"Daisy, your wings didn't look a bit like real wings " said Jane Linwood.
"No," echoed Nora, "I guess they didn't. They were like let me see what they were like! They were like the wings of a windmill."
"No, they weren't!" said Ella. "I was in the drawing-room and they didn't look like a windmill a bit. They looked queer, but pretty."
"Queer, but pretty!" repeated Nora.
"Yes, they did," said Ella. "And you laughed when you were Red Riding-hood, Nora Dinwiddie."
"I didn't laugh a bit!"
"It is no matter if you did laugh, Nora," said Daisy; "you got grave again, and the picture was very nice."
"I didn't laugh!" said Nora; "and if I did, everybody else did. I don't think the pictures I saw were at all like pictures they were just like a parcel of people dressed-up."
Some gay paper mottoes made a diversion and stopped the little mouths for a time; and then the people went away.
"Well, Daisy," said Mrs. Gary, "how do you like this new entertainment?"
"The pictures? I think they were very pretty, aunt Gary."
"How happened it that somebody else wore my diamonds?" said her mother, "and not you. I thought you were to be dressed for Queen Esther?"
"Yes, mamma, so I was at first; and then it was thought best "
"Not by me," said Preston. "It was no doing of mine. Daisy was to have been Esther, and she herself declared off backed out of it, and left me to do as best I could."
"What was that for, Daisy?" said Mrs. Gary. "You would have made an excellent Esther."
"What was that for, Daisy?" said Mrs. Randolph. "Did you not like to be Esther?"
"Yes, mamma I liked it at one time."
"And why not at another time?"
"I found out that somebody else would like it too, mamma; and I thought "
Mrs. Randolph broke out with a contemptuous expression of displeasure.
"You thought you would put yourself in a corner! You were not manager, Daisy; and you must remember something is due to the one that is. You have no right to please yourself."
"Come here, Daisy," said her father, "and bid me good-night. I dare say you were trying to please somebody else. Tell mamma she must remember the old fable, and excuse you."
"What fable, Mr. Randolph?" the lady inquired, as Daisy left the room.
"The one in which the old Grecian told the difficulty of pleasing more people than one or two at once."
"Daisy is ruined!" said Mrs. Randolph.
"I do not see how it appears."
"She has not entered into this thing at all as we hoped she would not at all as a child should."
"She looked a hundred years old, in the Game of Life," said Mrs. Gary. "I never saw such a representation in my life. You would have said she was a real guardian angel of somebody, who was playing his game not to please her."
"I am glad it is over!" said Mrs. Randolph. "I am tired of it all." And she walked off.
So did Mr. Randolph, but as he went he was thinking of Daisy's voice and her words "There is joy among the angels of heaven whenever anybody grows good."
It was growing late in the fall now. Mrs. Randolph began to talk of moving to the city for the winter. Mr. Randolph more than half hinted that he would like as well to stay where he was. But his wife said that for Daisy's sake they must quit Melbourne, and try what new scenes, and lessons, and dancing school would do for her. "Not improve the colour in her cheeks, I am afraid," said Mr. Randolph; but, however, he did not oppose, and Mrs. Randolph made her arrangements.
It was yet but a day or two after the tableaux, when something happened to disturb her plans. Mr. Randolph was out riding with her, one fine October morning, when his horse became unruly in consequence of a stone hitting him; a chance stone thrown from a careless hand. The animal was restive, took the stone very much in dudgeon, ran, and carrying his rider under a tree, Mr. Randolph's forehead was struck by a low-lying limb, and he was thrown off. The blow was severe; he was stunned; and had not yet recovered his senses when they brought him back to Melbourne. Mrs. Randolph was in a state almost as much beyond self-management. Daisy was out of the house. Mrs. Gary had left Melbourne; and till the doctor arrived Mrs. Randolph was nearly distracted.
He came; and though his fine face took no gloom upon it, and his blue eye was as usual impenetrable, the eyes that anxiously watched him were not satisfied. Dr. Sandford said nothing; and Mrs. Randolph had self-control sufficient not to question him, while he made his examinations and applied his remedies. But the remedies, though severe, were a good while in bringing back any token of consciousness. It came at last, faintly. The doctor summoned Mrs. Randolph out of the room then, and ordered that his patient should be kept in the most absolute and profound quiet. No disturbance or excitement must be permitted to come near him.
"How long, doctor?"
"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Randolph? "
"How long will it be before he is better?"
"I cannot say that. Any excitement or disturbance would much delay it. Let him hear nothing and see nothing except you, and some attendant that he is accustomed to."
"Oh, doctor, can't you stay till he is better?"
"I will return again very soon, Mrs. Randolph. There is nothing to be done at present for which I am needed."
"But you will come back as soon as you can?"
"And oh, Dr. Sandford, cannot you take Daisy away?"
"Where is she?"
"I don't know she is not come home. Do take her away!"
The doctor went thoughtfully downstairs, and checking his first movement to go out of the front door, turned to the library. Nobody was there; but he heard voices, and passed out upon the piazza. Daisy's pony chaise stood at the foot of the steps; she herself had just alighted. Preston was there too, and it was his voice the doctor had first heard, in anxious entreaty.
"Come, Daisy! it's capital down at the river; and I want to show you something."
"I think I am tired now, Preston. I'll go another time," said Daisy.
"Daisy, I want you now. Come! come! I want you to go now, this minute."
"But I do not feel like a walk, Preston. I can't go till I have had my dinner."
Preston looked imploringly at the doctor, towards whom Daisy was now mounting the steps. It is safe to say that the doctor would willingly have been spared his present task.
"Where have you been now, Daisy?" he said.
Daisy's face brightened into its usual smile at sight of him. "I have been to Crum Elbow, Dr. Sandford."
"Suppose you go a little further and have luncheon with Mrs. Sandford and me? It will not take us long to get to it."
