Martha Finley.

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see her at all while Aunt Enna was sick.

"I can wait only long enough to take supper with you, and have our talk
together afterward," she said, "because I am needed at Roselands. Perhaps
papa will bring you there sometimes to see me for a little while if you
will be very quiet. And it may be only for a few days that I shall be
wanted there; we cannot tell about that yet."

She spoke cheerfully, but it cost her an effort because of the grieved,
troubled looks on the dear little faces.

"But baby, mamma!" cried Vi, "baby can't do without you!"

"No, dear, she and mammy will have to go with me."

They were not the usual merry party at the tea-table, and a good many
tears were shed during the talk with mamma afterward.

They all consented to her going, but the parting with her, and the thought
of doing without her for "so long" were the greatest trials they had ever
known.

She saw all the younger ones in bed, kissed each one good-night, and
reminding them that their heavenly Father was always with them, and that
she would not be too far away to come at once to them if needed, she left
them to their sleep.

Elsie followed her mother to her dressing-room, watched for every
opportunity to assist in her preparations for her absence. They were not
many, and with some parting injunctions to this little daughter and the
servants, she announced herself ready to go.

Elsie clung to her with tears at the last, as they stood together in the
lower hall waiting for the others.

"Mamma, what shall I do without you? I've never been away from you a whole
day in all my life."

"No, dearest, but be my brave, helpful little girl. You must try to fill
mother's place to the little ones. I shall not be far away, you know, and
your dear father will be here nearly all the time. And don't forget,
darling, that your best Friend is always with you."

"No, mamma," said the child, smiling through her tears; "it is so sweet to
know that; and please don't trouble about us at home. I'll do my best for
papa and the children."

"That is right, daughter, you are a very great comfort to me now and
always," the mother said, with a last caress, as her husband joined her
and gave her his arm to lead her to the carriage.

"Don't come out in the cold, daughter," he said, seeing the child about to
follow.

Mammy had just come down with the sleeping babe in her arms, warmly
wrapped up to shield her from the cold.

Elsie sprang to her side, lifted the veil that covered the little face,
and softly touched her lips to the delicate cheek. "Good-bye, baby
darling. Oh, mammy, we'll miss her sadly and you too."

"Don't fret, honey, 'spect we all be comin' back soon," Aunt Chloe
whispered, readjusting the veil, and hurrying after her mistress.

Elsie flew to the window, and watched the carriage roll away down the
avenue, till lost to sight in the darkness, tears trembling in her eyes,
but a thrill of joy mingling with her grief: "it was so sweet to be a
comfort and help to dear mamma."

She set herself to considering how she might be the same to her father and
brothers and sister; what she could do now.

She remembered that her father was very fond of music and that her mother
often played and sang for him in the evenings. He had said he would
probably return in an hour, and going to the piano she spent the
intervening time in the diligent practice of a new piece of music he had
brought her a day or two before.

At sound of the carriage wheels she ran to meet him, her face bright with
welcoming smiles.

"My little sunbeam," he said taking her in his arms; "you have been
nothing but a comfort and blessing to your mother and me, since the day
you were born."

"Dear papa, how kind in you to tell me that!" she said, her cheek flushing
and her eyes glistening with pleasure.

He kept her with him till after her usual hour for retiring, listening to,
and praising her music and talking with her quite as if she were fit to be
a companion for him.

Both the injured ones were very ill for some weeks, but by means of
competent medical advice and careful nursing, their lives were saved; yet
neither recovered entirely from the effects of the accident. Mr. Dinsmore
was feeble and ailing, and walked with a limp for the rest of his days,
and Enna, though her bodily health was quite restored, rose from her bed
with an impaired intellect, her memory gone, her reasoning powers scarcely
equal to those of an ordinary child of five or six.

She did not recognize her children, or indeed any one; she had everything
to relearn and went back to childish amusements, dolls, baby-houses and
other toys.

The sight was inexpressibly painful to Dick and Molly, far worse than
following her to her grave.

She remained at her father's, a capable and kind woman being provided to
take constant charge of her, while Bob and Betty stayed on at the Oaks,
their uncle and aunt bringing them up with all the care and kindness
bestowed upon their own children; and Dick and Molly made their home at
Ion.

