"What will you do with yourself?"
"A little place be enough for me, my lady. My spirit lives in a large home."
Mrs. Randolph turned impatiently away. The manner of the woman was so inexpressibly calm and sweet, the dignity of her beautiful presence was so immovable, that the lady felt it in vain to waste words upon her. Juanita was a hopeless case.
"It is no use for me to be here then," she said. "Mr. Randolph, you may make your own arrangements."
Which Mr. Randolph did. He held a consultation with Juanita, as to what was wanting, and what she would do; a consultation with which he was satisfied. Juanita was left in full charge, with authority to do for Daisy precisely according to Dr. Sandford's instructions, in all matters. Mrs. Randolph meanwhile had a talk with her poor pale little daughter, upon more or less the same subjects; and then the father and mother prepared to go home to breakfast.
"Shall I send you June?" said Mrs. Randolph.
"No, mamma; I think not."
"Be patient a little while, Daisy," said her father, kissing her; "and you will be able to have books and company too. Now for a little while you must keep quiet."
"Juanita will keep me quiet, papa."
"I will come and see you again by and by."
"Papa, I want to tell you one thing. I want to speak to you and mamma before you go."
Mr. Randolph saw that the child's face flushed as if she were making some effort. He bent down over her again.
"Is it something of interest, Daisy?"
"Yes, papa. To me."
"Don't talk of it now then. Lie still, and do not talk at all. By and by you will tell me what it is."
THE LITTLE CONFESSOR.
Mr. and Mrs. Randolph departed.
"Daisy will be ruined forever!" So said the lady as soon as she was in the carriage.
"I hope not."
"You take it coolly, Mr. Randolph. That woman is exactly the sort to infect Daisy; and you have arranged it so that she will have full chance."
"What is the precise danger you apprehend?" said Mr. Randolph. "I have not heard it put into words."
"Daisy will be unmanageable. She is nearly that now."
"I never saw a more docile child in my life."
"That is because you take her part, Mr. Randolph. You will find it out in time, when it is too late; and it will be your own doing."
"Daisy will be a confirmed piece of superstition. You will see. And you will not find her docile then. If she once takes hold of anything, she does it with great obstinacy."
"But what is she taking hold of now? After all, you do not tell me," said Mr. Randolph, carelessly.
"Of every sort of religious fanatical notion, you will find, Mr. Randolph! She will set herself against everything I want her to do, after the fashion of those people, who think nothing is right but their own way. It will be a work of extreme difficulty, I foresee, to do anything with her after these weeks in this black woman's house. I would have run any risk in removing her, rather than let it be so."
"Well, we shall see," said Mr. Randolph. "I cannot quite take your view of the matter. I would rather keep the child even for my own private comfort than lose her to prevent her from becoming religious."
Mrs. Randolph indignantly let this statement of opinion alone.
Little Daisy had a quiet day, meanwhile. The weather grew excessively hot; her broken ankle pained her; it was a day of suffering. Obliged to lie quite still; unable to change her position even a little, when the couch became very hot under her; no air coming in at the open window but what seemed laden with the heats of a furnace, Daisy lay still, and breathed as well as she could. All day Juanita was busy about her; moistening her lips with orange juice, bathing her hands, fanning her, and speaking and singing sweet words to her, as she could attend to them. The child's eyes began to go to the fine black face that hovered near her, with an expression of love and trust that was beautiful to behold. It was a day that tried poor little Daisy's patience; for along with all this heat, and weary lying still in one position, there were shoots and twitches of pain that seemed to come from the broken ankle and reach every part of her body; and she could not move about or turn over to ease them by some change.
At last the weary hours began to grow less oppressive. The sun got low in the sky; the air came with a little touch of freshness. How good it was to see the sun lost behind the woods on the other side the road. Juanita kindled her fire again, and put on the kettle; for Daisy was to have another cup of tea, and wanted it very much. Then, before the kettle had boiled, came the doctor.
It was a pleasant variety. Dr. Sandford's face was a good one to see come in anywhere, and in Daisy's case very refreshing. It was so noble a face; the features fine, manly, expressive; with a sedate gravity that spoke of a character above trifling. His calm, forceful eye was very imposing; the thick auburn locks of his hair, pushed back as they were from his face, were beautiful to Daisy's imagination. Altogether he fastened her attention whenever he came within reach of it; she could not read those grave lines of his face; she puzzled over them. Dr. Sandford's appearance was in some way bewitching to her. Truly many ladies found it so.
He examined now the state of her foot; gave rapid comprehensive glances at everything; told his orders to Mrs. Benoit. Finally, paused before going, and looked into the very wise little eyes that scanned him so carefully.
"Is there anything you want, Daisy?" he said, with a physician's familiarity.
"No, sir, I thank you."
"Mrs. Benoit takes good care of you?"
