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ELSIE'S KITH AND KIN

by

MARTHA FINLEY

1886







CHAPTER I.

"O married love! each heart shall own;
Where two congenial souls unite,
Thy golden chains inlaid with down,
Thy lamp with heaven's own splendor bright."
LANGHORNE.


"There, there, little woman! light of my eyes, and core of my heart! if
you don't stop this pretty soon, I very much fear I shall be compelled
to join you," Edward Travilla said, between a laugh and a sigh, drawing
Zoe closer to him, laying her head against his breast, and kissing her
tenderly on lip and cheek and brow. "I shall begin to think you already
regret having staid behind with me."

"No, no, no!" she cried, dashing away her tears, then putting her arms
about his neck, and returning his caresses with ardor of affection.
"Dear Ned, you know you're more than all the rest of the world to your
silly little wife. But it seems lonely just at first, to have them all
gone at once, especially mamma; and to think we'll not see her again for
months! I do believe you'd cry yourself, if you were a girl."

"Altogether likely," he said, laughing, and giving her another hug;
"but, being a man, it wouldn't do at all to allow my feelings to
overcome me in that manner. Besides, with my darling little wife still
left me, I'd be an ungrateful wretch to repine at the absence of other
dear ones."

"What a neat little speech, Ned!" she exclaimed, lifting her head to
look up into his face, and laughing through her tears - for her eyes had
filled again. "Well, you know I can't help feeling a little lonely and
sad just at first; but, for all that, I wouldn't for the world be
anywhere else than here in your arms:" and with a sigh of content and
thankfulness, she let her pretty head drop upon his breast again.

"My darling! may it ever be to you the happiest place on earth! God
helping me, I shall always try to make it so," he said, with a sudden
change to gravity, and in low, moved tones.

"My dear, dear husband!" she murmured, clinging closer to him.

Then, wiping her eyes, "I sha'n't cry any more; for, if I'm not the
happiest woman in the world, I ought to be. And what a nice time we
shall have together, dear Ned! each wholly devoted to the other all
winter long. I have it all planned out: while you are out about the
plantation in the mornings, I'll attend to my housekeeping and my
studies; and in the afternoons and evenings, - after I've recited, - we
can write our letters, or entertain ourselves and each other with music
or books; you can read to me while I work, you know."

"Yes: a book is twice as enjoyable read in that way - sharing the
pleasure with you," he said, softly stroking her hair, and smiling down
into her eyes.

"Especially if it is a good story, or a bit of lovely poetry," she
added.

"Yes," he said: "we'll have both those in turn, and some solid reading
besides."

"I don't like solid reading," she returned, with a charming pout.

"One may cultivate a taste for it, I think," he answered pleasantly.

"But you can't cultivate what you haven't got," she objected.

"True enough," he said, laughing. "Well, then, we'll try to get a little
first, and cultivate it carefully afterward. I must go now, love," he
added, releasing her: "the men need some directions from me, in regard
to their work."

"And the women some from me," said Zoe. "Oh! you needn't laugh, Ned,"
shaking her finger at him, as he turned in the doorway to give her an
amused glance: "perhaps some of these days you'll find out that I am
really an accomplished housewife, capable of giving orders and
directions too."

"No doubt, my dear; for I am already proud of you in that capacity," he
said, throwing her a smiling kiss, then hurrying away.

Zoe summoned Aunt Dicey, the housekeeper, gave her orders for the day,
and the needed supplies from pantry and storeroom, they went to the
sewing-room, to give some directions to Christine and Alma.

She lingered there for a little, trying on a morning-dress they were
making for her, then repaired to her boudoir, intent upon beginning her
studies, which had been rather neglected of late, in the excitement of
the preparations for the departure of the greater part of the family for
a winter at Viamede.

But she had scarcely taken out her books, when the sound of wheels on
the avenue attracted her attention; and glancing from the window, she
saw the Roselands carriage draw up at the front entrance, and Ella Conly
alight from it, and run up the veranda steps.

"There, I'll not do much studying to-day, I'm afraid," said Zoe, half
aloud; "for, even if it's only a call she has come for, she'll not leave
under an hour."

