Holidays at Roselands by Martha Finley
"No future hour can rend my heart like this, Save that which breaks it." MATURIN'S BERTRAM. "Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction." PSALM 119: 92.
Elsie was sitting alone in her room when there came a light tap on the door, immediately followed, much to the little girl's surprise, by the entrance of her Aunt Adelaide, who shut and locked the door behind her, saying, "I am glad you are quite alone; though, indeed, I suppose that is almost always the case now-a-days. I see," she continued, seating herself by the side of the astonished child, "that you are wondering what has brought me to visit you, to whom I have not spoken for so many weeks; but I will tell you. I come from a sincere desire to do you a kindness, Elsie; for, though I don't know how to understand nor excuse your obstinacy, and heartily approve of your father's determination to conquer you, I must say that I think he is unnecessarily harsh and severe in some of his measures--"
"Please don't, Aunt Adelaide," Elsie interrupted, in a pleading voice, "please don't speak so of papa to me; for you know I ought not to hear it."
"Pooh! nonsense!" said Adelaide, "it is very naughty in you to interrupt me; but, as I was about to remark, I don't see any use in your being forbidden to correspond with Miss Allison, because her letters could not possibly do you any harm, but rather the contrary, for she is goodness itself--and so I have brought you a letter from her which has just come enclosed in one to me."
She took it from her pocket as she spoke, and handed it to Elsie.
The little girl looked longingly at it, but made no movement to take it.
"Thank you, Aunt Adelaide, you are very kind indeed," she said, with tears in her eyes, "and I should dearly love to read it; but I cannot touch it without papa's permission."
"Why, you silly child! he will never know anything about it," exclaimed her aunt quickly. "I shall never breathe a word to him, nor to anybody else, and, of course, you will not tell on yourself; and if you are afraid the letter might by some mischance fall into his hands, just destroy it as soon as you have read it."
"Dear Aunt Adelaide, please take it away and don't tempt me any more, for I want it so very much I am afraid I shall take it if you do, and that would be so very wrong," said Elsie, turning away her head.
"I presume you are afraid to trust me; you needn't be, though," replied Adelaide, in a half offended tone. "Horace will never learn it from me, and there is no possible danger of his ever finding it out in any other way, for I shall write to Rose at once, warning her not to send you any more letters at present."
"I am not at all afraid to trust you, Aunt Adelaide, nor do I think there is any danger of papa's finding it out," Elsie answered earnestly; "but I should know it myself, and God would know it, too, and you know he has commanded me to obey my father in everything that is not wrong; and I must obey him, no matter how hard it is."
"Well, you are a strange child," said Adelaide, as she returned the letter to her pocket and rose to leave the room; "such a compound of obedience and disobedience I don't pretend to understand."
Elsie was beginning to explain, but Adelaide stopped her, saying she had no time to listen, and hastily quitted the room.
Elsie brushed away a tear and took up her book again--for she had been engaged in preparing a lesson for the next day, when interrupted by this unexpected visit from her aunt.
Adelaide went directly to her brother's door, and receiving an invitation to enter in answer to her knock, was the next instant standing by his side, with Miss Allison's letter in her hand.
"I've come, Horace," she said in a lively tone, "to seek from you a reward of virtue in a certain little friend of mine; and because you alone can bestow it, I come to you on her behalf, even at the expense of having to confess a sin of my own."
"Well, take a seat, won't you?" he said good-humoredly, laying down his book and handing her a chair, "and then speak out at once, and tell me what you mean by all this nonsense."
"First for my own confession then," she answered laughingly, accepting the offered seat. "I received a letter this morning from my friend, Rose Allison, enclosing one to your little Elsie."
He began to listen with close attention, while a slight frown gathered on his brow.
"Now, Horace," his sister went on, "though I approve in the main of your management of that child--which, by the way, I presume, is not of the least consequence to you--yet I must say I have thought it right hard you should deprive her of Rose's letters. So I carried this one, and offered it to her, assuring her that you should never know anything about it; but what do you think?--the little goose actually refused to touch it without papa's permission. She must obey him, she said, no matter how hard it was, whenever he did not bid her do anything wrong. And now, Horace," she concluded, "I want you to give me the pleasure of carrying this letter to her, with your permission to read it. I'm sure she deserves it."