"Does mamma say so, Dr. Sandford?"
"Then I will be ready in a moment."
"Where are you going?" said her friend, stopping her.
"Only up stairs for a minute. I will be ready in two minutes, Dr. Sandford."
"Stop," said the doctor, still detaining her. "I would rather not have you go upstairs. Your father is not quite well, and I want him kept quiet."
What a shadow came over Daisy's sunshine.
"Papa not well! What is the matter?"
"He does not feel quite like himself, and I wish him left in perfect repose."
"What is the matter with him, Dr. Sandford?"
Daisy's words were quiet, but the doctor saw the gathering woe on her cheek; the roused suspicion. This would not do to go on.
"He has had a little accident, Daisy; nothing that you need distress yourself about; but I wish him to be quite quiet for a little."
Daisy said nothing now, but the speech of her silent face was so eloquent that the doctor found it expedient to go on.
"He was riding this morning; his horse took him under the low bough of a tree, and his head got a severe blow. That is all the matter."
"Was papa thrown?" said Daisy, under her breath.
"I believe he was. Any horseman might be unseated by such a thing."
Daisy again was mute, and again the doctor found himself obliged to answer the agony of her eyes.
"I do not think he is in much, if any, pain, Daisy; but I want him to be still for a while. I think that is good for him; and it would not be good that you should disturb him. Your mother is there, and that is enough."
Daisy stood quite still for a few minutes. Then making an effort to withdraw herself from the doctor's arm, she said, "I will not go into the room I will not make any noise."
"Stop! Daisy, you must not go upstairs. Not this morning."
She stood still again, grew white and trembled.
"As soon as I think it will do him good to see you, I will let you into his room. Now, shall we send June up for anything you want?"
"I think, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, struggling for steadiness, "I will not go away from home."
Her words were inexpressibly tender and sorrowful. The doctor was unrelenting.
"Your mother desired it."
"Did mamma? "
"Yes; she wished me to carry you home with me. Come, Daisy! It is hard, but it is less hard after all than it would be for you to wander about here; and much better."
Daisy in her extremity sunk her head on the doctor's shoulder, and so remained, motionless, for more minutes than he had to spare. Yet he was still too, and waited. Then he spoke to her again.
"I will go," said Daisy.
"You wanted something first?"
"I did not want anything but to change my gloves. It is no matter."
Very glad to have gained his point, the doctor went off with his charge; drove her very fast to his own home, and there left her in Mrs. Sandford's care; while he drove off furiously again to see another patient before he returned to Melbourne.
It was a long day after that to Daisy; and so it was to Mrs. Sandford. Nora Dinwiddie was no longer with her; there was nobody to be a distraction or a pleasure to the grave little child who went about with such a weird stillness, or sat motionless with such unchildlike quiet. Mrs. Sandford did not know what to do; but indeed nothing could be done with Daisy. She could not be amused or happy; she did not wish Nora were there; she could only keep patient and wait, and wait, with a sore, straining heart, while the hours passed, and Dr. Sandford did not come, and she had no tidings. Was she patient? It seemed to Daisy that her heart would burst with impatience; or rather with its eager longing to know how things were at home, and to get some relief. The hours of the day went by, and no relief came. Dr. Sandford did not return. Daisy took it as no good omen.
It was hard to sit at the dinner-table and have Mr. and Mrs. Sandford showing her kindness, while her heart was breaking. It was hard to be quiet and still, and answer politely and make no trouble for her entertainers. It was hard; but Daisy did it. It was hard to eat too; and that Daisy could not do. It was impossible.
"Mustn't be cast down," said Mr. Sandford. He was one of the people who look as if they never could be. Black whiskers and a round face sometimes have that kind of look. "Mustn't be cast down! No need. Everybody gets a tumble from horseback once or twice in his life. I've had it seven times. Not pleasant; but it don't hurt you much, nine times in ten."
"Hush, Mr. Sandford," said his wife. "Daisy cannot feel about it just as you do."
"Never been thrown yet herself, eh! Give her one of those peaches, my dear she will like that better than meats to- day. Eat one of my red-cheeked peaches, Daisy; and tell me whether you have any so good at Melbourne. I don't believe it."
Daisy peeled her peach. It was all she could bear to do. She peeled it carefully and slowly; there never was a peach so long in paring; for it was hardly more than finished when they rose from table. She had tried to taste it too; that was all; the taste never reached her consciousness. Mrs. Sandford knew better than her husband, and let her alone.
Daisy could think of nothing now but to watch for the doctor; and to do it with the most comfort and the best chance she placed herself on the steps of the piazza, sitting down on the uppermost step. It was a fair evening, warm and mild; and Mrs. Sandford sitting in her drawing-room with the windows open was but a few feet from Daisy, and could observe her. She did so very often, with a sorrowful eye. Daisy's attitude bespoke her intentness; the child's heart was wound up to such a pitch of expectation that eye and ear were for nothing else. She sat bending both upon the road by which she looked for the doctor to come; her little figure did not stir; her head rested slightly on her hand with a droop that spoke of weariness or of weakness. So she sat looking down the road, and the sweet October light was all over her and all around her. Mrs. Sandford watched her, till the light lost its brightness and grew fair and faint, and then began to grow dim. Daisy sat still, and Mrs. Sandford looked at her, till a step within the room drew her attention on that side.
"Why, there you are!" said the lady "come the other way. What news?"
"I have no news."
"Yes, but how is Mr. Randolph?" The lady had dropped her voice very low.
"He is sensible."
"Sensible!" Mrs. Sandford said with a startled look; but then drawing the doctor silently to her side, she pointed to the watching, anxious little figure there on the steps. It did not need that Dr. Sandford should speak her name. Daisy had perfectly well heard and understood the words that had passed; and now she rose up slowly and came towards the doctor, who stepped out to meet her.