She hastily replaced the books in the drawer from which she had taken
them, - for she had a feeling, only half acknowledged even to herself, of
repugnance to having Ella know of her studies, - Ella, who had graduated
from boarding-school, and evidently felt herself thoroughly
educated, - and hurried down to meet and welcome her guest.

"I told Cal and Art, I thought you'd be sure to feel dreadfully lonely
to-day, after seeing everybody but Ned start off on a long journey, and
so I'd come and spend the day with you," said Ella, when the two had
exchanged kisses, and inquiries after each other's health.

"It was very kind and thoughtful in you," returned Zoe, leading the way
into the parlor usually occupied by the family, where an open wood fire
blazed cheerily on the hearth.

"Take this easy-chair, won't you?" she said, wheeling it a little
nearer the grate; "and Dinah shall carry away your wraps when it suits
you to doff them. I wish cousins Cal and Art would invite themselves to
dine with us too."

"Art's very busy just now," said Ella: "there's a good deal of sickness,
and I don't believe he's spent a whole night at home for the last week
or more."

"Dear me! I wouldn't be a doctor for any thing, nor a doctor's wife!"
exclaimed Zoe.

"Well, I don't know: there's something to be said on both sides of that
question," laughed Ella. "I can tell you, Art would make a mighty good
husband; and it's very handy, in ease of sickness, to have the doctor in
the house."

"Yes; but, according to your account, he's generally somewhere else than
in his own house," returned Zoe playfully.

Ella laughed. "Yes," she said, "doctors do have a hard life; but, if you
say so to Art, he always says he has never regretted having chosen the
medical profession, because it affords so many opportunities for doing
good. It's plain he makes that the business of his life. I'm proud of
Art. I don't believe there's a better man anywhere. I was sick last
summer, and you wouldn't believe how kindly he nursed me."

"You can't tell me any thing about him that I should think too good to
believe," said Zoe. "He's our family doctor, you remember; and, of
course, we are all attached to him on that account, as well as because
of the relationship."

"Yes, to be sure. There, Dinah, you may carry away my hat and cloak,"
Ella said, divesting herself of them as she spoke, "but leave the
satchel. I brought my fancy-work, Zoe: one has to be industrious now, as
Christmas is coming. I decided to embroider a pair of slippers for each
of my three brothers. Walter does not expect to get home; so I made his
first, as they had to travel so far. I'm nearly done with Art's, and
then I have Cal's to do."

"Oh, how pretty!" exclaimed Zoe, examining the work: "and that's a new
stitch; won't you teach it to me?"

"Yes, indeed, with pleasure. And I want you to teach me how to crochet
that lace I saw you making the other day. I thought it so pretty."

The two spent a pleasant morning chatting together over their
fancy-work, saying nothing very wise, perhaps, but neither did they say
any thing harmful: an innocent jest now and again, something - usually
laudatory - about some member of the family connection, and remarks and
directions about their work, formed the staple of their talk.

"Oh! how did it come that you and Ned staid behind when all the rest
went to Viamede for the winter?" asked Ella.

"Business kept my husband, and love for him and his society kept me,"
returned Zoe, with a look and smile that altogether belied any suspicion
Ella might have had that she was fretting over the disappointment.

"Didn't you want to go?"

"Yes, indeed, if Edward could have gone with me; but any place with him
is better than any other without him."

"Well, I don't believe I should have been willing to stay behind, even
in your place. I've always had a longing to spend a winter there
visiting my sister Isa, and my cousins Elsie and Molly. Cal and Art say,
perhaps one or both of them may go on to spend two or three weeks this
winter; and in that case I shall go along."

"Perhaps we may go at the same time, and what a nice party we will
make!" said Zoe. "There," glancing from the window, "I see my husband
coming, and I want to run out and speak to him. Will you excuse me a
moment?" and scarcely waiting for a reply, she ran gayly away.

Meeting Edward on the threshold, "I have no lessons to recite this
time," she said; "but you are not to scold, because I've been prevented
from studying by company. Ella is spending the day with me."

"Ah! I hope you have had a pleasant time together - not too much troubled
by fear of a lecture from the old tyrant who bears your lessons," he
said laughingly, as he bent his head to press a kiss of ardent affection
upon the rosy lips she held up to him.

"No," she laughed in return: "I'm not a bit afraid of him."

