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Elsie Dinsmore Updated Version


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Finally got the first 2 Elsie books from the library. They are, together, book 1 of the original series.

Titles: Elsie's Endless Wait (which ends on chapter 3, so whatever), and Elsie's Impossible Choice.

I actually read these 2 books first before going back and reading the original series all the way through, and never got up to book 3. So, if I continue with the series, it shall be interesting.

Someone else is already doing the original series, (thank you for sparing me the torture) and I'll point out comparisons where I know they exist, but mostly I just plan to recap.

They have taken out the anti catholic stuff, and a lot of the racism (though probably not all) but from what I remember this book was still creepy as fuck. I was still a conservative Christian when I read it, and even then it made me feel like I wanted to vomit.

There's some information about Elsie's time period in the front of the book. Some highlights:

1.In the 1830s, the family was the fundamental unit of society, but couples married at earlier ages and large families were common. Several generations often lived together.

2.Life expectancy was much shorter, because they didn't have as much medical knowledge as we do. Oh, and vaccines. Actually they don't mention vaccines specifically, they just say we have ways to prevent childhood diseases.

3.Schools were scarce in the rural South (yes, the word “South†is capitalized in the text) and children were usually educated at home. Most of the learning was done by memorizing things, which explains Elsie's ability to quote the scriptures.

4.This book takes place in a time and place in which slavery was acceptable. There's a little bit of explanation about how slaves weren't allowed to read and write, but that Chloe's nursemaid, referred to in the book as “aunt†(in the original version she is referred to as “mammyâ€) memorized scriptures by learning them from her Christian masters. That's all there is about it, no mention about slavery being wrong at all, just an accepted practice that wasn't even abolished until 1865.

There's also this interesting paragraph:

Although Martha Finley wrote about the South, she never lived in the region or experienced slavery directly. She did, however, hold a firm belief in the importance of unity and equality among all people and all parts of her native land, and she wrote poignantly, in the preface to a later Elsie book, of “this great, grand, glorious old Union...†she issues a plea to her readers and fellow countrymen to “forget all bitterness, and live henceforth in love, harmony, and mutual helpfulness.â€

Sooooooo in other words, Mission City Press is trying to sanitize the author. Oooooookay then, moving on.

There's a family tree here, but I'm too technologically impaired to try and upload a photo.

I will, however, give a list of Elsie's.... what are they to her? Aunts and Uncles? They're Elsie's father's step siblings.







Stay tuned for a chapter one post, if I haven't run out of wine by then.

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When you have to try so hard to sanitize a text, that means the original isn't for children and should be reserved for older teens and adults to use to study writing styles and acceptability of things like slavery in the past.

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The Mildred books and Laylie's get more into the slavery issue. I want to do those books (original and new) after elsie, if people are still interested.

I'll get chapter one up later today. I was going to do it this morning, but got called into work.

Eta: in case people are wondering, even the modern versions don't deal well with slavery.... I mean in some ways they do, but in other ways it's just... It made me uncomfortable.

But I do have the Laylie doll, and absolutely love her. I also have Kathleen, but these two were never in the original books, so meh.

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My god, this is even worse than I remembered.

This chapter is fairly similar to chapter one in the original series, but I think a few things may have been tweaked.

Chapter 1

Trouble in the Schoolroom

“It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.â€

1 Peter 3:7

The first paragraph describes the schoolroom at Roselands, which is apparently older than the rest of the house. Elsie and 5 of the other children are in the schoolroom studying. Their teacher, Miss Day, is getting frustrated with 6 year old Enna, who is “a spoiled and willful girl who often pushes Miss Day to the limits.â€

God I know some of these children. I went to school with them. They're obnoxious. We are not supposed to like Enna.

And then we get this sentence and I actually feel some sympathy for Enna.

“There!†Exclaimed Miss Day as she shut the book and impatiently tossed it onto the desk. “I might as well try to teach old Bruno, for your dog would learn about as fast as you, Enna.â€

Enna walks away, threatening to tell her mother.

Which, um, I hope she does? Because like seriously, rude. Was saying things like this a normal thing to do back in 1830/40 whatever?

In any case, Miss Day informs the room that she will leave them alone to study for an hour, and those who have learned their lessons would be allowed to go to the fair with her later in the afternoon. None of them are to leave the room until she returns.

Sure, leave a room full of small children alone and expect them to study. THAT was a good idea....

After about 10 minutes, Arthur, ten years old, throws his book across the room and says he knows his lessons, and even if he didn't he wouldn't study anymore. Louise makes him shut up, so he does, and goes to torment Elsie by tickling the back of her neck with a feather.

She asks him to stop, but he says tormenting her is fun and continues. Elsie asks him to stop again so she can get work done, but he continues tickling her, and starts pulling her hair. Elsie begs him to stop because she's trying to learn her math. Arthur then teases her about not being able to do the problem. Elsie says she knows the answer to the problem she's working on, but still can't get the right answer on her own. Arthur says to just cheat, but Elsie says that would be dishonest, like telling a lie.

I believe in the original series she starts crying at this point.

I probably would to, to be honest. Arthur continues to tickle torture her with the feather. The book has this written as “Arthur would not stop his persecutions.â€

Dear God, I hardly think this counts as persecution.... bullying yes, tormenting, yes, wrong, yes. But persecution? I think that's a big much.

Seeing that her little brother won't leave Elsie alone, Louise tells Elsie to take her book out on the back porch and study there. Louise will call Elsie in when Miss Day gets back.

But Elsie did not budge from her desk. “I can't go outside, because Miss Day said we must stay in this room, so that would be disobeying,†she explained with despair.


Anyway, Elsie brings out her copybook, and Arthur bumps her arm on purpose, causing her to make a mess of the ink. At this point, Elsie bursts into tears about not going to the fair.

Arthur, who was not always as hateful as he seemed, felt suddenly guilty about the mischief he had caused. “Nevermind Elsie, I can fix it,†he said. “I'll just tear out this page with the ink stain and you can start again on the next page. I won't bother you anymore, and I can help with your math problem, too.â€

See, Arthur isn't so bad. Well, he is, but at least he's willing to make it right, now that he sees how much it upsets her.

Elsie smiled through her tears. “That's kind of you Arthur, but I can't tear out the page or let you do my problem. That would be deceitful.â€

Um.... where did Arthur say he'd do the math problem for her? He just said he'd HELP her. That's not the same thing at all, and if it is, then I cheated my way through all 12 grades of math in school. As for tearing out a page in her copybook.... I don't see the problem with that either? It's not like she wouldn't have made the mistake on her own, Arthur bumped her elbow.

Arthur, upset that his offer was refused, informs her that if she won't let him help, it's her own fault she's got to stay at home.

Which, he's not entirely wrong... he did offer to help.

Louise agrees with Arthur, saying she doesn't understand why Elsie gets into such ridiculous scruples.

Elsie continues with her work, knowing it's all no good, because the inkblot spoiled it all.

