At last all the preparations were made, and Dolly's modest wardrobe packed to the very last article, so that her bureau drawers looked mournfully empty.

It was a little hair trunk, with "D. C." embossed in brass nails upon one end, that contained all this young lady's armor—a very different affair from the Saratoga trunks of our modern belles. The pink brocade with its bunches of rose-buds; some tuckers of choice old lace that had figured in her mother's bridal toilet; a few bits of ribbon; a white India muslin dress, embroidered by her own hands;—these were the stock in trade of a young damsel of her times, and, strange as it may appear, young ladies then were stated by good authority to have been just as pretty and bewitching as now, when their trunks are several times as large.

Dolly's place and Aunt Debby's had been properly set down on Hiel's stage-book for the next morning at six o'clock; and now remained only an evening of last words.

So Dolly sits by her father in his study, where from infancy she has retreated for pleasant quiet hours, where even the books she never read seem to her like familiar friends from the number of times she has pondered the titles upon their backs. And now, though she wants to go, and feels the fluttering eagerness of the young bird, who has wings to use and would like to try the free air, yet the first flight from the nest is a little fearful. Boston is a long way off—three long days—and Dolly has never been farther from Poganuc than she has ridden by her father's side in the old chaise; so that the very journey has as much importance in her eyes as fifty years later a modern young lady will attach to a voyage to England.

"My daughter," said the Doctor, "I know you will have a pleasant time; I hope, a profitable one. Your aunt is a good woman. I have great confidence in her affection for you; your own mother could not feel more sincere desire for your happiness. And your grandmother is an eminently godly woman. Of course, while with them you will attend the services of the Episcopal Church; for that you have my cordial consent and willingness. The liturgy of the church is full of devout feelings, and the Thirty-nine Articles (with some few slight exceptions) are a very excellent statement of truth. In adopting the spirit and language of the prayers in the service you cannot go amiss; very excellent Christians have been nourished and brought up upon them. So have no hesitation about uniting in all Christian exercises with your relatives in Boston."

"Oh, Papa, I am almost sorry I am going," said Dolly, impulsively. "My home has been always so happy, I feel almost afraid to leave it. It seems as if I ought not to leave you and Mother alone."

The Doctor smiled and stroked her hair gently in an absent way. "We shall miss you, dear child, of course; you are the last bird in the nest, but your mother and I are quite sure it is for the best."

And then the conversation wandered back over many a pleasant field of the past—over walks and talks and happy hours long gone; over the plans and hopes and wishes for her brothers that Dolly had felt proud to be old enough to share; until the good man's voice sometimes would grow husky as he spoke and Dolly's long eye-lashes were wet and tearful. It was the kind of pleasant little summer rain of tears that comes so easily to young eyes that have never known what real sorrow is.

And when Dolly after her conference came to bid her mother good-night, she fell upon her neck and wept for reasons she could scarce explain herself.

"I should like to know what you've been saying to Dolly," said Mrs. Cushing to the Doctor, suddenly appearing at the study-door.

"Saying to Dolly?" exclaimed the Doctor, looking up dreamily, "why, nothing particular."

"Well, you've made her cry. I declare! you men have no kind of idea how to talk to a girl."

The Doctor at first looked amazed, and then an amused expression passed slowly over his face. He drew his wife down beside him and passing his arm around her said significantly,

"There was a girl, once, who thought I knew how to talk to her—but that is a good many years ago."

Mrs. Cushing laughed, and blushed, and said, "Oh, nonsense!"

But the Doctor looked triumphant.

"As to Dolly," he said, "never fear. She's a tender-hearted little thing, and made herself cry thinking that we should be lonesome, and a dozen other little pretty kindly things that set her tears going. She's a precious child, and we shall miss her. I have settled her mind as to the church question."

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook