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   Chapter 19 No.19

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 21560

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


It was a pleasant surprise to Lucilla to find Grandma Elsie and Walter there, and to learn that they had come to stay several days. So it was easy to avoid being left alone with Captain Keith, and there was no more private talk between them. When the carriage drove up to take him to his train she was on the veranda with the others, and he shook hands with her in her turn, saying, "Good-bye, Miss Lu. I shall hope to hear from your father that you are well and happy."

"Thank you; good-bye, and I wish you a safe journey," she said in reply, but without lifting her eyes to his face.

Just as she was ready for bed her father came to her room to bid her good-night as he so often did.

Taking her in his arms and looking searchingly into her eyes, "Is there anything wrong with you-anything troubling you, daughter?" he asked tenderly.

"Yes, papa," she said, colouring and dropping her eyes. "Oh, why did you let Captain Keith talk to me of-of love, when you have so often told me I was much too young to even think of such things?"

"Well, dear child," he said, "I knew it would be risking little or nothing, as I was certain I had too large a place in your heart to leave any room for him, but it seemed the only way to thoroughly convince him of that was to let him try to push himself in there. And he did try?"

"Yes, papa; and when I told him you had forbidden me to listen to such things, he said you had given him leave to speak about it to me; and that surprised me more than his speaking. You didn't want me to say yes, father?"

"No, daughter; no, indeed! I should not have let him speak if I had not been very sure that my dear child loved me too well to leave me for him or anybody else."

"Oh, I am so glad!" she exclaimed with a sigh of relief and laying her head down on his breast, "though I couldn't believe that my dear father wanted to be rid of me, or felt willing that I should love anybody else better than I love him."

"No, dear daughter, you need never be afraid of that. But, now, good-night. Go at once to your bed, for you are looking very weary."

She obeyed, slept sweetly and peacefully till her usual hour for rising, and, as was her usual custom, joined her father in a stroll about the grounds before the breakfast hour.

"How would you and Grace like to have your friends Eva and Sydney here for a few days, daughter?" he asked as they paced along side by side.

"Oh, I think it would be very pleasant, papa!" she answered in a joyous tone. "I know Gracie would like it, and I think Sydney would, too. Eva always does. I believe she loves you almost as well as if you were her father as well as ours."

"Ah! that is pleasant news for me," he said with a smile. "I am fond of her, too, though, of course, not with just the fondness I feel for my own children."

"Oh, I am glad you don't! I shouldn't want you to love her as well as you do me. Will you invite the girls, papa?"

"Yes; we will call to them through the telephone after breakfast."

They did so, there was a joyful acceptance from each, and before the dinner hour they had both arrived. Sydney had not gone with Maud and Dick. It had been decided before the wedding that it would be better for her to remain in a more northern region till fall, then go South to make her home with her sister.

"I was glad of your invitation, captain," she said when he helped her out of the carriage, "for I was finding it dreadfully lonesome without my sister."

"Ah! so I suspected, as did my wife, and we thought it might relieve your loneliness a little to spend a few days here with us."

"Yes; it was so kind," she responded, "so very kind! And you are here, too, Cousin Elsie, and Walter! Oh, I am sure we are going to have a fine time."

"Yes, indeed, I always do have the best of times here," said Evelyn; "especially when Grandma Elsie and Walter add their attractions to those of the Woodburn folks."

"We will all try to make it as delightful as we can," said Grace. "Papa has kindly excused Lu and me from lessons while you stay; so we can busy ourselves with fancy work or anything we like, when we are not driving or walking; and we have some new books and periodicals that one can read aloud while the rest are doing fancy work or whatever they please. We can play games, too, so I think we will not lack for amusement."

"No, we never do, here," said Eva.

And they did not; time passed swiftly and pleasantly in the round of occupations and amusements suggested by Grace. Friday and Saturday soon slipped by, and Sunday came, bringing its sacred duties and pleasures-religious services at home, at church, then the Sunday schools, and after that the home Bible class, which all found so pleasant. They gathered upon the veranda, each with a Bible in hand; for even little Ned could now read fluently, and generally find the references for himself.

"Will you not lead us to-day, mother?" asked the captain when all were seated.

"No," she said with her pleasant smile, "I very much prefer to have that burden borne by my son-in-law, Captain Raymond."

"And you wish him to select the subject?"

"Yes; he cannot fail to fix upon a good and interesting one."

"And how is it with you, my love?" he asked, turning to Violet.

"Suppose we take thanksgiving as our subject," she said; "we all have so much, so very much, to be thankful for."

"Indeed we have!" he returned emphatically, "and I think no better subject could be found. Neddie, my boy, can you tell papa something you have to be thankful for?"

