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Wake up! Wake up! You look unedified and haven't read Elsie Dinsmore!


Bromly has been accused of being in Cincinnti some weeks ago to almost drive a young man to suicide. An outrage! Perfidious lies! How will he explain to redeem himself in Elsie's eyes?

He told her he had
never been guilty of gambling; he had "sowed some wild oats," years
ago--getting slightly intoxicated on two or three occasions, and
things of that sort--but it was all over and repented of; and surely
she could not think it just and right that it should be brought up
against him now.

...the only way he could account for the
singular mistake was in the fact that he had a cousin who bore the
same name as himself, and resembled him so closely that they had
been frequently mistaken for each other. And that cousin, most
unfortunately, especially on account of the likeness, did both drink
and gamble. He was delighted by the look of relief that came over
Elsie's face, as he told her this. She cared for him, then; yet her
confidence had been shaken.


He tells her his evil cousin-twin did it. So he has successfully fooled her. Hurray for him? The girl doesn't think she owns her hair for pity's sake.

"Oh! I could not bear to think it possible. I was sure there must be a
mistake somewhere," she said with a beautiful smile.

"But you are quite satisfied now?"

"Quite."

Then he told her he loved her very dearly, better than his own soul;
that he found he could not live without her; life would not be worth
having, unless she would consent to share it with him. "Would she, oh!
would she promise some day to be his own precious little wife?"


Well, it's better than the proposal her father gave to her stepmother; at least it's about her and the reason she should marry him, not a biography of his scoundrel cousin. So Elsie semi-accepts, in that she agrees he can write her father for his consent of the marriage. That out of the way, he asks about Travilla... who we all remember is her future groom. Can Finley explain their relationship until now in non-creepy terms?

She explained, winding up by saying that he was much like a second
father to her.


That's a no.

"No, my child," he said, "the man's face is indelibly impressed upon
my memory, and I can not be mistaken in his identity."

Elsie's face flushed crimson, and indignant tears sprang to her eyes
and trembled in her voice as she answered, "I never knew you so
uncharitable before, sir. I could not have believed it of my
kind-hearted, generous old friend."

He gave her a very troubled, anxious look, as he replied, "Why should
you take it so to heart, Elsie? Surely this man is nothing to you."

"He is to be some day, if papa will permit," she murmured, turning
away her blushing face from his gaze.

Mr. Travilla uttered a groan, made two or three rapid turns across the
room, and coming back to her side, laid his hand in an affectionate,
fatherly manner upon her shoulder.


Oh, fatherly? He's being fatherly, now, after all this time casting himself in a lover-ish role to a girl too young for that? Really, Finley?

Anyway, drama of this stripe makes Finley happy, so she will now roll around on it in the manner of a happy, busy author. I will scout ahead. Oh, throughout all this we are reminded that the duty of a good daughter is to ditch suitors her parents don't like, so if you were in any danger of forgetting it, being reminded is the duty of a reader. We also find that Beresford's son Rudolph is now just fine, so that's great! We'll never hear from him or his family or his situation ever again, so it's good to have that resolved.

She had described to him Egerton's character as he had made it appear
to her, telling of their conversations... thus unintentionally enabling
Travilla to see clearly through the man's base designs.


And so Travilla will play Magical Plot Resolution Monkey. He also joins Lottie and Bromly and Elsie in their daily rides, which Elsie agrees to. She does think they'll be awkward. He's okay with it:

"My dear, I would cheerfully endure far more than that, to watch over
your father's child. You will not let this unhappy circumstance turn
you against your old friend? I could hardly bear that, little Elsie."
And he drew her toward him caressingly.

"Oh, no, no! I don't think anything could do that; you've always been
so good to me--almost a second father."


Anyone want to explain how the frequent repetition of this is not creepy? It makes sense in the light of the way Finley conflates all kinds of love and believes the father is replaced, so why not replace him with another paternal figure? But that doesn't mean it looks good. Anyway, Wealthy comes in with another character quirk flogged into skeletal powder, and commiserates with Elsie. That's enough of them! On to someone else.