Miss Day returns, and picks on Elsie first. The book tells us that Miss Day was always more harsh with Elsie than her other pupils, “for reasons that will soon become clear.â€

This is just bad writing. Show, don't tell. Show us why Miss Day is more Harsh but don't give us this “for reasons that will soon become clear†crap.

Elsie's Geography recitation and math problems aren't perfect, but when Miss day sees Elsie's copybook, she gets furious.

“You careless, disobedient child!†she shouted, “didn't I tell you not to blot our book? There will be no ride for you today. You have failed in everything. Go back to your seat! Correct that problem and do the next one. Then write another page in your copybook. And mind, if there is a blot on the page, you will not get your dinner today!â€

So, Miss Day just called Elsie Careless and disobedient. An hour earlier, she called Enna “so stupid the dog could learn faster than you.â€

I....I actually think these are about equally harsh? So far I've seen her treat Enna and Elsie quite equally.

Elsie gives Arthur a pleading look, and Arthur does feel a bit bad, but then reminds himself that if Elsie had let him help her, this wouldn't be happening.

He's not wrong, but I still feel like he could speak up and say hey, it is my fault.

Lora decides to do it for him. She explains the whole situation to Miss Day, thinking that it will straighten the whole thing out.

Miss Day asks Arthur if this is true. Arthur doesn't respond. Miss Day tells Arthur he has to stay home today too.

Lora is shocked that Miss Day is still punishing Elsie, and says so. Miss Day tells Lora she will not be dictated to by any of her pupils. Lora falls silent,

…. Elsie sat at her desk and struggled with the feelings of anger and indignation that were boiling inside her. Although she possessed a gentle and quiet spirit, Elsie was not perfect, and she often had to do fierce battle with her naturally quick temper. But because she seldom displayed her anger, it was commonly said that Elsie had no spirit.

Naturally quick temper? When have we seen a naturally quick temper? --I-- have a naturally quick temper, and if a boy tried tickling me with a feather, I'd kick them so hard they'd be waddling for a week. The text says “she seldom displays her anger to others,†but actually, this is about the first the book's mentioned Elsie even having anger at all. I just.... can't see Elsie as an angry person with a quick temper. That's not what we've been shown.

Mrs. Dinsmore comes into the schoolroom and asks if the children are through. She notices Elsie crying, and asks Miss Day what's wrong. Miss Day tells Mrs. Dinsmore what happened, and that Arthur and Elsie are both to stay home today.

“Miss Day,†[said Mrs. Dimwit) “I must beg you to excuse Arthur this one time, for I have my heart set on him coming with us today. He's mischievous, I know, but he's just a child, and you shouldn't' be too hard on him.â€

Miss Day's back stiffened, but she spoke with courtesy. “Very well, Madam. You, of course, have the right to control your own children.â€

As Mrs. Dinsmore turned to leave, Lora spoke up again. “Mamma, won't Elsie be allowed to go?â€

“Elsie is not my child, and I have nothing to say about it,†Mrs. Dinsmore said with a condescending air......

Lora turned to the teacher. “You will let Elsie go, won't you Miss Day?â€

Miss Day replied, “I already told you, Miss Lora, that I will not be dictated to. I've said Elsie must stay at home and I will not break my word.â€

So we see that Mrs. Dinsmore spoils her own children, but couldn't care less for her step grand child.

And that Miss Day really doesn't like Elsie much. Louise doesn't seem to either, as she asks Lora why she bothers to try to help Elsie, when, if it wasn't for her silly principles, she'd be going to the fair with them.

Miss Day then goes across the room to take out her anger on Elsie. Unlike Elsie, we are told, Miss Day could not keep her anger hidden. You shouldn't take your anger out on children, but there's this whole huge underlying thought that showing anger in any way is a bad bad terrible wicked thing, and I just can't get on board with that.

Angrily, Miss Day asks why Elsie hasn't been doing anything.

“I haven't been idling,†Elsie protested quickly. “I tried hard to do my work, and you're punishing me when I don't deserve it.â€

“How dare you? There!†Miss Day shouted, smacking Elsie hard on the ear. “Take that for your impertinence!â€

Emotionally and physically abusive. I don't blame Elsie for being so timid if this is what she's going to get if she sticks up for herself. But hold that thought, because this is going to be a Big Deal in about 2 seconds.

Everyone leaves the schoolroom to go to the fair. Elsie puts aside her geography book, even though she has been told to study (Sinning! You were told to study and you are not! That's disobedient! You are sinning little Elsie Dimwit!) and takes out her bible, which shows marks of frequent use.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.â€

Elsie starts crying again.

“I didn't endure it! I'm not following in his steps very well.â€

Because standing up for yourself isn't enduring unjust suffering, apparently.

The verse Elsie is quoting, by the way, is 1 Peter 2:19-21. I'm really glad they left out verse 18, because that would just be all kinds of awful. I mean, it's still awful in context, and it's still awful in this book, but at least they left verse 18 out of this book.

1 Peter 2:18

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

Stick that before the verses Elsie quotes, and we get an extra ick factor.

At this point, Miss Allison comes in and lays a hand on Elsie's shoulder. Miss Rose Allison is the daughter of a good fiend of Mr. Dimwit senior. She came to Roselands because she has been sick, and the doctor thought a southern climate would help. She is “a devout Christian, who was troubled at the Dimwit family's lack of devotion to God.â€

Rose had heard Elsie sobbing and came to see what was the matter. Elsie tells her everything.

Elsie tells Miss Allison (Rose) that she is not bothered by staying home and not going to the fair. She is not even crying because she has been treated like shit. she is crying because she didn't bear the temptation patiently.

At this point on my first read through, I expected Rose to tell Elsie that none of this was her fault, that Miss Day is being unjust, and then maybe talk about how that particular bible verse was in a specific context of... actually, nevermind. That particular context should also be left out of this book. But they could have a talk about how Elsie actually handled that very well. But they need to leave that bible passage out because goddamn, really?

Folks, remember that these modern versions are the “heavily sanitized†version. And they STILL based a whole scene on a bible passage that begins with 1 Peter 2:18. Really.

Rose gives Elsie a hug and talks about how becoming like Jesus is a lot of work, and we all make mistakes and....

Hold on.... yeah Jesus put up with abuse when God told him to when he was on the cross, but.... does anyone here remember what Jesus did when the priests had turned the temple into a den of thieves? Yeah, Jesus calmly and patiently bore that trial in silence, you bet.

Sometimes it's ok to fight back. It is ok to stand up for yourself.

Rose goes on to talk about how much God loves us and is very forgiving... if Elsie had actually done something wrong, I would have less of a problem with this speech. From a Christian perspective it's not so terrible, but with this particular context it's like.... wtf.

