"So you're agoin' afishin'?" said the woman at the gate.
"Yes, ma'am," Preston said.
"And that little one too?"
"I declare! I never see nobody so little and gauzy as was willin' to do such indelicate work! But I shouldn't wonder, now, if she was to catch some. Fishes and all things is curious creeturs, and goes by contrairies."
"Hope they won't to-day!" said Preston, who was eating strawberries and bread and milk at a great rate.
"Where's the rest of your party?" the woman went on.
"We're all here, ma'am," said Preston.
"Well, I see a horse there that haint nobody on top of him?"
"I was on top of him a little while ago," said Preston.
"Well, I expect that little creetur hain't druv herself?"
"Drove the pony, anyhow," said Preston. "Now, ma'am, what do we owe you, besides thanks, for your excellent hospitality?"
"I reckon you don't owe me much," said the woman, as Preston got out of the chaise. "You can set the tray in there on the table, if you're a mind to. We always calculate to set a good meal, and we're allowed to; but we don't never calculate to live by it, and we've no dispensary. There's only my husband and me, and there's a plenty for more than us."
Preston had handed the tray to Sam to carry in, and as soon as he could get a chance bade good morning, and went forward with Daisy. On foot now they took their way to the woods, and presently plunged into then. It was very pleasant under the deep shade, for the sun had grown warm, and there was hardly air enough to flutter the leaves in the high branches. But Daisy and Preston pushed on briskly, and soon the gurgle of the brook gave its sweet sound to their ears. They followed up the stream then, over stones and rocks, and crossing from side to side on trunks of trees that had fallen across the water; till a part of the brook was reached far enough back among the hills to be wild and lonely; where the trout might be supposed to be having a good time.
"Now, Daisy," said Preston, "I think this will do. Can't have a better place. I'll try and get you to work here."
"And now, how must I manage, Preston?" said Daisy, anxiously.
"I'll show you."
Daisy watched while Preston took out and put together the light rod which she was to use, and fixed a fly for the bait.
"Do you see that little waterfall, Daisy?"
"And you see where the water curls round just under the fall?"
"That is where you must cast your fly. I should think there must be some speckled fellows there. What glory, Daisy, if you should catch one!"
"Well, what must I do, Preston?"
"Throw your fly over, so that it may light just there, and then watch; and if a fish jumps up and catches it, you pull your line away and catch the fish."
"But I can't throw it from here? I must go nearer."
"No, you mustn't you're near enough; stand just here. Try if you can't throw your fly there. If you went nearer, you would frighten the fish. They are just about as shy as if they were Daisies. Now I will go a little further off, and see what I can do. You'll catch the first fish!"
"No, I shall not," said Daisy, gravely. She tried with a beating heart to throw her line; she tried very hard. The first time it landed on the opposite side of the brook. The next time it landed on a big stone this side of the waterfall. The third trial fastened the hook firmly in Daisy's hat. In vain Daisy gently sought to release it; she was obliged at last to ask help of Sam.
"That ar's no good, Miss Daisy," said Sam, as he got the fly out of its difficulty.
"If I could only throw it in," said Daisy. And this time, with a very great effort she did succeed in swinging the bait by a gentle motion to the very spot. No statue was more motionless than Daisy then. She had eyes and ears for nothing but the trout in the brook. Minutes went by. The brook leaped and sang on its way the air brought the sweet odours of mosses and ferns; the leaves flapped idly overhead; you could hear every little sound. For there sat Daisy, and there stood Sam, as still as the stones. Time went by. At last a sigh came from Daisy's weary little body, which she had not dared to move an inch for half an hour.
"Tain't no good, Miss Daisy," whispered Sam.
"I can't keep it still," said Daisy, under her breath, as if the fishes would hear and understand her.
"Suppos'n you try t'other bait, Miss Daisy."
"Oh, t'other kind, Miss Daisy. Will I put it on for you to try?"
Daisy sat awhile longer, however, in silence and watching, until every joint was weary and her patience too. Then she left the rod in Sam's hands, and went up to see what Preston was doing. He was some distance higher up the stream. Slowly and carefully Daisy crept near, till she could see his basket, and find out how much he had in it. That view loosed her tongue.
"Not one yet, Preston!" she exclaimed.
"Not a bite," said Preston.
"I hadn't either."
"I don't believe that there are any fish," said Preston.
"Oh, but Sam said he saw lots of them."
"Lots of them! It's the flies then. Sam! Hollo, Sam! Sam! "
"Here, sir," said Sam, coming up the brook.
"Just find me some worms, will you? and be spry. I can't get a bite."
Daisy sat down to look about her, while Preston drew in his line and threw the fly away. It was a pretty place! The brook spread just there into a round pool several feet across; deep and still; and above it the great trees towered up as if they would hide the sun. Sam came presently with the bait. Preston dressed his hook, and gave his line a swing, to cast the bait into the pool; rather incautiously, seeing that the trees stood so thick and so near. Accordingly the line lodged in the high branches of an oak on the opposite side of the pool. Neither was there any coaxing it down.
"What a pity!" said Daisy.
"Not at all," said Preston. "Here, Sam just go up that tree and clear the line will you?"
Sam looked at the straight high stem of the oak, which had shot up high before it put forth a single branch, and he did not like the job. His slow motions said so.
"Come!" said Preston, "be alive and do it quick, will you."
"He can't " said Daisy.
"Yes, he can," said Preston. "If he can't, he isn't worth his bread and salt. That's it, Sam hand over hand, and you'll be there directly."
Sam showed what he could do, if he did not like it; for he worked himself up the tall tree like a monkey. It was not so large but he could clasp it; so after a little rough work on his part, and anxious watching on Daisy's, he got to the branches. But now the line was caught in the small forks at the leafy end of the branch. Sam lay out upon it as far as he dared; he could not reach the line.
"Oh, he'll fall!" cried Daisy, softly. "Oh, Preston, let him come down! he can't get it."
"He'll come to no harm," said Preston, coolly. "A little further, Sam it's oak wood, it will hold you; a little further, and you will have it a little further! "
And Daisy saw that Sam had gone too far. The bough swayed, Sam made a lunge after the line, lost his hold, and the next minute his dark body was falling through the air and splashed into the pool. The water flew all over the two fishers who stood by its side; Preston awe-struck for the moment, Daisy white as death. But before either of them could speak or move, Sam's head reappeared above water.
"Oh, get him out! get him out, Preston!" was Daisy's distressed cry. Preston spoke nothing, but he snatched a long stick that lay near, and held it out to Sam; and so in a few minutes drew him to the shore and helped him out. Sam went to a little distance and stood dripping with water from head to foot; he did not shake himself, as a Newfoundland dog would have done.
"Are you hurt, Sam?" said Preston.
"No, sir " Sam answered, in a tone as if he felt very wet.
"Well, you've cleared the line for me at last," said Preston. "All's well that ends well. Hollo! here's my hook gone, broken off, float and all. Where's that basket, Sam?"
"It's below, sir."
"Below? where? just fetch it here, will you? This misfortune can be mended."
Sam moved off, dripping from every inch of him.
"Oh, Preston," said Daisy, "he's all wet as he can be do let him go right down to that house and dry himself! We can get the basket."
"Do him good to move about," said Preston. "Nonsense, Daisy! a ducking like that won't do anybody any harm in a summer's day."
"I don't think you'd like it," said Daisy; "and all his clothes are full of water, and the sun don't come down here. Tell him to go and get dry!"
"I will, as soon as I've done with him. Here, Sam just bend on this hook for me, while I see how the brook is further up. I've no time to lose, and then you can go sun yourself somewhere."
Preston bounded off; Sam stood with the tackle in hand, silently at work. Daisy sat still on a stone near by, looking at him.
"Were you hurt, Sam?" she asked, tenderly.
"No, Miss Daisy." This answer was not discontented, but stoical.
"As soon as you have done that, Sam, run down to Mrs. Dipper's, and maybe she can give you something dry to put on while your clothes can be hung out."
Silence on Sam's part.
"Have you almost finished that?"
"Then run off, Sam! Make haste to Mrs. Dipper's and get yourself dry and don't come back till you are quite dry, Sam."
Sam finished his piece of work, flung down the line, and with a grateful "Thank you, Miss Daisy!" set off at a bound. Daisy watched him running at full speed down the brook till he was out of sight.
"Has he done it?" said Preston returning. "The rascal hasn't put any bait on. However, Daisy, it's no use coaxing the trout in this place at present and I haven't found any other good spots for some distance up; suppose we have our lunch and try again?"
"Oh, yes!" said Daisy. "The other basket is down by my fishing-place it's just as pleasant there, Preston."
They went back to the basket, and a very convenient huge rock was found on the edge of the brook, which would serve for table and seats too, it was so large and smooth. Preston took his place upon it, and Daisy at the other end with the basket began to unpack.
"Napkins?" said Preston "you have no right to be so luxurious on a fishing party."
"Why, because a fisher is a kind of a Spartan animal, while he is about his business."
"What kind of an animal is that?" said Daisy, looking up from her arrangements.
She had set out a plate of delicate rolls, and another with bread and butter folded in a napkin; and still she paused with her hand in the basket.
"Go on, Daisy. I want to see what comes next."
"I don't know," said Daisy. "Why, Joanna has made us a lemon pie!"
"Capital!" said Preston. "And what have you got in that dish?"
"I know," said Daisy. "Joanna has put in some jelly for me. What sort of an animal is that, Preston?"
"It is a sort I shall not be to-day with jelly and lemon pie. But what has Joanna put in for me? nothing but bread?"
"Why, there are sandwiches."
"Why, there! Those rolls are stuffed with meat, Preston."
"Splendid!" said Preston, falling foul of the rolls immediately. "What sort of an animal is a Spartan? My dear little Daisy, don't you know?"
"I don't believe I know anything," said Daisy, humbly.
"Don't you want to?"
"Oh, yes, Preston! if I had anybody to help me, I do."
"Well we'll see. How perfect these sandwiches are! when one's hungry."
"I am hungry too," said Daisy. "I think the sound of the water makes me hungry. Oh, I wish I had given Sam some! I never thought of it. How hungry he must be!"
"He'll get along," said Preston, helping himself to another roll.
"But how could I forget!" said Daisy. "And he did not have a second breakfast either. I am so sorry!" Daisy's hands fell from her own dainties.
"There is nothing here fit for him," said Preston. "I dare say he has his own pockets full."
"They were full of water, the last thing," said Daisy, quaintly.
Preston could not help laughing. "My dear Daisy," he said, "I hope you are not getting soft-hearted on the subject of servants?"
"Don't; because it is foolish."
"But, Preston," said Daisy, looking earnestly at his handsome pleasant face which she liked very much, "don't you know what the Bible says?"