"Well, Daisy have you been looking for me?" he said. But something in the little upturned face admonished him that no light words could be borne. He sat down and took her hand.
"Your father looks better than he did this morning; but he feels badly yet after his fall."
Daisy looked at him and was silent a moment.
"Will they send for me home?"
"Not to-night, I think. Mrs. Randolph thought better that you should stay here. Can't you do it contentedly?"
Daisy made no audible answer; her lip quivered a very little; it did not belie the singular patience which sat upon her brow. Her hand lay yet in the doctor's; he held it a little closer, and drew the child affectionately to his side, keeping her there while he talked with Mrs. Sandford upon other subjects; for he said no more about Melbourne. Still while he talked he kept his arm round Daisy, and when tea was brought he hardly let her go. But tea was not much more to Daisy than dinner had been; and when Mrs. Sandford offered to show her to her room if she desired it, Daisy accepted the offer at once.
Mrs. Sandford herself wished to supply the place of June, and would have done everything for her little guest if she could have been permitted. Daisy negatived all such proposals. She could do everything for herself, she said; she wanted no help. A bag of things had been packed for her by June and brought in the doctor's gig. Daisy was somehow sorry to see them; they looked like preparations for staying.
"We will send for June to-morrow, Daisy, if your mamma will leave you still with me."
"Oh, I shall go home to-morrow I hope," said Daisy. "I hope " she repeated, humbly.
"Yes, I hope so," said Mrs. Sandford. She kissed Daisy and went away. It was all Daisy wanted, to be alone. The October night was mild; she went to the window; one of the windows, which looked out upon the grass and trees of the courtyard, now lighted by a faint moon. Daisy sunk down on her knees there; the sky and the stars were more homelike than anything else; and she felt so strange, so miserable, as her little heart had never known anything like before. She knew well enough what it all meant, her mother's sending her away from home, her father's not being able to bear any disturbance. Speak as lightly, look as calmly as they would, she knew what was the meaning underneath people's faces and voices. Her father had been very much hurt; quite well Daisy was assured of that. He was too ill to see her, or too ill for her mother to like her to see him. Daisy knelt down; she remembered she had a Father in heaven, but it seemed at first as if she was too broken-hearted to pray. Yet down there, through the still moonlight, she remembered His eye could see her, and she knew He had not forgotten His little child. Daisy never heard her door open; but it did once, and some time after it did again.
"I do not know what to do " said Mrs. Sandford, downstairs. There the lamps made a second bright day; and the two gentlemen were busy over the table with newspapers and books. Both of them looked up, at the sound of her perplexed voice.
"That child, " said Mrs. Sandford. "She is not in bed yet."
The lady stood by the table; she had just come from Daisy's room.
"What is she doing?" her husband asked.
"I don't know. She is kneeling by the open window. She was there an hour ago, and she is there yet. She has not moved since."
"She has fallen asleep " suggested Mr. Sandford. "I should say, wake her up."
"She is too wide awake now. She is lifting her little face to the sky, in a way that breaks my heart. And there she has been, this hour and more."
"Have some supper directly, and call her down, " was the second suggestion of the master of the house. "It will be supper-time soon. Here it's some time after nine."
"Grant, what is the matter with Mr. Randolph? Is it very serious?"
"Mrs. Randolph thinks so, I believe. Have you spoken to Daisy?"
"No, and I cannot. Unless I had good news to carry to her."
"Where is she?" said the doctor, getting up.
"In the room next to yours."
So Mrs. Sandford sat down and the doctor went up stairs. The next thing, he stood behind Daisy at her window. She was not gazing into the sky now; the little round head lay on her arms on the window-sill.
"What is going on here?" said a soft voice behind her.
"Oh! Dr. Sandford " said the child, jumping up. She turned and faced her friend, with a face so wistful and searching, so patient, yet so strained with its self-restraint and fear, that the doctor felt it was something serious with which he had to do. He did not attempt a light tone before that little face; he felt that it would not pass.
"I came up to see you," he said. "I have nothing new to tell, Daisy. What are you about?"
"Dr. Sandford," said the child, "won't you tell me a little?"
The inquiry was piteous. For some reason or other, the doctor did not answer it with a put-off, nor with flattering words, as doctors are so apt to do. Perhaps it was not his habit, but certainly in other respects he was not too good a man to do it. He sat down and let the moonlight show Daisy his face.
"Daisy," he said, "your father was stunned by his blow, and needs to be kept in perfect quiet for a time, until he is quite over it. People after such a fall often do; but I do not know that any other consequences whatever will follow."
"He was stunned " repeated Daisy.
The child did not say any more, yet her eyes of searching eagerness plainly asked for fuller information. They were not content nor at rest.
"Can't you have patience, and hope for other tidings tomorrow?"
"May I? " said Daisy.
"May you? Certainly. It was your mother's wish to send you here not mine. It was not needful; though if you could be content, I think it would be well."
She looked a little relieved; very little.
"Now what are you doing? Am I to have two patients on my hand in your family?"
"What are you doing then, up so late? Watching the stars?"
"I am your physician you know you must tell me everything, What were you about, Daisy?"
"Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, in difficulty how to speak, "I was seeking comfort."
And with the word, somehow, Daisy's self-restraint failed; her head went down on the doctor's shoulder; and when she lifted it up there were two or three tears that needed to be brushed away. No more; but the doctor felt the slight little frame tremble.
"Did you find comfort, Daisy?" he said, kindly. "I ask as your physician; because if you are using wrong measures for that end I shall forbid them. What were you doing to get comfort?"
"I did not want to go to sleep, sir."
"Daisy, I am going to carry you down to have some supper."
"Oh, I do not want any, Dr. Sandford!"
"Are you ready to go down?"
"No sir in a minute, I only want to brush my hair."
"Brush it, then."