Rose is so happy to meet another Christian ( by the which the book means: the right KIND of Christian) that she immediately becomes friends with Elsie, who's happy because nobody loves her except “Aunt Chloe.â€

Aunt. Yes, they use the word aunt, to describe what the original books call “mammy.†Rose isn't sure she's met Chloe, though she has met “a number of nice servant women.â€

Dude, quit glossing over it already. We all know that the Dinsmores own slaves. It's a reality of the times in which they live, and yes, it's wrong, but I feel like you could still include that the Dinsmores have slaves, while at the same time explaining that “some people do wrong for so long, they don't even know it's wrong anymore.â€

Or something. I know Children's books don't like shades of gray, but it really would be possible to make The Dinsmores otherwise decent people except for the slave ownership thing. And we're not supposed to like Horace Sr anyway, so not glossing over the slave thing would be an extra way to make him look even less likeable.

In any case, Aunt Chloe was the one who taught Elsie about Jesus. Elsie's mother died when Elsie was just a week old, and she (Elsie Senior) put baby Elsie into Chloe's arms and said, “tell her about Jesus.â€

Rose is confused, and asks if the other children aren't Elsie's siblings. Elsie explains that her father, Horace Dimwit Jr, is the step brother of the other children, and that they are all her aunts and uncles.

Horace is away in Europe studying, and she's never met him. She then goes on to talk about her father and worry whether or not he'll love her.

Rose is very reassuring. She comforts Elsie, tells her that of course her father will love her, and then says Elsie should feel free to come visit in her room in the mornings and evenings to read the bible.

There's some talk about Elsie's favorite bible verses (there's no reference given, but they're found somewhere in Colossians.) and then Rose leaves.

The perspective now shifts to Rose Allison, who goes back to her room to find Adelaide already there. Apparently they're close in age, and good friends.

Adelaide explains that her brother, Horace, was wild when he was young, and insisted on moving off to New Orleans for a while. There he met Elsie Grayson, age 16. Horace was 17, and they eloped. It was a while before anyone even suspected they were married. When Hoarse dimwit Senior found out, he was angry, partly because they were too young to marry, but also because Mr. Grayson “made all his money in business,†whatever that means. HorASS Senior made HorASS Jr come home, then sent him away to college. He's been studying law and traveling abroad ever since.

Elsie's mother died, but she had a guardian who was raising Elsie Jr. Then the guardian died when Elsie was 4, so Elsie came to live at Roselands.

We get more telling about Elsie's “temper.†Adelaide says it shows for just a second, but only that, and then she grieves over it as though having committed a terrible crime. Her meekness angers Horass senior, who says she is no Dinsmore, as she won't stand up for herself.

Adelaide doesn't see why Elsie loves the bible, as she herself finds it very dull. Rose disagrees, and tells Adelaide she likes it a lot. When Adelaide asks why, Rose goes on and on about how God loves a horrible sinner like her, and then starts crying. Adelaide puts an arm around her friend, and tells her not to think such gloomy thoughts.

The chapter ends with Rose arguing that true religion is not gloomy, but it makes one happy.

My snarky remark: yeah, unless you have to sit there crying because you're such a sinning sinner who sins. Blehc.

I need more wine.

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Every fucking time the bible is opened in these books, it causes people to feel worthless and hurt and cry.

"He loves even me, even though I'm a worthless sinner," and tears and needing comfort sounds like something you'd see with an abuse-victim.

This book is trying so hard to sanitize the original that it's heavy-handed and making it very clear that something's being hidden. This book is more ominous.

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It is more ominous, because this is being presented to the parents as the clean version. Even on Amazon nobody calls it out in the reviews. I'd write a review myself but I am no good at it.

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I know we're supposed to dislike Arthur, but all I can think is that he's so normal compared to Elise. We've all known 10 year old boys who are bratty and never think of the consequences of their actions.

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The Mildred books and Laylie's get more into the slavery issue. I want to do those books (original and new) after elsie, if people are still interested.

Were there original versions of Laylie? I thought she was invented solely for the Life of Faith series, to make it less all white girls all the time.

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Were there original versions of Laylie? I thought she was invented solely for the Life of Faith series, to make it less all white girls all the time.

I meant the original Mildred books. You are correct that there was not originally a Laylie character.

As a Christian k remember mostly liking the Laylie books, except for a few scenes that made me uncomfortable. I'll see how I feel now as an atheist.

The doll of course is perfect.

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Chapter 2

Someone to Talk To

We pick up in the schoolroom, where Elsie is praying to Jesus to forgive her. After this she feels better, and resumes her schoolwork. When Miss Day comes back, she finds no fault with Elsie's lessons, which seems to make her even angrier.

“I see that you can do your duties well enough when you choose.†She tells Elsie.

The injustice of Miss Day's words struck Elsie, and she wanted to protest that she had tried just as hard that morning. But she remembered her earlier, rash words and what they had cost her. Instead of defending herself she replied meekly, “I'm sorry I didn't do better this morning, though I really did try. I'm still more sorry for the disrespectful remark I made, and I ask your pardon.â€

If Elsie was referring to the slap upside the head (unlike in the original books, she was not shaken), then I could go with this, and see it as an abused child doing their best to get out of punishment. But no, Elsie is most likely referring to Jesus' displeasure when she thinks about “what her words cost her.â€

Miss Day makes some sharp remarks back about how impertinent Elsie was. Elsie leaves the schoolroom in tears.

That night Elsie comes into Rose's room for half an hour before bed. They read a chapter of the bible and pray, then spend some time talking, and I'm thinking that it must've been either a really short chapter or they sped read their way through the bible, because my worship sessions with friends NEVER lasted 15 minutes. This is especially true because it says that they stopped every couple of verses for Rose to explain to explain to Elsie what's going on, and to discuss the scripture in general.

Rose tells Elsie she loves her, and is glad to have met someone who loves Jesus. Elsie informs her that Chloe loves Jesus as much as she does, and Rose decides she wants to meet Chloe.

Speaking of Chloe, here she comes:

a handsome, middle aged black woman entered. She was extremely neat in her black dress, starched white apron, and turban like headdress, and with a slight bow, she asked, “is my little Elsie ready for bed now?â€

Handsome, huh? I hope not. I shudder to think of what became of “handsome†black women in the South.

Elsie introduces “aunt Chloe†to Rose. And this section goes... a little better than the original. There's no statement from Chloe about how she hopes Jesus loves her just as much as he would if she were white, but there is this. As a white person, I hesitate to harp too much on the topic of racism (I'm afraid I'll get it all wrong and my privilege will start showing; I find it's just better to shut up and listen to people of color on the topic.) But this paragraph makes me... uncomfortable, in ways I don't understand:

Rose greeted her new guest warmly and took her hand. “How do you do, Aunt Chloe? I'm very glad to know you, since Elsie tells me you are a servant of the same Master I love and serve.â€

“Indeed I am, Miss Allison,†Chloe said, grasping Rose's small hand in her two strong ones. “I love my precious savior with all my heart.â€

[bold]“Then we are united through our faith in Him,†Rose replied warmly. “For the bible tells us that for all who love Him, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female-- we are all one in Christ.â€

Rose pressed Chloe's hands warmly, and between the two women –the one free and the other a slave—the barriers of race and position melted away in the power of their shared faith.[/bold]

I.... I don't.... I'm just gonna let that stand as it is, because I've been staring at it for 5 minutes and still can't figure out why it bothers me.