"Perhaps so; but I am sure you don't, Adelaide, after tampering with the child's conscience in that manner. You may send her to me, though, if you will," he said, holding out his hand for the letter. "But are you quite sure that she really wanted to see it, and felt assured that she might do so without my knowledge?"
"Perfectly certain of it," replied his sister confidently.
They chatted for a few moments longer; Adelaide praising Elsie, and persuading him to treat her with more indulgence; and he, much pleased with this proof of her dutifulness, half promising to do so; and then Adelaide went back to her room, despatching a servant on her way to tell Elsie that her papa desired to see her immediately.
Elsie received the message with profound alarm; for not dreaming of the true cause, her fears at once suggested that he probably intended putting his late threat into execution. She spent one moment in earnest prayer for strength to bear her trial, and then hastened, pale and trembling, to his presence.
How great, then, was her surprise to see him, as she entered, hold out his hand with a smile, saying, in the kindest tone, "Come here to me, my daughter!"
She obeyed, gazing wonderingly into his face.
He drew her to him; lifted her to his knee; folded her in his arms, and kissed her tenderly. He had not bestowed such a loving caress upon her--nor indeed ever kissed her at all, excepting on the evening after Chloe's departure--since that unhappy scene in his sick-room; and Elsie, scarcely able to believe she was awake, and not dreaming, hid her face on his breast, and wept for joy.
"Your aunt has been here telling me what passed between you this afternoon," said he, repeating his caress, "and I am much pleased with this proof of your obedience; and as a reward I will give you permission, not only to read the letter she offered you, but also the one I retained. And I will allow you to write to Miss Allison once, in answer to them, the letter passing through my hands. I have also promised, at your aunt's solicitation, to remove some of the restrictions I have placed upon you, and I now give you the same liberty to go about the house and grounds which you formerly enjoyed. Your books and toys shall also be returned to you, and you may take your meals with the family whenever you choose."
"Thank you, papa, you are very kind," replied the little girl; but her heart sank, for she understood from his words that she was not restored to favor as she had for a moment fondly imagined.
Neither spoke again for some moments. Each felt that this delightful reunion--for it was delightful to both--this enjoyment of the interchange of mutual affection, could not last.
Silent caresses, mingled with sobs and tears on Elsie's part, passed between them; and at length Mr. Dinsmore said, "Elsie, my daughter, I hope you are now ready to make the confession and promises I require?"
"Oh, papa! dear papa!" she said, looking up into his face with the tears streaming down her own, "have I not been punished enough for that? and can you not just punish me whenever I disobey you, without requiring any promise?"
"Stubborn yet, Elsie," he answered with a frown. "No; as I have told you before, my word is as the law of the Medes and Persians, which altered not. I have required the confession and promise, and you must make them."
He set her down, but she lingered a moment. "Once more, Elsie, I ask you," he said, "will you obey?"
She shook her head; she could not speak.
"Then go," said her father. "I have given you the last caress I ever shall, until you submit."
He put the letters into her hand as he spoke, and motioned her to be gone; and Elsie fled away to her own room, to throw herself upon the bed, and weep and groan in intense mental anguish.
She cared not for the letters now; they lay neglected on the floor, where they had fallen unheeded from her hand. The gloom on her pathway seemed all the darker for that bright but momentary gleam of sunshine. So dark was the cloud that overshadowed her that for the time she seemed to have lost all hope, and to be able to think of nothing but the apparent impossibility of ever regaining her place in her father's heart. His last words rang in her ears.
"Oh! papa, papa! my own papa!" she sobbed, "will you never love me again? never kiss me, or call me pet names? Oh, how can I bear it! how can I ever live without your love?"
Her nerves, already weakened by months of mental suffering, could hardly bear the strain; and when Fanny came into the room, an hour or two later, she was quite frightened to find her young charge lying on the bed, holding her head with both hands and groaning, and speechless with pain.
