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The Two Elsies by Martha Finley

Part 3 out of 5

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"What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted."


Poor little Grace was sorely distressed over her sister's misconduct and
the consequent displeasure of Mr. Dinsmore.

On being dismissed from the schoolroom she went directly to her mamma's
apartments. She knew she would be alone there, as Violet had gone out
driving, and shutting herself in, she indulged in a hearty cry.

She was aware of the danger that Lulu would be sent away, and could not
bear the thought of separation from her--the only sister she had except
the baby.

Their mutual love was very strong; and Lulu was ever ready to act as
Grace's champion, did anyone show the slightest disposition to impose
upon or ill-treat her; and it was seldom indeed that she herself was
anything but the kindest of the kind to her.

Finding her young step-mother ever ready with sympathy--and help, too,
where that was possible--Grace had long since formed the habit of
carrying to her all her little troubles and vexations, and also all her

She longed to open her heart now to "mamma," but Mr. Dinsmore's parting
injunction as he dismissed his pupils for the day seemed to forbid it.
Grace felt that even that partial relief was denied her.

But Violet came suddenly upon her, and surprised her in the midst of her

"Why, my darling, what is the matter?" she asked in a tone full of
concern, taking the little girl in her arms as she spoke.

"Oh, mamma, it's--But I mustn't tell you, 'cause Grandpa Dinsmore said we
were not to mention it unless it was quite necessary."

"But surely you may tell your mamma anything that distresses you so! Is
it that Grandpa Dinsmore is displeased?"

"Not with me, mamma."

"Then with Max or Lulu?"

"Mamma, I think I may tell you a little," Grace replied, with some
hesitation. "It's with Lulu; but I can't say what for. But, oh, mamma, if
Grandpa Dinsmore won't teach Lu any more will she have to go away to

"I hope not, dearie; I think not if she will be content to take me for
her teacher," Violet said, with a half-suppressed sigh, for she felt that
she might be pledging herself to a most trying work; Lulu would dare much
more in the way of disregarding her authority than that of her

But she was rewarded by Grace's glad exclamation, "Oh, mamma, how good
you are! I hope Lulu would never be naughty to you. How could she if you
save her from being sent away?"

"I think Lulu wants to be good," Violet said gently; "but she finds her
naturally quick temper very hard to govern."

"But she always grows sorry very soon," Grace remarked in a deprecating

"Yes, dear, so she does. She is a dear child, as her father says, and one
cannot help loving her in spite of her faults."

"Thank you, darling mamma, for saying that!" Grace exclaimed, throwing
her arms round Violet's neck and kissing her cheek. "May I tell Lulu that
you will teach her if Grandpa Dinsmore will not?"

"No, Gracie," Violet answered, with grave look and tone; "it will do her
good, I think, to fear for a while that she may lose the privileges she
enjoys here by not valuing them enough to make good use of them, or by
indulging in improper behavior toward those whom her father has placed
over her, and who are in every way worthy of her respect and obedience."

"Yes, mamma," Grace responded submissively.

"Where is Lulu?" Violet asked.

"I don't know, mamma. Oh yes, I see her coming up the avenue," she
corrected herself, as she glanced from a window. "She's been taking a
walk, I s'pose."

Presently they heard Lulu enter her own room, shut the door, lock and
bolt it, as if determined to secure herself from intrusion. But Grace
hastened to join her, passing through the door that opened from Violet's

Lulu, who was taking off her hat, turned sharply round with an angry
frown on her brow. But it vanished at sight of the intruder.

"Oh, it's only you, is it, Gracie?" she said in a slightly relieved tone.
"But what's the matter? What have you been crying about?"

"You, Lulu; oh, I'm so sorry for you!" Grace answered, with a sob,
running to her sister and putting her arms round her neck.

"Well, you needn't be; I don't care," Lulu said defiantly, and with a
little stamp of her foot. "No, not if all the old tyrants in the world
were angry with me!"

"Oh, Lu, don't talk so!" entreated Grace; "and you do care if papa is
displeased? Our own dear papa who loves us so dearly?"

"Yes," acknowledged Lulu, in a more quiet and subdued tone. "Oh, Gracie,
why wasn't I made good like you?"

"Don't you remember the Bible verse we learned the other day?" queried
Grace. "'There is none good; no, not one.'"

"Then Grandpa Dinsmore isn't good himself, and ought to have more
patience with me," remarked Lulu. "But don't you fret about it, Gracie;
there's no need."

"You're always sorry when I'm in trouble, and I can't help feeling so
when you are," said Grace.

Violet was dressing for dinner, thinking sadly the while upon what she
had just learned from Grace.

"How it would trouble her father if he should hear it!" she said to
herself. "I hope grandpa will not consider it necessary to report her
conduct to him. Of course, according to his requirements she should tell
him herself, but I presume she will hardly have the courage to refrain
from making her behavior appear less reprehensible than it actually was."

She questioned with herself whether to speak to Lulu on the subject of
her misconduct, but decided not to do so at present, unless something
should occur to lead to it naturally.

Her toilet completed, she went down to the parlor, and there found her
grandfather alone.

He looked up with a welcoming smile; Violet had always been a particular
favorite with him.

"The first down, little cricket," he said, using an old-time pet name,
and pausing in his walk (for he was pacing the floor) to gallantly hand
her to a seat on a sofa; then placing himself by her side, "How extremely
youthful you look, my pet! Who would take you for a matron?"

"To tell you a secret, grandpa," she said, with a merry look, "I feel
quite young still when the children are not by; and not always very old
even when they are with me. By the way, how have they behaved themselves

A grave, slightly annoyed look came over his face as she asked the

"Max and Gracie as well as any one could desire," he said; "but
Lulu--really, Vi, if she were my own child, I should try the virtue of a
rod with her."

Violet's face reflected the gravity of his, while she gave vent to an
audible sigh.

Mr. Dinsmore went on to describe Lulu's behavior on that and several
other days, then wound up with the question, "What do you think her
father would have me do with her?"

"I suppose he would say send her to a boarding-school; but, grandpa, I am
very loath to see that done. At the same time I cannot bear to have you
annoyed with her ill-conduct, and I am thinking of attempting the task of
teaching her myself."

Mr. Dinsmore shook his head. "I cannot have you annoyed with her, my
little Vi; no more, at least, than you necessarily must be, occupying the
relationship that you do. But we will take the matter into consideration,
getting your grandma and mother to aid us with their advice."

"And we won't tell her father the whole unpleasant truth, will we,
grandpa?" Violet said, half inquiringly, half entreatingly.

"You shall tell him just what you please; I shall not trouble him in
regard to the matter," Mr. Dinsmore answered in his kindliest tone.

The entrance of Mrs. Keith and Annis put an end to the conversation, and
presently dinner was announced.

Lulu went to the dining-room in some trepidation, not knowing what
treatment to expect from Mr. Dinsmore, or others who might have learned
the story of her misconduct.

But there seemed no change in the manner of any of the grown people,
except Mr. Dinsmore, who simply ignored her existence altogether,
apparently was unaware of her presence, never looking at or speaking to

He had privately given instructions beforehand to one of the servants to
attend to Miss Lulu's wants at the table, seeing that her plate was
supplied with whatever viands she desired; and it was done so quietly
that no one noticed anything unusual in the conduct of the meal.

Still Lulu was uncomfortably conscious of being in disgrace, and seized
the first opportunity to slip quietly away to her own room.

She took up the story-book--still unfinished--which had got her into this
trouble, but could not feel the interest she had before; an uneasy
conscience prevented.

Laying it aside, she sat for some moments with her elbow on the
window-sill, her cheek in her hand, her eyes gazing upon vacancy. She was
thinking of what Max had said about the duty of confession to her father.

"I wish I didn't have to," she sighed to herself; "I wish papa hadn't
said I must write out every day what I've been doing and send the diary
to him. I think it's hard; it's bad enough to have to confess my
wrong-doing to him when he's at home. It's just as well he isn't, though,
for I know he'd punish me if he was. Maybe he will when he comes again,
but it's likely to be such a long while first that I think I'm pretty
safe as far as that is concerned. Oh, it does provoke me so that he will
make me obey these people! I'm determined I'll do exactly as I please
when I'm grown up!

"But if I'm sent off to boarding-school I'll have to obey the teachers
there, or have a fight and be expelled--which would be a great disgrace
and 'most break papa's heart, I do believe--and they would very likely be
more disagreeable than even Grandpa Dinsmore; not half so nice and kind
as Grandma Elsie, I'm perfectly certain. Oh dear, if I only _were_ grown
up! But I'm not, and I have to write the story of to-day to papa. I'll
make it short."

Opening her writing-desk, she took therefrom pen, ink, and paper, and,
after a moment's cogitation, began.

"I haven't been a good girl to-day," she wrote; "I was so interested in a
story-book that I neglected to learn my Latin lesson; so I failed in the
recitation, and Grandpa Dinsmore was very cross and disagreeable about
it. He says I answered him disrespectfully and as punishment I sha'n't go
into the schoolroom or recite to him again for a week.

"There," glancing over what she had written, "I hope papa will never
question me closely about it; and I think he won't; it'll be such an old
story by the time we meet again."

