-chair and don't let our presence interfere with your enjoyment of your letters."

Keith declined that invitation, saying he felt a strong inclination for a breath of the sweet morning air before the summons to the breakfast table should come; so would read his letters upon the veranda, and, with them in his hand, passed out of the room.

"I strongly suspect that was from a polite disinclination to hinder us in our work, papa," remarked Lucilla in a sprightly tone, as her father uncovered the machine and made all things ready for her work.

"Quite likely," he responded, "for I never met anyone more truly polite and thoughtful for others. He is a Christian man and acts from Christian principles in all that he does."

"As his friend, my father, does," she said with a look of filial reverence up into his face as he stood by her side.

"And as I trust my daughter does and will ever do," he returned with grave earnestness, then began his dictation.

They made rapid work and had finished and joined Keith upon the veranda before the ringing of the breakfast bell summoned all to their morning meal.

"Rosie has an ideal wedding day, I think," remarked Violet as she poured the coffee; "that shower in the night having laid the dust in the roads and made the air deliciously cool."

"Also refreshed vegetation," added her husband, "so that trees and shrubs and flowers are as fresh and fragrant as possible."

"The sun

shines brightly, too," added Grace, "reminding one of the old saying I have so often heard quoted: 'Happy is the bride on whom the sun shines.'"

"It is pleasant to see it shining, yet I do not believe Rosie would hesitate a moment, or feel the least anxiety about its effect upon her future happiness, if the rain were pouring down," said Lucilla; "because she has great confidence in her bridegroom that is to be, and not a particle of superstition in her nature."

"That is giving her high praise," said Keith, "for there are few who are entirely free from it, though very many are hardly aware of its hold upon them."

"You are quite correct, I think, sir," remarked Dr. Percival; "we are all apt to be blind to our own feelings, and hardly conscious that our prejudices and superstitions are such, blind to our weakness-even more to the mental than to the physical."

"Then how well it is that there is no occasion for their exercise, or for battling with them to-day," observed Violet in a sprightly tone; "and though, of course, mamma and all of us must, when Rosie is gone, miss our constant sweet companionship with her, we ought not to mourn, but rather rejoice that she is going into a Christian family and gaining a devoted Christian for a life companion."

"Yes; that is indeed a cause for joy and gratitude," said Keith.

"Father, will Mr. Croly be any relation to us after he gets married to Aunt Rosie?" queried Ned.

"Yes, my son; brother to your mamma and me, and uncle to the rest of you."

"Meaning Neddie himself and Elsie, papa?" Grace said half interrogatively and with an amused little laugh.

"Ah, yes! he is certainly too young to be, or wish to be, that to my older daughters," returned her father with a look of amusement.

"No danger that he will want to claim that relationship, Gracie," laughed Lucilla. "Even Walter does not, though I know you are a particular favourite with him; but he, to be sure, is still younger than Mr. Croly by some years."

"It is at two o'clock Aunt Rosie is to be married, then there will be the wedding feast, and after that the bride and groom will go on a journey," said Neddie, as if bestowing a piece of valuable information upon his hearers.

"Yes," said Elsie, "but, as everybody knows it, what's the use of telling it?"

"I thought perhaps Cousin Donald and Cousin Dick didn't know it-at least, not all of it," said Ned.

Then his father told him he had talked quite enough, and must be quiet during the rest of the meal.

"We who are to be the bride's attendants should go over early, I think," remarked Lucilla. "At least we, the older ones," she added with a smiling glance at Elsie; "the little flower girls will not be needed until somewhat later."

"You may set your own time," her father said. "I will send you and Grace over in the family carriage, and it can return in full season for the use of anyone else who desires it. We have a variety of horses and conveyances, gentlemen, any or all of them at your service at whatever hour you may appoint," he added, turning to his guests. "There will be abundance of time for a ride or drive for mere exercise or enjoyment, before donning your attire for the grand occasion, if you wish to take it."

Both gentlemen accepted the offer with thanks, and they proceeded to lay their plans for a gallop together over some of the roads with which Dick had been familiar in his childhood, but which would be new to Captain Keith. They set out within an hour after leaving the breakfast table, and not very long afterward the young girls were on their way to Ion.

They found the house beautifully decorated with flowers from garden and conservatories, especially the room in which the ceremony was to take place.

Everybody seemed in a state of subdued excitement, Rosie half gay, half sad, her eyes filling whenever she turned them upon her mother-the dear mother who had so loved and cherished her all the days of her life with such unselfish devotion as no other earthly creature could know; how could she endure the thought of the impending separation? She could not; she could only strive to forget it, and keep her mind filled with the important step now just about to be taken, for she had already gone too far to retreat even were she sure that she wished to do so. The mother was scarcely less affected, but with her greater experience of life was better able to control and conceal her feelings. And so were the others who, though pleased with the match, still felt that this was the breaking up of some very tender ties; they would not allow their thoughts to dwell upon that, but would occupy them with the mirth and gaiety of the present.

But to Mrs. Croly, who had so far recovered under Dr. Conly's skilful treatment that she was able to be present, it was all joy: she had always wanted a daughter, and now was gaining one after her own heart; for Rosie seemed to her all that was good, beautiful, and in every way attractive. And then, in respect to family, fortune, everything that could be thought of, she was all that could be desired. The elder Mr. Croly, too, was entirely satisfied with the match, and already felt a paternal interest in the young girl just entering his family. In fact upon both sides there was perfect satisfaction with the match.

Everything went well; there was no bustle or confusion; minister and guests were all there in due season; bride, groom, and attendants, including the little flower girls, performed their parts without mistake or discomposure. Kisses, congratulations, and good wishes followed; then the wedding feast was partaken of leisurely and with mirth and jollity, the bridal dress was exchanged for a beautiful travelling suit, the farewells were spoken, with cheery reminders that the separation was to be but temporary, the bride expecting soon to rejoin the dear home circle. That thought was a very comforting one to her, and, though tears had fallen at the parting from her loved ones,-especially her mother,-they soon ceased their flow under the tenderly affectionate caresses and endearments of him who was henceforward to be to her the nearest and dearest of all earthly loved ones, and her face grew radiant with happiness as he had hoped to see it on their bridal day.

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