"It says, 'The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.' "
"Well," said Preston, "that don't mean that He made them all alike."
"Then, if they are not made alike, what is the difference?"
"Good gracious!" said Preston; "do you often ask such questions, Daisy? I hope you are not going to turn out a Mrs. Child, or a philanthropist, or anything of that sort?"
"I am not going to be a Mrs. Anybody," said Daisy; "but why don't you answer me?"
"Where did you get hold of those words?"
"Those words that you quoted to me about rich and poor."
"I was reading them this morning."
"Why, in the Bible of course," said Daisy, with a little check upon her manner.
"This morning! Before we started! How came you to be reading the Bible so early in the morning?"
"I like to read it."
"Well, I'd take proper times for reading it," said Preston. "Who set you to reading it at five o'clock in the morning?"
"Nobody. Oh, Preston, it was a great deal after five o'clock. What are proper times for reading it?"
"Are you going to cut that lemon pie? or shall I? Daisy, I thought you were hungry. What is the use of jelly, if you don't eat it? You'll never catch fish at that rate. Fishers must eat."
"But, Preston, what do you mean by proper times for reading the Bible?"
"Daisy, eat some lemon pie. It's capital. It melts in your mouth. Joanna Underwood is an excellent woman!"
"But, Preston, what do you mean?"
"I don't mean you shall be religious, Daisy, if I can help it."
"What do you mean by being religious?"
"I declare!" said Preston, laughing at her grave little face, "I believe you've begun already. I am come in good time. I won't let you be anything but just what you ought to be, Daisy. Come eat some jelly, or some pie, or something."
"But, tell me then, Preston!" Daisy persisted.
"It is something ridiculous, and you would not wish to be ridiculous."
"I do not think I have ever seen ridiculous religious people," said Daisy, steadily; "and they couldn't be ridiculous because they were religious."
"Couldn't they?" said Preston. "Look out well, Daisy I shall watch you. But they won't like it much down at Melbourne House, Daisy. If I were you, I would stop before you begin."
Daisy was silent. One thing was clear, she and Preston were at issue; and the value she set upon his favour was very high. She would not risk it by contending. Another thing was as clear, that Preston's last words were truth. Among her opposers, Daisy must reckon her father and mother, if she laid herself open at all to the charge of being "religious." And what opposition that would be, Daisy did not let herself think. She shrunk from it. The lunch was finished, and she set her attention to pack the remainder of the things back into the basket. Suddenly she stopped.
"Preston, I wish you to consider my words confidential."
"Perfectly!" said Preston.
"You are honourable," said Daisy.
"Oh, Daisy, Daisy! you ought to have lived hundreds of years ago! You have me under command. Come," said he, kissing her grave little face, "are all these things to go in here? Let me help and then we will go up stream."
He helped her with a delicate kind of observance which was not like most boys of sixteen, and which Daisy fully relished. It met her notions. Then she went to get her fishing-rod which lay fallen into the water.
"Oh, Preston!" she exclaimed, "there is something on it! it's heavy! it's a fish!"
"It is a fish!" repeated Preston, as a jerk of Daisy's line threw it out high and dry on the shore "and what's more, it's a splendid one. Daisy, you've done it now!"
"And papa will have it for breakfast! Preston, put it in a pail of water till we come back. There's that tin pail we don't want it for anything won't you. Oh, I have caught one!"
It was done; and Daisy and Preston set off on a charming walk up the brook; but though they tried the virtue of their bait in various places, however it was, that trout was the only one caught. Daisy thought it was a fine day's fishing.
They found Sam, sound and dry, mounting guard over the tin pail when they came back to it. And I think Daisy held to her own understanding of the text that had been in debate; for there was a fine portion of lemon pie, jelly, and sandwiches, laid by for him in the basket, and by Sam devoured with great appreciation.
A FIELD OF BATTLE.
June came the next morning to dress her young mistress as usual. Daisy was not soon done with that business on this particular day; she would break off, half dressed, and go to lean out of her window. There was a honey-suckle below the window; its dewy sweet smell came up to her, and the breath of the morning was sweet beside in all the trees and leaves around; the sun shone on the short turf by glimpses, where the trees would let it. Daisy leaned out of her window. June stood as often before, with comb and brush in hand.
"Miss Daisy it's late."
"June," said Daisy, "it's Sunday."
"It'll be hot too," Daisy went on. "June, are you glad when Sunday comes?"
"Yes ma'am," said June, shifting her position a little.
"I am," said Daisy. "Jesus is King to-day. To be sure, He is King always; but to-day everything is His."
"Miss Daisy, you won't be dressed."
Daisy drew her head in from the window, and sat down to submit it to June's brush; but she went on talking.
"What part of the Bible do you like best to read, June."
"Miss Daisy, will you wear your white muslin to-day or the one with blue spots?"
"White. But tell me, June which part of the Bible do you like best?"
"I like where it tells about all they had to go through," June answered, rather unwillingly.
"The people, Miss Daisy Christians, I s'pose."
"What did they have to go through?"
"Things, ma'am," said June, very confusedly. "Miss Daisy, please don't turn your head round."
"But what things? and what for? Where is it, June?"
"I can't tell I can find it for you, Miss Daisy. But you won't be ready."
June, however, had to risk that and find the chapter; and then Daisy read perseveringly all through the rest of her dressing, till it was finished. All the while June was fastening her frock, and tying her sash, and lacing her boots, Daisy stood or sat with the Bible in her hands and her eyes on the eleventh of Hebrews.
"June, I wonder when all this happened?"
"A great while ago, it's likely, Miss Daisy but it's good to read now" June added, but half distinctly, as it was her manner often to speak. Daisy was accustomed to her, and heard it. She did not answer except by breaking out into the chorus she had learnt from June:
"Die in the field of battle, Die in the field of battle, Die in the field of battle, Glory in your view!"
"Miss Daisy I wouldn't sing that in the house," June ventured. For the child's voice, clear and full, raised the sweet notes to a pitch that might have been heard at least through several of the large rooms. Daisy hushed her song.
The trout was to be for breakfast, and Daisy, when she was quite ready, went gaily down to see if it would be approved. Her father was engaged to eat it all, and he held to his promise; only allowing Daisy herself to share with him; and on the whole Daisy and he had a very gay breakfast.
"It is too hot to do anything," said Mrs. Randolph, as the trout was very nearly reduced to a skeleton. "I shall not go to church this morning."
A shade passed over Daisy's face, but she did not look towards her mother.
"If you do not, I can't see why I should," said Mr. Randolph. "The burden of setting a good example lies upon you."
"Why?" said his wife, quickly.
"Nobody will know whether I am there or not."
"Nobody will know that I am there at any rate," the lady rejoined. "The heat will be insufferable." Mrs. Gary declared herself of the same opinion.
An hour after, Daisy came into her mother's room.
"Mamma, may I go to church with Joanna?"
"It's too hot, Daisy."
"No, mamma I don't mind it. I would like to go."
"Children don't mind anything! Please yourself. But how are you going?"
"On foot, mamma; under the shade of the trees. It is nice and shady, all the way."
"It is enough to kill you! But go."
So Daisy's great flat set off alongside of Miss Underwood's Sunday gown to walk to church. They set out all right, on the way to the church by the evergreens. Preston Gary was a good deal surprised to find them some time later in another part of the grounds, and going in a different direction.
"Where are you bound, Daisy." he asked.
"To church, Preston."
"Church is the other way."
"Yes, but Mr. Pyne is sick, and the church is closed, and we are going over to that little church on the other side of the road."
"Why, that is a dissenting chapel, isn't it?"
"There's no more dissent amongst 'em than there is among other folks!" broke in Miss Underwood, with a good deal of expression. "I wish all other folks and churches was as peaceable and kept as close to their business! Anyhow, it's a church, and the other one won't let us in."
Preston smiled and stepped back, and to Daisy's satisfaction they met with no further stay. They got to the little church, and took their places in the very front; that place was empty, and Joanna said it was the only one that she could see. The house was full. It was a plain little church, very neat, but very plain compared with what Daisy was accustomed to. So were the people. These were not rich people, not any of them, she thought. At least there were no costly bonnets, nor exquisite lace shawls, nor embroidered muslin dresses among them; and many persons that she saw looked absolutely poor. Daisy, however, did not see this at first; for the service began almost as soon as they entered.
Daisy was very fond of the prayers always in church, but she seldom could make much of the sermon. It was not so to-day. In the first place, when the prayers and hymns were over, and what Daisy called "the good part" of the service was done, her astonishment and delight were about equal to see Mr. Dinwiddie come forward to speak. It is impossible to tell how glad Daisy was; even a sermon she thought she could relish from his lips; but when he began, she forgot all about it's being a sermon. Mr. Dinwiddie was talking to her and to the rest of the people; that was all she knew; he was not looking down at his book, he was looking at them; his eyes were going right through hers. And he did not speak as if he was preaching; his voice sounded exactly as it did every day out of church. It was delightful. Daisy forgot all about it's being a sermon, and only drank in the words with her ears and her heart, and never took her eyes from those bright ones that every now and then looked down at her. For Mr. Dinwiddie was telling of Him "who though He was rich yet for our sakes became poor." He told how rich He was, in the glories and happiness of heaven, where everything is perfect and all is His. And then he told how Jesus made Himself poor; how He left all that glory and everything that pleased Him; came where everything displeased Him; lived among sin and sinners; was poor, and despised, and rejected, and treated with every shame, and at last shamefully put to death and His dead body laid in the grave. All this because He loved us; all this because He wanted to make us rich, and without His death to buy our forgiveness there was no other way. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
Daisy forgot even Mr. Dinwiddie in thinking of that wonderful One. She thought she had never seen before how good He is, or how beautiful; she had never felt how loving and tender Jesus is in His mercy to those that seek Him, and whom He came to seek first; she never saw "the kindness and love of God our Saviour" before. As the story went on, again and again Daisy would see a cloud or mist of tears come over the brightness of those brilliant eyes; and saw the lips tremble; and Daisy's own eyes filled and ran over, and her cheeks were wet with tears, and she never knew it!
But when Mr. Dinwiddie stopped, she was so full of gladness in her little heart, gladness that this beautiful Saviour loved her and that she loved Him, that although if she could have been sorry, she would have been very sorry that the sermon was over, she was not; she could be nothing but glad.
She thought they were going home then, after the hymn was sung; but in her thoughts she had missed some words not spoken by Mr. Dinwiddie. And now she perceived that not only it was sacrament day, which she had seen before; but further, that the people who would not share in that service were going, and that Miss Underwood was staying, and by consequence she must stay too. Daisy was pleased. She had never in her life, as it happened, seen the observance of this ordinance; and she had, besides a child's curiosity, a deep, deep interest in all that Christians are accustomed to do. Was she not one?