Chloe takes Elsie to her room to get ready for bed. Chloe tells Elsie that Rose reminds her of Elsie Grayson, though Rose isn't nearly as pretty. Chloe gets teary eyed when talking about Elsie's mother, which is weird but, ok, I guess.

Elsie prays before bed, and then begs

Chloe sleeps on a cot in the corner of the room, because she can't bear to be separated from Elsie for long. Yeah, right. More like that's just how it was with slaves of that era. Was it, actually? I have no idea.

Elsie and Rose were both early risers (because that's a sign of a true sincere Christian, doncha know :) )

Elsie brings Rose flowers in the morning for their half hour or morning bible time. They enjoyed it so much, they were surprised when the breakfast bell rang at 8. My god that's early for breakfast. I don't like to think about food until 9am at the very earliest.

And so fall and winter pass. We get a paragraph or two about how Chloe taught Elsie about Jesus, along with Mrs. Murray, the “Scottish presbyterian woman who had accompanied them to Roselands.†Unfortunately, Mrs. Murray had to go back to Scotland for some unknown reason. Mrs. Murray is important because she shows up at the end of book 2 as a surprise from Elsie's papa.

There's some paragraphs about how good Elsie is. How she's very pious, well developed Christian character, honest, strict sabbath observance, unlike the rest of the Dimwit family –FORESHADOW, CLUNK!-- respectful to elders, polite, bla bla.... sweet tempered, patient... forgiving....

Hang on, didn't we just get a few paragraphs in chapter 1 about how Elsie has a quick temper? Yeah, I think the author (and editors of this edition) forgot too.

We then get a few paragraphs about Adelaide's relationship with Elsie, how she does love her, but they're far apart in age, and Adelaide doesn't have much time for her. Lora, who has a strong sense of justice, often intervenes for Elsie (you just showed us this in chapter one, you don't need to tell us). But no one in the Dimwit family actually loves and cares for her.

Miss Day vents her anger on Elsie because she can, basically. Also, we get told (not shown!) how Elsie is made to give up her playthings to Enna and Arthur and Walter. The book tells us that if Elsie hadn't possessed a meek spirit, her life would be a lot more wretched. I actually think her life would be better if she stood up for herself more, but whatever.

But in spite of the abuse, Elsie is the happiest person in the family.... because Jesus.

Elsie thinks constantly of her father, longing for his return. Despite the fact that she has never met him, this strikes me as realistic. I mean, sure he's never written to her before, but Elsie has no one to love her except Chloe, and is pretty much abused by everyone else. Of course she is holding onto hope that her father will be different, because that hope is all she has.

Adelaide and Rose take Elsie to the fair, and Elsie is excited. She studies hard in school so that she won't be prohibited from coming. Arthur comes into the schoolroom and puts his head in his hands. Elsie asks what's wrong, but he won't tell her.

Elsie enjoys the fair (no, we never get details) and when she returns, she overhears Lora telling Arthur that Elsie could help her, but that Lora thinks Arthur should be ashamed to, after the way he treated her.

“I wish I hadn't teased her,†Arthur agreed. “but it's so much fun that I can't help myself.â€

sounds like someone who wants to change, but finds it difficult. I can relate.

In any case, Elsie, seeking to return good for evil, approaches Arthur and coaxes the problem out of him.

Apparently Arthur has spent all his allowance, but there's this really beautiful model ship at the store he wants, and no one else will loan him the money because he is a spendthrift.

Elsie opens her purse, then tells Arthur she wishes to think about it. This makes him angry, but I can't blame Elsie. $5 IS a lot of money, for the time period.

Elsie arranges for one of the slaves to go into town and buy the model ship for Arthur and leave it on his desk. Arthur is delighted with his present, and he tells her he'll pay her back, but Elsie encourages him to think of it as a gift.

Arthur then apologizes for teasing Elsie, saying he wont' do it again.

And.... I can kinda see why Elsie would think this would work. I mean, the kid is 8 years old. She probably thinks that if she does something nice for him, it'll shame him into being nicer to her. And.... I have seen that work... but only if the person in question is otherwise a decent human being. Which, I believe Arthur is.... at least in this version. In the originals we were supposed to view him as some kind of sociopath.

In any case, Arthur doesn't tease Elsie for “many weeks.â€

Back to Rose and Adelaide, Adelaide says Elsie is a sweet child, and she envies her her temperament. Except that she thinks it's cowardly to always give in to others.

“It would be cowardly and wrong to give up principle Rose said, “but surely it is noble and generous to give up our own wishes to another, when no principle is involved.â€

There's no discussion about how to balance that out between not being a doormat, though there should be.

And then we get this bit of foreshadowing:

“Of course, you're right,†Adelaide mused. “And now that I think of it, although Elsie gives in on her wishes readily enough, I've never known her to sacrifice principle. On the contrary, she has made mamma very angry several times by refusing to play with Enna on the sabbath or to lie to papa about Arthur's misdeeds. Elsie is certainly very different from the rest of us, [bold]and if it's godliness that makes her what she is, then I think godliness is a lovely thing.â€[/bold]

Really? Because I think that godliness as defined by Elsie Dimwit is a TERRIBLE thing. But I digress.

Also, this is very clunky foreshadowing.

In the next scene, Chloe (I refuse to call her aunt) is putting Elsie to bed. Elsie curls up against her and asks her to tell her about Elsie Grayson, Elsie's mother. Chloe does, but we don't get to hear about it. We get very little information about Elsie Sr, except that she was a very devout Christian and that she was very beautiful.

Then Elsie asks for Chloe to tell her about Horace, her father. Chloe tries, but she doesn't really know much.

She had known him only as a...handsome stranger who had stolen the sunshine from her mistress, leaving her to die alone. Yet Chloe did not blame him when speaking to his child; her mistress had said that Horace did not desert her and their child of his own free choice. And even though Chloe could not believe him entirely blameless, she breathed no hint of her feeling to Elsie. Chloe was a sensible woman, and knew that it would be hurtful to make her young charge think ill of her remaining parent.

I think Chloe is right in this. Horace isn't entirely blameless. Yeah, the letters he tried to send Elsie Grayson were intercepted, but I feel like he might have known that and found a trusted friend to deliver them, or, at the very least kept in contact with his fuckin child. You know, wrote her a letter, visited her on holidays, etc. Or something.

There's a time jump to the spring, when Rose Allison is leaving. Elsie is knitting her a purse as a going away present. As a knitter, I'm trying to think about how one would knit a purse, but that's entirely beside the point.

Unfortunately, Enna sees it. She just opens the door and waltzes into Elsie's room.... clearly this child has no manners. Elsie tries to hide it, but Enna runes up to it and says, “just give that to me, Elsie!â€

Elsie tells Enna that she will make her a purse just like it, but that this one is for Miss Allison, and if she gives Enna this one, she won't have time to make another one for Miss Allison.

