Elsie's Girlhood
Martha Finley

Part 4 out of 6

distance; for, watching from his windows, he saw that every morning
Simon brought one or more letters from the post, and that Elsie was
usually on the front porch awaiting his coming; that she would often
come flying across the lawn, meet her messenger at the gate, and
snatching her letter with eager, joyful haste, rush back to the house
with it, and disappear within the doorway. Then frequently he would
see her half an hour later looking so rosy and happy, that he could
hardly hope her correspondent was other than an accepted lover.

For weeks he tormented himself with this idea; the more convinced that
he was right in his conjecture, because she almost always posted her
reply with her own hands, when going out for her daily walk, or sent
it by her faithful Chloe; but one day, venturing a jest upon the
subject, she answered him, with a merry laugh, "Ah, you are no
Yankee, Mr. Egerton, to make such a guess as that! I have a number of
correspondents, it is true; but the daily letter I am so eager for
comes from my father."

"Is it possible, Miss Dinsmore! do you really receive and answer a
letter from your father every day?"

"We write every day, and each receives a letter from the other every
day but Sunday; on that day we never go or send to the post-office;
and we write only on such subjects as are suited to the sacredness of
its Sabbath rest. I give papa the text and a synopsis of the sermon I
have heard, and he does the same by me."

"You must be extremely strict Sabbath-keepers."

"We are, but not more so than the Bible teaches that we should be."

"But isn't it very irksome? don't you find the day very long and

"Not at all; I think no other day in the week is quite so short to me,
none, I am sure, so delightful."

"Then it isn't only because your aunt is strict too, that you go on
keeping your father's rules, while you are at a safe distance from
him?" he queried in a half jesting tone.

Elsie turned her soft eyes full upon him, as she answered with gentle
gravity: "I feel that the commands of both my earthly and my heavenly
Father are binding upon me at all times, and in all places, and I hope
I may ever be kept from becoming an eye-servant. Love makes it easy to
obey, and God's commands are not grievous to those who love him."

"I beg your pardon," he said; "but to go back to the letters, how
can you fill one every day to your father? I can imagine that lovers
might, in writing to each other, but fathers and daughters would not
be apt to indulge in that sort of nonsense."

"But Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie are no common father and daughter,"
remarked Lottie, who had not spoken for the last ten minutes.

"And can find plenty to say to each other," added Elsie, with a bright
look and smile. "Papa likes to hear just how I am spending my time,
what I see in my walks, what new plants and flowers I find, etc.,
etc.; what new acquaintances I make, what books I am reading, and what
I think of them."

"The latter or the former?" he asked, resuming his jesting tone.

"Both. And I tell him almost everything. Papa is my confidant; more so
than any other person in the world."

They were returning from a walk over the hills, and had just reached
Miss Stanhope's gate. Mr. Egerton opened it for the ladies, closed
it after them, bowed a good-morning and retired, wondering if he was
mentioned in those letters to Mr. Dinsmore, and cautioning himself
to be exceeding careful not to say or do a single thing which, if
reported there, might be taken as a warning of danger to the heiress.

The girls ran into Miss Wealthy's room, and found her lamenting over a
white muslin apron.

"What is it, auntie?" Elsie asked.

"Why, just look here, child, what a hole I have made in this! It had
got an ink-stain on it, and Phillis had put one of Harry's new shirts
into a tin basin, and iron-rusted it; so I thought I would try some
citric acid on them both; and I did; but probably made it too strong,
and this is how it served the apron."

"And the shirt?" asked Lottie, interested for the garment she had
helped to make.

"Well, it's a comfort I handled it very gingerly, and it seems to be
sound yet, after I saw what this has come to."

"It is quite a pity about the apron; for it really is a very pretty
one," said Elsie, "the acid must have been very strong."

"Yes, and I am sorry to have the apron ruined, but after all, I shall
not care so very much, if it only doesn't eat Harry's tail off, and it
will make a little one for some child."

Both girls laughed. It was impossible to resist the inclination to do

"The shirt's tail I mean, of course, and a little apron," said Miss
Wealthy, joining in the mirth; "that's where the spots all happen to
be, which is a comfort in case a piece should have to be set in."

"There comes Lenwilla Ellawea; for some more light'ning, I suppose, as
I see she carries a teacup in her hand," whispered Lottie,
glancing from the window, as a step sounded upon the gravel walk.
"Good-morning, little sixpence; what are you after now?" she added
aloud, as the child appeared in the open doorway.

"Mother's out o' vinegar, and dinner's just ready, and the
gentleman'll want some for his salad, and there aint no time to send
to the grocery. And mother says, will you lend her a teacupful, Aunt
Wealthy? And she's goin' to have some folks there to-night, and she
says you're all to come over."

"Tell her we're obliged, and she's welcome to the vinegar," said Miss
Stanhope, taking the cup and giving it to Chloe to fill. "But what
sort of company is it to be?"

"I dunno; ladies and gentlemen, but no married folks, I heard her say.
She's goin' to have nuts, and candies, and things to hand round, and
you'd better come. I hope that pretty lady will," in a stage whisper,
bending toward Miss Stanhope, as she spoke, and nodding at Elsie.

All three laughed.

"Well, I'll try to coax her," said Aunt Wealthy, as Chloe re-entered
the room. "And here's your vinegar. You'd better hurry home with it."

"Aunt Wealthy, you can't want me to go there!" cried Elsie, as the
child passed out of hearing. "Why, the woman is not a lady, and I am
sure papa would be very unwilling to have me make an associate of her.
He is very particular about such matters."

"She is not educated or very refined, it is true, my child; and I must
acknowledge is a little silly, too; but she is a clever, kind-hearted
woman, a member of the same church with myself, and a near neighbor
whom I should feel sorry to hurt; and I am sure she would be much hurt
if you should stay away, and deeply gratified by your attendance at
her little party."

"I wouldn't miss it for anything!" cried Lottie, pirouetting about the
room, laughing and clapping her hands; "she has such comical ways of
talking and acting. I know it will be real fun. You won't think of
staying away, Elsie?"

"I really do not believe your father would object, if he were here, my
child," added Miss Stanhope, laying her hand on her niece's shoulder
and looking at her with a kindly persuasive smile.

"Perhaps not, auntie; and he bade me obey you in his absence; so if
you bid me, I will go," Elsie answered, returning the smile, and
touching her ruby lips to the faded cheek.

"That's a dear," cried Lottie. "Hold her to her word, Aunt Wealthy.
And now I must run home, and see if Nettie's had an invite, and what
she's going to wear."

The ladies were just leaving the dinner-table, when Mrs. Schilling
came rushing in. "Oh, excuse my informality in not waiting to ring,
Miss Stanhope; but I'm in the biggest kind of a hurry. I've just put
up my mind to make some sponge-cake for to-night, and I thought I'd
best run over and get your prescription; you always have so much
better luck than me. I don't know whether it's all in the luck though,
or whether it's partly the difference in prescriptions--I know some
follows one, and some another--and so, if you'll let me have yours,
I'll be a thousand times obliged."

"Certainly, Mrs. Sixpence, you'll be as many times welcome," returned
Aunt Wealthy, going for her receipt-book. "It's not to be a large
party, is it?" she asked, coming back.

"No, ma'am, just a dozen or so of the young folks; such ladies and
gentlemen which I thought would be agreeable to meet Miss Dinsmore. I
hope you'll both be over and bright and early too; for I've heard say
you don't never keep very late hours, Miss Dinsmore."

"No, papa does not approve of them; not for me at least. He is so
careful of me, so anxious that I should keep my health."

"Well, I'm sure that's all right and kind. But you'll come, both
of you, won't you?" And receiving an assurance that such was their
intention, she hurried away as fast as she had come.

"I wonder she cares to make a party when she must do all the work of
preparing for it herself," said Elsie, looking after her as she sped
across the lawn.

"She is strong and healthy, and used to work; and doubtless feels
that it will be some honor and glory to be able to boast of having
entertained the Southern heiress who is visiting Lansdale," Miss
Stanhope answered in a half-jesting tone.

Elsie looked amused, then grave, as she replied: "It is rather
humbling to one's pride to be valued merely or principally on account
of one's wealth."

"Yes; but, dearie, those who know you don't value you for that, but
for your own dear, lovable self. My darling, your old aunt is growing
very fond of you, and can hardly bear to think how soon your father
will be coming to carry you away again," she added, twinkling away a
tear, as she took the soft, white hand, and pressed it affectionately
in both her own.

"And I shall be so sorry to leave you, auntie. I wish we could carry
you away with us. I have so often thought how happy my friend Lucy
Carrington ought to be in having such a nice grandma. I have never
had one, you know; for papa's stepmother would never own me for her
grandchild; but you seem to be the very one I have always longed for."

"Thank you, dear," and Miss Stanhope sighed, slightly. "Had your own
grandmother, my sweet and dear sister Eva, been spared to this time,
you would have had one to love and be proud of. Now, do you want to
take a siesta? you must feel tired after this morning's long tramp,
I should think, and I want you to be very bright and fresh to-night,
that it may not harm you if you should happen to be kept up a little
later than usual. You see I want to take such care of you, that when
your father comes he can see only improvement in you, and feel willing
to let me have you again some day."

"Thank you, you dear old auntie!" Elsie answered, giving her a hug.
"I'm sure even he could hardly be more kindly careful of me than you
are. But I am not very tired, and sitting in an easy-chair will give
me all the rest I need. Haven't you some work for me? I've done
nothing but enjoy myself in the most idle fashion all day."

"No, my sewing's all done now that the shirts are finished. But I must
lie down whether you will or not. I can't do without my afternoon

"Yes, do, auntie; and I shall begin to-morrow's letter to papa;
finishing it in the morning with an account of the party."