Mr. Dinwiddie had spoken about the service and the purpose of it; he explained how the servants of Christ at His command take the bread and wine in remembrance of Him and what He has done for them; and as a sign to all the world that they believe in Him and love Him, and wait for Him to come again. Now some prayers were made, and there were spoken some grave words of counsel and warning, which sounded sweet and awful in Daisy's ears; and then the people came forward, a part of them, and knelt around a low railing which was before the pulpit. As they did this, some voices began to sing a hymn, in a wonderfully sweet and touching music. Daisy was exceedingly fond of every melody and harmony that was worthy the name; and this plaintive, slow, simple seemed to go not only through her ears, but down to the very bottom of her heart. They sang but a verse and a chorus; and then, after an interval, when those around the railings rose and gave place to others, they sang a verse and a chorus again; and this is the chorus that they sang. It dwelt in Daisy's heart for many a day; but I can never tell you the sweetness of it.
"Oh, the Lamb! the loving Lamb! The Lamb on Calvary; The Lamb that was slain, but lives again, To intercede for me."
It seemed to Daisy a sort of paradise while they were singing. Again and again, after a pause the notes measuredly rose and fell; and little Daisy who could take no other open part in what was going on, responded to them with her tears. Nobody was looking, she thought; nobody would see.
At last it was all done; the last verses were sung; the last prayers spoken; the little crowd turned to go. Daisy, standing behind Joanna in the front place, was obliged to wait till the aisle was clear. She had turned too when everybody else did, and so was standing with her back to the pulpit, when a hand was laid on her shoulder. The next minute Daisy's little fingers were in Mr. Dinwiddie's clasp, and her face was looking joyfully into his.
"Daisy I am glad to see you."
Another look, and a slight clasp of her little fingers, answered him.
"I wish you had been with us just now."
"I am too little " was Daisy's humble and regretful reply.
"Nobody is too little, who is old enough to know what Jesus has done and to love Him for it, and to be His servant. Do you love Him, Daisy?"
"Yes, Mr. Dinwiddie."
A very soft, but a very clear answer; and so was the answer of the eyes raised to his. To Daisy's great joy, he did not let go her hand when they got out of the church. Instead of that, keeping it fast, he allowed Miss Underwood to go on a little before them, and then he lingered with Daisy along the shady, overarched walks of Melbourne grounds, into which they presently turned. Mr. Dinwiddie lingered purposely, and let Joanna get out of hearing. Then he spoke again.
"If you love Jesus, you want to obey Him, Daisy."
"Yes, Mr. Dinwiddie!"
He felt the breathless manner of her answer.
"What will you do, little one, when you find that to obey Him, you may have a great deal of hard fighting to go through?"
"I'll die on the field of battle, Mr. Dinwiddie."
He looked at her a little curiously. It was no child's boast. Her face was quiet, her eye steady; so had her tone been. It was most unlike Daisy to make protestations of feeling; just now she was speaking to the one person in the world who could help her, whom in this matter she trusted; speaking to him, maybe, for the last time, she knew; and moreover Daisy's heart was full. She spoke as she might live years and not do again, when she said,
"I'll die on the field of battle."
"That is as the Lord pleases," returned Mr. Dinwiddie; "but how will you fight, Daisy? you are a weak little child. The fight must be won, in the first place."
"Please tell me, Mr. Dinwiddie."
He sat down on a bank, and drew Daisy down beside him.
"In the first place, you must remember that you are the Lord's, and that everything you have belongs to Him; so that His will is the only thing to be considered in every case. Is it so, Daisy."
"Yes, Mr. Dinwiddie! But tell me what you mean by 'everything I have.' That is what I wanted to know."
"I will tell you presently. In the next place whenever you know the Lord's will, don't be afraid, but trust Him to help you to do it. He always will, He always can. Only trust Him, and don't be afraid."
"Yes, Mr. Dinwiddie!" Daisy said; but with a gleam on her face which even then reflected the light of those words.
"That's all, Daisy."
"Then, Mr. Dinwiddie, please tell me what you mean by 'everything.' "
"If you love the Lord, Daisy, you will find out."
"But I am afraid I don't know, Mr. Dinwiddie, what all my talents are."
"He is a wise man that does. But if you love the Lord Jesus with all your heart, you will find that in everything you do you can somehow please Him, and that He is first to be pleased."
They looked into each other again, those two faces, with perfect understanding; grateful content in the child's eyes, watchful tenderness in those of Mr. Dinwiddie, through all their keenness and brightness. Then he rose up and offered his hand to Daisy; just said 'good bye,' and was gone. He turned off another way, Daisy followed Miss Underwood's steps. But Joanna had got to the house long before she reached it; and Daisy thought herself very happy that nobody saw her come home alone. She got to her own room in safety.
Daisy's heart was full of content. That day was the King's, to be sure; the very air seemed to speak of the love of Jesus, and the birds and the sunshine and the honeysuckle repeated the song of "The Lamb on Calvary." There was no going to church a second time; after luncheon, which was Daisy's dinner, she had the time all to herself. She sat by her own window, or sometimes she lay down for Daisy was not very strong yet but sitting or lying, and whatever she was doing, the thought that that King was hers, and that Jesus loved her, made her happy; and the hours of the day rolled away as bright as its own sunshine.
"Well, mouse," said her mother, when Daisy came down to tea, where have you been? What a mouse you are!"
"Intelligent for a lower order of quadrupeds," said Mr. McFarlane.
"The day has been insufferable!" said Mrs. Randolph. "Have you been asleep, Daisy?"
"You were lying down?"
Daisy had drawn up close to her mother who had thrown an arm round her. The family were gathered in the library; the windows open, the fresh air coming faintly in; the light fading but no lamps needed yet.
"I am glad the day is over!" said Mrs. Gary. "This morning I did not know how I was going to live through it. There is a little freshness now. Why is it always so much hotter on Sundays than on any other day?"
"Because you think about it," said Mr. Randolph, who was moving from window to window, setting the glass doors wider open.
"There is nothing else to think about," said Mrs. Randolph with a yawn. "Gary, do bring me a cup of tea."
"You ought to think about your evil deeds," said Mr. McFarlane, obeying the command. "Then you would have enough."
"You would, you mean."
"I know it. I speak from experience. I tried it once, for a whole afternoon; and you've no idea how good tea-time was when it came!"
"What could set you about such a piece of work, Gary?" said his hostess, laughing.
"Conscience, my dear," said her sister. "I am not at all surprised. I wonder if anybody has been to church to-day?"
"I am sorry for the clergyman, if anybody has," remarked Gary.
Mrs. Randolph's arm had slipped from Daisy, and Daisy slipped away from her mother's sofa to the table; where she clipped sponge biscuits in milk, and wondered at other people's Sundays. A weight seemed settling down on her heart. She could not bear to hear the talk; she ate her supper, and then sat down on the threshold of one of the glass doors that looked towards the west, and watched the beautiful colours on the clouds over the mountains; and softly sung to herself the tune she had heard in the morning. So the colours faded away, and the light, and the dusk grew on, and still Daisy sat in the window-door, humming to herself. She did not know that Gary McFarlane had stolen up close behind her and gone away again.
He went away just as company came in; some gay neighbours who found the evening tempting, and came for a little diversion. Lamps were lit, and talking and laughing went round, till Mrs. Randolph asked where Daisy was.
"In the window, singing to the stars," Gary McFarlane whispered. "Do you know, Mrs. Randolph, how she can sing?"
"No, how? She has a child's voice."
"But not a child's taste or ear," said Gary. "I heard her the other day warbling the gypsy song in 'The Camp in Silesia,' and she did it to captivation. Do, Mrs. Randolph, ask her to sing it. I was astonished."
"Do!" said Captain Drummond; and the request spread and became general.
"Daisy " said Mrs. Randolph. Daisy did not hear; but the call being repeated, she came from her window, and after speaking to the strangers, whom she knew, she turned to her mother. The room was all light and bright and full of gay talkers.
"Daisy," said her mother, "I want you to sing that gypsy song from the 'Camp in Silesia.' Gary says you know it so he is responsible. Can you sing it?"
"Then sing it. Never mind whether you succeed or not; that is of no consequence."
"Mamma," began Daisy.
Daisy was in great confusion. What to say to her mother she did not know.
"No matter how you get along with it," repeated Mrs. Randolph. "That is nothing."
"It isn't that, mamma, but "
"Then sing. No more words, Daisy; sing."
"Mamma, please don't ask me!"
"I have asked you. Come Daisy don't be silly."
"Mamma," whispered Daisy, trembling, "I will sing it any other night but to night!"
"To-night? what's to-night?"
"To-night is Sunday."
"And is that the reason?"
Daisy stood silent, very much agitated.
"I'll have no nonsense of the kind, Daisy. Sing immediately!" But Daisy stood still.
"Do you refuse me?"
"Mamma " said Daisy, pleadingly.
"Go and fetch me a card from the table."
Daisy obeyed. Mrs. Randolph rapidly wrote a word or two on it with a pencil.
"But where is the gypsy?" cried Gary McFarlane.
"She has not found her voice yet. Take that to your father, Daisy."
Daisy's knees literally shook under her as she moved across the room to obey this order. Mr. Randolph was sitting at some distance talking with one of the gentlemen. He broke off when Daisy came up with the card.
"What is it your mother wishes you to sing?" he inquired, looking from the writing to the little bearer. Daisy answered very low.
"A gypsy-song from an opera."
"Can you sing it?"
"Then do so at once, Daisy."
The tone was quiet but imperative. Daisy stood with eyes cast down, the blood all leaving her face to reinforce some attacked region. She grew white from second to second.
"It is the charge of the Light Brigade," said Captain Drummond to himself. He had heard and watched the whole proceeding, and had the key to it. He thought good-naturedly to suggest to Daisy an escape from her difficulty, by substituting for the opera song something else that she could sing. Rising and walking slowly up and down the room, he hummed near enough for her to hear and catch it, the air of "Die in the field of battle." Daisy heard and caught it, but not his suggestion. It was the thought of the words that went to her heart, not the thought of the tune. She stood as before, only clasped her little hands close upon her breast. Captain Drummond watched her. So did her father, who could make nothing of her.
"Do you understand me, Daisy?"
"Obey me first, and then talk about it."
Daisy was in no condition to talk; she could hardly breathe that one word. She knew the tone of great displeasure in her father's voice. He saw her condition.
"You are not able to sing at this minute," said he. "Go to your room I will give you ten minutes to recover yourself. Then, Daisy, come here and sing if you like to be at peace with me."