Which, by the way, is completely reasonable. More than reasonable, actually, as I would've just told Enna to fuck off.

There's a small fight, then Enna runs out of the room in tears to get her mama.

Elsie prays for meekness, as she is sure she will need it. No, child, you do not need meekness, you need to grow a SPINE.

Elsie explains to Mrs. Dinsmore why she can't give the purse to Enna.

“you can not? You "will" not is what you mean. But I say you shall, and I am mistress in this house. Give it to Enna this instant. I will not have her crying her eyes out just to humor you in your whims. There are plenty of handsome purses in the city, and if you are too mean to give this one to Enna, then I will buy you another one tomorrow.â€

This last sentence makes no sense. “If you're too mean to give this one to Enna, I'll buy you another one tomorrow.....â€

I give up. Anyway.

“But that wouldn't be my work,†elsie protested, still holding the purse to herself. “This is.â€

Still doesn't make the previous sentence make sense. The way it's worded is just so awkward I have no idea what they are trying to say... and I'm stone cold sober reading this.

Mrs. Dinsmore tells her it won't matter to Miss Allison if it was her own work or not, and makes her give the purse to Enna.

I don't see how anyone living in the 1830s could've thought this, since a lot of them made their own things anyway, rich or not rich. But I digress.

After Enna and Mrs. Dinsmore leave, Elsie cries in Chloe's lap. Chloe remembers that Elsie was knitting a purse for her father, “the one Mrs. Dinsmore wouldn't send,†and that there is time to finish it for Miss Allison and then knit another one for Elsie's father when he comes home.

Hang on, it isn't finished? Of course Mrs. Dinsmore wouldn't send it for Elsie if it was only half done, jeez. I get the feeling that sentence was shoe horned in there to create drama, and make Mrs. Dinsmore seem even more mean than she already was.

Which this book does do later, but we'll get to it... later.

There's a few paragraphs about sending slaves to the city to buy beads, but I'm skipping that because it's just boring. Oh! The drama! Will Elsie get the beads in time to finish the purse! Yawn.

When Elsie gives Rose the purse, Rose gushes over it, and tells Elsie it is even more valuable because it is her own work.

There's a paragraph about Jesus being the friend who will never leave you, and about staying close to him. Then we get this clunky foreshadowing:

We will hope to meet again before very long,†Rose said when her prayer was ended. “Who knows? Your father may come home and bring you to see me someday. He likes to travel, so it seems a good possibility.â€

They agree to “meet in spirit at the mercy seat†every morning at exactly that hour, and promise to write to each other.

Elsie simply could not speak [When Rose got into her carriage], and when the carriage had rolled out of sight, she ran to her room, locked the door, and cried out her grief. She had learned to love Rose completely and to depend on her new friend without reservation. Parting, with no certainty of ever meeting again, was one of the hardest trials the child had endured.â€

I almost feel like there would've been more trials that were even harder to endure, but this would be pretty hard. Rose is the only white person (the slaves all love her, natch) who loves her, and to suddenly lose her would be very difficult indeed.

And that's how the chapter ends. Tune in next time to find that Elsie's “endless†wait is over!

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The Elsie Dinsmore Drinking Game!

Because you all wanted to die of alcohol poisoning, right? Right. So, drink every time:

1. Elsie cries

2. Elsie prays and reads her bible

3. Elsie prays and reads her bible instead of trying to resolve the situation herself.

4. You wish Elsie would grow a spine.

And we're just getting started.... we haven't even been introduced to Horace yet. But you know he's going to be a terrible person, because his name starts with Hor, which is the same prefix as "Horrible."

You may groan now.

As it is right now, this is the Elsie Dinsmore Drinking Game.

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The Elsie Dinsmore Drinking Game!

Because you all wanted to die of alcohol poisoning, right? Right. So, drink every time:

1. Elsie cries

2. Elsie prays and reads her bible

3. Elsie prays and reads her bible instead of trying to resolve the situation herself.

4. You wish Elsie would grow a spine.

And we're just getting started.... we haven't even been introduced to Horace yet. But you know he's going to be a terrible person, because his name starts with Hor, which is the same prefix as "Horrible."

You may groan now.

As it is right now, this is the Elsie Dinsmore Drinking Game.

What happens if she does all four at once?

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What happens if she does all four at once?

Jager Bomb (or other bomb shot/depth charge drink)

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Just.... Have the ambulance on stand by. Maybe get a sober babysitter. Drink something that's only 3% alcohol.

Oh, and j forgot to add:

6. When elsie thinks she's been naughty but it's really completely normal behavior.

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I don't want to hijack a whole thread, but a little aside to say there are some gorgeous hand knit drawstring bags or purses from the 1850. They are knit at a ridiculously small gauge and usually of things like silk. Franklin Habit worked one out of an old pattern a few years ago.


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Chapter 3

An Unexpected Homecoming

The chapter opens with Elsie getting a letter from Rose. We don't get to hear what the letter said, just that Elsie enjoyed it immensely.

Adelaide knocks on the door, and informs Elsie that she has some news for her: her father, Horace, has just set sail for America and is coming home.

Elsie is excited about his arrival, but also a little frightened. “Will he love me?†she constantly asks herself.

Miss Day is frustrated with Elsie for not doing well in school because she is so distracted, and tells her that her father is more likely to be pleased with her if she makes academic progress. This makes Elsie work harder, and Miss Day can't complain...


Then we get a few paragraphs about Horace. Apparently he, like his father, is a moral man, but doesn't really care much for religion except for the outward signs, like going to church, etc. In fact, Horace regards most Christians as hypocrites and deceivers! He is prejudiced against Elsie because she is a Real True Christian.

Also, over the years, he began to see his marriage to Elsie Grayson as “a boyish folly of which he was now ashamed.â€

Well, yeah, it WAS a boyhood folly... I know marrying at 16 wasn't that odd in the 1830s, but marrying at 16-17ish was more for the girls. Boys were usually expected to be a bit older and more established, IIRC.

Anyway, Mr. Dinsmore Sr. refers to Elsie in his letters as “old Grayson's grandchild,†and so that is also how Horace has come to think of her.

And we are getting all this in an info dump, rather than having it be SHOWN.

We skip ahead a few weeks (months?) during which Roselands is preparing for Horace's return. Finally, the day arrives, and Horace is here.

As they go to meet Horace, Walter drags Elsie into the drawing room. Elsie holds back a bit, and is shaking. Walter asks if she is sick, but doesn't wait for an answer.

“Is this great girl my child?†Horace asked. “Why it's enough to make a man feel old.†Then he took her hand, stooped, and kissed her coldly on the lips.

I.... think I may or may not have outgrown kissing my father on the lips by the age of 8. I can't quite remember, but I think at this point it was cheek kissing only.

Elsie was shaking violently, and.... incapable of speech. Her hand, still in his, was cold and clammy.

