Elsie at Nantucket by Martha Finley
"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."--Prov. 13: 24.
When the morning boat touched at Nantucket pier there were among the throng which poured ashore two fine-looking gentlemen--one in the prime of life, the other growing a little elderly--who sought out at once a conveyance to 'Sconset.
The hackman had driven them before, and recognized them with evident pleasure mingled with surprise.
"Glad to see you back again, capt'n," he remarked, addressing the younger of his two passengers; "but it's kind of unexpected, isn't it? I understood you'd gone to join your ship, expecting to sail directly for foreign parts."
"Yes, that was all correct," returned Captain Raymond, gayly, for he it was, in company with Mr. Dinsmore; "but orders are sometimes countermanded, as they were in this instance, to my no small content."
"They'll be dreadful glad to see you at 'Sconset," was the next remark; "surprised, too. By the way, sir, your folks had a fright last evening."
"A fright?" inquired both gentlemen in a breath, and exchanging a look of concern.
"Yes, sirs; about one of your little girls, capt'n--the oldest one, I understood it was. Seems she'd wandered off alone to Tom Never's Head, or somewhere in that neighborhood, and was caught by the darkness and storm, and didn't find her way home till the older folks had begun to think she'd been swept away by the tide, which was coming in, to be sure; but they thought it might have been the backward flow of a big wave that had rushed up a little too quick for her, taking her off her feet and hurrying her into the surf before she could struggle up again."
All the captain's gayety was gone, and his face wore a pained, troubled look.
"But she did reach home in safety at last?" he said, inquiringly.
"Oh, yes; all right except for a wetting, which probably did her no harm. But now maybe I'm telling tales out of school," he added, with a laugh. "I shouldn't like to get the little girl into trouble, so I hope you'll not be too hard on her, capt'n. I dare say the fright has been punishment enough to keep her from doing the like again."
"I wish it may have been," was all the captain said.
Then he fell into a revery so deep that he scarcely caught a word of a brisk conversation, in regard to some of the points of interest on the island, carried on between Mr. Dinsmore and the hackman.
Lulu was having an uncomfortable day. When she met the family at the breakfast-table Grandma Rose seemed to regard her with cold displeasure; "Mamma Vi" spoke gently and kindly; hoping she felt no injury from last night's exposure, but looked wretchedly ill; and in answer to her mother's inquiries admitted that she had been kept awake most of the night by a violent headache, to which Rosie added, in an indignant tone, and with an angry glance at Lulu:
"Brought on by anxiety in regard to a certain young miss who is always misbehaving and causing a world of trouble to her best friends."
"Rose, Rose," Elsie said, reprovingly; "let me hear no more such remarks, or I shall send you from the table."
Lulu had appeared in their midst, feeling humble and contrite, and had been conscience-smitten at sight of her mamma's pale face; but the sneer on Betty's face, the cold, averted looks of Edward and Zoe, and then Rosie's taunt roused her quick temper to almost a white heat.
She rose, and pushing back her chair with some noise, turned to leave the table at which she had but just seated herself.
"What is it, Lulu?" asked Grandma Elsie, in a tone of gentle kindliness. "Sit still, my child, and ask for what you want."
"Thank you, ma'am," said Lulu. "I do not want anything but to go away. I'd rather do without my breakfast than stay here to be insulted."
"Sit down, my child," repeated Elsie, as gently and kindly as before; "Rosie will make no more unkind remarks; and we will all try to treat you as we would wish to be treated were we in your place."
No one else spoke. Lulu resumed her seat and ate her breakfast, but with little appetite or enjoyment; and on leaving the table tried to avoid contact with any of those who had caused her offence.
"May I go down to the beach, Grandma Elsie?" she asked, in low, constrained tones, and with her eyes upon the floor.
"If you will go directly there, to the seats under the awning which we usually occupy, and not wander from them farther than they are from the cliff," Elsie answered. "Promise me that you will keep within those bounds, and I shall know I may trust you; for you are an honest child."
The cloud lifted slightly from Lulu's brow at those kindly words. She gave the promise, and walked slowly away.