The manner of Daisy's speech was like her looks; childlike enough, and yet with a deliberate utterance unlike a child.
"What do you think about, as you lie there all day?" he said.
The question had been put with a somewhat careless curiosity; but at that he saw a pink flush rise and spread itself all over Daisy's pale face; the grey eyes looked at him steadily, with no doubt of some thoughts behind them. Dr. Sandford listened for her answer. What was the child thinking about? She spoke at last with that same sweet deliberateness.
"I have been thinking, Dr. Sandford, about what Jesus did for me."
"What was that?" said the doctor, in considerable surprise.
"Because it was so hard for me to keep still to-day, I thought you know how it must have been " The flush deepened on the cheeks, and Daisy's eyes were swimming full of tears.
Dr. Sandford looked, in much surprise; perhaps he was at some pains to comprehend what all this meant.
"How it must have been when?" said he, bending over Daisy's couch.
"You know, Dr. Sandford," she said, tenderly. "When He was on the cross and couldn't move "
Daisy gave way. She put her hands over her face. The doctor stood erect, looking at her; glanced his grave eyes at Mrs. Benoit, and at her again; then made a step towards Juanita.
"No excitement is permitted," he said. "You must keep her from it. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Juanita said. But her face was all alight.
"Have you been reading some of those stories to her?"
"I have not been reading to her at all to-day, if his honour pleases."
"Daisy," said Dr. Sandford, coming back to the couch, "what put such thoughts into your head?"
"I felt so badly to-day." She spoke with her usual collectedness again.
"Well, try and not mind it. You will feel better in a day or two. Do you know when that happened that you were talking about?"
"When was it?"
"More than eighteen hundred years ago."
"Do you think it is worth your while to be troubled for what happened eighteen hundred years ago?"
"I think it is just the same as if it happened now," said Daisy, without moving her eyes.
"Do you? By what power of reasoning?"
"I don't think I know how to reason," said Daisy. "It is feeling."
"How does feeling manage it?"
Daisy discerned the tone of the question, looked at her questioner, and answered with tender seriousness: "I know the Lord Jesus did that for me; and I know He is in heaven now."
The doctor kept silence a minute. "Daisy," said he, "you are under my orders at present. You must mind me. You are to take a cup of tea, and a piece of toast, if you like; then you are to go to sleep and keep quiet, and not think of anything that happened more than an hour ago. Will you?"
"I will try to be quiet," said Daisy.
She and the doctor looked at each other in a dissatisfied manner, she wistfully, he disapprovingly, and then the doctor went out. Daisy's eyes followed, straining after him as long as they could; and when she could see him no longer they filled with tears again. She was looking as intent and wistful as if she might have been thirty years old instead of nine or ten, when Juanita came to her side with the tea she had been making.
The tea and toast did Daisy good; and she was ready to enjoy a visit from her father, who spent the evening with her. But he would not let her talk.
The next day was hot again; however, Daisy felt better. The heat was more bearable. It was a very quiet day. Both she and Juanita obeyed orders, and did not talk much; nevertheless, Juanita sang hymns a great deal, and that was delightful to Daisy. She found Juanita knew one hymn in particular that she loved exceedingly; it was the one that had been sung in the little church the day she had heard Mr. Dinwiddie preach; it fell in with the course of Daisy's thoughts; and several times in the day she had Juanita sing it over. Daisy's eyes always filled when she heard it; nevertheless Juanita could not resist her pleading wish.
"Oh, the Lamb! the loving Lamb! The Lamb on Calvary! The Lamb that was slain, but lives again, To intercede for me."
"I am so happy, Juanita," Daisy said, after one of these times. "I am so happy!"
"What makes it so, my love?"
"Oh, because that is true because He lives up there to take care of me."
"Bless the Lord!" said the black woman.
Towards evening of that day, Juanita had left the room to make her fire and attend to some other things, when Daisy heard her own name hailed softly from the window. She turned her head, and there was Preston's bright face.
"My poor, poor little Daisy!"
"How do you do, Preston?" said Daisy, looking as clear as a moonbeam.
"There you are a prisoner!"
"It is a very nice prison."
"Don't, my dear Daisy! I'll believe you in anything else, you know; but in this I am unable. Tied by your foot for six weeks, perhaps! I should like to shoot Captain Drummond."
"It was not Captain Drummond's fault."
"Is it bad, Daisy?"
"My foot? It has been pretty bad."
"Poor Daisy! And that was all because you would not sing."
"Because I would not sing, Preston!"
"Yes, that is the cause of all the trouble that has been in the house. Now, Daisy, you'll give it up?"
"Give what up?"
"Give up your nonsense, and sing."
"That?" said Daisy, and a slight flush came into the pale cheeks.
"Aunt Felicia wants you to sing it, and she will make you do it, when you get well."