"Oh, yes, papa! eyes to see with, ears to hear with, hands and feet, and that I can use them all; for I saw a boy the other day that can't walk at all, though he has feet, but must lie on a bed or sit in a chair all the time; while I can walk, and run, and jump whenever I want to."

"Yes, those are all great blessings," his father said. "And now, Elsie, can you think of some others?"

"Oh, so many, papa! more than I can count," the little girl answered earnestly. "A dear, kind father and mother, and grandma among them; and, oh, so many dear relations besides; 'specially my sisters and brothers. And I am so glad I was born in this Christian land and taught about God and the dear Saviour; and have a Bible to read, and know that I may pray to God, and that he will hear me and help me to be good-to love and serve him. But, oh! I can't name all my blessings, papa, they are so very, very many."

"That is very true, daughter," he replied; "and we can all say the same; our blessings are more than we can count. But the best of all is the gift of God's dear son. 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' 'Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.' 'I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.' So says the Psalmist, and surely we can all echo his words from our very hearts. Mother, you seem to have selected a passage. Will you please read it?"

"Yes," she said; "here in Corinthians where the apostle is speaking of the sting of death and the victory over the grave, he cries exultingly, 'But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Then he goes on, 'Therefore my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.'"

"Yes; and let us all heed that exhortation," said the captain. "Evelyn, you seem to have a text ready. Will you please read it?"

"These words of Jesus," she said, "'I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you,' are they not words to be thankful for?"

"They are, indeed!" he said. "What can be more comforting than the presence of the Master? His presence and his love. 'He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.' Ah! what is there more worthy to be thankful for than the love of Christ! But when should we give thanks, Walter?"

"Always, sir. Here in Ephesians I read, 'Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Again in first Thessalonians, 'We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.'"

Then Sydney, Lucilla, and Grace read in turn:

"'Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks; for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.'"

"'And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.'"

"'Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving.'"

They read, in turn, again and again, finding the Bible full of exhortations to thanksgiving, then joined in singing hymns of praise-not with their voices only, but with joy, and thankfulness in their hearts because of the good gifts of God, both temporal and spiritual, to them all.

So closed the Sabbath day, and after it followed a night of sweet sleep and peaceful rest.

At the breakfast table the next morning Walter asked: "Where are we going to spend our summer? Isn't it time to be thinking about it?"

The question seemed to be addressed to no one in particular. There was a moment's silence; then the captain said:

"Suppose you give us your ideas and wishes on that subject, Walter."

"Well, I haven't much choice, sir; there are so many places that are about equally agreeable to me. Anywhere with mother and the rest of you."

"Then what place would you prefer, mother?" asked the captain.

"It is a question I have hardly considered yet," she replied. "Perhaps it might be well to hold a family council on the subject."

"May I offer a suggestion?" asked Evelyn modestly, blushing as she spoke.

"Certainly, my dear," said Mrs. Travilla.

"We will be glad to hear it," said the captain.

"Then it is that all who think they would find it agreeable will spend at least a week or two with me in my cottage on the Hudson. It was rented for a time, but is vacant now, and I want very much to be in it for a while, yet certainly not alone."

"It is most kind in you to invite us, Evelyn, dear," said Mrs. Travilla, "but our party would much more than fill it."

"Unless we should go in relays," laughed Violet; "perhaps it might be managed in that way,

if Eva is very desirous to have us there."

"And perhaps there are hotels in the vicinity where most of us could be accommodated," said the captain. "We are much obliged for your invitation, Eva, and will consider the question and talk it over with the others who may choose to be of our party."

"Oh, I think it would be fun to go there!" exclaimed Sydney. "If I can have my way, I'll pay you a little visit there, and pass the rest of the time at the seashore."

"That is what I should like to do," said Lucilla.

"And I also," added Grace; "if papa and mamma approve, and would be with us in both places."

"Of course I meant that," Lucilla hastened to say; "we would not half enjoy ourselves without them; and the children," she added, glancing at Elsie and Ned.

"It seems to me we're getting pretty big to be called that," said Ned a little scornfully. "I'll be a man one of these days."

"Not quite that yet, little brother," laughed Lucilla.

The talk in regard to the summer's excursion was renewed after family worship, as they all sat together upon the veranda. Various places were talked of, various plans discussed, but nothing could be fully decided upon without consultation with the other near relatives who might decide to be of the party.

"Hello! here comes Doctor Herbert," exclaimed Walter, as a doctor's gig turned in at the great gates and came driving rapidly up to the house.

"What is it, Doc?" springing up and hastening down the steps as the gig halted before them.

"A letter for mother," answered Herbert, handing it to Walter as he spoke. "Good-morning, mother, and all of you. You are looking well and have no need of a doctor, I suppose?"

