Holidays at Roselands by Martha Finley
"I drink So deep of grief, that he must only think, Not dare to speak, that would express my woe: Small rivers murmur, deep gulfs silent flow." MARSTON'S SOPHONIESA.
It was no want of love for his child that had kept Mr. Dinsmore from at once obeying Adelaide's summons. He had left the place where she supposed him to be, and thus it happened that her letters did not reach him nearly so soon as she had expected.
But when at length they were put into his hands, and he read of Elsie's entreaty that he would come to her, and saw by the date how long she had been ill, his distress and alarm were most excessive, and within an hour he had set out on his return, travelling night and day with the greatest possible despatch.
Strangers wondered at the young, fine-looking man, who seemed in such desperate haste to reach the end of his journey--sat half the time with his watch in his hand, and looked so despairingly wretched whenever the train stopped for a moment.
Elsie was indeed, as Adelaide had said, the very idol of his heart; and at times he suffered but little less than she did; but his will was stronger even than his love, and he had fondly hoped that this separation from him would produce the change in her which he so much desired; and had thus far persuaded himself that he was only using the legitimate authority of a parent, and therefore acting quite right; and, in fact, with the truest kindness, because, as he reasoned, she would be happier all her life if once relieved from the supposed necessity of conforming to rules so strict and unbending. But suddenly his eyes seemed to have been opened to see his conduct in a new light, and he called himself a brute, a monster, a cruel persecutor, and longed to annihilate time and space, that he might clasp his child in his arms, tell her how dearly he loved her, and assure her that never again would he require her to do aught against her conscience.
Again and again he took out his sister's letters and read and re-read them, vainly trying to assure himself that there was no danger; that she could not be so very ill. "She is so young," he said to himself, "and has always been healthy, it cannot be that she will die." He started and shuddered at the word. "Oh, no! it is impossible!" he mentally exclaimed. "God is too merciful to send me so terrible an affliction."
He had not received Adelaide's last, and was therefore quite unprepared to find his child so near the borders of the grave.
It was early on the morning of the day after her fearful relapse, that a carriage drove rapidly up the avenue, and Horace Dinsmore looked from its window, half expecting to see again the little graceful figure that had been wont to stand upon the steps of the portico, ready to greet his arrival with such outgushings of joy and love.
But, "Pshaw!" he exclaimed to himself, "of course she is not yet able to leave her room; but my return will soon set her up again--the darling! My poor little pet!" he added, with a sigh, as memory brought her vividly before him as he had last seen her, and recalled her sorrowful, pleading looks and words; "my poor darling, you shall have all the love and caresses now that your heart can desire." And he sprang out, glancing up at the windows above, to see if she were not looking down at him; but she was not to be seen; yet it did not strike him as strange that all the shutters were closed, since it was the east side of the house, and a warm summer's sun was shining full upon them.
A servant met him at the door, looking grave and sad, but Mr. Dinsmore waited not to ask any questions, and merely giving the man a nod, sprang up the stairs, and hurried to his daughter's room, all dusty and travel-stained as he was.
He heard her laugh as he reached the door. "Ah! she must be a great deal better; she will soon be quite well again, now that I have come," he murmured to himself, with a smile, as he pushed it open.
But alas! what a sight met his eye. The doctor, Mrs. Travilla, Adelaide, and Chloe, all grouped about the bed, where lay his little daughter, tossing about and raving in the wildest delirium; now shrieking with fear, now laughing an unnatural, hysterical laugh, and so changed that no one could have recognized her; the little face so thin, the beautiful hair of which he had been so proud all gone, the eyes sunken deep in her head, and their soft light changed to the glare of insanity. Could it be Elsie, his own beautiful little Elsie? He could scarcely believe it, and a sickening feeling of horror and remorse crept over him.
No one seemed aware of his entrance, for all eyes were fixed upon the little sufferer. But as he drew near the bed, with a heart too full for speech, Elsie's eye fell upon him, and with a wild shriek of mortal terror, she clung to her aunt, crying out, "Oh, save me! save me! he's coming to take me away to the Inquisition! Go away! go away!" and she looked at him with a countenance so full of fear and horror, that the doctor hastily took him by the arm to lead him away.
But Mr. Dinsmore resisted.
"Elsie! my daughter! it is I! your own father, who loves you dearly!" he said in tones of the keenest anguish, as he bent over her, and tried to take her hand. But she snatched it away, and clung to her aunt again, hiding her face, and shuddering with fear.