Horace searched her face, then dropped her hand. “I'm not an ogre,†he said in a voice that betrayed his annoyance. You need not be afraid of me. Alright, you may go. I won't keep you in terror any longer.â€

There was a point where I actually contemplated rewriting Elsie Dinsmore completely. If you take out all the religious bullshit and the abuse, this could be an interesting story about a man returning home to his child, only to find he doesn't understand anything about children or how to be a father at all. He is a little gruff with Elsie at first, and doesn't understand why she's afraid of him, but slowly, both she and Horace grow to love each other. This could have been a very good book about a man learning to be a father and love his child, and about Elsie learning to love him.

I mean, just imagine that sentence said in a puzzled tone, not an annoyed one. Could've gone something like this:

“I'm not an ogre,†he said, puzzled. Why was the child afraid of him? “You need not be afraid of me.†He searched Elsie's face, looking for some clue, but came up short. “Alright,†he said, sighing. “You may go. I won't keep you here with me if I terrify you. I don't want to see you distressed.â€

It reads a lot differently, doesn't it? But this is not the story we get, unfortunately. This is the story of an abusive motherfucker becoming a CHRISTIAN abusive motherfucker. And that makes it all ok.

Elsie flees to her room and cries. Chloe isn't there to comfort her, because she is in the kitchen “rejoicing in the assumption that her young charge was supremely happy at this moment.â€


We got a whole paragraph a chapter ago about how Chloe blames Horace for abandoning his child, yet when he returns, she assumes things are automatically going to go just swimmingly?

Horace has never met his own child. Even if he wasn't an abusive asshole, even if he had good intentions and was the nicest man on earth, meeting his daughter for the first time would be rather... well, it might not be at all pleasant.

Anyway, Chloe FINALLY gets out of the kitchen to comfort Elsie and immediately starts going on about Jesus, the Best Friend Anyone Ever Had, how he loves you and will never leave you.... bla bla bla.

Let me just say that, even as a Christian, this is the WORST thing you can EVER say to someone who is lonely. I had virtually no friends as a child, and whenever someone tried to comfort me saying that Jesus was my friend, it just.... it angered me. And I was a good little Christian who loved Jesus. I just realized that I was also wired for human companionship, and besides, Jesus couldn't hug me. Shoot, he couldn't even talk back to me.

It's shallow comfort, lemme tell ya.

Elsie appears to agree with me, at least on this page.

“Then ask Him to take me to Himself, and to Mamma. I'm so lonely, and I want to die!â€

Hmmmm yeah I've said things like this before. I totally empathize.

Chloe tells Elsie to stfu about that nonsense, because Elsie dying would break her heart.

Elsie asks Chloe to pray for patience, and to make her father love her. Chloe does, and then tells Elsie that she's sure her father will love her once he gets to know her.

Elsie doesn't come down to dinner that night, because she has a headache.

Horace hears this, and inquires as to whether Elsie is “a sickly child.†If I didn't know what I already know about Horace, I would assume he's showing concern for the poor child. Here it just comes across as condescending, like being a sickly child is a moral failure.

“Not really,†Adelaide replied dryly. She had observed Horace's meeting, and felt sorry for Elsie's evident disappointment. “I imagine that excessive crying has brought this on.â€

Horace flushed deeply, and in a caustic tone that betrayed his displeasure, he said, “so the return of a parent is a cause for grief, is it? I didn't expect my presence to be so distressing for my only child. I had no idea she disliked me so.â€

“She doesn't,†Adelaide said, her own temper rising. “She has been looking forward to your return for as long as I've known her.â€

“That's hard to believe,†Horace retorted, “given her conduct toward me today.â€

Adelaide could see that Horace was determined to misconstrue Elsie's behavior.

Now, see, with a few tweaks, this could be a conversation about a man who is confused about his daughter's reaction, and wants to understand. He genuinely thinks Elsie dislikes him, and Adelaide rushes to reassure him that this is not the case.

Unfortunately we get Horace the pig instead of Horace the human, and now I've just insulted pigs everywhere, and I'm sorry.

The next morning, Horace isn't at breakfast because he is tired from his long journey. In fact, Elsie doesn't see him again all day. But the next morning....wait, we seriously get a paragraph about how Elsie doesn't get to see her father all day and why, and then one sentence about how this makes her feel? Actually I lied, that takes 3 paragraphs. I feel like this could've just been left out of the book without losing anything, and am beginning to wonder if this book had even a halfway decent editor.

Anyway, the NEXT morning at breakfast, Elsie says, “good morning, papa.†Horace is startled, because he isn't used to being addressed as “papa.†He thinks about extending his hand to her, but instead just says “good morning, Elsie†and goes back to reading his paper.

Elsie just stands there in the middle of the room, too scared to do anything. Then the door opens and Enna runs in and just climbs on Horace's knee and gives him a hug.

“You are not afraid of me, are you?†Horace asked playfully, and added pointedly, “or sorry that I have come home?â€

“No indeed,†Enna said.

Horace glanced at Elsie to see her reaction..... “she's jealous,†he thought, “I cannot tolerate jealous people.†He gave her a look that clearly displayed his displeasure, and Elsie, cut to the quick, had to leave the room to hide her tears.â€

Wow. Horace is angry that Elsie is jealous of Enna.... of COURSE she is jealous, she wants your attention to you stupid fuckwad. This is a natural reaction. It was at this point that, upon first reading the novel, I could not regard Horace as a confused man who just didn't know how to show his child he loved her. At this point, I realized he was an absolute prick.

Elsie cries and begs Jesus to take away these terrible feelings of jealousy about Enna.

Despite her youth, Elsie was beginning to learn how to control her own emotions

What? No, sorry, but Elsie cries too much to be able to have control over her emotions. Telling does not make it so, and any decent editor updating these books would know that.

But I also wanted to pause here and say that this a thing abused children do. If, for example, they know the parent is going to be angry at them for feeling a certain way, the child is going to learn to hide his or her emotions from her parents, and keep them carefully controlled when the parent is around.

For years, Elsie has been emotionally (and, in the original books, at least a little bit physically) abused by the Dinsmores. If we hadn't already been shown that Elsie is an easily triggered crybaby (which can be another way a child reacts to abuse, and isn't any less valid), I would have no problem whatsoever believing that Elsie had fine control of her emotions at such a young age.

However, we are being told something when we have been shown something else, and I tend to believe what I see.

Horace pays no more attention to Elsie during breakfast, and after she leaves, Mr. Edward Travilla (boooooooo) asks Horace if that was one of his sisters.

Upon hearing that she is his daughter, Edward says, “Ah! I'd almost forgotten that you have a child. Well, you have no reason to be ashamed of her. She is perfectly lovely. Sweetest little face I ever saw.â€

Horace changes the subject.

A few hours later, Elsie is practicing the piano, when Travilla stops in to listen. The text tells us that Elsie is timid with guests (and seriously, no one likes it when you listen to them practice. Seriously, do not do this.) but always polite, so she asks Travilla to come on in, and obliges when he asks her to play and sing the song she was singing a minute ago.