The week of her banishment from the schoolroom was an uncomfortable one
to Lulu, though she was given no reason to consider herself a martyr. She
was allowed a share in all the home pleasures, all her wants were as
carefully attended to as usual, she received no harsh words or unkind
looks; yet somehow could never rid herself of the consciousness that she
was in disgrace. Very little notice was taken of her by any of the family
except her brother and sister; she came and went about the house as she
pleased,--never venturing into the schoolroom, however,--but when she
joined the family circle no one seemed to be aware of her presence; they
talked among themselves, but did not address or even look at her.

This treatment was galling to her, and she began to spend almost all of
her time in "the boy's work-room," at her favorite employment of

Max was generally at work there also out of school-hours, but during
those hours she had always been alone till one morning Mrs. Leland,
happening to want something from a closet in the work-room, came
unexpectedly upon her.

It was a surprise to both; for Evelyn had kept her friend's counsel, and
no one at Ion had let Elsie or any one else indeed into the secret of
Lulu's ill-conduct and consequent disgrace.

"You here, Lu?" she exclaimed on entering the room. "I heard you saw as I
came up the stairway, and wondered who could be busy here at this hour
when the young folks are all supposed to be in the schoolroom.

"What lovely work you are doing!" she went on, drawing near to examine
it. "I presume you have been extremely good and studious, and so have
been rewarded with leave of absence at this unusual hour; and you are
certainly making good use of your holiday.

"You are wonderfully expert at this for a child of your age. Perhaps one
of these days you will develop into so great a genius as to make us all
proud of your acquaintance."

Lulu's cheeks burned.

"You are very kind to praise my work so, Aunt Elsie," she said. "Do you
really think this basket is handsome--I mean without making allowance for
my age?"

"I certainly do; I think it deserves all I have said of it, if not more.
How pleased your father will be when he hears what a good, industrious,
and painstaking little girl he has for his eldest daughter!"

Lulu did not speak for a moment. She was fighting a battle with herself;
conscience on the one hand and love of approbation on the other were
having a great struggle within her breast. She valued Mrs. Leland's good
opinion and was loath to lose it.

But she was worthy of her father's glad encomium, "However many and
serious her faults may be, she is at least honest and truthful," and
could not accept praise which she knew was wholly undeserved.

"You mistake, Aunt Elsie," she said with an effort, hanging her head in
shame, while her cheek flushed hotly; "I am not here for being good, but
for being naughty--missing my lesson and answering Grandpa Dinsmore
impertinently when he reproved me for it."

"I grieve to hear it, my dear child," Elsie returned in a truly sorrowful
tone. "I had hoped you were getting quite the better of your temper and
inclination to defy lawful authority. But do not be discouraged from
trying again to conquer your faults. Every one of us has an evil nature
and many spiritual foes to fight against; yet if we fight manfully,
looking to Jesus for help and strength, we shall assuredly gain the
victory at last; coming off more than conquerors through Him who loved us
and died to save us from sin and death."

"You can never think well of me again, Aunt Elsie?" Lulu said, half in
assertion, half inquiringly.

"I certainly hope to, Lulu," was the kind reply "Your honest avowal is
greatly to your credit; I see that you are above the meanness of
falsehood and taking undeserved praise; that seems to me a very hopeful
sign, deeply ungrateful as was your conduct toward my dear, good
grandfather, who has been so kind to you and yours. Do you not think it
so yourself, now that your passion has had time to cool?"

"Yes, ma'am," replied Lulu, again hanging her head and blushing. "I don't
mean to behave so any more."

Then after a moment's silence, "Aunt Elsie, I don't believe anybody has
any idea how hard it is for me to be good."

"Don't you think other people find it hard, too, my poor child?" Elsie
asked gently. "They also have evil natures."

"I'm sure," said Lulu, "that Max and Grace don't have half as hard work
to be patient and sweet-tempered as I do. I often wish I'd been made good
like Grace; and I don't see why I wasn't. And there's Rosie; she doesn't
ever seem to want to be wilful, or tempted at all to get into a passion."

"Perhaps, Lulu, she is as strongly tempted to some other sin as you are
to wilfulness and passion, and perhaps falls before temptation as often.
We cannot read each other's hearts; one cannot know how much another
resists--can only see the failures and not the struggles to avoid them.

"But how comforting to know that God, our heavenly Father, sees and knows
it all; that He pities our weakness and proneness to sin! How precious
are His promises of help in time of trial, if we look to Him for it, at
the same time using all our own strength in the struggle!"

"I never thought about different people having different temptations,"
remarked Lulu, thoughtfully. "Perhaps it isn't so much harder for me to
do right than for others, after all."

"My grandfather is not unforgiving," Elsie remarked as she turned to go;
"and I think if you show that you are really sorry for your wrong-doing,
he will restore you to your former privileges."

Lulu went on with her work, but her thoughts were busy with that parting
piece of advice, or rather the suggestion thrown out by Mrs. Leland.

Her pride strongly revolted against making any acknowledgment, and
remembering that there was but one more day of her week left, she at
length decided to await events and do the disagreeable duty only when she
could no longer delay it without danger of banishment.

A remark she accidentally overheard from Rosie that afternoon made her
more unwilling to apologize to Mr. Dinsmore; in fact, quite determined
that she would do nothing of the kind.

Rosie was speaking to Zoe, as they entered the work-room together, and
did not notice that Lulu was there reading in a deep window-seat, where
she was partially concealed by a curtain.

"I think if Lulu is wise she will soon make it up with grandpa," she was
saying; "for Christmas is not so very far off, and of course she will get
nothing from him if she continues obstinate and rebellious."

Lulu did not wait to hear what Zoe might say in reply, but starting up in
a fury of indignation, "I would have you to understand, Miss Rosie
Travilla," she said, "that I am not the mercenary creature you appear to
believe me. I would scorn to apologize in order to secure a gift from Mr.
Dinsmore or anybody else; and if he gives me one, I shall not accept it."

"I really do not think you will have the opportunity to reject a gift
from him," replied Rosie, with what seemed to Lulu exasperating coolness.
"However, I sincerely regret having said anything to rouse that fearful
temper of yours. I should not have spoken so had I known you were within

"No, I have no doubt that you say many a mean thing of me behind my back
that you would be ashamed, or afraid, to say to my face."

Rosie laughed gleefully. "Do you think I am afraid of _you_?" she asked
in a mirthful tone, putting a strong emphasis upon the last word.

"Come, come, girls," interposed Zoe, "you surely are not going to quarrel
about nothing?"

"No; I have no quarrel with any one," replied Rosie, turning about and
leaving the room with a quick, light step.

Lulu threw her book from her, upon the seat from which she had just

"She insults me and then walks off saying she has no quarrel with
anybody!" she exclaimed passionately, addressing Zoe, who had remained
behind with the laudable desire to say something to Lulu which should be
as oil upon the troubled water. "It's bad enough to be abused without
being forgiven for it."

"So it is," said Zoe; "but I don't think Rosie meant any harm; I
sincerely believe she wants you to make it up with grandpa for your own
sake--that you may have a good time now and at Christmas."

"If I can't do it from a better motive than that, I won't do it at all,"
said Lulu. "Aunt Zoe, I hope you have a little better opinion of me than
Rosie seems to have?"

"Yes, Lulu, I've always liked you. I think yours would be a splendid
character if only you could learn to rule your own spirit, as the
Bible says. I've heard my father say that those who were naturally
high-tempered and wilful made the noblest men and women if they once
thoroughly learned the lesson of self-control."

"I wish I could," said Lulu, dejectedly. "I'm always sorry for my failure
when my passion is over, and think I will never indulge it again; but
soon somebody does or says something very provoking, and before I have
time to think of my good resolutions I'm in a passion and saying angry
words in return."

"I am sorry for you," said Zoe; "I have temper enough of my own to be
able to sympathize with you. But you will try to make your peace with
grandpa, won't you?"

"No; I was intending to, if Rosie hadn't interfered, but I sha'n't now;
because if I did he would think it was from that mean motive that Rosie

"Oh no; grandpa is too noble himself to suspect others of such meanness,"
asserted Zoe, defending him all the more warmly that she had sometimes
talked a trifle hardly of him herself.

But she saw from Lulu's countenance that to undo Rosie's work was quite
impossible, so presently gave up the attempt and left her to solitude and
her book.


"How poor are they that have not patience!"


The next morning's mail brought a letter from Isadore Keith to her
cousin, Mrs. Elsie Travilla. It was dated "Viamede Parsonage," and
written in a cheerful strain; for Isa was very happy in her married life.

She wrote rejoicingly of the prospect of seeing the Ion family at
Viamede; the relatives of her husband who were now staying with them also
urged an early arrival.

"We long to have you all here for the whole season," she said; "Molly and
I are looking eagerly forward to your coming; and the old servants at the
mansion beg for a Christmas with the family in the house. Cannot Ion
spare you to Viamede this year at that season?

"I know your and uncle's kind hearts would make you both rejoice in
adding to our happiness, and theirs also. And I have an additional
inducement to offer. A fine school has been opened lately in the
neighborhood, near enough to all our homes for our children to attend.
Mine, of course, are still far too young, but I rejoice in the prospect
for the future.

"It is both a boarding and day school, principally for girls of all ages
from six or eight to eighteen or twenty; but they take a few boys,
brothers of the girls who attend.

"A gentleman and his wife are the principals, two daughters assist, and
there are French and music masters, etc. You will hear all about it when
you come; but I am pretty certain you will find it a suitable school for
all your numerous flock of children; and so uncle may take a rest from
his labor of love, for such I know it has been."

