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Elsie's Vacation and After Events By Martha Finley Characters: 10440

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Captain Raymond went back to the hotel feeling somewhat lonely and heartsore over the parting from his eldest hope, but as he entered the private parlor where his young wife and most of the party were, his look and manner had all their accustomed cheeriness.

He made a pleasant remark to Violet, fondled the little ones, and talked for a few minutes in his usual agreeable way with Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore and the others; then glancing about the room, as if in search of someone or something, asked, "Where are Lulu and Gracie?"

"Why, I thought they were here," Violet answered in some surprise, following the direction of his glance. "They seem to have slipped out of the room very quietly."

"I must hunt them up, poor dears! for it is about time we were starting for the Dolphin," he said, hastily leaving the room. A low sobbing sound struck upon his ear as he softly opened the door of the room where his little girls had slept the previous night, and there they were down on the carpet near a window, Gracie's head in her sister's lap, Lulu softly stroking the golden curls and saying in tender tones, "Don't, Gracie dear; oh, don't! It can't be helped, you know; and we have our dear papa and Mamma Vi, and the little ones left. Besides, Maxie will come home again to visit us one of these days."

"Oh, but he'll never live at home with us any more," sobbed Gracie; "at least I'm afraid he won't; and-and oh, I do love him so! and he's the only big brother we have."

"But we have papa, dear, dear papa, who used to be obliged to go away and leave us; but we have him all the time now," Lulu replied half chokingly. "I wish we could have them both, but we can't, and we both do love papa the best after all."

"And papa loves his two dear little girls more than tongue can tell," the captain said in tenderest tones, drawing near, bending down to take both in his arms together, and kissing first one and then the other. "Be comforted, my darlings," he went on, holding them close to his heart; "we haven't lost our Maxie by any means; and though I left him feeling a trifle homesick and forlorn, he will get over that in a day or two I know, and greatly enjoy the business of preparing himself for the life work he has freely chosen."

"But, oh, papa, how he will miss our lovely home, and you, and all of us!" sobbed Gracie, hiding her tear-stained face on her father's shoulder.

"Not as you would, my darling," he replied, holding her close and caressing her with great tenderness. "Boys are different from girls, and I think our dear Maxie will soon feel very happy there among his mates, though he will, I am sure, never cease to love his father, sisters, Mamma Vi, baby brother, and his home with them all."

"Papa, I'm thinking how he'll miss the pleasant evenings at home-the good talks with you," sobbed the little girl.

"Yes, darling, but I will tell you what we will do to partly, at least, make up that loss to our dear boy."

"What, papa?" she asked, lifting her head and looking up into his face, with her own brightening a little.

"Suppose we each keep a journal or diary, telling everything that goes on each day at home, and now and then send them to Maxie; so that he will know all that we are doing?"

"Oh, what a good thought, papa!" exclaimed Lulu, giving him a vigorous hug and kiss. "And Maxie will write us nice, interesting letters; and some day he'll come home for a visit and have ever so much to tell us."

"Yes," her father said, "and I think we will have interesting letters from him in the meantime."

"And perhaps I'll learn to like writing letters, when it's just to please Maxie and comfort him," said Grace, wiping away her tears and trying to smile.

"I hope so, darling," her father replied, bestowing another kiss upon the sweet little tear-stained face. "But now, my dears," he added, "put on your hats; it is time to go back to the Dolphin."

They hastened to obey, and he led them to the parlor, where they found the rest of the party ready to accompany them on board the yacht.

The sun was setting as they reached the Dolphin's deck and they found a luxurious repast ready for them to partake of by the time outdoor garments could be laid aside and wind-tossed hair restored to order.

The captain missed the bright face of his first-born at the table, but, exerting himself for the entertainment of the others, seemed even more than usually cheery and genial, now and then indulging in some innocent jest that made his little girls laugh in spite of themselves, and at length almost forget, for the moment, their parting from Max, and their grief over the thought that he would no longer share their lessons or their sports, and would be at home only after what, in the prospect, seemed to them a long, long time; and then but for a little while.

On leaving the table all gathered upon deck. There was no wind, but the yacht had a steam engine and used her sails only on occasions when they could be of service. Stars shone brightly in the sky overhead, but their light was not sufficient to give an extended view on land or water, and as all were weary with the excitement and sightseeing of the day, they retired early to t

heir berths.

