“And such a pleasure to your father to be served by so dear and loving a daughter,” he returned; “one so valuable to me that I cannot consent to have her broken down with too much of either work or pleasure. You must go to bed presently and try to take a good night’s rest after the exertions of the day.”
“I am ready to go whenever my father bids me,” she said in a cheerful tone; “and I want to begin my night’s sleep early enough to be ready for my usual stroll with him about the grounds before breakfast.”
“Yes; I should be sorry to have to take that without the pleasant company of my early bird of a daughter,” he said. “I should miss her sadly.”
Lucilla’s eyes shone. “Thank you, papa! it is very nice in you to say that,” she said, “and I dearly love those early walks with you.”
In less than a week after the Crolys had signified their intention of accepting the invitation to Roselands the news of their safe arrival was communicated to the family at Ion, and as soon as the doctor thought Mrs. Croly sufficiently rested to see visitors, Grandma Elsie and Rosie called upon them there.
They were mutually pleased—Mrs. Croly delighted with the prospect of having so charming a daughter as Rosie.
And now preparations for the wedding went on rapidly, the bride-elect, and those who were to be her attendants, being particularly interested in regard to their attire for the great occasion, and keeping the dressmakers very busy in fashioning their finery.
Then, as the time drew near, relatives and friends from a distance began to arrive.
To the great joy of Mrs. Calhoun Conly her parents were among the first, and their and her near relatives from Indiana and Louisiana soon followed; their coming giving great pleasure to both her aunt Annis and herself, as well as to the Ion family. Mrs. Betty Norris and her brother Dr. Robert Johnson, their half brother Dr. Dick Percival, and his sister Mrs. Molly Embury of Magnolia Hall, with her husband, were among the later arrivals, and about the same time came Captain Donald Keith, having succeeded in obtaining a furlough for several weeks.
He, Dr. Percival, and several others of the family relatives were at first domiciled at Woodburn, where they were made very welcome and most hospitably entertained. Donald’s was the first arrival, though only a day or so in advance of the others. He and Captain Raymond met with all the old cordiality, evidently glad to renew the comradeship of earlier days, while Violet’s greeting was warm and cousinly, and that of the young girls such as they might be reasonably expected to bestow upon a valued friend and relative of the family.
Donald, hardly realising how many months and years had rolled by since his last sight of them, was surprised at their growth in height and beauty, and did not wonder at their father’s evident pride and delight in claiming them as his own.