As she descended the stairway that led down the face of the cliff, she saw that Edward and Zoe were sitting side by side on one of the benches under the awning.
She did not fancy their company just now, and knew hers would not be acceptable to them. She thought she would pass them and seat herself in the sand a little farther on.
Edward was speaking as she came up behind them, and she heard him say, "It was the most uncomfortable meal ever eaten in our family; and all because of that ungovernable child."
Lulu flushed hotly, and stepping past turned and confronted him with flashing eyes.
"I heard you, Uncle Edward," she said, "though I had no intention of listening; and I say it is very unjust to blame me so when it was Rosie's insulting tongue and other people's cold, contemptuous looks that almost drove me wild."
"You are much too easily driven wild," he said. "It is high time you learned to have some control over your temper. If I were your father I'd teach it you, even if I must try the virtue of a rod again and again; also you should learn proper submission to authority, if it had to be taught in the same manner."
Lulu was too angry to speak for a moment; she stood silent, trembling with passion, but at length burst out: "It's none of your business how papa manages me, Mr. Travilla; and I'm very glad he's my father instead of you!"
"You are a very saucy girl, Lulu Raymond," said Zoe, reddening with anger on her husband's account, "and shamefully ungrateful for all Mr. Travilla's kind exertions on your behalf last night."
"Hush, hush, Zoe; do not remind her of it," Edward said. "'A benefit upbraided forfeits thanks.' I should have done quite the same for any one supposed to be in danger and distress."
"What was it?" asked Lulu; "nobody told me he had done anything."
"He was out for hours in all that storm, hunting you," replied Zoe, with a proudly admiring glance at her husband.
"I'm very much obliged," said Lulu, her voice softening. "And sorry you suffered on my account," she added.
"I did not suffer anything worth mentioning," he responded; "but your mamma was sorely distressed--thinking you might be in the sea--and, in consequence, had a dreadful headache all night. And since such dire consequences may follow upon your disregard for rules and lawful authority, Lulu, I insist that you shall be more amenable to them.
"I believe you think that when your father and grandpa are both away you can do pretty much as you please; but you shall not while I am about. I won't have my mother's authority set at defiance by you or any one else."
"Who wants to set it at defiance?" demanded Lulu, wrathfully. "Not I, I am sure. But I won't be ruled by you, for papa never said I should."
"I think I shall take down this conversation and report it to him," Edward said, only half in earnest.
Lulu turned quickly away, greatly disturbed by the threat, but resolved that her alarm should not be perceived by either him or Zoe. Walking a few yards from them, she sat down upon the sand and amused herself digging in it, but with thoughts busied with the problem, "What will papa say and do if that conversation is reported to him?"
A very little consideration of the question convinced her that if present her father would say she had been extremely impertinent, punish her for it, and make her apologize.
Presently a glance toward the cottages on the bluff showed her Violet and Grace descending the stairway. She rose and hurried to meet them.
"Mamma Vi," she said, as soon as within hearing, "I am ever so sorry to have frightened you so last night and given you a headache. But you oughtn't to care whether such a naughty girl as I am is drowned or not."
"How can you talk so, Lulu dear?" Violet answered, putting an arm round the child's waist and giving her a gentle kiss. "Do you think your Mamma Vi has no real love for you? If so, you are much mistaken. I love you, Lulu, for yourself, and dearly for your father's sake. Oh, I wish you loved him well enough to try harder to be good in order to add to his happiness; it would add to it more than anything else that I know of. Your naughtiness does not deprive you of his fatherly affection, but it does rob him of much enjoyment which he would otherwise have."
Lulu hung her head in silence, turned, and walked away full of self-accusing and penitent thoughts. She was not crying; tears did not come so readily to her eyes as to those of many children of her age, but her heart was aching with remorseful love for her absent father.
"To think that I spoiled his visit home," she sighed to herself. "Oh, I wish he could come back to have it over again, and I would try to be good and not spoil his enjoyment in the very least!"
