|Product dimensions:||5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.41(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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Elsie's New Relations
By Martha Finley
Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLCCopyright © 1877 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC
All rights reserved.
For wild, or calm, or far or near,
I love thee still, thou glorious sea.
— Mrs. Hemans
I bless thee for kind looks and words
Shower'd on my path like dew,
For all the love in those deep eyes,
A gladness ever new.
— Mrs. Hemans
It was late in the afternoon of a delicious October day. The woods to the back of the two cottages where the Dinsmores, Travillas, and Raymonds had spent the last three or four months were clothed with scarlet, crimson, and gold. The air from the sea was more delightful than ever, but the summer visitors to the neighboring cottages and hotels had fled, and the beach was almost deserted as Edward and his wife wandered slowly along it, hand in hand. Their attention was divided between the splendors of a magnificent sunset and the changing beauty of the sea. Yonder away in the distance it was a pale grey, near at hand a delicate green slowly changing to pink, each wave crested with snowy foam, and anon they all turned to a brilliant, burnished gold.
"Oh, how very beautiful!" cried Zoe, in an ecstasy of delight. "Edward, have you ever seen anything finer in all your life?"
"Never! Let us go down this flight of steps and seat ourselves on the next to the lowest. We will then be quite near the waves and yet out of danger of being wet by them."
He led her down as he spoke, seating his wife comfortably and himself by her side with his arm lightly around her.
"I've grown very fond of the sea," she remarked. "I shall be very sorry to leave it. Will you not be sorry to leave it?"
"Yes and no," he answered, doubtfully. "I, too, am fond of the ocean, but I am also eager to get to Ion and begin life in earnest. Isn't it time, seeing I have been a married man for nearly five months? Ah, but why that sigh, love?"
"Oh, Edward, are you not sorry you are married? Are you not sometimes very much ashamed of me?" she asked, her cheeks burning hotly and the downcast eyes filling with tears.
"Ashamed of you, Zoe? Why, darling, you are my heart's best treasure," he said, drawing her closer to his side and touching his lips to her forehead. "What has put so absurd an idea into your head?'
"I know so little, so very little compared to your mother and sisters," she sighed. "I'm finding it out more and more every day, as I hear them talk among themselves and to other people."
"But you are younger than any of them, a very great deal younger than mamma, and you will have plenty of time to catch up to them."
"But I'm a married woman and can't go to school any more. Ah," with another and very heavy sigh, "I wish papa hadn't been quite so indulgent, or that I'd had sense enough not to take advantage of it to the neglect of my studies!"
"No, I suppose it would hardly do to send you to school, even if I could spare you—which I can't," he returned laughingly, "but there is a possibility of studying at home, under a governess or tutor. What do you say to offering yourself as a pupil to grandpa?"
"Oh, no, no! I'm sure he can be very stern upon occasion. I've seen it in his eyes when I've made a foolish remark that he didn't approve, and I should be too frightened to learn if he were my teacher."
"Then someone else must be thought of," Edward said with a look of amusement. "How would I do?"
"You? Oh, splendidly!"
"You are not afraid of me?"
"No, indeed!" she cried with a merry laugh and a saucy look up into his face.
"And yet, I'm the only person who has authority over you."
"Authority, indeed!" she said with quite a little contemptuous sniff.
"You promised to obey, you know."
"Did I? Well, maybe so, but that's just a form that doesn't really mean anything. Most any married woman will tell you that."
"Do you consider the whole of your marriage vow an unmeaning form, Zoe?" he asked with sudden gravity and a look of doubt and pain in his eyes that she could not bear to see.
"No! I was only in jest," she said dropping her eyes and blushing. "But really, Edward, you don't think, do you, that wives are to obey like children?"
"No, love, I don't. I think in a true marriage the two are so entirely one—so unselfishly desirous each to please the other—that there is little or no clashing of wills. Thus far, ours has seemed such to me. How is it, do you think, little wife?"
"I hope so, Edward," she said, laying her head on his shoulder. "I know one thing—that there is nothing in this world I care so much for as to please you and be all and everything to you."
"And I can echo your words from my very heart, dearest," he said, caressing her. "I hope you are at home and happy among your new relatives."
"Yes, indeed, Edward, especially with mamma. She is the dearest, kindest mother in the world—to me as much as to her own children—and oh, so wise and good!"
"You are not sorry now that you and I are not to live alone?" he queried, with a pleased smile.
"No, oh, no! I'm ever so glad that she is to keep house at Ion and all of us to live together as one big family."