The latter was removed thither as soon as the danger to her mother's life
was past, the change being considered only temporary at the time; though
afterward it was decided to make it permanent, in accordance with the kind
and generous invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Travilla to her and her brother,
and their offer to become responsible for the education and present
support of both.

Little Elsie, bravely and earnestly striving to fill her mother's place in
the household, making herself companionable to her father, helping Eddie,
Vi and Harold with their lessons, comforting Herbie when his baby heart
ached so sorely with its longing for mamma, and in all his little griefs
and troubles, and settling the slight differences that would sometimes
arise between the children or the servants, found Molly an additional
burden; for she too must be cheered and consoled and was often fretful,
unreasonable and exacting.

Still the little girl struggled on, now feebly and almost ready to
despair, now with renewed hope and courage gathered from an interview with
her earthly or her heavenly Father.

Mr. Travilla was very proud of the womanly way in which she acquitted
herself at this time, her diligence, utter unselfishness, patience, and
thoughtfulness for others, and did not withhold the meed of well earned
praise; this with his advice and sympathy did much to enable her to
persevere to the end.

But oh what relief and joy when at last the dear mother was restored to
them and the unaccustomed burden lifted from the young shoulders!

It would have been impossible to say who rejoiced most heartily in the
reunion, father, mother or children. But every heart leaped lightly, every
face was bright with smiles.

Mrs. Travilla knew she was adding greatly to her cares, and to the
annoyances and petty trials of every day life, in taking Dick and
especially Molly into her family, but she realized it more and more as the
months and years rolled on; both had been so spoiled by Enna's unwise and
capricious treatment, that it was a difficult thing to control them; and
poor Molly's sad affliction caused her frequent fits of depression which
rendered her a burden to herself and to others; also she inherited to some
extent, her mother's infirmities of temper, and her envy, jealousy and
unreasonableness made her presence in the family a trial to her young
cousins.

The mother had to teach patience, meekness and forbearance by precept and
example, ever holding up as the grand motive, love to Jesus, and a desire
to please and honor him.

Such constant sowing of the good seed, such patient, careful weeding out
of the tares, such watchfulness and prayerfulness as Elsie bestowed upon
the children God had given her, could not fail of their reward from him
who has said, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"; and as
the years rolled on she had the unspeakable joy of seeing her darlings one
after another gathered into the fold of the Good Shepherd; - consecrating
themselves in the dew of their youth to the service of him who had loved
them and washed them from their sins in his own blood.

She was scarcely less earnest and persistent in her efforts to promote the
welfare, temporal and spiritual, of Molly and Dick. She far more than
supplied the place of the mother now almost worse than lost to them.

They had always liked and respected her; they soon learned to love her
dearly and grew happier and more lovable under the refining, elevating
influence of her conduct and conversation.

She and her husband gave to both the best advantages for education that
money could procure, aroused in them the desire, and stimulated them to
earnest efforts to become useful members of society.

Elsie soon discovered that one grand element of Molly's depression was the
thought that she was cut off from all the activities of life and doomed,
by her sad affliction, to be a useless burden upon others.

"My poor dear child!" she said clasping the weeping girl in her arms,
"that would be a sad fate indeed, but it need not be yours; there are many
walks of usefulness still open to you; literature, several of the arts and
sciences, music, painting, authorship; to say nothing of needle work both
plain and fancy. The first thing will be a good education in the ordinary
acceptation of the term - and that you can take as easily as one who has
use of all her limbs. Books and masters shall be at your command, and when
you have decided to what employment you will especially devote yourself,
every facility shall be given you for perfecting yourself in it."

"O Cousin Elsie," cried the girl, her eyes shining, "do you think I could
ever write books, or paint pictures? I mean such as would be really worth
the doing; such as would make Dick proud of me and perhaps give me money
to help him with; because you know the poor fellow must make his own way
in the world."

"I scarcely know how to answer that question," Elsie said, smiling at her
sudden enthusiasm, "but I do know that patience and perseverance will do
wonders, and if you practice them faithfully, it will not surprise me to
see you some day turn out a great author or artist.

