Grandmother Elsie by Martha Finley
"Man proposes, but God disposes."
Donald left Ion the next morning, going away sadly and alone, yet trying to be truly thankful that his friend's injuries, though severe, were not permanent, and that he left him where he would have the best of medical treatment and nursing.
"Don't be uneasy about the captain," Mr. Dinsmore said in parting; "I can assure you that Arthur is a skilful physician and surgeon, and we have several negro women who thoroughly understand nursing. Beside my wife, Elsie and I will oversee them and do all in our power for the comfort and restoration of the invalid."
"Thank you, cousin. I am sure nothing will be left undone that skill and kindness can do," Donald said, shaking with warmth the hand Mr. Dinsmore held out to him. "Raymond is one in a thousand. I've known him for years, and he has been a good and valuable friend to me. I wish it were possible for me to stay and wait on him myself; but army men are not their own masters, you know. He'll be wanting to get back to his ship before he's able. Don't let him."
"Not if I can prevent it," was Mr. Dinsmore's laughing rejoinder. "By the way, should not some word be sent to his wife?"
"Wife! She has been dead some two years, I think. I asked him if there was any relative he would wish informed of his condition, and he said no; his parents were not living, he had neither brother nor sister, and his children were too young to be troubled about it."
"Poor fellow!" ejaculated Mr. Dinsmore, thinking of his own happier lot--the sweet wife and daughter at Ion, the other daughter and son, father, sisters, grandchildren and nephews who would flock about him in tender solicitude, were he laid low by sickness or accident.
Leaving Donald in the city, he drove back to Ion full of sympathy for his injured guest and admiration for his courage and fortitude; for he had made no moan or complaint, though evidently suffering great pain and much solicitude on account of the long prospective detention from official duty.
The doctor's verdict was, a week or more in bed, probably six weeks before the ankle could be used.
"You must get me up much sooner than that, doctor, if it be a possible thing," Captain Raymond said most emphatically.
"I can only promise to do my best," was Arthur's response. "Nature must have time for her work of recuperation."
Elsie met her father in the entrance hall on his return. "Ah, papa," she said, looking up smilingly into his face, "I think you will have to rescind your order."
"In regard to what?" he asked, stopping to lay a hand lightly on her shoulder, while he smoothed her hair caressingly with the other.
"The week of entire rest you bade me take."
"No; there is to be no recall of that order."
"But our poor injured guest, father? injured in the noble effort to save the life of another!"
"He shall have every care and attention without any assistance from you; or Rose either; at least for the present."
"But, dear papa, to have you worn out and made ill would be worse than anything else."
"That does not follow as an inevitable consequence, and you may safely trust me to take excellent care of number one," he said, with playful look and tone.
"Ah, papa, there is not the least use in your trying to make me believe there is any selfishness in you!"
"No, I presume not; you have always been persistently blind to my many imperfections. Well, daughter, you need not be troubled lest I should waste too much strength on the poor captain. I do not imagine him to be an exacting person, and we have enough efficient nurses among the servants to do all the work that is needful. My part will be, I think, principally to cheer him, keep up his spirits, and see that he is provided with everything that can contribute to comfort of mind and body. I must leave you now and go to him. I advise a drive for you and your mamma as soon as you can make ready for it; the air is delightfully clear and bracing."
"Thank you, papa; the advice shall be followed immediately so far as I am concerned, and the order carefully obeyed," she answered, as he moved on down the hall.
The smile with which the captain greeted Mr. Dinsmore's entrance into the room where he lay in pain and despondency was a rather melancholy one.
"My dear sir, I feel for you!" Mr. Dinsmore said, seating himself by the bedside, "but you are a brave man and a Christian, and can endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!"
There was a flash of joy in the sufferer's eyes as he turned them upon the speaker, "That, sir, is the most comforting and sustaining thing you could have said to me! Through what suffering was the Captain of our salvation made perfect! And shall I shrink from enduring a little in His service? Ah no! And when I reflect that I might have been killed, and my dear children left fatherless, I feel that I have room for nothing but thankfulness that it is as well with me as it is."
"And that some good will be brought out of this trial we cannot doubt," Mr. Dinsmore said; "for 'we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.'"
"Yes; and 'I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' 'We glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.'"