She was busy with her writing when Lottie burst in upon her.

"I ran in," she said, "to propose that we all go over there together,
and to ask you to come into our house when you're dressed. Nettie and
I are going to try a new style of doing up our hair, and we want your
opinion about its becomingness."

"I'll be happy to give it for what it is worth."

"By the way, I admire your style extremely; but of course no one could
imitate it who was not blessed with a heavy suit of natural curls. You
always wear it one way, don't you?"

"Yes, papa likes it so, but until within the last year, he would not
let me have it in a comb at all."

She wore it now gathered into a loose knot behind, and falling over
a comb, in a rich mass of shining curls, while in front it waved and
rippled above her white forehead, or fell over it, in soft, tiny,
golden brown rings.

"It is so beautiful!" continued Lottie, passing her hand caressingly
over it; "and so is its wearer. Oh, if I were only a gentleman!"

"You don't wish it," said Elsie, laughing. "I don't believe a real,
womanly woman ever does."

"You don't, hey? Well, I must go; for I've a lot to do to Lot King's
wearing apparel. Adieu, mon cher. Nay, don't disturb yourself to come
to the door."

Elsie came down to tea ready dressed for the evening, in simple white,
with a white rose in her hair.

"I like your taste in dress, child," said Aunt Wealthy, regarding her
with affectionate admiration. "The rose in your hair is lovely, and
you seem to me like a fresh, fair, sweet flower, yourself."

"Ah, how pleasant it is to be loved, auntie, for love always sees
through rose-colored spectacles," answered the young girl gayly.

"I promised Lottie to run in there for a moment to give my opinion
about their appearance," she said, as they rose from the table. "I'll
not be gone long; and they're to come in and go with us."

She found her friends in the midst of their hair-dressing.

"Isn't it a bore?" cried Lottie. "How fortunate you are in never
having to do this for yourself."

"Why," said Elsie, "I was just admiring your independence, and feeling
ashamed of my own helplessness."

"Did you ever try it," asked Nettie; "doing your own hair, I mean?"

"No, never."

"Did you ever dress yourself?"

"No, I own that I have never so much as put on my own shoes and
stockings," Elsie answered with a blush, really mortified at the

"Well, it is rather nice to be able to help yourself," remarked Lottie
complacently. "There! mine's done; what do you think of it, Miss

"That it is very pretty and extremely becoming. Girls, mammy will
dress your hair for you at any time, if you wish."

"Oh, a thousand thanks!" exclaimed Nettie. "Do you think she would be
willing to come over and do mine now? I really can't get it to suit
me, and I know Lot wants to put on her dress."

"Yes, I'll go back and send her."

"Oh, no; don't go yet; can't we send for her?"

"That would do; but I told Aunt Wealthy I wouldn't stay long; so I
think I'd better go. Perhaps I can be of use to her."

"I don't believe she'll need any help with her toilet," said Lottie,
"she does it all her own way; but I daresay she grudges every minute
of your company. I know I should. Isn't she sweet and lovely, and good
as she can be?" she added to her sister as Elsie left the room.

"Yes, and how tastefully she dresses; everything is rich and
beautiful, yet so simply elegant; what magnificent lace she wears, and
what jewelry; yet not a bit too much of either."

"And she knows all about harmony of colors, and what suits her style;
though I believe she would look well in anything."

There was a communicating gate between Dr. King's grounds and Miss
Stanhope's, and Elsie gained her aunt's house by crossing the two
gardens. As she stepped upon the porch, she saw Mr. Egerton standing
before the door.

"Good-evening, Miss Dinsmore," he said, bowing and smiling. "I was
just about to ring; but I presume that is not necessary now."

"No, not at all. Walk into the parlor, and help yourself to a seat.
And if you will please excuse me I shall be there in a moment."

"I came to ask if I might have the pleasure of escorting you to the
party," he said laughingly, as she returned from giving Chloe her
directions, and asking if her aunt needed any assistance.

"Thank you; but you are taking unnecessary trouble," she answered
gayly, "since it is only across the street, and there are four of us
to keep each other company."

"The Misses King are going with you?"

"Yes; they are not quite ready yet; but it is surely too early to
think of going?"

"A little; but Mrs. Schilling is anxious to see you as soon as
possible; particularly as she understands there is no hope of keeping
you after ten o'clock. Do you really always observe such early hours?"

"As a rule, yes. I believe the medical authorities agree that it is
the way to retain one's youth and health."

"And beauty," he added, with an admiring glance at her blooming face.

* * * * *

"I do believe we shall be almost the first; very unfashionably early,"
remarked Nettie King, as their little party crossed the street.

"We are not the first, I have seen several go in," rejoined Aunt
Wealthy, as Mr. Egerton held open the gate for them to pass in.

Mrs. Schilling in gay attire, streamers flying, cheeks glowing, and
eyes beaming with delight, met them at the door, and invited them to

"Oh, ladies, good-evening. How do you all do? I'm powerful glad you
came so early. Walk right into the parlor."

She ushered them in as she spoke. Four or five young misses were
standing about the centre-table, looking at prints, magazines, and
photographs, while Lenwilla Ellawea, arrayed in her Sunday best, had
ensconced herself in a large cushioned rocking-chair; she was leaning
lazily back in it, and stretching out her feet in a way to show her
shoes and stockings to full advantage. Mrs. Schilling had singular
taste in dress. The child wore a Swiss muslin over a red flannel
skirt, and her lower limbs were encased in black stockings and blue

"Daughter Lenwilla Ellawea, subside that chair!" exclaimed the mother,
with a wave of her hand. "You should know better than to take the best
seat, when ladies are standing. Miss Stanhope, do me the honor to take
that chair. I assure you, you will find it most commodious. Take a
seat on the sofy, Miss Dinsmore, and--ah, that is right, Mr. Egerton,
you know how to attend to the ladies."

Greetings and introductions were exchanged; an uncomfortable pause
followed, then a young lady, with a magazine open on the table before
her, broke the silence by remarking: "What sweet verses these are!"

"Yes," said Mrs. Schilling, looking over her shoulder, "I quite agree
in that sentiment. Indeed, she's my favorite author."

"Who?" asked Mr. Egerton.


"Ah! does she write much for that periodical?" he asked, with assumed

"Oh, yes, she has a piece in nearly every number; sometimes two of

"That's my pap, that is," said Lenwilla Ellawea, addressing a second
young lady, who was slowly turning the leaves of a photograph album.

"Is it?"

"Yes, and we've got two or three other picters of him."

"Photographs, Lenwilla Ellawea," corrected her mother. "Yes, we've got
several. Miss Stanhope, do you know there's a sculpture in town? and
what do you think? He wants to make a basque relief out o' one o' them
photographs of my 'Lijah. But I don't know as I'll let him. Would

A smile trembled about the corners of Elsie's lips, and she carefully
avoided the glance of Lottie's eyes, which she knew were dancing with
fun, while there was a half-suppressed titter from the girls at the

"I really can't say I understand exactly what it is," said Aunt
Wealthy dubiously.

"What sort of looking creature is a sculpture, Mrs. Schilling?" asked
Mr. Egerton.

"Excuse me; there's some more company coming," she answered, hurrying
from the room.

"My good landlady is really quite an amusing person," he observed in
an aside to Elsie, near to whom he had seated himself.

She made no response. The newly-arrived guests were being ushered in,
and there were fresh greetings and introductions to be gone through
with. Then conversation became quite brisk, and after a little, it
seeming to be understood that all invited, or expected, were present
some one proposed playing games. They tried several of the quieter
kind, then Lottie King proposed "Stage-coach."

"Lot likes that because she's a regular romp," said her sister.

"And because she tells the story so well; she's just splendid at it!"
cried two or three voices. "Will you take that part if we agree to
play it?"

"Yes, if no one else wants it."

"No danger of that. We'll play it. Miss Dinsmore, will you take part?"

"Thank you; I never heard of the game before, and should not know what
to do."

"Oh, it's easy to understand. Each player--except the
story-teller--takes the name of some part of the stage-coach, or
something connected with it;--one is the wheels, another the window,
another the whip, another the horses, driver, and so on, and so on.
After all are named and seated--leaving one of their number out, and
no vacancy in the circle--the one left out stands in the centre, and
begins a story, in which he or she introduces the names chosen by the
others as often as possible. Each must be on the qui vive, and the
instant his name is pronounced, jump up, turn round once and sit down
again. If he neglects to do so, he has to pay a forfeit. If the
word stage-coach is pronounced, all spring up and change seats; the
story-teller securing one, if he can and leaving some one else to try
his hand at that."

Lottie acquitted herself well; Mr. Egerton followed, doing even
better; then Aunt Wealthy was the one left out, and with her crooked
sentences and backward or opposite rendering of names caused shouts
of merriment. The selling of the forfeits which followed was no less
mirth-provoking. Then the refreshments were brought in; first, several
kinds of cake--the sponge and the farmers' fruit-cake, made after Miss
Stanhope's prescription, as Mrs. Schilling informed her guests, and
one or two other sorts. Elsie declined them all, saying that she never
ate anything in the evening.

"Oh, now that's too bad, Miss Dinsmore! do take a little bit of
something," urged her hostess; "I shall feel real hurt if you don't;
it looks just as if you didn't think my victuals good enough for you
to eat."

"Indeed you must not think that," replied Elsie, blushing deeply.
"Your cake looks very nice, but I always decline evening refreshments;
and that solely because of the injury it would be to my health to
indulge in them."

"Why, you aint delicate, are you? You don't look so; you've as healthy
a color as ever I see; not a bit like as though you had the dyspepsy."

