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

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