"What a wonderful book the Bible is!" remarked Mr. Dinsmore meditatively; "what stores of comfort and encouragement it contains for all in whatever state or condition! 'The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.'"
"Yes; how true it is, Mr. Dinsmore, that 'it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps'! I had so fully resolved to return to-day to my vessel, and now when may I hope to see her? Not in less than six weeks, the doctor tells me."
"A weary while it must seem in prospect. But we will do all we can to make it short in passing and prevent you from regretting the necessity of tarrying with us for so much longer time than you had intended," Mr. Dinsmore answered in a cheery tone.
"Your great kindness is laying me under lasting obligations, Mr. Dinsmore," the captain responded, with glistening eyes, "obligations which I shall never, I fear, have an opportunity to repay."
"My dear sir, I am truly thankful to have it in my power to do what can be done to alleviate your sufferings and restore the health and vigor you so nobly sacrificed for another. Beside, what Christian can recall the Master's assurance that He will consider any kindness done to any follower of His as done to Himself, and not rejoice in the opportunity to be of service to a fellow-disciple, be it man, woman, or child?"
"Yes, And the King shall answer and say unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"
"Ah, captain, don't talk of obligation to one who has a recompense such as that in view!" Mr. Dinsmore said, a smile on his lip, a glad light in his eye.
The captain stretched out his hand and grasped that of his host. "What cause for gratitude that I have fallen into the care of those who can appreciate and act from such motives!" he exclaimed with emotion.
"You are the hero of the hour, my friend," Mr. Dinsmore remarked after a short silence. "I wish you could have seen the faces of my wife, daughter, and granddaughter when they heard of the noble, unselfish, and courageous deed which was the cause of your sore injuries."
"Don't mention it!" exclaimed the captain, a manly flush suffusing his face; "who could stand by and see a fellow-creature perish without so much as stretching out a helping hand?"
In the weeks that followed Captain Raymond won golden opinions from those with whom he sojourned, showing himself as capable of the courage of endurance as of that more ordinary kind that incites to deeds of daring; he was always patient and cheerful, and sufficiently at leisure from himself and his own troubles to show a keen interest in those about him.
After the first week he was able to take possession of an invalid-chair, which was then wheeled into the room where the family were wont to gather for the free and unconstrained enjoyment of each other's society.
They made him one of themselves, and he found it a rare treat to be among them thus day after day, getting such an insight into their domestic life and true characters as years of ordinary intercourse would not have given him. He learned to love them all--the kind, cheerful, unselfish older people; the sweet-faced, gentle, tender mother; the fair and lovely maiden, lovely in mind and person; the brave, frank, open-hearted lads, and the dear, innocent little ones.
He studied them all furtively and with increasing interest, growing more and more reconciled the while to his involuntary detention among them.
Oftentimes they were all there, but occasionally one of the grandparents or the mother would be away at Roselands for a day or two, taking turns in ministering to Mrs. Conly, and comforting and cheering her feeble old father.
"You have no idea, my dear sir," the captain one day remarked to his host, "how delightful it is to a man who has passed most of his life on shipboard, away from women and children, to be taken into such a family circle as this! I think you who live in it a highly favored man, sir!"
"I quite agree with you," Mr. Dinsmore said "I think we are an exceptionally happy family, though not exempt from the trials incident to life in this world of sin and sorrow."
"Your daughter is an admirable mother," the captain went on, "so gentle and affectionate, and yet so firm; her children show by their behavior that their training has been very nearly ii not quite faultless. And in seeing so much of them I realize as never before the hardship of the constant separation from my own which my profession entails, as I ask myself, 'If I were with them thus day after day, should I find them as obedient, docile, and intelligent as these little ones? Will my Max be as fine a lad as Harold or Herbert? Can I hope to see Lulu and Gracie growing up into such lovely maidenhood as that of Miss Violet?"
"I sincerely hope you may be so blessed, captain," Mr. Dinsmore said, "but much will depend upon the training to which they are subjected. There is truth in the old proverb, 'Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.'"
"Yes, sir; and a higher authority says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.' But my difficulty is that I can neither train them myself, nor see that the work is rightly done by others."
"That is sad, indeed," Mr. Dinsmore replied with sincere sympathy. "But, my dear sir, is there not strong consolation in the thought that you can pray for them, and that 'the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much'?"
"There is indeed, sir!" the captain said with emotion. "And also in the promise, 'I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.'"