"No, I have never had a touch of dyspepsia, and I think my freedom
from it is largely owing to papa's care of me in regard to what I eat
and when. He has never allowed me to eat cake in the evening."

"Well, I do say! you're the best girl to mind your pa that ever I see!
But you're growed up now--'most of age, I should judge--and I reckon
you've a sort o' right to decide such little matters for yourself. I
don't believe a bit o' either of these would hurt you a mite; and
if it should make you a little out o' sorts just you take a dose of
spirits of pneumonia. That's my remedy for sick stomic, and it cures
me right up, it does."

Elsie smiled, but again gently but firmly declined. "Please don't
tempt me any more, Mrs. Schilling," she said; "for it is a temptation,
I assure you."

"Well, p'raps you'll like the next course better," rejoined her
hostess, moving on.

"She's a splendid cook and the cake is really nice," remarked Lottie
King in a low tone, close at her friend's side.

"Yes, Miss Dinsmore, you'd better try a little of it; I don't believe
it would hurt you, even so much as to call for the spirits of
pneumonia," said Egerton, laughing.

"Oh, look!" whispered Lottie, her eyes twinkling with merriment, "here
comes the second course served up in the most original style."

Mrs. Schilling had disappeared for a moment, to return bearing a
wooden bucket filled with a mixture of candies, raisins and almonds,
and was passing it around among her guests, inviting each to take a

"Now, Miss Dinsmore, you won't refuse to try a few of these?" she
said persuasively, as she neared their corner, "I shall be real
disappointed if you do."

"I am very sorry to decline your kind offer, even more for my own
sake than yours," returned Elsie, laughing and blushing; "for I am
extremely fond of confectionery; but I must say no, thank you."

"Mr. Egerton, do you think 'twas because my cakes and things wasn't
good enough for her that she wouldn't taste 'em?" asked his landlady,
in an aggrieved tone, as the last of the guests departed.

Elsie had gone an hour before, he having had the pleasure of escorting
her and Miss Stanhope across the street, leaving them at their own
door; but he did not need to ask whom Mrs. Schilling meant.

"Oh, no, not at all, my good woman!" he answered. "It was nothing but
filial obedience joined to the fear of losing her exuberant health.
Very wise, too, though your refreshments were remarkably nice."

"Poor Mrs. Sixpence," Lottie King was saying to her sister at that
moment, "she whispered to me that though her party had gone off so
splendidly, she had had two great disappointments,--in Mr. Wert's
absenting himself, and the refusal of the Southern heiress to so much
as taste her carefully prepared dainties."


A goodly apple rotten at the heart;
O what a goodly outside falsehood hath!


In mental power, education, good looks, courtly manners, and general
information Mr. Egerton was decidedly superior to any of the young men
resident in Lansdale; and of this fact no one was better aware than,
himself. He did not confine his attentions to Elsie, and soon found
himself a prime favorite among the ladies of the town. No female
coquette ever coveted the admiration of the other sex more than he,
or sought more assiduously to gain it. He carried on numerous small
flirtations among the belles of the place, yet paid court to Elsie
much oftener than to any one else, using every art of which he was
master in the determined effort to win her affection and to make
himself necessary to her happiness.

He had read many books and seen much of life, having travelled all
over our own country, and visited both Europe and South America; and
possessing a retentive memory, fine descriptive powers, a fund of
humor, and a decided talent for mimicry, was able, when he chose, to
make his conversation exceedingly amusing and interesting, and very
instructive. Also, he seemed all that was good and noble, and she soon
gave him a very warm place in her regard; much warmer than she herself
at first suspected.

According to his own account--and probably it was the truth--Bromly
Egerton had had many hair-breadth escapes from sudden and violent
death. He was telling of one of these in which he had risked and
nearly lost his life from mere love of adventure. Elsie shuddered, and
drew a long breath of relief, as the story reached its close.

"Does it frighten you to hear of such things?" he asked, with a smile.

"Yes, it seems to me a dreadful thing to risk the loss of one's life,
when there is no good to ourselves or others to be gained by it."

"Ah, if you were a man or boy you would understand that more than half
the charm of such adventures lies in the risk."

"But is it right, or wise?"

"A mere matter of taste, or choice, I should say--a long dull life, or
a short and lively one."

Elsie's face had grown very grave. "Are those really your sentiments,
Mr. Egerton?" she asked, in a pained, disappointed tone. "I had
thought better of you."

"I do not understand; have I said anything very dreadful?"

"Is it not a sin to throw away the life which God has given us to be
used in His service?"

"Ah, perhaps that may be so; but I had not looked at it in precisely
that way. I had only thought of the fact that life in this world is
not so very delightful that one need be anxious to continue it for a
hundred years. We grow tired of it at times, and are almost ready to
throw it away; to use your expression."

"Ah, before doing that we should be very sure of going to a better

"But how can we be sure of that, or, indeed, of anything? What is
there that we know absolutely, and beyond question? how can I be sure
of even my own existence? how do I know that I am what I believe
myself to be? There are crazy men who firmly believe themselves kings
and princes, or something else quite as far from the truth; and how do
I know that I am not as much mistaken as they?"

She gave him a look of grieved surprise, and he laughingly asked,
"Well, now, Miss Dinsmore, is there anything of which you really are
absolutely certain? or you, Miss King?" as Lottie drew near the log on
which the two were seated.

They had taken a long ramble through the woods that morning, and
Egerton and Elsie had some ten minutes before sat down here to rest
and wait for their companions, who had wandered a little from the path
they were pursuing.

"Cogito, ergo sum," she answered gayly, "Also I am sure we have had a
very pleasant walk. But isn't it time we were moving toward home?"

"Yes," Elsie answered, consulting her watch.

"That's a pretty little thing," observed Egerton. "May I look at it?"
And he held out his hand.

"One of papa's birthday gifts to his petted only daughter," she said,
with a smile, as she allowed him to take it. "I value it very highly
on that account even more than for its intrinsic worth; though it is
an excellent time-keeper."

"It must have cost a pretty penny; the pearls and diamonds alone must
be worth quite a sum," he said, turning it about and examining it with
eager interest. "I would be careful, Miss Dinsmore, how I let it be
known that I carried anything so valuable about me, or wore it into
lonely places, such as these woods," he added, as he returned it to

"I never come out alone," she said, looking slightly anxious and
troubled; "papa laid his commands upon me never to do so; but I shall
leave it at home in future."

"Riches bring cares; that's the way I comfort myself in my poverty,"
remarked Lottie, lightly. "But, Elsie, my dear, don't allow anxious
fears to disturb you; we are a very moral people at Lansdale; I never
heard of a robbery there yet."

"I believe I am naturally rather timid," said Elsie, "yet I seldom
suffer from fear. I always feel very safe when papa is near to protect
me, and our Heavenly Father's care is always about us."

"That reminds me that you have not answered my question," remarked
Egerton, switching off the head of a clover-blossom with his cane. "Is
the care you speak of one thing of which you feel certain?"

"Yes, and there are others."

"May I ask what?"

She turned her sweet, soft eyes full upon him as she answered in low,
clear tones, "'I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no
good thing.' 'I know that my Redeemer liveth.' 'I know that it shall
be well with them that fear God.'"

"You are quoting?"

"Yes, from a book that I know is true. Do you doubt it, Mr. Egerton?"

"Why, Miss Dinsmore, you do not take me for an infidel, surely?"

"No, until to-day I had hoped you were a Christian."

Her eyes were downcast now, and there were tears in her voice as she
spoke. He saw he had made a false step and lowered himself in her
esteem, yet, remembering his talk with Arthur, he felt certain he
could more than retrieve that error. And he grew exultant in the
thought of the evident pain the discovery of his unbelief had caused
her. "She does care for me; I believe the prize is even now almost
within my reach," he said to himself, as they silently pursued their
way into the town, no one speaking again until they parted at Miss
Stanhope's gate.

Elsie, usually full of innocent mirth and gladness, was very quiet at
dinner that day, and Aunt Wealthy, watching her furtively, thought she
noticed an unwonted shade of sadness on the fair face.

"What is it, dear?" she asked at length; "something seems to have gone
wrong with you."

The young girl replied by repeating the substance of the morning's
talk with Mr. Egerton, and expressing her disappointment at the
discovery that he was not the Christian man she had taken him to be.

"Perhaps what you have taken in earnest, was but spoken in jest, my
child," said Miss Stanhope.

"Ah, auntie, but a Christian surely could not say such things even
in jest," she answered, with a little sigh, and a look of sorrowful
concern on her face.

Half an hour later, Elsie sat reading in the abode of the vine-covered
porch, while her aunt enjoyed her customary after-dinner nap. She
presently heard the gate swing to, and the next moment Mr. Egerton was
helping himself to a seat by her side.

"I hope I don't intrude, Miss Dinsmore," he began, assuming a slightly
embarrassed air.

"Oh, no, not at all," she answered, closing her book; "but aunt is
lying down, and--"

"Ah, no matter; I wouldn't have her disturbed for the World; and in
fact I am rather glad of the opportunity of seeing you alone. I--I
have been thinking a good deal of that talk we had this morning,
and--I am really quite shocked at the sentiments I then expressed,
though they were spoken more than half in jest. Miss Dinsmore, I am
not a Christian, but--but I want to be, and would, if I only knew how;
and I've come to you to learn the way; for somehow I seem to feel that
you could make the thing plainer to me than any one else. What must I
do first?"

Glad tears shone in the soft eyes she lifted to his face as she
answered, "'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'
Believe, 'only believe.'"

"But I must do something?"

"'Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts,
and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and
to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.'"

