Silent tears rolled down Elsie’s cheeks as she looked and listened; but her father drew her to his breast and kissed them away, his own eyes brimming, his heart too full for speech.
Presently he led her back to the boudoir, and showed her the portraits of her maternal grandparents, and one of her mother, taken at ten or twelve years of age.
“What a lovely little girl she was,” murmured Elsie, gazing lovingly upon it.
“Very much like what her daughter was at the same age,” he answered. “But come, this, too, will interest you.” And lifting the lid of a dainty work-basket, he pointed to a bit of embroidery, in which the needle was still sticking, as though it had been laid down by the deft fingers but a few moments ago.
Elsie caught it up and kissed it, thinking of the touch of those dear dead fingers, that seemed to linger over it yet.
“She was the pride
Of her familiar sphere, the daily joy
Of all who on her gracefulness might gaze,
And in the light and music of her way
Have a companion’s portrait,”
Elsie had fallen asleep thinking of the dear mother whose wealth she inherited, and whose place she was now filling; thinking of her as supremely blest, in that glorious, happy land, where sin and sorrow are unknown. Thinking, too, of Him, through whose shed blood she had found admittance there.
The same sweet thoughts were still in the loving daughter’s mind, as she woke to find the morning sun shining brightly, a fire blazing cheerily on the hearth, and Aunt Chloe coming in with a silver waiter filled with oranges prepared for eating in the manner usual in the tropics.
She had gathered them the night before, taken off the peel, leaving the thick white skin underneath except on the top of each, where she cut it away from a spot about the size of a silver quarter of a dollar. She then placed them on a waiter, with the cut part uppermost, and set them where the dew would fall on them all night. Morning found them with the skin hard and leathery, but filled with delicious juice, which could be readily withdrawn from it.
At that sight, a sudden memory seemed to flash upon Elsie, and starting up in the bed, “Mammy!” she cried, “didn’t you do that very thing when I was a child?”
“What, honey? bring de oranges in de mornin’?”
“Yes, I seem to remember your coming in at that door, with just such a waiterful.”
“Yes, darlin’, de folks allus eats dem ‘foah breakfast. Deys jes’ lubly, Miss Elsie; massa say so, lubly and delicious.” And she brought the waiter to her bedside, holding it out for her young mistress to help herself.
“Yes, mammy dear, they look very tempting, but I won’t eat with unwashed hands and face,” said Elsie gayly. “And so papa has stolen a march upon me and risen first?”