"Oh! there is one affection which no stainOf earth can ever darken;—when two find,The softer and the manlier, that a chainOf kindred taste has fastened mind to mind."—PERCIVAL'S POEMS.
In one of the cool green alleys at the Oaks, Rose and Adelaide Dinsmore were pacing slowly to and fro, each with an arm about the other's waist, in girlish fashion, while they conversed together in low, confidential tones.
At a little distance to one side, the young son and heir had thrown himself prone upon the grass in the shade of a magnificent oak, story-book in hand. Much interested he seemed in his book, yet occasionally his eye would wander from its fascinating pages to watch, with pride and delight, the tiny Rosebud steady herself against a tree, then run with eager, tottering steps and a crow of delight into her nurse's outstretched arms, to be hugged, kissed, praised, and coaxed to try it over again.
As Rose and Adelaide turned at one end of the alley, Mr. Horace Dinsmore entered it at the other. Hurriedly approaching the little toddler, he stooped and held out his hands, saying, in tender, half-tremulous tones, "Come, darling, come to papa."
She ran into his arms, crying, "Papa," in her sweet baby voice, and catching her up, he covered her face with kisses; then, holding her clasped fondly to his breast, walked on towards his wife and sister.
"What is it, Horace?" asked Rose anxiously, as they neared each other; for she saw that his face was pale and troubled.
"I bring you strange tidings, my Rose," he answered low and sadly, as she laid her hand upon his arm with an affectionate look up into his face.
Hers grew pale. "Bad news from home?" she almost gasped.
"No, no; I've had no word from our absent relatives or friends, and I'm not sure I ought to call it bad news either; though I cannot yet think of it with equanimity, it has come upon me so suddenly."
"What?" asked both ladies in a breath; "don't keep us in suspense."
"It has been going on for years—on his part—I can see it now—but, blind fool that I was, I never suspected it till to-day, when it came upon me like a thunderbolt."
"Travilla; after years of patient waiting he has won her at last—our darling—and—and I've given her to him."
Both ladies stood dumb with astonishment, while young Horace, who had come running up in time to catch the last words, cried out with vehemence, "Papa! what! give our Elsie away? how could you? how can we ever do without her? But she shan't go, for she belongs to me too, and I'll never give consent!"
Mr. Dinsmore and the ladies smiled faintly.
"They seemed to think mine quite sufficient, Horace," replied his father, "and I'm afraid will hardly consider it necessary to ask yours."
"But, papa, we can't spare her—you know we can't—and why should you go and give her away to Mr. Travilla or anybody?"
"My son, had I refused, it would have caused her great unhappiness."
"Then she ought to be ashamed to go and love Mr. Travilla better than you and all of us."
"I was never more astonished in my life!" cried Adelaide....