The man was an arrant knave and hypocrite, simulating anxiety about
his soul's salvation only for the purpose of ingratiating himself
with Elsie; but "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,"
pricked him for the moment, as she wielded it in faith and prayer.
What ways, what thoughts were his! Truly they had need to be forsaken
if he would hope ever to see that holy city of which we are told
"There shall in no wise enter it anything that defileth, neither
whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie."

For a moment he sat silent and abashed before the gentle, earnest
young Christian, feeling her very purity a reproach, and fearing that
she must read his hypocrisy and the baseness of his motives in his

But hers was a most innocent and unsuspicious nature, apt to believe
others as true and honest as herself. She went on presently. "It is so
beautifully simple and easy,--God's way of saving us poor sinners:
it is its very simplicity that so stumbles wise men and women, while
little children, in their sweet trustfulness, just taking God at His
word, understand it without any difficulty." She spoke in a musing
tone, not looking at Egerton at all, but with her eyes fixed
meditatingly upon the floor.

He perceived that she had no doubts of his sincerity, and rallying
from the thrust she had so unconsciously given him, went on with the
rôle he had laid down for himself.

"I fear I am one of the wise ones you speak of, for I confess I do not
see the way yet. Can you not explain it more fully?"

"I will try," she said. "You believe that you are a sinner deserving
of God's wrath?"


"You have broken His law, and His justice demands your punishment; but
Jesus has kept its requirements, and borne its penalty in your
stead, and now offers you his righteousness and salvation as a free
gift,--'without money and without price.'"

"But what am I to do?"

"Simply take the offered gift."

"But how? I fear I must seem very obtuse, but I really do not

"Then ask for the teachings of the Spirit; ask Jesus to give you
repentance and faith. 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one
that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that
knocketh, it shall be opened."

Elsie's voice was low and pleading, her tones were tremulous with
earnest entreaty, the eyes she lifted to his face were half filled
with tears; for she felt that the eternal interests of her hearer were
trembling in the balance.

He looked at her admiringly, and, lost in the contemplation of her
beauty, had almost betrayed himself by his want of interest in what
she was saying. But just then Miss Stanhope joined them, and shortly
after he took his leave.

From this time Egerton played his part with consummate skill,
deceiving Elsie so completely that she had not the slightest doubt of
his being an humble, penitent, rejoicing believer; and great were her
joy and thankfulness when he told her that she had been the means of
leading him to Christ; that her words had made the way plain to him,
as he had never been able to see it before. It seemed to her a very
tender, strong tie between them, and he appeared to feel it to be so

She was not conscious of looking upon him in the light of a lover, but
he saw with secret exultation that he was fast winning her heart; he
read it in the flushing of her cheek and the brightening of her eye at
his approach, and in many other unmistakable signs. He wrote to Arthur
that the prize was nearly won; so nearly that he had no doubt of his
ultimate success.

"And I'll not be long now about finishing up the job," he continued;
"it's such precious hard work to be so good and pious all the time,
that I can hardly wait till matters are fully ripe for action. I'm
in constant danger of letting the mask slip aside in some unguarded
moment, and so undoing the whole thing after the world of trouble it
has cost me. It's no joke, I can assure you, for a man of my tastes
and habits to lead the sort of life I've led for the last three
months, I believe I'd give her up this minute, fortune and all, if the
winning of them would lay me under the necessity of continuing it for
the rest of my days, or even for any length of time. But once the knot
is tied, and the property secured, there'll be an end of this farce.
I'll let her know I'm done with cant, will neither talk it nor listen
to it."

Arthur Dinsmore's face darkened as he read, and in a sudden burst of
fury he tore the letter into fragments, then threw them into the empty
grate. He was not yet so hardened as to feel willing to see Elsie in
the power of such a heartless wretch, such a villain as he knew Tom
Jackson to be. Many times already had he bitterly repented of having
told him of her wealth, and helped him to an acquaintance with her.
His family pride revolted against the connection, and some latent
affection for his niece prompted him to save her from the life of
misery that must be hers as the wife of one so utterly devoid of honor
or integrity.

Yet Arthur lacked the moral courage to face the disagreeable
consequences of a withdrawal from his compact with Jackson, and a
confession to his father or Horace of the wretch's designs upon Elsie
and his own disgraceful entanglement with him. He concluded to take a
middle course. He wrote immediately to Jackson, somewhat haughtily,
advising him at once to give up the whole thing.

"You will inevitably fail to accomplish your end," he said. "Elsie
will never marry without her father's consent, and that you will find
it utterly impossible to gain. Horace is too sharp to be hoodwinked or
deceived, even by you. He will ferret out your whole past, lay bare
the whole black record of your rascalities and hypocrisies, and forbid
his daughter ever again to hold the slightest communication with you.
And she will obey if it kills her on the spot."

"There's some comfort in that last reflection," muttered Arthur to
himself, as he folded and sealed his epistle; "no danger of the rascal
getting into the family."

Two days later, Egerton took this letter from the post-office in
Lansdale. He read it with a scowl on his brow. "Ah! I see your game,
young man," he muttered with an oath, "but you'll find that you've got
hold of the wrong customer. My reply shall be short and sweet, and
quite to the point."

It ran thus: "Your warning and advice come too late, my young friend;
the mischief is already wrought, and however unworthy your humble
servant may be deemed by yourself or others of its members to become
connected with the illustrious D---- family, they will find they
cannot help themselves; the girl loves me, and believes in me, and I
defy all the fathers and relations in creation to keep us apart." Then
followed some guarded allusions to various sums of borrowed money, and
so-called "debts of honor," and to some compact by which they were to
be annulled, accompanied by a threat of exposure if that agreement
were not kept to the very letter.


Thou shall not see me blush,
Nor change my countenance for this arrest.


It was a sultry summer night. In the grounds of one of the largest and
most beautiful of the many elegant country seats to be found in the
suburbs of Cincinnati two gentlemen were pacing leisurely to and fro.

They were friends who had met that day for the first time in several
years; strongly attached friends, spite of a very considerable
difference in their ages. They had had much to say to each other for
the first few hours, but it was now several minutes since either had

The silence was broken by the younger of the two exclaiming in a tone
of hearty congratulation, "This is a magnificent place, Beresford! It
does my heart good to see you so prosperous!"

"It is a fine place, Travilla, but," and he heaved a deep sigh, "I
sometimes fear my wealth is to prove anything but a blessing to my
children; that in fact my success in acquiring it is to be the ruin of
my first-born."

"Ah, I hope not! Is Rudolph not doing well?"

"Well?" groaned the father, dropping his head upon his breast, "he
seems to be rushing headlong to destruction. Have you not noticed his
poor mother's sad and careworn look? or mine? That boy is breaking
our hearts. I could not speak of it to every one, but to you, my
long-tried friend, I feel that I may unburden myself, sure of genuine
sympathy--" And he went on to tell how his son, becoming early imbued
with the idea that his father's wealth precluded all necessity of
exertion on his part, had grown up in habits of idleness that led to
dissipation, and going on from bad to worse, was now a drunkard, a
gambler, and frequenter of low haunts of vice.

"Day and night he is a heavy burden upon our hearts," continued the
unhappy father; "when he is with us we find it most distressing to
behold the utter wreck his excesses are making of him, and when he
is out of our sight it is still worse; for we don't know what sin
or danger he may be running into. Indeed at times we are almost
distracted. Ah, Travilla, much as I love my wife and children, I
am half tempted to envy your bachelor exemption from such care and

Mr. Travilla's kind heart was deeply moved. He felt painfully
conscious of his own inability to comfort in such sorrow; but spoke
of God's power to change the heart of the most hardened sinner, his
willingness to save, and his promises to those who seek his aid in the
time of trouble.

"Thank you. I knew you would feel for us; your sympathy does me good,"
returned Mr. Beresford, grasping his friend's hand and pressing it
between his own; "your words too; for however well we know these
truths we are apt to forget them, even when they are most needed.

"But it is growing late, and you must be weary after your journey. Let
me show you to your room."

Three days passed in which Rudolph was not once seen in his home, and
his parents were left in ignorance of his whereabouts. They exerted
themselves for the pleasure and entertainment of their guest, but
he could see plainly that they were enduring torture of anxiety and

Late in the evening of the third day, Mr. Beresford said to him, "My
carriage is at the door. I must go into town and search for my boy. I
have done so vainly several times since he last left his home, but I
must try again to-night. Will you go with me?"

Travilla consented with alacrity, and they set out at once.

While on their way to the city Mr. Beresford explained that, for some
time past, he had had reason to fear that his son was frequenting one
of its gambling-hells; that thus far he had failed in his efforts to
gain admittance, in order to search for him; but to-day, a professed
gambler, well known in the house; had come to him and offered his

"As his convoy, I think we shall get in," added Mr. Beresford. "I
cannot fathom the man's motives, but suspect he owes a grudge to a
newcomer, who, he says, is winning large sums from Rudolph. I shall
drive to Smith's livery stable, leave my horse and carriage there,
then walk on to the place, which is only a few squares distant. Our
guide is to meet us at the first corner from Smith's."

This programme was carried out, their guide was in waiting at the
appointed place, and at once conducted them to the gambling-house Mr.
Beresford had spoken of. They were admitted without question or demur,
and in another moment found themselves standing beside a table where a
number of men were at play, nearly all so absorbed in their game as to
seem entirely unconscious of the presence of spectators.

Two of them, pitted against each other, and both young, though there
must have been several years' difference in their ages, particularly
attracted Travilla's attention; and glancing at his friend, he saw
that it was the same with him,--that his eyes were fixed upon the face
of the younger of the two, with an expression of keen distress, while
he trembled with emotion, and almost gasped for breath, as he leaned
toward him, and whispered, "It is he--my son."