Like, really, she was probably practicing and can't do it perfectly yet, Travilla, ask her to play something she's comfortable with. Really.

We are told that, though Elsie's music is very simple (of course it is, she's 8 years old) her performance is very good.

After Elsie finishes playing, the two get to talking. Travilla remarks that, since Elsie never knew Horace, she can't have much affection for him.

Elsie is horrified at the idea, asking, “how could you even think that?â€

“I see I was mistaken..... I see you care very much for your papa. But do you think he loves you?â€

Whereupon Elsie promptly bursts into tears. (drink!)

Which, seriously, Travilla should've seen that coming. Frankly, it's none of his business. I could kinda think I knew what he was doing at first.... finding out for Horace whether Elsie loves him. But to ask her this directly.... eegad what is this asshole thinking?

To his somewhat credit, he does try to make it up to her, although I find his reassurance that “whether your father loves you now or not, I know he will quite soon†pretty hollow.

Travilla spends the rest of the day with Elsie, and at dinner waits on her like a lady.

After dinner, in the library, Travilla tells Horace what a wonderful daughter he has. Horace remarks “perhaps it's a pity she doesn't belong to you, my friend, instead of me, for you seem to appreciate her so much more highly.â€

Whereupon Travilla responds, “I wish she did.â€


Also, ew. And, Drink! New rule for the drinking game: drink every time Travilla indicates he wishes Elsie was his, either as a child or as a lover. (In the original books, we know which way that was meant to go. It's more subtle in these books, but still present.)

Travilla tells Horace that Elsie loves him dearly, and Horace is surprised, and asks how Travilla knows.

Instead of coming out and saying it, Travilla responds with this:

“It was clear from what I saw and heard this morning, Horace, that she would value a kind word from you more than the richest jewel.â€

“I doubt that,†Horace said, but there was a hint of question in his words.

In a better book, I could see an exchange like this happening.

Horace: Oh Travilla, I don't think my daughter loves me

Travilla: You are mistaken, my friend. Here are the reasons I think she loves you.

Horace: (listens to his friend give his reasons) Huh. Maybe you're right....

This is not a better book.

Then we get this somewhat odd exchange where Horace sees Elsie about to go out horseback riding with Jim, one of the slaves. He lifts Elsie onto her horse, telling Jim to take good care of Elsie.

Man is awkward about it but trying to be a good father. Alright. I can get behind that....

Elsie cries as her father says this, but this time it's because she's happy.

Horace watches his daughter ride away. Travilla comes up behind him and says “How well she sits on her horse.â€




Was, was this a thing, back then? To remark upon how well a girl child sits on a horse? Or is Travilla being Creepy McCreeperson again?

Horace gets flashbacks of helping Elsie's mother onto her horse back when they were children. When Elsie returns from riding, Horace takes her off the horse and asks if she enjoyed her ride, telling her he may ride with her one of these days.

Elsie, thrilled, runs to her room to change and tell Chloe. Then we get this weird paragraph.

Alas, the moment was like a transient gleam of sunshine that lightened her path briefly, then disappeared behind gathering clouds.

And that's the end of Chapter 3. Actually I lied, but that would've been a good place to end chapter 3. If I was the editor, I'd have moved the following 3 pages over to the second chapter, and had chapter 3 end on a purely positive note.

That evening there is company at Roselands, including Travilla, who introduces Elsie to his mother.

She's having a great time chatting it up with Mrs. Travilla, when Edward asks her to play and sing the song he heard earlier, wanting his mother to hear it. Elsie is scared to play in front of so many people, and asks to be excused.

But from behind her, Horace's voice commanded, “go immediately, and do as the gentleman requests.†His voice was stern, and Elsie saw that his face was even more so.....

“Nevermind, Miss Elsie, [said Mr. Travilla] I withdraw my request.â€

Because for once, Travilla is a decent human being.

“But I do not withdraw my command,†her father said. “Go at once, Elsie, and do as I say.â€

Oh dear God.... parents, this is not only a terrible thing to do to your child, this is a terrible thing to do to your friend. Trust me, I've been in positions like this, and it's almost as awkward for me because I feel like I'm being made a pawn in the battle between you and your child, and I can't help but feel like I've caused their distress by making the request in the first place.

Elsie tries to play, but is so stressed she bursts into tears, whereupon her father sends her to her room and is angry with her.

The next day, Horace doesn't speak to her, and her young aunts and uncles make fun of her for her inability to play. Miss Day also scolds her and threatens to tell her father how awful she's doing in school.

We get paragraphs telling us, but it would be better to show us all this. Show Arthur making fun of Elsie for not being able to play, etc.

Elsie tries in vain to gain her fathers affection (or so we are told, but not shown!), but he prefers to be affectionate toward Enna. Chloe suggests Elsie be more like Enna, running onto his lap and hugging him, but Elsie is just too terrified.

I don't blame her, I'd be terrified too if my father was like that.

The chapter ends with the information that, in secret, Chloe sheds many tears for her little mistress.

THAT is the end of the chapter. Oh dear God..... Horace is an asshole, but what I didn't see on my first read through was that Travilla is Creepy McCreeperson (or at the very least, he's insensitive)

And this is the cleaned up version, the version where they took “all the offensive stuff out.â€

Right. Sure they did.

I wish these books had been allowed to fade into obscurity. I'm not normally one for book banning, but I don't want my child to read these till she reaches the age of 16, at the absolute earliest, because what the actual FUCK.

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Updated Elsie Dimwit drinking game!

1. Elsie cries

2. Elsie prays and reads her bible

3. Elsie prays and reads her bible instead of trying to resolve the situation herself.

4. You wish Elsie would grow a spine.

5. Edward Travilla acts like a creep

6. Horace gets angry at Elsie for no reason.

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Chapter 4

New Rules

Part 1

because these are too long to do all in one sitting.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord

Colossians 3:20

One morning, Elsie comes down to breakfast, and her papa actually pays attention to her! He asks her to sit beside him and says goodmorning! Elsie, who is used to being ignored, at best, is over the moon. Or at least until Grandpa Dimwit offers her bacon.

“None for Elsie. Once a day is often enough for a child to eat meat. She may have it for dinner at mid day, but never for breakfast or supper.â€


When the hot cakes were passed, Horace again said none for Elsie. Instead he placed a slice of bread on her plate and explained. 'I don't approve of hot cakes and rolls and muffins for children, so you must eat only cold bread.â€

And as old Pompey was about to set a cup of coffee down for Elsie, Horace intervened again. “take the coffee away, please,†Horace said, “and bring Elsie a tumbler of milk. OR would you prefer water, Elsie?â€


Horace spooned a serving of stewed fruit onto her plate. “there,†her father said. “You have our breakfast. In England, children are not allowed to eat butter until they are ten or twelve years old, and I think it's an excellent plan to make them grow rosy and healthy.

I have neglected my little girl for too long,†he added, patting her on the head. “but I intend to take good care of you now.â€

Is this actually the way children in England were raised back in the 1830s?