"Except Lester and Elsie," he corrected. "They will be with us for a short time, then go to Fairview for the winter. And it will probably become their home after that, for mamma will buy it, if Mr. Leland—Lester's uncle, who owns the place—carries out his intention of moving to California. His children have settled there, and, of course, the father and mother want to be near them."
The sun had set, and all the bright hues had faded from the sea, leaving it a dull grey.
"What a deserted spot this seems!" remarked Zoe, "and only the other day it was happy with crowds of people. Nobody to be seen now but ourselves," glancing up and down the coast as she spoke. "Ah, yes! Yonder is someone sitting on that piece of wreck."
"Why, it is Lulu," Edward said, following the direction of her glance. "It is late for the child to be out so far from home—a full mile I should say. I'll go and invite her to walk back with us."
"No, you needn't," said Zoe, "for see, there is her father going to her. But let us go home, for I must change my dress before tea."
"And I want to walk leisurely along," returned Edward rising and giving her his hand to help her up the steps.
* * *
Lulu was reading, so absorbed in the story that she did not perceive her father's approach. As he accosted her with, "It is late for you to be here alone, my child; you should have come in an hour ago," she gave a great start, and involuntarily tried to hide her book.
"What have you there? Evidently something you do not wish your father to see," he said, bending down and taking it from her unwilling hand.
"Ah, I don't wonder!" he said as he hurriedly turned over a few pages. "A dime novel! Where did you get this, Lulu Raymond?"
"It's Max's, papa; he lent it to me. Oh, papa, what made you do that?" she cried, as with an great fling, the captain suddenly sent it far out into sea. "Max made me promise to take care of it and give it back to him, and besides, I wanted to finish the story."
"Neither you nor Max shall ever again read such poisonous stuff as that with my knowledge and consent," replied the captain in stern accents.
"Papa, I didn't think you could be so unkind," grumbled Lulu, her face expressing extreme vexation and disappointment. "Or that you would throw away other people's things."
"Unkind, my child?" he said, sitting down beside her and taking her hand in his. "Suppose you had gathered a quantity of beautiful, sweet-tasting berries that I knew to be poisonous, and you were about to eat them. Would it be unkind of me to snatch them out of your hand and throw them into the sea?"
"No, sir, because it would kill me to eat them; but that book couldn't kill me, or even make me sick."
"No, not your body, but it would injure your soul, which is worth far more. I'm afraid I have been too negligent in regard to the mental food of my children," he went on after a slight pause, rather as if thinking aloud than talking to Lulu. "And unfortunately I cannot take the oversight of it constantly in the future. But, remember, Lulu," he added firmly, "I wholly forbid dime novels, and you are not to read anything without first obtaining the approval of your father or one of those under whose authority he has placed you."
Lulu's face was full of sullen discontent and anger. "Papa," she said, "I don't like to obey those people instead of you."
"If you are wise, you will try to like what has to be," he said.
"It wouldn't have to be if you would only say I needn't, papa."
"I shall not say that, Lucilla," he answered with grave displeasure. "You need guidance and control even more than most children of your age, and I should not be doing my duty as your father if I left you without them."
"I don't like to obey people that are no relation to me!" she cried, viciously kicking away a little heap of sand.
"No, you don't even like to obey your father," he said with a sigh. "Max and Gracie together do not give me half the anxiety that you do by your willful temper, Lulu."
"Why can't I do as I please like grown people?" she asked in a more subdued tone.
"Even grown people have to obey," said her father. "I am now expecting orders from the government, and I must obey them when they come. I must obey my superior officers, and the officers and men under me must obey me. So must my children. God gave you to me and requires me to train you up in His fear and service to the best of my ability. I should not be doing that if I allowed you to read such hurtful trash as that I just took from you."
"It was Max's, papa, and I promised to give it back. What shall I say when he asks me for it?"
"Tell him to come to me about it."
"Well, what is it, my little Lu?" he asked, as she paused and hesitated.
"Please, papa, don't punish him. You never told him not to buy or read such things, did you?"
"No, and I think he would not have done so in defiance of a prohibition from me. So I shall not punish him. But I am pleased that you should plead for him. I am very glad that my children all love and care for one another."
"Yes, indeed we do, papa!" she said. "And we all love you, and you love Max and Gracie very much, and you—"
"And Lulu also," he said putting his arm about her and drawing her closer to his side, as she paused with quivering lip and downcast eyes.
"As much as you do Max and Gracie?" she asked brokenly, hiding her face on his shoulder. "You said just now I was naughtier than both of them."
"Yet, you are my own dear child, and it is because I love you so dearly that I am so distressed over your quick temper and willfulness. I fear that if not conquered they will cause great unhappiness to yourself as well as to your friends. I want you to promise me, daughter, that you will try to conquer them, asking God to help you."