"But don't fret because Dick has not a fortune to begin with. Our very
noblest and most successful men have been those who had to win their way
by dint of hard and determined struggling with early disadvantages. 'Young
trees root the faster for shaking!'" she added with a smile.

"Oh then Dick will succeed, I know, dear, noble fellow!" cried Molly
flushing with sisterly pride.

From that time she took heart and though there were occasional returns of
despondency and gloom she strove to banish them and was upon the whole,
brave, cheerful and energetic in carrying out the plans her cousin had
suggested.




CHAPTER SIXTEENTH.

"It is as if the night should shade noonday,
Or that the sun was here, but forced away;
And we were left, under that hemisphere,
Where we must feel it dark for half a year."
- BEN. JOHNSON.


Since the events recorded in our last chapter, six years have rolled their
swift, though noiseless round, ere we look in upon our friends again; six
years bringing such changes as they must; - growth and development to the
very young, a richer maturity, a riper experience to those who had already
attained to adult life, and to the aged, increasing infirmities, reminding
them that their race is nearly run; it may be so with others; it must be
so with them.

There have been gains and losses, sickness and other afflictions, but
death has not yet entered any of their homes.

At Ion, the emerald, velvety lawn, the grand old trees, the sparkling
lakelet, the flower gardens and conservatories gay with rich autumn hues,
were looking their loveliest, in the light of a fair September morning.

The sun was scarcely an hour high, and except in the region of the
kitchen and stables quiet reigned within and without the mansion; doors
and windows stood wide open, and servants were busied here and there
cleaning and setting in order for the day, but without noise or bustle. In
the avenue before the front entrance, stood Solon with the pretty grey
ponies, Prince and Princess, ready saddled and bridled, while on the
veranda sat a tall, dark-eyed, handsome youth, a riding whip in one hand,
the other gently stroking and patting the head of Bruno, as it rested on
his knee; the dog receiving the caress with demonstrations of delight.

A light, springing step passed down the broad stairway, crossed the hall,
and a slender fairy-like form appeared in the doorway. It was Violet, now
thirteen, and already a woman in height; though the innocent childlike
trust in the sweet fair face and azure eyes, told another tale.

"Good-morning, Eddie," she said. "I am sorry to have kept you waiting."

"Oh, good-morning," he cried, jumping up and turning toward her. "No need
for apology, Vi, I've not been here over five minutes."

He handed her gallantly to the saddle, then mounted himself.

"Try to cheer up, little sister; one should not be sad such a lovely
morning as this," he said, as they trotted down the avenue side by side.

"Oh, Eddie," she answered, with tears in her voice, "I do try, but I
can't yet; it isn't like home without them."

"No; no indeed, Vi; how could it be? Mr. and Mrs. Daly are very kind, yet
not in the least like our father and mother; but it would be impossible
for any one to take their places in our hearts or home."

"The only way to feel at all reconciled, is to keep looking forward to the
delight of seeing them return with our darling Lily well and strong," Vi
said, struggling bravely with her tears; and Eddie answered, "I cannot
help hoping that may be, in spite of all the discouraging things the
doctors have said."

Lily, always frail and delicate, had drooped more and more during the past
year, and only yesterday the parents had left with her for the North,
intending to try the effect of different watering places, in the faint
hope that the child might yet be restored to health, or her life at least
be prolonged for a few years.

They had taken with them their eldest daughter, and infant son, and
several servants.

Aunt Chloe and Uncle Joe were not of the party, increasing infirmities
compelling them to stay behind.

The separation from her idolized mistress, cost the former many tears, but
she was much comforted by Elsie's assurance, that to have her at home to
watch over the children there, would be a great comfort and relief from
anxiety on their account.

It had seemed to Mr. and Mrs. Travilla, a very kind Providence that had
sent them an excellent tutor and housekeeper, in the persons of Mr. and
Mrs. Daly, their former guests at Viamede.

Since the winter spent together there, an occasional correspondence had
been kept up between the two families, and learning from it, that Mr. Daly
was again in need of a change of climate, and that, just as they were
casting about for some suitable persons to take charge of their house and
children during their contemplated absence from home, Elsie suggested to
her husband that the situations should be offered to him and his wife.

Mr. Travilla approved, the offer was made at once, and promptly and
thankfully accepted.