Also, I'm kinda with Horace on the coffee. Coffee is a grown up beverage, and it is not for 8 year olds. As a former Adventist, I get the whole meat thing, even if I don't agree with it. But what the HELL is wrong with hot cakes, muffins, and rolls?

Also, stewed fruit, cold bread, and milk. Is that all she's eating? Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, and that's hardly any food. God, the asshole is practically starving her.

I feel like, if this is to be included in the book, there should be a little footnote explaining that this way of thinking was popular back then, but that there was no need for all this nonsense now. I could see some fundie kid going “I shouldn't eat meat for breakfast, it's unhealthy.†Especially since, at least in the original books, this diet is made a big deal of for many books to come.

Anyway, poor love starved Elsie is just so happy her father is paying attention to her that despite the fact that she's getting practically nothing to eat for breakfast, she's happy. Oh and also because Jesus. Jesus is happy with Elsie because Elsie is obeying the new rules.

Later, Horace is reading in the drawing room when he hears Arthut teasing Elsie.

“Isn't it great to have your papa home?†Arthur said snippily. “And how pleasant for you to live on bread and water, eh!â€

“I don't live on bread and water,†Elsie replied indignantly. “Papa allows me as much milk and cream and fruit as I want. I can have eggs and cheese and honey and anything else except meat and hotcakes and butter and coffee. And I wouldn't trade any of those things for a father who loves me. Besides, papa says I can have all the meat I want for dinner.â€

I want to pause here and talk about how abused children still love their relatives, and they will defend them. Particularly when, like Arthur, the person is only trying to make fun of them. Note too how Elsie almost sounds like she's trying to convince herself, rather than Arthur.

Arthut became even more scornful. “That's nothing,†he mocked. “And I woudln't give much for all the love you get from him.â€

Whereupon Elsie bursts into tears and runs down the garden path.

Elsie bursts into tears at this point probably because she knows Arthur is right. Horace knows Arthur is right, but he's not going to admit it, and we're probably not supposed to think so either.

Horace confronts his brother and says, “what do you mean, sir, teasing Elsie in that manner?â€

So, his reaction is to confront Arthur instead of, oh, I dunno, pausing to reflect on what would cause Arthur to say such a thing?

Arthur answers back that he was only having a bit of fun. Huh. If I were him, I'd be saying something like, “I was only telling her the truth.â€

Horace angrily tells Arthur to never make fun of Elsie again, and goes back to his newspaper.

But he can't concentrate, because he rememebrs how sad Elsie was. So he scribbles a note to Miss Day to have Elsie come to him. When she does, he calls her daughter, takes her head into his hands, and looks into her eyes.

Then we get this disgusting bit.

“You've been crying,†he said in a gently reproving tone. “I'm afraid you do a good deal more crying than is good for you. It is a very babyish habit, and you must break yourself of it.â€

This, of course, makes Elsie start to cry, but she holds back because her father just told her not to cry and durgh. Don't cry when you're abused, or when I abuse you.... because that's BABYISH.

I mean, don't get me wrong, Elsie does cry a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

However, when a child has that problem, the solution isn't to just tell them to stop crying, it's to find out what they are crying about.

Horace invites Elsie to go visit Ion, the plantation owned by Creepy McPervert Edward Travilla.

On the way there, Elsie and Horace have an awkward conversation, wherein Elsie begs him to recount his childhood, and he lapses into silence. Then Elsie points out a squirrel, and Horace starts talking about a hunting accident in which he nearly died (pity he didn't).

Elsie tells Horace she is glad God spared him, so he could be her papa.

“Perhaps you would have had a better [father], Elsie.†Horace remarked quietly.

Huh. Could it be that Horace is a dominating asshole because he has low self esteem? Or something? Bleh, I dunno. I just find this odd and out of place with the rest of what we know of Horace's character.

Anyway, before Elsie can begin to go on and on for several chapters about how Horace is the best father ever and she'd never want another one, they arrive at Ion. I'm not entirely sure how it's pronounced, so I'm just calling it eye-on.

As Horace and Travilla chat, Elsie helps Mrs. Travilla with clothes she is making for the field slaves. Turns out that Mrs. Travilla is a devoted Christian, and a sharp woman who's known Horace all his life, and has guessed the nature of Elsie's difficulties. She gave Elsie some advice, for which she was very –

Hang on, what sort of advice?

I hope you weren't curious, dear readers, because We Don't Get To Know.

I personally would LOVE to know what advice Elsie has received about how to deal with her father.

In any case, the adults all start talking, and Elsie gets bored and slips away to the library and starts reading. Go Elsie! That's exactly what I would've done!

Presently, Edward Travilla comes in and tells Elsie that he's made a bargain with Horace, and that Elsie is now his child. Isn't that wonderful news?

Yes! Yes it is! Now she can go off to live with Travilla and be rid of her horrible father!

The text tells us that Elsie should have known that Travilla was joking by reading his face (come on, she barely knows the man, good grief) but Elsie instead bursts into tears and runs toward Horace, begging him not to give her away, and promising to be good.

Horace is all like, what the fuck, what are you whining about?

Whereupon Elsie tells him that what Travilla said about giving Elsie away to him.

People, don't do this. You may think your children know you'd never give them away, but even non abused completely healthy children are still children with developing brains who might not understand this. You could very well upset someone.

Nonsense, Elsie,†her father said. “How can you believe that I'd ever give you away? Why, I'd rather sacrifice everything I have than part with you.â€

How could she believe he'd give her away? Um, let's see, Horace, you treat her like shit, you barely acknowledge her existence, and when you do it's only to scold her or exercise more and more control which, by the way, you don't have a right to as you were absent from her life for 8 years.

At this point, I think Elsie has every right to believe he'd give her away.

Then, instead of apologizing for the obvious distressed he has caused her, Travilla actually has the balls to say he feels insulted, and that he thinks he'd be the better father. Won't Elsie try him for a month, if her father consents?

On second thought, maybe it wouldn't be good for Elsie to be Travilla's child. He seems more like a decent person on the surface, but he seems more like an asshole to me.

Travilla then goes on for a bit, trying to persuade Elsie, who keeps clinging to Horace.

After all this, Travilla has the gall to ask Elsie to play the piano. Elsie continues to cling to Horace, but Horace insists the child should play anyway.

We get a sentence in parentheses about how Travilla wishes Horace wouldn't force Elsie to comply with his requests, and that Elsie should be allowed to have her free will. But dude.... you just fuckin traumatized that kid, she's crying in her father's arms, and instead of comforting her, you ask her to play the fuckin piano for you.

Future husband of the year, folks, who WOULDN'T want to marry this hot eligible bachelor?

On the ride home, Elsie says she enjoyed the day, except when Travilla threatened to keep her.

Horace is kind of surprised she wouldn't trade him in on a better model, Elsie goes to bed thinking that maybe her father is beginning to love her a little, and hopes soon he will love her very much.

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