Mr. Dinsmore groaned aloud, and no longer resisted the physician's efforts to lead him from the room. "It is the delirium of fever," Dr. Barton said, in answer to the father's agonized look of inquiry; "she will recover her reason--if she lives."
The last words were added in a lower, quicker tone.
Mr. Dinsmore covered his face, and uttered a groan of agony.
"Doctor, is there no hope?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.
"Do you wish me to tell you precisely what I think?" asked the physician.
"I do! I do! let me know the worst!" was the quick, passionate rejoinder.
"Then, Mr. Dinsmore, I will be frank with you. Had you returned one week ago, I think she might have been saved; possibly, even had you been here yesterday morning, while she was still in possession of her reason; but now, I see not one ray of hope. I never knew one so low to recover."
He started, as Mr. Dinsmore raised his face again, so pale, so haggard, so grief-stricken had it become in that one moment.
"Doctor," he said in a hollow, broken voice, "save my child, and you may take all I am worth. I cannot live without her."
"I will do all I can," replied the physician in a tone of deep compassion, "but the Great Physician alone can save her. We must look to him."
"Doctor," said Mr. Dinsmore hoarsely, "if that child dies, I must go to my grave with the brand of Cain upon me, for I have killed her by my cruelty; and oh! doctor, she is the very light of my eyes--the joy of my heart! How can I give her up? Save her, doctor, and you will be entitled to my everlasting gratitude."
"Surely, my dear sir, you are reproaching yourself unjustly," said the physician soothingly, replying to the first part of Mr. Dinsmore's remark. "I have heard you spoken of as a very fond father, and have formed the same opinion from my own observation, and your little girl's evident affection for you."
"And I was, but in one respect. I insisted upon obedience, even when my commands came in collision with her conscientious scruples; and she was firm; she had the spirit of a martyr--and I was very severe in my efforts to subdue what I called wilfulness and obstinacy," said the distracted father in a voice often, scarcely audible from emotion. "I thought I was right, but now I see that I was fearfully wrong."
"There is life yet, Mr. Dinsmore," remarked the doctor compassionately; "and though human skill can do no more, he who raised the dead child of the ruler of the synagogue, and restored the son of the widow of Nain to her arms, can give back your child to your embrace; let me entreat you to go to him, my dear sir. And now I must return to my patient. I fear it will be necessary for you to keep out of sight until there is some change, as your presence seems to excite her so much. But do not let that distress you," he added kindly, as he noticed an expression of the keenest anguish sweep over Mr. Dinsmore's features; "it is a common thing in such cases for them to turn away from the very one they love best when in health."
Mr. Dinsmore replied only by a convulsive grasp of the friendly hand held out to him, and hurrying away to his own apartments, shut himself up there to give way to his bitter grief and remorse where no human eye could see him.
For hours he paced backward and forward, weeping and groaning in such mental agony as he had never known before.
His usual fastidious neatness in person and dress was entirely forgotten, and it never once occurred to his recollection that he had been travelling for several days and nights in succession, through heat and dust, without making any change in his clothing. And he was equally unconscious that he had passed many hours without tasting any food.
The breakfast-bell rang, but he paid no heed to the summons. Then John, his faithful servant, knocked at his door, but was refused admittance, and went sorrowfully back to the kitchen with the waiter of tempting viands he had so carefully prepared, hoping to induce his master to eat.
But Horace Dinsmore could not stay away from his child while she yet lived; and though he might not watch by her bed of suffering, nor clasp her little form in his arms, as he longed to do, he must be where he could hear the sound of that voice, so soon, alas! to be hushed in death.
He entered the room noiselessly, and took his station in a distant corner, where she could not possibly see him.
She was moaning, as if in pain, and the sound went to his very heart. Sinking down upon a seat, he bowed his head upon his hands, and struggled to suppress his emotion, increased tenfold by the words which the next instant fell upon his ear, spoken in his little daughter's own sweet voice.
"Yes, mamma; yes," she said, "I am coming! Take me to Jesus."
Then, in a pitiful, wailing tone, "I'm all alone! There's nobody to love me. Oh, papa, kiss me just once! I will be good; but I must love Jesus best, and obey him always."
He rose hastily, as if to go to her, but the doctor shook his head, and he sank into his seat again with a deep groan.
"Oh, papa!" she shrieked, as if in mortal terror, "don't send me there! they will kill me! Oh, papa, have mercy on your own little daughter!"
It was only by the strongest effort of his will that he could keep his seat.
But Adelaide was speaking soothingly to her.
"Darling," she said, "your papa loves you; he will not send you away."
And Elsie answered, in her natural tone, "But I'm going to mamma. Dear Aunt Adelaide, comfort my poor papa when I am gone."
Her father started, and trembled between hope and fear. Surely she was talking rationally now; but ah! those ominous words! Was she indeed about to leave him, and go to her mother?
But she was speaking again in trembling, tearful tones: "He wouldn't kiss me! he said he never would till I submit; and oh! he never breaks his word. Oh! papa, papa, will you never love me any more? I love you so very dearly. You'll kiss me when I'm dying, papa dear, won't you?"
Mr. Dinsmore could bear no more, but starting up he would have approached the bed, but a warning gesture from the physician prevented him, and he hurried from the room.
He met Travilla in the hall.
Neither spoke, but Edward wrung his friend's hand convulsively, then hastily turned away to hide his emotion, while Mr. Dinsmore hurried to his room, and locked himself in.
He did not come down to dinner, and Adelaide, hearing from the anxious John how long he had been without food, began to feel seriously alarmed on his account, and carried up a biscuit and a cup of coffee with her own hands.
He opened the door at her earnest solicitation, but only shook his head mournfully, saying that he had no desire for food. She urged him, even with tears in her eyes, but all in vain; he replied that "he could not eat; it was impossible."
Adelaide had at first felt inclined to reproach him bitterly for his long delay in returning home, but he looked so very wretched, so utterly crushed by the weight of this great sorrow, that she had not the heart to say one reproachful word, but on the contrary longed to comfort him.
He begged her to sit down and give him a few moments' conversation. He told her why he had been so long in answering her summons, and how he had travelled night and day since receiving it; and then he questioned her closely about the whole course of Elsie's sickness--every change in her condition, from first to last--all that had been done for her--and all that she had said and done.
Adelaide told him everything; dwelling particularly on the child's restless longing for him, her earnest desire to receive his forgiveness and caress before she died, and her entreaties to her to comfort her "dear papa" when she was gone. She told him, too, of her last will and testament, and of the little package which was, after her death, to be given to him, along with her dearly loved Bible.
He was deeply moved during this recital, sometimes sitting with his head bowed down, hiding his face in his hands; at others, rising and pacing the floor, his breast heaving with emotion, and a groan of anguish ever and anon bursting from his overburdened heart, in spite of the mighty effort he was evidently making to control himself.
But at last she was done; she had told him all that there was to tell, and for a few moments both sat silent, Adelaide weeping quietly, and he striving in vain to be calm.
At length he said, in a husky tone, "Sister Adelaide, I can never thank you as you deserve for your kindness to her--my precious child."
"Oh, brother!" replied Adelaide, sobbing, "I owe her a debt of gratitude I can never pay. She has been all my comfort in my great sorrow; she has taught me the way to heaven, and now she is going before." Then, with a burst of uncontrollable grief, she exclaimed: "Oh, Elsie! Elsie! darling child! how can I give you up?"
Mr. Dinsmore hid his face, and his whole frame shook with emotion.
"My punishment is greater than I can bear!" he exclaimed in a voice choked with grief. "Adelaide, do you not despise and hate me for my cruelty to that angel-child?"
"My poor brother, I am very sorry for you," she replied, laying her hand on his arm, while the tears trembled in her eyes.
There was a light tap at the door. It was Doctor Barton. "Mr. Dinsmore," he said, "she is begging so piteously for her papa that, perhaps, it would be well for you to show yourself again; it is just possible she may recognize you"
Mr. Dinsmore waited for no second bidding, but following the physician with eager haste, was the next moment at the bedside.
The little girl was moving restlessly about, moaning, "Oh! papa, papa, will you never come?"
"I am here, darling," he replied in tones of the tenderest affection. "I have come back to my little girl"
She turned her head to look at him. "No, no," she said, "I want my papa."
"My darling, do you not know me?" he asked in a voice quivering with emotion.
"No, no, you shall not! I will never do it--never. Oh! make him go away," she shrieked, clinging to Mrs. Travilla, and glaring at him with a look of the wildest affright, "he has come to torture me because I won't pray to the Virgin."
"It is quite useless," said the doctor, shaking his head sorrowfully; "she evidently does not know you."
