Elsie’s Girlhood / A Sequel to “Elsie Dinsmore” and “Elsie’s Holidays at Roselands”

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Josephine Paolucci, and
Project Distributed Proofreaders

ELSIE’S GIRLHOOD

A SEQUEL TO
“ELSIE DINSMORE” AND “ELSIE’S HOLIDAYS AT ROSELANDS”
BY
MARTHA FINLEY

1872

“Oh! time of promise, hope, and innocence, Of trust, and love, and
happy ignorance! Whose every dream is heaven, in whose fair joy
Experience yet has thrown no black alloy.”

—THOUGHTS OF A RECLUSE

PREFACE

Some years have now elapsed since my little heroine “ELSIE DINSMORE”
made her début into the great world. She was sent out with many an
anxious thought regarding the reception that might await her there.
But she was kindly welcomed, and such has been the favor shown her
ever since that Publishers and Author have felt encouraged to prepare
a new volume in which will be found the story of those years that have
carried Elsie on from childhood to womanhood—the years in which
her character was developing, and mind and body were growing and
strengthening for the real work and battle of life.

May my readers who have admired and loved her as a child find her
still more charming in her fresh young girlhood; may she prove to all
a pleasant companion and friend; and to those of them now treading the
same portion of life’s pathway a useful example also, particularly in
her filial love and obedience.

M.F.

CHAPTER I.

It is a busy, talking world.

—ROWE.

“I think I shall enjoy the fortnight we are to spend here, papa; it
seems such a very pleasant place,” Elsie remarked, in a tone of great
satisfaction.

“I am glad you are pleased with it, daughter,” returned Mr. Dinsmore,
opening the morning paper, which John had just brought up.

They—Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie, Rose and Edward Allison—were occupying
very comfortable quarters in a large hotel at one of our fashionable
watering-places. A bedroom for each, and a private parlor for the
joint use of the party, had been secured in advance, and late the
night before they had arrived and taken possession.

It was now early in the morning, Elsie and her papa were in his room,
which was in the second story and opened upon a veranda, shaded by
tall trees, and overlooking a large grassy yard at the side of the
building. Beyond were green fields, woods, and hills.

“Papa,” said Elsie, gazing longingly upon them, as she stood by the
open window, “can’t we take a walk?”

“When Miss Rose is ready to go with us.”

“May I run to her door and ask if she is?—and if she isn’t, may I
wait for her out here on the veranda?”

“Yes.”

She skipped away, but was back again almost immediately. “Papa, what
do you think? It’s just too bad!”

“What is too bad, daughter? I think I never before saw so cross a look
on my little girl’s face,” he said, peering at her over the top of his
newspaper. “Come here, and tell me what it is all about.”

She obeyed, hanging her head and blushing. “I think I have some reason
to be cross, papa,” she said; “I thought we were going to have such a
delightful time here, and now it is all spoiled. You could never guess
who has the rooms just opposite ours; on the other side of the hall.”

“Miss Stevens?”

“Why, papa; did you know she was here?”

“I knew she was in the house, because I saw her name in the hotel book
last night when I went to register ours.”

“And it just spoils all our pleasure.”

“I hope not, daughter. I think she will hardly annoy you when you are
close at my side; and that is pretty much all the time, isn’t it?”

“Yes, papa, and I’ll stick closer than ever to you if that will make
her let me alone,” she cried, with a merry laugh, putting her arm
round his neck and kissing him two or three times.

“Ah, now I have my own little girl again,” he said, drawing her to his
knee and returning her caresses with interest: “But there, I hear Miss
Rose’s step in the hall. Run to mammy and have your hat put on.”

Miss Stevens’ presence proved scarcely less annoying to Elsie than the
child had anticipated. She tried to keep out of the lady’s way, but it
was quite impossible. She could scarcely step out on the veranda, go
into the parlor, or take a turn in the garden by herself, but in
a moment Miss Stevens was at her side fawning upon and flattering
her—telling her how sweet and pretty and amiable she was, how dearly
she loved her, and how much she thought of her papa too: he was so
handsome and so good; everybody admired him and thought him such a
fine-looking gentleman, so polished in his manners, so agreeable and
entertaining in conversation.

Then she would press all sorts of dainties upon the little girl
in such a way that it was next to impossible to decline them, and
occasionally even went so far as to suggest improvements, or rather
alterations, in her dress, which she said was entirely too plain.

“You ought to have more flounces on your skirts, my dear,” she
remarked one day. “Skirt flounced to the waist are so very pretty and
dressy, and you would look sweetly in them, but I notice you don’t
wear them at all. Do ask your papa to let you get a new dress and have
it made so; I am sure he would consent, for any one can see that he is
very fond of you. He doesn’t think of it; we can’t expect gentlemen
to notice such little matters; you ought to have a mamma to attend
to such things for you. Ah! if you were my child, I would dress you
sweetly, you dear little thing!”

“Thank you, ma’am, I daresay you mean to be very kind,” replied Elsie,
trying not to look annoyed, “but I don’t want a mamma, since my own
dear mother has gone to heaven; papa is enough for me, and I like the
way he dresses me. He always buys my dresses himself and says how they
are to be made. The dressmaker wanted to put more flounces on, but
papa didn’t want them and neither did I. He says he doesn’t like to
see little girls loaded with finery, and that my clothes shall be of
the best material and nicely made, but neat and simple.”

“Oh, yes; I know your dress is not cheap; I didn’t mean that at all:
it is quite expensive enough, and some of your white dresses are
beautifully worked; but I would like a little more ornament. You wear
so little jewelry, and your father could afford to cover you with it
if he chose. A pair of gold bracelets, like mine for instance, would
be very pretty, and look charming on your lovely white arms: those
pearl ones you wear sometimes are very handsome—any one could tell
that they are the real thing—but you ought to have gold ones too,
with clasps set with diamonds. Couldn’t you persuade your papa to buy
some for you?”

“Indeed, Miss Stevens, I don’t want them! I don’t want anything but
what papa chooses to buy for me of his own accord. Ah! there is Miss
Rose looking for me, I must go,” and the little girl, glad of an
excuse to get away, ran joyfully to her friend who had come to the
veranda, where she and Miss Stevens had been standing, to tell her
that they were going out to walk, and her papa wished to take her
along.