"Come back now?" something seemed to reply; "suppose he should; wouldn't he punish you for your behavior since he left, only two days ago?"
"Yes," she sighed; "I haven't the least doubt that if he were here and knew all he would punish me severely again; and I suppose he wouldn't be long in the house before he would hear it all; yet for all that I should be--oh, so glad if he could come back to stay a good while."
Last night's storm had spent itself in a few hours, and the morning was bright and clear; yet a long drive planned for that day by our friends was unanimously postponed, as several of them had lost sleep, and wanted to make it up with a nap.
Violet sought her couch immediately after dinner, slept off the last remains of her headache, and about the middle of the afternoon was preparing to go down to the beach, where all the others were, except Grace, who was seldom far from mamma's side, when the outer door opened, and a step and voice were heard which she had not hoped to hear again for months or years.
The next moment she was in her husband's arms, her head pillowed on his breast, while his lips were pressed again and again to brow and cheek and lips, and Grace's glad shout arose, in sweet, silvery tones, "Papa has come back! Papa has come back! My dear, dear papa!"
"Can it be possible, my dear, dear husband?" cried Violet, lifting to his a face radiant with happiness. "It seems too good to be true."
"Not quite so good as that," he said, with a joyous laugh, "But it is quite a satisfaction to find that you are not sorry to see me."
"Of which you were terribly afraid, of course," she returned, gayly. "Do tell me at once how long our powers of endurance of such uncongenial society are to be taxed?"
"Ah, that is beyond my ability."
"Then we may hope for weeks or months?" she said, rapturously.
"Certainly we are not forbidden to hope," he answered, smiling tenderly upon her.
"Oh, I am so glad!" she said, with a happy sigh, leaning her head on his shoulder and gazing fondly up into his face, his right arm about her waist, while Grace clung to the other hand, holding it lovingly between her own and pressing her lips to it again and again.
"Ah, my darling little girl," he said presently, letting Violet go to take Grace in his arms. "Are you glad to see papa back again so soon?"
"Oh, yes, indeed; nothing else could have made me so very, very glad!" she cried, hugging him close, and giving and receiving many tender caresses.
"But how did it happen. Levis?" Violet was asking.
"Through some unlooked-for change in the plans and purposes of the higher powers," he answered, lightly. "My orders were countermanded, with no reasons given, and I may remain with my family till further orders; and, as you say, we will hope it may be months before they are received."
"And you were glad to come back to us?" Violet said, inquiringly, but with not a shade of doubt in her tones.
"Yes, yes indeed; I was full of joy till I heard that one of my children had been disobeying me, bringing serious consequences upon herself and others."
His countenance had grown very grave and stern. "Where is Lulu?" he asked, glancing about in search of her.
"Down on the beach with mamma and the rest," Violet answered.
"Can you give me a true and full account of her behavior since I have been away?" he asked.
"My dear husband," Violet said, entreatingly, "please do not ask me."
"Pardon me, dearest," he returned. "I should not have asked you; Lulu must tell me herself; thankful I am that many and serious as are her faults, she is yet so honest and truthful that I can put full confidence in her word and feel sure that she will not deceive me, even to save herself from punishment."
"I think that is high praise, and that Lulu is deserving of it," remarked Violet, glad of an opportunity to speak a word in the child's favor.
Captain Raymond gave her a pleased, grateful look. "You were going to the beach, were you not?" he said. "Then please go on; I shall follow after I have settled this matter with Lulu. There can be no comfort for her or myself till it is settled. Gracie, go and tell your sister to come here to me immediately."
"Do be as lenient as your sense of duty will allow, dear husband," whispered Violet in his ear, then hastened on her way.
Grace was lingering, gazing at him with wistful, tear-filled eves.
"What is it?" he asked, bending down to smooth her hair caressingly. "You should go at once, little daughter, when papa bids."
"I would, papa, only--only I wanted to--to ask you not to punish Lulu very hard."
"I am glad my little Gracie loves her sister," he said; "and you need never doubt, my darling, that I dearly love both her and you. Go now and give her my message."
