An excursion had been planned for the next day, in which the whole party, adults and children, were to have a share. They were to leave at an early hour in the morning, travel several miles by boat, and spend the day picnicking on a deserted plantation—one Meta had not yet seen, but had heard spoken of as a very lovely place.
She had set her heart on going, and this decree of her mother came upon her as a great blow. She was very fond of being on the water, and of seeing new places, and had pictured to herself the delights of roaming over the large old house, which she had heard was still standing, peeping into the closets, pulling open drawers, perhaps discovering secret stairways and—oh delightful thought!—possibly coming upon some hidden treasure forgotten by the owners in their hasty flight.
She wept bitterly, coaxed, pleaded, and made fair promises for the future, but all in vain. Her mother was firm.
“You must stay at home, Meta,” she said. “It grieves me to deprive you of so great a pleasure, but I must do what I can to help you to overcome this dreadful fault. You have chosen stolen pleasures at the expense of disobedience to me, and most ungrateful, wicked behavior toward my kind friend; and as a just and necessary punishment you must be deprived of the share you were to have had in the innocent enjoyments planned for to-morrow. You shall also make a full confession to your Aunt Elsie and ask her forgiveness.”
“I won’t!” exclaimed Meta angrily; then catching the look of pained surprise in her mother’s face, she ran to her and throwing her arms about her neck, “O mamma! mamma! forgive me!” she cried. “I can’t bear to see you look so grieved: I will never say that again; I will do whatever you bid me.”
Mrs. Carrington kissed her child in silence, then taking her by the hand, “Come and let us have this painful business over,” she said, and led the way to Mrs. Travilla’s boudoir.
Elsie had no reproaches for Meta, but kindly forgave her, and even requested that she might be permitted to share in the morrow’s enjoyment, but Mrs. Carrington would not hear of it.
“Mature I’ll court in her sequester’d
By mountain, meadow, streamlet grove or cell.”
Mr. Dinsmore was pacing the front veranda, enjoying the cool, fresh morning air, when little feet came pattering through the hall and a sweet child voice hailed him with, “Good morning, my dear grandpa.”
“Ah, grandpa’s little cricket, where were you last evening?” he asked, sitting down and taking her on his knee.
It was his pet name for Vi, because she was so merry.
The fair face flushed, but putting her arms about his neck, her lips to his ear, “I was in mamma’s dressing-room, grandpa,” she whispered. “I was ’bliged to stay there, ’cause I’d been naughty and disobeyed mamma.”