Elsie went in to get her hat, and Miss Stevens came towards Rose,
saying, “I think I heard you say you were going to walk; and I
believe, if you don’t forbid me, I shall do myself the pleasure of
accompanying you. I have just been waiting for pleasant company. I
will be ready in one moment.” And before Rose could recover from her
astonishment sufficiently to reply she had disappeared through the
hall door.

Elsie was out again in a moment, just as the gentlemen had joined

Rose, who excited their surprise and disgust by a repetition of Miss

Stevens’ speech to her.

Mr. Dinsmore looked excessively annoyed, and Edward “pshawed, and
wished her at the bottom of the sea.”

“No, brother,” said Rose, smiling, “you don’t wish any such thing; on
the contrary, you would be the very first to fly to the rescue if you
saw her in danger of drowning.”

But before there was time for anything more to be said Miss Stevens
had returned, and walking straight up to Mr. Dinsmore, she put her arm
through his, saying with a little laugh, and what was meant for a
very arch expression, “You see I don’t stand upon ceremony with old
friends, Mr. Dinsmore. It isn’t my way.”

“No, Miss Stevens, I think it never was,” he replied, offering the
other arm to Rose.

She was going to decline it on the plea that the path was too narrow
for three, but something in his look made her change her mind and
accept; and they moved on, while Elsie, almost ready to cry with
vexation, fell behind with Edward Allison for an escort.

Edward tried to entertain his young companion, but was too much
provoked at the turn things had taken to make himself very agreeable
to any one; and altogether it was quite an uncomfortable walk: no
one seeming to enjoy it but Miss Stevens, who laughed and talked
incessantly; addressing nearly all her conversation to Mr. Dinsmore,
he answering her with studied politeness, but nothing more.

Miss Stevens had, from the first, conceived a great antipathy to
Rose, whom she considered a dangerous rival, and generally avoided,
excepting when Mr. Dinsmore was with her; but she always interrupted
a tête-à-tête between them when it was in her power to do so without
being guilty of very great rudeness. This, and the covert sneers with
which she often addressed Miss Allison had not escaped Mr. Dinsmore’s
notice, and it frequently cost him quite an effort to treat Miss
Stevens with the respectful politeness which he considered due to her
sex and to the daughter of his father’s old friend.

“Was it not too provoking, papa?” exclaimed Elsie, as she followed him
into his room on their return from their walk.

“What, my dear?”

“Why, papa, I thought we were going to have such a nice time, and she
just spoiled it all.”

“She? who, daughter?”

“Why, papa, surely you know I mean Miss Stevens!”

“Then why did you not mention her name, instead of speaking of her as
she? That does not sound respectful in a child of your age, and I wish
my little girl always to be respectful to those older than herself.
I thought I heard you the other day mention some gentleman’s name
without the prefix of Mr., and I intended to reprove you for it at the
time. Don’t do it again.”

“No, sir, I won’t,” Elsie answered with a blush. “But, papa,” she
added the next moment, “Miss Stevens does that constantly.”

“That makes no difference, my daughter,” he said gravely. “Miss
Stevens is the very last person I would have you take for your model;
the less you resemble her in dress, manners, or anything else, the
better. If you wish to copy any one let it be Miss Allison, for she is
a perfect lady in every respect.”

Elsie looked very much pleased. “Yes, indeed, papa,” she said, “I
should be glad if I could be just like Miss Rose, she is always kind
and gentle to everybody; even the servants, whom Miss Stevens orders
about so crossly.”

“Elsie!”

“What, papa?” she asked, blushing again, for his tone was reproving.

“Come here and sit on my knee; I want to talk to you. I am afraid my
little daughter is growing censorious,” he said, with a very grave
look as he drew her to his side. “You forget that we ought not to
speak of other people’s faults.”

“I will try not to do it any more, papa,” she replied, the tears
springing to her eyes; “but you don’t know how very annoying Miss
Stevens is. I have been near telling her several times that I did wish
she would let me alone.”

“No, daughter, don’t do that. You must behave in a lady-like manner
whether she does or not. We must expect annoyances in this world, my
child; and must try to bear them with patience, remembering that
God sends the little trials as well as the great, and that He has
commanded us to ‘let patience have her perfect work.’ I fear it is a
lack of the spirit of forgiveness that makes it so difficult for us to
bear these trifling vexations with equanimity. And you must remember
too, dear, that the Bible bids us be courteous, and teaches us to
treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated.”

“I think you always remember the command to be courteous, papa,” she
said, looking affectionately into his face. “I was wondering all the
time how you could be so very polite to Miss Stevens; for I was quite
sure you would rather not have had her along. And then, what right had
she to take your arm without being asked?” and Elsie’s face flushed
with indignation.

Her father laughed a little. “And thus deprive my little girl of her
rights,” he said, softly kissing the glowing cheek. “Ah! I doubt if
you would have been angry had it been Miss Rose,” he added, a little
mischievously.

“Oh, papa, you know Miss Rose would never have done such a thing!”
exclaimed the little girl warmly.

“Ah! well, dear,” he said in a soothing tone; “we won’t talk any more
about it. I acknowledge that I do not find Miss Stevens the most
agreeable company in the world, but I must treat her politely, and
show her a little attention sometimes; both because she is a lady and
because her father once saved my father’s life; for which I owe a debt
of gratitude to him and his children.”

“Did he, papa? I am sure it was very good of him, and I will try to
like Miss Stevens for that. But won’t you tell me about it?”

“It was when they were both quite young men,” said Mr. Dinsmore,
“before either of them was married: they were skating together and
your grandfather broke through the ice, and would have been drowned,
but for the courage and presence of mind of Mr. Stevens, who saved him
only by very great exertion, and at the risk of his own life.”

A few days after this, Elsie was playing on the veranda, with several
other little girls. “Do you think you shall like your new mamma,
Elsie?” asked one of them in a careless tone, as she tied on an apron
she had just been making for her doll, and turned it around to see how
it fitted.

“My new mamma!” exclaimed Elsie, with unfeigned astonishment, dropping
the scissors with which she had been cutting paper dolls for some of
the little ones. “What can you mean, Annie? I am not going to have any
new mamma.”

“Yes, indeed, but you are though,” asserted Annie positively; “for I
heard my mother say so only yesterday; and it must be so, for she Miss
Stevens told it herself.”

“Miss Stevens! and what does she know about it? what has she to do
with my papa’s affairs?” asked Elsie indignantly, the color rushing
over face, neck, and arms.

