Elsie's Womanhood by Martha Finley
"There are smiles and tears in the mother's eyes For her new-born babe beside her lies; Oh, heaven of bliss! when the heart o'erflows With the rapture a mother only knows!" --HENRY WARE, JR.
Mrs. Travilla was laid to rest in their own family burial-ground, her dust sleeping beside that of her husband, and children who had died in infancy; and daily her surviving son carried his little daughter thither to scatter flowers upon "dear grandma's grave."
It was not easy to learn to live without the dear mother; they missed her constantly. Yet was their sorrow nearly swallowed up in joy for her--the blessed dead who had departed to be with Christ in glory and to go no more out forever from that blissful presence.
Their house was not made dark and gloomy, the sunlight and sweet spring air entered freely as of yore. Nor did they suffer gloom to gather in their hearts or cloud their faces. Each was filled with thankfulness for the spared life of the other, and of their darling little daughter.
And scarce a week had passed away since heaven's portals opened wide to the ransomed soul, when a new voice--that of a son and heir--was heard in the old home, and many hearts rejoiced in the birth of the beautiful boy.
"God has sent him to comfort you in your sorrow, dearest," Elsie whispered, as her husband brought the babe--fresh from its first robing by Aunt Chloe's careful hands--and with a very proud and happy face laid it in her arms.
"Yes," he said, in moved tones. "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"
"If mother could only have seen him!" And tears gathered in the soft, sweet eyes of the young mother gazing so tenderly upon the tiny face on her arm.
"She will, one day, I trust; I have been asking for this new darling that he may be an heir of glory: that he may early be gathered into the fold of the good Shepherd."
"And I, too," she said, "have besought my precious Saviour to be the God of my children also from their birth."
"What do you intend to call your son?"
"What do you?" she asked, smiling up at him.
"Horace, for your father, if you like."
"And I had thought of Edward, for his father and yours. Horace Edward. Will that do?"
"I am satisfied, if you are. But Edward would do for the next."
"But he may never come to claim it," she said, laughing. "Is papa in the house?"
"Yes, and delighted to learn that he has a grandson."
"Oh, bring him here and let me see the first meeting between them."
"Can you bear the excitement?"
"I promise not to be excited; and it always does me good to see my dear father."
Mr. Dinsmore came softly in, kissed very tenderly the pale face on the pillow, then took a long look at the tiny pink one nestling to her side.
"Ah, isn't he a beauty? I have made you two grand-fathers now, you dear papa!" she said, indulging in a little jest to keep down the emotions tugging at her heart-strings. "Do you begin to feel old and decrepit, mon pere?"
"Not very," he said smiling, and softly smoothing her hair; "not more so to-day than I did yesterday. But now I must leave you to rest and sleep. Try, my darling, for all our sakes, to be very prudent, very calm and quiet."
"I will, papa; and don't trouble about me. You know I am in good hands. Ah, stay a moment! here is Edward bringing wee bit Elsie to take her first peep at her little brother."
"Mamma," cried the child; stretching out her little arms towards the bed, "mamma, take Elsie."
"Mamma can't, darling; poor mamma is so sick," said Mr. Travilla; "stay with papa."
"But she shall kiss her mamma, dear, precious little pet," Elsie said. "Please hold her close for a minute, papa, and let her kiss her mother."
He complied under protest, in which Mr. Dinsmore joined, that he feared it would be too much for her; and the soft baby hands patted the wan cheeks, the tiny rosebud mouth was pressed again and again to the pale lips with rapturous cooings, "Mamma, mamma!"
"There, pet, that will do," said her father. "Now, see what mamma has for you."
"Look, mother's darling," Elsie said with a glad smile, exposing to view the tiny face by her side.
"Baby!" cried the little girl, with a joyous shout, clapping her chubby hands, "pretty baby Elsie take"; and the small arms were held out entreatingly.
"No, Elsie is too little to hold it," said her papa; "but she may kiss it very softly."
The child availed herself of the permission, then gently patting the newcomer, repeated her glad cry, "Baby, pretty baby."
"Elsie's little brother," said her mamma, tenderly. "Now, dearest, let mammy take her away," she added, sinking back on her pillows with a weary sigh.
He complied, then bent over her with a look of concern. "I should not have brought her in," he said anxiously; "it has been too much for you."
"But I wanted so to see her delight. One more kiss, papa, before you go, and then I'll try to sleep."
Elsie did not recover so speedily and entirely as before, after the birth of her first babe; and those to whom she was so dear grew anxious and troubled about her.
"You want change, daughter," Mr. Dinsmore said, coming in one morning and finding her lying pale and languid on a sofa; "and we are all longing to have you at home. Do you feel equal to a drive over to the Oaks?"
"I think I do, papa," she answered, brightening. "Edward took me for a short drive yesterday, and I felt better for it."
"Then, dearest, come home to your father's house and stay there as long as you can; bring babies and nurses and come. Your own suite of rooms is quite ready for you," he said, caressing her tenderly.
"Ah, papa, how nice to go back and feel at home in my own father's house again," she said, softly stroking his head with her thin white hand as he bent over her, the sweet soft eyes, gazing full into his, brimming over with love and joy. "I shall go, if Edward doesn't object. I'd like to start this minute. But you haven't told me how poor mamma is to-day?"
"Not well, not very much stronger than you are, I fear," he answered, with a slight sigh. "But your coming will do her a world of good. Where is Travilla?"
"Here, and quite at your service," replied Mr. Travilla's cheery voice, as he came in from the garden with his little daughter in his arms.
He set her down, and while he exchanged greetings with Mr. Dinsmore, she ran to her mother with a bouquet of lovely sweet-scented spring blossoms they had been gathering "for mamma."
"Thank you, mother's darling," Elsie said, accepting the gift and tenderly caressing the giver; "you and papa, too. But see who is here?"
The child turned to look, and with a joyous cry "G'anpa!" ran into his outstretched arms.
"Grandpa's own wee pet," he said, hugging the little form close and covering the baby face with kisses. "Will you come and live with grandpa in his home for awhile?"
"Mamma? papa too?" she asked, turning a wistful look on them.
"Oh, yes; yes indeed, mamma and papa too."
"Yes, baby and mammies and all. Will you come?"
"May Elsie, mamma?"
"Yes, pet; we will all go, if your papa is willing." And her soft eyes sought her husband's face with a look of love and confidence that said she well knew he would never deny her any good in his power to bestow.
"I have been proposing to my daughter to take possession again, for as long a time as she finds it convenient and agreeable, of her old suite of rooms at the Oaks. I think the change would do her good, and perhaps you and the little ones also," Mr. Dinsmore explained.
"Thank you; I think it would. When will you go, little wife?"
"Papa proposes taking me at once."
"My carriage is at the door, and this is the pleasantest part of the day," remarked Mr. Dinsmore.
"Ah, yes; then take Elsie with you, and I will follow shortly with children and servants. There is no reason in the world why she should not go, if she wishes, and stay as long as she likes."
The change proved beneficial to Elsie; it was so pleasant to find herself again a member of her father's family; and that even without a short separation from her husband and little ones.
Here, too, absent from the scenes so closely associated with the memory of her beloved mother-in-law, she dwelt less upon her loss, while at the same time she was entertained and cheered by constant intercourse with father, Rose, and young brother and sister. It was indeed a cheering thing to all parties to be thus brought together for a time as one family in delightful social intercourse.
Yet, though the invalids improved in spirits, and to some extent in other respects, they did not regain their usual strength, and the physicians recommending travel, particularly a sea voyage, it was finally decided to again visit Europe for an indefinite period, the length of their stay to depend upon circumstances.
It was in June, 1860, they left their homes; and traveling northward, paid a short visit to relatives and friends in Philadelphia; then took the steamer for Europe.
A few weeks later found them cozily established in a handsome villa overlooking the beautiful bay of Naples.
They formed but one family here as at the Oaks; each couple having their own private suite of apartments, while all other rooms were used in common and their meals taken together; an arrangement preferred by all; Mr. Dinsmore and his daughter especially rejoicing in it, as giving them almost as much of each other's society as before her marriage.
In this lovely spot they planned to remain for some months, perchance a year; little dreaming that five years would roll their weary round ere they should see home and dear native land again.