Daisy made no answer.
"Don't you see, my dear Daisy, it is foolish not to do as other people do?"
"I don't see what my broken ankle has to do with what you are saying, Preston."
"Daisy, what will become of you all these six weeks? We cannot go a fishing, nor have any fun."
"What will you do?"
"I guess I can have books and read, by and by. I will ask Dr. Sandford."
"Suppose I bring some books, and read to you?"
"Oh, Preston! how nice."
"Well, I'll do it then. What shall I bring?"
"I wish you could bring something that would tell about these things."
"These things? What is that?"
"It is a trilobite. Captain Drummond got it the other day. It was a fish once, and now it is a stone; and I would like very much to know about it."
"Daisy, are you serious?"
"Why, yes, Preston."
"My dear little Daisy, do not you go and be a philosopher!"
"Why, I can't; but why shouldn't I?"
"Philosophers are not 'nice,' Daisy, when they are ladies," said Preston, shaking his head.
"Because ladies are not meant to be philosophers."
"But I want to know about trilobites," said Daisy.
"I don't think you do. You would not find the study of fossils interesting."
"I think I should if you would help me, Preston."
"Well, we will see, Daisy. I will do anything for you, if you will do one thing for me. Oh, Daisy, do! Aunt Felicia has not given it up at all."
"Good-bye, Preston," said Daisy. "Now you must go, and not talk to me any more this time."
Preston ran off.
He was not allowed to come again for a day or two; and Daisy was not allowed to talk. She was kept very quiet, until it was found that the broken bone was actually healing, and in a fair way to get well. The pains in it were no longer so trying; the very hot days had given place to a time of milder weather; and Daisy, under the care of the old black woman, enjoyed her solitary imprisonment well enough. Twice a day always her father visited her; once a day, Mrs. Randolph. Her stay was never very long; Juanita's house was not a comfortable place for her; but Mr. Randolph gave a large piece of his time and attention to his suffering little daughter, and was indeed the first one to execute Preston's plan of reading aloud for her amusement. A new and great delight to Daisy. She never remembered her father taking such pains with her before. Then, when her father and mother were gone, and the cottage was still, Juanita and Daisy had what the latter called their "good time." Juanita read the Bible and sang hymns, and prayed. There was no time nor pleasure in all the day that Daisy liked so well.
She had gained strength, and was in a good way to be well again. The first morning this was told her, Daisy said: "Papa, may I speak to you now?"
"About something important, Daisy?"
"Yes, papa, I think so."
"Go on. What is it?"
Juanita was standing near by. The child glanced at her, then at her father.
"Papa," she said, speaking slowly, and with some hesitation, "I want you to know I want to tell you about me, so that you may understand."
"Are you so difficult to understand, Daisy?"
"No, papa; but I want you to know something. I want you to know that I am a Christian."
"Well, so are we all," said Mr. Randolph, coolly.
"No, papa, but I don't mean that."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, papa, that I belong to the Lord Jesus, and must do what He tells me."
"What am I to understand by that, Daisy?"
"Nothing, papa; only I thought you ought to know."
"Do you understand what you are saying yourself, my child?"
"What does it mean, Daisy?"
"Only, papa, I want you to know that I belong to the Lord Jesus."
"Does that imply that you will not belong to me any more?"
"Oh, no, papa!"
"Why do you tell it me, then?"
"Papa, Jesus says He will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of Him; I will not be ashamed of Him; so I want you to know what I am."
"But, Daisy, you and I must come to an understanding about this," said Mr. Randolph, taking a chair. "Does this declaration mean that you are intending to be something different from what I like to see you?"
"I do not know, papa."
"You do not! Does it mean that you are proposing to set up a standard of action for yourself, independent of me?"
"What then, Daisy?"
"Papa, I do not quite know what you mean by a standard."
"I will change the word. Do you mean that your purpose is to make, henceforward, your own rules of life?"
"No, papa; I do not mean that."
"What do you mean?"
"Papa," said Daisy, very deliberately, "if I belong to my Saviour, you know, I must follow His rules."
"Daisy, I shall not cease to require obedience to mine."
"No, papa, but " said Daisy, colouring.
"I don't know very well how to say what I want, papa; it is difficult."
"Papa, you will not be displeased?"
"That depends upon what you have to say, Daisy."
"Papa, I do not mean to displease you," said the child, her eyes filling with tears. "But suppose "
"Well, suppose anything."
"Suppose those rules should be different from your rules?"
"I am to be the judge, Daisy. If you set up disobedience to me, on any pretext, you know the consequences."
Daisy's lip trembled; she put up her hands to her face, and burst into tears. She could not bear that reminder. Her father took one of her hands down, and kissed the little wet cheek.
"Where are you going to find these rules, Daisy," he said, kindly, "which you are going to set up against mine?"
