Elsie's Kith and Kin by Martha Finley
"Train up a child in the way he should go."--PROV. xxii. 6.
"Papa, I want to ask you for something," was Lulu's eager salutation, as, in accordance with his promise, he stepped into her room, on the way to his own, to bid her good-night.
"Well, daughter," he said, sitting down, and drawing her into his arms, "there is scarcely any thing that gives me more pleasure than gratifying any reasonable request from you. What is it you want?"
"Leave to invite Evelyn to go with us to-morrow, if you don't think it will make too many, papa."
"I suppose it would add greatly to your enjoyment to have her with you," he said reflectively. "Yes, you may ask her; or I will do so, early in the morning, through the telephone, if the weather is such that we can go."
"Thank you, you dear papa." she said, giving him a hug and kiss. "I ought to be a very good girl, for you are always so kind to me."
She was up betimes the next morning, eagerly scanning the sky, which, to her great delight, gave every indication of fair weather for the day.
She hastened to array herself in suitable attire for her trip to the city,--having consulted grandma Elsie on the subject the night before,--and had just finished when she heard her father's step in the hall.
She ran to open the door.
"Good-morning, little daughter," he said with a smile, and stooping to give her a caress. "I have just been to the telephone. Evelyn will go with us, and I trust you will both enjoy your day."
"Oh, I know I shall!" she cried: "it will be just delightful! Are we all to go in the carriage, papa?"
"All but Max: he prefers to ride his pony."
"I should think he would. I'm so glad you gave it to him, papa!" There was not a trace of envy or jealousy in her look or tone.
"Wouldn't you like to have one?" he asked.
"Oh, yes, indeed, papa! but," hanging her head, and blushing deeply, "I don't deserve it."
"I intend to give you one as soon as you have learned to have patience under provocation, so that I shall be able to trust you to treat him kindly," he said. "How soon do you think that will be?"
"I don't know, papa. It will be a good while before I can feel at all sure of myself," she answered humbly.
"I hope it will," he said; then, as she looked up in surprise, "The apostle says, 'When I am weak, then am I strong.' When we feel our own weakness, and look to God for help, then we are strong with a strength far greater than our own; but when we grow self-confident, and trust in our own strength, we are very apt to find it but weakness.
"And now I must caution you to be on your guard to-day against any exhibition of self-will and ill temper, if your wishes are overruled by those older and wiser than yourself."
"Why, papa, am I not to be allowed to choose the things for my own rooms?" she asked, in a tone of deep disappointment.
"I intend that your taste shall be consulted, my child," he said; "but I cannot promise that you shall have, in every case, exactly what you most prefer. You might select carpets, curtains, and upholstery of material and colors that would wear poorly, or fade very soon. Therefore we must take grandma Elsie into our counsels, and get her help in deciding what to take; for I am sure you would like neither to have your rooms disfigured with faded, worn-out furnishings, or to put your father to the expense of refurnishing for you very soon."
"Oh, no, papa! No, indeed," she said.
"Besides," he went on, "don't you wish to consult my taste too? Would you not have your rooms pleasing to my eyes when I pay a visit to them, as I shall every day?"
"Oh, yes, papa! Yes, indeed! I think I shall care more for that than to have them look pretty to myself," she answered, with a look of eager delight, the cloud having entirely cleared from her brow.
"Then, I think we are not likely to have any trouble," he said, smoothing her hair caressingly, and smiling approvingly upon her.
"Now we will go down to breakfast, and we are to set out very soon after the meal is over." He rose, and took her hand in his, to lead her down to the breakfast-room.
"Papa," she said, looking up at him with eyes shining with filial love, "how kind you were to reason with me in that nice way, instead of saying sternly, as you might have done, 'Now, Lulu, if you are naughty about the choice of things for furnishing your rooms, you sha'n't have any thing pretty for them, and when we get home I'll punish you severely!'"
"Certainly, I might have done that, and probably with the effect of securing your good behavior," he said; "but I think neither of us would have felt quite so happy as we do now."
"I am sure I should not," she said, lifting his hand to her lips.
That little talk had a most happy effect upon Lulu, so that throughout the entire day she showed herself as docile and amiable as any one could have desired.
