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   Chapter 17 No.17

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 10375

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

At Woodburn Captain Raymond and his eldest daughter had had their usual early ramble together about the grounds; then, coming in, had found a large mail, containing a number of business letters for him, awaiting them.

"I hope they are such as I can answer for you on the typewriter, papa," Lucilla said cheerfully.

"Yes," he replied; "if you have time and inclination to do so."

"Always time to work for my father," she said, giving him a bright, sweet smile, as she seated herself before the machine.

"Then we will do it at once," he said, returning the smile as he uncovered the machine and put the paper in place for her. "'Business before pleasure' is a good rule, and my dear, helpful daughter makes it an easier one for me to follow than it would be without her assistance."

"I am so glad it does, papa; so glad I am of some use to you," she returned, blushing with pleasure as she spoke.

"I know you are, daughter dear, else I should not call upon you for these services," he said heartily; then, glancing over a letter he had just opened, he began dictating.

He had not said anything to her about the talk he and Donald Keith had had the night before, nor did he intend to. So sure of the result was he that it did not seem at all necessary, and he thought the knowledge of what was before her would only cause her embarrassment and discomfort. He did not know what opportunity Keith might seize, and it seemed better to leave her in ignorance of his intentions.

"Is that all, father?" she asked presently, when several letters had been written.

"Yes, daughter," he replied; "and now we can feel free for the day. I hope it will be a pleasant one to you."

"I expect it to be, papa," she returned; "Pinegrove is a beautiful place, and the Howards are delightful people. No relation to me, but tolerably near cousins to Mamma Vi, you know."

"Yes; Mrs. Howard being half sister to her grandfather," he said with an amused look. "They can hardly be called near relatives, but are very estimable people, and I think the half day may be passed very pleasantly with them and the visiting relatives."

"I like Flora Howard. Papa, don't you think she might make a nice wife for Captain Keith, if only they should take a fancy to each other?"

"I hadn't thought of it. She is rather young-not much older than my daughter Lulu, I judge; so had better not be thinking of marriage for years to come."

"Yes, sir; but a good many girls do, you know; girls that haven't such a dear, good father as mine to make them feel that they never want to leave him for anybody else."

"You are sure you don't want to leave yours?" he asked with a searching, though smiling look into her face.

"Oh, papa, you can't doubt it, I am sure!" she exclaimed, giving him a look of ardent affection.

"No, I do not," he returned; "I am very sure-since you have told me so at least a dozen times-that my dear eldest daughter loves me better than she does any other man living, and wants me to keep her all my own for years to come."

"Yes, indeed, papa," she said with a happy laugh, "that is just what I want you to do."

"Then we entirely agree. There is the breakfast bell, and I hope my daughter feels ready to obey its summons."

"Yes, sir; it is a welcome sound."

It was a bright and cheerful party that presently gathered about the table, and a lively conversation was carried on while they partook of the tempting viands. The new home about to be prepared for Rosie, its present condition, the beauty of the situation, the grounds, the building, and the improvements to be made by alterations and additions, were themes dilated upon for a time; then the approaching marriage of Dick and Maud came under discussion, and the questions were broached whether she would wear the dress she had worn as Rosie's bridesmaid, and whether she would have the same attendants.

"I hope she will," little Elsie said. "I'd like to be flower girl again, and my dress is all ready, so that it wouldn't make any trouble or expense."

"That is very thoughtful in you, little sister," laughed Lucilla.

"I am really sorry there is no time or opportunity to buy presents for Maud," remarked Violet in a regretful tone.

"Yes, it seems a pity," said Captain Raymond; "but perhaps they can be sent on to her later. If people will marry in haste they will have to take the consequences. I hope that in this case one of them will not be repenting at leisure."

"I don't believe it will," said Violet. "They are of the same kith and kin, and know pretty much all about each other."

"Keith," said Captain Raymond, "send your plate up again; I see it is almost empty."

"Thank you, no; I want to save some appetite for the later breakfast that I am told I must share with the rest of you at Pinegrove. Our good friends there might feel hurt should I do it scant justice."

"How soon do we go, papa?" asked Grace.

"As soon after prayers as the ladies are dressed and ready."

"The little girls and boys too, papa?" asked Ned somewhat anxiously. "Elsie and I are to go, aren't we?"

"Oh, yes, my son, and I hope will have a very pleasant time. I am glad I can

trust you to be good, well-behaved children."