But Daisy did not move; she stood there, with her two hands clasped on her breast.
"Do you mean that you will not?" said Mr. Randolph.
"If it wasn't Sunday, papa " came from Daisy's parted lips.
"Sunday?" said Mr. Randolph "is that it? Now we know where we are. Daisy do you hear me? turn about and sing your song. Do not give me another refusal!"
But Daisy stood, growing paler and paler, till the whiteness reached her lips, and her father saw that in another minute she would fall. He snatched her from the floor, and placed her upon his knee with his arm round her; but though conscious that she was held against his breast, Daisy was conscious too that there was no relenting in it; she knew her father; and her deadly paleness continued. Mr. Randolph saw that there would be no singing that night, and that the conflict between Daisy and him must be put off to another day. Making excuse to those near, that she was not well, he took his little daughter in his arms, and carried her up stairs to her own room. There he laid her on the bed and rang for June, and staid by her till he saw her colour returning. Then without a word he left her.
Meanwhile Captain Drummond, downstairs, had taken a quiet seat in a corner; his talking mood having deserted him.
"Did I ever walk up to the cannon's mouth like that?" he said to himself.
THE WOUNDED HAND.
Daisy kept herself quite still while her father and June were present. When Mr. Randolph had gone downstairs, and June, seeing her charge better, ventured to leave her to get some brandy and water, then Daisy seized that minute of being alone to allow herself a few secret tears. Once opened, the fountain of tears gushed out a river; and when June came back Daisy was in an agony which prevented her knowing that anybody was with her. In amaze, June set down the brandy and water, and looked on. She had never in her life seen Daisy so. It distressed her; but though June might be called dull, her poor wits were quick to read some signs; and troubled as she was, she called neither Daisy's father nor her mother. The child's state would have warranted such an appeal. She never heard June's tremulous "Don't, Miss Daisy!" She was shaken with the sense of the terrible contest she had brought on herself; and grieved to the very depths of her tender little heart that she must bear the displeasure of her father and her mother. She struggled with tears and agitation until she was exhausted, and then lay quiet, panting and pale, because she had no strength to weep longer.
"Miss Daisy," said June, "drink this."
"What is it?"
"It is brandy and water. It is good for you."
"I am not faint. I don't like it."
"Miss Daisy, please! You want something. It will make you feel better and put you to sleep."
Disregarding the tumbler which June offered, Daisy slowly crawled off the bed, and went and kneeled down before her open window, crossing her arms on the sill. June followed her, with a sort of submissive pertinacity.
"Miss Daisy, you want to take some of this, and lie down and go to sleep."
"I don't want to go to sleep."
"Miss Daisy, you're weak won't you take a little of this, to strengthen you a bit?"
"I don't want it, June."
"You'll be sick to-morrow."
"June," said Daisy, "I wish a chariot of fire would come for me!"
"Why, Miss Daisy?"
"To take me right up. But I shall not be sick. You needn't be afraid. You needn't stay."
June was too much awed to speak, and dared not disobey. She withdrew; and in her own premises stood as Daisy was doing, looking at the moonlight; much wondering that storms should pass over her little white mistress such as had often shaken her own black breast. It was mysterious.
Daisy did not wish to go to sleep; and it was for fear she should, that she had crawled off the bed, trembling in every limb. For the same reason she would not touch the brandy and water. Once asleep, the next thing would be morning and waking up; she was not ready for that. So she knelt by the window, and felt the calm glitter of the moonlight, and tried to pray. It was long, long since Daisy had withstood her father or mother in anything. She remembered the last time; she knew now they would have her submit to them, and now she thought she must not. Daisy dared not face the coming day. She would have liked to sit up all night; but her power of keeping even upon her knees was giving way when June stole in behind her, too uneasy to wait for Daisy's ring.
"Miss Daisy, you'll be surely sick to-morrow, and Mis' Randolph will think I ought to be killed."
"June, didn't the minister say this morning "
"Oh, it wasn't you, it was Joanna. Where is Joanna? I want to see her."
"Most likely she's going to bed, Miss Daisy."
"No matter I want to see her. Go and tell her, June no matter if she is in her night-gown, tell her I want to speak to her one minute."
June went, and Daisy once more burst into tears. But she brushed them aside when Joanna came back with June a few minutes after.
"Joanna didn't the minister say this morning, that when we are doing what Jesus tells us, He will help us through?"
"It's true," said Joanna, looking startled and troubled at the pale little tear-stained face lifted to her; "but I don't just know as that minister said it this morning."
"Why, it's true, Miss Daisy; for I've heard other ministers say it; but that one this morning was preaching about something else don't you know?"
"Was he? Didn't he say that?"
"Why, no, Miss Daisy; he was preaching about how rich "
"Oh, I know!" said Daisy "I remember; yes, it wasn't then it was afterwards. Yes, he said it I knew it but it wasn't in his sermon. Thank you, Joanna that's all; I don't want you any more."
"What ails her?" whispered Joanna, when June followed her out with a light.
But June knew her business better than to tell her little mistress's secrets; and her face showed no more of them than it showed of her own. When she returned, Daisy was on her knees, with her face hidden in her hands, at the foot of the bed.
June stopped; and the little white figure there looked so slight, the attitude of the bended head was so childlike and pitiful, that the mulatto woman's face twinkled and twitched in a way most unwonted to its usual stony lines. She never stirred till Daisy rose up and submissively allowed herself to be put to bed; and then waited on her with most reverent gentleness.
So she did next morning. But Daisy was very pale, and trembled frequently, June noticed; and, when she was dressed, sat down patiently by the window. She was not going down to breakfast, she told June; and June went away to her own breakfast, very ill satisfied.
Breakfast was brought up to Daisy, as she expected; and then she waited for her summons. She could not eat much. The tears were very ready to start, but Daisy kept them back. It did not suit her to go weeping into her father and mother's presence, and she had self-command enough to prevent it. She could not read; yet she turned over the pages of her Bible to find some comfort. She did not know or could not remember just where to look for it; and at last turned to the eleventh of Hebrews, and with her eye running over the record there of what had been done and borne for Christ's sake, felt her own little heart beating hard in its own trial.
June came at length to call her to her mother's room.
Mrs. Randolph was half lying on a couch, a favourite position; and her eye was full on Daisy as she came in. Daisy stopped at a little distance; and June took care to leave the door ajar.
"Daisy," said Mrs. Randolph, "I want in the first place an explanation of last night's behaviour."
"Mamma, I am very sorry to have offended you!" said Daisy, pressing both hands together upon her breast to keep herself quiet.
"Looks like it," said Mrs. Randolph; and yet she did see and feel the effect of the night's work upon the child. "Go on; tell me why you disobeyed me last night."
"It was Sunday " said Daisy, softly.
"Sunday! well, what of that? what of Sunday?"
"That song wasn't a Sunday song."
"What do you mean by a Sunday song?"
"I mean" Daisy was on dangerous ground, and she knew it, "I mean, one of those songs that God likes to hear people sing on His day."
"Who is to be judge?" said Mrs. Randolph, "you or I?"
"Mamma," said Daisy, "I will do everything else in the world you tell me!"
"You will have to do everything else and this too. Isn't there a commandment about children obeying their mothers."
"That is the very first commandment I mean you shall obey," said Mrs. Randolph, rousing herself enough to bring one foot to the floor. "You have no business to think whether a thing is right or wrong, that I order you to do; if I order it, that makes it right; and anybody but a fool would tell you so. You will sing that song from the 'Camp in Silesia' for me next Sunday evening, or I will whip you, Daisy you may depend upon it. I have done it before, and I will again; and you know I do not make believe. Now go to your father."
"Where is he, mamma?" said Daisy, with a perceptible added paleness in her cheek.
"I don't know. In the library, I suppose."
To the library Daisy went, with trembling steps, in great uncertainty what she was to expect from her father. It was likely enough that he would say the same as her mother, and insist on the act of submission to be gone through next Sunday; but Daisy had an inward consciousness that her father was likely to come to a point with her sooner than that. It came even sooner than she expected.
Mr. Randolph was pacing up and down the library when Daisy slowly opened the door. No one else was there. He stopped when she came in, and stood looking at her as she advanced towards him.
"Daisy, you disobeyed me last night."
"Yes, papa, but "
"I have but one answer for that sort of thing," said Mr. Randolph, taking a narrow ruler from the library table.
"Give me your hand!"
Daisy gave it, with a very vague apprehension of what he was about to do. The sharp, stinging stroke of the ruler the next moment upon her open palm, made her understand very thoroughly. It drew from her one cry of mixed pain and terror; but after that first forced exclamation Daisy covered her face with her other hand, and did not speak again. Tears, that she could not help, came plentifully; for the punishment was sufficiently severe, and it broke her heart that her father should inflict it; but she stood perfectly still, only for the involuntary wincing that was beyond her control, till her hand was released and the ruler was thrown down. Heart and head bowed together then, and Daisy crouched down on the floor where she stood, unable either to stand or to move a step away.
"There! that account's settled!" said Mr. Randolph, as he flung down his ruler. And the next moment his hands came softly about Daisy, and lifted her from the floor and placed her on his knee; and his arms were wrapped tenderly round her. Daisy almost wished he had let her alone; it seemed to her that her sorrow was more than she could bear.
"Is your heart almost broken?" said Mr. Randolph, softly, as he felt rather than heard the heavy sobs so close to him. But to speak was an impossibility, and so he knew, and did not repeat his question; only he held Daisy fast, and it was in his arms that she wept out the first overcharged fulness of her heart.
It was a long time before she could quiet those heavy sobs; and Mr. Randolph sat quite still holding her.
"Is your heart quite broken?" he whispered again, when he judged that she could speak. Daisy did not speak, however. She turned, and rising upon her knees, threw her arms round her father's neck, and hid her soft little head there. If tears came Mr. Randolph could not tell; he thought his neck was wet with them. He let her alone for a little while.
"Can you talk to me?"
Daisy sank back into her former position. Her father put his lips down to hers for a long kiss.
"That account is settled," said he; "do you understand? Now Daisy, tell me what was the matter last night."
"Papa, it was Sunday night."
"And that song that mamma wanted me to sing" Daisy spoke very low, "was out of an opera; and it was good for any other day, but not for Sunday."
Daisy hesitated, and at last said, "It had nothing to do with Sunday, papa."
"But obedience is not out of place on Sunday, is it?"
"No, papa, except "
"Well, except what?"
"Papa, if God tells me to do one thing, and you tell me another, what shall I do?" Daisy had hid her face in her father's breast.
"What counter command have you to plead in this case?"
"Papa, may I show it to you?"