"I will, papa," she said with unwonted humility, "but, oh, I wish you were going to stay with us! It's easier to be good with you than with anybody else."
"I am sorry, indeed, that I cannot," he said, rising and taking her hand. "Come, we must go back to the house now."
They moved along in silence for a little, then Lulu said with an affectionate look up into her father's face, "Papa, I do so like to walk this way!"
"How do you mean?" he asked, smiling kindly down upon her.
"With my hand in yours, papa. You know I haven't often had this chance."
"No, my poor child," he sighed, "that is one of the deprivations to which a seaman and his family have to submit."
"Well," she said, lifting his hand to her lips, "I'd rather have you for my father than anybody else."
At that, with a smile full of pleasure and fatherly affection, he bent down and kissed his daughter.CHAPTER 2
By thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
— Matthew 12:37
As they drew near the house Max hurried out to meet them.
"I've been to the post office since the mail came in, papa," he said, "and there is no government letter for you, yet. I'm so glad! I hope they're going to let us keep you a good deal longer."
"I'm not sorry to prolong my stay with my wife and children," the captain responded, "but cannot hope to be permitted to do so very much longer."
"Grandpa Dinsmore has come back from taking Harold and Herbert to college," pursued Max, "and we're all to take tea there, Mamma Vi says—because grandpa wants us all about him this first evening."
"That is kind," said the captain, opening the gate and looking smilingly at Violet, who, with little Gracie, was waiting for him on the veranda. He stopped there to speak with them, while Lulu hurried on into the house and up to her own room, Max following.
"Where's my book, Lu?" he asked.
"Oh, Max, I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it—papa caught me reading it and took it away from me. And he told me when you asked me for it I should send you to him."
Max's face expressed both vexation and alarm. "I sha'n't do that," he said, "if I never get it. But was he very angry, Lu?"
"No, and you needn't be afraid to go to him, for he won't punish you. I asked him not to, and he said he wouldn't. But he threw the book into the sea, and said neither you nor I should ever read such poisonous stuff with his knowledge or consent."
"Then, where would be the use of my going to him for it? I'll not say a word about it."
He went out, closed the door behind him, and stood irresolutely in the hall, debating with himself whether to go upstairs or down. Upstairs in his room was another dime novel that he had been reading that afternoon. He had not quite finished it and was eager to do so. He wanted very much to know how the story ended, and had meant to read the few remaining pages now before the call to tea. But his father's words, reported to him by Lulu, made it disobedience.
It's a very little sin, whispered the tempter. Having read so much of the story, you may as well read the rest.
But it will be disobeying willfully the kind father who forgave a heedless act of disobedience not very long ago, said conscience, the dear father who must soon leave you to be gone no one knows how long, perhaps never to come back.
Just then the captain came quickly up the stairs. "Ah, Max, there you are," he said in a cheery tone, then laid his hand affectionately on the boy's shoulder. "Come in here with me, my son; I want to have a little talk with you while I get ready for tea."
"Yes, sir," said Max immediately following him into the dressing room.
"What have you been reading today?" asked the captain, throwing off his coat, pouring water into the basin from the pitcher, and beginning to wash.
Max hung his head in silence until the question was repeated, then stammered out the title of the book—the one he was so desirous to finish.
"Where did you get it?" asked the father.
"I bought it at a newsstand, papa."
"You must not buy anything more of that kind, Max. You must not read any such trash."
"I will not again, papa. I should not this time if you had ever forbidden me before."
"No, I don't believe you would be guilty of willful disobedience to any positive command of your father," the captain said in a grave but kindly tone. "And, yet, I think you suspected I would not approve. Why else would you be so unwilling to tell me what you had been reading just now?"
He was standing before the bureau now, hairbrush in hand, and as he spoke, he paused in his work and gazed searchingly at his son.
Max's face flushed hotly and his eyes drooped for a moment, then looking up into his father's face he said frankly, "Yes, papa, I believe I was afraid you might take the book from me if you saw it. I deserve that you should be angry with me for that and for lending one to Lu."
"I am displeased with you on both accounts," the captain replied, "but I shall overlook it this time, my son, hoping there will be no repetition of either offense. Now go to your room, gather up all the doubtful reading matter you have, and bring it here to me. I shall not go with you but trust your honor to keep nothing back."
"Oh, thank you, papa, for trusting me!" cried Max, his countenance brightening wonderfully, and he hastened away to do his father's bidding.
Excerpted from Elsie's New Relations by Martha Finley. Copyright © 1877 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.
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