"What's de matter darlin'?" she asked; but Elsie only answered with a moan; and Fanny, in great alarm, hastened to Mr. Dinsmore's room, and startled him with the exclamation: "Oh, Massa Horace, make haste for come to de chile! she gwine die for sartain, if you don't do sumfin mighty quick!"
"Why, what ails her, Fanny?" he asked, following the servant with all speed.
"Dunno, Massa; but I'se sure she's berry ill," was Fanny's reply, as she opened the door of Elsie's room, and stepped back to allow her master to pass in first.
One glance at Elsie's face was enough to convince him that there was some ground for her attendant's alarm. It was ghastly with its deadly pallor and the dark circles round the eyes, and wore an expression of intense pain.
He proceeded at once to apply remedies, and remained beside her until they had so far taken effect that she was able to speak, and looked quite like herself again.
"Elsie!" he said in a grave, firm tone, as he placed her more comfortably on her pillow, "this attack has been brought on by violent crying; you must not indulge yourself in that way again."
"I could not help it, papa," she replied, lifting her pleading eyes to his face.
"You must help it in future, Elsie," he said sternly.
Tears sprang to her eyes, but she struggled to keep them back.
He turned to leave her, but she caught his hand, and looked so beseechingly in his face, that he stopped and asked in a softened tone, "What is it, my daughter?"
"Oh, papa!" she murmured in low, tremulous accents, "love me a little."
"I do love you, Elsie," he replied gravely, and almost sadly, as he bent over her and laid his hand upon her forehead. "I love you only too well, else I should have sent my stubborn little daughter away from me long ere this."
"Then, papa, kiss me; just once, dear papa!" she pleaded, raising her tearful eyes to his face.
"No, Elsie, not once until you are entirely submissive. This state of things is as painful to me as it into you, my daughter; but I cannot yield my authority, and I hope you will soon see that it is best for you to give up your self-will."
So saying, he turned away and left her alone; alone with that weary home-sickness of the heart, and the tears dropping silently down upon her pillow.
Horace Dinsmore went back to his own room, where he spent the next half hour in pacing rapidly to and fro, with folded arms and contracted brow.
"Strange!" he muttered, "that she is so hard to conquer. I never imagined that she could be so stubborn. One thing is certain," he added, heaving a deep sigh; "we must separate for a time, or I shall be in danger of yielding; for it is no easy matter to resist her tearful pleadings, backed as they are by the yearning affection of my own heart. How I love the perverse little thing! Truly she has wound herself around my very heart-strings. But I must get these absurd notions out of her head, or I shall never have any comfort with her; and if I yield now, I may as well just give that up entirely; besides, I have said it; and I will have her to understand that my word is law."
And with another heavy sigh he threw himself upon the sofa, where he lay in deep thought for some moments; then, suddenly springing up, he rang the bell for his servant.
"John," he said, as the man appeared in answer to his summons, "I shall leave for the North to-morrow morning. See that my trunk is packed, and everything in readiness. You are to go with me, of course."
"Yes, Massa, I'll 'tend to it," replied John, bowing, and retiring with a grin of satisfaction on his face. "Berry glad," he chuckled to himself, as he hurried away to tell the news in the kitchen, "berry glad dat young Massa's got tired ob dis dull ole place at last. Wonder if little Miss Elsie gwine along."
Elsie rose the next morning feeling very weak, and looking pale and sad: and not caring to avail herself of her father's permission to join the family, she took her breakfast in her own room, as usual. She was on her way to the school-room soon afterwards, when, seeing her papa's man carrying out his trunk, she stopped and inquired in a tone of alarm--
"Why, John! is papa going away?"
"Yes, Miss Elsie; but ain't you gwine along? I s'posed you was."
"No, John," she answered faintly, leaning against the wall for support; "but where is papa going?"
"Up North, Miss Elsie; dunno no more 'bout it; better ask Massa Horace hisself," replied the servant, looking compassionately at her pale face, and eyes brimful of tears.