And the unhappy father turned away and left the room to shut himself up again alone with his agony and remorse.
No one saw him again that night, and when the maid came to attend to his room in the morning, she was surprised and alarmed to find that the bed had not been touched.
Mr. Travilla, who was keeping a sorrowful vigil in the room below, had he been questioned, could have told that there had been scarcely a cessation in the sound of the footsteps pacing to and fro over his head. It had been a night of anguish and heart-searching, such as Horace Dinsmore had never passed through before. For the first time he saw himself to be what he really was in the sight of God, a guilty, hell-deserving sinner--lost, ruined, and undone. He had never believed it before, and the prayers which he had occasionally offered up had been very much in the spirit of the Pharisee's, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are!"
He had been blessed with a pious mother, who was early taken from him; yet not too early to have had some influence in forming the character of her son; and the faint but tender recollection of that mother's prayers and teachings had proved a safeguard to him in many an hour of temptation, and had kept him from falling into the open vices of some of his less scrupulous companions. But he had been very proud of his morality and his upright life, unstained by any dishonorable act. He had always thought of himself as quite deserving of the prosperity with which he had been blessed in the affairs of this world, and just as likely as any one to be happy in the next.
The news of Elsie's illness had first opened his eyes to the enormity of his conduct in relation to her; and now, as he thought of her pure life, her constant anxiety to do right, her deep humility, her love to Jesus, and steadfast adherence to what she believed to be her duty, her martyr-like spirit in parting with everything she most esteemed and valued rather than be guilty of what seemed to others but a very slight infringement of the law of God--as he thought of all this, and contrasted it with his own worldly-mindedness and self-righteousness, his utter neglect of the Saviour, and determined efforts to make his child as worldly as himself, he shrank back appalled at the picture, and was constrained to cry out in bitterness of soul: "God be merciful to me, a sinner."
It was the first real prayer he had ever offered. He would fain have asked for the life of his child, but dared not; feeling that he had so utterly abused his trust that he richly deserved to have it taken from him. The very thought was agony; but he dared not ask to have it otherwise.
He had given up all hope that she would be spared to him, but pleaded earnestly that one lucid interval might be granted her, in which he could tell her of his deep sorrow on account of his severity toward her, and ask her forgiveness.
He did not go down to breakfast, but Adelaide again brought him some refreshment, and at length he yielded to her entreaties that he would try to eat a little.
She set down the salver, and turned away to hide the tears she could not keep back. Her heart ached for him. She had never seen such a change in a few hours as had passed over him. He seemed to have grown ten years older in that one night--he was so pale and haggard--his eyes so sunken in his head, and there were deep, hard lines of suffering on his brow and around his mouth.
His meal was soon concluded.
"Adelaide, how is she?" he asked in a voice which he vainly endeavored to make calm and steady.
"Much the same; there seems to be very little change," replied his sister, wiping away her tears. Then drawing Elsie's little Bible from her pocket, she put it into his hand, saying, "I thought it might help to comfort you, my poor brother;" and with a fresh burst of tears she hastily left the room and hurried to her own, to spend a few moments in pleading for him that this heavy affliction might be made the means of leading him to Christ.
And he--ah! he could not at first trust himself even to look at the little volume that had been so constantly in his darling's hands, that it seemed almost a part of herself.
He held it in a close, loving grasp, while his averted eyes were dim with unshed tears; but at length, passing his hand over them to clear away the blinding mist, he opened the little book and turned over its pages with trembling fingers, and a heart swelling with emotion.
There were many texts marked with her pencil, and many pages blistered with her tears. Oh, what a pang that sight sent to her father's heart! In some parts these evidences of her frequent and sorrowful perusal were more numerous than in others. Many of the Psalms, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the books of Job and Isaiah, in the Old Testament, and St. John's gospel, and the latter part of Hebrews, in the New.
Hour after hour he sat there reading that little book; at first interested in it only because of its association with her--his loved one; but at length beginning to feel the importance of its teachings and their adaptedness to his needs. As he read, his convictions deepened the inspired declaration that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," and the solemn warning, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven," filled him with fear of the wrath to come; for well he remembered how all his life he had turned away from the Saviour of sinners, despising that blood of sprinkling, and rejecting all the offers of mercy; and he trembled lest he should not escape.
Several times during the day and evening he laid the book aside, and stole softly into Elsie's room to learn if there had been any change; but there was none, and at length, quite worn out with fatigue and sorrow--for he had been several nights without any rest--he threw himself down on a couch, and fell into a heavy slumber.