She got down off his lap, twinkling away a tear hastily, and went to the bookcase for the big Bible aforesaid. Mr. Randolph seeing what she was after, and that she could not lift it, went to her help, and brought it to the library table. Daisy turned over the leaves with fingers that trembled yet, hastily, flurriedly; and paused and pointed to the words that her father read, "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day."
Mr. Randolph read them, and the words following, and the words that went before; then he turned from them, and drew Daisy to her place in his arms again.
"Daisy, there is another commandment there, 'Honour thy father and thy mother.' Is there not ?"
"Is not one command as good as the other?"
"Papa, I think not," said Daisy. "One command tells me to obey you, the other tells me to obey God."
Childish as the answer was, there was truth in it; and Mr. Randolph shifted his ground.
"Your mother will not be satisfied without your obeying the lesser command nor shall I!"
"She will expect you to do next Sunday evening what you refused to do last evening."
Still silence, but a shiver ran over Daisy's frame.
"Do you know it?" said Mr. Randolph, noticing also that Daisy's cheek had grown a shade paler than it was.
"Papa I wish I could die!" was the answer of the child's agony.
"Do you mean that you will not obey her, Daisy?"
"How can I, papa? how can I!" exclaimed Daisy.
"Do you think that song is so very bad, Daisy?"
"No, papa, it is very good for other days; but it is not holy." Her accent struck strangely upon Mr. Randolph's ear; and sudden contrasts rushed together oddly in his mind.
"Daisy, do you know that you are making yourself a judge of right and wrong? over your mother and over me?"
Daisy hid her face again in his breast; what could she answer? Mr. Randolph unfolded the little palm, swollen and blistered from the marks of his ruler.
"Why did you offend me, Daisy?" he said, gravely.
"Oh, papa!" said Daisy, beside herself, "I didn't I couldn't I wouldn't, for anything in the world! but I couldn't offend the Lord Jesus!"
She was weeping again bitterly.
"That will not do," said Mr. Randolph. "You must find a way to reconcile both duties. I shall not take an alternative." But after that he said no more, and only applied himself to soothing Daisy; till she sat drooping in his arms, but still and calm. She started when the sound of steps and voices came upon the verandah.
"Papa, may I go?"
He let her go, and watched her measured steps through the long room to the door, and heard the bound they made as soon as she was outside of it. He rang the bell and ordered June to be called. She came.
"June," said Mr. Randolph, "I think Daisy wants to be taken care of to-day I wish you would not lose sight of her."
June courtesied her obedience.
A few minutes afterwards her noiseless steps entered Daisy's room. June's footfall was never heard about the house. As noiseless as a shadow she came into a room; as stealthily as a dark shadow she went out. Her movements were always slow; and whether from policy or caution originally, her tread would not waken a sleeping mouse. So she came into her little mistress's chamber now. Daisy was there, at her bureau, before an open drawer; as June advanced, she saw that a great stock of little pairs of gloves was displayed there, of all sorts, new and old; and Daisy was trying to find among them one that would do for her purpose. One after another was tried on the fingers of her right hand, and thrown aside; and tears were running over the child's cheeks and dropping into the drawer all the time. June came near, with a sort of anxious look on her yellow face. It was strangely full of wrinkles and lines, that generally never stirred to express or reveal anything. Suddenly she exclaimed, but June's very exclamations were in a smothered tone
"Oh, Miss Daisy! what have you done to your hand?"
"I haven't done anything to it," said Daisy, trying furtively to get rid of her tears, "but I want a glove to put on, June, and they are all too small. Is Cecilia at work here to- day?"
"Yes, Miss Daisy; but let me look at your hand! let me put some liniment on."
"No, I don't want it," said Daisy; and June saw the suppressed sob that was not allowed to come out into open hearing; "but June, just rip that glove, will you, here in the side seam; and then ask Cecilia to make a strip of lace-work there so that I can get it on." Daisy drew a fur glove over the wounded hand as she spoke it was the only one large enough and put on her flat hat.
"Miss Daisy, Mr. Randolph said I was to go with you anywhere you went to take care of you."
"Then come down to the beach, June; I'll be there."
Daisy stole down stairs and slipped out of the first door she came to. What she wanted was to get away from seeing anybody; she did not wish to see her mother, or Preston, or Captain Drummond, or Ransom; and she meant even if possible to wander off and not be at home for dinner. She could not bear the thought of the dinner-table, with all the faces round it. She stole out under the shrubbery, which soon hid her from view of the house.
It was a very warm day, the sun beating hot wherever it could touch at all. Daisy went languidly along under cover of the trees, wishing to go faster, but not able, till she reached the bank. There she waited for June to join her, and together they went down to the river shore. Safe there from pursuit, on such a day, Daisy curled herself down in the shade with her back against a stone, and then began to think. She felt very miserable; not merely for what had passed, but for a long stretch of trouble that she saw lying before her. Indeed where or how it was to end, Daisy had no idea. Her father indeed, she felt pretty sure would not willingly allow his orders to come in conflict with what she thought her duty; though if he happened to do it unconsciously, Daisy would not follow that train of thought. But here she was now, at this moment, engaged in a trial of strength with her mother; very unequal, for Daisy felt no power at all for the struggle, and yet she could not yield!
Where was it to end? and how many other like occasions of difference might arise, even after this one should somehow have been settled? Had the joy of being a servant of Jesus so soon brought trouble with it? Daisy had put the trunk of a large tree between her and June; but the mulatto woman, where she sat, heard the stifled sobs of the child. June's items of intelligence, picked up by eye and ear, had given her by this time an almost reverent feeling towards Daisy; she regarded her as hardly earthly; nevertheless, this sort of distress must not be suffered to go on, and she was appointed to prevent it.
"Miss Daisy it is luncheon time," she said, without moving. Daisy gave no response. June waited, and then came before her and repeated her words.
"I am not going in."
"But you want your dinner, Miss Daisy."
"No, I don't, June. I don't want to go in."
June looked at her a minute. "I'll get you your luncheon out here, Miss Daisy. You'll be faint for want of something to eat. Will you have it out here?"
"You needn't say where I am, June."
June went off, and Daisy was left alone. Very weary and exhausted, she sat leaning her head against the stone at her side, in a sort of despairing quiet. The little ripple of the water on the pebbly shore struck her ear; it was the first thing eye or ear had perceived to be pleasant that day. Daisy's thoughts went to the hand that had made the glittering river, with all its beauties and wonders; then they went to what Mr. Dinwiddie had said, that God will help His people when they are trying to do any difficult work for Him; He will take care of them; He will not forsake them. Suddenly it filled Daisy's soul like a flood, the thought that Jesus loves His people; that she was His little child and that He loved her; and all His wisdom and power and tenderness were round her and would keep her. Her trouble seemed to be gone, or it was like a cloud with sunlight shining all over it. The very air was full of music, to Daisy's feeling, not her sense. There never was such sunlight, or such music either, as this feeling of the love of Jesus. Daisy kneeled down by the rock, and rested her forehead against it, to pray for joy.
She was there still, when June came back, and stopped and looked at her, a vague expression of care sitting in her black eyes, into which now an unwonted moisture stole. June had a basket, and as soon as Daisy sat down again, she came up and began to take things out of it. She had brought everything for Daisy's dinner. There was a nice piece of beefsteak, just off the gridiron; and rice and potatoes; and a fine bowl of strawberries for dessert. June had left nothing; there was the roll and the salt, and a tumbler and a carafe of water. She set the other things about Daisy, on the ground and on the rock, and gave the plate of beefsteak into her hand.
"Miss Daisy, what will you do for a table?"
"It's nicer here than a table. How good you are, June. I didn't know I wanted it."
"I know you do, Miss Daisy."
And she went to her sewing, and sewed perseveringly, while Daisy eat her dinner.
"June, what o'clock is it."
"It's after one, ma'am."
"You haven't had your own dinner?"
June mumbled something, of which nothing could be understood except that it was a general abnegation of all desire or necessity for dinner on her own part.
"But you have not had it?" said Daisy.
"No, ma'am. They've done dinner by this time."
"June, I have eaten up all the beefsteak there is nothing left but some potato, and rice, and strawberries; but you shall have some strawberries."
June in vain protested. Daisy divided the strawberries into two parts, sugared them both, broke the remaining roll in two, and obliged June to take her share. When this was over, Daisy seated herself near June, and laid her head against her knee. She could hardly hold it up.
"June," she said presently, "I think those people in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews you know."
"Yes, Miss Daisy."
"I think they were very happy, because they knew that Jesus loved them."
June made no audible answer; she mumbled something; and Daisy sat still. Presently her soft breathing made June look over at her; Daisy was asleep. In her hand, in her lap, lay a book. June looked yet further, to see what book it was. It was Mr. Dinwiddie's Bible.
June sat up and went on with her work, but her face twitched.
THE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Daisy was at the dinner-table. After having a good sleep on June's knee, she had come home, and dressed as usual, and she was in her place when the dessert was brought on. Mr. Randolph, from his distant end of the table, watched her a little; he saw that she behaved just as usual; she did not shun anybody, though her mother shunned her. A glove covered her right hand, yet Daisy persisted in using that hand rather than attract notice, though from the slowness of her movements it was plain it cost her some trouble. Gary McFarlane asked why she had a glove on, and Mr. Randolph heard Daisy's perfectly quiet and true answer, that "her hand was wounded, and had to wear a glove," given without any confusion or evasion. He called his little daughter to him, and giving her a chair by his side, spent the rest of his time in cracking nuts and preparing a banana for her; doing it carelessly, not as if she needed but as if it pleased him to give her his attention.
After dinner, Daisy sought Preston, who was out on the lawn, as he said, to cool himself; in the brightness of the setting sun to be sure, but also in a sweet light air which was stirring.
"Phew! it's hot. And you, Daisy, don't look as if the sun and you had been on the same side of the earth to-day. What do you want now?"
"I want a good talk with you, Preston."
"I was going to say 'fire up,' " said Preston, "but, no, don't do anything of that sort! If there is any sort of talking that has a chilly effect, I wish you'd use it."
"I have read of such talk, but I don't think I know how to do it," said Daisy. "I read the other day of somebody's being 'frozen with a look.'
Preston went off into a fit of laughter, and rolled himself over on the grass, declaring that it was a splendid idea; then he sat up and asked Daisy again what she wanted? Daisy cast a glance of her eye to see that nobody was too near.
"Preston, you know you were going to teach me."
"Oh ay! about the Spartans."
"I want to learn everything," said Daisy. "I don't know much."
Preston looked at the pale, delicate child, whose doubtful health he knew had kept her parents from letting her "know much"; and it was no wonder that when he spoke again, he used a look and manner that were caressing, and even tender.