Which Daisy did; then coming to her friend with a face as smoothly in order as the little round head, she repeated humbly, "I do not want anything, Dr. Sandford."
"Shall I carry you down?"
"Oh, no, sir."
"Come then. One way or the other. And Daisy, when we are down stairs, and when you come up again, you must obey my orders."
The supper-table was laid. Mrs. Sandford expressed delight at seeing Daisy come in, but it would maybe have been of little avail had her kindness been the only force at work. It was not. The doctor prescribed peaches and bread, and gave Daisy grapes, and a little bit of cold chicken; and was very kind, and very imperative too; and Daisy did not dare nor like to disobey him. She eat the supper, which tasted good when he made her eat it; and then was dismissed up stairs to bed, with orders to go straight to sleep. And Daisy did as she was told.
The doctor's horse was before the door, and Daisy was on the piazza. The doctor came out, ready for his day's work.
"Do you want me to do anything for you at Melbourne, Daisy?"
"Cannot I go home to-day, Dr. Sandford?"
"I do not know. Supposing that you be still kept in banishment what then?"
Daisy struggled with herself succeeded, and spoke calmly. "I should like to have Loupe sent, Dr. Sandford, if you please."
"Loupe? what is that? What is Loupe, Daisy?"
"My pony, sir. My pony-chaise."
"Oh! Not to drive to Melbourne?"
Daisy met the doctor's blue eye full, and answered with guileless submission.
"I will send Loupe. By the way Daisy, have you business on hand?"
"So much that you can do none for me?"
"Oh, no, sir. I have not a great deal of business. What may I do, Dr. Sandford?"
"Can you go to Crum Elbow?"
"Yes, sir. I have got to go there."
"All right, then. Daisy, there is a poor family down by the railway that were burnt out a night or two ago; they have lost everything. The neighbours will have to supply them with a few things. Will you go to the village and buy clothing for two little children, six and seven years old? One is a girl, the other a boy."
The doctor took out his pocket-book and began to look over bank bills.
"Dresses, do you mean, Dr. Sandford? and a boy's dress?"
"I mean, everything they need to put on dresses and petticoats, and jacket and trousers, and a shirt or two for the boy. Here is money, Daisy; spend whatever you find needful."
"But, Dr. Sandford "
"I don't believe Mr. Lamb keeps those things ready made."
"I am sure he does not. Buy the stuff, Daisy all the stuff we will see about getting it made afterwards. You can consult my sister, Mrs. Sandford, about quantities and all that; or I dare say the storekeeper can tell you."
So away went the doctor. Daisy felt in great need of consulting somebody; but Mrs. Sandford was busy, and so engaged that there was no chance for several hours. Not indeed before the pony chaise came; and Daisy resolved then to wait no longer, but to do some other business first.
The news that she eagerly asked for from Melbourne was not much when she got it. Sam knew little; he believed Mr. Randolph was better, he said; but his tone of voice was not very encouraging, and Daisy drove off to Juanita's cottage. There was one person, she knew, who could feel with her; and she went with a sort of eagerness up the grassy pathway from the road to the cottage door, to get that sympathy.
Juanita was within, busy at some ironing. The work fell from her hands, and the iron was set down with an expression of pleasure as she saw Daisy come in. The next minute her tone changed and her look.
"What ails my love?"
"Juanita " said Daisy, standing still and pale by the ironing table, "haven't you heard? Papa "
"What, Miss Daisy?"
"Papa he was knocked off his horse yesterday and they won't let me see him!"
So far Daisy's power of composure went, and no further. With that last word her voice failed. She threw her arms around Juanita, and hiding her face in her gown, burst into such tears as Daisy rarely shed at all; very rarely under any one's observation. Juanita, very much startled, sat down and drew the child into her arms, so far as she could; for Daisy had sunk on her knees, and with her face in Juanita's lap was weeping all her heart out. Mrs. Benoit hardly knew how to ask questions.
"Why must not Miss Daisy see her papa?"
"I don't know! I suppose he's not well enough."
Juanita breathed more freely.
"Let us pray for him, Miss Daisy."
"Oh, yes, Juanita, do! "
There was an intensity of meaning in these words and in Daisy's hurried assuming of another place and posture to leave Juanita free to kneel too, that almost took away the black woman's power of speech. She read what was breaking the child's heart; she knew what for was that suppressed cry of longing. For a moment Juanita was silent. But she had long known not only trouble but the Refuge from trouble; and to that Refuge she now went, and carried Daisy. As one goes who has often been there; who has many a time proved it a sure Refuge; who knows it sure and safe and unfailing. So she prayed; while Daisy's sobs at first were excessive, and then by degrees calmed and quieted and ceased. They were quite still before Juanita finished; and when they rose up from their knees Daisy's face was composed again. Then she came and stood with her hand on Juanita's shoulder, both of them silent; till Daisy put her lips to the fine olive-dark cheek of the old woman and kissed it. Juanita drew her into her arms, and Daisy sat there, nestling and tired.
"Can Miss Daisy trust the Lord?"
"Trust Him, how, Juanita."
"That He do no harm to His little child."
"Oh, it isn't me, Juanita " Daisy said, with a very tender and sad accent.
"When Joseph my love knows the story when he was sold away from his father and home, to be servant of strangers far off maybe he thought it was hard times. But the Lord meant it for good, and the father and the child came together again, in a happy day."
Daisy rose up, or rather raised her head, and looked steadily in her friend's face as if to see what this might mean.
"The Lord knoweth them that trust in Him," said the black woman.
Daisy's head went down again; and there was a long silence. It was broken at last by Juanita's offering her some refreshment; and then Daisy started up to the business on hand. She explained to Juanita where she was staying, and what she had that morning to do. Meanwhile Juanita made her take some bread and milk.
"So how much must I get, Juanita? can you tell me? how much for two little frocks, and two little petticoats, and one suit of boy's clothes?"