Zoe had feared the hours when Edward was unavoidably absent from her
side would be very lonely now while the other members of the Ion family
were away; but she did not find it so; her studies, and the work of
making various pretty things for Christmas gifts, keeping her very busy.

And, when he was with her, time flew on very rapid wings. She had grown
quite industrious, and generally plied her needle in the evenings while
he read or talked to her. But occasionally he would take the embroidery,
or whatever it was, out of her hands, and toss it aside, saying she was
trying her eyes by such constant use; and, besides, he wanted her
undivided attention.

And she would resign herself to her fate, nothing loath to be drawn
close to his side, or to a seat upon his knee, to be petted and
caressed like a child, which, indeed, he persisted in calling her.

This was when they were alone: but very frequently they had company to
spend the day, afternoon, or evening; for Ion had always been noted for
its hospitality; and scarcely a week passed in which they did not pay a
visit to the Oaks, the Laurels, the Pines, or Roselands.

Also a brisk correspondence was carried on with the absent members of
the family. And Zoe's housekeeping cares and duties were just enough to
be an agreeable variety in her occupations: every day, too, when the
weather permitted, she walked or rode out with her husband.

And so the time passed quite delightfully for the first two months after
the departure of the Viamede party.

It was a disappointment that Edward found himself too busy to make the
hoped-for trip to Viamede at Christmas-time; yet Zoe did not fret over
it, and really enjoyed the holidays extremely, giving and receiving
numerous handsome presents, and, with Edward's assistance, making it a
merry and happy time for the servants and other dependants, as well as
for the relatives and friends still in the neighborhood.

The necessary shopping, with Edward to help her, and the packing
and sending off of the Christmas-boxes to Viamede, to the
college-boys, - Herbert and Harold, - and numerous other relatives and
friends far and near, Zoe thought altogether the most delightful
business she had ever taken in hand.

A very merry, happy little woman she was through all those weeks and
months, Edward as devoted as any lover, and as gay and light-hearted as
herself.

"Zoe, darling," Edward said one day at dinner, "I must drive over into
our little village of Union - by the way, do you know that we have more
than a hundred towns of that name in these United States?"

"No, I did not know, or suspect, that we had nearly so many," she
interrupted, laughing: "no wonder letters go astray when people are not
particular to give the names of both county and State. But what were you
going to say about driving over there?"

"I must see a gentleman on business, who will be there to meet the
five-o'clock train, and leave on it; and, in order to be certain of
seeing him, I must be there at least fifteen or twenty minutes before it
is due. Shall I have the pleasure of my wife's company in the carriage?
I have ordered it to be at the door by fifteen or twenty minutes past
four, which will give us plenty of time, as it is an easy matter to
drive from here to Union in ten minutes."

"Thank you," she said. "I accept the invitation with pleasure, and
promise to be ready at the minute."

"You are the best little woman about that," he returned, with an
appreciative look and smile. "I don't remember that you have ever yet
kept me waiting, when told beforehand at what time I intended to start."

"Of course not," she said, with a pleased laugh; "because I was afraid,
if I did, I shouldn't be invited so often: and I'm always so glad to go
with you."

"Not gladder than I am to have you," he said, with a very lover-like
glance and smile. "I always enjoy your society, and am always proud to
show my friends and acquaintances what a dear little wife I have. I dare
say I'm looked upon as a very fortunate fellow in that respect, and
sometimes envied on account of having drawn such a prize in the
matrimonial lottery."

They had left the table while he spoke, and with the last words he
passed his arm round her waist.

"Dear me, Ned, what a gallant speech!" she said, flushing with delight;
"you deserve a reward:" and she held up her face for a kiss.

"I am overpaid," he said, when he had bestowed it.

"In spite of the coin being such as you have a right to help yourself
to whenever you will?" she returned with a merry laugh. "O Ned, my
lover-husband!" she added, laying her head on his breast, "I am so happy
in belonging to you, and I can never love you enough for all your
goodness to me!"

"Darling, are you not equally good and loving to me?" he asked in tender
tones, and holding her close.

"But I owe every thing to you," she responded with emotion. "If you had
not come to my aid when my dear father was taken from me, what would
have become of me, a mere child, without a near relative in the world,
alone and destitute in a foreign land?"