The remainder of the letter was occupied with other matters not important
to our story.

The greater part of the missive Elsie read aloud to the assembled family
in the parlor, where they had gathered on leaving the breakfast-table;
then turning to her father,

"Well, papa, what do you think of it?" she asked. "I am rejoiced at the
prospect of seeing you left to take your ease, as you surely have a right
to at your age."

"Am I actually growing so extremely old?" he asked with a comically
rueful look. "Really, I had flattered myself that I was still a vigorous
man, capable of a great deal of exertion."

"So you seem to be, Cousin Horace," said Mr. Keith, "and certainly you
are quite youthful compared to Marcia and myself."

"Oh fie, Uncle Keith," laughed Zoe, "to insinuate that a lady is so very

"But, my dear child, people often come, toward the close of life, to be
proud of their age, and perhaps sometimes are tempted to make it appear
greater than it is."

"When they get up in the hundreds, for instance?" Edward said half

"Yes," said Mr. Keith, with an amused smile; "though I must not be
understood as acknowledging that either my wife or myself has yet arrived
at that stage."

"But we hope you will live to reach it," Elsie said, with an affectionate
glance from one to the other.

"Would you keep us so long from home, my sweet cousin?" Mrs. Keith asked,
something in her placid face seeming to tell of longing desire to be near
and like her Lord."

"Only for the sake of those to whom you are so dear, Aunt Marcia," Elsie
answered, her eyes glistening.

"I shall keep them as long as ever I can," said Annis.

There was a moment's silence; then Edward asked, "Now what about Isa's

"What do you say, Elsie?" Mr. Dinsmore queried, looking at his daughter.

"That I am quite satisfied to go at whatever time will best suit the
others; particularly our guests and yourself, papa."

"What do you say, Marcia?" he inquired of his cousin.

"That I find it delightful here, and feel assured it will not be less so
at Viamede; so am ready to go at once, or to stay longer, as you please."

Mrs. Dinsmore, Mr. Keith, and Annis expressed themselves in like manner.

"I think you would probably have pleasanter weather for travelling now
than some weeks later in the season," remarked Edward; "and whatever else
may be said of my opinion, it is at least disinterested, as I shall be
the loser if you are influenced by it."

"Why, what do you mean, Ned?" asked Zoe, in surprise. "Are we not going

"Not I, my dear; at least not for the winter: business requires my
presence here. I hope, though, to be able to join you all for perhaps two
or three weeks."

"Not me; for I shall not go till you do," she said with decision. "You
know you couldn't spare me, don't you?"

"I know I should miss you sadly," he acknowledged, furtively passing his
arm round her waist, for, as usual, they were seated side by side
on a sofa; "but I know how you have been looking forward for months to
this winter at Viamede, and I don't intend you shall miss it for my

"But what have your intentions to do with it?" she asked, with a twinkle
of fun in her eye and a saucy little toss of her pretty head.

"The question to be decided is what I intend; and I answer, 'Never to
leave my husband, but to go when he goes and stay when he stays!' What do
you say to that?"

"That I am blest with the dearest of little wives," he whispered close to
her ear, and tightening his clasp of her waist.

They had nearly forgotten the presence of the others, who were too busy
arranging the time for setting out upon their contemplated journey to
notice this bit of by-play.

The children--Lulu included--were all in the room and listening with
intense interest to the consultation of their elders.

At length it was settled that they would leave in a few days, and Rosie,
Max, Grace, and Walter burst into exclamations of delight; but Lulu stole
quietly and unobserved from the room and hurried to her own.

"Oh, I wonder," she sighed to herself as she shut the door and dropped
into a chair, "if I am to go too! I wouldn't be left behind for anything;
and as there is a school there that I can be sent to as a day-scholar,
maybe Mamma Vi will coax to have me go; she's more likely to be in favor
of taking me than anybody else--unless it's Grandma Elsie."

Just then she heard footsteps coming up the stairs, through the hall, and
into the adjoining room, and the voices of the three who were in her

"What do you think about it, papa?" Elsie was saying. "I should be very
glad to have the dear child enjoy all that the rest of us do; but it must
not be at the cost of spoiling your enjoyment."

"I shall not allow it to do so," Mr. Dinsmore answered. "Lulu is a
lovable child in spite of her very serious faults, and it would distress
me to have her deprived of the delights of a winter at Viamede; which she
has, I believe, been looking forward to with as great eagerness as any of
the others, children or adults."

"I know she has; and, dear grandpa, I thank you very much for your kind
willingness to take her with us," Violet responded feelingly; her mother

"I also, papa; it would grieve me deeply to be compelled to leave her
behind; especially as it must necessarily be in a boarding-school; Edward
and Zoe being too young and inexperienced to take charge of her."

Lulu's first emotion on hearing all this was delight that she was to go;
the next, gratitude to these kind friends, mingled with a deep sense of
shame on account of her misconduct.

Impulsively she rose from her seat, hastened to the door of communication
with the room where they were, and, pausing on the threshold, asked
timidly, "Mamma Vi, may I come in?"

"Yes, Lulu," Violet answered with a kindly look and smile; and the little
girl, stepping quickly to Mr. Dinsmore's side, addressed him, with eyes
cast down and cheeks burning with blushes:

"I heard what you said just now, Grandpa Dinsmore, though I wasn't
intending to be an eavesdropper, and I thank you very much for being so
kind and forgiving to me when I've been so ungrateful and troublesome to
you; and it makes me feel very sorry and ashamed, because of my bad
behavior. Will you please forgive me? and I'll try to be a better girl in
future," she added with an effort.

"Surely I will, my dear child," Mr. Dinsmore responded, taking her by the
hand and drawing her to him, then bending down to kiss her cheek and
stroke her hair caressingly. "So well assured am I that you are truly
sorry, and desirous to do better, that I should say come back to the
school-room to-morrow, if we were going on with lessons as usual; but as
the time for setting out upon our journey to Viamede is so very near, I
shall give no more lessons, after to-day, until we return."

"Ah," glancing at his watch, "I see I should be with my pupils now;" and
with that he rose and left the room.

"Lulu, dear, you have made me quite happy," Elsie said, smiling
affectionately upon the little girl.

"And me also," said Violet; "and I know your father would feel so too, if
he were here."

"You are all so kind you make me feel very much ashamed of myself,"
murmured Lulu, blushing and casting down her eyes. "Mamma Vi, can I do
anything to help you?"

"If you like to amuse baby for a few minutes, it will be a help to me,"
Violet answered; for she saw that just now it would give Lulu sincere
pleasure to think herself of use. "Her mammy is eating her breakfast,"
Violet continued, "and I want to speak to Christine and Alma about some
sewing they are doing for me."

"I'd like to, Mamma Vi," returned Lulu, holding out her hands to little
Elsie, and delighted that her mute invitation was at once accepted; the
sweet babe stretching out its chubby arms to her.

"I do think she is just as pretty and smart as she can be! Aren't you,
you darling little pet?" she went on, hugging and kissing the little one
with sisterly affection, while the young mother looked on with shining

It was a great relief to her that Lulu seemed to have entirely banished
her former jealousy of her baby-sister; and that this pleasant state of
affairs might continue, she was careful to make her errand to the
sewing-room very short, lest Lulu should begin to find her task irksome.

Hastening back to her own apartments, she found Lulu still in high
good-humor, laughing and romping with the babe, allowing it to pat her
cheeks and pull her hair with perfect impunity.

"Mamma Vi," she said, "isn't she a darling?"

"I think so," replied Violet; "but I fear she is hurting you, for I know
from experience that she can pull hair very hard."

"Oh," said Lulu, "I don't mind such a trifling hurt, as it amuses her."

Still she seemed quite ready to resign baby to her mother.

"What more can I do, Mamma Vi?" she asked.

"Don't you want to finish that pretty bracket you were at yesterday?"
asked Violet.

"Yes, ma'am; unless there is something I can do to help you."

"Nothing at present, thank you, dear," Violet answered; and giving a
parting kiss to the baby, Lulu hastened away to the work-room.

She toiled on industriously, much interested in her carving, cheerful and
happy, but watching the clock on the mantel as the time drew near for Mr.
Dinsmore's pupils to be dismissed from their tasks.

She had not seen Evelyn since early the day before, and was longing to
have a talk with her, particularly about the delightful prospect of going
to Viamede to spend some months there together; and when at last the
sound of child voices and laughter, coming up from below, told her that
lessons were over, she sprang up and ran hastily down the stairs, looking
eagerly for her friend.

She did not see Evelyn, but met Rosie face to face.

They exchanged glances: Lulu's proud and disdainful, Rosie's merry and
careless; insultingly, so Lulu thought, considering what had passed
between them the previous day; and drawing herself up to her full height,
she said, her eyes flashing with anger, "You owe me an apology!"

"Do I, indeed? Then I'm quite able to owe it," laughed Rosie, dancing
away, but pausing presently to throw back a parting word over her
shoulder: "I'm afraid that's a very bad debt, Miss Raymond; don't you
wish you could collect it?"

Lulu's face crimsoned with anger, and she was opening her lips for a
cutting retort, when Evelyn, who had just stepped out of the schoolroom,
where she had lingered a moment to arrange the contents of her desk,
hastily threw an arm round her waist and drew her away.