"Papa, I do not set them up."
"Where do you get them?"
"Only in the Bible, papa."
"You are a little child, Daisy; you are not quite old enough to be able to judge properly for yourself what the rules of that book are. While you are little and ignorant, I am your judge, of that and everything else; and your business is to obey me. Do you understand that?"
"Papa, I am afraid you will be angry."
"I do not think I shall. You and I had better come to an understanding about these matters Say on, Daisy."
"I was going to say, papa "
Daisy was afraid to tell what. Mr. Randolph again stooped and kissed her; kissed her two or three times.
"Papa, I do not mean to make you angry," said the child, with intense eagerness, "but suppose papa, I mean, are you a servant of the Lord Jesus?"
Mr. Randolph drew back. "I endeavour to do my duty, Daisy," he said, coldly. "I do not know what you include in the terms you use."
"Papa, that is what I mean," said Daisy, with a very meek face. "Papa, if I am, and you are not, then perhaps you would not think the things that I think."
"If you are, and I am not, what?"
"That, papa which I wanted you to know I am. A servant of Jesus."
"Then, papa, if I am, and you are not, wouldn't you perhaps not think about those rules as I must think of them?"
"You mean that our thoughts would disagree?"
"Papa they might."
"What shall we do, then, Daisy?"
Daisy looked wistfully and somewhat sadly at him. There was more weight of thought under the little brow than he liked to see there. This would not do; yet matters must be settled.
"Do you want to be a different little person from what you have been, Daisy, hitherto?"
"I don't know, papa I think so."
"How do you wish to be different?"
"I can't tell, papa. I might have to be."
"I want you just as you are, Daisy."
Mr. Randolph stooped his head down again to the too thoughtful little face. Daisy clasped her arms around his neck, and held him close. It was only by her extraordinary self-command that she kept from tears; when he raised his head her eyes were perfectly dry.
"Will you be my good little Daisy and let me do the thinking for you?" said Mr. Randolph, tenderly.
"Papa I can't."
"I will not have you different from what I like you, Daisy."
"Then, papa, what shall I do?"
"Obey me, and be satisfied with that."
"But, papa, I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ," said the child, looking unutterably sober.
"I do not intend my commands shall conflict with any of higher authority."
"Papa suppose they might?"
"I must be judge. You are a little child; you must take the law from my mouth, until you are older."
"But, papa, suppose I thought the Bible told me to do what you did not think it said?"
"I advise you to believe my judgment, Daisy, if you wish to keep the peace between us. I will not have any more calling of it in question."
Daisy struggled plainly, though she would not cry; her colour flushed, her lip quivered. She was entirely silent for a little while, and Mr. Randolph sat watching her. The struggle lasted some minutes till she had overcome it somewhat she would not speak and it was sharp. Then the child closed her eyes, and her face grew calm. Mr. Randolph did not know what to think of her.
"I do not think we have settled this question yet."
"I do not think we have, papa."
"What is to be done? It will not answer, my little daughter, for you to set up your will against mine."
"Papa, it is not my will."
"What do you call it, then?"
"Papa, it is not my will at all. It is the will of God."
"Take care, Daisy," said her father. "You are not to say that. My will will never oppose itself to that authority you speak of."
"Papa, I only want to obey that."
"But remember, I must be the judge."
"Papa," said Daisy, eagerly, "won't this do? If I think something is in the Bible, mayn't I bring it to you to see?"
"And if you think it is there, then will you let me do it?"
"Do what the Bible says, papa."
"I think I may promise that, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph; though dubiously, as not quite certain what he was promising; "so long as I am the judge."
"Then that will do, papa! That is nice."
Daisy's countenance expressed such utter content at this arrangement, that Mr. Randolph looked grave.
"Now you have talked and excited yourself enough for to-day," he said. "You must be quiet."
"Mayn't I tell mamma when she comes?"
"I mean what I have told you, papa."
"No. Wait till to-morrow. Why do you wish to tell her, Daisy?"
"Papa, I think I ought to tell her. I want her to know."
"You have very uncompromising notions of duty. But this duty can wait till another day."
Daisy had to wait more than a day for her opportunity; her mother's next visits were too bustling and unsatisfactory, as well as too short, to promise her any good chance of being heard. At last came a propitious morning. It was more moderate weather; Daisy herself was doing very well, and suffering little pain; and Mrs. Randolph looked in good humour, and had sat down with her tetting-work, as if she meant to make her daughter something of a visit. Mr. Randolph was lounging at the head of the couch, out of Daisy's sight.
"Mamma," began the child, "there is something I wish to say to you."
"You have a favourable opportunity, Daisy. I can hear."
Yet Daisy looked a minute at the white hand that was flying the bobbin about. That white hand.
"It isn't much, mamma. It is only that I wish you to know that I am a Christian."