"My love knows, it must be accordin' to the stuff. If the stuff narrow, she want more; if wide, she want less."
"Then you cannot tell me; and Mrs. Sandford could not either. And I cannot tell. What shall I do?"
"Mrs. Sandford maybe get the things for Miss Daisy."
"No, she must not. Dr. Sandford wants me to do it. I must get them, Juanita."
"H'm! Suppose I put up my irons and walk round to the village and Miss Daisy go in her shay."
"To the store!" cried Daisy. "Oh, yes, Juanita; get ready, and I will take you with me. Then you can tell me all about it."
Juanita demurred and objected to this proposal, but Daisy was greatly pleased and would have it so. Mrs. Benoit put up her ironing work, and arrayed her head in a new clean bright handkerchief, wonderfully put on; she was ready then; and Sam grinned to see the tall fine figure of the old coloured woman sitting in the pony-chaise by the side of his little mistress. It was as good to Daisy as anything could have been, that day. They drove into Crum Elbow, went to the store; and there she and Juanita had a pretty large morning's business in choosing the various goods Dr. Sandford had desired Daisy to get. Daisy got excited over it. Calico for a little frock, and muslin for the underclothes, and stuff for the boy's jacket and trousers and shirt; Juanita knew the quantities necessary, and Daisy had only the trouble of choice and judgment of various kinds. But that was a great responsibility, seeing she was doing it for Dr. Sandford. It took a good while. Then Daisy drove Juanita home again, gave her another kiss, and with her carriage load of dry goods, and a tired and hungry little body, went home to Mrs. Sandford's.
It was then pretty late in the day, and the doctor not come in. Daisy dressed, and went down to the drawing-room to wait for him. Not long this time. There was a certain air of calm strength about Dr. Sandford's face and cool blue eye, that Daisy loved; she felt she loved it now, as she saw him come in; she trusted him. He spoke first to his brother and sister; then came where Daisy was standing, sat down on the sofa and placed her beside him.
"I have no bad news for you, Daisy," he said, kindly, "and not the good news neither that you are looking for. Your father is no worse, though it will require several days to let him recover from the immediate effects of his accident. The quieter he is meanwhile the better."
"And mamma she said? "
"She said yes, you have guessed it; she would like to have you remain here for a few days longer. She thinks you are better under my care than under hers."
"Under my care, I think it is," said Mrs. Sandford.
"Can you bear it, Daisy?"
She looked up meekly, and answered, "Yes, Dr. Sandford." So meekly that the doctor's eye took special note of her.
"Have you been to Crum Elbow to-day?"
"Yes, sir. I got all the things."
"All of them?"
"What reward shall I give you?"
She had been speaking with a sad meekness, a sober self- restraint, unlike her years. If Dr. Sandford meant to break it up, which I think he did, he had partial success. Daisy looked up and smiled at him. But yet it was a meek smile, and sad even in its composed denial of any notion of reward. Not satisfactory to the doctor.
"I always repay anybody that does me any service," he went on.
"Ought one always to do that?" said Daisy.
"What is your judgment?"
"I think everybody could not."
"Some people have nothing to pay with, for things that are done for them."
"I do not believe that."
"Some people, Dr. Sandford?"
"Whom do you know in that condition for instance?"
"Why, I for instance."
"You! What cannot you pay for?"
"A great many things," said Daisy, slowly. "Hardly anything. I am only a child."
"How is it about Molly Skelton? Does she pay you for the various attentions she receives from you?"
"Pay me, Dr. Sandford! I do not want pay."
"You are very unlike me, then," said the doctor; "that is all I have to say."
"Why, Dr. Sandford, what pay could she give me?"
"Don't you get any, then?"
"Why, no, sir," said Daisy, eagerly answering the doctor's blue eye. "Except yes, of course, I get a sort of pay; but Molly does not yes she does give it to me; but I mean, she does not mean to pay me."
The doctor smiled, one of those rare pleasant smiles, that showed his white teeth in a way that Daisy liked; it was only a glimmer.
"What sort of pay is that? which she gives, and does not mean to give, and you take and do not ask for?"
"Oh! that sort of pay!" said Daisy. "Is it that sort you mean, Dr. Sandford?"
"That is one sort."
"But I mean, is it the sort that you always give, you say?"
"Always, when people deserve it. And then, do you not think it is natural to wish to give them, if you can, some other sort of pay?"
"I think it is," said Daisy, sedately.
"I am glad you do not disapprove of it."
"But I do not think people want that other kind of pay, Dr. Sandford."
"Perhaps not. I suppose it is a selfish gratification of oneself to give it."
Daisy looked so earnestly and so curiously at him, as if to see what all this was about, that the doctor must have had good command of his lips not to smile again.
They went in to dinner just then and the conversation stopped. But though not talked to, Daisy was looked after; and when she had forgotten all about dinner, and was thinking mournfully of what was going on at home, a slice of roast beef or a nice peach would come on her plate with a word from the doctor "You are to eat that, Daisy" and though he said no more, somehow Daisy always chose to obey him. At last they went into the drawing-room again, and were drinking coffee. Daisy was somewhat comforted; she thought Dr. Sandford did not act as if there were anything very dreadful the matter at home.
"Daisy," said the doctor, "you have done work for me to-day would you object to be paid?"
Daisy looked up smiling; it dependied on what the pay might be, she thought; but she said nothing.
"Would it be violently against your principles?"
"I do not want pay, Dr. Sandford."
"Not if I were to offer to give you a sight of those little baskets on the frond of the Marchantia?"
Daisy's face all changed; but she said in the quietest manner, "Can you do that, Dr. Sandford?"
"Come with me."