Walter Dinsmore was doing well at college, studying hard, and keeping
himself out of bad company.


Quit being roommates with Arthur, then?

In this last he might not have been so
successful but for his brother's assistance; for, though choosing his
own associates from among the dissolute and vile, Arthur resolutely
exerted himself to preserve this young brother from such
contamination. "I've enough sins of my own to answer for, Wal," he
would say, sometimes almost fiercely, "and I won't have any of
yours added to 'em; nobody shall say I led you into bad company, or
initiated you into my own evil courses."


Later this amuses me. Just now it's pretty boring, besides that we've heard so much about his evil courses that I'm picturing him as an evil clawhooved thoroughbred with angry tilted Frankenbrows.

While doing so he was startled by hearing Arthur pronounce Elsie's
name in connection with words that seemed to imply that some danger
threatened her. He rose and went to the bedside, asking, "What's wrong
with Elsie, Art?"

"I say, Tom Jackson, she'll never take you. Horace won't consent."

"I should think not, indeed!" muttered Walter. Then leaning over his
brother, "Art, I say, Art! what is it all about? Has Tom Jackson gone
to Lansdale?"


I would expect Arthur to be a lot more direct about what was wrong with Elsie. Anyway, TJ or BE or whoever he is has now been discovered from two sides and it should be easy to polish off his involvement and tidy him out of the plot, right? Especially since Walter knows much:

"I can at least hang these in the closet," thought Walter, picking up
the jacket.


For one, he's got a good idea of his own competence. For another:

A letter fell from the pocket upon the floor.

"Jackson's handwriting, I declare!" he exclaimed, with a start of
surprise, as he stooped to pick it up.


Bang-up job keeping Walter from bad companions, Arthur. He knows Tom Jackson so well that he can tell his handwriting at a glance.

It was without an envelope,
written in a bold, legible hand, and unintentionally he read the date,
"Lansdale, Ohio, Aug. -- 185-," and farther down the page some parts
of sentences connected with the "D---- family" ... "can't help
themselves" ... "the girl loves me and believes in me."

He glanced at the bed. Arthur's eyes were closed. He looked down at
the letter again; there was the signature "T. J., alias B. E."


Smartest man in town cannot remember that his underhanded aliases should be kept separate. What's he going to do next, run an ad in the paper?

"The wretch! the sneaking, hypocritical scoundrel!" muttered Walter
between his teeth, and glancing again at the bed, though the epithet
was meant to apply to Jackson and not to Arthur. "What can I do to
circumvent him? Write to Horace, of course, and warn him of Elsie's
danger." And though usually vacillating and infirm of purpose, on this
occasion Walter showed himself both prompt and decided. The next mail
carried the news of his discovery to Elsie's natural protector...


So Walter has also had enough contact with Bromly to think that he is a hypocrite, without knowing he is a bad person or how to recognize shifty characters. Great work, Arthur! Walter will never be deceived into criminal misdeeds at this rate. Daddy D, who has been reading letters from Travilla, Elsie, and Bromly, gets Walter's on the same day. It is the last straw:

"Travilla is right! the man is an unmitigated scoundrel!" he cried,
starting up with great excitement. "Rose, I must be off by the next
train..."

"Yes, dear... But what is wrong? Where are you going? and how long will
you be away?"

"To my brother's first--Arthur is seriously ill, and I must get hold
of evidence that Walter can supply--then on to Lansdale with all speed
to rescue Elsie from the wiles of a gambling, swindling, hypocritical,
fortune-hunting rascal!"


Why does everyone say he's hypocritical? He doesn't present himself as a priest or pretend to spiritual superiority; he's a conman who pretends to be a worldly but overall goodhearted man. He doesn't preach what people should do, either, he just goes about his plans. Sure, there's his fake conversion. But he hasn't acted like that has much impact on him, or said anyone else should convert. He's just a fraud.

At a very early hour of the next morning, Walter Dinsmore was roused
from his slumbers by, a knock at his door.

"Who's there?" he asked, starting up in bed.

