“A kingdom is a nest
of families, and a family is a small
It was a bright and cheerful scene that greeted the eyes of Captain Raymond and his son as they entered the parlor of the adjacent cottage.
It was strictly a family gathering, yet the room was quite full. Mr. Dinsmore was there with his wife, his daughter Elsie and her children, Edward and Zoe, Elsie Leland with her husband and babe, Violet Raymond with her husband’s two little girls, Lulu and Grace, and lastly Rosie and Walter.
Everybody had a kindly greeting for the captain, and Violet’s bright face grew still brighter as she made room for him on the sofa by her side.
“We were beginning to wonder what was keeping you,” she said.
“Yes, I’m afraid I am rather behind time,” he returned. “I hope you have not delayed your tea for me, Mrs. Dinsmore.”
“No; it is but just ready,” she said. “Ah, there’s the bell. Please, all of you walk out.”
When the meal was over all returned to the parlor, where they spent the next hour in desultory chat.
Gracie claimed a seat on her father’s knee. Lulu took possession of an ottoman and pushed it up as close to his side as she could; then seating herself on it leaned up against him.
He smiled and stroked her hair, then glanced about the room in search of Max.
The boy was sitting silently in a corner, but reading an invitation in his father’s eyes, he rose and came to his other side.
The ladies were talking of the purchases they wished to make in Boston, New York or Philadelphia, on their homeward route.
“I must get winter hats for Lulu and Gracie,” said Violet.
“I want a bird on mine, Mamma Vi,” said Lulu; “a pretty one with gay feathers.”
“Do you know, Lulu, that they skin the poor little birds alive in order to preserve the brilliancy of their plumage?” Violet said with a troubled look. “I will not wear them on that account, and as you are a kind-hearted little girl, I think you will not wish to do so either.”
“But I do,” persisted Lulu. “Of course I wouldn’t have a bird killed on purpose, but after they are killed I might just as well have one.”
“But do you not see,” said Grandma Elsie, “that if every one would refuse to buy them, the cruel business of killing them would soon cease? and that it will go on as long as people continue to buy and wear them?”
“I don’t care, I want one,” pouted Lulu. “Papa, can’t I have it?”
“No, you cannot,” he said with grave displeasure. “I am sorry to see that you can be so heartless. You can have just whatever Grandma Elsie and Mamma Vi think best for you, and with that you must be content.”
Lulu was silenced, but for the rest of the evening her face wore an ugly scowl.
“My little girl is growing sleepy,” the captain said presently to Gracie. “Papa will carry you over home and put you to bed. Lulu, you may come too.”