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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 255 pages of information about Elsie's Womanhood.

“No, papa dear, there has been so much company,” she answered, laying her head on his shoulder.  “And——­”

“And what?” as she paused.  “Your father used to know all that concerned you one way or the other.  Is he to be shut out from your confidence now?  Ah, I think he must have been for some time past.”

“I could not tell you that, papa,” she murmured, blushing visibly in the moonlight.  “Indeed, I hardly knew it myself till——­”

“Till when?”

“The night of Sophie’s wedding.”

“Ah!” he said, musingly; “but I cannot get over my surprise; he is your senior by so many years, and you have known him from childhood and looked upon him as a sort of uncle.  I wonder at your choice.”

“But you don’t object, papa?”

“No, if I must give you away—­and I’ve always known that would come some time—­I would rather it should be to him than any one else, for I can never doubt that he will be tender and true to my precious one, when she leaves her father’s home for his.”

“Papa, papa, don’t speak of it,” she cried, winding her arms about his neck, “I can’t bear to think of it; that our home will no longer be the same, that I can’t come to you every night and be folded to your heart as I have been ever since I was a little girl.”

“Well, dearest,” he said, after a moment, in which he held her very close and caressed her with exceeding tenderness, “we shall not be far apart or miss passing some time together many days of the year.  And you are not in haste to leave me?”

“Oh, no, no! why should I be?  Please keep me a little while yet.”

“I intend to:  it will take at least a year to get used to the thought of doing without you, and so long Travilla must be content to wait.  Nor can we give you up wholly even then; your suite of rooms shall still be yours, and you must come now and then and occupy them for days or weeks at a time.

“Now, daughter, good-night.  Come to me to-morrow morning in my study, soon after breakfast, I have something more of importance to say to you.”

“I shall obey, and without fear,” she answered gayly, “though I remember once being quite frightened at a similar order; but that was when I was a silly little girl and didn’t know how dearly my own papa loved me.”

“And when he was strangely stern to his own little child,” he answered, with another tender caress.

CHAPTER THIRD.

“So fair that had you beauty’s picture took,
It must like her, or not like beauty look.” 
—­ALLEYN’S Henry VII.

Elsie paused at the half-open door of her father’s private room.

Mr. Dinsmore, like most men, was fond of light and air; through the wide open windows the morning breeze stole softly in, laden with sweets from garden and lawn, and the rich carpet of oak and green was flecked with gold where the sunbeams came shimmering down between the fluttering leaves of a beautiful vine that had festooned itself about the one looking to the east.

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