At the same instant the young man's face grew deadly pale, he started
up with a wild, ringing cry, "I am ruined!" drew a pistol from his
breast, and placed the muzzle to his mouth.

But Mr. Travilla, springing forward, struck it from his hand ere he
could pull the trigger.

A scene of much excitement and confusion followed, in the midst of
which young Beresford was led away by his father and Travilla.

A week later the latter gentleman reached Lansdale, arriving there in
the early morning train. He put up at its principal hotel, and having
refreshed himself by a few hours' sleep, a bath, and breakfast,
inquired the way to Miss Stanhope's.

Elsie was just coming down the front stairway, as he appeared before
the open door, and was about to ring for admittance.

"Oh, Mr. Travilla, my dear old friend! who would have expected to see
you here?" she cried, in delighted surprise, as she bounded forward to
meet him, with both hands extended in joyous greeting.

He took them in his, and kissed her first on one cheek, then on the
other. "Still fresh and blooming as a rose, and with the same happy
light in the sweet brown eyes," he said, gazing fondly into their
tender depths.

"And you are the same old flatterer," she answered gayly, a rich color
mantling her cheek. "Come in and sit down. But oh, tell me when did
you see papa last? and mamma, and little Horace? Ah! the sight of you
makes me homesick for them."

"I left them at Cape May, about a fortnight since, all well and happy,
but missing you very much. I think papa will hardly be able to do
without his darling much longer."

"Nor his darling without him. Oh, dear! sometimes I get to wanting him
so badly that I feel as if I should have to write to him to come for
me at once. But excuse me while I go and call Aunt Wealthy."

"Not yet; let us have a little chat together first."

Of course, after so long a separation, such old and tried friends
would find a great deal to say to each other. The time slipped away
very fast, and half an hour afterward Mr. Egerton, coming in without
ringing--a liberty he sometimes took of late--found them seated close
together on the sofa, talking earnestly, Elsie with her hand in that
of her friend, and a face even brighter and happier than its wont.

Mr. Travilla had one of those faces that often seem to come to a
stand-still as regards age, and to scarcely know any change for many
years. He was at this time thirty-four, but would have passed readily
for twenty-fire. Egerton thought him no more than that, and at once
took him for a successful rival.

"Excuse me, Miss Dinsmore," he said, bowing stiffly, "I should have
waited to ring, but--"

"Oh, never mind, Mr. Egerton," she said; "let me introduce you to my
old friend, Mr. Travilla--"

But she stopped in astonishment and dismay. Mr. Travilla had risen,
and the two stood confronting each other like mortal foes.

Mr. Travilla was the first to speak. "I have met you before, sir!" he
said with stern indignation.

"Indeed! that must be a mistake, sir, for upon my word and honor I
never set eyes on you before."

"Your honor! the honor of a sharper, a black-leg, a ----"

"Sir, do you mean to insult me? by what right do you apply such
epithets to me? Pray where did you ever meet me?"

"In a gambling-hell in Cincinnati; the time, one week ago to-night;
the occasion, the playing of a game of cards between young Beresford
and yourself in which you were the winner--by what knavery you best
know--the stakes so heavy that, on perceiving that he had lost,
the young man cried out that he was ruined, and in his mad despair
attempted self-destruction. It is quite possible that you may not have
observed me in the crowd that gathered about your wretched victim; but
I can never forget the face of the man who had wrought his ruin."

Egerton's countenance expressed the utmost astonishment and
incredulity. "I have not been in Cincinnati for two months," he
averred, "and all I know of that affair I have learned from the
daily papers. But I shall not stay here to be insulted by you,
sir. Good-afternoon, Miss Dinsmore. I hope to be allowed an early
opportunity to explain this, and to be able to do so to your entire

He bowed and withdrew, hastening from the house with the rapid step of
one who is filled with a just indignation.

Mr. Travilla turned to Elsie. She was sitting there on the sofa, with
her hands clasped in her lap, and a look of terror and anguish on her
face, from which every trace of color had fled.

His own grew almost as pale, and his voice shook, as again sitting
down beside her, and laying his hand on hers, he said, "My poor child!
can it be possible that you care for that wretch?"

"Oh, don't!" she whispered hoarsely and turning away her face; "I
cannot believe it; there must be some dreadful mistake."

Then, recovering her composure by a mighty effort, she rose and
introduced her aunt, who entered the room at that moment.

Mr. Travilla sat for some time conversing with her, Elsie joining in
occasionally, but with a tone and manner from which all the brightness
and vivacity had fled; then he went away, declining a pressing
invitation to stay to dinner, but promising to be there to tea.

The moment he was gone Miss Stanhope was busied in beating up her
cushions, and Elsie flew to her room, where she walked back and forth
in a state of great agitation. But the dinner-bell rang, and composing
herself as well as she could, she went down. Her cheeks were burning,
and she seemed unnaturally gay, but ate very little as her aunt
noticed with concern.

The meal was scarcely over, when a ring at the door-bell was followed
by the sound of Mr. Egerton's voice asking for Miss Dinsmore.

"Ah!" said Miss Stanhope with an arch smile, "he does not ask this
hour for me; knowing it's the time of my siesta."

Elsie found Egerton pacing the parlor floor to and fro. He took her
hand, led her to the sofa, and sitting down by her side, began at once
to defend himself against Mr. Travilla's charge. He told her he had
never been guilty of gambling; he had "sowed some wild oats," years
ago--getting slightly intoxicated on two or three occasions, and
things of that sort--but it was all over and repented of; and surely
she could not think it just and right that it should be brought up
against him now.

As to Mr. Travilla's story--the only way he could account for the
singular mistake was in the fact that he had a cousin who bore the
same name as himself, and resembled him so closely that they had
been frequently mistaken for each other. And that cousin, most
unfortunately, especially on account of the likeness, did both drink
and gamble. He was delighted by the look of relief that came over
Elsie's face, as he told her this. She cared for him, then; yet her
confidence had been shaken.

"Ah, you doubted me, then?" he said in a tone of sorrowful reproach.

"Oh! I could not bear to think it possible. I was sure there must be a
mistake somewhere," she said with a beautiful smile.

"But you are quite satisfied now?"


Then he told her he loved her very dearly, better than his own soul;
that he found he could not live without her; life would not be worth
having, unless she would consent to share it with him. "Would she, oh!
would she promise some day to be his own precious little wife?"

Elsie listened with downcast, blushing face, and soft eyes beaming
with joy; for the events of that day had revealed to her the fact that
this man had made himself master of her heart.

"Will you not give to me a word of hope?" pleaded Egerton.

"I--I cannot, must not, without my father's permission," she faltered,
"and oh! he forbade me to listen to anything of the kind. I am too
young he says."

"When was that?"

"Three years ago."

"Ah! but you are older now; and you will let me write and ask his
consent? I may say that you are not quite indifferent to me?"

"Yes," she murmured, turning her sweet, blushing face away from his
ardent gaze.

"Thank you, dearest, a thousand thanks!" he cried, pressing her hand
in his. "And now may I ask who and what that Mr. Travilla is?"

She explained, winding up by saying that he was much like a second
father to her.

"Father!" he exclaimed, "he doesn't look a day over twenty-five."

"He is about two years younger than papa and doesn't look any younger,
I think," she answered with a smile. "But strangers are very apt to
take papa for my brother."

Egerton left an hour before Mr. Travilla came, and that hour Elsie
spent in her own room in a state of great excitement,--now full of the
sweet joy of loving and being loved, now trembling with apprehension
at the thought of the probable effect of Mr. Travilla's story upon her
father. She was fully convinced of Egerton's truth and innocence; yet
quite aware that his explanation might not prove so satisfactory to
Mr. Dinsmore.

"Oh, papa, papa!" she murmured, as she paced restlessly to and fro,
"how can I obey if you bid me give him up? And yet I must. I know it
will be my duty, and that I must."

"What a color you hab in your cheeks, darlin'! an' how your eyes
do shine. I'se 'fraid you's gettin' a fever," said Chloe, with an
anxious, troubled gaze into her young lady's face, as she came in to
dress her for the evening.

"Oh, no, mammy, I am perfectly well," Elsie answered with a slight
laugh. Then seating herself before the glass, "Now do your best," she
said gayly, "for we are to have company to tea. I doubt if you can
guess whom?"

"Den 'spose my pet saves her ole mammy de trouble. 'Taint massa, for

"No, not quite so welcome a guest; but one you'll be delighted to see.
Mr. Travilla."

"Ki, darlin'! he not here?"

"Yes, he came this morning. Ah! I knew you'd be delighted."

Elsie knew that it would require the very strongest proof to convince
her father of the truth of Mr. Egerton's story, but hoped to find Mr.
Travilla much more ready to give it credence. She was proportionably
disappointed when, on hearing it from her, he scouted it as utterly
unworthy of belief, or even examination.

"No, my child," he said, "the man's face is indelibly impressed upon
my memory, and I can not be mistaken in his identity."

Elsie's face flushed crimson, and indignant tears sprang to her eyes
and trembled in her voice as she answered, "I never knew you so
uncharitable before, sir. I could not have believed it of my
kind-hearted, generous old friend."

He gave her a very troubled, anxious look, as he replied, "Why should
you take it so to heart, Elsie? Surely this man is nothing to you."

"He is to be some day, if papa will permit," she murmured, turning
away her blushing face from his gaze.

Mr. Travilla uttered a groan, made two or three rapid turns across the
room, and coming back to her side, laid his hand in an affectionate,
fatherly manner upon her shoulder.