"I, Walter," answered a well-known voice, and with a joyful
exclamation he sprang to the door, and opened it.


The doppelganger on the other side fell on him and ate him! Just kidding, it's nothing that interesting. Daddy D. comes in all freaked out about Arthur's health, seriously concerned even though Arthur is part of a plot to seize Elsie's fortune and he is given the letter in which Bromly blackmails him to silence. How else could this possibly go wrong for Bromly?

Also Walter had managed to secure an excellent photograph of
Jackson, which Mr. Dinsmore carried with him, safely bestowed in
the breast-pocket of his coat.


Oh for pity's sake. Just drive out there and stick a fork in him. We know he's done:

...his only hope lay in running away with Elsie, and afterwards
persuading her into a clandestine marriage.


We've been reading these books. There's no way shy of outright abduction that this will work.

"Excuse this early call, dearest, but--ah, how lovely you are looking
this morning!" and bending his head he drew her toward him.

But she stepped back, avoiding the intended caress, while a crimson
tide rushed over the fair face and neck, and her eyes sought the
carpet.

"We are not engaged, Mr. Egerton; cannot be till papa has given
consent."

"I beg ten thousand pardons," he said, coloring violently in his turn,
and feeling his hopes grow fainter.


And missing his chance to press his suit by playing on her feelings. He goes on a ride with Elsie and Travilla and Lottie and spends his time bringing Lottie over to his side... too little, way too late. Lottie does press Elsie on her feelings for him, but Lottie has no power in this situation and can't do much besides fanning the drama up a bit.

"I am papa's child; I always shall be. Oh, it would break my heart if
ever he should disown me and say, 'You are no longer my child!'"

"How you do love him!"

"Better than my life!"


Elsie's childhood has left her seriously messed up. Daddy D. himself drops in, and the drama goes on unabated:

"Ah, papa! you would never say that if you knew how--how I love him,"
she murmured, a deep blush suffusing her face.

"Hush! it horrifies me to hear you speak so of so vile a wretch..."

"Papa, it is not true! I will not hear such things said of him, even
by you!" she cried, the hot blood dyeing her face and neck, and the
soft eyes filling with indignant tears.

He put his finger upon her lips. "My daughter forgets to whom she is
speaking," he said with something of the old sternness, though there
was tender pity also in his tones.


Because that's what's important right now! Maintaining the patriarchy is a full-time job and no opportunity to shore it up can be missed.

"Oh, papa, I am so wretched!" she sobbed, hiding her face on his
breast. "Oh, don't believe what they say; it isn't, it can't be true."

He caressed her silently, then taking the photograph from his pocket,
asked, "Do you know that face?"


Took him long enough to get around to it. But it does no good. Elsie still believes the cousin story and clings to it, even deciding the cousin forged the letter. Daddy D. is relieved he taught her UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE because it is saving her now, never mind that he would have gotten the same result if he'd focused more on critical thinking skills and less on mindlessly following the men she's emotionally attached to. So instead of taking her to meet with Walter and other people who know Jackson and can tell her that he has no good twin-cousin, Daddy D. forbids all contact between her and Bromly. Then he realizes the creepometer stands unshattered and has a quick go at it:

Then as if a sudden thought had struck him, "Elsie, have
you ever allowed him to touch your lips?" he asked almost sternly.

"No, papa, not even my cheek. I would not while we were not engaged;
and that could not be without your consent."

"I am truly thankful for that!" he exclaimed in a tone of relief; "to
know that he had--that these sweet lips had been polluted by contact
with his--would be worse to me than the loss of half my fortune." And
lifting her face as he spoke, he pressed his own to them again and
again.


Only half? Glad we're being reasonable here. But talking about her unpolluted lips before repeatedly kissing her... That's a jealous lover. Not a parent. Even Elsie seems to agree something is not right:

But for the first time in her life she turned from him as if almost
loathing his caresses, and struggled to release herself from the clasp
of his arm.

He let her go, and hurrying to the farther side of the room, she stood
leaning against the window-frame, with her back toward him, shedding
very bitter tears of mingled grief and anger.