“Well, I should think she might know, when she is going to marry him,”
returned the other, with a laugh.

“She isn’t! it’s false! my”—but Elsie checked herself and shut her
teeth hard to keep down the emotion that was swelling in her breast.

“It’s true, you may depend upon it,” replied Annie; “everybody in the
house knows it, and they are all talking about what a splendid match
Miss Stevens is going to make; and mamma was wondering if you knew
it, and how you would like her; and papa said he thought Mr. Dinsmore
wouldn’t think much of her if he knew how she flirted and danced until
he came, and now pretends not to approve of balls, just because he
doesn’t.”

Elsie made no reply, but dropping scissors, paper, and everything,
sprang up and ran swiftly along the veranda, through the hall,
upstairs, and without pausing to take breath, rushed into her father’s
room, where he sat quietly reading.

“Why, Elsie, daughter, what is the matter?” he asked in a tone of
surprise and concern, as he caught sight of her flushed and agitated
face.

“Oh, papa, it’s that hateful Miss Stevens; I can’t bear her!” she
cried, throwing herself upon his breast, and bursting into a fit of
passionate weeping.

Mr. Dinsmore said nothing for a moment; but thinking tears would prove
the best relief to her overwrought feelings, contented himself with
simply stroking her hair in a soothing way, and once or twice pressing
his lips gently to her forehead.

“You feel better now, dearest, do you not?” he asked presently, as she
raised her head to wipe away her tears.

“Yes, papa.”

“Now tell me what it was all about.”

“Miss Stevens does say such hateful things, papa!”

He laid his finger upon her lips. “Don’t use that word again. It does
not sound at all like my usually gentle sweet-tempered little girl.”

“I won’t, papa,” she murmured, blushing and hanging her head. Then
hiding her face on his breast, she lay there for several minutes
perfectly silent and still.

“What is my little girl thinking of?” he asked at length.

“How everybody talks about you, papa; last evening I was out on the
veranda, and I heard John and Miss Stevens’ maid, Phillis, talking
together. It was moonlight, you know, papa,” she went on, turning her
face toward him again: “and they were out under the trees and John had
his arm round her, and he was kissing her, and telling her how pretty
she was; and then they began talking about Miss Stevens and you, and
John told Phillis that he reckoned you were going to marry her—”

“Who? Phillis?” asked Mr. Dinsmore, looking excessively amused.

“Oh, papa; no; you know I mean Miss Stevens,” Elsie answered in a tone
of annoyance.

“Well, dear, and what of it all?” he asked, soothingly. “I don’t think
the silly nonsense of the servants need trouble you. John is a sad
fellow, I know; he courts all the pretty colored girls wherever he
goes. I shall have to read him a serious lecture on the subject. But
it is very kind of you to be so concerned for Phillis.”

“Oh, papa, don’t!” she said, turning away her face. “Please don’t
tease me so. You know I don’t care for Phillis or John; but that isn’t
all.” And then she repeated what had passed between Annie and herself.

He looked a good deal provoked as she went on with her story; then
very grave indeed. He was quite silent for a moment after she had
done. Then drawing her closer to him, he said tenderly, “My poor
little girl, I am sorry you should be so annoyed; but you know it is
not true, daughter, and why need you care what other people think and
say?”

“I don’t like them to talk so, papa! I can’t bear to have them say
such things about you!” she exclaimed indignantly.

He was silent again for a little; then said kindly, “I think I had
better take you away from these troublesome talkers. What do you say
to going home?”

“Oh, yes, papa, do take me home,” she answered eagerly. “I wish we
were there now. I think it is the pleasantest place in the world and
it seems such a long, long while since we came away. Let us start
to-morrow, papa; can’t we?”

“But you know you will have to leave Miss Rose.”

“Ah! I forgot that,” she said a little sadly; but brightening again,
she asked: “Couldn’t you invite her to go home with us and spend the
winter? Ah! papa, do! it would be so pleasant to have her.”

“No, my dear, it wouldn’t do,” he replied with a grave shake of the
head.

“Why, papa?” she asked with a look of keen disappointment.

“You are too young to understand why,” he said in the same grave tone,
and then relapsed into silence; sitting there for some time stroking
her hair in an absent way, with his eyes on the carpet.

At last he said, “Elsie!” in a soft, low tone that quite made the
little girl start and look up into his face; for she, too, had been in
a deep reverie.

“What, papa?” she asked, and she wondered to see how the color had
spread over his face, and how bright his eyes looked.

“I have been thinking,” he said, in a half hesitating way, “that
though it would not do to invite Miss Rose to spend the winter with
us, it might do very nicely to ask her to come and live at the Oaks.”

Elsie looked at him for a moment with a bewildered expression; then
suddenly comprehending, her face lighted up.

“Would you like it, dearest?” he asked; “or would you prefer to go on
living just as we have been, you and I together? I would consult your
happiness before my own, for it lies very near my heart, my precious
one. I can never forgive myself for all I have made you suffer, and
when you were restored to me almost from the grave, I made a vow to do
all in my power to make your future life bright and happy.”

His tones were full of deep feeling, and as he spoke he drew her
closer and closer to him and kissed her tenderly again and again.

“Speak, daughter, and tell me what you wish,” he said, as she still
remained silent.

At last she spoke, and he bent down to catch the words. “Dear papa,”
she whispered, “would it make you happy? and do you think mamma knows,
and that she would like it?”

“Your mamma loves us both too well not to be pleased with anything
that would add to our happiness,” he replied gently.

“Dear papa, you won’t be angry if I ask another question?'”‘

“No, darling; ask as many as you wish.”

“Then, papa, will I have to call her mamma? and do you think my own
mamma would like it?”

“If Miss Allison consents to take a mother’s place to you, I am sure
your own mamma, if she could speak to you, would tell you she deserved
to have the title; and it would hurt us both very much if you refused
to give it. Indeed, my daughter, I cannot ask her to come to us unless
you will promise to do so, and to love and obey, her just as you do
me. Will you?”

“I will try to obey her, papa; and I shall love her very dearly, for I
do already; but I can not love anybody quite so well as I love you, my
own dear, dear father!” she said, throwing her arms around his neck.

He returned her caress, saying tenderly, “That is all I can ask,
dearest; I must reserve the first place in your heart for myself.”

“Do you think she will come, papa?” she asked anxiously.

“I don’t know, daughter; I have not asked her yet. But shall I tell
her that it will add to your happiness if she will be your mamma?”