Mr. Dinsmore himself appeared at this moment, and Elsie, starting forward with clasped hands, and the tears running down her cheeks, looked piteously up into his face, exclaiming, "Oh, papa, dear are you going away, and without me?"
Without replying, he took her by the hand, and turning back into his room again, shut the door, sat down, and lifted her to his knee. His face was very pale and sad, too, but withal wore an expression of firm determination.
Elsie laid her head on his shoulder, and sobbed out her tears and entreaties that he would not leave her.
"It depends entirely upon yourself, Elsie," he said presently. "I gave you warning some time since that I would not keep a rebellious child in my sight; and while you continue such, either you or I must be banished from home, and I prefer to exile myself rather than you; but a submissive child I will not leave. It is not yet too late; you have only to yield to my requirements, and I will stay at home, or delay my journey for a few days, and take you with me. But if you prefer separation from me to giving up your own self-will, you have no one to blame but yourself."
He waited a moment, then said: "Once more I ask you, Elsie, will you obey me?"
"Oh, papa, always, if--"
"Hush!" he said sternly; "you know that will not do;" and setting her down, he rose to go.
But she clung to him with desperate energy. "Oh, papa," she sobbed, "when will you come back?"
"That depends upon you, Elsie," he said. "Whenever my little daughter writes to me the words I have so vainly endeavored to induce her to speak, that very day, if possible, I will start for home."
He laid his hand on the handle of the door as he spoke.
But clinging to him, and looking up beseechingly into his face, she pleaded, in piteous tones, amid her bitter sobs and tears, "Papa, dear, dear papa, kiss me once before you go; just once, papa; perhaps you may never come back--perhaps I may die. Oh, papa, papa! will you go away without kissing me?--me, your own little daughter, that you used to love so dearly? Oh, papa, my heart will break!"
His own eyes filled with tears, and he stooped as if to give her the coveted caress, but hastily drawing back again, said with much of his accustomed sternness--
"No, Elsie, I cannot break my word; and if you are determined to break your own heart and mine by your stubbornness, on your own head be the consequences,"
And putting her forcibly aside, he opened the door and went out, while, with a cry of despair, she sank half-fainting upon the floor.
She was roused ere long by the sound of a carriage driving up to the door, and the thought flashed upon her, "He is not gone yet, and I may see him once more;" and springing to her feet, she ran downstairs, to find the rest of the family in the hall, taking leave of her father.
He was just stooping to give Enna a farewell kiss, as his little daughter came up. He did not seem to notice her, but was turning away, when Enna said, "Here is Elsie; aren't you going to kiss her before you go?"
He turned round again, to see those soft, hazel eyes, with their mournful, pleading gaze, fixed upon his face. He never forgot that look; it haunted him all his life.
He stood for an instant looking down upon her, while that mute, appealing glance still met his, and she ventured to take his hand in both of hers and press it to her lips.
But he turned resolutely away, saying, in his calm, cold tone, "No! Elsie is a stubborn, disobedient child. I have no caress for her."
A moan of heart-breaking anguish burst from Elsie's pale and trembling lips; and covering her face with her hands, she sank down upon the door-step, vainly struggling to suppress the bitter, choking sobs that shook her whole frame.
But her father was already in the carriage, and hearing it begin to move, she hastily dashed away her tears, and strained her eyes to catch the last glimpse of it, as it whirled away down the avenue.
It was quite gone; and she rose up and sadly re-entered the house.
"I don't pity her at all," she heard her grandfather say, "for it is all her own fault, and serves her just right."
But so utterly crushed and heart-broken was she already, that the cruel words fell quite unheeded upon her ear.
She went directly to her father's deserted room, and shutting herself in, tottered to the bed, and laying her face on the pillow where his head had rested a few hours before, clasped her arms around it, and wetted it with her tears, moaning sadly to herself the while, "Oh, papa, my own dear, darling papa! I shall never, never see you again! Oh, how can I live without you? who is there to love me now? Oh, papa, papa, will you never, never come back to me? Papa, papa, my heart is breaking! I shall die."
