Elsie undertook the errand and did it so well that the Fosters were deeply touched by this kindness on the part of one whom they had formerly hated and reviled, and whose husband their brother had tried to kill.
The offer was gratefully accepted, the young Lelands became the pupils of these former foes, little courtesies and kind offices were exchanged, and in the end warm friendship took the place of enmity.
“The mother, in her office holds the key
Of the soul; and she it is who stamps the coin
Of character, and makes the being who would be a savage,
But for her gentle cares, a Christian man.
Then crown her queen of the world.”
The families from the Oaks and Ashlands had been spending the day at Ion.
It was late in the afternoon and while awaiting the call to tea, they had all gathered in the drawing-room, whose windows overlooked the avenue and lawn on one side, on the other a very beautiful part of the grounds, and a range of richly wooded hills beyond.
A pause in the conversation was broken by Mr. Travilla. “Wife,” he said, turning to Elsie, “Cousin Ronald should see Viamede: our old friend here, Mrs. Carrington, needs change of scene and climate; two good things that would not hurt any one present: shall we not invite them all to go and spend the winter with us there?”
“O, yes, yes indeed! what a delightful plan!” she cried with youthful enthusiasm. “Ah, I hope you will all accept; the place is almost a paradise upon earth, and we would do all in our power to make the time pass agreeably. Cousin Ronald, don’t refuse. Papa dear, don’t try to hunt up objections.”
“Ah ha! um h’m! I’ve not the least idea of it, cousin,” said the one.
“I am not,” said the other, smiling fondly upon her, “but must be allowed a little time to consider.”
“O papa, don’t say no!” cried Rosie. “Mamma, coax him quick before he has time to say it.”
“I think there’s no need,” laughed Rose. “Can’t you see that he is nearly as eager as the rest of us? and how could he do a whole winter without your sister? How could any of us, for that matter?”
“You have advanced an unanswerable argument, my dear,” said Mr. Dinsmore, “and I may as well give consent at once.”
“Thank you, mamma,” said Elsie, “thank you both. Now if the rest of you will only be as good!” and she glanced persuasively from one to another.
“As good!” said Sophie smiling, “if to be ready to accept the kindest and most delightful of invitations be goodness, then I am not at all inclined to be bad. Mother, shall we not go?”
“O grandma, you will not say no?” cried the young Carringtons who had listened to the proposition with eager delight.
“No, please don’t,” added little Elsie, putting her arms coaxingly about the old lady’s neck. “Mamma, papa, grandpa and mammy all say it is so lovely there, and we want you along.”