Mr. Dinsmore came softly in and stood by the little group, his features working with emotion. “My darling,” he murmured, “my precious daughter, may God comfort and sustain you.”
“He does, papa,” she answered in low, calm tones, as she raised her head and lifted her mournful eyes to his face; “His consolations are not small in the trying hour.”
“You can give her up?” he asked, in a choking voice, looking with anguish upon the wasted features of his almost idolized grandchild.
“Yes, papa—if He sees fit to take her; ’twere but selfishness to want to keep her here. So safe, so happy will she be in Jesus’ arms.”
Mr. Travilla’s frame shook with emotion, and Mr. Dinsmore was not less agitated; but the mother was still calm and resigned.
No sound had come from those little lips for hours; but now there was a faintly murmured “Mamma!”
“Yes, darling, mamma is here,” Elsie answered, softly pressing a kiss on the white brow; “what shall mamma do for her baby?”
“Jesus loves wee Elsie?” and the dreamy eyes unclosed and looked up into the sweet pale face bent so lovingly over her. “Elsie so glad. Mamma sing ‘Happy land.’”
The young mother’s heart was like to burst, but with a silent prayer for strength, she controlled herself and sang low and sweetly, and even as she sang a change came over the child, and it fell into a deep, calm, natural sleep that lasted for hours. All the time on the mother’s lap, her eyes scarce moving from the dear little face; her breath almost suspended, lest that life-giving slumber should be broken.
In vain husband and father in turn entreated to be allowed to relieve her.
“No, oh no!” she whispered. “I cannot have her disturbed; it might cost her life.”
This was the turning point in the disease, and from that time the little one began to amend. But very weak and frail, she was still in need of weeks of continued tender, careful nursing.
“Mamma’s lap” was the place preferred above all others; but patient and unselfish, she yielded without a murmur when invited to the arms of papa, grandpa, Rose, or nurse, and told that “dear mamma was tired and needed rest.”
Elsie was indeed much reduced in health and strength; but love, joy, and thankfulness helped her to recuperate rapidly.
“What fates impose, that
men must needs abide.
It boots not to resist both wind and tide.”
—SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY VI.
From the time of Mr. Lincoln’s election Walter Dinsmore’s home had been made very uncomfortable to him; after the fall of Sumter it was well-nigh unendurable.
Never were two brothers more entirely unlike than he and Arthur; the latter, selfish, proud, haughty, self-willed, passionate, and reckless of consequences to himself or others; the former sweet-tempered, amiable, and affectionate, but lacking in firmness and self-reliance.