From these, they learned to look upon the riches, honors and pleasures of earth as the things to be most earnestly coveted, most worthy of untiring efforts to secure.
Life at the Crags was a strange puzzle to the Ion children: no blessing asked at the table, no gathering of the family morning or evening for prayer or praise or the reading of God’s word.
“Mamma, what does it mean?” they asked; “why doesn’t Uncle Ross do as papa does?”
Elsie scarce knew how to answer them. “Don’t let us talk about it, dears,” she said: “but whatever others may do, let us serve God ourselves and seek his favor above everything else; for ‘in his favor is life’ and his loving kindness is better than life.”
“To each his sufferings:
all are men
Condemn’d alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
The unfeeling for his own.”
The weather was delightful: because of Phil’s return the children were excused altogether from lessons and nearly every day was taken up with picnics, riding, driving and boating excursions up and down the river.
They were never allowed to go alone on the water or behind any horse but “Old Nan,” an old slow moving creature that Phil said “could not be persuaded or forced out of a quiet even trot that was little better than a walk, for five consecutive minutes.”
The mothers were generally of the party;—Lily continuing so much better that Elsie could leave her, without anxiety, in the faithful care of her old mammy—and always one or two trusty servants were taken along.
One day Philip got permission to take old Nan and the phaeton and drive out with the two older girls, Gertrude and Elsie.
They were gone several hours and on their return, while still some miles from home were overtaken by a heavy shower, from which they took refuge in a small log-house standing a few yards back from the road.
It was a rude structure built in a wild spot among the rocks and trees, and evidently the abode of pinching poverty; but everything was clean and neat, and the occupants, an elderly woman reclining in a high-backed wooden rocking-chair with her feet propped up on a rude bench, and a young girl who sat sewing by a window overlooking the road, wore an air of refinement, and spoke English more correctly and with a purer accent than sometimes is heard in the abodes of wealth and fashion.
The door stood wide open and the moment Philip drew rein, the girl at the window called to them to come in out of the wet, and directed the lad to shelter his horse and phaeton underneath a shed at the side of the house.
Gertrude ran lightly in with a laugh and jest, Elsie following close at her heels.
The girl rose and setting out two unpainted wooden chairs, invited them to be seated, remarking as she resumed her work, that the shower had come up very suddenly, but she hoped they were not wet.