“Yes, sir; and that I will call her mamma, and obey her and love her
dearly. Oh, papa, ask her very soon, won’t you?”

“Perhaps; but don’t set your heart too much on it, for she may not be
quite so willing to take such a troublesome charge as Miss Stevens
seems to be,” he said, returning to his playful tone.

Elsie looked troubled and anxious.

“I hope she will, papa,” she said; “I think she might be very glad to
come and live with you; and in such a beautiful home, too.”

“Ah! but everyone does not appreciate my society as highly as you do,”
he replied, laughing and pinching her cheek; “and besides, you forget
about the troublesome little girl. I have heard ladies say they would
not marry a man who had a child.”

“But Miss Rose loves me, papa; I am sure she does,” she said,
flushing, and the tears starting to her eyes.

“Yes, darling, I know she does,” he answered soothingly. “I am only
afraid she loves you better than she does me.”

A large party of equestrians were setting out from the hotel that
evening soon after tea, and Elsie, in company with several other
little girls, went out upon the veranda to watch them mount and ride
away. She was absent but a few moments from the parlor, where she had
left her father, but when she returned to it he was not there. Miss
Rose, too, was gone, she found upon further search, and though she had
not much difficulty in conjecturing why she had thus, for the first
time, been left behind, she could not help feeling rather lonely and
desolate.

She felt no disposition to renew the afternoon’s conversation with
Annie Hart, so she went quietly upstairs to their private parlor and
sat down to amuse herself with a book until Chloe came in from eating
her supper. Then the little girl brought a stool, and seating herself
in the old posture with her head in her nurse’s lap, she drew her
mother’s miniature from her bosom, and fixing her eyes lovingly upon
it, said, as she had done hundreds of times before: “Now, mammy,
please tell me about my dear, dear mamma.”

The soft eyes were full of tears; for with all her joy at the thought
of Rose, mingled a strange sad feeling that she was getting farther
away from that dear, precious, unknown mother, whose image had been,
since her earliest recollection, enshrined in her very heart of
hearts.

CHAPTER II

  O lady! there be many things

  That seem right fair above;

  But sure not one among them all

  Is half so sweet as love;—

  Let us not pay our vows alone,

  But join two altars into one.

—O. W. HOLMES

  Here still is the smile that no cloud can o’ercast,

  And the heart, and the hand, all thy own to the last.

—MOORE.

Mr. Horace Dinsmore was quite remarkable for his conversational
powers, and Rose, who had always heretofore found him a most
entertaining companion, wondered greatly at his silence on this
particular evening. She waited in vain for him to start some topic of
conversation, but as he did not seem disposed to do so, she at length
made the attempt herself, and tried one subject after another.
Finding, however, that she was answered only in monosyllables, she too
grew silent and embarrassed, and heartily wished for the relief of
Elsie’s presence.

She had proposed summoning the child to accompany them as usual, but
Mr. Dinsmore replied that she had already had sufficient exercise, and
he would prefer having her remain at home.

They had walked some distance, and coming to a rustic seat where they
had often rested, they sat down. The moon was shining softly down upon
them, and all nature seemed hushed and still. For some moments neither
of them spoke, but at length Mr. Dinsmore broke the silence.

“Miss Allison,” he said, in his deep, rich tones, “I would like to
tell you a story, if you will do me the favor to listen.”

It would have been quite impossible for Rose to tell why her heart
beat so fast at this very commonplace remark, but so it was; and she
could scarcely steady her voice to reply, “I always find your stories
interesting, Mr. Dinsmore.”

He began at once.

“Somewhere between ten and eleven years ago, a wild, reckless boy
of seventeen, very much spoiled by the indulgence of a fond, doting
father, who loved and petted him as the only son of his departed
mother, was spending a few months in one of our large Southern cities,
where he met, and soon fell desperately in love with, a beautiful
orphan heiress, some two years his junior.

“The boy was of too ardent a temperament, and too madly in love, to
brook for a moment the thought of waiting until parents and guardians
should consider them of suitable age to marry, in addition to which he
had good reason to fear that his father, with whom family pride was a
ruling passion, would entirely refuse his consent upon learning that
the father of the young lady had begun life as a poor, uneducated boy,
and worked his way up to wealth and position by dint of hard labor and
incessant application to business.

“The boy, it is true, was almost as proud himself, but it was not
until the arrows of the boy-god had entered into his heart too
deeply to be extracted, that he learned the story of his charmer’s
antecedents. Yet I doubt if the result would have been different had
he been abundantly forewarned; for oh, Miss Rose, if ever an angel
walked the earth in human form it was she!—so gentle, so good, so
beautiful!”

He heaved a deep sigh, paused a moment, and then went on:

“Well, Miss Rose, as you have probably surmised, they were privately
married. If that sweet girl had a fault, it was that she was too
yielding to those she loved, and she did love her young husband with
all the warmth of her young guileless heart; for she had neither
parents nor kinsfolk, and he was the one object around which her
affections might cling. They were all the world to each other, and for
a few short months they were very happy.

“But it could not last; the marriage was discovered—her guardian and
the young man’s father were both furious, and they were torn asunder;
she carried away to a distant plantation, and he sent North to attend
college.

“They were well-nigh distracted, but cherished the hope that when
they should reach their majority and come into possession of their
property, which was now unfortunately entirely in the hands of their
guardians, they would be reunited.

“But—it is the old story—their letters were intercepted, and the
first news the young husband received of his wife was that she had
died a few days after giving birth to a little daughter.”

Again Mr. Dinsmore paused, then continued:

“It was a terrible stroke! For months, reason seemed almost ready to
desert her throne; but time does wonders, and in the course of years
it did much to heal his wounds. You would perhaps suppose that he
would at once—or at least as soon as he was his own master—have
sought out his child, and lavished upon it the wealth of his
affections: but no; he had conceived almost an aversion to it; for he
looked upon it as the cause—innocent, it is true—but still the cause
of his wife’s death. He did not know till long years afterwards
that her heart was broken by the false story of his desertion and
subsequent death. Her guardian was a hard, cruel man, though faithful
in his care of her property.

“With him the child remained until she was about four years old when
a change was made necessary by his death, and she, with her faithful
nurse, was received into her paternal grandfather’s family until her
father, who had then gone abroad, should return. But my story is
growing very long, and you will be weary of listening. I will try to
be as brief as possible.