"What do you want to know, Daisy?"
"I want to know everything," whispered Daisy; "but I don't know what to begin at."
"No!" said Preston, " 'everything' seems as big as the world, and as hard to get hold of."
"I want to know geography," said Daisy.
"Yes. Well you shall. And you shall not study for it neither; which you can't."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't. You are no more fit for it, little Daisy but look here! I wish you would be a red daisy."
"Then what else, Preston?"
"Nothing else. Geography is enough at once."
"Oh, no, it isn't. Preston, I can't do the least little bit of a sum in the world."
"Can't you? Well I don't see that that is of any very great consequence. What sums do you want to do?"
"But I want to know how."
"Why, Preston, you know I ought to know how. It might be very useful, and I ought to know."
"I hope it will never be of any use to you," said Preston; "but you can learn the multiplication table if you like."
"Then will you show it to me?"
"Yes; but what has put you in such a fever of study, little Daisy? It excites me, this hot weather."
"Then won't you come in and show me the multiplication table now, Preston?"
In came Preston, laughing, and found an arithmetic for Daisy; and Daisy, not laughing, but with a steady seriousness, sat down on the verandah in the last beams of the setting sun to learn that "twice two is four."
The same sort of sweet seriousness hung about all her movements this week. To those who knew what it meant, there was something extremely touching in the gentle gravity with which she did everything, and the grace of tenderness which she had for everybody. Daisy was going through great trouble. Not only the trouble of what was past, but the ordeal of what was to come. It hung over her like a black cloud, and her fears were like muttering thunder. But the sense of right, the love of the Master in whose service she was suffering, the trust in His guiding hand, made Daisy walk with that strange, quiet dignity between the one Sunday and the other. Mr. Randolph fancied sometimes when she was looking down, that he saw the signs of sadness about her mouth; but whenever she looked up again, he met such quiet, steady eyes, that he wondered. He was puzzled; but it was no puzzle that Daisy's cheeks grew every day paler, and her appetite less.
"I do not wish to flatter you" said Mrs. Gary, one evening "but that child has very elegant manners! Really, I think they are very nearly perfect. I don't believe there is an English court beauty who could show better."
"The English beauty would like to be a little more robust in her graces," remarked Gary McFarlane.
"That is all Daisy wants," her aunt went on; "but that will come, I trust, in time."
"Daisy would do well enough," said Mrs. Randolph, "if she could get some notions out of her head."
"What, you mean her religious notions? How came she by them, pray?"
"Why, there was a person here a connexion of Mrs. Sandford's that set up a Sunday school in the woods; and Daisy went to it for a month or two, before I thought anything about it, or about him. Then I found she was beginning to ask questions, and I took her away."
"Is asking questions generally considered a sign of danger?" said Gary McFarlane.
"What was that about her singing the other night?" said Mrs. Gary "that had something to do with the same thing, hadn't it?"
"Refused to sing an opera song because it was Sunday."
"Ridiculous!" said Mrs. Gary. "I'll try to make her see it so herself if I get a chance. She is a sensible child."
Mr. Randolph was walking up and down the room, and had not spoken a word. A little time after, he found himself nearly alone with Mrs. Randolph, the others having scattered away. He paused near his wife's sofa.
"Daisy is failing," he said. "She has lost more this week than she had gained in the two months before."
Mrs. Randolph made no answer, and did not even move her handsome head, or her delicate hands.
"Can't you get out of this business, Felicia?"
"In the way that I said I would. You expect your words to be obeyed, Mr. Randolph; and I expect it for mine."
Mr. Randolph resumed his walk.
"Daisy has got some things in her head that must get out of it. I would as lieve not have a child, as not to have her mind me."
Mr. Randolph passed out upon the verandah, and continuing his walk there, presently came opposite the windows of the library. There he saw Daisy seated at the table, reading. Her hand was over her brow, and Mr. Randolph did not feel satisfied with the sober lines of the little mouth upon which the lamplight shone. Once, too, Daisy's head went down upon her book, and lay there a little while. Mr. Randolph did not feel like talking to her just then, or he would have liked to go in and see what she was studying. But while he stood opposite the window, Captain Drummond came into the library.
"You here, Daisy! What are you busy about?" he said, kindly. "What are you studying now?"
"I am reading the History of England, Captain Drummond."
"How do you like it?"
"I have not got very far. I do not like it very much."
"Where are you?"
"I have just got to where it tells about Alfred."
"Why do you read it, Daisy? Is it a lesson?"
"No, Captain Drummond, but I think proper to read it."
"It is proper," said the Captain. "Come, Daisy, suppose we go down on the sand-beach to-morrow, and we will play out the Saxon Heptarchy there as we played out the Crimea. Shall we?"
Daisy's face changed. "Oh, thank you, Captain Drummond! that will be nice! Shall we?"
"If you will, I will," said the Captain.
Mr. Randolph moved away.
The next day, after luncheon, Daisy followed her father when he left the table. She followed till they were got quite away from other ears.
"Papa, I would like to go to Mrs. Harbonner's again. You said I must not go without leave."
"Who is Mrs. Harbonner?"
"Papa, it is the place where I took the ham, do you remember? Joanna has enquired about her, and found that she is respectable."
"What do you want to go there again for, Daisy?"
"Joanna has found some work for her, papa. She would not have the ham unless she could work to pay for it. I want to see her to tell her about it."
Mr. Randolph had it on his tongue to say that somebody else might do that; but looking down at Daisy, the sight of the pale face and hollow eyes stopped him. He sat down, and drew Daisy up to his side.
"I will let you go."
"Thank you, papa!"
"Do you know," said Mr. Randolph, "that your mother is going to ask you to sing that song again when Sunday evening comes?"
The smile vanished from Daisy's face; it grew suddenly dark; and a shuddering motion was both seen and felt by Mr. Randolph, whose arm was round her.
"Daisy," said he, not unkindly, "do you know that I think you a little fool?"
She lifted her eyes quickly, and in their meeting with her father's there was much much that Mr. Randolph felt without stopping to analyse, and that made his own face as suddenly sober as her own. There was no folly in that quick grave look of question or appeal; it seemed to carry the charge in another direction.
"You think it is not right to sing such a song on a Sunday?" he asked.
"But, suppose, by singing it, you could do a great deal of good, instead of harm."
"I will give you a hundred dollars for singing it, which you may spend as you please for all the poor people about Melbourne or Crum Elbow."
It was very singular to him to see the changes in Daisy's face. Light and shadow came and went with struggling quickness. He expected her to speak, but she waited for several minutes; then she said in a troubled voice, "Papa, I will think of it."
"Is that all, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph, disappointed.
"I am going to Mrs. Harbonner's, papa, and I will think, and tell you."
Mr. Randolph was inclined to frown and suspect obstinacy; but the meek little lips which offered themselves for a kiss disarmed him of any such thought. He clasped Daisy in his arms, and gave her kisses, many a one, close and tender. If he had known it, he could have done nothing better for the success of his plan; under the pressure of conscience Daisy could bear trouble in doing right, but the argument of affection went near to trouble her conscience. Daisy was obliged to compound for a good many tears, before she could get away and begin her drive. And when she did, her mind was in a flutter. A hundred dollars! how much good could be done with a hundred dollars. Why, would it not be right to do something, even sing such a song on Sunday, when it was sung for such a purpose and with such results? But Daisy could not feel quite sure about it; while at the same time the prospect of getting quit of her difficulties by this means escaping her mother's anger, and the punishment with which it was sure to be accompanied, and also pleasing her father shook Daisy's very soul. What should she do? She had not made up her mind when she got to the little brown house where Mrs. Harbonner lived.
She found mother and daughter both in the little bare room; the child sitting on the floor and cutting pieces of calico and cloth into strips, which her mother was sewing together with coarse thread. Both looked just as when Daisy had seen them before slim and poor and uncombed; but the room was clean.
"I thought you warn't coming again," said Mrs. Harbonner.
"I couldn't come till to-day," said Daisy, taking a chair. "I came as soon as I could." Partly from policy, partly because she felt very sober, she left it to Mrs. Harbonner to do most of the talking.
"I never see more'n a few folks that thought much of doing what they said they'd do without they found their own account in it. If I was living in a great house, now, I'd have folks enough come to see me."
Daisy did not know what answer to make to this, so she made none.
"I used to live in a better house once," went on Mrs. Harbonner; "I didn't always use to eat over a bare floor. I was well enough, if I could ha' let well alone; but I made a mistake, and paid for it; and what's more, I'm paying for it yet. 'Taint my fault, that Hephzibah sits there cuttin' rags, instead of going to school."
Again Daisy did not feel herself called upon to decide on the mistakes of Mrs. Harbonner's past life; and she sat patiently waiting for something else that she could understand.
"What are you come to see me for now?" said the lady. "I suppose you're going to tell me you haven't got no work for me to do, and I must owe you for that ham?"
"I have got something for you to do," said Daisy. "The boy has got it at the gate. The housekeeper found some clothes to make and you said that was your work."
"Tailoring," said Mrs. Harbonner. "I don't know nothing about women's fixtures, except what'll keep me and Hephzibah above the savages. I don't suppose I could dress a doll so's it would sell."
"This is tailoring work," said Daisy. "It is a boy's suit and there will be more to do if you like to have it."
"Where is it? at the gate, did you say? Hephzibah, go and fetch it in. Who's got it?"
"The boy who is taking care of the horses."
"I declare, have you got that little covered shay there again? it's complete! I never see a thing so pretty! And Hephzibah says you drive that little critter yourself. Ain't you afraid?"
"Not at all," said Daisy. "The pony won't do any harm."
"He looks skeery," said Mrs. Harbonner. "I wouldn't trust him. What a tremendous thick mane he's got! Well, I s'pect you have everything you want, don't you?"
"Of such things " said Daisy.
"That's what I meant. Gracious! I s'pose every one of us has wishes whether they are in the air or on the earth. Wishes is the butter to most folks' bread. Here, child."
She took the bundle from Hephzibah, unrolled it, and examined its contents with a satisfied face.
"What did you come along with this for?" she said, suddenly, to Daisy. "Why didn't you send it?"
"I wanted to come and see you," said Daisy, pleasantly.
"What ails you? You ain't so well as when you was here before," said Mrs. Harbonner, looking at her narrowly.
"I am well," said Daisy.
"You ain't fur from bein' something else then. I suppose you're dyin' with learning while my Hephzibah can't get schooling enough to read her own name. That's the way the world's made up!"
"Isn't there a school at Crum Elbow?" said Daisy.
"Isn't there! And isn't there a bench for the rags? No, my Hephzibah don't go to show none."