He held out his hand, which Daisy willingly took, and they went upstairs together. Just short of her room the doctor stopped, and turned into his own. This was a very plain apartment; there was no beauty of furniture, though it struck Daisy there was a great deal of something. There were boxes, and cabinets, and shelves full of books and boxes, and book- cases, and one or two tables. Yet it was not a pretty-looking room, like the others in Mrs. Sandford's house. Daisy was a little disappointed. The doctor, however, gave her a chair, and then brought one of the unlikely deal boxes to the table and opened it. Daisy forgot everything. There appeared a polished, very odd brass machine, which the doctor took out and spent some time in adjusting. Daisy patiently looked on.
"Do you know what this is, Daisy?"
"It is a microscope. And looking through this, you will see what you could not see with your two eyes alone; there are some strong magnifying glasses here and I found to-day some plants of Marchantia growing in a sheltered place. Here is one of the baskets for you "
"Is it on that bit of green leaf?"
"Yes, but you can see nothing there. Try this view."
He stood back and helped Daisy to take a kneeling position in her chair, so that her eye could reach the eye-piece of the microscope. Daisy looked, took her eye away to give a wondering glance of inquiry at her friend's face, and then applied it to the microscope again; a pink hue of delight actually spreading over her poor little pale cheeks. It was so beautiful, so wonderful. Again Daisy took her eye away to examine out of the glass the coarse little bit of green leaf that lay upon the stand; and looked back at the show in the microscope with a bewitched mind. It seemed as if she could never weary of looking from one to the other. The doctor bade her take her own time, and Daisy took a good deal.
"What stuffs did you buy this morning?" the doctor asked.
Daisy drew back from the microscope.
"I got all you told me, sir?"
"Exactly. I forget what that was."
"I bought a little piece of red and green linsey-woolsey for a frock for the little girl and some brown strong stuff for the boy's suit; and then white muslin to make things for the girl, and blue check for the boy's shirt."
"Just right. Did your money hold out?"
"Oh, I had three dollars and two shillings left, Dr. Sandford. Two shillings and sixpence, I believe."
"You did well." The doctor was arranging something else in the microscope. He had taken out the bit of liverwort.
"I had Juanita to help me," said Daisy.
"How do you suppose I am going to get all those things made up?" said the doctor.
"Won't Mrs. Sandford attend to it?"
"Mrs. Sandford has her own contribution to attend to. I do not wish to give her mine too."
"Cannot the children's mother make the things?"
The doctor's lip curled in funny fashion.
"They have no mother, I think. There is an old aunt, or grandmother, or something, that does not take care of' the children. I shall not trust the business certainly to her."
Daisy wondered a little that Mrs. Sandford, who was so good- natured, could not do what was needful; but she said nothing.
"I think I shall turn over the whole thing in charge to you, Daisy."
"But, Dr. Sandford, what can I do?"
"Drive down with me to-morrow and see how big the children are, and then have the things made."
"But I am afraid I do not know enough."
"I dare say you can find out. I do not know enough that is very certain; and I have other things to attend to besides overseeing mantua-makers."
"Our seamstress could do it, if I could see her."
"Very well, then some other seamstress can. Now, Daisy you may look at this."
"What a beautiful thing! But what is it, Dr. Sandford?"
"What does it look like?"
"It does not look like anything that I ever saw."
"It is a scale from a butterfly's wing."
"Why, it is as large as a small butterfly," said Daisy.
The doctor showed her where the little scale lay, so little that she could hardly see it out of the glass; and Daisy went back to the contemplation of its magnified beauty with immense admiration. Then her friend let her see the eye of a bee, and the tongue of a fly, and divers other wonders, which kept Daisy busy until an hour which was late for her. Busy and delightfully amused.
One day passed after another, and Daisy looked longingly for her summons home, and still she did not receive it. Her fears and agonies were somewhat quieted; because Dr. Sandford assured her that her father was getting better; but he never said that her father was well, or that he had not been very ill. Daisy knew that the matter had been very serious that had prevented her being at Melbourne all these days. Her imaginings of evil were doubtful and dim; but it seemed to her that her father himself would have commanded her presence in all ordinary circumstances; and a doubt like an ice-wind sometimes swept over her little spirit, whether he could be too ill to know of her absence! No word that could be said would entirely comfort Daisy while this state of things lasted; and it was very well for her that she had a wise and energetic friend watching over her welfare, in the meanwhile. If business could keep her from pining and hinder her from too much imagining, Dr. Sandford took care that she had it. He contrived that she should indeed oversee the making of the dresses for the poor children, and it was a very great charge for Daisy. A great responsibility; it lay on her mind for days, and gave occasion for a number of drives to Crum Elbow and to Juanita's cottage. Then at evening, after hearing her report progress, the doctor would take Daisy up to his room and show her many a wonder and beauty that little Daisy had never dreamed of before; and the friendship between the two grew closer than ever.
"Grant, you are a good fellow!" said Mrs. Sandford one night. "I do not know what I should do with that child, if it were not for you."
"You would do nothing. She would not be here if it were not for me."
"I do not suppose, however, that your care for her is dictated by a conscientious regard for that fact. It is good of you."
"She is my patient, Mrs. Sandford."
"Yes, yes; impatient would be the word with some young men."
"I am glad you do not class me with such young men."
"Well, no child ever gave less cause for impatience, I will say that. Nor had more. Poor child! How she looks at you every day when you come home! But I suppose you doctors get hard hearts."
Dr. Sandford's lips curled a little into one of the smiles that Daisy liked, but he said nothing.
Daisy did look hard at her friend those days, but it was only when he came home. So she was not expecting anything the next morning when he said to her, "Daisy will you take a ride with me?"
Daisy looked up. The doctor was sitting by the breakfast- table, poring over a newspaper. Breakfast was done, and Daisy herself busy with a book. So she only answered, "If you please, Dr. Sandford."
"Where shall we go?"
Daisy looked surprised. "I supposed you had business, sir."