Then she hears him sigh, realizes he's sad for her, and apologizes, and everything goes back off-kilter.

"My poor darling, my poor little pet!" he said, passing his hand with
soft, caressing movement over her hair and cheek, "try to keep your
love for your father and your faith in his for you, however hard this
rule may seem."

"Ah, papa, my heart would break if I lost either," she sobbed.


NORMAL THIS SCENE IS PERFECTLY NORMAL.

She sees he is tired. He takes a nap and sleeps for two hours while she sits by him fanning off flies. She is supposed to wake him if she leaves the room. Being Elsie, she would. We get the tract summary after another recycled Wealthy joke and spotlighting of same:

"I must; papa will always be obeyed."

"But don't you feel that it's very hard? doesn't it make you feel
angry with your father and love him a little less?"

"I was angry for a little while this afternoon," Elsie acknowledged
with a blush, "but I am sure I have no right to be; I know papa is
acting for my good,--doing just what he believes will be most likely
to secure my happiness. He says it is to save me from a life of
misery..."


And yes, you really would get parental involvement in Quiverfull churches, sometimes to the arranged-marriage level. So this tract stuff is valuable to them, even laden with incestuous overtones. It's probably why people can read this translating Daddy D's reactions into Normal Human Being-ese.

So Bromly has been identified, neutralized, and utterly counted out. Time for something new! It's the Return of Bromly Egerton!

Egerton tracks down the lone black character and makes an offer he can't refuse: money for mail delivery.

"To put this into Miss Dinsmore's hands," answered Egerton, showing
a letter; "into her own hands, now, mind. If you do that, the five
dollars are yours; and if you bring me an answer, I'll make it ten.
But you are to manage it so that no one else shall see what you do. Do
you understand?"

... Very anxious to win the coveted reward, Simon was careful to be on
hand when the riding party returned. He stationed himself near Elsie's
horse. Her father assisted her to alight, and as he turned to make a
remark to Lottie, Simon, being on the alert, managed to slip the note
into Elsie's hand, unperceived by Mr. Dinsmore, or the others.


Success, it appears! But we know Elsie, so...

"Oh, papa, if you would let me! if you only would!" she cried,
bursting into tears, and putting her arms coaxingly about his neck.

"Let you do what, my child?" he asked, stroking her hair.

"Read this," she said, in a choking voice, taking the note from her
pocket. "Oh, if you knew how much I want to! Mayn't I, papa? do, dear
papa, say yes."

"No, Elsie; it grieves me to deny you, but it must go back unopened.
Give it to me."


We know it's failure! Bromly then tries to get Lottie, his ally, to help by giving her the note. Lottie says she won't, and if she did, Elsie would just show it to her father. Then, of course:

Lottie spent the evening with her friend, and when a fitting
opportunity offered gave her an account of this interview with
Egerton, Elsie telling her in return something of what had passed
between her father and herself in regard to the note.

That Egerton had desired to tempt her to disobedience and deception
did not tend to increase Elsie's esteem and admiration for him, but
quite the reverse.


So Bromly Egerton is now totally down and out! What now? It's time for the return of Bromly Egerton!

He had not been there long, when he saw Miss Stanhope and Mr.
Travilla, then Mr. Dinsmore and Elsie, come out of the house and cross
the lawn. He made a hasty exit and was in the act of opening Mrs.
Schilling's front gate as the latter couple reached the one opposite.

"Put down your veil, Elsie; take my arm; and don't look toward that
man at all," commanded her father, and she obeyed.


Dude. That's all you've got? You're going to go open a gate at her?

"Poor Elsie was well watched to-day," remarked Nettie King to her
sister as they walked home together; "her father scarcely took his
eyes off her for five consecutive minutes, I should think; and Mr.
Egerton stared at her from the time he came in till the benediction
was pronounced."

"Yes, I thought he was decidedly rude."

"Isn't Mr. Dinsmore excessively strict and exacting?"