"Don't mind what Rosie says; it's not worth caring for," she whispered.
"She's full of her fun, don't you see? and doesn't mean any harm. Come,
let us go up to the work-room and have a good talk."

Lulu yielded in silence, struggling hard to be mistress of herself.

Evelyn tried to help her. "Oh, Lulu, is it not delightful that we are to
go so soon to that lovely Viamede?" she asked as the work-room door
closed behind them.

"Yes; if only one could leave temper and tormenting people behind!"
sighed Lulu. "Oh, Eva, Rosie is _so_ tormenting! I'd be glad to be
friends with her, but she won't let me."

"It is trying," Evelyn admitted. "But you know, Lu," she went on, "that
we must expect troubles and trials in this world; that they are sent or
permitted for our good; for strength grows by exercise, and if there is
nothing to try our patience, how can it grow?"

"I have none to begin with," said Lulu.

"Oh, that's a mistake," said Evelyn; "you have great patience with your
work yonder, and deserve a great deal of credit for it. I do think you
have much more of that kind of patience than Rosie has. But let us talk
of something else."

They talked of Viamede, each telling the other what she had heard of its
beauties; of Magnolia Hall, too; of Molly, Isa, and the other relatives
of the Dinsmores who were living in that region of country.

It so happened that Rosie's mother, passing through the hall below at the
moment, overheard her mocking words to Lulu.

"Rosie," she called, and the little girl perceived a grieved tone in the
sweet voice, "come here, daughter."

"Yes, mamma, dear, what is it?" Rosie asked lightly, descending the

"Come into my dressing-room; I want to talk to you." Then, when they were
seated, "What was that I overheard you saying to Lulu just now?"

Rosie repeated her words in a careless tone.

"I desire an explanation," her mother said gently, but very gravely.
"What was the debt, and who owes it?"

"I, mamma, if anybody. Lulu had just said that I owed her an apology; and
I had answered that if so, I was quite able to owe it."

"What had you done or said that she should think herself entitled to an

Rosie replied with a truthful account of the scene of the day before in
the boy's work-room, excusing her part of it by an allusion to "Lulu's
fearful temper."

"Are you quite sure, Rosie, that when you rouse it by exasperating
remarks you do not share the sin?" asked her mother with a grieved,
troubled look.

"No, mamma, I'm afraid I do," acknowledged Rosie, frankly.

"Satan is called the tempter," Elsie went on, "and I fear that you are
doing his work when you wilfully tempt another to sin."

"Oh, mamma," cried Rosie, looking shocked, "I never thought of that. I
don't want to be his servant, doing his work; I will try never to tempt
any one to wrong-doing again."

"I am glad to hear you say that," said her mother. "And now that you are
conscious of having harmed Lulu, are you not willing to do what lies in
your power to repair the mischief--to pay the debt she thinks you owe

Rosie's head drooped and her cheeks crimsoned. "Mamma, you are asking a
hard thing of me," she said in a low, unwilling tone. "If you order me,
of course I know I must obey; but I'd rather do almost anything else than
apologize to Lulu."

"I wish you to do it of your own free will and from sense of duty, not
because my commands are laid upon you," Elsie answered. "Is it not the
noblest course of action I am urging upon you? Is it any less mean to
refuse to meet such an obligation than a moneyed one?--a thing of which I
am sure you would be heartily ashamed to be guilty."

"Certainly I should, mamma; one might as well steal as refuse to pay what
one honestly owes; unless it be entirely out of one's power."

"You are speaking of pecuniary obligations. Now apply the same rule to
this other: you have taken something from Lulu's peace of mind (a
possession more valuable than money), and can you refuse an honest
endeavor to restore it?"

"Mamma, you have a most convincing way of putting things," Rosie said,
between a smile and a sigh. "I will do as you wish, and try not to repeat
the offence which calls for so humiliating a reparation."

So saying, she rose and left the room, anxious to have the disagreeable
duty over as soon as possible.

Rightly conjecturing Lulu's whereabouts, she went directly to the
work-room and found her and Evelyn chatting there together.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves, but a frown suddenly darkened
Lulu's brow as she turned her head at the opening of the door and saw who
was there.

"Excuse the interruption, girls," Rosie said pleasantly. "I only want to
say a few words and then I will go. Lulu, I have come to pay that debt.
Mamma has convinced me that I have done very wrong in teasing you, and
ought to apologize. I therefore ask your pardon for any and every
unpleasant word I have ever addressed to you."

Before Rosie had fairly finished what she had to say, warm-hearted,
impulsive Lulu had risen to her feet, run hastily to her and thrown her
arms round her neck.

"Oh, Rosie," she cried, "I've been just too hateful for anything! I ought
to be able to stand a little teasing, and you needn't apologize for
vexing such a quick-tempered piece as I am."

"Yes, I should," returned Rosie. "Mamma has shown me that I have been
greatly to blame. But I trust we shall be good friends after this."

"So do I," said Lulu.


"'Tis a goodly scene--
Yon river, like a silvery snake, lays out
His coil i' th' sunshine, lovingly; it breathes
Of freshness in this lap of flowery meadows."


"Oh, isn't this just the loveliest, _loveliest_ country!" exclaimed
Evelyn, rapturously; "what does anybody want to go to Europe for? If for
beautiful scenery, I should advise them--all Americans, I mean--to travel
over their own land first."

"So should I," responded Lulu. "I don't believe there can be lovelier
scenery on this earth than what we have been passing through for hours
past! I wonder how near we are now to Viamede?"

"We are beside it--the estate--at this moment," remarked Mr. Dinsmore,
overhearing their talk; "this orange-orchard is a part of it."

Exclamations of delight followed the announcement. Everybody on
board the little steamer that had been threading its way up Teche
Bayou and through lake and lakelet, past swamp, forest, plantation
and plain, miles upon miles of smooth, velvety lawns, dotted with
magnificent oaks and magnolias, and lordly villas peering through groves
of orange-trees--everybody, although they had greatly enjoyed the short
voyage, was glad to know they were nearing their desired haven.

A glad welcome awaited them there. As they rounded to at the little pier
they could see a crowd of relatives and retainers gathered beside it,
watching and waiting with faces full of joyous eagerness.

And as the voyagers stepped ashore what affectionate embraces, what glad
greetings were exchanged!

Cyril and Isa Keith were there with their two little ones; Dick Percival,
Bob and Betty Johnson--and could it be possible? was that Molly Embury,
on her feet, standing by Mr. Embury's side and leaning only slightly on
his arm?

Yes, it can be no other; and--oh, wonder of wonders!--she comes nearer,
actually walking upon the feet that no one thought would ever again be
able to bear her weight.

How they gathered about her with exclamations of astonishment and
delight, and question upon question as to the means by which this
wondrous change had been wrought!

And with what tears of joy and thankfulness, and in tones how tremulous
with deep gratitude, she and her husband told of the experiments of a
rising young surgeon which, by the blessing of God, had resulted in this
astonishing cure!

"Oh, Uncle Horace, Aunt Rose, Cousin Elsie," Molly exclaimed, glancing
from one to the other, "I think I am surely the happiest woman in the
world, and the one who has the greatest reason for thankfulness! See,
here is another precious treasure the Lord has sent me in addition to the
many I had before;" and turning, she beckoned to a middle-aged colored
woman standing a little in their rear, who immediately came forward
bearing an infant of a few weeks in her arms.

"My Elsie, named for you, dear cousin," Molly said, taking the child and
holding it proudly up to view. "I only hope she may, if God spares her
life, grow up to be as dear and sweet and good, as kind and true and
loving, as she whose name she bears."

"The darling!" Elsie said, bending down to press a kiss on the velvet
cheek of her tiny namesake. "And how kind in you, Molly, to name her for
me! Oh, it makes me so happy to see you able to move about, and with this
new treasure added to your store!"

The others added their congratulations; and Mr. Embury remarked, with a
happy laugh, "Molly certainly thinks there was never another baby quite
equal to hers in any respect."

"Which is very natural," said Mrs. Dinsmore. "I remember having some such
idea about my own first baby."

The Ion children were allowed a few days of entire liberty to roam about
and make themselves fully acquainted with the beauties of Viamede,
Magnolia Hall, and the neighborhood before beginning school duties.

Meanwhile their elders had visited Oakdale Academy and made the
acquaintance of Prof. Silas Manton, his wife and two daughters,--Miss
Diana and Miss Emily,--who, with Signor Foresti, music-master, and
M. Saurin, instructor in French, formed the corps of teachers belonging
to the institution.

Privately our friends were but indifferently pleased with any of them;
still it was decided to enter the children as pupils there for the
present, and, watching carefully over them, remove them at once if any
evidence of harmful influence were perceived.

So far as they could learn, the parents of the pupils already there had
found no cause for complaint; and, as a school was greatly needed in the
vicinity, the Viamede families were desirous to aid in sustaining this
should it prove, as they still hoped, a good one.

The children were naturally full of curiosity in regard to their future
instructors, and gathering about the ladies on their return, plied them
with questions.

"How many boys go to the school, Grandma Elsie, and who teaches them?"
queried Max.

"Two questions at a time, Max!" she said pleasantly.

"Yes, ma'am; but if you will please answer one at a time I'll be entirely

"I think the professor said there were six or eight; and he teaches them
himself. That is, boys of your age and older, Max; the very little ones
go into the primary department along with the little girls, and are
taught principally by Miss Emily."

"And who will teach us larger girls, mamma?" asked Rosie.