"My dear," he said with emotion, "I don't know when I have heard
anything that distressed me so much; or that could give such pain and
distress to your doting father."

"Mr. Travilla, you will not, you cannot be so unkind, so cruel, as to
try to persuade papa to think as you do of--of Mr. Egerton?"

Her tone was half indignant, half imploring, and her eyes were lifted
pleadingly to his face.

"My poor child," he said, "I could not be so cruel to you as to leave
him in ignorance of any of the facts; but I shall not attempt to
bias his judgment; nor would it avail if I did. Your father is an
independent thinker, and will make up his mind for himself."

"And against poor Bromly," thought Elsie, with an emotion of anguish,
and something akin to rebellion rising in her heart.

Mr. Travilla read it all in her speaking countenance. "Do not fear
your father's decision, my little friend." he said, sitting down
beside her again, "he is very just, and you are as the apple of his
eye. He will sift the matter thoroughly, and decide as he shall deem
best for your happiness. Can you not trust his wisdom and his love?"

"I know he loves me very dearly, Mr. Travilla, but--he is only human,
and may make a mistake."

"Then try to leave it all in the hands of your heavenly Father, who
cannot err, who is infinite in wisdom, power, and in His love for

"I will try," she said with a quivering lip. "Now please talk to me
of something else. Tell me of that young man. Did you say he shot

"Young Beresford, my friend's son? No, he was prevented." And he went
on to tell of Rudolph's horror and remorse on account of that rash
act, and of the excesses that led to it; also of the trembling hope
his parents and friends were beginning to indulge that he was now
truly penitent, and, clothed in his right mind, was sitting at the
Saviour's feet.

Elsie listened with interest. They had had the parlor to themselves
for an hour or more, Miss Stanhope having received an unexpected
summons to the bedside of a sick neighbor.

She was with them at tea, and during most of the evening, but left
them alone together for a moment just before Mr. Travilla took his
leave, and he seized the opportunity to say to Elsie that he thought
she ought to refrain from further intercourse with Egerton till she
should learn her father's will in regard to the matter.

"I cannot promise--I will think of it," she said with a look of

"You write frequently to your papa?"

"Every day."

"I know you would not wish to deceive him in the least. Will you tell
him what I conceive to be the facts in regard to Mr. Egerton? or shall

"I cannot, oh, I cannot!" she murmured, turning away her face.

"Then I shall spare you the painful task, by, doing it myself, my poor
child. I shall write to-night."

She was silent, but he could see the tumultuous heaving of her breast,
and the tears glistening on the heavy drooping lashes that swept her
pale cheek. His heart bled for her, while his indignation waxed hot
against the hypocritical scoundrel who, he feared, had succeeded only
too well in wrecking her happiness.

She had described to him Egerton's character as he had made it appear
to her, telling of their conversations on religious subjects, his
supposed conversion, etc., etc.; thus unintentionally enabling
Travilla to see clearly through the man's base designs. He silently
resolved to stay in Lansdale and watch over her until her father's

"You ride out daily?" he inquired.

"Yes, sir."

"May I be your escort to-morrow?"

She cast down her eyes, which she had lifted to his face for an
instant, blushing painfully. It seemed an effort for her to reply, and
the words came slowly, and with hesitation. "I--should be glad to have
you, sir; you know I have always valued your society, but--Mr. Egerton
always goes with us--Lottie King and me--of late; and--and I can
hardly suppose either of you would now find the company of the other

"No, Elsie; but what do you think your father would wish?"

"I know he would be glad to have me under your care, and if you don't
mind the unpleasantness."

"My dear, I would cheerfully endure far more than that, to watch over
your father's child. You will not let this unhappy circumstance turn
you against your old friend? I could hardly bear that, little Elsie."
And he drew her toward him caressingly.

"Oh, no, no! I don't think anything could do that; you've always been
so good to me--almost a second father."

He released her hand with a slight involuntary sigh, as at that
instant Miss Stanhope re-entered the room. The two were standing by
the piano, Mr. Travilla having risen from one of the cushioned chairs
to draw near to Elsie while talking to her. Miss Stanhope flew to the
chair, caught up the cushion, shook it, laid it down again, and with
two or three little loving pats restored it to its normal condition of
perfect roundness. Mr. Travilla watched her with a surprised, puzzled

"Have I done any mischief, Elsie?" he asked in an undertone.

"Oh, no!" she answered with a faint smile, "it's only auntie's way."

Their visitor had gone, and Elsie turned to her aunt to say

"Something is wrong with you, child; can't you tell the trouble to
your old auntie, and let her try to comfort you?" Miss Stanhope asked,
putting an arm about the slender waist, and scanning the sweet face,
usually so bright and rosy, now so pale and agitated, with a look of
keen but loving scrutiny.

Then, in broken words, and with many a little half-sobbing sigh and
one or two scalding tears, hastily brushed away, Elsie told the whole
painful story, secure of warm sympathy from the kind heart to which
she was so tenderly folded.

Miss Stanhope believed in Bromly Egerton almost as firmly as Elsie
herself; what comfort there was in that! She believed too in the
inspired assurances that "all things work together for good to them
that love God," and that He is the hearer and answerer of prayer. She
reminded her niece of them; bade her cast her burden on the Lord and
leave it there, and cheered her with the hope that Bromly would be
able to prove to her father that Mr. Travilla was entirely mistaken.


My heart has been like summer skies,
When they are fair to view;
But there never yet were hearts or skies
Clouds might not wander through.


Walter Dinsmore was doing well at college, studying hard, and keeping
himself out of bad company. In this last he might not have been so
successful but for his brother's assistance; for, though choosing his
own associates from among the dissolute and vile, Arthur resolutely
exerted himself to preserve this young brother from such
contamination. "I've enough sins of my own to answer for, Wal," he
would say, sometimes almost fiercely, "and I won't have any of
yours added to 'em; nobody shall say I led you into bad company, or
initiated you into my own evil courses."

For months Arthur's spirits had been very variable, his frequent fits
of gloom, alternating with unnatural gayety, exciting Walter's wonder
and sympathy.

"I cannot imagine what ails him," he said to himself again and again;
for Arthur utterly refused to tell him the secret of his despondency.

It had been almost constant since the receipt of Egerton's last
epistle, and Walter was debating in his own mind whether he ought not
to speak of it in his next letter to their mother, when one night he
was wakened by a sudden blow from Arthur's hand, and started up to
find him rolling and tossing, throwing his arms about, and muttering
incoherently in the delirium of fever.

It was the beginning of a very serious illness. It was pronounced
such by the physician called in by Walter at an early hour the next
morning, and the boy sat down with a heavy heart to write the sad
tidings to his parents.

While doing so he was startled by hearing Arthur pronounce Elsie's
name in connection with words that seemed to imply that some danger
threatened her. He rose and went to the bedside, asking, "What's wrong
with Elsie, Art?"

"I say, Tom Jackson, she'll never take you. Horace won't consent."

"I should think not, indeed!" muttered Walter. Then leaning over his
brother, "Art, I say, Art! what is it all about? Has Tom Jackson gone
to Lansdale?"

No answer, save an inarticulate murmur that might be either assent or

The doctor had promised to send a nurse and, as Walter now glanced
about the room, the thought occurred to him that it would seem very
disorderly to the woman. Arthur's clothes lay in a heap over the back
of a chair, just as he had thrown them down on retiring.

"I can at least hang these in the closet," thought Walter, picking up
the jacket.

A letter fell from the pocket upon the floor.

"Jackson's handwriting, I declare!" he exclaimed, with a start of
surprise, as he stooped to pick it up. It was without an envelope,
written in a bold, legible hand, and unintentionally he read the date,
"Lansdale, Ohio, Aug. -- 185-," and farther down the page some parts
of sentences connected with the "D---- family" ... "can't help
themselves" ... "the girl loves me and believes in me."

He glanced at the bed. Arthur's eyes were closed. He looked down at
the letter again; there was the signature "T. J., alias B. E."

"It's a conspiracy; there's mischief brewing, and I believe I ought to
read it," he muttered; then, turning his back toward the bed, perused
every word of it with close attention.

It was sufficient to give him a clear insight into the whole affair.
Elsie's letters had of late spoken quite frequently of Mr. Bromly
Egerton, and so he was the "T. J., alias B. E." of this epistle, the
Tom Jackson who had been the ruin of Arthur.

"The wretch! the sneaking, hypocritical scoundrel!" muttered Walter
between his teeth, and glancing again at the bed, though the epithet
was meant to apply to Jackson and not to Arthur. "What can I do to
circumvent him? Write to Horace, of course, and warn him of Elsie's
danger." And though usually vacillating and infirm of purpose, on this
occasion Walter showed himself both prompt and decided. The next mail
carried the news of his discovery to Elsie's natural protector,--her
father, who with Rose, the Allison family, and little Horace, was
still at Gape May.

This letter and the three from Lansdale were handed Mr. Dinsmore
together. He opened Elsie's first. The contents puzzled, surprised,
and alarmed him. They were merely a few hastily written lines of
touching entreaty that he would not be angry, but would please forgive
her for giving her heart to one of whom he knew nothing, and daring to
let him speak to her of love; and that he would not believe anything
against him until he had heard his defence.

With a murmured "My poor darling! you have been too long away from
your father," Mr. Dinsmore laid it down and opened the one directed in
a strange hand; rightly supposing it to come from the person to whom
she alluded.

Egerton spoke in glowing terms of his admiration for Elsie's character
and personal charms, and the ardent love with which they had inspired
him, and modestly of his own merits. Ignoring all knowledge of her
fortune, he said that he had none, but was engaged in a flourishing
business which would enable him to support her in comfort and to
surround her with most of the elegancies and luxuries of life to which
she had been accustomed. Lastly he alluded in a very pious strain to
the deep debt of gratitude he owed her as the one who had been the
means of his hopeful conversion; said she had acknowledged that she
returned his affection, and earnestly begged for the gift of her hand.