"Yes, we want a call from that one," said Violet. "Come in, won't you, if it is for only five minutes?"

"Well, yes; since you are so urgent and I know of no urgent call for my services elsewhere," answered Herbert, suiting the action to the word.

"Good-morning, my son," was his mother's smiling salutation, as he bent down to give her an affectionate caress. "I suppose you want to hear what Rosie has to say. I will just glance over her letter, then read aloud whatever I think she would deem suitable for you all to hear."

It was a pleasant, cheerful letter; all seemed to be going right with the young couple, they very happy in each other. They were at Niagara Falls, expecting soon to leave there for some place on the Hudson, and afterward to visit the seashore; but their plans were not yet definitely arranged; nor would they be until Will's parents and Rosie's home friends, intending to go North for the summer, were heard from in regard to their plans and purposes.

"Well," said Herbert, when the reading of the letter was concluded, "I think we will have to hold a family council, taking in the Crolys, and decide those momentous questions. Right quickly, too, for the weather is growing very warm, and if you all stay here our firm may have too much to do."

"I think you are right, doctor," said the captain, "and lest you and Harold and Arthur should be overworked, I intend to see that that council is held promptly."

"Well, captain, suppose we appoint this evening as the time, and Roselands as the place, as the Crolys are there, and not so able as the rest of us to go about from place to place."

"That seems a very good plan," said his mother, "but I think it will not be necessary for us all to attend. I prefer to leave the decision with the gentlemen of our party. Can you go, Herbert?"

"To the family council, mother? Oh, yes!"

"That is well," she said with a smile, "but I meant can you go North with us?"

"For a part of the time, I think; we three doctors can doubtless take turns in having a vacation."

"You ought to, I think," said Violet. "Doctors certainly need rest as much, or more, than most other people."

"Yes, they do, indeed!" said the captain; "they are, as a rule, very much overworked, I think."

"Some of them hardly so much as they might like to be," laughed Herbert. "You will be coming home soon, mother?" turning to her.

"Yes; probably to-morrow," she answered.

He chatted a little longer, then drove away. The young people presently went off into the grounds, leaving Grandma Elsie, Violet, and the captain still sitting in the veranda, they busied with their fancy work, he looking over the morning paper.

"If you find anything very interesting, my dear, mamma and I will be glad to hear it," said Violet.

"Yes," he said, "and here is something interesting, though far from being pleasant news. Davis, one of the burglars whom Lucilla caught, has escaped from prison; gone no one knows where, and may be even now lurking in this neighbourhood. I must watch over my daughter or he may attempt to do her some harm. At the time of the trial he seemed to feel very revengeful toward her."

"Oh, that is dreadful!" cried Violet. "Indeed we must be watchful over poor dear Lu. You will not tell her, Levis?"

"I think I shall," he said reflectively; "she will need to be careful about venturing to a distance from the house, even within the grounds, without a protector; therefore I must warn her and forbid her to run any unnecessary risk. I hope it may not be long before the fellow will be caught and returned to his prison."

"And I think it might be well for us to hasten our departure for the North for her safety," said Violet. "She would be safer there, would she not?"

"Probably," he replied, "and we will make haste to be off on that account."

"Yes; I think you should, by all means," said her mother. "Anything that I can do to assist your preparations, Vi, will be gladly done."

"I will set to work at once," exclaimed Violet.

"And I shall call my daughters in at once and set them about their preparations," said the captain, throwing aside his paper and starting even as he spoke.

The young people were much surprised by his summons and directions to his daughters, but he did not go into a lengthened explanation; merely said that he had decided to start northward in a day or two, and necessary preparations must be made as promptly as possible.

His daughters were accustomed to rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience to their father's commands, and did so now, though much wondering at this sudden move.

Some hours later he called Lucilla aside and told her the whole story. She turned pale for a moment, then, lifting fearless eyes to his, "Father," she said, "don't be uneasy about me. I will trust in the Lord and not be afraid; I will trust in his care and yours, and I shall be safe. I am thinking of those sweet verses in the thirty-seventh Psalm, 'But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.'"

"Yes, dear child, trust in him and you will be safe," returned the captain with emotion. "I shall not go over to Roselands this evening, as I had intended, but will talk through the telephone to the friends gathered there to discuss the questions when we shall start for the North and in what spots locate ourselves for the summer."

He did so, and before they were through with their conference it was decided that he, with his family, Evelyn, Sydney, Grandma Elsie, Walter, and all the Lelands should at once pack up, and in two days start for Eva's cottage on the Hudson.

Little preparation was needed but the packing of trunks; all were ready at the set time, started away in good health and spirits, and, travelling by rail, soon reached their destination; where we will leave them for the present.

THE END.

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