All day long Lulu had kept herself as far apart from the others--her sister excepted--as lay in her power. She was sitting now alone in the sand, no one within several yards of her, her hands folded in her lap, while she gazed far out to sea, her eyes following a sail in the distant offing.
"Perhaps it is papa's ship," she was saying to herself. "Oh, how long will it be before we see him again! And oh, how sorry he will be when he hears about last night and this morning!"
At that instant she felt Grace's arms suddenly thrown round her, while the sweet child voice exclaimed, in an ecstasy of delight, "Oh, Lu, he has come! he has, he has!"
"Who?" Lulu asked, with a start and tremble that reminded Grace of the message she had to deliver, and that Lulu's pleasure at their father's unexpected return could not be so unalloyed as her own; all which she had forgotten for the moment in the rapture of delight she herself felt at his coming.
"Papa, Lulu," she answered, sobering down, a good deal; "and I was 'most forgetting that he sent me to tell you to come to him immediately."
"Did he?" Lulu asked, trembling more than before. "Does he know about last night, Gracie? Did Mamma Vi tell him?"
"He knows 'bout it; somebody told him before he got to 'Sconset," said Grace. "But mamma didn't tell him at all; he asked her, but she begged him to please not ask her. Mamma doesn't ever tell tales on us, I'm sure."
"No, I don't believe she does. But what did papa say then?"
"That you should tell him all about it yourself; you were an honest child, serious as your faults were, and lie could trust you to own the truth, even when you were to be punished for it. But, Lulu, you have to go right up to the house; papa said 'immediately.'"
"Yes," Lulu replied, getting upon her feet very slowly, and looking a good deal frightened; "did papa seem very angry?"
"I think he intends to punish you," Grace replied, in a sorrowful tone; "but maybe he won't if you say you're sorry and won't do so any more. But hurry, Lulu, or he may punish you for not obeying promptly."
"Is Mamma Vi there?" asked Lulu, still lingering.
"No; yonder she is; don't you see?" said Grace, nodding her head in the direction of the awning under which nearly their whole party were now seated: "there's nobody there but papa. Oh hurry, Lulu, or he will whip you, I'm afraid."
"Don't you ever say that before anybody, Gracie," Lulu said, low and tremulously; then turned and walked rapidly toward the stairway that led up the bluff to the cottages.
At a window looking toward the bluff the captain stood, watching for Lulu's coming.
"She is not yielding very prompt obedience to the order," he said to himself; "but what wonder? The poor child doubtless dreads the interview extremely; in fact, I should be only too glad to escape it; 'tis no agreeable task to have to deal out justice to one's own child--a child so lovable, in spite of her faults. How much easier to pass the matter over slightly, merely administering a gentle reprimand! But no, I cannot; 'twould be like healing slightly the festering sore that threatens the citadel of life. I must be faithful to my God-given trust, however trying to my feelings. Ah, there she is!" as a little figure appeared at the top of the staircase and hurried across the intervening space to the open doorway.
There she halted, trembling and with downcast eyes. It was a minute or more before she ventured to lift them, and then it was a very timid glance she sent in her father's direction.
He was looking at her with a very grave, rather stern, countenance, and her eyes fell again, while still she shrank from approaching him.
"You are not very glad to see me, I think," he said, holding out his hand, but with no relaxing of the sternness of his expression.
"Oh, papa, yes! yes, indeed I am!" she burst out, springing to his side and putting her hand in his, "even though I suppose you are going to punish me just as you did the last time."
He drew her to his knee, but without offering her the slightest caress.
"Won't you kiss me, papa?" she asked, with a little sob.
"I will; but you are not to take it as a token of favor; only of your father's love that is never withdrawn from you, even when he is most severe in the punishment of your faults," he answered, pressing his lips again and again to forehead, cheeks, and lips. "What have you done that you expect so severe a punishment?"
"Papa, you know, don't you?" she said, hiding her blushing face on his breast.
"I choose to have you tell me; I want a full confession of all the wrong-doing you have been guilty of since I left you the other day."