"Yes, I think so; yet he dotes on her, and she on him. I never saw a
father and daughter so completely wrapped up in each other."


And it's not okay. That said, Bromly's pointless efforts have resulted in his losing social stock. It's also clear he's lost. Where will our narrative wend now? Now we have...the...return... of Bromly Egerton.

"Just look!" cried Nettie, "I do believe Egerton means to force
himself upon their notice and compel Elsie to speak to him."

He was crossing the street so as to meet them face to face, just at
the gate, giving them no chance to avoid the rencontre.

"Good-morning, Miss Dinsmore," he said in a loud, cordial tone of
greeting, as they neared each other.

Elsie started and tightened her grasp of her father's arm, but neither
looked up nor spoke.

"My daughter acknowledges no acquaintance with you, sir," answered Mr.
Dinsmore, haughtily, and Egerton turned and strode angrily away.


And the prompt vanquishing of Bromly Egerton. He's not even picked a tack to take yet. He might at least attack with the idea that her father is prideful, trying to tell Elsie that her father's blind to his good traits and wants to believe him a villain. He might insinuate that she is fickle but he is true. He might do anything a shyster trying to save his game would do. But no, to Finley he is a tremendous threat by merely existing. So he stalks off in utter defeat. Travilla, Elsie, and co. all say their goodbyes to Elsie's host and the little town and the repeated crashing and burning of Elsie's suitor and go to the station, where they find the return of Bromly Egerton!

Egerton was at the depot, but could get neither a word with Elsie, nor
so much as a sight of her face. Her veil was not once lifted, and
her father never left her side for a moment. Mr. Travilla bought the
tickets, and Simon attended to the checking of the baggage. Then the
train came thundering up, and the fair girl was hurried into it,
Mr. Travilla, on one side, and her father on the other, effectually
preventing any near approach to her person on the part of the baffled
and disappointed fortune-hunter.

He gets more and more anticlimactic each time. He leaves Mrs. Schilling's home next. A conman whose first shot had failed would probably try to salvage his losses at this point. He still has his letter of recommendation, and the woman who supposedly wrote it is still overseas. He could try setting up in another town and seeing if he could get a different heiress.

So Elsie goes home and is very sad and stuff. So visitors come and Daddy D. sees Elsie is tired:

"You are greatly fatigued, my child," he said. "We will excuse you and
let you retire at once."

She was very glad to avail herself of the permission.

Rose followed her to her room, a pleasant, breezy apartment,


...and explains that Finley's impression of love is not just as messed up as we had thought, but a bit more:

"'Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.' It
is part of woman's curse that she must ever crave that sort of love,
often yielding to her craving, to her own terrible undoing..."


So now all romantic love is this alternative-lifestyle thing, and if god doesn't approve he'll stand back and let it wreck your life. It's Biblical. And now Elsie's childhood and adolescence are retrospectively coated in yet another layer of wrong. There is lots more to this tender talk:

"You know all, mamma?"

"Yes, dear; papa told me; for you know you are my darling daughter
too, and I have a very deep interest in all that concerns you."


And:

"Thank you, best and kindest of mothers; I should never want anything
kept from you."

"Your father tells me you have behaved beautifully, though you
evidently felt it very hard to be separated so entirely and at once
fr--"

"Yes, mamma," and Elsie's lip quivered, and her eyes filled, "and oh,
I can't believe he is the wicked man papa thinks him. From the first
he seemed to be a perfect gentleman, educated, polished, and refined;
and afterward he became...truly converted, and a very earnest, devoted
Christian. He told me he had been, at one time, a little wild, but
surely he ought not to be condemned for that, after he had repented
and reformed."

"No, dear; and your father would agree with you in that. But he
believes you have been deceived in the man's character; and don't you
think, daughter, that he is wiser than yourself, and more capable of
finding out the truth about the matter?"

"I know papa is far wiser than I, but, oh, my heart will not believe
what they say of--of him!" she cried with sudden, almost passionate
vehemence.