"Mrs. Manton hears some of the recitations; Miss Diana sits in the
schoolroom all the time to keep order, and hears most of the lessons.
Professor Manton has all the classes in Latin, German, and the higher

"Boys and girls both?" asked Lulu.

"Yes, all children are together in those studies."

"That's nice," Max said with satisfaction.

"You like the idea of going to school again, Max?"

"Oh yes, Grandma Elsie; if the fellows I'll be put with are nice. You
know I haven't had a boy-companion for a long time--as a schoolmate, I
mean. But if they turn out sneaks or bullies, I shall not enjoy their
company. I'd rather be with the girls."

"Oh, Max, how complimentary!" cried Rosie, laughingly; "you would
actually prefer our company to that of bullies and sneaks!"

"Now, Rosie, you needn't make fun of me," he said, echoing the laugh; "I
didn't mean that you--that girls--were only a little to be preferred to
such fellows."

"How far is Oakdale Academy from here, Grandma Elsie?" asked Lulu.

"Two miles; perhaps a trifle more."

"I think I can walk it; at least in pleasant weather," remarked Evelyn.

"You will not be required to do that, my dear," said Grandma Elsie,
smiling kindly upon her; "the carriage will take you all there every
morning, and bring you home again when school duties are over."

"How nice! how very kind you are to us all!" exclaimed Evelyn. "But I
think I should enjoy the walk some days, with pleasant company and time
enough to take it leisurely."

"Should you? Then I shall try to manage it for you. But it would not do
at all for you to go entirely alone."

"If you'll just let me be her escort, Grandma Elsie, I'll walk beside her
with pleasure and take the very best care of her," said Max, proudly and
assuming quite a manly air.

"I'd want a bigger and stronger man than you, Max," remarked Rosie,

"Then I won't offer my services to you, Rosie," he answered with dignity,
while Lulu gave Rosie a displeased glance which the latter did not seem
to notice.

"Never mind, Max; I appreciate your offered services, and shall not be
afraid to trust myself to your care," Evelyn said in a lively tone; and
putting an arm affectionately round Lulu's waist, "Come, Lu, let us go
out on the lawn; I saw some lovely flowers there that I want to gather
for Aunt Elsie's adornment this evening."

So the little group scattered, and Grace followed Violet to her

"What is it, dear? is anything wrong with my little girl?" asked Vi,
noticing that the child was unusually quiet and wore a troubled look on
the face that was wont to be without a cloud.

"Not much, mamma--only--only I've never been to school, and--and
I'm--afraid of strange people."

A sob came with the last word, and the tears began to fall.

"Then you shall not go, darling; you shall stay at home and say your
little lessons to your mamma," Violet said, sitting down and drawing the
little girl to her with a tender caress.

"Oh, mamma, thank you! how good you are to me!" cried Grace, glad smiles
breaking suddenly through the rain of tears, as she threw her arms round
Violet's neck and held up her face for another kiss.

"But I will go if you think I ought," she added the next moment, "for you
know I want to do right and please Jesus."

"Yes, dear, I know you are trying all the time to please Him; I can see
it very plainly; but I shall be glad to keep my darling at home with me;
and that being the case, I do not think your conscience need trouble you
if you stay at home. The academy people will have no cause to complain,
because you were not promised positively to them."

"Dear mamma, you've made me so happy!" exclaimed Grace, hugging Violet
with all her little strength. "I'm so obliged to papa for giving me such
a dear, sweet, kind mother."

"And I am obliged to him for the dear little daughter he has given me,"
Violet responded with a low, pleased laugh.

Grandma Elsie sat alone upon the veranda, the rest having gone away,
except Max, who lingered at a little distance, now and then casting a
wistful glance at her.

At length catching one of these, she gave him, an encouraging smile and
beckoned him to her side. "What is it, Max?" she asked. "Don't be afraid
to tell me all that is in your heart."

"No, ma'am, I don't think I am; only I shouldn't like to be troublesome
when you are so very kind to me--as well as to everybody else."

"I shall not think you so, but be very glad if I can help you in any
way," she answered, taking the boy's hand and looking into his eyes with
so kind and motherly an expression that his heart went out to her in
truly filial love.

"I hardly know just how to say it," he began with some hesitation, "but
it's about the school and the new boys I'll meet there. I don't know what
sort of fellows they are, and I--you know, Grandma Elsie, I'm trying to
be a Christian, and I--I'm afraid if they are not the right sort of boys,
they--I might be weak enough to be led wrong as I have been before."

"Yes, my dear boy, I understand you; you fear you may fall before
temptation and so bring dishonor upon your profession. And doubtless so
you will if you trust only in your own strength. But if, feeling that to
be but weakness, you cling closely to Christ, seeking strength and wisdom
from Him, He will enable you to stand.

"The apostle says, 'When I am weak, then am I strong,' and the promise
is, 'God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye
are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye
may be able to bear it.'"

"Thank you, Grandma Elsie; I'll try to do it," he said thoughtfully. "I'm
glad that promise is in the Bible."

"Yes; it has often been a comfort to me," she said, "as which of His
great and precious promises has not? Max, my dear boy, never be ashamed
or afraid to show your colors; stand up for Jesus always, whether at home
or abroad, in the company of His friends or His foes.

"The acknowledgment that you are His follower, bound to obey His
commands, may expose you to ridicule, scorn, and contempt; but if you are
a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you will bear all that and more rather
than deny Him."

"Oh, Grandma Elsie! could I ever do that?" he exclaimed with emotion.

"Peter did, you remember, though he had been so sure before the
temptation came that he would rather die with his Master than deny Him."

"My father's son ought to be very brave," remarked Max after a moment's
thoughtful silence, half unconsciously thinking aloud. "I am quite sure
papa would face death any time rather than desert his colors, whether for
God or his country."

Elsie smiled kindly, approvingly upon the boy. It pleased her well to see
how proud and fond he was of his father; how thoroughly he believed in
him as the personification of all that was good and great and noble.

"I'm not nearly so brave," Max went on; "but, as papa says, the promises
are mine just as much as his, and neither of us can stand except in the
strength that God gives to those that look to Him for help in every hour
of temptation.

"Besides, Grandma Elsie, I'll not have death to fear as Peter had. Yet
I'm not sure that it isn't as hard, sometimes, to stand up against

"Yes; I believe some do find it so; many a man or boy has been found, in
the hour of trial, so lacking in true moral courage--which is courage of
the highest kind--as to choose to throw away his own life or that of
another rather than risk being jeered at as a coward. Ah, Max, I hope you
will always be brave enough to do right even at the risk of being deemed
a coward by such as 'love the praise of men more than the praise of

"Oh, I hope so!" he returned; "and if I don't, I think there should be no
excuse made for me--a boy with such a father and such friends as you and
all the rest of the folks here."

"I am pleased that you appreciate your opportunities, Max," Elsie said.

Just at that moment Evelyn and Lulu came up the veranda steps with hands
filled with wild-flowers culled from among the myriads of beautiful ones
that spangled the velvety lawn where they had been strolling together
ever since leaving the house.

"See what lovely flowers. Grandma Elsie!" cried Lulu. "Oh, I thank you
for bringing me here to Viamede, and for saying that I may gather as many
of these as I please!"

"I am very glad you enjoy it, dear child," Elsie answered. "It was one of
my great pleasures as a child, and is such to this day."

"I gathered mine for you and Mamma Vi," said Lulu; "and--oh, I should
like to put this lovely white one in your hair, if you don't mind,
Grandma Elsie," she added with a wistful look into the sweet face still
so smooth and fair, spite of the passing years.

"If I don't mind? I shall be pleased to have it there," was the smiling
reply; and Lulu hastened to avail herself of the gracious permission;
then stepping back to note the effect, "Oh," she cried, "how lovely it
does look against your beautiful golden-brown hair, Grandma Elsie!
Doesn't it, Evelyn?"

"Yes, indeed!" exclaimed both Max and Evelyn; the latter adding, "I never
saw more beautiful or abundant hair, or lovelier complexion; it seems
really absurd to call a lady 'grandma' who looks so young."

"So it does," said Max; "but we all love her so that we want to be some
relation, and can't bear to say Mrs. Travilla, and what can be done about

As he spoke, Grace came running out and joined them, wearing a very
bright, happy face.

"Oh, Grandma Elsie, and everybody, I'm just as glad as I can be!" she
cried. "I don't have to go to school, because mamma is so kind; she says
she will teach me at home."

While the others were expressing their sympathy in her happiness, Mr.
Dinsmore joined them.

"Here are letters," he said. "For you, Elsie, from Edward and your
college boys; and one for each of the Raymonds, from the captain."

He distributed them as he spoke, giving Violet's to Max with a request
that he would carry it to her.

"Thank you, sir; I'll be delighted to do the errand; because nothing
pleases Mamma Vi so much as a letter from papa, unless it is a sight of
his face," said Max, hurrying away with it.

Grace, always eager to share every joy with "her dear mamma," ran after
him with her own letter in her hand.

What a treasure it was! a letter from papa, with her name on it in his
writing, so that there could be no doubt that it was entirely her very
own! How nice to have it so! But unless there was a secret in it, mamma
should have the pleasure of reading it; Max and Lulu too: for there was
very little selfishness in Grace's sweet nature.

Lulu's face was full of gladness as she took her letter from Mr.
Dinsmore's hand and, glancing at the address, recognized the well-known
and loved handwriting.