“The little girl, under the care of her nurse and the faithful
instructions of a pious old Scotchwoman—who had come over with the
child’s maternal grandparents, and followed the fortunes of the
daughter and granddaughter, always living as housekeeper in the
families where they resided—had grown to be a sweet, engaging child,
inheriting her mother’s beauty and gentleness. She had also her
mother’s craving for affection, and was constantly looking and longing
for the return of her unknown father, which was delayed from time to
time until she was nearly eight years of age.

“At last he came; but ah, what a bitter disappointment awaited the
poor child! His mind had been poisoned against her, and instead of
the love and tenderness she had a right to expect, he met her with
coldness—almost with aversion. Poor little one! she was nearly
heartbroken, and for a time scarcely dared venture into her father’s
presence. She was gentle, submissive, and patient; he cold, haughty,
and stern. But she would love him, in spite of his sternness, and at
length she succeeded in winning her way to his affections, and he
learned to love her with passionate tenderness.

“Still her troubles were not over. She was sincerely pious, and
conscientiously strict in many things which her father deemed of
little importance; especially was this the case in regard to the
observance of the Sabbath. He was a man of iron will, and she, though
perfectly submissive in other respects, had the firmness of a martyr
in resisting any interference with her conscience.

“Well, their wills came in collision. He required her to do what she
considered a violation of God’s law, although he could see no harm
in it, and therefore considered her stubborn and disobedient. He was
firm, but so was she. He tried persuasions, threats, punishments—all
without effect. He banished her from his arms, from the family circle,
deprived her of amusements, denied her to visitors, broke off her
correspondence with a valued friend, sent away her nurse; and finding
all these acts of severity ineffectual, he at length left her, telling
her he would return only when she submitted; and even refusing her a
parting caress, which she pleaded for with heart-breaking entreaties.”

Mr. Dinsmore’s voice trembled with emotion, but recovering himself, he
went on:

“Don’t think, Miss Allison, that all this time the father’s heart was
not bleeding; it was, at every pore; but he was determined to conquer,
and mistook the child’s motives and the source of her strength to
resist his will.

“He had bought a beautiful estate; he caused the house to be
handsomely fitted up and furnished, especially lavishing trouble and
expense upon a suite of rooms for his little girl, and when all was
completed, he wrote to her, bidding her go and see the lovely home
he had prepared for her reception as soon as she would submit,—and
presenting, as the only alternative, banishment to a boarding-school
or convent until her education was finished. This was the one drop
which made the cup overflow. The poor suffering child was prostrated
by a brain fever which brought her to the very gates of death. Then
the father’s eyes were opened; he saw his folly and his sin, and
repented in sackcloth and ashes; and God, in His great mercy, was
pleased to spare him the terrible crushing blow which seemed to have
already fallen;—for at one time they told him his child was dead. Oh,
never, never can he forget the unutterable anguish of that moment!”

Mr. Dinsmore paused, unable to proceed. Rose had been weeping for some
time. She well knew to whose story she was listening, and her gentle,
loving heart was filled with pity for both him and for his child.

“I have but little more to tell,” he resumed; “the child has at length
entirely recovered her health; she is dearer to her father’s heart
than words can express, and is very happy in the knowledge that it is
so, and that henceforward he will strive to assist her to walk in the
narrow way, instead of endeavoring to lead her from it.

“Their home has been a very happy one; but it lacks one thing—the
wife and mother’s place is vacant; she who filled it once is
gone—never to return!—but there is a sweet, gentle lady who has
won the hearts of both father and daughter, and whom they would fain
persuade to fill the void in their affections and their home.

“Miss Rose, dare I hope that you would venture to trust your happiness
in the hands of a man who has proved himself capable of such cruelty?”

Rose did not speak, and he seemed to read in her silence and her
averted face a rejection of his suit.

“Ah, you cannot love or trust me!” he exclaimed bitterly. “I was
indeed a fool to hope it. Forgive me for troubling you; forgive my
presumption in imagining for a moment that I might be able to win you.
But oh, Rose, could you but guess how I love you—better than aught
else upon earth save my precious child! and even as I love her better
than life. I said that our home had been a happy one, but to me it can
be so no longer if you refuse to share it with me!”

She turned her blushing face towards him for a single instant, and
timidly placed her hand in his. The touch sent a thrill through her
whole frame.

“And you will dare trust me?” he said in a low tone of intense joy.
“Oh, Rose! I have not deserved such happiness as this! I am not worthy
of one so pure and good. But I will do all that man can do to make
your life bright and happy.”

“Ah, Mr. Dinsmore! I am very unfit for the place you have asked me
to fill,” she murmured. “I am not old enough, or wise enough to be a
mother to your little girl.”

“I know you are young, dear Rose, but you are far from foolish,” he
said tenderly, “and my little girl is quite prepared to yield you a
daughter’s love and obedience; but I do not think she will be a care
or trouble to you; I do not intend that she shall, but expect to take
all that upon myself. Indeed, Rose, dearest, you shall never know any
care or trouble that I can save you from. No words can tell how dear
you are to me, and were it in my power I would shield you from every
annoyance, and give you every joy that the human heart can know. I
have loved you from the first day we met!—ah, I loved you even before
that, for all your love and kindness to my darling child; but I
scarcely dared hope that you could return my affection, or feel
willing to trust your happiness to the keeping of one who had shown
himself such a monster of cruelty in his treatment of his little
gentle daughter. Are you not afraid of me, Rose?”

His arm was around her waist, and he was bending over her, gazing down
into her face, and eagerly awaiting her answer.

Presently it came, in calm, gentle tones; “No, Horace; ‘perfect love
casteth out fear,’ and I cannot judge you hardly for what may
have been only a mistaken sense of duty, and has been so bitterly
repented.”

“Heaven bless you, dearest, for these words,” he answered with
emotion, “they have made me the happiest of men.”

Horace Dinsmore wore upon his little finger a splendid diamond ring,
which had attracted a good deal of attention, especially among the
ladies; who admired it extremely, and of which Miss Stevens had hoped
to be one day the happy and envied possessor. Taking Rose’s small
white hand in his again, he placed it upon her slender finger.

“This seals our compact, and makes you mine forever,” he said,
pressing the hand to his lips.

“With the consent of my parents,” murmured Rose, a soft blush mantling
her cheek.