Mr. Dinsmore gave this missive an attentive perusal, laid it aside,
and opened Mr. Travilla's.

Rose was in the room, putting little Horace to bed. She had heard his
little prayer, given him his good-night kiss, and now the child ran to
his father to claim the same from him.

It was given mechanically, and Mr. Dinsmore returned to his letter.
The child lingered a moment, gazing earnestly into his father's face,
troubled by its paleness and the frown on his brow.

"Papa," he said softly, leaning with confiding affection upon his
knee, "dear papa, are you angry with me? have I been a naughty boy,

"No, son; but I am reading; don't disturb me now."

Mr. Dinsmore's hand rested caressingly on the curly head for an
instant and the boy turned away satisfied. But Rose was not. Coming to
her husband's side the next moment, and laying her hand affectionately
on his shoulder, "What is it, dear?" she asked, "has anything gone
wrong with our darling, or at home?"

"Trouble for her, I fear, Rose. Read these," he answered with emotion,
putting Elsie's, Egerton's, and Travilla's letters into her hands,
then opening Walter's.

"Travilla is right! the man is an unmitigated scoundrel!" he cried,
starting up with great excitement. "Rose, I must be off by the next
train; it leaves in half an hour. I shall go alone and take only a
portmanteau with me. Can it be got ready in season?"

"Yes, dear, I will pack it at once myself. But what is wrong? Where
are you going? and how long will you be away?"

"To my brother's first--Arthur is seriously ill, and I must get hold
of evidence that Walter can supply--then on to Lansdale with all speed
to rescue Elsie from the wiles of a gambling, swindling, hypocritical,
fortune-hunting rascal!"

At a very early hour of the next morning, Walter Dinsmore was roused
from his slumbers by, a knock at his door.

"Who's there?" he asked, starting up in bed.

"I, Walter," answered a well-known voice, and with a joyful
exclamation he sprang to the door, and opened it.

"Horace! how glad I am to see you! I hardly dared hope you could get
here so soon."

"Your news was of the sort to hasten a man's movements," returned Mr.
Dinsmore, holding the lad's hand in a warm brotherly grasp. "How are
you? and how's Arthur now?"

"About the same. Hark! you may hear him moaning and muttering. This is
our study. I have had that cot-bed brought in here, and given up the
bedroom to him and the nurse; though I'm with him a good deal too."

"You have a good nurse, and the best medical advice?"


"You must see that he has every comfort, Walter; let no expense be
spared, nothing left undone that may alleviate his sufferings or
assist his recovery. What is the physician's opinion of the case?"

"He is not very communicative to me; may be more so to you. You'll
stay and see him when he calls, won't you?"

"What time? I must be off again by the first train. I want to reach
Lansdale to-morrow."

"It will give you time to do that. He calls early."

"Now take me to Arthur; and then I must see that letter, and hear all
you have to tell me in regard to that matter."

"What does Elsie say?" asked Walter, with intense interest; "do you
think she cares for him?"

"I'm afraid she does," and Mr. Dinsmore shook his head sadly.

"Oh, dear! but you won't allow--"

"Certainly not; 'twould be to entail upon her a life of misery."

"It's her fortune he's after, that's evident, and indeed I would hurry
to Lansdale, if I were you, lest they might take it into their heads
to elope. Such a shame as it would be for him to get her--the dear,
sweet darling!"

"I have no fear that Elsie could ever be so lost to her sense of
filial duty; nor, I am sure, have you, Walter," answered Mr. Dinsmore

"No, Horace; and it's the greatest relief and comfort to me just now
to know how truly obedient and affectionate she is to you."

Horace Dinsmore omitted nothing that he could do to add to the comfort
of his brothers, saw the physician and learned from him that he had
good hopes of a naturally vigorous constitution bringing Arthur safely
through the attack from which he was suffering, examined the evidence
Walter was able to furnish that Bromly Egerton and Tom Jackson were
one and the same--a man in whom every vice abounded--found time to
show an interest in Walter's studies and pastimes, and was ready to
leave by the train of which he had spoken.

Jackson had not been wary enough to disguise his hand in either the
letter that had fallen from Arthur's pocket, or the one written to Mr.
Dinsmore, and a careful comparison of the two had proved conclusively
that they were the work of the same person. The broken sentences
that occasionally fell from Arthur's lips in his delirious ravings
furnished another proof not less strong. Also Walter had managed to
secure an excellent photograph of Jackson, which Mr. Dinsmore carried
with him, safely bestowed in the breast-pocket of his coat. He had
studied it attentively and felt sure he should be able instantly to
recognize the original.

Bromly Egerton lay awake most of the night following his passage at
arms with Mr. Travilla, considering the situation, and how he would be
most likely to secure the coveted prize. He remembered perfectly well
all that Arthur Dinsmore had said about the difficulty of deceiving or
outwitting his brother, and the impossibility of persuading Elsie to
disobedience. Of the latter, he had had convincing proof that day, in
her firm refusal to engage herself to him without first obtaining her
father's consent. The conclusion he came to was, that should he remain
inactive until Mr. Dinsmore's arrival, his chances of success were
exceedingly small; in fact that his only hope lay in running away with
Elsie, and afterwards persuading her into a clandestine marriage.

Their ride was to be taken shortly after an early breakfast, there
being a sort of tacit understanding that he was to accompany the young
ladies; but before Elsie had left her room, Chloe came up with a
message. "Marse Egerton in de parlor, darlin', axin could he see my
young missis for five minutes, just now."

Elsie went down at once. Her visitor stood with his back toward
the door, apparently intently studying the pattern of her
great-great-grandmother's sampler, but turning instantly at the
sound of the light, quick footstep, came eagerly toward her with
outstretched hand.

"Excuse this early call, dearest, but--ah, how lovely you are looking
this morning!" and bending his head he drew her toward him.

But she stepped back, avoiding the intended caress, while a crimson
tide rushed over the fair face and neck, and her eyes sought the

"We are not engaged, Mr. Egerton; cannot be till papa has given

"I beg ten thousand pardons," he said, coloring violently in his turn,
and feeling his hopes grow fainter.

"Will you not take a seat?" she asked, gently withdrawing her hand
from his.

"Thank you, no; I have but a moment to stay. My errand was to ask if
we could not so arrange it as, for once at least, to have our ride
alone together? Miss Lottie is a very nice girl, but I would give much
to have my darling all to myself to-day."

"I would like it much too, very much, but papa bade me always have a
lady friend with me; and--and besides," she added with hesitation, and
blushing more deeply than before, "papa's friend. Mr. Travilla, is to
go with us. I--I have promised that he shall be my escort to-day."

Egerton was furious, and had much ado to conceal the fact; indeed,
came very near uttering a horrible oath, and thus forever ruining his
hopes. He bit his lips and kept silent, but Elsie saw that he was

"Do not be offended or hurt," she said; "do not suppose that I
followed my own inclination in consenting to such an arrangement. No,
I only acted from a sense of duty; knowing that it was what papa would

"And you would put his wishes before mine? Love him best, I presume?"

"He is my father, and entitled to my obedience, whether present or

"But what very strict ideas you must have on that subject! do you
really think it your duty to obey his wishes as well as his command?"

"I do; that is the kind of obedience he has taught me, that the Bible
teaches, and that my love for him would dictate. I love my father very
dearly, Mr. Egerton."

"I should think so, indeed; but you must pardon me if at present I am
far more concerned about your love for me," he said, with a forced
laugh. "As for this Travilla, I can hardly be expected to feel any
great cordiality toward him after his attack upon me yesterday; and
I am free to confess that it would not cause me great grief to learn
that some sudden illness or accident had occurred to prevent his
spoiling our ride to-day."

"Your feelings are perfectly natural; but, believe me, Mr. Travilla
has the kindest of hearts, and when he learns his mistake will be most
anxious to do all in his power to make amends for it. Will you stay
and take breakfast with us?" For at that instant the bell rang.

"No, thank you," he said, moving toward the door. "But promise me,
Elsie, that I shall be your escort after this until your father comes.
Surely love may claim so small a concession from duty."

She could not resist his persuasive look and tone, but with a smile
and a blush gave the promise for which he pleaded.

Procuring as fine a horse as his landlord could furnish, Mr. Travilla
rode to Miss Stanhope's, and alighting at the gate, walked up to the

He found its mistress on the front porch, picking dead leaves from her
vines. She had mounted a step ladder to reach some that otherwise
were too high up for her small stature. Turning at the sound of
his approach, "Good-morning, sir," she said. "You see I'm like the
sycamore tree that climbed into Zaccheus. Shortness is inconvenient at
times. My, what a jar!" as she came down rather hard, missing the last
step--"I feel it from the crown of my foot to the sole of my head.
Here, Simon, take away this ladder-step; the next time I want it I
think I'll do without; I'm growing so old in my clumsy age. Walk in
and take a seat, Mr. Torville. Or shall we sit here? It's pleasanter
than indoors I think."

"I agree with you," he said, accepting her invitation with a smile at
the oddity of her address. "You have a fine view here."

They sat there conversing for some time before Elsie made her
appearance, Mr. Travilla both charmed and amused with his companion,
and she liking him better every moment. When Elsie did come down at
last, looking wondrous sweet and fair in a pretty, coquettish riding
hat and habit, her aunt informed her that she had been urging "Mr.
Vanilla" to come and make his home with them while in town, and that
he had consented to let her send Simon at once for his trunk.

"If it will be agreeable to my little friend to have me here?" Mr.
Travilla said, taking her hand in his with the affectionate, fatherly
manner she had always liked so much in him.

Her face flushed slightly, but she answered without an instant's
hesitation that she hoped he would come.

The horses were already at the gate, Egerton was seen crossing the
street, and Lottie came tripping in at a side entrance. She had heard
a good deal of Mr. Travilla from Elsie, and seemed pleased to make his

Egerton came in, he and Mr. Travilla exchanged the coldest and most
distant of salutations, and the party set off; Mr. Travilla riding by
Elsie's side, Egerton and Lottie following a little in their rear.

Finding it almost a necessity to devote himself to Miss King for
the time being, Egerton! took a sudden resolution to make a partial
confidante of her, hoping thus to secure a powerful ally. He told her
of the state of affairs between Elsie and himself, of Mr. Travilla's
"attack upon him;" how "utterly mistaken" it was, and how he presumed
"the mistake" had occurred; giving the story he had told Elsie of the
cousin who bore so strong a likeness to him, and so bad a character.
He professed the most ardent, devoted affection for Elsie, and the
most torturing fears lest her father, crediting him with his cousin's
vices, should forbid the match and crush all his hopes.

The warm-hearted, innocent girl believed every word, and rushing into
her friend's room on their return, threw her arms about her, and
hugging her close, told her she knew all, was so, so sorry for her,
and for poor Egerton; and begged her not to allow anything to make her
give him up and break his heart.

Elsie returned the embrace, shed a few tears, but answered not a word.

"You do believe in him? and won't give him up; will you?" persisted

"I do believe in him, and will not give him up unless--unless papa
commands it," Elsie answered in a choking voice.

"I wouldn't for that!" cried Lottie.

"'Children, obey your parents,'" repeated her friend, tears filling
the soft brown eyes, and glistening on the drooping lashes. "It is
God's command."

"But you are not a child any longer."

"I am papa's child; I always shall be. Oh, it would break my heart if
ever he should disown me and say, 'You are no longer my child!'"

"How you do love him!"

"Better than my life!"

Mr. Travilla was already established at Miss Stanhope's, and very glad
to be there, that he might keep the more careful and constant watch
and ward over his "little friend." Thoroughly convinced of the
vileness of the wretch who had won her unsuspicious heart, he could
scarce brook the thought of leaving her alone with him, or of seeing
him draw close to her side, touch her hand, or look into the soft,
sweet eyes so full of purity and innocence. Yet these things no one
but her father might forbid, and Mr. Travilla would not force his
companionship upon Elsie when he saw or felt that it was distasteful
to her. The lovers were frequently left to themselves in the parlor or
upon the porch, though the friendly guardian, dreading he hardly knew
what, took care always to be within call.

Elsie longed for, yet dreaded her father's coming. She knew he would
not delay one moment longer than necessary after receiving their
letters, yet he reached Lansdale almost a day sooner than she expected

Sitting alone in her room, she heard his voice and step in the hall
below. She flew down to meet him.

"Oh, papa, dear, dear papa!"

"My darling, precious child!" And her arms were about his neck, his
straining her to his heart. The next moment she lifted her face, and
her eyes sought his with a wistful, pleading, questioning look. He
drew her into the sitting-room, and Miss Stanhope closed the door,
leaving them alone.

"My darling," he said, "you must give him up; he is utterly unworthy
of you."

"Oh, papa! would you break my heart?"

"My precious one, I would save you from a life of misery."

"Ah, papa! you would never say that if you knew how--how I love him,"
she murmured, a deep blush suffusing her face.

"Hush! it horrifies me to hear you speak so of so vile a wretch,--a
drinking, swearing gambler, swindler, and rake; for I have learned
that he is all these."

"Papa, it is not true! I will not hear such things said of him, even
by you!" she cried, the hot blood dyeing her face and neck, and the
soft eyes filling with indignant tears.

He put his finger upon her lips. "My daughter forgets to whom she is
speaking," he said with something of the old sternness, though there
was tender pity also in his tones.

"Oh, papa, I am so wretched!" she sobbed, hiding her face on his
breast. "Oh, don't believe what they say; it isn't, it can't be true."

He caressed her silently, then taking the photograph from his pocket,
asked, "Do you know that face?"

"Yes, it is his."

"I knew it, and it is also the face of the man whose character I have
just described."

"Oh, no, papa!" and with breathless eagerness she repeated the story
with which Egerton had swept away all her doubts. She read incredulity
in her father's face, "You do not believe it, papa?"

"No, my child, no more than I do black is white. See here!" and he
produced Egerton's letter to him, and the one to Arthur, made her
read and compare them, and gave her the further proofs Walter had

She grew deathly pale, but was no more ready to be convinced than he.
"Oh, papa, there must be some dreadful mistake! I cannot believe he
could be guilty of such things. The cousin has been personating him,
has forged that letter, perhaps; and the photograph may be his also."

"You are not using your good common-sense, Elsie; the proof is very
full and clear to my mind. The man is a fortune-hunter, seeking your
wealth, not you; a scoundrel whose vices should shut him out of all
decent society. I can hardly endure the thought that he has ever known
you, or dared to address a word to you, and it must never be again."

"Must I give him up?" she asked with pale, quivering lips.

"You must, my daughter; at once and for ever."

A look of anguish swept over her face, then she started, flushed, and
trembled, as a voice and step were heard on the porch without.

"It is he?" her father said inquiringly, and her look answered, "Yes."

He rose to his feet, for they had been sitting side by side on the
sofa while they talked. She sprang up also, and clinging to his arm,
looked beseechingly into his face, pleading in a hoarse whisper,
"Papa, you will let me see him, speak to him once more?--just a few
words--in your presence--oh, papa!"

"No, my darling, no; his touch, his breath, are contamination; his
very look is pollution, and shall never rest upon you again if I can
prevent it. Remember you are never to hold any communication with him
again--by word, letter, or in any other way; I positively forbid it;
you must never look at him, or intentionally allow him a sight of your
face. I must go now, and send him away." He held her to his heart as
he spoke; his tone was affectionate, but very firm, and decided; he
kissed her tenderly, two or three times, placed her in an easy-chair,
saying, "Stay here till I come to you," and left the room.

For a moment she lay back against the cushions like one stunned by a
heavy blow; then, roused by the sound of the voices of the two she
loved best on earth, started and leaned forward in a listening
attitude, straining her ear to catch their words. Few of them reached
her, but her father's tones were cold and haughty, Egerton's at first
persuasive, then loud, angry, and defiant.

He was gone, she had heard the last echo of his departing footsteps,
and again her father bent over her, his face full of tender pity. She
lifted her sad face to his, with the very look that had taunted him
for years, that he could never recall without a pang of regret' and
remorse--that pleading, mournful gaze with which she had parted from
him in the time of their estrangement.

It almost unmanned him now, almost broke his heart. "Don't, my
darling, don't look at me so," he said in low, moved tones, taking her
cold hands in his. "You don't know, precious one, how willingly your
father would bear all this pain for you if he could."

She threw herself upon his breast, and folding her close to his heart,
he caressed her with exceeding tenderness, calling her by every fond,
endearing name.

For many minutes she received it all passively, then suddenly raising
her head, she returned one passionate embrace, withdrew herself from
his arms, and hurried from the room.

He let her go unquestioned; he knew she went to seek comfort and
support from One nearer and dearer, and better able to give it
than himself. He rose and walked the room with a sad and troubled
countenance, and a heart filled with grief for his child, with anger
and indignation toward the wretch who had wrecked her happiness.

Miss Stanhope opened the door and looked in.

"You have had no dinner, Horace. It will be ready in a few moments."

"Thank you, aunt. I will go up to my room first and try to get rid of
some of the dust and dirt I have brought with me."

"Stay a moment, nephew. I am sorely troubled for the child. You don't
approve of her choice?"

"Very far from it. I have forbidden the man ever to come near her

"But you won't be hard with her, poor dear?"

"Hard with her, Aunt Wealthy? hard and cruel to my darling whom I
love better than my life? I trust not; but it would be the height of
cruelty to allow this thing to go on. The man is a vile wretch guilty
of almost every vice, and seeking my child for her wealth, not for
herself. I have forbidden her to see or ever to hold the slightest
communication with him again."

"Well, it is quite right if your opinion of him is correct; and I
hardly think she is likely to refuse submission."

"I have brought up my daughter to habits of strict, unquestioning
obedience, Aunt Wealthy," he said, "and I think they will stand her in
good stead now. I have no fear that she will rebel."

A half hour with her best Friend had done much to soothe and calm our
sweet Elsie; she had cast her burden on the Lord and He sustained her.
She knew that no trial could come to her without His will, that He
had permitted this for her good, that in His own good time and way He
would remove it, and she was willing to leave it all with Him; for was
He not all-wise, all-powerful, and full of tenderest, pitying love for

She had great faith in the wisdom and love of her earthly father also,
and doubted not that he was doing what he sincerely believed to be for
her happiness,--giving her present pain only in order to save her from
keener and more lasting distress and anguish in the future.

It was well for her that she had such trust in him and that their
mutual love was so deep and strong; well too that she was troubled
with no doubts of the duty of implicit obedience to parental authority
when not opposed to the higher commands of God. Her heart still clung
to Egerton, refusing to credit his utter unworthiness, and she felt
it a bitter trial to be thus completely separated from him, yet hoped
that at some future, and perhaps not distant day, he might be able to
convince her father of his mistake.

Mr. Dinsmore felt it impossible to remain long away from his suffering
child; after leaving the table, a few moments only were spent in
conversation with his aunt and Mr. Travilla, and then he sought his


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