"I disobeyed you last night, papa, about taking a long walk by myself; but it was because I forgot to notice how far I was going; at least, I didn't notice," she stammered, remembering that she had wilfully refrained from so doing.
"You forgot? forgot to pay attention to your father's commands? did not think them of sufficient importance for you to take the trouble to impress them upon your mind. I cannot accept that excuse as a good and sufficient one.
"And, tell me honestly, are you not, as I strongly suspect, less careful to obey your father's orders when he is away, so that you feel yourself in a measure out of his reach, than when he is close at hand?"
"Papa, you ask such hard questions," she said.
"Hard to my little daughter only because of her own wrong-doing. But hard or easy, they must be answered. Tell me the truth, would you not have been more careful to keep within prescribed bounds last night if I had been at home, or you had known that you would see me here to-day?"
"Yes, papa," she answered, in a low, unwilling tone. "I don't think anybody else can have quite so much authority over me as you, and--and so I do, I suppose, act a little more as if I could do as I please when you are away."
"And that after I have explained to you again and again that in my absence you are quite as much under the authority of the kind friends with whom I have placed you as under mine when I am with you. I see there is no effectual way to teach you the lesson but by punishing you for disregarding it."
Then he made her give him a detailed account of her ramble of the night before and its consequences.
When she had gone as far in the narrative as her safe arrival among the alarmed household, he asked whether her Grandma Elsie inflicted any punishment upon her.
"No, sir," answered Lulu, hanging her head and speaking in a sullen tone. "I told her I didn't feel as if anybody had any right to punish me but you."
"Lulu I did you dare to talk in that way to her?" exclaimed the captain. "I hope she punished you for your impertinence; for if she did not I certainly must."
"She lectured me then, and this morning told me my punishment was a prohibition against wandering away from the rest more than just a few yards.
"But, papa, they were all so unkind to me at breakfast--I mean all but Grandma Elsie and Mamma Vi and Gracie. Betty looked sneering, and the others so cold and distant, and Rosie said something very insulting about my being a bad, troublesome child and frightening Mamma Vi into a headache."
"Certainly no more than you deserved," her father said. "Did you bear it with patience and humility, as you ought?"
"Do you mean that I must answer you, papa?"
"Most assuredly I do; tell me at once exactly what you did and said."
"I don't want to, papa," she said, half angrily.
"You are never to say that when I give you an order," he returned, in a tone of severity; "never venture to do it again. Tell me, word for word, as nearly as you can remember it, what reply you made to Rosie's taunt."
"Papa, I didn't say anything to her; I just got up and pushed back my chair, and turned to leave the table. Then Grandma Elsie asked me what I wanted, and I said I didn't want anything, but would rather go without my breakfast than stay there to be insulted. Then she told me to sit down and eat, and Rosie wouldn't make any more unkind speeches."
"Were they all pleasant to you after that?" he asked.
"No, papa; they haven't been pleasant to me at all to-day; and Uncle Edward has said hateful things about me, and to me," she went on, her cheek flushing and her eyes flashing with anger, half forgetting, in the excitement of passion, to whom she was telling her story, and showing her want of self-control.
"And I very much fear," he said, gravely, "that you were both passionate and impertinent. Tell me just what passed."
"If I do you'll punish me, I know you will," she burst out. "Papa, don't you think it's a little mean to make me tell on myself and then punish me for what you find out in that way?"
"If my object was merely to give you pain, I think it would be mean enough," he said, not at all unkindly; "but as I am seeking your best interests--your truest happiness--in trying to gain full insight into your character and conduct, meaning to discipline you only for your highest good, I think it is not mean or unkind. From your unwillingness to confess to me, I fear you must have been in a great passion and very impertinent. Is it not so?"
"Papa, I didn't begin it; if I'd been let alone I shouldn't have got in a passion or said anything saucy."
"Possibly not; but what is that virtue worth which cannot stand the least trial? You must learn to rule your own spirit, not only when everything goes smoothly with you, but under provocation; and in order to help you to learn that lesson--or rather as a means toward teaching it to you--I shall invariably punish any and every outbreak of temper and every impertinence of yours that come under my notice when I am at home. Now, tell me exactly what passed between your Uncle Edward and yourself."
Seeing there was no escape for her, Lulu complied, faithfully repeating every word of the short colloquy at the beach when she went down there directly after breakfast.
Her father listened in astonishment, his face growing sterner every moment.
"Lucilla," he said, "you are certainly the most impertinent, insolent child I ever saw! I don't wonder you were afraid to let me know the whole truth in regard to this affair. I am ashamed of your conduct toward both your Grandma Elsie and your Uncle Edward. You must apologize to both of them, acknowledging that you have been extremely impertinent, and asking forgiveness for it."
Lulu made no reply; her eyes were downcast, her face was flushed with passion, and wore a stubborn look.
"I won't;" the words were on the tip of her tongue; she had almost spoken them, but restrained herself just in time; her father's authority was not to be defied, as she had learned to her cost a year ago.
He saw the struggle that was going on in her breast. "You must do it," he said; "you may write your apologies, though, if you prefer that to speaking them."
He opened a writing-desk that stood on a table close at hand, and seated her before it with paper, pen, and ink, and bade her write, at his dictation.
She did not dare refuse, and had really no very strong disinclination to do so in regard to the first, which was addressed to Grandma Elsie--a lady so gentle and kind that even proud Lulu was willing to humble herself to her.
But when it came to Edward's turn her whole soul rose up in rebellion against it. Yet she dared not say either "I won't" or "I don't want to." But pausing, with the pen in her fingers:
"Papa," she began timidly, "please don't make me apologize to him; he had no right to talk to me the way he did."
"I am not so sure of that," the captain said. "I don't blame him for trying to uphold his mother's authority; and now I think of it, you are to consider yourself under his control in the absence of your mamma and the older persons to whom I have given authority over you. Begin at once and write what I have told you to."
When the notes were written, signed, and folded he put them in his pocket, turned and paced the floor.
Lulu, glancing timidly into his face, saw that it was pale and full of pain, but very stern and determined.
"Papa, are you--are you going to punish me?" she asked, tremulously. "I mean as you did the other day?"
"I think I must," he said, pausing beside her, "though it grieves me to the very heart to do it; but you have been disobedient, passionate, and very impertinent; it is quite impossible for me to let you slip. But you may take your choice between that and being locked up in the bedroom there for twenty-four hours, on bread and water. Which shall it be?"
"I'd rather take the first, papa," said Lulu, promptly, "because it will be over in a few minutes, and nobody but ourselves need know anything about it."
"I made sure you would choose the other," he said, in some surprise; "yet I think your choice is wise. Come!"
"Oh, papa, I'm so frightened," she said, putting her trembling hand in his; "you did hurt me so dreadfully the other time; must you be as severe to-day?"
"My poor child, I am afraid I must," he said; "a slight punishment seems to avail nothing in your case, and I must do all in my power to make you a good, gentle, obedient child."
A few minutes later Captain Raymond joined the others on the beach, but Lulu was not with him. She had been left behind in the bedroom, where she must stay, he told her, until his return.
Everybody seemed glad to see him; but after greeting them all in turn, he drew Violet to a seat a little apart from the others.
Grace followed, of course, keeping close to her father's side. "Where is Lulu, papa?" she asked with a look of concern,
"Up at the house."
"Won't you let her come down here, papa? She loves so to be close down by the waves."
"She may come after a little," he said, "but not just now." Then taking two tiny notes from his pocket: "Here, Gracie," he said, "take this to your Grandma Elsie and this to your Uncle Edward."
"Yes, sir; must I wait for an answer?"
"Oh, no," he replied, with a slight smile; "you may come right back to your place by papa's side."
Elsie read the little missive handed her at a glance, rose up hastily, and went to the captain with it in her hand, a troubled look on her face.
"My dear captain," she said, in a tone of gentle remonstrance, "why did you do this? The child's offence against me was not a grave one in my esteem, and I know that to one of her temperament it would be extremely galling to be made to apologize. I wish you had not required it of her."
"I thought it for her good, mother," he answered; "and I think so still; she is so strongly inclined to impertinence and insubordination that I must do all in my power to train her to proper submission to lawful authority and respect for superiors."
Edward joined them at that moment. He looked disturbed and chagrined.
"Really, captain," he said, "I am not at all sure that Lulu has not as much right to an apology from me as I to this from her. I spoke to her in anger, and with an assumption of authority to which I really had no right, so that there was ample excuse for her not particularly respectful language to me. I am sorry, therefore, she has had the pain of apologizing."
"You are very kind to be so ready to over look her insolence," the captain said; "but I cannot permit such exhibitions of temper, and must, at whatever cost, teach her to rule her own spirit."
"Doubtless you are right," Edward said; "but I am concerned and mortified to find that I have got her into such disgrace and trouble. I must own I am quite attached to Lulu; she has some very noble and lovable traits of character."
"She has indeed," said his mother; "she is so free from the least taint of hypocrisy or deceit; so perfectly honest and truthful; so warm-hearted, too; so diligent and energetic in anything she undertakes to do--very painstaking and persevering--and a brave, womanly little thing."
The captain's face brightened very much as he listened to these praises of his child.
"I thank you heartily, mother and brother," he said; "for the child is very dear to her father's heart, and praise of her is sweet to my ear. I can see all these lovable traits, but feared that to other eyes than mine they might be entirely obscured by the very grave faults joined with them. But it is just like you both to look at the good rather than the evil.
"And you have done so much for my children! I assure you I often think of it with the feeling that you have laid me under obligations which I can never repay."
"Ah, captain," Elsie said, laughingly, "you have a fashion of making a great mountain out of a little mole-hill of kindness. Flattery is not good for human nature, you know, so I shall leave you and go back to papa, who has a wholesome way of telling me of my faults and failings."
"I really don't know where he finds them," returned Captain Raymond, gallantly; but she was already out of hearing.
"Nor I," said Violet, replying to his last remark; "mamma seems to me to be as nearly perfect as a human creature can be in this sinful world."
"Now don't feel troubled about it, Ned," Zoe was saying to her husband, who was again at her side. "I think it was just right that she should be made to apologize to you, for she was dreadfully saucy."
"Yes; but I provoked her, and I ought to be, and am, greatly ashamed of it. I fear, too, that in so doing I have brought a severe punishment upon her."
"Why should you think so?"
"Because I know that such a task could not fail to be exceedingly unpalatable to one of her temperament; and don't you remember how long she stood out against her father's authority last summer when he bade her ask Vi's pardon for impertinence to her?"
"Yes; it took nearly a week of close confinement to make her do it; but as he showed himself so determined in that instance, she probably saw that it would be useless to attempt opposition to his will in this, and so obeyed without being compelled by punishment."
"Well, I hope so," he said. "She surely ought to know by this time that he is not one to be trifled with."
It seemed to Lulu a long time that she was left alone, shut up in the little bedroom of the cottage, though it was in reality scarcely more than half an hour. She was very glad when at last she heard her father's step in the outer room, then his voice as he opened the door and asked, "Would you like to take a walk with your papa, little girl?"
"Yes indeed, papa!" was her joyful reply.
"Then put on your hat and come."
She made all haste to obey.
"Is Gracie going too, papa? or anybody else?" she asked, putting her hand confidingly into his.
"No; you and I are going alone this time; do you think you will find my company sufficient for once?" he asked, smiling down at her.
"Oh yes, indeed, papa; I think it will be ever so nice to have you all to myself; it's so seldom I can."
They took the path along the bluffs toward "Tom Never's Head."
When they had fairly left the village behind, so that no one could overhear anything they might say to each other, the captain said, "I want to have a talk with you, daughter, and we may as well take it out here in the sweet fresh air, as shut up in the house."
"Oh, yes, papa; it is so much pleasanter! I can hardly bear to stay in the house at all down here at the seashore; and it seemed a long while that you left me alone there this afternoon."