"Dear Lu, I'm so glad for you!" murmured Evelyn close to her ear, then
turned and walked swiftly away.

"Oh, poor, dear Evelyn! she can never get a letter from her father,"
thought Lulu with a deep feeling of compassion, as she sent one quick
glance after the retreating figure.

But her thoughts instantly returned to her treasure, and she hurried to
the privacy of her own room to enjoy its perusal unobserved.

Reading what her father had written directly to her, and her alone, was
like having a private interview with him even a sight of which must be
allowed to no third person; besides, he might have said something that
would touch her feelings, and she could not bear to have any of "these
people" see her cry.

It was not a long letter, but tenderly affectionate. He called her his
dear child, his darling little daughter, and told her he was very often
thinking of and praying for her; asking that God would bless her in time
and eternity; that He would help her to conquer her faults and grow up to
good and useful womanhood; and that when her life on earth was done He
would receive her to glory and immortality in the better land.

He spoke of having received flattering accounts of her studiousness and
general good behavior since last he parted from her, and said that until
she should become a parent herself she could never know the joy of heart
it had given him. He knew that she must have fought many a hard battle
with her besetting sins, and while he hoped that a desire to please God
had been among her motives, he rejoiced in believing that love for
himself had influenced her also.

"And it makes me very happy to think so, my precious little daughter;
very glad to be able to bestow praise upon you rather than reproof," he

Lulu's cheeks grew hot with shame as she read these words of
commendation--now so undeserved--and tears started to her eyes as, in
imagination, she saw the look of deep pain and distress that would come
over her father's face when he learned of her late misconduct.

"Oh, why am I not a better girl?" she sighed to herself; "how could I
behave so when I know it grieves my dear papa like that!"



Lulu's self-upbraidings were broken in upon by a gentle tap at her door,
followed by Grace's voice saying in glad, eager tones, "Come, Lulu, mamma
is going to read us some of her letter from papa. And you shall see mine
too, if you want to."

"Yes, I'll be there in a minute," Lulu replied, jumping up, hastily
folding her letter, slipping it into its envelope, and that into her

This done, she hurried into Violet's dressing-room and joined Max and
Grace as listeners to the reading of her father's letter to his wife.

At its conclusion Max offered the one he had received, saying, "Now
please read mine aloud, Mamma Vi; I'm sure you would all like to hear

"Mine too," Grace said, laying hers in Violet's lap.

When these had been read, both Max and Grace turned expectantly to Lulu.

"Mine is just a nice little talk meant only for me," she said.

"Then, dear, we won't ask to see it," Violet answered pleasantly; and the
others seemed satisfied with the explanation.

"Of course papa hadn't heard about the school. I wonder what he would
think of our being sent to it," remarked Lulu.

"I have no doubt he would approve of anything done for you by my mother
and grandfather," Violet answered gently.

"When do we begin there?" asked Max.

"Next Monday. But you are to be taken over this afternoon for a
preliminary examination, so that you may be assigned your places and
lessons, and be all ready to set to work with the others on Monday

"Will you go with us, Mamma Vi?" asked Lulu.

"No, dear; but mamma and grandpa will."

"I must go and tell Eva, so she will be ready," exclaimed Lulu, starting
up and hurrying from the room.

Evelyn had wandered to a distant part of the grounds and seated herself
upon a little grassy mound that encircled the roots of a great oak-tree.

With the sight of Lulu's joy at receiving a letter from her absent father
a fresh sense of her own heavy bereavement had come over her, and her
heart seemed breaking with its load of bitter sorrow; its intense
longing for

"the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!"

She sat with her hands clasped in her lap, her eyes gazing far out over
the bayou, while tears coursed freely down her cheeks and her bosom
heaved with sobs.

It was her habit to go away and weep in solitude when calmness and
cheerfulness seemed no longer within her power.

Presently a light step approached, but she did not hear it, and deemed
herself still alone till some one sat down beside her and, passing an arm
round her waist, tenderly kissed her forehead.

"Dear child," said her Aunt Elsie's sweet voice, "do not grieve so; think
how blest he is--forever freed from all earth's cares and troubles, pains
and sicknesses, and forever with the Lord he loved so well."

"Yes; oh, I am glad for him!" she cried; "but how, oh, how shall I ever
learn to live without him?"

"By getting nearer to Him who has said, 'I will be a Father of the
fatherless: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'

"Dear child, Jesus loves you with a purer, deeper, stronger love than any
earthly parent can feel for his child.

"And He will never suffer any trial to visit you which shall not be for
your good; He will give you strength to bear all that He appoints, and
when the work of grace is done will take you to be forever with Himself
and the dear ones gone before."

"Yes, Aunt Elsie, thank you; it is very sweet and comforting to know and
remember all that.

"And He has given me such a good home with you and uncle; and everybody
is so kind to me, I ought to be happy; and I am most of the time, but now
and then such a longing for papa comes over me that I am compelled to go
away by myself and indulge my grief for a little. Do you think it is
wrong to do so?"

"No, dear, Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, and did not rebuke the
sisters for indulging their grief, so I cannot believe our kind heavenly
Father would forbid us the relief of tears."

The conversation gradually drifted to other themes, and when Lulu joined
them they were talking of the studies Evelyn should pursue at Oakdale.

Lulu made her communication; then she and Evelyn went into the house to
dress for dinner and the drive which was to be taken immediately after.

Each rejoiced that they were to be together in this new experience, and
they were greatly pleased when, having examined them in their studies,
Professor Manton assigned them to the same classes and to adjoining

They were pleased, too, with Oakdale. It had been a very fine place
before the war, the residence of a family of wealth and standing; and
though now in a measure fallen into decay, was still an attractive spot,
not destitute of beauty.

The rooms appointed to study and recitation were of good size, airy, and
well lighted; with a pleasant outlook--here upon lawn and lakelet, there
on garden, shrubbery, or orange orchard.

"I think it is a beautiful place for a school," Lulu remarked as they
were on their homeward way; "we shall enjoy wandering around the grounds,
or sitting under the trees on the lawn, at recess."

"Or having a game of ball," said Max.

"Do you like Professor Manton, Eva?" asked Lulu, with a look of disgust
as she mentioned his name.

"I don't know him yet," Evelyn replied, half smiling. "I intend to try to
like him."

"I don't!" cried Lulu with vehemence; "he's too pompous and too--what is

"Fawning," supplied Max. "I'm just certain he has heard that Grandpa
Dinsmore and Grandma Elsie are very rich, and I guess he thinks we are
their own grandchildren."

"Perhaps it is just as well, if it will make him treat you all the
better," remarked Rosie; "therefore I shall not enlighten him. I have
formed the same opinion of him that you and Lulu have, Max."

"But don't let us judge him too hastily," said Evelyn. "Thinking ill of
him will only make it hard to treat him with the respect we should while
we are his pupils."

"Very sage advice, Miss Leland," laughed Rosie. "But seriously, I am sure
you are quite right."

"So am I," said Max; "and I, for one, intend to try to behave and study
exactly as if he were as worthy of respect as even Grandpa Dinsmore

"I too," said Evelyn; "and as if all the teachers were."

"Very good resolutions," said Rosie; "so I adopt them for myself."

"Well," sighed Lulu, "resolutions don't seem to amount to much with me,
but I haven't the least intention of misbehaving or wasting my time and

She said it earnestly, really meaning every word of it.

The children would probably not have expressed themselves quite so freely
in the presence of their elders; but they were alone in the carriage, Mr.
Dinsmore and his daughter having prepared to take the trip on horseback.

Rosie, however, reported to her mother that part of the conversation
relating to their intended good conduct, and so greatly rejoiced her
heart, for she had been somewhat anxious in regard to the impression
made upon the children--especially Lulu, who was a keen observer of
character--by the professor, and its effect upon their behavior toward
him. She had feared that Lulu, who never did anything by halves, would
conceive a great contempt and dislike for the man, in which case there
would be small hope of her conducting herself at all as she should while
attending the school.

Mr. Dinsmore and Violet had shared her fears, and they had consulted
together as to the measures it might be wise to take in hope of averting
the unpleasant and trying occurrences which they dreaded.

"Do you think I should talk with her about it?" asked Violet. "Oh, if I
only knew what it would be best to say!"

"Perhaps the less the better," her grandfather said, with a smile; "I
should advise you not to prepare a set sermon, but to say nothing unless
upon the spur of the moment, when something she does or says may lead
naturally to it."

"No, do not let us disgust her with long lectures," said Elsie; "she is a
child that will not endure a great deal in the way of reproof or

"But perhaps, papa, a few words from you, who are certainly much wiser
than either Vi or myself, might have a good effect."

"No," he said, "because she respects you quite as much as she does me,
and loves you far better. You are the one whose words will be most likely
to benefit her."

"Then I will undertake it, asking for wisdom from above that I may do her
good and not harm," Elsie replied in a low, earnest tone.

The task thus devolving upon her, she seized a favorable moment, when
alone with Lulu, to remind her that she now had an opportunity to
establish a character for diligence and good behavior, as she was taking
a new start among strangers; while home friends were quite ready to
believe that she had turned over a new leaf and would henceforth strive
to be and to do just what would please her heavenly Father and the dear
earthly one who loved her so fondly.