"So I have. I am going to visit a patient. Perhaps you would like to make the visit with me."
"To one of your patients, Dr. Sandford?"
"Yes, one. Not more than one. But I think that one would like to see you."
A light came into Daisy's face, and colour started upon her cheeks, almost painfully.
"Dr. Sandford do you mean"
"I think so, Daisy," said her friend, quietly. "It will do no harm, if you are a good child."
He was so quiet, that it stilled Daisy's feeling, which else might have been impetuous. There was danger of that, as the child's eye and cheek bore witness. But she only said, "I'll get ready, Dr. Sandford " and went off in orderly style till she reached the hall, and was out of sight. Then Daisy's feet made haste up the stairs. In three minutes she was back again, with her hat and gloves in her hand.
The doctor threw down his newspaper and drew her up to him.
"Daisy, can you be quiet?"
"I think so, Dr. Sandford."
"I think so too; therefore I tell you beforehand that I wish it. Your father has not fully recovered his strength yet; and it would not be good for him to be excited. You will be very glad to see him, and he will be very glad to see you; that is quite enough; and it would be too much, if you were to show him how glad you are."
Daisy said nothing, but she thought within herself she could not do that!
"Can you command yourself, Daisy?"
"I will try, Dr. Sandford."
"You must do it for my sake," added the doctor.
"Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, "was that what you meant?"
"When you said, if I was a good child?"
"It must have been that I meant, I think. I could have said it in no other connection."
"The pony-chaise, ma'am, for Miss Randolph " said a servant at the door.
"The chaise may go away again, Daisy, I suppose," said Mrs. Sandford. "You will not want it."
"Yes, she will," said the doctor, "to drive to Melbourne. Go, Daisy, since you are ready; I will follow you. That little waddling fellow can be overtaken without any great difficulty."
"Do you want me to drive slowly, sir?"
"Not at all," said the doctor; "only drive well, for I shall come and see."
If ever a little pride in her driving accomplishments had lodged in Daisy's mind, she certainly did not feel it that afternoon. She drove without knowing very well how she drove; she did not think of Dr. Sandford's criticism, or admiration; what she thought of, was the miles of the road to Melbourne.
They were not very many, and unconsciously the eager spirit in Daisy's fingers made itself known to Loupe's understanding, through the medium of the reins. He travelled better than usual, so that they were not more than half way from Melbourne when the doctor's gig overtook them. And then Loupe went better yet.
"Remember, Daisy, and keep quiet " said the doctor, as he took her out of the chaise. Daisy trembled, but she followed him steadily through the hall and up the stairs, and into her father's room. Then she went before him, yet even then she went with a moderated step, and stood by her father's couch at last, silent and breathless. Breathless with the very effort she made to keep silent and quiet. With excitement too; for Mr. Randolph was looking feeble and pale, more than Daisy had ever seen him, and it frightened her. He was not in bed, but on a sofa; and as Daisy came to his side he put out his arm and drew his little daughter close to him. Without a word at first and Daisy stooped her lips to his, and then stood hiding her face on his shoulder; perfectly quiet, though trembling with contained emotion, and not daring to say anything, lest she should say too much.
"Daisy," said her father, "Daisy, do you know I have been ill?"
There was a little, little tone of surprise or disappointment in the voice. Daisy felt it, knew it, but what could she do? She was afraid to speak, to say anything. She turned her face a little to Dr. Sandford; he saw an agony struggling in the eye that appealed to him. This was not what he wanted.
"She knows it almost too well," he said, coming to the rescue; "I have been her gaoler all these days; a severe one."
"Are you glad to see me, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph.
Daisy half raised herself, half glanced at his face, and turning from him threw herself upon Dr. Sandford's arm with a cry, and gave way to a deep passion of weeping. Deep and still; her sobs could not but be heard, but they were kept under as much as the heaving of that little breast could bear. Mr. Randolph's pale face flushed; and the doctor saw that his precautions had been too good.
"Why, Daisy!" he said, lightly, "is this your self-command?"
"Let me have her " said Mr. Randolph. "Self-command is a good thing, doctor; but people may have too much of it."
And getting hold of Daisy's hand, which the doctor brought within his reach, he again drew the sobbing child to his breast and folded her close in both his arms. The sobs were very soon hushed; but during all the rest of the doctor's visit, and through all the conversation that took place, Daisy and her father never changed their position. The conversation indeed was not much, being confined to a few quiet questions and answers and remarks; and then Dr. Sandford took his departure, leaving Daisy very unconscious of his movements. He only waved his hand to Mr. Randolph, with a smile at Daisy who did not see him.
"Daisy my darling " said Mr. Randolph, when he was gone.
"Papa! " came in a whisper.
"What is the matter?"
Daisy lifted her face from its resting-place and kissed, with kisses that were like velvet, first one side of her father's mouth, and then the other.
"Papa Dr. Sandford told me I must keep quiet."
"Well, you shall," said Mr. Randolph. "That is right enough. You shall keep quiet, and I will go to sleep."
So he did. But he did not loose his hold of Daisy; and she lay, still as happiness could make her, with her head upon his breast. She knew, she was conscious, that he must be very feeble yet, to go to sleep in that way; but she was with him again, and in his arms, and her heart was so full of joy that it could do nothing but overflow in silent thanksgivings and prayers. Daisy would not have stirred till he did, no matter how long it might have been; but there came an interruption. A door opened, and Mrs. Randolph appeared on the threshold, and so soon as she saw Daisy, beckoned her to come to another room. Mr. Randolph's arms had relaxed their hold somewhat, and Daisy obeyed the signal, and left him.
Her mother wanted then to know all the story of her days at Mrs. Sandford's; and Daisy had a good deal to tell. That is, Mrs. Randolph's questionings made it so. Daisy herself would not have had it a long story. Then she must see June, and Joanna; and then came dinner. It was not till the afternoon was well passed that the call came for her to go to her father again. Daisy had watched and waited for it; her mother had forbidden her to go in without it. At last she was sent for, and Daisy sprang away.