"That you are what?" said Mrs. Randolph, coldly.
"A Christian, mamma."
"Pray, what does that mean?"
"That I am a servant of Christ, mamma."
"When did you find it out, Daisy?"
"Some time ago, mamma. Some time a little while before my birth-day."
"You did! What do you think me?"
Daisy kept silence.
"Well! why don't you speak? Answer me."
"Mamma, I don't know how to answer you," said Daisy, flushing for an instant. Her mother's eyes took note of her.
"I shall not ask you a third time, Daisy."
"Mamma," said the child low, "I do not think you are what I mean by a Christian."
"You do not. I supposed that. Now you will go on and tell me what you mean by a Christian."
"It means," said Daisy, her eyes filling with tears, "it means a person who loves the Lord Jesus and obeys Him."
"I hope you are gratified, Mr. Randolph," said the lady, "with this specimen of the new Christianity. Dutiful and respectful are happily united; along with a pleasant mixture of modesty. What do you expect me to do, Daisy, with this announcement of yours?"
"Nothing, mamma," said Daisy, faintly.
"I suppose you think that my Christianity must accommodate itself to yours? Did you expect that?"
"It would be very foolish of you; for the fact will be the other way. Yours must accommodate itself to mine."
"I only wanted you to know what mine is, mamma."
"Yours is what mine is, Daisy. What I think right for you, that you are to do. I will not hear a whimper from you again about what you are do you understand? Not again. I have listened to you this time, but this is the last. If I hear another syllable like this, about what you are or your Christianity, I shall know how to chastise it out of you. You are nothing at all, but my Daisy; you are a Jewess, if I choose to have it so."
Mr. Randolph made an uneasy movement; but the lady's white fingers flew in and out of her tetting-work without regarding him.
"What do you want to do, that you are asking my permission in this roundabout way? What do you want to do, that you think will not please me."
Daisy at first hesitated; then Mr. Randolph was surprised to hear her say boldly, "I am afraid, a great many things, mamma."
"Well, you know now what to expect. Mr. Randolph," said the lady, letting fall her tetting-work, "if you please, I will go home. The sun will only be getting hotter, if I stay."
Mr. Randolph stood behind Daisy, bending down, and holding her face in his two hands.
"What would you like me to send you from home, Daisy?"
"Would you like to have Preston come and see you?"
"If he likes to come, papa."
"He has been only waiting for my permission, and if you say so, I will give him yours."
"He may come. I should like to see him very much."
"You may have books too, now, Daisy. Do you not want some books?"
"I should like 'Sandford and Merton,' papa; and when Preston comes I'll tell him what else I want."
Mr. Randolph stood still, smoothing down the hair on each side of the little round head, while Mrs. Randolph was adjusting herself for her drive.
"Are you ready, Mr. Randolph?"
"Cannot say that I am," said the gentleman, stooping to kiss Daisy's forehead, "but I will go with you. One thing I should like understood. For reasons which are sufficient with me, Daisy is to consider herself prohibited from making any music on Sundays henceforward, except she chooses to do it in church. I mention it, lest you should ask her to do what I have forbidden, and so make confusion."
Mrs. Randolph gave no sort of answer to this speech, and walked off to the door. Daisy, whose eyes had brightened with joy, clasped her arms around her father's neck when he stooped again, and whispered, with an energetic pressure, "Thank you, papa!"
Mr. Randolph only kissed her, and went off after his wife. The drive home was remarkably silent.
It happened that day that Juanita had business on hand which kept her a good deal of the morning in the out-shed which formed part of her premises. She came in every now and then to see how Daisy was doing; yet the morning was on the whole spent by Daisy alone; and when Juanita at last came in to stay, she fancied the child was looking pale and worn more than usual.
"My love do not feel well?"
"Yes I do, Juanita I am only tired. Have you done washing?"
"It is all done. I am ready for whatever my love pleases."
"Isn't washing very disagreeable work, Juanita?"
"I do not think what it be, while it is mine," the woman said, contentedly. "All is good work that I can do for the Lord."
"But that work, Juanita? How can you do that work so?"
"When the Lord gives work, He give it to be done for Him. Bless the Lord!"
"I do not understand, though, Juanita. Please tell me. How can you?"
"Miss Daisy, I don't know. I can do it with pleasure, because it is my Lord's command. I can do it with thanksgiving, because He has given me the strength and the power. And I can do it the best I can, so as nobody shall find fault in His servant. And then, Miss Daisy, I can do it to get money to send His blessed word to them that sit in darkness where I come from. And I can do it with prayer, asking my Lord to make my heart clean for His glory; like as I make soiled things white again. And I do it with joy, because I know the Lord hear my prayer."
"I think you are very happy, Juanita," said Daisy.
"When the Lord leads to living fountains of waters, then no more thirsting," said the black woman, expressively.