Elsie was still in her papa’s private parlor, for though it was long
past her usual hour for retiring, she had not yet done so; her father
having left a message with Chloe to the effect that she might, if she
chose, stay up until his return.

Chloe had dropped asleep in her chair, and the little girl was
trying to while away the time with a book. But she did not seem much
interested in it, for every now and then she laid it down to run to
the door and listen. Then sighing to herself, “They are not coming
yet,” she would go back and take it up again. But at last she started
from her seat with an exclamation of delight that awoke Chloe; for
this time there could be no doubt; she had heard his well-known step
upon the stairs.

She moved quickly towards the door—stopped—hesitated, and stood
still to the middle of the room.

But the door opened, and her father entered with Miss Rose upon his
arm. One look at his radiant countenance, and Rose’s blushing, happy
face told the whole glad story. He held out his hand with a beaming
smile, and Elsie sprang towards him.

“My darling,” he said, stooping to give her a kiss, “I have brought
you a mother.”

Then taking Rose’s hand, and placing one of Elsie’s in it, while he
held the other in a close, loving grasp, he added: “Rose, she is your
daughter also. I give you a share in my choicest treasure.”

Rose threw her arm around the little girl and kissed her tenderly,
whispering: “Will you love me, Elsie, dearest? you know how dearly I
love you.”

“Indeed I will; I do love you very much, and I am very glad, dear,
darling Miss Rose,” Elsie replied, returning her caress.

Mr. Dinsmore was watching them with a heart swelling with joy and
gratitude. He led Rose to a sofa, and seating himself by her side,
drew Elsie in between his knees, and put an arm round each. “My two
treasures,” he said, looking affectionately from one to the other.
“Rose, I feel myself the richest man in the Union.”

Rose smiled, and Elsie laid her head on her father’s shoulder with a
happy sigh.

They sat a few moments thus, when Rose made a movement to go,
remarking that it must be growing late. She felt a secret desire to
be safe within the shelter of her own room before the return of the
riding party should expose her to Miss Stevens’ prying curiosity.

“It is not quite ten yet,” said Mr. Dinsmore, looking at his watch.

“Late enough though, is it not?” she answered with a smile. “I think I
must go. Good-night, dear little Elsie.” She rose, and Mr. Dinsmore,
gently drawing her hand within his arm, led her to her room, bidding
her good-night at the door, and adding a whispered request that she
would wait for him to conduct her down to the breakfast room in the
morning.

“Must I go to bed now, papa?” asked Elsie, as he returned to the
parlor again.

“Not yet,” he said; “I want you.” And, sitting down, he took her in
his arms. “My darling, my dear little daughter!” he said; “were you
very lonely this evening?”

“No, papa; not very, though I missed you and Miss Rose.”

He was gazing down into her face; something in its expression seemed
to strike him, and he suddenly turned her towards the light, and
looking keenly at her, said, “You have been crying; what was the
matter?”

Elsie’s face flushed crimson, and the tears started to her eyes again.
“Dear papa, don’t be angry with me,” she pleaded. “I couldn’t help it;
indeed I could not.”

“I am not angry, darling; only pained that my little girl is not
so happy as I expected. I hoped that your joy would be unclouded
to-night, as mine has been; but will you not tell your father what
troubles you, dearest?”

“I was looking at this, papa,” she said, drawing her mother’s
miniature from her bosom, and putting it into his hand; “and mammy was
telling me all about my own mamma again; and, papa, you know I love
Miss Rose, and I am very glad she is coming to us, but it seems as
if—as if—” She burst into a flood of tears, and hiding her face on
his breast, sobbed out, “Oh, papa, I can’t help feeling as though
mamma—my own dear mamma—is farther away from us now; as if she is
going to be forgotten.”

There were tears in his eyes, too; but gently raising her head, he
pushed back the curls from her forehead, and kissing her tenderly,
said, in low, soothing tones, “No, darling; it is only a feeling, and
will soon pass away. Your own dear mother—my early love—can never be
forgotten by either of us. Nor would Rose wish it. There is room in
my heart for both of them, and I do not love the memory of Elsie less
because I have given a place in it to Rose.”

There was a momentary silence; then she looked up, asking timidly,

“You are not vexed with me, papa?”

“No, dearest; not at all; and I am very glad you have told me your
feelings so freely,” he said, folding her closer and closer to his
heart. “I hope you will always come to me with your sorrows, and you
need never fear that you will not find sympathy, and help too, as far
as it is in my power to give it. Elsie, do you know that you are very
like your mother?—the resemblance grows stronger every day; and it
would be quite impossible for me to forget her with this living image
always before me.”

“Am I like her, papa? I am so glad!” exclaimed the little girl
eagerly, her face lighting up with a joyous smile.

It seemed as though Mr. Dinsmore could hardly bear to part with his
child that night; he held her a long time in his arms, but at last,
with another tender caress, and a fervent blessing, he bade her
good-night and sent her away.

CHAPTER III.

  She twin’d—and her mother’s gaze brought back

  Each hue of her childhood’s faded track.

  Oh! hush the song, and let her tears

  Flow to the dream of her early years!

  Holy and pure are the drops that fall

  When the young bride goes from her father’s hall;

  She goes unto love yet untried and new—

  She parts from love which hath still been true.

—MRS. HEMANS’ POEMS.

“How did it happen that Mr. Dinsmore was not of your party last night,
Miss Stevens?” inquired one of the lady boarders the next morning at
the breakfast-table.

“He had been riding all the morning with his little girl, and I
presume was too much fatigued to go again in the evening,” Miss
Stevens coolly replied, as she broke an egg into her cup, and
proceeded very deliberately to season it.

“It seems he was not too much fatigued to walk,” returned the other, a
little maliciously; “or to take a lady upon his arm.”

Miss Stevens started, and looked up hastily.

“I would advise you to be on your guard, and play your cards well,
or that quiet Miss Allison may prove a serious rival,” the lady
continued. “He certainly pays her a good deal of attention.”

“It is easy to account for that,” remarked Miss Stevens, with a
scornful toss of the head; “he is very fond of his little girl, and
takes her out walking or riding every day, and this Miss Allison—who
is, I presume, a kind of governess—indeed, it is evident that she
is, from the care she takes of the child—goes along as a matter of
course; but if you think Horace Dinsmore would look at a governess,
you are greatly mistaken, for he is as proud as Lucifer, as well as
the rest of his family, though he does set up to be so very pious!”