Mrs. Randolph was there.
"No noise! remember," she said, lifting her finger as Daisy came in. Daisy came near slowly. Her father held out his hand to her, and folded her in his arms again.
"You are such a noisy child!" he said, "your mother does wisely to warn you."
"She is an excitable child," said Mrs. Randolph; "and I think you want warning too."
"We will keep each other quiet," said Mr. Randolph.
The lady looked on, with what seemed a doubtful eye. Nobody watched it. Her husband's eyes were often closed; Daisy's little head lay on his breast, quiet enough, unless when she moved it to give soft noiseless kisses to her father's cheek. They remained so a good while, with scarce any word spoken; and Mrs. Randolph was busy at her tetting. The light faded; the evening drew on.
"It is time for Daisy's tea." It was the first thing that broke a long silence.
"She and I will have it together," said Mr. Randolph.
"Will that be best for you, Mr. Randolph?"
"I hope so."
"I doubt it."
"Most things in this world are doubtful," said Mr. Randolph; "but we will try."
"Will you choose to have tea now, then?"
"This is Daisy's time."
"Very well. She must wait for my time."
Not a word did Daisy say; only little alternate throbs of joy and fear, as her father or her mother spoke, passed through her heart. Mrs. Randolph gave it up; and there was another hour of quiet, very sweet to Daisy. Then lights were brought, and again Mrs. Randolph proposed to have the tea served; but again Mr. Randolph negatived her proposal; and things remained as they were. At last Mrs. Randolph was summoned to preside at the tea-table downstairs; for even now there were one or two guests at Melbourne. Then there was a stir in the room upstairs. The tray came with Mr. Randolph's supper; and Daisy had the delight of sharing it, and of being his attendant in chief. He let her do what she would; and without being unquiet, Daisy and her father enjoyed themselves over that entertainment.
"Now I think I could bear a little reading," said Mr. Randolph, as he laid his head back on his couch.
"What, papa?" said Daisy, a sudden hope starting into some dark corner of her heart, almost without her knowing it.
"What? what you please."
"Shall I read what I like, papa?"
"Yes. If I do not like it, I will tell you."
Daisy ran away and flew through the rooms to her own, and there hastily sought her Bible. She could not wait to get another; she took her own and ran back softly with it. Her father's languid eye watched the little white figure coming towards him, book in hand; the gentle, eager step, the slight flush on the cheek; till she took her seat beside him.
"What have you got there, Daisy?" he asked.
"Papa my Bible."
"Well what are you going to read?"
"I don't know, papa " said Daisy, doubtfully. What would come next?
"Do you remember your picture, the 'Game of Life'?"
"Do you remember your talk about good and evil spirits?"
"Find me the grounds of your philosophy."
Daisy thought what that might mean, and guessed at it. She turned to the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, a favourite chapter, and read the parable of the sheep and the goats. The servant had withdrawn; Daisy and her father were alone. There was a moment's pause when she had done.
"Is that all?" said Mr. Randolph.
"That is all of this, papa."
"There is nothing there about the rejoicings of the good spirits," said Mr. Randolph.
Daisy's fingers trembled, she hardly knew why, as she turned over the leaves to find the place. Her father watched her.
"Are you sure it is there, Daisy?"
"Oh, yes, papa it is in the story of the man with a hundred sheep I will find it directly."
So she did, and read the parable in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Her father listened with shut eyes, while the child's voice gave the words in a sort of sweet clear gravity.
" 'Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, in he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.' "
There Daisy stopped, and there was silence. Presently her father opened his eyes. He saw that hers were full, but they were not looking at her book, neither at him; they were gazing away at the light, with an intent, very serious expression.
"Daisy! " said her father.
She came back instantly to a sweet happy look at him.
"What were you studying?"
"Papa! I was thinking "
"What were you thinking."
"I was thinking, papa," said Daisy, unwillingly, "how strange it is that anybody should try to hide himself from God."
She started a little and rose up, for her mother stood on the other side of the light now. Mrs. Randolph's voice was a note belonging to another chord.
"Daisy, it is your bedtime."
Mr. Randolph made no attempt to hinder his wife's arrangements this time. Daisy exchanged a very tender good-night with him and then went away. But she went away very happy. She thought she saw good days coming.
There were good days that followed that one, for a while. Daisy's readings and sweet companionship with her father were constant, and grew sweeter as he grew stronger. But the strengthening process was not rapid. About a fortnight had passed, when Mrs. Sandford one day made enquiry about it of her brother-in-law.
"Slow work " said the doctor.
"He will get over it, won't he?"
"I hope he will."
"But cannot anything be done for him, Grant?"
"He is going to do the best thing. He is going to Europe."
"To Europe! This winter?"
"Now, in a few weeks, or less."
"It will be good for your pet Daisy."
"Doubtfully " said the doctor, with a very complicated expression of face; but he was taking off his boot at the moment, and maybe it pinched him. "She will not go."
"Not go! Daisy! Does not her mother go?"
"And not Daisy? Why not Daisy."
"She gives so much trouble " said the doctor.
"Trouble! I thought her parents were so fond of her."
"Mr. Randolph is unequal to any agitation; and Mrs. Randolph regulates everything."
"But wouldn't it be good for Daisy?"
"I think so."
"Poor child! What will they do with her?"
"Send her to a Southern plantation, under care of a governess, as I understand."
"It will half kill Daisy," said Mrs. Sandford.
"It takes a great deal to kill people," said the doctor.
"I do not know how to believe you," said the lady. "Is it all fixed and settled, Grant?"
"They leave Melbourne next week."
BUTLER & TANNER, THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS, FROME, AND LONDON