Poor Grace, worn out with her unusual excitement, and especially the grief of the parting with Max, was asleep the instant her head touched the pillow. Not so with Lulu; her loneliness and depression banished sleep from her eyes for the time, and presently she slipped from her berth, threw on a warm dressing-gown, and thrust her feet into felt slippers. The next moment she stole noiselessly into the saloon where her father sat alone looking over an evening paper.

He was not aware of her entrance till she stood close at his side, her hand on his shoulder, her eyes fixed, with a gaze of ardent affection, upon his face.

"Dear child!" he said, looking up from his paper, and smiling affectionately upon her; then tossing the paper aside and putting an arm about her waist, he drew her to his knee and pressed fatherly kisses upon lip and cheek and brow, asking tenderly if anything was wrong with her that she had come in search of him when he supposed her to be already in bed and sound asleep.

"I'm not sick, papa," she said in reply; "but oh, I miss Maxie so!" The words were almost a sob, and she clung about her father's neck, hiding her face on his shoulder.

"I, too, miss my boy more than words can tell," he replied, stroking her hair with gently caressing touch, and she was sure his tones trembled a little with the pain of the thought of Max left alone among strangers; "but I thank God, our Heavenly Father, that I have by no means lost my eldest son, while I still have another one and three dear daughters to add to my happiness in our sweet home."

"I do want to add to it, you dear, dear, good papa!" she said, hugging and kissing him over and over again. "Oh, I wish I was a better girl for your sake, so that my wrong-doing would never give you pain!"

"I think-and am very happy in the thought-that you are improving," he said, repeating his caresses; "and it is a great comfort to me," he continued, "that my little girls need not be sent away from home and their father to be educated."

"To me also, papa," she returned. "I am very thankful that I may live with my dear father always while we are spared to each other. I don't mean to ever go away from you, papa, but to stay with you always, to wait on you and do everything I can to be a great help, comfort, and blessing to you; even when I'm grown up to womanhood."

"Ah!" he returned, again smoothing her hair caressingly and smiling down into her eyes; then holding her close, "I shall be very glad to keep you as long as you may prefer life with me, my own dear, dear child," he said in tender tones. "I look upon my dear eldest daughter as one of the great blessings my Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me, and which I hope he may spare to me as long as I live."

"Papa, I'm so, so glad you love me so dearly!" she exclaimed, lifting to his eyes full of love and joy; "and oh, I do love you so! I want to be a great blessing to you as long as we both live."

"I don't doubt it, my darling," he replied. "I doubt neither your desire nor purpose to be such."

"Yes, sir, I do really long to be the very greatest of comforts to you, and yet," she sighed, "I have such a bad temper you know, papa, I'm so wilful too, that-that I'm afraid-almost sure, indeed-I'll be naughty again one of these days and give you the pain of punishing me for it."

"That would grieve me very much, but would not diminish my love for you," he said; "nor yours for me, I think."

"No, indeed, papa!" she exclaimed, creeping closer into his embrace, "because I know that when you have to punish me in any way it makes you very, very sorry."

"It does indeed!" he responded.

"Papa," she sighed, "I'm always dreadfully sorry and ashamed after one of my times of being disobedient, wilful, and ill-tempered, and I am really thankful to you for taking so much pains and trouble to make a better girl of me."

"I don't doubt it, daughter," he answered; "it is a long while now since I have had any occasion to punish you, and your conduct has rarely called for even so much as a reproof."

She gave him a glad, grateful look, an embrace of ardent affection, then, laying her cheek to his, "You dear, dear papa, you have made me feel very happy," she said, "and I'm sure I am much happier than I should be if you had let me go on indulging my bad temper and wilfulness. Oh, it's so nice to be able to run to my dear father whenever I want to, and always to be so kindly received that I can't feel any doubt that he loves me dearly. Ah, how I pity poor Maxie that he can't see you for weeks or months!"

"And don't you pity papa a little that he can't see Maxie?" he asked, with a smile and a sigh.

"Oh, yes! yes indeed! I'm so sorry for you, papa, and I mean to do all I can to supply his place. What do you suppose Maxie is doing just now, papa?"

"Doubtless he is in his room preparing his lessons for to-morrow. The bugle-call for evening study-hour sounds at half-past seven, and the lads must be busy with their books till half-after nine."

He drew out his watch, and glancing at its face, "Ah, it is just nine o'clock," he said. "Kiss me good-night, daughter, and go back to your berth."

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