Donald Keith was on the watch for an opportunity to tell to Lucilla the story of his love, but none offered. They drove to Pinegrove, and afterward to Roselands, in the same carriage, but it had a number of other occupants, and the conversation was general. But, fortunately for Lucilla, she had no suspicion of his designs upon her, so was entirely at her ease with him.

The Pinegrove party was a success, everybody enjoying it fully; the very young in playing games, the older ones strolling about the grounds, chatting, laughing, singing.

The breakfast, quite a grand affair, was served about noon, and some two hours after it was over they all left the grove for Roselands.

Little had been said at Pinegrove about the approaching marriage, but it came under discussion at Roselands, and to the extreme satisfaction of the two little Elsies it was decided that they should act as flower girls, as they had at Rosie's wedding. The same bridesmaids and maid of honour were chosen also; with the understanding that they should all wear the same dresses worn as Rosie's attendants.

"And, of course, you will wear yours, Maud," said Laura Howard. "It is lovely and very becoming, and the shade so delicate that I should think it would do almost, if not quite, as well as if it were white."

"It is very pretty, and as becoming as any I own," Maud said with a slight smile. "I haven't time to buy another, and, if one's bridegroom is all right, it doesn't really matter whether the wedding dress is perfectly white or not."

"Certainly not," laughed Dick. "I should rather by far marry the right woman in a black calico than the wrong one in the handsomest of white satins; even with Brussels or point lace on it in abundance."

"Well, then, I may feel entirely easy," Maud said, echoing his laugh, "for I shall certainly be better and more appropriately attired than in a black dress, or calico of any colour."

"Of course you will," said Grace, "I think that dress of yours is lovely and extremely becoming. No one need be ashamed of such a wedding dress as that."

"And I am determined that she shall have a lovely wedding," said Mrs. Sue Dinsmore; "as much like what I have been told Sister Elsie's was as possible. The house shall be trimmed with abundance of flowers, and the bride and groom shall stand in the very same spot that their predecessors did; and I dare say the refreshments will be pretty nearly a reproduction of what were served that evening; as nearly as I can manage it, at all events."

"It really won't matter if there are some added luxuries, my dear," her husband remarked in a jesting tone, and with a twinkle of fun in his eye.

"No, I presume not; it will be better to err on that side than on the other," she returned demurely. "I mean, however, to make up to poor Maud for the lack of a new wedding dress; at least so far as I can."

"As I do," said Mrs. Travilla, smiling kindly upon the expectant bride.

"And it is only the pressure of Dick's haste-the lack of time for it-that keeps her brothers from providing her with as handsome a wedding outfit as could be desired," remarked Chester, looking slightly annoyed and hurt.

"Yes, Chester, we all know that," a chorus of voices exclaimed, his Uncle Dinsmore adding: "And as we are all relatives or connections, it really matters very little. Dick may be thankful-and I don't in the least doubt that he is-to get Maud, without considering how she is attired, or of what her wardrobe consists."

"I say amen to that, uncle," smiled Dick, "and shall only enjoy speedily supplying anything lacking in her wardrobe. I'll be glad, indeed, to have the right."

"Very good in you, Dick; but it isn't the bridegroom's place to supply the trousseau," said Chester, only half mollified. "And there is no occasion, seeing her brothers are able to do it, and willing, to say nothing of her own means."

"Oh, Ches, don't be vexed," said Maud. "It will all be right; I have a very good wardrobe, and don't mean to let Dick buy anything for me this long while."

At which Dick laughed meaningly, as much as to say: "In regard to that I shall do as I please or think best."

Chester was somewhat out of sorts; he did not like to have his sister hurried into marriage without a trousseau, and he had noticed something that displeased him still more in Captain Keith's manner toward Lucilla Raymond. It was hard, very hard, he thought, that her father would not allow him to tell her the story of his love. He would have been still more indignant had he known that Keith was allowed that privilege.

As for Keith, he was looking out for an opportunity to avail himself of the father's permission; not very hopefully, but still not in entire despair; thinking that clever courting might perhaps win her in the end. And he felt that she was worth much effort and long waiting for.

The afternoon passed quickly and the party broke up early, partly because of the necessary preparations for to-morrow's wedding. The Oaks family, having the most of that to attend to, were the first to leave, and the others soon followed.

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