About midnight Adelaide came and woke him to say that Elsie had become calm, the fever had left her, and she had fallen asleep.
"The doctor," she added, "says this is the crisis, and he begins to have a little hope--very faint, indeed, but still a hope--that she may awake refreshed from this slumber; yet it might be--he is fearful it is--only the precursor of death."
The last word was almost inaudible.
Mr. Dinsmore trembled with excitement.
"I will go to her," he said in an agitated tone. "She will not know of my presence, now that she is sleeping, and I may at least have the sad satisfaction of looking at her dear little face."
But Adelaide shook her head.
"No, no," she replied, "that will never do; for we know not at what moment she may awake, and the agitation she would probably feel at the sight of you would be almost certain to prove fatal. Had you not better remain here? and I will call you the moment she wakes."
Mr. Dinsmore acquiesced with a deep sigh, and she went back to her post.
Hour after hour they sat there--Mrs. Travilla, Adelaide, the doctor, and poor old Chloe--silent and still as statues, watching that quiet slumber, straining their ears to catch the faint sound of the gentle breathing--a sound so low that ever and anon their hearts thrilled with the sudden fear that it had ceased forever; and one or another, rising noiselessly, would bend over the little form in speechless alarm, until again they caught the low, fitful sound.
The first faint streak of dawn was beginning in the eastern sky when the doctor, who had been bending over her for several minutes, suddenly laid his finger on her pulse for an instant; then turned to his fellow-watchers with a look that there was no mistaking.
There was weeping and wailing then in that room, where death-like stillness had reigned so long.
"Precious, precious child! dear lamb safely gathered into the Saviour's fold," said Mrs. Travilla in quivering tones, as she gently laid her hand upon the closed eyes, and straightened the limbs as tenderly as though it had been a living, breathing form.
"Oh, Elsie! Elsie! dear, dear little Elsie!" cried Adelaide, flinging herself upon the bed, and pressing her lips to the cold cheek. "I have only just learned to know your value, and now you are taken from me. Oh! Elsie, darling, precious one; oh! that I had sooner learned your worth! that I had done more to make your short life happy!"
Chloe was sobbing at the foot of the bed, "Oh! my child! my child! Oh! now dis ole heart will break for sure!" while the kind-hearted physician stood wiping his eyes and sighing deeply.
"Her poor father!" exclaimed Mrs. Travilla at length.
"Yes, yes, I will go to him," said Adelaide quickly. "I promised to call him the moment she waked, and now--oh, now, I must tell him she will never wake again."
"No!" replied Mrs. Travilla, "rather tell him that she has waked in heaven, and is even now singing the song of the redeemed."
Adelaide turned to Elsie's writing-desk, and taking from it the packet which the child had directed to be given to her father as soon as she was gone, she carried it to him.
Her low knock was instantly followed by the opening of the door, for he had been awaiting her coming in torturing suspense.
She could not look at him, but hastily thrusting the packet into his hand, turned weeping away.
He well understood the meaning of her silence and her tears, and with a groan of anguish that Adelaide never could forget, he shut and locked himself in again; while she hurried to her room to indulge her grief in solitude, leaving Mrs. Travilla and Chloe to attend to the last sad offices of love to the dear remains of the little departed one.
The news had quickly spread through the house, and sobs and bitter weeping were heard in every part of it; for Elsie had been dearly loved by all.
Chloe was assisting Mrs. Travilla.
Suddenly the lady paused in her work, saying, in an agitated tone, "Quick! quick! Aunt Chloe, throw open that shutter wide. I thought I felt a little warmth about the heart, and--yes! yes! I was not mistaken; there is a slight quivering of the eyelid. Go, Chloe! call the doctor! she may live yet!"
The doctor was only in the room below, and in a moment was at the bedside, doing all that could be done to fan into a flame that little spark of life.
And they were successful. In a few moments those eyes, which they had thought closed forever to all the beauties of earth, opened again, and a faint, weak voice asked for water.
The doctor was obliged to banish Chloe from the room, lest the noisy manifestation of her joy should injure her nursling, yet trembling upon the very verge of the grave; and as he did so, he cautioned her to refrain from yet communicating the glad tidings to any one, lest some sound of their rejoicing might reach the sick-chamber, and disturb the little sufferer.
