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   Chapter 21 No.21

Elsie's Vacation and After Events By Martha Finley Characters: 18047

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

There was a decided downpour of rain the next morning, but no one minded that very much, as the necessity for staying within doors gave time and opportunity for further arrangements in regard to Christmas and the gifts to be presented.

The captain kindly devoted an hour or more to helping his little girls to decide upon theirs and make out a list; Mr. Embury, and Molly and Isadore, who were intending to accompany him to the city, having kindly offered to make any purchases desired by the Viamede relatives.

At the same time the others, older and younger, were similarly engaged, and there were many little private chats as they gathered in twos and threes here and there about the veranda or in the rooms.

In the afternoon Violet invited the whole party to inspect the schoolroom, where some of the servants had been busy, under her direction, all the morning, giving it a thorough cleaning, draping the windows with fresh lace curtains, looped back with blue ribbons, and placing a desk for each expected pupil, and a neat table for the teacher.

Every one pronounced it a model schoolroom, some of the older people adding that it made them almost wish themselves young enough to again be busy with lessons and recitations.

"Where's your ferule, Brother Levis?" asked Rosie, facetiously, after a close scrutiny of the table, not omitting its drawer.

"I think you have not made a thorough examination of the closet yet," was his noncommittal reply.

"Oh, that's where you keep it? I say girls--" in a loud whisper, perfectly audible to everyone in the room, "let's carry it off before he has a chance to use it."

"Hardly worth while, since it would be no difficult matter to replace it," remarked the captain, with assumed gravity and sternness.

"Ah, then I suppose one may as well be resigned to circumstances," sighed Rosie, following the others from the room.

"Papa, can I help you?" asked Lulu, seeing him seat himself at the table in the library, take out writing materials from its drawer, and dip a pen into the ink.

"No, thank you, daughter," he replied. "I am going to write to Max."

"Please tell him we are all ever so sorry he can't be here to spend Christmas and New Year's with us."

"I will."

"And he can't have the pleasure of giving any gifts I suppose, as they allow him so little pocket money!"

"Dear boy! he shall not miss that pleasure entirely," said the captain. "I am going now to write to him that I will set apart a certain sum for his use in the purchase of gifts for others. That is, he may tell me what he would like to give, and I will see that the articles are bought and distributed as he wishes."

"Oh, what a nice plan, papa! I am sure Maxie will be very glad."

"Yes, I do it with the hope of giving pleasure to my dear boy. And besides that I shall tell him that he may again choose some benevolent object to which I will give, in his name, a thousand dollars. You too, and Gracie, shall have the same privilege."

"Just as we all had last year. Oh, papa, it is so good and kind in you!"

"That is the opinion of my very partial little daughter," he returned, with a smile. "But, daughter, as I have often told you, the money is the Lord's, and I am only his steward."

"Yes, sir," she said, and walked thoughtfully away.

By the middle of the afternoon the rain seemed to be over and a row on the bayou was enjoyed by the most of the party; all who cared to go.

Music and conversation made the evening pass quickly and pleasantly, and all retired to their rooms at an early hour that they might rise refreshed for the duties and privileges of the Lord's day.

It was spent, as former ones had been, attending church and the pastor's Bible class in the morning, and holding a similar service on the lawn at Viamede in the afternoon.

In addressing that little congregation the captain tried to make the way of salvation very clear and plain.

"It is just to come to Jesus as you are," he said; "not waiting to make yourself any better, for you never can; he alone can do that work; it is his blood that cleanses from all sin; his righteousness that is perfect, and therefore acceptable to God; while all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, stained and defiled with sin.

"Concerning him-the only begotten and well beloved Son of God-the Bible tells us, 'He is able to save them unto the uttermost that come unto God by him.'

"'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.'

"And he says, 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'

"'This is the will of him that sent me, that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.'

"Just go to Jesus each one of you, give yourself to him and believe his word-that he will not cast you out; he will receive you and make you his own; giving you of his spirit, changing you from the poor sinner you are, by nature, into his image, his likeness."

At the conclusion of that service Lulu and Grace recited their Bible verses and catechism to their father.