The words were accompanied by a tender caress; and Lulu, looking up
brightly, lovingly into the kind face bending over her, impulsively threw
her arms round Elsie's neck, saying, "Yes, indeed, dear Grandma Elsie, I
do mean to try with all my might to be a good girl, and to learn all I
possibly can.

"I am not at all sure of success, though," she added, her face clouding
and her eyes seeking the floor.

"Dear child," Elsie said, "remember that the Lord says to us, 'In Me is
thine help.' Look to Him for help and strength in every time of trial,
and you will come off at last more than conqueror."

"How kind you are, Grandma Elsie!" Lulu said gratefully. "I think you do
believe in me yet--believe that I do really want to be good; though I
have failed so often."

"My dear little girl, I have not a doubt of it," was the kind response;
and Lulu's heart grew light: the trustful words gave her renewed hope and
courage for the fight with her besetting sins.

And she, and the others also, made a very fair beginning, winning golden
opinions from their teachers.

Both Max and the girls found pleasant companions among their new
schoolmates, while the principal of the institution was less disagreeable
than they had at first esteemed him, though they all agreed among
themselves that it would be quite impossible ever to feel any affection
for him, his wife, or Miss Diana, with whom the little girls had most to

They all liked Miss Emily best, but Walter was the only one of their
number belonging to her department, and she seldom came in contact with
any of the others.

They all took lessons in French; and as Signor Foresti had the reputation
of being a very fine music-teacher, it had been arranged that the three
little girls should be numbered among his pupils. But the first day,
Lulu, on coming home from school, went to Violet with a strong protest
against being taught by him.

"Mamma Vi," she said, "the girls in his class say he has a dreadful,
dreadful temper, gets angry and abusive when they make the slightest
mistake, and sometimes strikes them with a whalebone pointer he always
has in his hand; that is, he snaps it on their fingers, and it hurts
terribly. I shouldn't mind the pain so much; but it would just make me
furious to be disgraced by a blow from anybody, especially a man--unless
it were papa, who would have a right, of course," she added, with a vivid
blush. "So, Mamma Vi, please save me from having him for my teacher."

Violet looked much perplexed and disturbed. "Lulu, dear, it doesn't rest
with me to decide the matter, you know," she said, in a soothing,
sympathetic tone; "if it did, I should at once say you need not. But I
will speak to grandpa and mamma about it."

"Well, Mamma Vi, if I must try it, won't you tell him beforehand that he
is never to strike me? If he does, I'll not be able to restrain myself
and I'll strike him back; I just know I shall. And then we'll all be
sorry I was forced to take lessons of him."

"Oh, Lulu, my dear child, I hope you would never do that!" cried Violet
in distress. "How would your father feel? what would he say when he heard
of it?"

"I don't know, Mamma Vi, but I don't believe he would allow that man to
strike me; and I dare say he would think I served him right if I struck
him back. However, I don't mean to be understood as having formed the
deliberate purpose of doing so; only I feel that that's what I should do
without waiting a second to think."

Violet thought it altogether likely, and after a moment's cogitation
promised that the signor should be told that he could have Lulu for a
pupil only with the distinct understanding that he was never, on any
account, to give her a blow.

"And, Lulu, dear," she added entreatingly, "you will try not to furnish
him the slightest excuse for punishing you, will you not?"

"Yes, Mamma Vi; but I do want to escape taking lessons of him, for fear
we might fall out and have a fight," returned the little girl, laughing
to keep from showing that she was almost ready to cry with vexation at
the very idea of being compelled to become a pupil of the fiery little

He was a diminutive man of rather forbidding aspect.

"I fear that in that case you would get the worst of it," Violet
remarked, with a faint smile.

"He is only a little man, Mamma Vi," Lulu said, shaking her head in
dissent; "the professor would make two of him, I think,"

"And you are only a little girl, and men and boys are, as a rule, far
stronger than women and girls," replied Violet. "But aside from that
consideration it would be a dreadful thing for you to come to a
collision; and I shall certainly do what I can to prevent it."

In pursuance of that end she presently went in search of her mother and

She found them and Mrs. Dinsmore seated together on the lawn; the ladies
busied with, their needlework, Mr. Dinsmore reading aloud.

As Violet approached, he paused, and laying the open book down on his
knee, made room for her by his side.

"Don't let me interrupt you, grandpa," she said, accepting his mute

"Perhaps grandpa is ready to rest," remarked her mother; "he has been
reading steadily for more than an hour."

"Yes; I am ready to hear what my little cricket has to say," he said,
looking inquiringly at Violet.

"It will keep, grandpa," she answered lightly.

"No," he said, "let us have it now; I see something is causing you
anxiety and you have come to ask counsel or help in some direction."

"Ah, grandpa," she responded, with a smile, "you were always good at
reading faces;" then went on to repeat the conversation just held with

"What do you say, grandpa, grandma, and mamma," she wound up, "shall we
insist on her taking music-lessons of Signor Foresti?"

"Yes," said Mr. Dinsmore, with decision; "he is an uncommonly fine
teacher, and it is desirable that she should enjoy, or rather profit by,
his instructions; also it is high time she should become thoroughly
convinced of the necessity of controlling that violent temper of hers.
She needs to be taught submission to lawful authority too; and indulging
her in this whim would, in my judgment, be likely to have the very
opposite effect. What do you say, Rose and Elsie?"

"I presume you are right, Horace, as you usually are," replied his wife.

"I prefer to leave the question entirely to your decision, papa," said
Elsie. "But shall we not yield to the child's wishes so far as to warn
the man beforehand that he is never, upon any pretext, to give her a
blow? I will not have him strike Rosie," she added with heightened color;
"if he ventured such a thing I should take her immediately away."

Her father regarded her with an amused smile. "I have seldom seen you so
excited, so nearly angry, as at that thought," he remarked. "But Rosie is
not at all likely to give him any pretext for so doing; nor is Evelyn;
they are both remarkably even-tempered and painstaking with their

"However, I shall warn Signor Foresti in regard to his treatment of all
three of the little girls sent by us to the school; telling him that if
they are idle or wanting in docility and respect, he is simply to report
them for discipline at home. Will that answer, Violet?"

"Nicely, thank you, grandpa," she said, with a sigh of relief.

Lulu looked but half satisfied when her mamma reported the result of her
intercession with those higher in authority; but seeing there was nothing
more to be gained, quietly submitted to the inevitable.



It was a blessing to Lulu at this time that she had such a friend as
Evelyn Leland constantly at her side in the schoolroom and on the
playground. Their mutual affection grew and strengthened day by day. Eva
was most anxious to be a true and helpful friend to her dear Lulu; and
how could she better prove herself such than by assisting her to conquer
in the fight with her fiery temper which had so often got her into sore

Evelyn set herself earnestly to the task; urged Lulu to renewed efforts,
encouraged her after every failure with assurances of final victory if
she would but persevere in the conflict; also was ever on the watch to
warn her of threatening danger.

Did she see anger begin to flash from Lulu's eye or deepen the color on
her cheek, she would remind her of her good resolutions by an entreating
look or a gentle touch or pressure of her hand.

She thus warded off many an outburst of passion, and Lulu, like the
others, was able each week to carry home a good report of conduct; of
lessons also, for she was much interested in her studies, very ambitious
to excel, and therefore very industrious and painstaking.

All went well for the five or six weeks between their entrance into the
school and the Christmas holidays.

The older people were careful to make that holiday week a merry time for
the children. Each one received numerous beautiful gifts, and visits were
exchanged with the families of Magnolia Hall and the parsonage.

Scarcely ever a day passed in which there was not more or less
intercourse between the three families, but at this holiday time there
were special invitations and more than ordinary festivity.

Then, the holidays over, it was a little difficult to settle down again
to work and study; the children, and probably the teachers also, found it
so. However that may have been, there was certainly more than usual
friction in the working of the school machinery: the teachers reproached
the scholars with want of attention and lack of industry, and the latter
grumbled to each other that the professor and Miss Diana snubbed them,
and Mrs. Manton and the French teacher wasted neither patience nor
politeness upon them.

Also those whose turn it was to take a music-lesson reported Signor
Foresti as unbearable, testy, and fault-finding.

Fortunately Lulu was not of the number, but her respite was only for a
day, and her heart sank as she thought of the danger of a collision
between him and herself.

She thoroughly disliked him, but hitherto had been able to control
herself and avoid any clashing of her temper with his; and it had not
always been an easy thing for her to do, he having bestowed upon her many
a sharp word which she felt to be altogether undeserved.

She gave herself great credit for her continued forbearance, and thought
she could not reasonably be expected to exercise it much longer, yet knew
that failure would entail dire consequences.

Evelyn knew all about it, and trembled for her friend.

"Oh, Lu," she said, when they found themselves alone together at home on
the evening of that first day after their return to school duties, "do
let us make up our minds to bear and forbear to-morrow when we take our
music-lessons, and not give Signor Foresti the pleasure of seeing that we
care for his crossness."

"Indeed," cried Lulu, "I've put up with enough of it; and I'll be apt to
tell him so if he's much worse than usual."

"Oh, Lu, don't!" entreated Evelyn; "you have borne so splendidly with
him, and what a pity it would be to spoil it now by giving way to

"Yes; but I can't bear everything. I'm only astonished at myself for
having put up with so much. I don't believe I ever should if it hadn't
been for your help, Eva."

"I'm very glad if I have been of any assistance to you, dear Lulu,"
Evelyn answered, with a look of pleasure; "and oh, I should like to help
you to go on as you have begun."