"Then, Juanita, I suppose if I get tired lying here, I can do patience-work?"
"Jesus will have His people do a great deal of that work," said Mrs. Benoit, tenderly. "And it is work that pleases Him, Miss Daisy. My love is very weary?"
"I suppose, Juanita, if I was really patient, I shouldn't be. Should I? I think I am impatient."
"My love knows who carries the lambs in His bosom."
Daisy's tired face smoothed itself out at this. She turned her eyes to the window with a placid look of rest in them.
"Jesus knows where the trouble is," said the black woman. "He knows all. And He can help too. Now I am going to get something to do Miss Daisy good."
Before this could be done, there came a heavy clumping step up to the house, and a knock at the door; and then a person entered whom Juanita did not know. A hard-featured woman, in an old-fashioned black straw bonnet, and faded old shawl drawn tight round her. She came directly forward to Daisy's couch.
"Well, I declare if it ain't true! Tied by the heels, ain't ye?" was her salutation. Juanita looked, and saw that Daisy recognised the visitor; for she smiled at her, half pleasure, half assent to what she said.
"I heerd of it that is, I heerd you'd gone up to the mountain and broke something; I couldn't find out what 'twas; and then Hephzibah she said she would go down to Melbourne Sunday. I said to her, says I, 'Hephzibah, I wouldn't go all that ways, child, for to do nothing; 'tain't likely but that some part of the story's true, if you and me can't find out which;' but Hephzibah she took her own head and went; and don't you think, she came back a cryin'?"
"What was that for?" said Daisy, looking very much interested.
"Why, she couldn't find you, I guess; and she thought you was killed. But you ain't, be you?"
"Only my foot and ankle hurt," said Daisy, smiling; "and I am doing very well now."
"And was you broke anywheres?"
"My ankle was broken."
"I declare! And you couldn't be took home?"
"So the folks said; only they said that young soldier had killed you. I hope he got hurted himself."
"Why Mrs. Harbonner, he did not do it. It was an accident. It wasn't anybody's fault."
"It wouldn't ha' happened if I had been there, I can tell you!" said Hephzibah's mother. "I don't think much of a man if he ain't up to taking care of a woman; and a child above all. Now how long are you goin' to be in this fix?"
"I don't know. I suppose I shall have to lie still for four or five weeks more, before my foot is well."
"It's tiresome, I guess, ain't it?"
"Well, I used to think, if folks was good, things wouldn't happen to 'em. That's what I thought. That was my study of divinity. And when everything on earth happened to me, I just concluded it was because I warn't a bit too good to deserve it. Now I'm beat to see you lie there. I don't see what is the use of being good, if it don't get none."
"Oh, Mrs. Harbonner!" said Daisy, "I am glad my foot was broken."
"Well, I'm beat!" was all Mrs. Harbonner could say. "You air, be you?"
"It hasn't done me any harm at all; and it has done me a great deal of good."
Mrs. Harbonner stood staring at Daisy.
"The promise is sure," said Mrs. Benoit. "All things shall work together for good to them that love God!"
The other woman wheeled about, and looked at her for an instant with a sharp keen eye of note-taking; then she returned to Daisy.
"Well, I suppose I'll tell Hephzibah she won't see you again till summer's over; so she may as well give over thinking about it."
"Do you think Hephzibah wants to learn, Mrs. Harbonner?"
"Well, I guess she does."
"Wouldn't she come here and get her lessons? Couldn't she come to see me every day, while I am here?"
"I 'spose she'd jump out of her skin to do it," said Mrs. Harbonner. "Hephzibah's dreadful set on seeing you."
"Mrs. Benoit," said Daisy, "may I have this little girl come to see me every day, while I am here?"
"Miss Daisy shall have all, who she will," was the answer; and it was arranged so; and Mrs. Harbonner took her departure. Lingering a minute at the door, whither Juanita attended her, she made one or two enquiries and remarks about Daisy, answered civilly and briefly by Mrs. Benoit.
"Poor little toad!" said Mrs. Harbonner, drawing her shawl tight round her for the last time. "But ain't she little queer?"
These words were spoken in a low murmur, which just served to draw Daisy's attention. Out of sight behind the moreen curtain, Mrs. Harbonner forgot she was not beyond hearing; and Daisy's ears were good. She noticed that Juanita made no answer at all to this question, and presently shut the door.
The business of giving Daisy some fruit was the next thing attended to; in the course of eating which Daisy marvelled a little to herself what possible likeness to a toad Mrs. Harbonner could have discovered in her. The comparison did not seem flattering; also she pondered somewhat why it could be that anybody found her queer. She said nothing about it; though she gave Mrs. Benoit a little account of Hephzibah, and the reason of the proposed series of visits. In the midst of this came a cheery "Daisy" at the other side of her; and turning her head, there was Preston's face at the window.