From that time the little Elsie drooped and pined, growing paler and thinner day by day--her step more languid, and her eye more dim--till no one could have recognized in her the bright, rosy, joyous child, full of health and happiness, that she had been six months before. She went about the house like a shadow, scarcely ever speaking or being spoken to. She made no complaint, and seldom shed tears now; but seemed to have lost her interest in everything and to be sinking into a kind of apathy.
"I wish," said Mrs. Dinsmore one day, as Elsie passed out into the garden, "that Horace had sent that child to boarding-school, and stayed at home himself. Your father says he needs him, and as to her--she has grown so melancholy of late, it is enough to give one the vapors just to look at her."
"I am beginning to feel troubled about her," replied Adelaide, to whom the remark had been addressed; "she seems to be losing flesh, and strength, too, so fast. The other day I went into her room, and found Fanny crying heartily over a dress of Elsie's which she was altering. 'Oh! Miss Adelaide,' she sobbed, 'the chile gwine die for sartain!' 'Why no, Fanny,' I said, 'what makes you think so? she is not sick.' But she shook her head, saying, 'Just look a here, Miss Adelaide,' showing me how much she was obliged to take the dress in to make it fit, and then she told me Elsie had grown so weak that the least exertion overcame her. I think I must write to Horace."
"Oh, nonsense, Adelaide!" said her mother, "I wouldn't trouble him about it. Children are very apt to grow thin and languid during the hot weather, and I suppose fretting after him makes it affect her rather more than usual; and just now in the holidays she has nothing else to occupy her thoughts. She will do well enough."
So Adelaide's fears were relieved, and she delayed writing, thinking that her mother surely knew best.
Mrs. Travilla sat in her cool, shady parlor, quietly knitting. She was alone, but the glance she occasionally sent from the window seemed to say that she was expecting some one.
"Edward is unusually late to-day," she murmured half aloud. "But there he is at last," she added, as her son appeared, riding slowly up the avenue. He dismounted and entered the house, and in another moment had thrown himself down upon the sofa, by her side. She looked at him uneasily; for with the quick ear of affection she had noticed that his step lacked its accustomed elasticity, and his voice its cheerful, hearty tones. His orders to the servant who came to take his horse had been given in a lower and more subdued key than usual, and his greeting to herself, though perfectly kind and respectful, was grave and absent in manner; and now his thoughts seemed far away, and the expression of his countenance was sad and troubled.
"What ails you, Edward--is anything wrong, my son?" she asked, laying her hand on his shoulder, and looking into his face with her loving, motherly eyes.
"Nothing with me mother," he answered affectionately; "but," he added, with a deep-drawn sigh, "I am sorely troubled about my little friend. I called at Roselands this afternoon, and learned that Horace Dinsmore has gone North--to be absent nobody knows how long--leaving her at home. He has been gone nearly a week, and the child is--heart-broken."
"Poor darling! is she really so much distressed about it, Edward?" his mother asked, taking off her spectacles to wipe them, for they had suddenly grown dim. "You saw her, I suppose?"
"Yes, for a moment," he said, struggling to control his feelings. "Mother, you would hardly know her for the child she was six months ago! she is so changed, so thin and pale--but that is not the worst; she seems to have lost all her life and animation. I felt as though it would be a relief even to see her cry. When I spoke to her she smiled, it is true; but ah! such a sad, hopeless, dreary sort of smile--it was far more touching than tears, and then she turned away, as if she had scarcely heard or understood what I said. Mother, you must go to her; she needs just the sort of comfort you understand so well how to give, but which I know nothing about. You will go, mother, will you not?"
"Gladly, Edward! I would go this moment, if I thought I would be permitted to see her, and could do her any good."
"I hardly think," said her son, "that even Mrs. Dinsmore would refuse you the privilege of a private interview with the child should you request it, mother; but, no doubt, it would be much pleasanter for all parties if we could go when Elsie is at home alone; and fortunately such will be the case to-morrow, for, as I accidentally learned, the whole family, with the exception of Elsie and the servants, are expecting to spend the day abroad. So if it suits you, mother, we will drive over in the morning."
Mrs. Travilla expressed her readiness to do so; and about the middle of the forenoon of the next day their carriage might have been seen turning into the avenue at Roselands.