The evening was spent in conversation and music suited to the sacredness of the day, and all retired to rest.

Nine o'clock of the next morning found the girls and Walter seated in the schoolroom. Lulu and Grace busied with their tasks, the others ready and waiting to have theirs appointed by the captain.

School that day was a decided success, and Rosie pretended that her fears of the new teacher were greatly allayed.

Between that and Christmas-time everything moved along smoothly; studies were well attended to, sports and pastimes greatly enjoyed.

The celebration of the holidays-Christmas and New Year's-also proved a great success. There were many and beautiful gifts; a handsome brooch from the captain delighted each little girl, and there were other lovely gifts too numerous to mention.

The distribution was on Christmas Eve. The next day there was a grand dinner at Viamede, all the relatives present, and everybody in gayest spirits.

The day was bright and beautiful, seeming but little like Christmas to those accustomed to frost and snow at that season.

New Year's day was not less lovely, nor were its festivities less enjoyable, though the gifts were fewer.

The holidays past, the young folks went back with zest to their studies, Rosie saying she was now convinced that Captain Raymond was an excellent teacher, and not at all inclined to tyrannize over a well-behaved pupil; for which complimentary expression of opinion he gravely thanked her.

"You are very welcome, sir," she said, "and may depend upon a recommendation from me whenever it is wanted."

"O Rosie, how ridiculous you are!" exclaimed Walter.

But Rosie was already out of the room, the other girls following. They went out on the lawn, ran about for a while, then settled themselves under a tree and began cracking and eating nuts.

Lulu, who was very fond of them, presently put one between her teeth and cracked it there.

"O Lu!" exclaimed Grace, "you forget that papa forbade you to crack nuts with your teeth, for fear you might break them."

"Well, I wanted to break the nut," returned Lulu, laughing, and blushing because her conscience reproached her.

"I meant break your teeth," said Grace. "I'm sure you wouldn't have done it-cracked the nut with them, I mean-if you hadn't forgotten that papa forbade you to do it."

"No, Gracie, I'm not so good as you think; I did not forget; I just did it because I wanted to," Lulu said with an evident effort, and blushing again.

Then she sprang up and ran toward her father, who was seen at some little distance, coming from the orange orchard toward the house.

"I do believe she's going to tell on herself!" exclaimed Rosie, in astonishment.

"Oh, dear, I wonder what papa will do to her!" exclaimed Grace, just ready to burst into tears.

"It is very noble in her to go and confess at once, when he needn't have ever known anything about it," cried Eva admiringly.

They were all three watching Lulu and her father with intense interest, though too far away to hear anything that either one might say.

Lulu drew near him, hanging her head shamefacedly. "Papa," she said, in a low, remorseful tone, "I have just been disobeying you."

"Ah! I am sorry, very sorry, to hear it, daughter," he returned a little sadly; then, taking her hand, led her away further from the house and seated her and himself on a bench beneath a group of trees that entirely hid them from view.

"Tell me the whole story, my child," he said, not unkindly, and still keeping her hand in his.

"I cracked a nut with my teeth, papa," she replied, with her eyes upon the ground, her cheek hot with blushes.

"You forgot that I had forbidden it?"

"No, papa, I haven't even that poor excuse. I remembered all the time that you had forbidden me, but just did it because I wanted to."

"Though I had given you my reason for the prohib

ition-that you would risk serious damage to your teeth, and probably suffer both pain and the loss of those useful members in consequence. It gives me pain to find that my dear eldest daughter cares so little for her father's wishes or commands."

At that Lulu burst into tears and sobs. "Oh, I hope you'll punish me well for it, papa!" she said. "I deserve it, and I think it would do me good."

"I must indeed punish you for conduct so decidedly rebellious," he replied. "I will either forbid nuts for a week, or refrain from giving you a caress for the same length of time. Which shall it be?"

"O papa, I'd rather do without nuts for the rest of the winter than a whole week without a caress from you!" she exclaimed.

"Very well, then," he said, bending down and touching his lips to her cheek. "I forbid the nuts, and I think I can trust my daughter to obey me by not touching one till she has her father's permission."