“Excuse me, madam,” observed a gentleman sitting near, “but you must
be laboring under a misapprehension. I am well acquainted with the
Allison family, and can assure you that the father is one of the
wealthiest merchants in Philadelphia.”

At this moment Mr. Dinsmore entered with Rose upon his arm, and
leading Elsie with the other hand. They drew near the table; he handed
Miss Allison to a seat and took his place beside her.

A slight murmur of surprise ran round the table, and all eyes were
turned upon Rose, who, feeling uncomfortably conscious of the fact,
cast down her own in modest embarrassment, while Elsie, with a face
all smiles and dimples, sent a triumphant glance across the table at
Annie Hart, who was whispering to her mother, “See, mamma, she has Mr.
Dinsmore’s ring!”

That lady immediately called Miss Stevens’ attention to it, which was
quite unnecessary, as she was already burning with rage at the sight.

“They walked out alone last evening, and that ring explains what they
were about,” said Mrs. Hart, in an undertone. “I am really sorry for
you, Miss Stevens; for your prize has certainly slipped through your
fingers.”

“I am much obliged to you,” she replied, with a toss of her head; “but
there are as good fish in the sea as ever were caught.”

The next moment she rose and left the table, Mrs. Hart following her
into the public parlor, and continuing the conversation by remarking,
“I would sue him for breach of promise if I were you, Miss Stevens. I
understood you were engaged to him.”

“I never said so; so what right had you to suppose it?” returned Miss

Stevens snappishly.

And upon reflecting a moment, Mrs. Hart could not remember that she
had ever said so in plain terms, although she had hinted it many
times—talking a great deal of Mr. Dinsmore’s splendid establishment,
and frequently speaking of the changes she thought would be desirable
in Elsie’s dress, just as though she expected some day to have it
under her control. Then, too, she had always treated Mr. Dinsmore with
so much familiarity that it was perfectly natural strangers should
suppose they were engaged, even though he never reciprocated it;
for that might be only because he was naturally reserved and
undemonstrative; as indeed Miss Stevens frequently averred, seeming to
regret it very deeply.

Presently she burst out, “I don’t know why people are always so ready
to talk! I don’t care for Horace Dinsmore, and never did! There was
never anything serious between us, though I must say he has paid me
marked attentions, and given me every reason to suppose he meant
something by them. I never gave him any encouragement, however; and so
he has been taken in by that artful creature. I thought he had more
sense, and could see through her manoeuvers—coaxing and petting up
the child to curry favor with the father! I thank my stars that I am
above such mean tricks! I presume she thinks, now, she is making a
splendid match; but if she doesn’t repent of her bargain before she
has been married a year, I miss my guess! She’ll never have her own
way—not a bit of it—I can tell her that. Everybody that knows
him will tell you that he is high-tempered and tyrannical, and as
obstinate as a mule.”

“The grapes are very sour, I think,” whispered Mrs. Hart to her next
neighbor, who nodded and laughed.

“There is Elsie out on the veranda, now,” said Annie. “I mean to
go and ask her what Miss Allison had her father’s ring for; may I,
mamma?”

“Yes; go, child, if you want to; I should like to hear what she will
say; though, of course, everybody understands that there must be an
engagement.”

“Well, Elsie, what made you run away in such a hurry yesterday?” asked
Annie, running up to our little friend. “Did you ask your papa about
the new mamma?”

“I told him what you said, Annie, and it wasn’t true,” Elsie answered,
with a glad look of joy. “I am going to have a new mother though, and
papa said I might tell you; but it is Miss Allison instead of Miss
Stevens, and I am very glad, because I love her dearly.”

“Is she your governess?”

“No, indeed! what made you ask?”

“Miss Stevens said so,” replied Annie, laughing and running away. And
just then Elsie’s papa called her, and bade her go upstairs and have
her hat put on, as they were going out to walk.

Edward Allison had been talking with his sister in her room, and they
came down together to the veranda, where Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie were
waiting for them. Edward was looking very proud and happy, but Rose’s
face was half hidden by her veil. She took Mr. Dinsmore’s offered arm
and Elsie asked, “Aren’t you going with us, Mr. Edward?”

“Not this time,” he answered, smiling. “I have an engagement to play a
game of chess with one of the ladies in the parlor yonder.”

“Then I shall have papa’s other hand,” she said, taking possession of
it.

She was very merry and talkative, but neither of her companions seemed
much disposed to answer her remarks. They were following the same path
they had taken the night before, and the thoughts of both were very
busy with the past and the future.

At length they reached the rustic seat where they had sat while Mr.
Dinsmore told his story, and he inquired of Rose if she would like to
stop and rest.

She assented, recognizing the place with a smile and a blush, and they
sat down.

“Papa,” said Elsie, “I am not tired, mayn’t I run on to the top of
that hill yonder?”

“Yes, if you will not go out of sight or hearing, so that I can see
that you are safe, and within call when I want you,” he replied, and
she bounded away.

Rose was sitting thoughtfully, with her eyes upon the ground, while
those of her companion were following the graceful figure of his
little girl, as she tripped lightly along the road.

“Mr. Dinsmore,” Rose began.

“I beg pardon, but were you speaking to me?” he asked, turning to her
with a half smile.

“Certainly,” she replied, smiling in return; “there is no one else
here.”

“Well then, Rose, dear, please to remember that I don’t answer to that
name from your lips, at least not when we are alone. I am not Mr.
Dinsmore to you, unless you mean to be Miss Allison to me,” he added,
taking her hand and gazing tenderly into her blushing face.

“Oh! no, no; I would not have you call me that!”

“Well then, dear Rose, I want you to call me Horace. I would almost as
soon think of being Mr. Dinsmore to Elsie, as to you. And now, what
were you going to say to me?”

“Only that I wish to set out on my homeward way to-night, with Edward.
I think it would be best, more especially as mamma has written
complaining of our long absence, and urging a speedy return.”

“Of course your mother’s wishes are the first to be consulted, until
you have given me a prior right,” he said, in a playful tone; “and
so I suppose Elsie and I will be obliged to continue our journey by
ourselves. But when may I claim you for my own indeed? Let it be as
soon as possible, dearest, for I feel that I ought to return to my
home ere long, and I am not willing to do so without my wife.”

“I must have a few weeks to prepare; you know a lady’s wardrobe cannot
be got ready in a day. What would you say to six weeks? I am afraid
mamma would think it entirely too short.”