Pomp came out to receive the visitors. "Berry sorry, Massa and Missus," he said, making his best bow to them as they alighted from the carriage, "dat de family am all from home with the single 'ception of little Miss Elsie. But if you will be pleased to walk into the drawin'-room, an' rest yourselves, I will call for suitable refreshments, and Fanny shall be instantly despatched to bring de young lady down."
"No, thank you, Pomp," replied Mr. Travilla pleasantly, "we are not at all in want of refreshments, and my mother would prefer seeing Miss Elsie in her own room. I will step into the drawing-room, mother, until you come down again," he added in an undertone to her.
Pomp was about to lead the way, but Mrs. Travilla gently put him aside, saying that she would prefer to go alone, and had no need of a guide.
She found the door of Elsie's room standing wide to admit the air--for the weather was now growing very warm indeed--and looking in, she perceived the little girl half reclining upon a sofa, her head resting on the arm, her hands clasped in her lap, and her sad, dreamy eyes, tearless and dry, gazing mournfully into vacancy, as though her thoughts were far away, following the wanderings of her absent father. She seemed to have been reading, or trying to read, but the book had fallen from her hand, and lay unheeded on the floor.
Mrs. Travilla, stood for several minutes gazing with tearful eyes at the melancholy little figure, marking with an aching heart the ravages that sorrow had already made in the wan child face; then stealing softly in, sat down by her side, and took the little forlorn one into her kind motherly embrace, laying the weary little head down on her breast.
Elsie did not speak, but merely raised her eyes for an instant to Mrs. Travilla's face, with the dreary smile her son had spoken of, and then dropped them again with a sigh that was half a sob.
Mrs. Travilla pressed her quivering lips on the child's forehead, and a scalding tear fell on her cheek.
Elsie started, and again raising her mournful eyes, said, in a husky whisper, "Don't, dear Mrs. Travilla don't cry. I never cry now."
"And why not, darling? Tears are often a blessed relief to an aching heart, and I think it would do you good; these dry eyes need it."
"No--no--I cannot; they are all dried up--and it is well, for they always displeased my papa,"
There was a dreary hopelessness in her tone, and in the mournful shake of her head, that was very touching.
Mrs. Travilla sighed, and pressed the little form closer to her heart.
"Elsie, dear," she said, "you must not give way to despair. Your troubles have not come by chance; you know, darling, who has sent them; and remember, it is those whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger forever."
"Is he angry with me?" she asked fearfully.
"No, dearest, it is all sent in love; we cannot see the reason now, but one day we shall--when we get home to our Father's house, for then everything will be made plain; it may be, Elsie dear, that you, by your steady adherence to the right, are to be made the honored instrument in bringing your father to a saving knowledge of Christ. You would be willing to suffer a great deal for that, dear child, would you not? even all you are suffering now?"
"Ah, yes, indeed!" she said earnestly, clasping her hands together; "but I am afraid it is not that! I am afraid it is because I loved my papa too well, my dear, dear papa--and God is angry with me--and now I shall never, never see him again,"
She groaned aloud, and covered her face with her hands; and now the tears fell like rain, and her whole frame shook with convulsive sobs.
Mrs. Travilla hailed this outburst of grief with deep thankfulness, knowing that it was far better for her than that unnatural apathy, and that when the first violence of the storm had subsided, the aching heart would find itself relieved of half its load.
She gently soothed the little weeper until she began to grow calm again, and the sobs were almost hushed, and the tears fell softly and quietly.
Then she said, in low, tender tones, "Yes, my darling, you will see him again; I feel quite sure of it. God is the hearer of prayer, and he will hear yours for your dear father."
"And will he send my papa hack to me I oh, will he come soon? do you think he will, dear Mrs. Travilla?" she asked eagerly.
