“His house she enters, there to be a light
Shining within, when all without is night;
A guardian angel o’er his life presiding,
Doubling his pleasure, and his cares dividing.”
—ROGERS’ HUMAN LIFE.
At the set time our friends turned their faces homeward, leaving their loving dependents of Viamede all drowned in tears. In the six weeks of their stay, “Massa” an’ “Missus” had become very dear to those warm, childlike hearts.
Elsie could not refrain from letting fall some bright sympathetic drops, though the next moment her heart bounded with joy at the thought of home and father. The yearning to hear again the tones of his loved voice, to feel the clasp of his arm and the touch of his lip upon brow and cheek and lip, increased with every hour of the rapid journey.
Its last stage was taken in the Ion family carriage, which was found waiting for them at the depot.
Elsie was hiding in her own breast a longing desire to go first to the Oaks, chiding herself for the wish, since her husband was doubtless fully as anxious to see his mother, and wondering why she had not thought of asking for a gathering of both families at the one place or the other.
They had left the noisy city far behind, and were bowling smoothly along a very pleasant part of the road, bordered with greensward and shaded on either side by noble forest trees; she with her mind filled with these musings, sitting silent and pensive, gazing dreamily from the window.
Suddenly her eyes encountered a well-known noble form, seated on a beautiful spirited horse, which he was holding in with a strong and resolute hand.
“Papa!” she exclaimed, with a joyous, ringing cry; and instantly he had dismounted, his servant taking Selim’s bridle-reins, the carriage had stopped, and springing out she was in his arms.
“My dear father, I was so hungry to see you,” she said, almost crying for joy. “How good of you to come to meet us, and so much nicer here than in the crowded depot.”
“Good of me,” he answered, with a happy laugh. “Of course, as I was in no haste to have my darling in my arms. Ah, Travilla, my old friend, I am very glad to see your pleasant face again.” And he shook hands warmly. “Many thanks to you (and to a higher power),” he added reverently, “for bringing her safely back to me. She seems to have been well taken care of; plump and bright and rosy.”
“I have been, papa; even you could not be more tender and careful of me than—my husband is.”
Her father smiled at the shy, half-hesitating way in which the last word slipped from the rich red lips, and the tender, loving light in the soft eyes as they met the fond, admiring gaze of Travilla’s.
“No repentance on either side yet, I see,” he said laughingly. “Travilla, your mother is in excellent health and spirits; but impatient to embrace both son and daughter, she bade me say. We all take tea by invitation at Ion to-day; that is, we of the Oaks, including Aunt Wealthy and Miss King.”