Frank Daly, now a fine lad of eleven, was invited to come with his
parents, and to share his father's instructions.

They had now been in the house for more than a week, and seemed eminently
suited to the duties they had undertaken; yet home was sadly changed to
the children, deprived for the first time in their lives of the parents
whom they so dearly loved, and who so thoroughly understood and
sympathized with them.

Eddie was growing very manly, was well advanced in his studies, easy and
polished in manner, and Vi and the younger ones looked up to him with
pride and respect, as the big brother who knew a great deal, and in papa's
absence would be their leader and protector.

He, on his part was fond and proud of them all, but more especially of
Elsie and Vi, who grew daily in beauty and grace.

"You can't think how sorely I have missed Elsie this morning," Vi said,
breaking a slight pause in their talk, "and yet I am glad she went too,
she will be such a comfort to mamma and Lily; and she promised me to write
every day; which of course mamma could not find time to do."

"Yes; and her absence will give you an opportunity for practice in that
line, and in being motherly to Rosie," Eddie said with a smile.

"To Herbie too," she answered; "we are to meet in mamma's dressing-room
every morning just as usual, only it will be a strange half hour without
mamma; but we will say our texts to each other, talk them over and read
together."

"Yes, I promised mamma that I would be with you. Which way now?" he asked,
as they came to the crossroads.

"To the Oaks. I want to see grandpa. A caress, or even a word or smile
from him, would do me good this morning."

"He may not be up."

"But I think he will; you know he likes to keep early hours."

Mr. Dinsmore was up and pacing the veranda thoughtfully to and fro, as the
young riders came in sight.

He welcomed them with a smile, and lifting Vi from her pony, held her
close to his heart as something very dear and precious.

"My darling," he said, "your face is sad this morning; and no wonder. Yet
cheer up, we will hope to see our dear travelers at home again in a few
weeks, our poor fading flower restored to bloom and beauty."

He made them sit down and regale themselves with some fine fresh oranges,
which he summoned a servant to bring; their grandma, aunt and uncle joined
them presently and they were urged to stay to breakfast, but declined.
"The little ones must not be left alone this first morning without papa
and mamma."

On their return Rosie, a merry, healthy, romping child of five, with a
rich creamy complexion, dark hair and eyes, forming a strong contrast to
Vi's blonde beauty, came bounding to meet them.

"O, Vi, I've been wanting you! you'll have to be mamma to us now, you
know, till our real own mamma comes back. And, Eddie, you'll have to be
the papa. Won't he, Vi? Come, let's all go to mamma's dress-room; my verse
is ready."

"What is your text, Rosie?" Violet asked when they had reached the room,
sitting down and drawing the child to her side.

"Take me on your lap like mamma does and I'll say it."

"Now then," Vi said, complying with the request.

"'When my father and my mother forsake me then the Lord will take me up.'"

"Who taught you that, pet?" asked Vi, with a slight tremble in her low
sweet tones.

"Cousin Molly. I was crying for mamma and papa and she called me in there
and told me I mustn't cry, 'cause Jesus loves me and will never, never go
away from me."

"That's like my text," said Herbert. "Mamma gave it to me for to-day. 'I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'"

"And mine," said Harold, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of
the world,'"

"'This God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even unto
death,'" repeated Vi feelingly.

"That's a nice one," said Rosie.

"Yes," said Eddie, "and this is a nice one for us to remember just now in
connection with the dear ones on their journey, and for ourselves when we
go away. Yes, now, and at all times. 'Behold I am with thee, and will keep
thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this
land.'"

"Isn't the Bible the sweetest book!" exclaimed Vi, "the Book of books; it
has a comforting word for everybody and every time of need."

The breakfast bell rang.

"Oh, dear!" cried Rosie clinging to Violet, her bosom heaving with sobs,
"how can we go to the table and eat without papa and mamma!"

"Don't cry, little pet, don't cry; you know they want us to be cheerful
and make it pleasant for Mr. and Mrs. Daly," the others said, and with a
great effort the child swallowed her sobs; then wiping away her tears,
suffered Vi to lead her down to the breakfast room.