Mrs. Harbonner was so sharp and queer, though not unkindly towards herself, that Daisy was at a loss how to go on; and, moreover, a big thought began to turn about in her head.
"Poverty ain't no shame, but it's an inconvenience," said Mrs. Harbonner. "Hephzibah may stay to home and be stupid, when she's as much right to be smart as anybody. That's what I look at; it ain't having a little to eat now and then."
"Melbourne is too far off for her to get there, isn't it?" said Daisy.
"What should she go there for?"
"If she could get there," said Daisy, "and would like it, I would teach her."
"You would?" said Mrs. Harbonner. "What would you learn her?"
"I would teach her to read," said Daisy, colouring a little; "and anything else I could."
"La, she can read," said Mrs. Harbonner, "but she don't know nothing, for all that. Readin' don't tell a person much, without he has books. I wonder how long it would hold out, if you begun? 'Taint no use to begin a thing and then not go on."
"But could she get to Melbourne?" said Daisy.
"I don't know. Maybe she can. Who'd she see at your house?"
"Nobody, but the man at the lodge, or his mother."
"He's the man that lives in the lodge, to open the gate."
"Open the gate, hey? Who pays him for it?"
"Papa pays him, and he lives in the lodge."
"I shouldn't think it would take a man to open a gate. Why, Hephzibah could do it as well as anybody."
Daisy did not see the point of this remark, and went on. "Hephzibah wouldn't see anybody else, but me."
"Well, I believe you mean what you say," said Mrs. Harbonner, "and I hope you will when you're twenty years older but I don't believe it. I'll let Hephzibah come over to you on Sundays I know she's jumpin' out of her skin to go she shall go on Sundays, but I can't let her go other days, 'cause she's got work to do; and anyhow it would be too fur. What time would you like to see her?"
"As soon as it can be after afternoon church, if you please. I couldn't before."
"You're a kind little soul!" said the woman. "Do you like flowers?"
Daisy said yes. The woman went to a back door of the room, and, opening it, plucked a branch from a great rosebush that grew there.
"We hain't but one pretty thing about this house," said she, presenting it to Daisy, "but that's kind o' pretty."
It was a very rich and delicious white rose, and the branch was an elegant one, clustered with flowers and buds. Daisy gave her thanks and took leave.
"As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men." There was a little warm drop of comfort in Daisy's heart as she drove away. If she could not go to Sunday-school herself, she might teach somebody else, yet more needy; that would be the next best thing. Sunday afternoon it looked bright to Daisy; but then her heart sank; Sunday evening would be near. What should she do? She could not settle it in her mind what was right; between her mother's anger and her father's love, Daisy could not see what was just the plumb-line of duty. Singing would gain a hundred dollars' worth of good; and not singing would disobey her mother and displease her father; but then came the words of one that Daisy honoured more than father and mother "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day;" and she could not tell what to do.
Daisy had gone but a little way out of the village, when she suddenly pulled up. Sam was at the side of the chaise immediately.
"Sam, I want a glass of water; where can I get it?"
"Guess at Mrs. Benoit's, Miss Daisy. There's a fine spring of cold water."
"Who is Mrs. Benoit?"
"It's Juanita Miss Daisy has heard of Mrs. St. Leonard's Juanita. Mr. St. Leonard built a house for her, just the other side o' them trees."
Daisy knew who Juanita was. She had been brought from the West Indies by the mother of one of the gentlemen who lived in the neighbourhood; and upon the death of her mistress had been established in a little house of her own. Daisy judged that she would be quite safe in going there for water.
"If I turn into that road, can I go home round that way, Sam?"
"You can, Miss Daisy; but it's a ways longer."
"I like that;" said Daisy.
She turned up the road that led behind the trees, and presently saw Juanita's cottage. A little grey stone house, low-roofed, standing at the very edge of a piece of woodland, and some little distance back from the road. Daisy saw the old woman sitting on her doorstep. A grassy slope stretched down from the house to the road. The sun shone up against the grey cottage.
"You take care of Loupe, Sam, and I'll go in," said Daisy a plan which probably disappointed Sam, but Daisy did not know that. She went through a little wicket and up the path.
Juanita did not look like the blacks she had been accustomed to see. Black she was not, but of a fine olive dark skin; and though certainly old, she was still straight and tall, and very fine in her appearance and bearing. Daisy could see this but partially while Juanita was sitting at her door; she was more struck by the very grave look her face wore just then. It was not turned towards her little visitor, and Daisy got the impression that she must be feeling unhappy.
Juanita rose, however, with great willingness to get the water, and asked Daisy into her house. Daisy dared not, after her father's prohibition, go in, and she stood at the door till the water was brought. Then, with a strong feeling of kindness towards the lonely and perhaps sorrowful old woman, and remembering to "do good as she had opportunity," Daisy suddenly offered her the beautiful rose-branch.
"Does the lady think I want pay for a glass of water?" said the woman, with a smile that was extremely winning.
"No," said Daisy, "but I thought, perhaps, you liked flowers."
"There's another sort of flowers that the Lord likes," said the woman looking at her; "they be His little children."
Daisy's heart was tender, and there was something in Juanita's face that won her confidence. Instead of turning away, she folded her hands unconsciously, and said, more wistfully than she knew, "I want to be one!"
"Does my little lady know the Lord Jesus?" said the woman, with a bright light coming into her eye.
Daisy's heart was sore as well as tender; the question touched two things, the joy that she did know Him, and the trouble that following Him had cost her; she burst into tears. Then, turning away, and with a great effort throwing off the tears, she went back to the chaise. There stood Sam, with the pony's foot in his hand.
"Miss Daisy, this fellow has kicked one of his shoes half off; he can't go home so; it's hanging. Could Miss Daisy stop a little while at Mrs. Benoit's, I could take the pony to the blacksmith's it ain't but a very little ways off and get it put on, in a few minutes."
"Well, do, do, Sam," said Daisy after she had looked at the matter; and while he took Loupe out of harness, she turned back to Juanita.
"What is gone wrong?" said the old woman.
"Nothing is wrong," said Daisy; "only the pony has got his shoe off, and the boy is taking him to the blacksmith's."
"Will my lady come into my house?"
"No, thank you. I'll stay here."
The woman brought out a low chair for her, and set it on the grass; and took herself her former place on the sill of the door. She looked earnestly at Daisy; and Daisy on her part had noticed the fine carriage of the woman, her pleasant features, and the bright handkerchief which made her turban. Through the open door she could see the neat order of the room within, and her eye caught some shells arranged on shelves; but Daisy did not like to look, and she turned away. She met Juanita's eye; she felt she must speak.
"This is a pleasant place."
"Why does my lady think so?"
"It looks pleasant," said Daisy. "It is nice. The grass is pretty, and the trees; and it is a pretty little house, I think."
The woman smiled. "I think it be a palace of beauty," she said, "for Jesus is here."
Daisy looked, a little wondering but entirely respectful; the whole aspect of Juanita commanded that.
"Does my little lady know, that the presence of the King makes a poor house fine?"
"I don't quite know what you mean," said Daisy, humbly.
"Does my little lady know that the Lord Jesus loves His people?"
"Yes," said Daisy, "I know it."
"But she know not much. When a poor heart say any time, 'Lord, I am all Thine!' then the Lord comes to that heart, and He makes it the house of a King for He comes there Himself. And where Jesus is, all is glory. Do not my little lady read that in the Bible?"
"I don't remember" said Daisy.
The woman got up, went into the cottage, and brought out a large-print Testament which she put into Daisy's hands, open at the fourteenth chapter of John. Daisy read with curious interest the words to which she was directed: "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him."
Daisy looked at the promise, with her heart beating under troublesome doubts; when the voice of Juanita broke in upon them by saying, tenderly, "Does my little lady keep the Lord's words?"
Down went the book, and the tears rushed into Daisy's eyes. "Don't call me so," she cried, "I am Daisy Randolph; and I do want to keep His words! and I don't know how."
"What troubles my love?" said the woman, in the low tones of a voice that was always sweet. "Do not she know what the words of the Lord be?"
"Yes," said Daisy, hardly able to make herself understood, "but "
"Then do 'em," said Juanita. "The way is straight. What He say, do."
"But suppose " said Daisy.
"Suppose what? What do my love suppose?"
"Wouldn't it make it right, if it would do a great deal of good?"
This confused sentence Juanita pondered over. "What does my love mean?"
"If it would do a great deal of good wouldn't that make it right to do something?"
"Right to do something that the Lord say not do?"
"If you love Jesus, you not talk so," said Juanita, sorrowfully. But that made Daisy give way altogether.
"Oh, I do love Him! I do love Him!" she cried; "but I don't know what to do." And tears came in a torrent.
Juanita was watchful and thoughtful. When Daisy had very soon checked herself, she said in the same low, gentle way in which she had before spoken, "What do the Lord say to do that some good thing, or to keep His words?"
"To keep His words."
"Then keep 'em and the Lord will do the good thing Himself; that same or another. He can do what He please; and He tell you, only keep His words. He want you to show you love Him and He tell you how."
Daisy sat quite still to let the tears pass away, and the struggle in her heart grow calm; then when she could safely she looked up. She met Juanita's eye. It was fixed on her.
"Is the way straight now?" she asked.
Daisy nodded, with a little bit of a smile on her poor little lips.
"But there is trouble in the way?" said Juanita.
"Yes," said Daisy, and the old woman saw the eyes redden again.
"Has the little one a good friend at home to help?"
Daisy shook her head.
"Then let Jesus help. My little lady keep the Lord's words, and the sweet Lord Jesus will keep her." And rising to her feet, and clasping her hands, where she stood, Juanita poured forth a prayer. It was for her little visitor. It was full of love. It was full of confidence too; and of such clear simplicity as if, like Stephen, she had seen the heavens open. But the loving strength of it won Daisy's heart; and when the prayer was finished she came close to the old woman and threw her arms round her as she stood, and wept with her face hid in Juanita's dress. Yet the prayer had comforted her too, greatly. And though Daisy was very shy of intimacies with strangers, she liked to feel Juanita's hand on her shoulder; and after the paroxysm of tears was past, she still stood quietly by her, without attempting to increase the distance between them; till she saw Sam coming down the lane with the pony.
"Good-bye," said Daisy, "there's the boy."
"My lady will come to see old Juanita again?"
"I am Daisy Randolph. I'll come," said the child, looking lovingly up. Then she went down the slope to Sam.
"The blacksmith couldn't shoe him, Miss Daisy he hadn't a shoe to fit. He took off the old shoe so Miss Daisy please not drive him hard home."
Daisy wanted nothing of the kind. To get home soon was no pleasure; so she let Loupe take his own pace, anything short of walking; and it was getting dusk when they reached Melbourne. Daisy was not glad to be there. It was Friday night; the next day would be Saturday.