"I feel sure I will, papa," she said; "but if I should be so very bad as to disobey you again in this, I will come to you, confess it, and take my punishment without a word of objection."

"I have no doubt of it, daughter," he returned, taking her hand again and leading her back to the house.

The other girls were awaiting with intense interest the reappearance of the captain and Lulu.

"Here they come!" exclaimed Rosie, "and I don't believe he has punished her; there has hardly been time, and though she looks very sober-he, too-she doesn't look at all frightened; nor does he look angry, and he holds her hand in what strikes me as a very affectionate way."

"Yes," said Evelyn, "I think the captain is as good and kind a father as anyone could desire; and I'm sure Lulu's opinion of him is the same."

"Yes, indeed," assented Grace heartily, as she wiped the tears from her eyes, "there couldn't be a better, kinder father than ours, Lulu and I both think; but though he doesn't like to punish us, sometimes he feels that it's his duty to do it to make us good."

"I don't believe you get, or need, punishment very often, Gracie," remarked Rosie; "you are as good as gold; at least so it seems to me."

"I'm not perfect, Rosie; oh, no, indeed!" Gracie answered earnestly; "but papa almost never does anything more than talk in a grave, kind way to me about my faults."

By this time the captain and Lulu had drawn near the house, and, letting go her hand, "You may go back to your mates now, daughter," he said in a kindly tone. "I have some matters to attend to, and if you have anything more to say to me I will hear it at another time."

"Yes, sir," replied Lulu, and went slowly toward the little group under the tree, while her father passed round to the other side of the house.

"He was not very much vexed with you, Lu, was he?" queried Rosie, in a kindly inquiring tone, as Lulu joined them, looking grave and a trifle sad, while traces of tears could be discerned on her cheeks and about her eyes.

"Papa only seemed sorry that-that I could be so disobedient," faltered the little girl, tears starting to her eyes again; "but he always punishes disobedience,-which is just what he ought to do, I am sure,-and he has forbidden me to eat any more nuts for a week. I chose that rather than doing without a caress from him for the same length of time. So you see he was not very severe; not half so severe as I deserved that he should be."

The others agreed with her that it was but a light punishment; then they began talking of something else.

Nuts were a part of the dessert that day, and Lulu, sitting near her father, asked in a low aside, "Papa, mayn't I pick out some kernels for you?"

"If you wish, daughter," he answered; and she performed the little service with evident pleasure.

"Thank you, dear child," he said, with a loving look and smile as she handed them to him. Speaking of it to Violet that night in the privacy of their own room, "I found it hard to take and eat them without sharing with her, the dear, affectionate child!" he said, with feeling, "but I knew it gave her pleasure to do her father that little service. Ah, it is so much pleasanter to fondle and indulge one's children than to reprove or punish them! yet I am sure it is the truest kindness to train them to obedience, as the Bible directs."

"Yes," returned Violet, "and I have often noticed that those parents who do follow that Bible teaching are more loved and respected by their children than the foolishly indulgent ones. And, by the way, how devotedly fond of her father Lulu is! It delights me to see it."

"Me also, my dear," he returned, with a pleased little laugh. "I doubt if any man ever had better, dearer children-speaking of the whole five together-than mine. Nor can I believe that ever a father esteemed his greater treasures than I do mine."

The rest of the winter passed quietly and peacefully to our friends at Viamede, the young folks making good progress with their studies, the older ones finding employment in various ways-the ladies in reading, writing letters, overseeing house and servants, and making and receiving visits; Mr. Dinsmore in much the same manner, except that he gave himself no concern about domestic affairs; while the captain found full employment in instructing his pupils and superintending work on the plantation; but with time enough to spare for participation in the diversions and recreations of the others.

Grandma Elsie had entirely recovered her health, and as spring opened they began to talk of returning to their more northern homes, yet continued to tarry, looking for a visit to Viamede from the dear ones of Ion and Fairview.

And here at beautiful Viamede we will leave them for the present.


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Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Hyphenation retained in one instance of "kind-hearted" as it appears once with and once without the hyphen.

Table of Contents has been added to this version. The original text had none.

Page 216, paragraph break inserted between "queried Lulu." and "I very much doubt".

The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

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