Mrs. Daly met them there with a smiling face, and kind motherly greeting.
Mr. Daly had a pleasant word for each, and talked so entertainingly all
through the meal, that they had scarcely time for sad or lonely thoughts.

Family worship followed immediately after breakfast, as was the custom of
the house. Mr. Daly's prayer was short, comforting them all, and simple
enough for even little Rose to understand.

There was still time for a walk before school, but first Vi went to Molly
to ask how she was, and to carry her a letter from Dick which had come by
the morning mail.

Dick was in Philadelphia studying medicine. He and Molly corresponded
regularly and she knew no greater treat than a letter from him. Vi was
glad she could carry it to her this morning, it was so great a pleasure
to be the bearer of anything so welcome.

There were no pleasanter or better furnished rooms in the house than those
appropriated to the use of the poor, dependent crippled cousin. Molly
herself tastefully and becomingly dressed, blooming, bright and cheerful,
sat in an invalid chair by the open window. She was reading, and so
absorbed in her book that she did not hear the light step of her young
relative.

Vi paused in the doorway a moment, thinking what a pretty picture Molly
made - with her intellectual countenance, clear complexion, rosy cheeks,
bright eyes and glossy braids - framed in by the vine-wreathed window.

Molly looked up, and laying aside her book, "Ah, Vi, this is kind!" she
said. "Come in, do; I'm ever so glad to see you."

"And what of this?" asked Vi, holding up the letter.

"Oh, delightful! dear old fellow, to write so soon. I was not expecting it
till to-morrow."

"I knew you'd be glad," Vi said, putting it into her hand, "and now I'll
just kiss you good-morning and run away, that you may enjoy it fully
before lesson time."

Rosie's voice was summoning Vi. The children were in the veranda ready for
their morning walk, waiting only for "Sister Vi."

"Let's go to the Oaks," said Rosie, slipping her hand into Vi's; "it's a
nice shady walk, and I like to throw pebbles into the water. But I'll feed
the fishes first. See what a bag full of crumbs mammy has given me."

Violet was very patient and indulgent toward the little pet sister, yet
obliged to cut short her sport with the pebbles and the fishes, because
the hour for lessons drew near.




CHAPTER SEVENTEENTH.

"The lilies faintly to the roses yield,
As on thy lovely cheek they struggling vie,
And thoughts are in thy speaking eyes revealed,
Pure as the fount the prophet's rod unseal'd."
- HOFFMAN.


"Dr. Arthur lef' dis for you, Miss Wi'let," said one of the maids, meeting
her young mistress on the veranda and handing her a note.

"Cousin Arthur? was he here?"

"Yes, miss. He axed for you, but hadn't no time to stop, not even to see
po' Miss Molly. 'Spect somebody's mighty sick."

Arthur Conly had entered the medical profession, and for the last two
years had been practicing in partnership with Dr. Barton.

Vi glanced over the note and hastened to Eddie, whom she found in the
schoolroom, its only occupant at the moment.

"Here's a note from Isa, asking me to bring Rosie and come to Roselands
for the rest of the day, after lessons are done. She thinks I must feel
lonely. It is very kind, but what shall I do about it? Rosie would enjoy
going, but would it be kind to you or the boys, or Molly?"

"I might take the boys over to the Oaks, but I don't know - oh, I think
Molly would probably prefer solitude, as I happen to know that she has
some writing to do. Well, what now?" seeing a hesitating, perplexed look
on Vi's face.

"I cannot ask permission of papa or mamma."

"No, of course not; we must go to Mr. Daly for that now."

"I don't like it," she answered coloring; "it does seem as if nobody has
the right to control us except our father and mother, and our
grandparents."

"Only that they have given him the right for the present."

Mr. Daly came in at that instant, and Vi, placing the note in his hand,
said "Will you please to look at this, sir, and tell me if I may accept
the invitation?"

"I see no objection," he said, returning it with a kindly smile, "provided
your lessons are well recited."

Mr. Daly was an excellent teacher, thoroughly prepared for his work by
education, native talent for imparting the knowledge he possessed, love
for the employment and for the young creatures entrusted to his care.

The liking was mutual, and study hours were soon voted only less enjoyable


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Online LibraryMartha FinleyElsie's children → online text (page 8 of 17)