“But that was many years ago, dear grandpa, and we will ’let the dead past bury its dead,’ You will not deny me the great pleasure of helping to repair the desolations of war in the dear home of my childhood? You will take it as help sent by Him whose steward I am?”
He clasped her close, and his kisses and tears were warm upon her cheek, as he murmured, in low, broken tones, “God bless you, child! I can refuse you nothing. You shall do as you will.”
At last, Elsie had won her way to her stern grandfather’s heart; and henceforth she was dear to him as ever one of his children had been.
* * * * *
It is a sweet October morning in the year 1867. Ion, restored to more than its pristine loveliness, lies basking in the beams of the newly risen sun; a tender mist, gray in the distance, rose-colored and golden where the rays of light strike it more directly, enveloping the landscape; the trees decked in holiday attire—green, russet, orange, and scarlet.
The children are romping with each other and their nurses, in the avenue; with the exception of wee Elsie, now a fair, gentle girl of nine, who occupies a rustic seat a little apart from the rest. She has a Bible in her hand, and the sweet young face is bent earnestly, lovingly, over the holy book.
On the veranda stands the mother, watching her darlings with eyes that grow misty with glad tears, while her heart sends up its joyous thanksgiving to Him who had been the Guide of her youth and the stay and staff of maturer years.
A step approaches, and her husband’s arm encircles her waist, while, as she turns her head, his kindly gray eyes gaze into the depths of her soft hazel ones, with a love stronger than life—or than death.
“Do you know, little wife, what day this is?”
She answered with a bright, glad smile; then her head dropped upon his shoulder.
“Yes, my husband; ten years ago to-day I committed my happiness to your keeping, and never for one moment have I regretted the step.”
“Bless you, darling, for the word! How great are the mercies of God to me! Yonder is our first-born. I see you as you were when first I met and coveted you; and here you stand by my side, the true wife who has been for ten years the joy and light of my heart and home. Wife, I love you better to-day than ever before, and if it be the will of God, may we yet have five times ten years to live together in love and harmony.”
“We shall!” she answered earnestly; “eternity is ours, and death itself can part us but for a little while.”