They had always liked and respected her; they soon learned to love her dearly and grew happier and more lovable under the refining, elevating influence of her conduct and conversation.
She and her husband gave to both the best advantages for education that money could procure, aroused in them the desire, and stimulated them to earnest efforts to become useful members of society.
Elsie soon discovered that one grand element of Molly’s depression was the thought that she was cut off from all the activities of life and doomed, by her sad affliction, to be a useless burden upon others.
“My poor dear child!” she said clasping the weeping girl in her arms, “that would be a sad fate indeed, but it need not be yours; there are many walks of usefulness still open to you; literature, several of the arts and sciences, music, painting, authorship; to say nothing of needle work both plain and fancy. The first thing will be a good education in the ordinary acceptation of the term—and that you can take as easily as one who has use of all her limbs. Books and masters shall be at your command, and when you have decided to what employment you will especially devote yourself, every facility shall be given you for perfecting yourself in it.”
“O Cousin Elsie,” cried the girl, her eyes shining, “do you think I could ever write books, or paint pictures? I mean such as would be really worth the doing; such as would make Dick proud of me and perhaps give me money to help him with; because you know the poor fellow must make his own way in the world.”
“I scarcely know how to answer that question,” Elsie said, smiling at her sudden enthusiasm, “but I do know that patience and perseverance will do wonders, and if you practice them faithfully, it will not surprise me to see you some day turn out a great author or artist.
“But don’t fret because Dick has not a fortune to begin with. Our very noblest and most successful men have been those who had to win their way by dint of hard and determined struggling with early disadvantages. ’Young trees root the faster for shaking!’” she added with a smile.
“Oh then Dick will succeed, I know, dear, noble fellow!” cried Molly flushing with sisterly pride.
From that time she took heart and though there were occasional returns of despondency and gloom she strove to banish them and was upon the whole, brave, cheerful and energetic in carrying out the plans her cousin had suggested.
“It is as if the night should shade noonday,
Or that the sun was here, but forced away;
And we were left, under that hemisphere,
Where we must feel it dark for half a year.”
Since the events recorded in our last chapter, six years have rolled their swift, though noiseless round, ere we look in upon our friends again; six years bringing such changes as they must;—growth and development to the very young, a richer maturity, a riper experience to those who had already attained to adult life, and to the aged, increasing infirmities, reminding them that their race is nearly run; it may be so with others; it must be so with them.