“Ah, don’t be too sure of that, little sister,” he returned laughingly, giving a welcoming embrace to her also. “I am a very strict disciplinarian, as Lulu here can testify,” laying a hand affectionately on his daughter’s shoulder.
“Yes, Rosie, papa is strict, but if one does exactly as he orders, he’s kind as kind can be; and maybe he wouldn’t be quite so stern and strict with other folks’ children as he is with me—his very own, you know.”
But a reply from Rosie was prevented by Violet catching her in her arms, saying, “You dear child, how glad I am to have you here at last! We have all been looking forward to your coming as well as to that of dear, darling mamma, grandpa, and the others.”
At the same time Grandma Elsie was embracing Lulu most affectionately, saying how well she looked, and hoping that she and Grace, as well as the older people, had been enjoying Viamede.
“Indeed we have, dear Grandma Elsie,” replied Lulu. “Oh, it was so good and kind in you to invite us all to spend the winter in this loveliest of lovely places!”
“Good to myself, dear child, quite as much as to you; for I love to have you all about me.”
“And I hope you are better? A great deal better?” returned Lulu, with an inquiring look into the sweet face.
“Very much better, thank you, dear child. Almost my old self again,” was the sweet-toned reply.
Some few moments more were spent in the exchange of glad, affectionate greetings and inquiries after each other’s health and welfare, then all took their way to the house; even Grandma Elsie claiming that her strength was quite equal to so short a walk, the journey on the boat having been restful rather than fatiguing. Yet it was evident to all that she was far from strong, and they joined Mr. Dinsmore in an urgent entreaty that she would retire at an early hour to her own room and bed; which she did, her daughters accompanying her to see that nothing was lacking that could in any way add to her comfort.
A bright, beautiful day succeeded that on which the Ion family had arrived at Viamede. The younger members of their party woke early, and the sun was hardly more than an hour high when Evelyn and Rosie passed down the broad stairway into the lower hall, moving with cautious tread lest they might disturb the still sleeping older members of the household.
But on reaching the veranda they were surprised to see the captain and Lulu already taking a morning promenade along the bank of the bayou.
“Ah, I see there is no getting ahead of Brother Levis,” laughed Rosie. “Let us run down there and join them, Eva.”
“With all my heart,” returned Evelyn gayly, and away they went, racing down the broad gravelled walk in merry girlish fashion.
“Good-morning, little ladies, I see that you are early birds as well as Lulu and myself,” the captain said, with his genial smile, as they drew near.