"Yes, I suppose so: and I hope I shall not have occasion to do so again. My child, did you ever consider what it is that makes you so rebellious, so unwilling to submit to authority, and so ready to fly into a passion and speak insolently to your superiors?"
"I don't quite understand you papa," she said. "I only know that I can't bear to have people try to rule me who have no right."
"Sometimes you are not willing to be ruled even by your father; yet I hardly suppose you would say he has no right?"
"Oh, no, papa; I know better than that," she said, blushing and hanging her head; "I know you have the best right in the world."
"Yet sometimes you disobey me; at others obey in an angry, unwilling way that shows you would rebel if you dared.
"And pride is at the bottom of it all. You think so highly of yourself and your own wisdom that you cannot bear to be controlled or treated as one not capable of guiding herself.
"But the Bible tells us that God hates pride. 'Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.'
"'Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.'
"'Proud and haughty scorner is his name who dealeth in proud wrath.'
"Ah, my dear daughter, I am sorely troubled when I reflect how often you deal in that. My great desire for you is that you may learn to rule your own spirit; that you may become meek and lowly in heart, patient and gentle like the Lord Jesus, 'who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.' Do you never feel any desire to be like Him?"
"Yes, papa, sometimes; and I determine that I will; but the first thing I know I'm in a passion again; and I get so discouraged that I think I'll not try any more to be good; for I just can't."
"It is Satan who puts that thought in your heart," the captain said, giving her a look of grave concern; "he knows that if he can persuade you to cease to fight against the evil that is in your nature he is sure to get possession of you at last.
"He is a most malignant spirit, and his delight is in destroying souls. The Bible bids us, 'Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.'
"We are all sinners by nature, and Satan, and many lesser evil spirits under him, are constantly seeking our destruction; therefore we have a warfare to wage if we would attain eternal life, and no one who refuses or neglects to fight this good fight of faith will ever reach heaven; nor will any one who attempts it without asking help from on high.
"So if you give up trying to be good you and I will have a sad time; because it will be my duty to compel you to try. The Bible tells me, 'Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.'
"I must if possible deliver you from going to that awful place, and also from the dreadful calamities indulgence of a furious temper sometimes brings even in this life; even a woman has been known to commit murder while under the influence of unbridled rage; and I have known of one who lamed her own child for life in a fit of passion.
"Sometimes people become deranged simply from the indulgence of their tempers. Do you think I should be a good and kind father if I allowed you to go on in a path that leads to such dreadful ends here and hereafter?"
"No, sir," she said in an awed tone; "and I will try to control my temper."
"I am glad to hear that resolve," he replied. "The Bible tells us, 'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.'"
They were silent for a little while, then hanging her head and blushing, "Papa," she asked, "what did you do with those notes you made me write?"
"Sent them to those to whom they were addressed. And they were very kind, Lulu; much kinder than you deserved they should be; both your Grandma Elsie and your Uncle Edward expressed regret that you had been made to apologize, and spoke of you in affectionate terms."
"I'm glad,'" she said with a sigh of relief; "and I don't mean ever to be at all impertinent to them again."
"I trust you will not indeed," he said.
"Papa, I think this is about where I was the other evening when I first noticed that the storm was coming."
"A long way from home for a child of your age; especially alone and at night. You must not indulge your propensity for wandering to a distance from home by yourself. You are too young to understand the danger of it; too young to be a guide to yourself, and must therefore be content to be guided by older and wiser people.
"You said, a while ago, 'I just can't be good;' did you mean to assert that you could not help being disobedient to me that evening?"
She hung her head and colored deeply. "It was so pleasant to walk along looking at the beautiful, changing sea, papa," she said, "that I couldn't bear to stop, and wouldn't let myself think how far I was going."
"Ah, just as I suspected; your could not was really would not; the difficulty all in your will. You must learn to conquer your will when it would take you in the wrong direction.
"We will turn and go back now, as it is not far from tea-time."
Lulu shrank from meeting the rest of their party, particularly Grandma Elsie and Edward; but they all treated her so kindly that she was soon at her ease among them again.