And then he and the motherly old lady took their stations at the bedside once more, watching in perfect silence, and administering every few moments a little stimulant, for she was weak as a new-born infant, and only in this way could they keep the flickering flame of life from dying out again.
It was not until more than an hour had passed in this way, and hope began to grow stronger in their breasts, until it became almost certainty that Elsie would live, that they thought of her father and aunt, so entirely had their attention been engrossed by the critical condition of their little patient.
It was many minutes after Adelaide left him ere Mr. Dinsmore could think of anything but the terrible, crushing blow which had fallen upon him, and his agonized feelings found vent in groans of bitter anguish, fit to melt a heart of stone; but at length he grew somewhat calmer; and as his eye fell upon the little packet he remembered that it was her dying gift to him, and with a deep sigh he took it up and opened it.
It contained his wife's miniature--the same that Elsie had always worn suspended from her neck--one of the child's glossy ringlets, severed from her head by her own little hands the day before she was taken ill--and a letter, directed in her handwriting to himself.
He pressed the lock of hair to his lips, then laid it gently down, and opened the letter.
"Dear, dear papa," it began, "my heart is very sad to-night! There is such a weary, aching pain there, that will never be gone till I can lay my head against your breast, and feel your arms folding me tight, and your kisses on my cheek. Ah! papa, how often I wish you could just look down into my heart and see how full of love to you it is! I am always thinking of you, and longing to be with you. You bade me go and see the home you have prepared, and I have obeyed you. You say, if I will only be submissive we will live there, and be so very happy together, and I cannot tell you how my heart longs for such a life with you in that lovely, lovely home; nor how happy I could be there, or anywhere with you, if you would only let me make God's law the rule of my life; but, my own dear father, if I have found your frown so dreadful, so hard to bear, how much more terrible would my Heavenly Father's be! Oh, papa, that would make me wretched indeed! But oh, I cannot bear to think of being sent away from you amongst strangers! Dear, dear papa, will you not spare your little daughter this trial? I will try to be so very good and obedient in everything that my conscience will allow. I am so sad, papa, so very sad, as if something terrible was coming, and my head feels strangely. I fear I am going to be ill, perhaps to die! Oh, papa, will I never see you again? I want to ask you to forgive me for all the naughty thoughts and feelings I have ever had towards you. I think I have never disobeyed you in deed, papa--except the few times you have known of, when I forgot, or thought you bade me break God's law--but twice I have rebelled in my heart. Once when you took Miss Rose's letter from me, and again when mammy told me you had said she must go away. It was only for a little while each time, papa, but it was very wicked, and I am very, very sorry; will you please forgive me? and I will try never to indulge such wicked feelings again."
The paper was blistered with Elsie's tears, and other tears were falling thick and fast upon it now.
"She to ask forgiveness of me, for a momentary feeling of indignation when I so abused my authority," he groaned. "Oh, my darling! I would give all I am worth to bring you back for one hour, that I might ask your forgiveness, on my knees."
But there was more of the letter, and he read on:
"Dear papa," she continued, "should I die, and never see you again in this world, don't ever feel vexed with yourself, and think that you have been too severe with me. I know you have only done what you had a right to do--for am I not your own? Oh, I love to belong to you, papa! and you meant it all to make me good; and I needed it, for I was loving you too dearly. I was getting away from my Saviour. But when you put me away from your arms and separated me from my nurse, I had no one to go to but Jesus, and he drew me closer to him, and I found his love very sweet and precious; it has been all my comfort in my great sorrow. Dear papa, when I am gone, and you feel sad and lonely, will not you go to Jesus, too? I will leave you my dear little Bible, papa. Please read it for Elsie's sake, and God grant it may comfort you as it has your little daughter. And, dear papa, try to forget these sad days of our estrangement, and remember only the time when your little girl was always on your knee, or by your side. Oh! it breaks my heart to think of those sweet times, and that they will never come again! Oh, for one kiss, one caress, one word of love from you! for oh, how I love you, my own dear, be loved, precious papa!
"Your little daughter, "ELSIE."
Mr. Dinsmore dropped his head upon his hands, and groaned aloud. It was his turn now to long, with an unutterable longing, for one caress, one word of love from those sweet lips that should never speak again. A long time he sat there, living over again in memory every scene in his life in which his child had borne a part, and repenting, oh, so bitterly! of every harsh word he had ever spoken to her, of every act of unjust severity; and, alas! how many and how cruel they seemed to him now! Remorse was eating into his very soul, and he would have given worlds to be able to recall the past.