"But I loved you, dearest. I sought my own happiness, as well as yours,
in asking you to be my wife. So you need never feel burdened by the idea
that you are under any special obligation to me, to whom you are the
very sunshine of life."

"Dear Ned, how very kind in you to say so," she responded, gazing with
ardent affection into his eyes; "but it isn't burdensome to be under
obligation to you, any more than it is a trial to be ruled by you," she
added, with playful tenderness; "and I love to think of all your
goodness to me."

It was five minutes past four by Zoe's watch, and she just about to go
to her dressing-room to put on her hat and cloak, when visitors were
announced, - some ladies who always made a lengthened call at Ion; so
she at once resigned herself to the loss of her anticipated drive with
her husband.

"O Ned!" she whispered in a hasty, vexed aside, "you'll have to go
alone."

"Yes, dear," he returned; "but I'll try to get back in time to take you
a drive in the other direction."

They stepped forward, and greeted their guests with hospitable
cordiality.

They were friends whose visits were prized and enjoyed, though their
coming just at this time was causing Zoe a real disappointment. However,
Edward's promise of a drive with him at a later hour so far made amends
for it, that she could truthfully express pleasure in seeing her guests.

Edward chatted with them for a few moments, then, excusing himself on
the plea of business that could not be deferred, left them to be
entertained by Zoe, while he entered his waiting carriage, and went on
his way to the village, where he expected to meet his business
acquaintance.




CHAPTER II.

"The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness." - SHAKSPEARE.


Edward had met and held his desired interview with his business
acquaintance, seen him aboard his train, and was standing watching it as
it steamed away and disappeared in the distance, when a feminine voice,
close at hand, suddenly accosted him.

"O Mr. Travilla! how are you? I consider myself very fortunate in
finding you here."

He turned toward the speaker, and was not too greatly pleased at sight
of her.

"Ah! good-evening, Miss Deane," he said, taking her offered hand, and
speaking with gentlemanly courtesy. "In what can I be of service to
you?"

"By inviting me to Ion to spend the night," she returned laughingly.
"I've missed my train, and was quite in despair at the thought of
staying alone over night in one of the miserable little hotels of this
miserable little village. So I was delighted to see your carriage
standing there, and you yourself beside it; for, knowing you to be one
of the most hospitable of men, I am sure you will be moved to pity, and
take me home with you."

Edward's heart sank at thought of Zoe, but, seeing no way out of the
dilemma, "Certainly," he said, and helped his self-invited guest to a
seat in his carriage, placed himself by her side, and bade the coachman
drive on to Ion.

"Now, really, this is very good in you, Mr. Travilla," remarked Miss
Deane: "there is no place I like better to visit than Ion, and I begin
to think it was rather a fortunate mishap - missing my train."

"Very unfortunate for me, I fear," sighed Edward to himself. "The loss
of her drive will be a great disappointment to Zoe, and the sight of
such a guest far from making it up to her. I am thankful the visit is to
be for only a night."

Aloud he said, "I fear you will find it less pleasant than on former
occasions, - in fact, rather lonely; as all the family are
absent - spending the winter at Viamede, my mother's Louisiana
plantation - except my wife and myself."

"Ah! but your wife is a charming little girl, - I never can think of her
as a woman, you know, - and you are a host in yourself," returned the
lady laughingly.

Zoe's callers had left; and she, having donned hat and cloak, not to
keep her husband a single moment, was at the window watching for his
coming, when the carriage came driving up the avenue, and drew up at the
door.

She hurried out, expecting to find no one there but himself, and to be
at once handed to a seat in the vehicle, and the next minute be speeding
away with him, enjoying her drive all the more for the little
disappointment that had preceded it.

What, then, was her chagrin to see a visitor handed out, and that
visitor the woman for whom she had conceived the most violent antipathy!

"Miss Deane, my dear," Edward said, with an entreating look at Zoe,
which she did not see, her eyes being at that instant fixed upon the
face of her uninvited and unwelcome guest.

"How do you do, my dear Mrs. Travilla? I hope you are glad to see me?"
laughed the intruder, holding out a delicately gloved hand, "your
husband has played the Good Samaritan to me to-night - saving me from
having to stay in one of those wretched little hotels in the village
till two o'clock to-morrow morning."