"Oh, Preston!" Daisy handed to Mrs. Benoit her unfinished saucer of strawberries "I am so glad! I have been waiting for you. Have you brought my books?"
"Where do you think I have been, Daisy?"
"I don't know. Shooting! Have you?"
Daisy's eye caught the barrel of a fowling-piece showing its end up at the window. Preston, without replying, lifted up his game-bag, and let her see the bright feathers of little birds which partly filled it.
"You have! Shooting!" Daisy repeated, in a tone between disapprobation and dismay. "It isn't September!"
"Capital sport, Daisy," said Preston, letting the bag fall.
"I think it is very poor sport," said Daisy. "I wish they were all alive and flying again."
"So do I if I might shoot them again."
"It's cruel, Preston!"
"Nonsense, Daisy. Don't you be too tender. Birds were made to kill. What are they good for?"
With a wit that served her instead of experience, Daisy was silent, looking with unspoken abhorrence at the wicked muzzle of the fowling-piece.
"Did you bring me 'Sandford and Merton,' Preston?" she said, presently.
" 'Sandford and Merton'! My dear Daisy, I have been going all over the world, you know this part of it and I was too far from Melbourne to go round that way for your book; if I had, it would have been too late to get here. You see the sun's pretty well down."
Daisy said no more; but it was out of her power not to look disappointed. She had so counted upon her book; and she was so weary of lying still and doing nothing. She wanted very much to read about the house that Harry and Tommy built; it would have been a great refreshment.
"Cheer up, Daisy," said Preston; "I'll bring you books to- morrow and read to you too, if you like it. What shall I bring?"
"Oh, Preston, I want to know about trilobites!"
"Daisy, you might as well want to know about the centre of the earth! That's where they belong."
"I should like to know about the centre of the earth," said Daisy. "Is there anything there."
"Anything at the centre of the earth? I suppose so."
"But I mean, anything but earth," said Daisy.
Preston burst out laughing. "Oh, Daisy, Daisy! Hadn't you better learn about what is on the outside of the earth, before we dig down so deep into it?"
"Well, Preston, my trilobite was on the outside."
"Daisy, it wouldn't interest you," said Preston, seriously; "you would have to go deep into something else besides the earth so deep that you would get tired. Let the trilobite alone, and let's have Grimm's Tales to-morrow shall we? or what will you have?"
Daisy was patiently silent a minute; and then in came Dr. Sandford. In his presence Preston was mute; attending to the doctor's manipulations as gravely as the doctor himself performed them. In the midst of the general stillness, Dr. Sandford asked, "Who was speaking about trilobites as I came up?"
"Preston was speaking," said Daisy, as nobody else seemed ready to answer.
"What about them."
"He thinks they would not interest me," said Daisy.
"What do you know about trilobites?" said Dr. Sandford, now raising his blue eyes for a good look into the child's face. He saw it looked weary.
"I have got a beautiful one. Juanita, will you bring it here, please?"
The doctor took it up, and handled it with an eye that said, Daisy knew, that it was a fine specimen. The way he handled it gratified her.
"So this is one of your playthings, is it, Daisy?"
"No, sir; it is not a plaything, but I like to look at it."
"It is so wonderful, and beautiful, I think."
"But do tell Daisy, will you, doctor," said Preston, "that it is a subject she cannot understand yet. She wants me to bring her books about trilobites."
"Time hangs heavy, Daisy?" said the doctor.
"No, sir only when I have nothing to do."
"What have you done to-day?"
"Nothing, sir; except talking to papa and mamma, and some business about a little girl."
The sedateness of this announcement was inexpressible, coming as it did after a little thoughtful pause. Preston burst out laughing. Dr. Sandford did not so far forget himself. He only gave Daisy a rapid look of his grave blue eyes.
"It would be a charity to give you more employment than that," he said. "You like wonderful things, Daisy?"
"Very much, when I understand about them."
"I will agree to tell you anything you please that I know about any wonderful things you can see to-morrow, looking from your window."
The Doctor and Preston went off together, and left Daisy, though without books, in a high state of excitement and gratification. The rest of the evening her little head was busy by turns with fancying the observations of the next day, and wondering what she could possibly find from her window to talk to the doctor about. A very unpromising window Daisy considered it. Nothing was to be seen beside trees and a little strip of road; few people passed by that way; and if there had, what wonder could there have been in that. Daisy was half afraid she should find nothing to talk to the doctor about; and that would be a mortification.
