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   Chapter 18 No.18

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 8640

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Ever since gaining her father's permission to tell Lucilla the story of his love, Captain Keith had been watching for a favourable opportunity to do so, but thus far without avail.

"Now," he thought, as they drove on the homeward way from Roselands to Woodburn, "I must try to get a few moments alone with her this evening."

He did not succeed, however; there were still several guests besides himself, and Lucilla seemed to be always in request for conversation, or taking part in some game. And directly after the evening service she slipped away to her own apartments and was seen no more that night.

In the morning it was equally impossible to catch her alone for even a moment, so busy and excited were all with regard to what was to be the great event of the day.

The ladies began their toilets soon after breakfast and were not seen again until about to enter the carriages which were to carry them to The Oaks; this time Keith had not even the pleasure of being in the same vehicle with Lucilla.

Then, arrived at their destination, the young girls vanished from his sight, going into the dressing room appointed for their use in robing themselves for the ceremony.

Lucilla and Grace were to be bridesmaids,-Laura Howard, also,-and Sydney maid of honour.

Only a few minutes before their arrival Dick had been admitted to the room where his bride sat arrayed in her wedding attire-the beautiful dress and veil provided by the kindness of her Cousin Elsie.

"Oh, my darling!" he exclaimed in astonishment, "how lovely you are and how beautifully dressed. This is not the dress you spoke of wearing,-this rich white satin,-and the veil. Why, Rosie's own were not handsomer!"

"No, I think not," said Maud, smiling at his pleasure. "They are dear Cousin Elsie's own wedding garments, kindly lent to me because I had no time to procure such for myself; and I was willing-yes, very glad to borrow them, because they are so lovely and becoming, and because, you know, it is said to be good luck to have something old to wear, as well as something new. I hope my bridegroom approves?"

"He could not do anything else, seeing how lovely his bride looks in them," Dick replied, putting an arm about her and holding her close with more than one tender caress. Then, holding her off a little for another and closer inspection, "Oh, Maud, darling, how lovely you are!" he exclaimed. "I feel a rich and happy man to think you are all my own, my very own. Dearest, it shall not be my fault if you do not find yourself a happy woman in the sweet, new home to which I am about to take you."

"Dick, dear Dick, I do not doubt that I shall be happy," she said softly, lifting to his eyes that were full of happy tears; "if I am not, I am sure it will be no fault of yours."

But footsteps were heard approaching and he took his arm from her waist and stood beside her with her hand in his.

The door opened and the bridesmaids and groomsmen filed in. Then there were exclamations of surprise and delight.

"Oh, Maud, how lovely! how lovely! When and where did you get that beautiful dress and veil? We all thought you were to be married in your bridesmaid dress that you wore at Rosie's wedding."

"And you like this one better? and the veil that goes with it?" Maud returned with a joyous blush and smile.

"Oh, yes, yes, certainly; it is far handsomer, and so becoming! But how did you get it up so quickly?"

"I didn't. It was dear Cousin Elsie's wedding dress, and she has lent it to me to be married in. It was just like her-always so kind and thoughtful of others."

"That is true, indeed!" said Lucilla; "I do think that in all this world there is not a kinder person than dear Grandma Elsie."

Just then the little flower girls appeared in the doorway and uttered their exclamations of surprise and delight at the beauty of the bride's attire. Their mothers were just behind them, and Violet seemed as much surprised and pleased as the children. She recognized the dress and veil-which she had seen a number of times in the course of her life, and was well content that her mother had seen fit to lend them to Maud for this important time when she could not provide such luxuries for herself.

"The dress fits you wonderfully well, Maud; and both it and the veil are very becom

ing," Violet said. "I am glad mamma had them, and thought of producing them for this occasion."

"Yes, it was very, very kind in Cousin Elsie," returned the bride, blushing with pleasure.

"And you are all ready to go down now, are you not?" asked Mrs. Dinsmore. "Everybody is here and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The appointed hour has come, too, and here is the minister," as the Rev. Mr. Keith appeared in the doorway.

At that the little procession formed at once and passed down the broad stairway, through the flower-bedecked hall, and into the large parlour where the guests were gathered.

All went well; the ceremony was short but impressive, the congratulations were warm and sincere, and the wedding breakfast that followed a grand affair. Soon after it was over the bride changed her wedding dress for a neat and pretty travelling one. Then she and her new-made husband bade good-bye, entered a carriage, and started for a train that was to carry them on their homeward way.

Most of the other relatives from a distance left for their homes during the afternoon or evening. Captain Keith had announced his intention to leave that night by a later train. He was to start from Woodburn, so he bade adieu to all the friends but that family, then went home with his friend, Captain Raymond.

After a late dinner there, he found and seized the opportunity he had so long been waiting for. Lucilla was sitting alone upon the veranda, with a book in her hand, but not reading, for her eyes were not on it. She seemed to be thinking intently of something else. But when Captain Keith took a seat by her side she welcomed him with a pleasant smile.

"So you leave us to-night," she said. "I hope you have enjoyed your visit well enough to feel a trifle sorry to go."

"I have enjoyed my visit greatly," he said in reply, "and I should like to prolong it; but it will not do to play all the time. It seems lonely, too, to have to go away taking no one with me. To go as Cousin Dick did this afternoon, with a dear young wife, would not be a hardship; but to go alone is rather dismal. Don't you think it must be?"

"Yes; I have never tried it, but I should think it was. When mamma died and papa had to go away on his ship-oh, you don't know how hard it was to part with him-I still had my brother Max and dear Gracie. I had them both until a good while after papa came home to stay; so I have never been all alone."

"And I sincerely hope you never may be," he said. "But do you never feel as if you would like to have a life companion, such as Maud was given to-day?"

"A husband, do you mean? No, indeed! for then I should be obliged to leave my dear father-the best man in the world, the dearest, kindest, most loving father to me."

"He is all that, I am sure," said Keith; "but, perhaps, some day you may find that you can love another even better than you love him."

She shook her head dissentingly.

"I can hardly believe it possible. It seems to me that it would just break my heart to have to leave my father or to be separated from him in any way."

Keith sighed drearily. "Miss Raymond," he said, "I love you, I love you devotedly, and if-if you have not given your affection to another, perhaps in time you may find it possible to return my love. Will you not let me hope for that?"

"Oh, don't!" she said, half rising to leave him, her face scarlet with blushes. "I don't know anything about love,-that kind of love,-and my father has forbidden me to listen to such things and--"

"But he would let you this time, for he gave me permission to speak to you and-and tell you of my love."

"That is very strange; I don't understand it," she said, sinking back into her chair with a look of perplexity and distress on her face. "Ah," brightening a little, "I think papa knew there was no danger that I would be willing to leave him for anybody else."

"Yes; I suppose that was it," sighed Keith, and, at that moment, there came an interruption, very welcome to Lucilla, in the form of little Ned looking for papa. And the next moment papa himself, to find Captain Keith and hand him a letter; a servant having just brought the afternoon mail. Then Lucilla slipped away to her own room, where she stayed until summoned to the dining room by the tea bell.

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