Mrs. Randolph came out into the hall to see that nothing was the matter, and then went back into the drawing-room. Daisy got her dress changed, and came there too, where the family were waiting for tea. She came in softly, and sat down by herself at a table somewhat removed from the others, who were all busily talking and laughing. But presently Captain Drummond drew near, and sat down at her side.
"Have you had a good drive, Daisy?"
"Yes, Captain Drummond."
"We missed our history to-day, but I have been making preparations. Shall we go into the Saxon Heptarchy to-morrow you and I and see if we can get the kingdom settled?"
"If you please. I should like it very much."
"What is the matter with you, Daisy?"
Daisy lifted her wise little face, which indeed looked as if it were heavy with something beside wisdom, towards her friend; she was not ready with an answer.
"You aren't going to die on the field of battle yet, Daisy?" he said, half lightly, and half he knew not why.
It brought a rush of colour to the child's face; the self- possession must have been great which kept her from giving way to further expression of feeling. She answered with curious calmness, "I don't think I shall, Captain Drummond."
The Captain saw it was a bad time to get anything from her, and he moved away. Preston came the next minute.
"Why, Daisy," he whispered, drawing his chair close, "where have you been all day? No getting a sight of you. What have you been about?"
"I have been to Crum Elbow this afternoon."
"Yes, and how late you stayed. Why did you?"
"Loupe lost a shoe. I had to wait for Sam to go to the blacksmith's with him."
"Really. Did you wait in the road?"
"No. I had a place to wait."
"I dare say you are as hungry as a bear," said Preston. "Now here comes tea and waffles, Daisy; you shall have some waffles and cream. That will make you feel better."
"Cream isn't good with waffles," said Daisy.
"Yes, it is. Cream is good with everything. You shall try. I know! I am always cross myself when I am hungry."
"I am not hungry, Preston; and I don't think I am cross."
"What are you, then? Come, Daisy, here is a cup of tea, and here is a waffle. First the sugar there, then the cream. So."
"You have spoiled it, Preston."
"Eat it and confess you are hungry and cross too."
Daisy could have laughed, only she was too sore-hearted, and would surely have cried. She fell to eating the creamed waffle.
"Is it good?"
"Confess you are hungry and cross, Daisy."
"I am not cross. And Preston, please! don't!" Daisy's fork fell; but she took it up again.
"What is the matter, then, Daisy?"
Daisy did not answer; she went on eating as diligently as she could.
"Is it that foolish business of the song?" whispered Preston. "Is that the trouble, Daisy?"
"Please don't, Preston!"
"Well, I won't, till you have had another waffle. Sugar and cream, Daisy?"
"That's brave! Now eat it up and tell me, Daisy, is that the trouble with you?"
He spoke affectionately, as he almost always did to her; and Daisy did not throw him off.
"You don't understand it, Preston," she said.
"Daisy, I told you my uncle and aunt would not like that sort of thing."
Daisy was silent, and Preston wondered at her. Mrs. Gary drew near at this moment, and placed herself opposite Daisy's tea- cup, using her eyes in the first place.
"What are you talking about?" said she.
"About Daisy's singing, ma'am."
"That's the very thing," said Mrs. Gary, "that I wanted to speak about. Daisy, my dear, I hope you are going to sing it properly to your mother the next time she bids you?"
Daisy was silent.
"I wanted to tell you, my dear," said Mrs. Gary, impressively, "what a poor appearance your refusal made, the other evening. You could not see it for yourself; but it made you seem awkward, and foolish, and ill-bred. I am sure everybody would have laughed, if it had not been for politeness towards your mother; for the spectacle was ludicrous, thoroughly. You like to make a graceful appearance, don't you?"
Daisy answered in a low voice, "Yes, ma'am; when I can."
"Well, you can, my dear, for your behaviour is generally graceful, and unexceptionable; only the other night it was very rough and uncouth. I expected you to put your finger in your mouth the next thing, and stand as if you had never seen anybody. And Daisy Randolph! the heiress of Melbourne and Cranford!"
The heiress of Melbourne and Cranford lifted to her aunt's face a look strangely in contrast with the look bent on her; so much worldly wisdom was in the one, so much want of it in the other. Yet those steady grey eyes were not without a wisdom of their own; and Mrs. Gary met them with a puzzled feeling of it.
"Do you understand me, Daisy, my dear?"
"Do you see that it is desirable never to look ridiculous, and well-bred persons never do?"
"Yes, aunt Gary."
"Then I am sure you won't do it again. It would mortify me for your father and mother."
Mrs. Gary walked away. Daisy looked thoughtful.
"Will you do it, Daisy?" whispered Preston.
"Will you sing the song for them next time? You will, won't you?"
"I'll do what I can" said Daisy. But it was said so soberly, that Preston was doubtful of her. However, he, like Captain Drummond, had got to the end of his resources for that time; and seeing his uncle approach, Preston left his seat.
Mr. Randolph took it, and drew Daisy from her own to a place in his arms. He sat then silent a good while, or talking to other people; only holding her close and tenderly. Truth to tell, Mr. Randolph was a little troubled about the course things were taking; and Daisy and her father were a grave pair that evening.
Daisy felt his arms were a pleasant shield between her and all the world; if they might only keep round her! And then she thought of Juanita's prayer, and of the invisible shield, of a stronger and more loving arm, that the Lord Jesus puts between His children and all real harm.
At last Mr. Randolph bent down his head, and brought his lips to Daisy's, asking her if she had had a nice time that afternoon.
"Very, papa!" said Daisy, gratefully; and then added, after a little hesitation, "Papa, do you know old Juanita? Mrs. St. Leonard's woman, that Mr. St. Leonard built a little house for?"
"I do not know her. I believe I have heard of her."
"Papa, would you let me go into her house? She has some beautiful shells that I should like to see."
"How do you know?"
"I saw them, papa, through the doorway of her house, I waited there while Sam went with Loupe to the blacksmith's."
"And you did not go in?"
"No, sir you said I must not, you know."
"I believe Juanita is a safe person, Daisy. You may go in, if ever you have another opportunity."
"Thank you, papa."
"What are you going to do with the hundred dollars?" said Mr. Randolph, putting his head down, and speaking softly.
Daisy waited a minute, checked the swelling of her heart, forbade her tears, steadied her voice to speak; and then said, "I sha'n't have them, papa."
"I can't fulfil the conditions." Daisy spoke again, after waiting a minute.
"Don't you mean to sing?"
Every time Daisy waited. "I can't, papa."
"Your mother will require it."
Silence, only Mr. Randolph saw that the child's breath went and came under excitement.
"Daisy, she will require it."
"Yes, papa" was said, rather faintly.
"And I think you must do it."
No response from Daisy; and no sign of yielding.
"How do you expect to get over it?"
"Papa, won't you help me?" was the child's agonised cry. She hid her face in her father's breast.
"I have tried to help you. I will give you what will turn your fancied wrong deed into a good one. It is certainly right to do charitable things on Sunday."
There was silence, and it promised to last some time. Mr. Randolph would not hurry her: and Daisy was thinking, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments. If ye love Me."
"Papa," said she at last, very slowly, and pausing between her words, "would you be satisfied, if I should disobey you for a hundred dollars?"
This time it was Mr. Randolph that did not answer, and the longer he waited the more the answer did not come. He put Daisy gently off his knee, and rose at last without speaking. Daisy went out upon the verandah, and sat down on the step; and there the stars seemed to say to her "If a man love Me, he will keep My words." They were shining very bright; so was that saying to Daisy. She sat looking at them, forgetting all the people in the drawing-room; and though troubled enough, she was not utterly unhappy. The reason was, she loved her King.
Somebody came behind her, and took hold of her shoulders. "My dear little Daisy!" said the voice of Preston, "I wish you were an India-rubber ball, that I might chuck you up to the sky and down again a few times!"
"Why? I don't think it would be nice."
"Why? why, because you want shaking; you are growing dull, yes, absolutely you are getting heavy! you, little Daisy! of all people in the world. It won't do."
"I don't think such an exercise would benefit me," said Daisy.
"I'd find something else then. Daisy, Daisy," said he, shaking her shoulders gently, "this religious foolery is spoiling you. Don't you go and make yourself stupid. Why I don't know you. What is all this ridiculous stuff? You aren't yourself."
"What do you want me to do, Preston?" said Daisy, standing before him, not without a certain childish dignity. It was lost on him.
"I want you to be my own little Daisy," said he, coaxingly. "Come! say you will, and give up these outlandish notions you have got from some old woman or other. What is it they want you to do? sing? Come, promise you will. Promise me!"
"I will sing any day but Sunday."
"Sunday? Now, Daisy! I'm ashamed of you. Why, I never heard such nonsense. Nobody has such notions but low people. It isn't sensible. Give it up, Daisy, or I shall not know how to love you."
"Good night, Preston "
"Daisy, Daisy! come and kiss me, and be good."
"Good night" repeated Daisy, without turning; and she walked off.
It half broke June's heart that night to see that the child's eyes were quietly dropping tears all the while she was getting undressed. Preston's last threat had cut very close. But Daisy said not a word; and when, long after June had left her, she got into bed, and lay down, it was not Preston's words, but the reminder of the stars that was with her, and making harmony among all her troubled thoughts "If a man love Me, he will keep My words."
In spite of the burden that lay on Daisy's heart, she and Captain Drummond had a good time the next morning over the Saxon Heptarchy. They went down to the shore for it, at Daisy's desire, where they would be undisturbed; and the morning was hardly long enough. The Captain had provided himself with a shallow tray filled with modelling clay; which he had got from all artist friend living a few miles further up the river. On this the plan of England was nicely marked out, and by the help of one or two maps which he cut up for the occasion, the Captain divided off the seven kingdoms greatly to Daisy's satisfaction and enlightenment. Then, how they went on with the history! introduced Christianity, enthroned Egbert, and defeated the Danes under Alfred. They read from the book, and fought it all out on the clay plan as they went along. At Alfred they stopped a good while, to consider the state of the world in the little island of Britain at that time. The good king's care for his people, his love for study and encouragement of learning; his writing fables for the people; his wax candles to mark time; his building with brick and stone; his founding the English navy, and victories with the same; no less than his valour and endurance in every time of trial; all these things Captain Drummond, whose father had been an Englishman, duly enlarged upon, and Daisy heard them with greedy ears. Truth to tell, the Captain had read up a little for the occasion, being a good deal moved with sympathy for his little friend, who he saw was going through a time of some trial. Nothing was to be seen of that just now, indeed, other than the peculiarly soft and grave expression which Daisy's face had worn all this week; and which kept reminding the Captain to be sorry for her.