Her father, on his part, was extremely indulgent toward all three of his children, in every case in which he felt that it was right and wise to be so, sparing no reasonable expense to gratify their tastes and wishes. But in several matters they yielded readily to his or grandma Elsie's better judgment; indeed, always, when asked to do so, seeming, too, well satisfied with the final decision.
They returned home, a very happy set of children, except, in Lulu's case, when memory recalled the passionate outburst of the early part of the week with its dire consequences: that remembrance would be a sore spot in her heart, and a bitter humiliation, for many a day, probably for the rest of her life.
Rosie was on the veranda awaiting their arrival.
"Well, have you had a good time, and bought great quantities of pretty things?" she asked, addressing the company in general.
It was Zoe who answered first.
"Yes: if these young Raymonds are not satisfied with the furnishing of their apartments, I, for one, shall deem them the most unreasonable and ungrateful of human kind."
"She won't have a chance to, though," said Max; "for we're delighted with every thing papa has got us. Aren't we, Lu and Gracie?"
"Yes, indeed!" they both replied. "Oh, we have ever so many beautiful things! Papa and grandma Elsie helped us to choose them; so, of course, they are all just right," added Lulu, looking gratefully from one to the other.
"She takes no account of my very valuable assistance," laughed Zoe.
"Never mind: you are sure to be appreciated in one quarter," said Edward, coming up at that moment, catching her round the waist, and bestowing a hearty kiss upon each cheek. "I have been lost without my wife all day."
"How good of you!" she returned merrily. "I doubt if it isn't a very good plan to run away occasionally, that I may be the more highly appreciated on my return."
"Would you advise me to do likewise, and for the same reason, lady mine?" he asked, drawing her caressingly aside from the little group now busily occupied in telling and hearing about the day's purchases.
"No, sir," she said, tossing back her curls, and looking up into his face with a bewitchingly saucy smile: "you'd better not attempt it, lest there should be mutiny in the camp. When you go, I go too."
"Turn about, fair play," he said, knitting his brows. "I claim the privilege of being quite as independent as you are--when you can't plead delegated authority from the doctor;" and, drawing her hand within his arm, he led her away to their private apartments.
Violet, hurrying down to welcome her husband home, passed them on the stairway.
"You two happy children!" she said, glancing smilingly back at them.
"Children!" echoed Edward. "Mrs. Raymond, how can you be so disrespectful to your elder brother?--your senior by some two years."
"Ah! but your united ages are much less than Levis's and mine; and husband and wife make but one, don't they?" she returned gayly, as she tripped away.
Baby was almost herself again, and the young mother's heart was full of gladness.
She joined the group on the veranda, her husband receiving her with a glad smile and tender caress, and standing by his side, her hand on his shoulder, his arm half supporting her slight, girlish form, listened with lively interest to the story his children were telling so eagerly, of papa's kindness and generosity to them, and the many lovely things bought to make beautiful and attractive the rooms in the new home that were to be especially theirs.
He let them talk without restraint for some moments, then said pleasantly, "Now, my dears, it is time for you to go and make yourselves neat for the tea-table. Any thing more you think of that would be likely to interest Rosie and Walter, you can tell them afterwards."
The order was obeyed promptly and cheerfully, even by Lulu.
When the excitement of telling about their purchases, and all the day's experiences, was over, the children found themselves very weary,--the two little girls at least: Max wouldn't acknowledge that he was at all fatigued, but was quite willing to comply with his father's suggestion that it would be wise for him, as well as for his sisters, to go early to bed.
While Lulu was making ready for hers, her thoughts turned upon the morrow, bringing with them a new source of disquiet.
"Papa," she said pleadingly, when he came in to bid her good-night, "mayn't I stay at home to-morrow?"
"Stay at home from church? Not unless you are sick, or the weather quite too bad for you to go out. Why should you wish it?"
"Because--because--I--I'm afraid people have heard about--about how bad I was the other day; and--so I--I can't bear to go where I'll--be seen by strangers. No, I mean by folks out of the house that know who I am, and what happened the other day."
"My child, I am sorry for you," he said, taking her on his knee; "but it is a part of the punishment you have brought upon yourself, and will have to bear."
"But let me stay at home to-morrow, won't you?"
"No: it is a duty to go to church, as well as a privilege to be allowed to do so.
"'Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is,' the Bible says; so I cannot allow you to absent yourself from the services of the sanctuary when you are able to attend.