"I don't know, darling; I cannot tell that; but one thing we do know, that it is all in God's hands, and he will do just what is best both for you and your father. He may see fit to restore you to each other in a few weeks or months, and I hope and trust he will; but however that may be, darling, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'Your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.' He will not send you any unnecessary trial, nor allow you to suffer one pang that you do not need. It may be that he saw you were loving your earthly father too well, and has removed him from you for a time, that thus he may draw you nearer to himself; but never doubt for one moment, dear one, that it is all done in love. 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' They are the dear Saviour's own words."
When Mrs. Travilla at length rose to go, Elsie clung to her tearfully, entreating that she would stay a little longer.
"I will, dear child, since you wish it so much," said the lady, resuming her seat, "and I will come again very soon, if you think there will be no objection. But, Elsie, dear, can you not come to Ion, and spend the rest of your holidays with us? Both Edward and I would be delighted to have you, and I think we could make you happier than you are here."
"I cannot tell you how very much I should like it, dear Mrs. Travilla, but it is quite impossible," Elsie answered, with a sorrowful shake of the head. "I am not allowed to pay or receive visits any more; papa forbade it some time ago."
"Ah, indeed! I am very sorry, dear, for I fear that cuts me off from visiting you," said Mrs. Travilla, looking much disappointed. "However," she added more cheerfully, "I will get my son to write to your papa, and perhaps he may give you permission to visit us."
"No, ma'am, I cannot hope that he will," replied Elsie sadly; "papa never breaks his word or changes his mind."
"Ah! well, dear child," said her friend tenderly, "there is one precious blessing of which no one can deprive you--the presence and love of your Saviour; and if you have that, no one can make you wholly miserable. And now, dear child, I must go," she added, again clasping the little girl to her heart, and kissing her many times. "God bless and keep you, darling, till we meet again, and we will hope that time will come ere long."
Mr. Travilla was waiting to hand his mother into the carriage.
Neither of them spoke until they had fairly left Roselands behind them, but then he turned to her with an anxious, inquiring look, to which she replied:
"Yes, I found her in just the state you described, poor darling! but I think I left her a little happier; or rather, I should say, a little less wretched than I found her. Edward, Horace Dinsmore does not know what he is doing; that child's heart is breaking."
He gave an assenting nod, and turned away to hide his emotion.
"Can you not write to him, Edward, and describe the state she is in, and beg him, if he will not come home, at least to permit us to take her to Ion for a few weeks?" she asked, laying her hand on his arm.
"I will do so, mother, if you think it best," Mr. Travilla replied; "but I think I know Horace Dinsmore better than you do, and that such a proceeding would do more harm than good. He is very jealous of anything that looks like interference, especially between him and his child, and I fear it would only irritate him, and make him, if possible, still more determined. Were I asked to describe his character in a few words, I should say he is a man of indomitable will."
"Well, my son, perhaps you are right," said his mother, heaving a deep sigh; "and if so, I can see nothing more we can do but pray for the little girl."
Mrs. Travilla was right in thinking that her visit had done Elsie good; it had roused her out of the torpor of grief into which she had sunk; it had raised her from the depths of despair, and shown her the beacon light of hope still shining in the distance.
This last blow had come with such crushing weight that there had seemed to be no room left in her heart for a thought of comfort; but now her kind friend had reminded her of the precious promises, and the tender love that were still hers; love far exceeding that of any earthly parent--love that was able even to bring light out of all this thick darkness; love which was guiding and controlling all the events of her life, and would never allow her to suffer one unnecessary pang, but would remove the trial as soon as its needed work was done; and she was now no longer altogether comfortless.
When Mrs. Travilla had left, she took up her Bible--that precious little volume, her never-failing comforter--and in turning over its leaves her eye fell upon these words: "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
They sent a thrill of joy to her heart; for was not she suffering for his sake? was it not because she loved him too well to disobey his commands, even to please her dearly beloved earthly father, that she was thus deprived of one privilege, and one comfort after another, and subjected to trials that wrung her very heart?
Yes, it was because she loved Jesus. She was bearing suffering for his dear sake, and here she was taught that even to be permitted to suffer for him, was a privilege. And she remembered, too, that in another place it is written: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."
Ah! those are tears of joy and thankfulness that are falling now. She has grown calm and peaceful, even happy, for the time, in the midst of all her sorrow.