"I am in usual health, thank you. Will you walk in?" returned Zoe in a
freezing tone, and utterly ignoring the offered hand. "Will you step
into the parlor? or would you prefer being shown to your room first?"

"The latter, if you please," Miss Deane answered sweetly, apparently
quite unaware that Zoe's manner was in the least ungracious.

"Dinah," said Zoe, to a maid-in-waiting, "show Miss Deane to the room
she occupied on her last visit. Carry up her satchel, and see that she
has every thing she wants."

Having given the order, Zoe stepped out to the veranda where Edward
still was, having staid behind to give directions in regard to the
horses.

"Zoe, love, I am very sorry," he said, as the man turned his horses'
heads, and drove away toward the stables.

"O Edward! how could you?" she exclaimed reproachfully, tears of
disappointment and vexation springing to her eyes.

"Darling, I really could not help it," he replied soothingly, drawing
her to him with a caress, and went on to tell exactly what had occurred.

"She is not a real lady," said Zoe, "or she never would have done a
thing like that."

"I agree with you, love," he said; "but I was sorry your reception of
her was so extremely ungracious and cold."

"Would you have had me play the hypocrite, Ned?" she asked indignantly.

"No, Zoe, I should be very far from approving of that," he answered
gravely: "but while it was right and truthful not to express pleasure
which you did not feel, at her coming, you might, on the other hand,
have avoided absolute rudeness; you might have shaken hands with her,
and asked after her health and that of her father's family."

"I treated her as well as she deserved; and it does not make her any the
more welcome to me, that she has already been the means of drawing down
upon me a reproof from my husband's lips," Zoe said in tremulous tones,
and turning away from him with her eyes full of tears.

"My words were hardly intended as that, little wife," Edward responded
in a kindly tone, following her into the hall, catching her in his arms,
and imprinting a kiss on her ruby lips.

"And I wanted my drive with you so badly," she murmured, half hiding her
face on his breast; "but she has robbed us of that, and - O Ned! is she
to come between us again, and make us quarrel, and be so dreadfully
unhappy?" Her voice was full of tears and sobs before she had ended.

"No, no; I could not endure that any more than you," he said with
emotion, and clasping her very close: "and it is only for to-night you
will have to bear the annoyance of her presence; she is to leave in the
morning."

"Is she? that is some comfort. I hope somebody will come in for the
evening, and share with us the infliction of her society," Zoe said,
concluding with a forlorn attempt at a laugh.

"Won't you take off that very becoming hat and cloak, Mrs. Travilla, and
spend the evening?" asked Edward playfully.

"Thank you. I believe I will, if you will accompany me to the
dressing-room," she returned, with a smiling look up into his face.

"That I will with pleasure," he said, "provided you will reward me with
some assistance with my toilet."

"Such as brushing your hair, and tying your cravat? Yes, sir, I will:
it's a bargain."

And so, laughing and chatting, they went up to their own private
apartments.

Halt an hour later they came down again together, to find Miss Deane in
the parlor, seated by a window overlooking the avenue.

"There's a carriage just drawing up before your front entrance," she
remarked: "the Roselands family carriage, I think it is."

Zoe gave her husband a bright, pleased look. It seemed her wish for an
addition to their party for the evening had been granted.

The next moment the room-door was thrown, open, and Dr. Conly and Miss
Ella were announced.

They were cordially welcomed, asked to tea, and staid the evening,
greatly relieving Zoe in the matter of entertaining her unwelcome guest,
who devoted herself to the doctor, and left Edward to his wife and
cousin, a condition of things decidedly agreeable to Zoe.

A little after nine the Roselands carriage was announced; and the doctor
and Ella took their departure, Edward and Zoe accompanying them to the
outer door.

The sky was black with clouds, and the wind roaring through the trees on
the lawn.

"We are going to have a heavy storm. I think," remarked Arthur, glancing
upward: "there is not a star to be seen, and the wind blows almost a
gale. I hope no patient of mine will want the doctor very badly
to-night," he added with a slight laugh. "Step in out of the wind,
cousin Zoe, or you may be the very one to send for me."

Doing as directed, "No, indeed," she said: "I'm sure I couldn't have the
heart to call anybody up out of a warm bed to face such a cutting wind
as this."

"No, no; never hesitate when there is a real necessity," he returned,
speaking from his seat in the carriage, where he had already taken his


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