"As I have told you before, I must obey the directions I find in God's Word, and, as far as lies in my power, see that my children obey them too."
"I'd rather take a whipping than go to-morrow," she muttered, half under her breath.
"I hope you are not going to be so naughty that you will have to do both," he said very gravely. "You have been a very good girl to-day, and I want you to end it as such."
"I mean to, papa; I'd be ashamed to be naughty after all you have done for me, and given me to-day: and I mean to be pleasant about going to church to-morrow; though it'll be ever so hard, and I'm sure you wouldn't want to go if you were me."
"If you were I," he corrected. "No: if I were you, I suppose I should feel just as you do; but the question is not what we want to do, but what God bids us do.
"Jesus said, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' 'He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.'
"It is the dearest wish of my heart to see my children his followers, showing their love to him by an earnest endeavor to keep all his commandments."
"Papa, you always want to do right, don't you?" she asked. "I mean, you like it; and so it's never hard for you as it is for me?"
"No, daughter, it is sometimes very far from being easy and pleasant for me to do what I feel to be my duty; for instance, when it is to inflict pain upon you, or another of my dear children, or deny you some indulgence that you crave. I should like to grant your request of to-night, if I could feel that it would be right; but I cannot, and therefore must deny it."
Lulu acquiesced in the decision with a deep sigh, and half hoped that something--a storm, or even a fit of sickness--might come to prevent her from having to go to church.
But Sunday morning was as bright and clear as the one before it, and she in perfect health; so there was no escape from the dreaded ordeal.
She ventured upon no further entreaty, knowing it would be altogether useless, and quite as much from love to her father, and a real desire to please him, as from fear of punishment, behaved herself as well as possible.
But she kept as entirely in the background as she could, not looking at or speaking to any one unless directly addressed.
No one, however, gave her any reason to suppose her agency in the baby's accident was known; and she returned to Ion with a lighter heart than she had carried with her when she went.
She had not seen the baby yet, since its fall, and though longing to do so, having an ardent affection for the winsome little creature, did not dare to ask that she might.
But as she was about to go into her own room, on reaching home, her father said, "Would you like to go with me to the nursery, Lulu, and see your little sister?"
"Oh, so much, papa, if I may!" she cried eagerly. "But," half drawing back, "perhaps she--will be afraid of me."
"I trust not," he said, with emotion. "I hope she does not know that you had any thing to do with her fall. Come and see."
He took her hand, and led her to the nursery. The baby was awake, sitting in its nurse's lap, and looking bright, but so much thinner and paler than before her fall, that tears sprang to Lulu's eyes, and she could scarce refrain from sobbing aloud.
But the little one, catching sight of her, held out its arms, with a joyful cry, "Lu!"
At that, Lulu's tears fell fast.
"May I take her, papa?" she asked sobbingly, and with an entreating look up into his face. "I won't hurt her, I wouldn't for all the world!"
"You may take her," he said, his tones a trifle tremulous: "I am quite sure you would never hurt her intentionally."
Lulu gladly availed herself of the permission, took the baby in her arms, and sat down with it on her lap.
"Lu, Lu!" the little one repeated in her sweet baby voice; and Lulu hugged her close, kissing her again and again, and saying softly, "You dear, sweet darling; sister loves you, indeed, indeed she does!"
The captain looked on, his heart swelling with joy and thankfulness over the evident mutual affection of the two; for there had been a time when he feared Lulu would never love the child of her step-mother as she did Max and Grace.
Violet entered the room at that moment, and the little scene caused her eyes to fill with tears of gladness.
She was ready for the shopping expedition the next day: the children were allowed to go too, and again had a most enjoyable time.
After that they were told lessons must be taken up again: and Lulu passed most of her time in her own room, generally engaged in preparing her tasks for her father to hear in the evening; for he was now so busy with the improvements being carried forward at Woodburn, that very often he could not attend to her recitations till after tea.
She continued to think him the kindest and most interesting teacher she had ever had; while he found, to his surprise, that he had a liking for the occupation, aside from his fatherly interest in his pupil: and Max and Grace, listening to Lulu's report, grew anxious for the time when they could share her privileges.
But their waiting-time would not be very long. As soon as Miss Elliott's stipulated two weeks had expired, she would leave Woodburn, and they would take possession immediately. Their father and his young wife were quite as eager as they to begin the new order of things.