Chapter XXIV.
 
    "Home again, home again, from a foreign shore,
     And oh it fills my soul with Joy to see my friends once more."

The rest of the summer and early fall passed delightfully to our sojourners by the sea; though the happiness of the captain and Violet was somewhat marred by the knowledge that soon they must part for a season of greater or less duration, he to be exposed to all the dangers of the treacherous deep.

But they did not indulge in repining or lose the enjoyment of the present in vexing thoughts concerning the probable trials of the future.

It was necessary, however, to give it some consideration, and make arrangements in regard to his children.

Thinking of the guidance and control they all needed, the temper and stubbornness Lulu had shown, the watchful care requisite for Gracie in her feeble state, he hesitated to ask Mrs. Dinsmore and Elsie if they still felt inclined to undertake the charge of them.

But to his great relief and gratitude, those kind friends did not wait for him to broach the subject, but renewed their offer, saying they had become much attached to the children, and desired more than ever to give them a happy home with themselves; upon the conditions formerly stated, namely, that he would delegate his authority to them during his absence, and give the children distinctly to understand that he had done so.

These conditions the captain gladly accepted. He told the children all about the arrangement he had made for them, and in the presence of the whole family, bade them obey Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore, Grandma Elsie and Mamma Vi as they would himself.

"One master and three mistresses!" Edward remarked lightly; "are you not imposing rather hard conditions, Captain?"

"No, I think not, Ned, for I am satisfied that their commands will never conflict; but should they do so, Mr. Dinsmore, as patriarch of the whole tribe, is of course the highest authority."

It had been decided that Harold and Herbert should now enter college. The others, on being left by the captain, would all return to Ion and spend the winter there or at Viamede. Edward would take charge of the Ion plantation, his grandfather giving him some slight supervision at the start.

This arrangement would leave Mr. Dinsmore almost without employment, and, as he liked to be busy, he said he would gladly act the part of tutor to Max, and also hear some of the recitations of Rosie and Lulu. Grandma Elsie and Mamma Vi would for the present undertake the rest of the work of educating the girls and little Walter.

Their plans settled, they gave themselves up to quiet enjoyment of each other's society while Capt. Raymond waited for orders.

Early in October there came a great and joyful surprise. A train had steamed into the neighboring depot a few moments before, but as they were not looking for any addition to their party, no one had taken particular note of the fact.

But a carriage came driving from that direction, and drew up before the gate of Mr. Dinsmore's cottage, where the whole family were gathered.

A gentleman hastily alighted, handed out a lady; a servant-woman followed--having first handed him an odd-looking, rather large bundle, which he received with care--then turned to collect packages and parcels, while the other two hurried to the house, the lady a little in advance.

"Elsie!" was the simultaneous exclamation of many voices in varied tones of astonishment and delight, and the next instant there was a wonderful confusion of greetings and embraces mingled with tears of joy and thankfulness.

Lester and his wife had been heard from frequently during the past months, their letters always cheerful and full of bright hopes and anticipations, but containing no hint of any intention of returning to America before the coming spring.

As they afterward explained, it had been a very sudden resolve, caused by a severe fit of homesickness, and there really was no time to write.

Lester shared the joyous welcome given to Elsie; the servant woman having relieved him of his bundle, of which, in their joyous excitement, no one had taken particular notice.

Only waiting, a trifle impatiently, till the greetings and introductions were over, Elsie Leland took it from her, and with a proud, happy, yet tearful smile laid it--a lovely sleeping babe--in her mother's arms.

"Our boy, mother dear. We have named him for his grandpa--Edward Travilla."

Elsie Travilla folded the child to her heart, kissed it softly, tenderly, the great silent tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Ah, could he but have seen it! our first grandchild," she sighed.

Then, wiping away her tears, and sending a glance of mingled joy and maternal pride around the little circle, she folded the babe still closer, saying, with an arch, sweet smile, "Ah, no one now can deny that I am in very truth Grandma Elsie!"

THE END.