Elsie's Girlhood by Martha Finley
Of all the joys that brighten suffering earth What joy is welcomed like a new-born child? --MRS. NORTON.
"Massa wants you for to come right along to him in de study, darlin', jis as soon as your ole mammy kin get you dressed," said Chloe, one morning to her nursling.
"What for, mammy?" Elsie asked curiously, for she noticed an odd expression on her nurse's face.
"Massa didn't tell me nuffin 'bout what he wanted, an' I spects you'll have to az hisself," replied Chloe evasively.
Elsie's curiosity was excited, and she hastened to the study as soon as possible. Her father laid down his paper as she entered, and held out his hand with a smile as he bade her good-morning, and it struck her that there was an odd twinkle in his eye also, while she was certain that she could not be mistaken in the unusually joyous expression of his countenance.
"Good-morning, papa. But where is mamma?" she asked, glancing about the room in search of her.
"She is not up yet, but do you sit down here in your little rocking chair. I have something for you."
He left the room as he spoke, returning again in a moment, carrying what Elsie thought was a strange-looking bundle.
"There! hold out your arms," he said; and placing it in them, he gently raised one corner of the blanket, displaying to her astonished view a tiny little face.
"A baby! Oh, the dear little thing!" she exclaimed in tones of rapturous delight. Then looking up into his face, "Did you say I might have it, papa? whose baby is it?"
"Ours; your mamma's and my son, and your brother," he answered, gazing down with intense pleasure at her bright, happy face, sparkling all over with delight.
"My little brother! my darling little brother," she murmured looking down at it again, and venturing to press her lips gently to its soft velvet cheek. "Oh, papa, I am so glad, so glad! I have so wanted a little brother or sister. Is not God very good to give him to us, papa?" And happy, grateful tears were trembling in the soft eyes as she raised them to his face again.
"Yes," he said, bending down and kissing first her cheek, and then the babe's, "I feel that God has indeed been very good to me in bestowing upon me two such treasures as these."
"What is his name, papa?" she asked.
"He has none yet, my dear."
"Then, papa, do let him be named Horace, for you; won't you if mamma is willing? And then I hope he will grow up to be just like you; as handsome and as good."
"I should like him to be a great deal better, daughter," he answered with a grave smile; "and about the name--I don't know yet; I should prefer some other, but your mamma seems to want that, and I suppose she has the best right to name him; but we will see about it."
"Better give little marster to me now, Miss Elsie," remarked his nurse, stepping up, "I reckon your little arms begin to feel tired." And taking the babe she carried him from the room.
Nothing could have better pleased Mr. Dinsmore than Elsie's joyous welcome to her little brother; though it was scarcely more than he had expected.
"My own darling child; my dear, dear little daughter," he said, taking her in his arms and kissing her again and again. "Elsie, dearest, you are very precious to your father's heart."
"Yes, papa, I know it," she replied, twining her arms about his neck, and laying her cheek to his; "I know you love me dearly, and it makes me so very happy."
"May I go in to see mamma?" she asked presently.
"No, darling, not yet; she is not able to see you; but she sends her love, and hopes she may be well enough to receive a visit from you to-morrow."
"Poor mamma! I am sorry she is ill," she said sorrowfully; "but I will try to keep everything very quiet that she may not be disturbed."
That evening, after tea, Elsie was told that she would be allowed to speak to her mamma for a moment if she chose, and she gladly availed herself of the privilege.
"Dear Elsie," Rose whispered, drawing Her down to kiss her cheek, "I am so glad you are pleased with your little brother."
"Oh, mamma, he is such a dear little fellow!" Elsie answered eagerly; "and now, if you will only get well we will be happier than ever."
Rose smiled and said she hoped soon to be quite well again, and then Mr. Dinsmore led Elsie from the room.
Rose was soon about again and in the enjoyment of her usual health and strength. Elsie's delight knew no bounds the first time her mamma was able to leave her room, and take her place at the table with her father and herself. She doted on her little brother, and, if allowed, would have had him in her arms more than half the time; but he was a plump little fellow, and soon grew so large and heavy that her father forbade her carrying him lest she should injure herself; but she would romp and play with him by the hour while he was in the nurse's arms, or seated on the bed; and when any of her little friends called, she could not be satisfied to let them go away without seeing the baby.
The first time Mr. Travilla called, after little Horace's arrival, she exhibited her treasure to him with a great deal of pride, asking if he did not envy her papa.
"Yes," he said, looking admiringly at her, and then turning away with a half sigh.
A few minutes afterwards he caught hold of her, set her on his knee, and giving her a kiss, said, "I wish you were ten years older, Elsie, or I ten years younger."
"Why, Mr. Travilla?" she asked rather wonderingly.
"Oh, because we would then be nearer of an age, and maybe you would like me better."
"No, I wouldn't, not a bit," she said, putting her arm round his neck, "for I like you now just as well as I could like any gentleman but papa."
The elder Mr. Dinsmore was very proud of his little grandson and made a great pet of him, coming to the Oaks much more frequently after his birth than before.
Once he spoke of him as his first grandchild.
"You forget Elsie, father," said Horace, putting his arm round his little girl, who happened to be standing by his side, and giving her a tender, loving look.
He greatly feared that the marked difference his father made between the two would wound Elsie's sensitive spirit, and perhaps even arouse a feeling of jealousy towards her little brother; therefore, when his father was present, he was even more than usually affectionate in his manner towards her, if that were possible.
But Elsie had no feeling of the kind; she had long ceased to expect any manifestation of affection from her grandfather towards herself, but was very glad indeed that he could love her dear little brother.
"Ah, yes! to be sure, I did forget Elsie," replied the old gentleman carelessly; "she is the first grandchild of course; but this fellow is the first grandson, and quite proud of him I am. He is a pretty boy, and is going to be the very image of his father."
"I hope he will, father," said Rose, looking proudly at her husband. And then she added, with an affectionate glance at Elsie: "If he is only as good and obedient as his sister, I shall be quite satisfied with him. We could not ask a better child than our dear little daughter, nor love one more than we do her; she is a great comfort and blessing to us both."
The color mounted to Elsie's cheek, and her eyes beamed with pleasure. Mr. Dinsmore, too, looked very much gratified, and the old gentleman could not fail to perceive that the difference he made between the children was quite distasteful to both parents.