"Well, dear, that is perfectly natural, but try to be entirely
submissive to your father, and wait patiently; and hopefully too," she
added with a smile; "for if Mr. Egerton is really good, no doubt it
will be proved in time, and then your father will at once remove his
interdict. And if you are mistaken, you will one day discover it, and
feel thankful, indeed, to your papa for taking just the course he
has."


Why do I quote such a huge chunk? Because there is one more aspect to that conversation:

"There he is now!" Elsie said with a start, as Mr. Dinsmore's step was
heard without, and Chloe opened the door in answer to his rap.


This is the first time Chloe has been mentioned as present. Unless Chloe has been standing outside ignoring passerby until they reach out and knock, she has silently been there while Elsie and Rose affirm their mother-daughter relationship and have a heart-to-heart about matters that deeply affect Elsie and that she is still not over. Finley has given Chloe one role: to love and take care of Elsie. Now that Rose is here as a superior upgrade, Chloe is a mute, unnoticed door-opener. Go ahead, read that conversation they had in front of her again. There's a similar page before it. This is p. 172 of Elsie's Girlhood on Project Gutenberg.

"What, Elsie disobeying orders, and mamma conniving at it!" he
exclaimed in a tone that might mean either jest or serious reproof.
"Did I not bid you go to bed at once, my daughter?"

"I thought it was only permission, papa, not command," she answered,
lifting her eyes to his face, and moving to make room for him by her
side. "And mamma has been saying such sweet, comforting things to me."


And Chloe has, what? Been there for Elsie? Or does she not exist now that she's had that decharacterization?

"But surely papa knows I cannot go to bed without my good-night kiss
when he is in the same house with me," she said, winding her arms
about his neck.

"And didn't like to take it before folks? Well, that was right, but
take it now. There, good-night. Now mamma and I will run away, and you
must get into bed with all speed. No mistake about the command this
time, and disobedience, if ventured on, will have to be punished," he
said with playful tenderness, as he returned her embrace, and rose to
leave the room.


Well, it's good the man who shut her in a closet and forgot about her and twice kept her up until she fell over can joke about it.

Chloe was just putting the finishing touches to her young lady's toilet...

Well, at least she still semi-exists, if only in a state of mechanic servitude. If she didn't, Rose would have to come put Elsie's slippers on for her.

"Come here, daughter," he said, "and tell me if you obeyed orders last
night."

"Yes, papa, I did."


...so that hadn't been playful at all. Great. At least we were spared a scene where he came back to her room to see if she was in bed. He does go off to face off against Arthur, who may not have been eaten by a doppelganger since he is back to being surly and defensive in the face of righteous wrath. We do get a pretty snappy comeback:

"You may as well speak the truth, sir; it will be much better for
you in the end," said Mr. Dinsmore, sternly, his eyes flashing with
indignant anger.

"And you may as well remember that it isn't Elsie you are dealing
with. I'm not afraid of you."


Yeah, probably not a doppelganger, he knows his family too well... again... like he didn't last time... maybe he regenerated from his indigestible terrible metal claw-hand and killed the doppelganger. Whoever he is, he is Finley's mere plaything:

Arthur listened in sullen silence, though his rapidly changing color
showed that he felt the cutting rebuke keenly. At one time he had
resolved to confess everything, throw himself upon the mercy of his
father and brother, and begin to lead an honest, upright life; but a
threatening letter received that morning from Jackson had led him to
change his purpose, and determine to close his lips for a time...

...Arthur, I give you one more chance, and
for our father's sake I hope you will avail yourself of it. If you go
on as you have for the last three or four years, you will bring down
his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. I presume you have put
yourself in Jackson's power; but if you will now make a full and free
confession to me, and promise amendment, I will help you to get rid of
the rascal's claims upon you, and start afresh. Will you do it?"


NO! So Arthur is blackmailed into silence, and would totally repent... except he doesn't want your help getting out from under this blackmail. He'll just canter around his evil courses some more. ClipclopclipCLANK, clipclopclipCLANK, clipclopclipCLANK.

Next up: the end of the book! The re-emergence of Lucy to make something happen! The return of Bromly Egerton!

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