“No; you may do just what I have given permission for, and nothing else.”
“Grace was in all her steps,
heaven in her eye,
In ev’ry gesture, dignity and love.”
—MILTON’S paradise lost.
“But, Elsie, what of Mr. Travilla?” asked her father, as he handed her into the saddle.
“He will not be here till evening, sir,” she answered, the rose on her cheek deepening slightly.
“Then I can have undisturbed possession for to-day at least,” replied Mr. Dinsmore, mounting. “We couldn’t have a lovelier day for a ride.”
“Nor better company,” added Elsie, archly, keeping her horse’s head on a line with that of her father’s larger Steed, as they followed the winding carriage road at a brisk canter.
“Why, you conceited little puss?” returned Mr. Dinsmore laughing.
Elsie blushed more deeply this time. “Why, papa, you are the company to-day, are you not? I wished to go, and you kindly arranged to accompany me.”
“Ah! and that is how you look at it? Well, I recall my rebuke, and thank you for your—what shall I say—pretty compliment, or appreciation of my society?”
“Both, if you like. Oh, how nice it is to be at home again in our own dear native land.”
“And what do you call your own dear native land?”
“What a strange question, papa! The great, grand old Union to be sure—North and South, East and West—is it not all mine? Have you not taught me so yourself?”
“Yes,” he said musingly.
They rode on in silence for some minutes, and when he spoke again, it was upon a subject entirely foreign to the last.
“The place looks natural,” he remarked, as they turned into the avenue leading to the fine old dwelling of the Carringtons.
“How kind, how very kind, to come so soon!” was Mrs. Carrington’s cordial, joyful salutation. “Mr. Dinsmore, I owe you a thousand thanks for not only permitting your daughter to come, but bringing her yourself.”
“You are very welcome, my dear madam,” he answered courteously; “and, indeed, I should like to see Mrs. Rose myself, when she is well enough and feels that it will be agreeable to her.”
A few moments’ chat in the drawing-room, and Mr. Dinsmore drew out his watch. “How long a talk do you want with your friend to-day, Elsie?” he asked.
“Oh, just as long as I can be allowed, papa!” she cried, with much of the old childish eagerness.
“Then the sooner you begin, the better, I think, for we ought to be on our way to Roselands in an hour, or an hour and a quarter at the farthest.”
Upon that the gentlemen retired to the library to talk over business matters, and Mrs. Carrington led the way for Elsie to Lucy’s room. But pausing in the upper hall, she took the young girl in her arms, folding her in a close, loving embrace, and heaping upon her tearful, tender, silent caresses.