“Six weeks, dear Rose? why that would bring us to the middle of

November. Surely a month will be long enough to keep me waiting for my

happiness, and give the dressmakers sufficient time for their work.

Let us say one month from to-day.”

Rose raised one objection after another, but he overruled them all and
pleaded his cause so earnestly that he gained his point at last, and
the wedding was fixed for that day month, provided the consent of
her parents, to so sudden a parting with their daughter, could be
obtained.

While Rose was at home making her preparations, Mr. Dinsmore and his
daughter were visiting the great lakes, and travelling through Canada.
He heard frequently from her, and there were always a few lines
to Elsie, which her father allowed her to answer in a little note
enclosed in his; and sometimes he read her a little of his own, or of
Miss Rose’s letter, which she always considered a very great treat.

New York City was their last halting place on their route, and there
they spent nearly two weeks in shopping and sight-seeing. Mr. Dinsmore
purchased an elegant set of furniture for his wife’s boudoir, and
sent it on to his home, with his orders to Mrs. Murray concerning
its arrangement. To this he added a splendid set of diamonds as his
wedding gift to his bride, while Elsie selected a pair of very costly
bracelets as hers.

They arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, the next morning
being the time appointed for the wedding. Mr. Dinsmore himself went to
his hotel, but sent Elsie and her nurse to Mr. Allison’s, as he had
been urgently requested to do, the family being now in occupation of
their town residence.

Elsie found the whole house in a bustle of preparation. Sophy met her
at the door and carried her off at once to her own room, eager to
display what she called “her wedding dress.” She was quite satisfied
with the admiration Elsie expressed. “But I suppose you bought ever so
many new dresses, and lots of other pretty things, in New York?” she
said inquiringly.

“Yes; papa and I together. And don’t you think, Sophy, he let me help
him choose some of his clothes, and he says he thinks I have very good
taste in ladies’ and gentlemen’s dress too.”

“That was right kind of him, but isn’t it odd, and real nice too, that
he and Rose are going to get married? I was so surprised. Do you like
it, Elsie? and shall you call her mamma?”

“Oh, yes, of course. I should be quite wretched if papa were going to
marry any one else; but I love Miss Rose dearly, and I am very glad
she is coming to us. I think it is very good of her, and papa thinks
so too.”

“Yes,” replied Sophy honestly, “and so do I; for I am sure I shouldn’t
like to leave papa and mamma and go away off there to live, though I
do like you very much, Elsie, and your papa too. Only think! he is
going to be my brother; and then won’t you be some sort of relation
too? I guess I’ll be your aunt, won’t I?”

“I don’t know; I haven’t thought about it,” said Elsie; while at the
same instant Harold put his head in at the half-open door, saying, “Of
course you will; and I’ll be her uncle.”

The little girls were quite startled at first, but seeing who it was,

Elsie ran towards him, holding out her hand.

“How do you do, Harold?” she said; “I am glad to see you.”

He had his satchel of books on his arm. “Thank you, how are you? I
am rejoiced to see you looking so well, but, as for me, I am quite
sick—of lessons,” he replied in a melancholy tone, and putting on a
comically doleful expression.

Elsie laughed and shook her head. “I thought you ware a good boy and
quite fond of your books.”

“Commonly, I believe I am, but not in these wedding times. It’s quite
too bad of your father, Elsie, to be carrying off Rose, when he won’t
let us have you. But never mind, I’ll be even with him some of these
days;” and he gave her a meaning look.

“Come in Harold, and put your books down,” said Sophy; “you can afford
to spend a few minutes talking to Elsie, can’t you?”

“I think I will!” he replied, accepting her invitation.

They chatted for some time, and then Adelaide came in. Elsie had heard
that she was coming on to be first bridesmaid. “Elsie, dear, how
glad I am to see you! and how well and happy you are looking!” she
exclaimed, folding her little niece in her arms, and kissing her
fondly. “But come,” she added, taking her by the hand and leading her
into the next room, “Miss Rose came in from her shopping only a few
minutes ago, and she wants to see you.”

Rose was standing by the toilet-table, gazing intently, with a blush
and a smile, at something she held in her hand. She laid it down as
they came in, and embracing the little girl affectionately, said how
very glad she was to see her.

Then, turning to the table again, she took up what she had been
looking at—which proved to be a miniature of Mr. Dinsmore—and
handed it to Adelaide, saying, “Is it not excellent? and so kind and
thoughtful of him to give it to me.”

“It is indeed a most perfect likeness,” Adelaide replied. “Horace is
very thoughtful about these little matters. I hope he will make you
very happy, dear Rose. I cannot tell you how glad I was when I heard
you were to be my sister.”

“You have seemed like a sister to me ever since the winter I spent
with you,” said Rose. And then she began questioning Elsie about her
journey asking if she were not fatigued, and would not like to lie
down and rest a little before tea.

“No thank you,” Elsie said; “you know it is only a short trip from New

York, and I am not at all tired.”

Just then the tea-bell rang, and Rose laughed and said it was well

Elsie had not accepted her invitation.

On going down to tea they found Mr. Dinsmore and Mr. Travilla there.
Elsie was delighted to meet her old friend, and it was evident that he
had already made himself a favorite with all the children, from Harold
down to little May.

The wedding was a really brilliant affair. The bride and her
attendants were beautifully dressed and, as every one remarked, looked
very charming. At an early hour in the morning carriages were in
waiting to convey the bridal party and the family to the church where
the ceremony was to be performed. When it was over they returned to
the house, where an elegant breakfast was provided for a large number
of guests; after which there was a grand reception for several hours.
Then, when the last guest had departed, Rose retired to her own room,
appearing shortly afterwards at the family dinner-table in her pretty
travelling dress, looking very sweet and engaging, but sober and
thoughtful, as were also her father and brothers; while Mrs. Allison’s
eyes were constantly filling with tears at the thought of losing her
daughter.

There was very little eating done, and the conversation flagged
several times in spite of the efforts of the gentlemen to keep it up.
At length all rose from the table, and gathered in the parlor for
a few moments. Then came the parting, and they were gone; and Mrs.
Allison, feeling almost as if she had buried her daughter, tried to
forget her loss by setting herself vigorously to work overseeing the
business of putting her house in order.

Rose’s feelings were mingled. She wept for a time, but the soothing
tenderness of her husband’s manner, and Elsie’s winning caresses