"Well, if I don't it will be his fault; it would take the patience of a
saint to bear forever with his injustice and ill-temper. I know I have a
bad temper, but I'm sure his is a great deal worse."

"I do really think it is, Lu; but other people having worse faults
doesn't make ours any better. Besides, do you suppose he has had as good
religious teaching as you and I?"

"No; of course not. But I never thought of that before. He's a man,
though, and a man ought to be expected to have better control of himself
than a little girl."

Evelyn and Lulu took their music-lessons on the same day of the week,
Evelyn first, Lulu immediately after.

They met the next day at the door of the music-room, the one coming out,
the other just about to enter.

Evelyn was looking pale and agitated, Lulu flushed and angry, having been
scolded--unjustly, she thought--by Miss Diana, who accused her of
slighting a drawing with which she had really taken great pains.

"Oh, Lu, do be careful; the slightest mistake angers him to-day,"
whispered Evelyn in passing.

"It always does," said Lulu, gloomily.

"But you will be on your guard?" Lulu nodded, and stepped into the room
with a "Good-morning, signor."

"Good-morning, mees; you are von leetle moment too late."

Deigning no reply to that, Lulu took possession of the piano-stool,
spread out her music and began playing.

"Dat ish too fast, mees; you should not make it like to a galop or a
valtz," stormed the little man.

Without a word Lulu changed her time, playing very slowly.

"Now you make von funeral-dirge," he cried fiercely. "Play in de true
time or I vill--"

"You will what?" she asked coolly, as he paused without finishing his

"Report you, mees."

She merely flashed a scornful glance at him out of her great dark eyes,
and went on with her exercise, really doing her best to play it

But nothing would please him; he continued to fume and scold till he
succeeded in confusing the child so that she blundered sadly.

"You are striking false notes, mees," he roared; "I will not have it!"
And with the words a stinging blow from his pointer fell across the
fingers of her left hand.

Instantly Lulu was on her feet, white with concentrated passion; the next
she had seized the music-book in both hands and dealt her cowardly
assailant a blow with it on the side of his head and face that nearly
stunned him and gave him a black eye for a week.

At the same moment the piano-stool came down upon the floor with a crash,
upset by her in whirling round to reach him, and before he knew what had
happened she was out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Never had she been in a greater fury of passion. She rushed out into the
grounds and paced rapidly to and fro for several minutes, trying to
regain sufficient calmness to dare venture into the schoolroom; not
caring to appear there either for some minutes, as the hour for her
music-lesson had not yet fully expired.

When she thought it had, she went quietly in and took her accustomed

Miss Diana was busy with a recitation and took no notice; but Evelyn,
glancing at Lulu's flushed face and sparkling eyes, perceived at once
that something was wrong with her.

The rules of the school, however, forbade questioning her then, and she
could only wait to do so until they should be dismissed.

Another pupil had gone to Signor Foresti a moment before Lulu's entrance
into the school-room.

When her hour had expired she came back with a face full of excitement
and curiosity. She glanced eagerly, inquiringly at Lulu, then turning to
Miss Diana said, "Signor Foresti says Miss Raymond did not finish her
lesson, and he wishes her to come back and do it now."

"Singular!" remarked Miss Diana, elevating her eyebrows. "Do you hear,
Miss Raymond? You can go."

"I do not wish to go, Miss Diana," replied Lulu, steadying her voice with
some difficulty.

"Indeed! that has nothing to do with it, and you will please go at once."

Lulu sat still in her seat with a look of stubborn determination on her

"Do you hear, Miss Raymond?" asked the teacher, raising her voice to a
higher key.

"Yes, ma'am; but I shall never take another lesson from that man."

"And why not, pray?"

"Because he is not a gentleman."

Miss Diana looked utterly astonished. "Well, really!" she exclaimed at
length. "I shall not discuss that point with you at present, but it has
nothing to with the matter in hand. Will you be pleased to go and finish
your music-lesson?"

"No, ma'am; I have said I shall never be taught by him again; and I am
not one to break my word," concluded Lulu, loftily.

"Very well, miss; we will see what my father has to say to that."

She stepped to the door and summoned him.

He came, marching in with his most pompous air, and glancing frowningly
around, inquired what was wanted.

A great hush had fallen on the room; there was not a whisper, not a
movement; eyes and ears were intent upon seeing and hearing all that
should pass.

Miss Diana, glancing from her father to Lulu, drew herself up haughtily
and replied, "Miss Raymond refuses obedience to orders."

"Indeed!" he said, his frown growing darker and expending itself entirely
upon the culprit. "How is that? What were the orders, and what reason
does she assign for refusing obedience?"

"The signor sent word that she had not finished her music-lesson, and
that he desired her to return and do so. I directed her to obey the
summons, and she flatly refused; giving as her only reason that he was
not a gentleman."

"Not a gentleman!" repeated the professor in accents of astonishment and
indignation--"not a gentleman! In making such an assertion, young miss,
you insult not the signor merely, but myself also; since it was I who
engaged him to give instruction in music to the pupils of this
establishment. Pray, miss, on what do you found your most absurd

"Upon his conduct, sir," replied Lulu, returning the man's stare
unblenchingly, while her cheeks reddened and her eyes flashed with anger;
"he has treated me to-day as no gentleman would ever treat a lady or a
little girl."


"Scolding and storming when I was doing my very best, and going on to
actually strike me--me whom he was forbidden from the very first ever
to strike. Both Grandpa Dinsmore and Grandma Elsie--I mean Mrs.
Travilla--forbade it when they put me in his class; for I had told them I
wouldn't be taught by him if he was allowed to treat me so; and they said
he should not."

"Ah! he should not have done so; I do not allow girls to be punished in
that manner here. I shall speak to the signor about it. But you will go
and finish your lesson."

Lulu made no movement to obey, no reply except a look that said plainly
that she had no intention of obeying.

"Did you hear me, miss?" he asked wrathfully.

"I did; but I have already said several times that I would never be
taught by that man again."

He made a step toward her and a threatening gesture, but paused, seemed
to consider a moment, then saying, "We will see what your guardians have
to say about that," turned and left the room.

Every one seemed to draw a long breath of relief, and smiles, nods, and
significant glances were exchanged.

"The hour for the closing of school has arrived, young ladies, and you
are dismissed," said Miss Diana; and she also sailed from the room.

Instantly the girls, some twenty in number, flocked about Lulu with
eager, excited exclamations and questions.

"Did he really strike you, Lu?"

"How did you take it?"

"I hope you returned the blow? I certainly shall if ever he dares to lift
his hand to me." This from a haughty-looking brunette of fourteen or

"Brings it down, you mean, with a snap of his pointer on your fingers,"
laughed a merry little girl with golden hair and big blue eyes.

Neither Rosie nor Evelyn had spoken as yet, though the one was standing,
the other sitting, close at Lulu's side.

Lulu's left hand lay in her lap, her handkerchief wrapped loosely about
it. Eva gently removed the handkerchief, and tears sprang to her eyes at
sight of the wounded fingers.

"Oh, Lu!" she cried in accents of love and pity, "how he has hurt you!"

A shower of exclamations followed from the others. "Hasn't he? the vile

"Cruel monster! worst of savages! He ought to be flogged within an inch
of his life!"

"He ought to be shot down like a dog!"

"He ought to be hung!"

"It's a very great shame," said Rosie, putting her arm affectionately
round Lulu's neck. "I hope grandpa will have him arrested and sent to

"But oh, Lu," cried Nettie Vance, the one who had brought the signor's
message, "do tell me, didn't you strike him back? He looked as if he had
had a pretty heavy blow on the side of his face."

"So he had; as hard a one as I could give with the music-book in both
hands," replied Lulu, smiling grimly at the recollection.

Her statement was received with peals of laughter, clapping of hands and
cries of,

"Good for you, Miss Raymond!"

"Oh, but I'm glad he got his deserts for once!"

"I think he'll be apt to keep his hands--or rather his pointer--off you
in the future."

"Off other people too," added a timid little girl who had felt its sting
more than once. "I was rejoiced to hear the professor say he didn't allow
such punishment for girls. I'll let the signor know, and that I'll inform
on him if ever he touches me with his pointer again."

"So should I," said Nettie; "I wouldn't put up with it. But he has never
hurt you as he has Lulu. See! every one of her fingers is blistered!"

"Yes; it must have hurt terribly. I don't wonder she struck him back."

"Indeed, it wasn't the pain I cared so much for," returned Lulu, scorning
the implication; "it was the insult."

"Young ladies," said a severely reproving voice behind them, "why are you
tarrying here? It is high time you were all on your homeward way. Miss
Rosie Travilla, Miss Evelyn Leland, and Miss Raymond, the Viamede
carriage has been in waiting for the last half-hour."

The speaker was no other than Mrs. Manton, who had entered unperceived by
them in their excitement.

No one replied to her rebuke, but there was a sudden scurrying into the
cloak-room, followed by a hasty donning of hats and wraps.

Rosie brought up the rear, muttering, as she drew out and glanced at a
pretty little watch, "Hardly so long as that, I am sure!"

"Ah, you can't expect perfect accuracy under such trying circumstances,"
laughed Nettie Vance.

"Wait, Lu," said Evelyn, softly; "let me help you with your cloak, or you
will be sure to hurt those poor fingers."

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