Daisy and Juanita were both apt to be awake pretty early. Lying there on her back all day, without power to run about and get tired, Daisy's sleep was light; and her eyes were generally open before the sun got high enough to look at them. Juanita was always up and dressed earlier even than that; how much earlier Daisy had no means of knowing; but she was sure to hear the murmur of her friend's voice at her prayers, either in the other room or outside of the house. And Juanita did not come in to see Daisy till she had been awake a good while, and had had leisure to think over a great many things. Daisy found that was a good time for her own prayers; there was nothing to disturb her, and nothing to be heard at all, except that soft sound of Juanita's voice, and the clear trills and quavers of the little birds' voices in the trees. There was no disturbance in any of those sounds; nothing but joy and gladness and the voice of melody from them all.
By and by, when the light began to kindle in the tops of the trees, and Daisy was sure to be watching it and trying to get sight of some of the bird singers which were so merry up there, she would hear another sound by her bedside, or feel a soft touch; and there would be Juanita, as bright as the day, in her way of looking bright, bending over to see and find out how Daisy was. Then, having satisfied herself, Juanita would go about the business of the morning. First her fire was made, and the kettle put on for breakfast. Daisy used to beg her to leave the door open, so that, though she could not follow her with her eyes and see, she could yet hear what Juanita was doing. She used to listen to hear the kindling put in the stove, and the wood; she knew the sound of it; then, when the match was lit and applied, she liked the rushing sound of the blaze and kindling fire; it gave pleasant token that the kettle would be boiled by and by. But first she listened to Juanita's feet brushing through the grass to get to the well; and Daisy listened so hard, she could almost tell after a while whether the grass was dry or whether it was heavy with dew. Juanita always carried the kettle to the well; and when she came back, Daisy could hear the iron clink of the stove as the kettle was put on. Presently Juanita came in then from her kitchen, and began the work of putting the house in order. How nicely she did it! like the perfection of a nurse, which she was. No dust, no noise, no bustle; still as a mouse, but watchful as a cat, the alert old woman went round the room, and made all tidy, and all clean and fresh. Very likely Juanita would change the flowers in a little vase which stood on the mantelpiece or the table, before she felt that everything was as it ought to be.
When all that was done, her next attention was to Daisy herself; and Daisy never in her life had nicer tending than now. If Juanita was a nurse, she was a dressing-maid too, of first-rate qualifications. It was a real pleasure to have her ministering about the couch; and for that matter, the whole work of the morning, as Juanita managed it, was a regular and unfailing piece of amusement to Daisy. And in the midst of it, every look at the black woman's noble, sweet face, warmed Daisy's heart with something better than amusement. Daisy grew to love her very much.
This morning all these affairs had been gone through as usual; and leaving Daisy in a happy, refreshed state, Mrs. Benoit went off to prepare her breakfast. Like everything else, that was beautifully done. By and by, in she came with a tray and white napkin, white as napkin could be, and fine damask too. For Juanita had treasures of various sorts, besides old moreen curtains. On this tray, for instance, there was not only a fine napkin of damask; there was a delicate cup and saucer of fine china, which Daisy thought very beautiful. It was as thin and fine as any cup at Melbourne House, and had a dainty vine of leaves and flowers running round it, in a light red brown colour. The plate was not to match; it was a common little white plate; but that did not matter. The tea was in the little brown cup, and Daisy's lips closed upon it with entire satisfaction. Juanita had some excellent tea too; and if she had not, there was a sufficient supply sent from Melbourne; as well as of everything else. So today there was not only the brown toast in strips, which Daisy fancied; but there were great red Antwerp raspberries for her; and that made, Daisy thought, the very best breakfast that could be eaten. She was very bright this morning.
"Juanita," she said, "I have found something for Dr. Sandford already."
"What does Miss Daisy mean?"
"Don't you know? Didn't you hear him yesterday? He gave me something to do. He said he would tell me about anything wonderful I could see in the course of the day; and I have found something already."
"Seems to me as all the Lord has made is wonderful," said the black woman. "Does Miss Daisy think Dr. Sandford can tell her all about it?"
"Why, I suppose he knows a great deal, Juanita."
"If he knowed one thing more," said the black woman. "Here he is, Miss Daisy. He's early."
Certainly he was; but Dr. Sandford had a long ride to take that morning, and could only see Daisy then on his way. In silence he attended to her, and with no delay; smiled at her; put the tips of his fingers to her raspberry dish, and took out one for his own lips; then went quick away. Daisy smiled curiously. She was very much amused at him. She did not ask Juanita what she meant by the "one thing more." Daisy knew quite well; or thought she did.
All that day she was in an amused state, watching to see wonderful things. Her father's and mother's visits came as usual. Preston came and brought her some books. Hephzibah came, too, and had a bit of a lesson. But Hephzibah's wits were like her hair, straying all manner of ways. It was very difficult to make her understand the difference between a, b, ab, and b, a, ba; and that was discouraging. Daisy toiled with her till she was tired; and then was glad to lie still and rest? without even thinking of wonderful things, till Juanita brought her her dinner.
As the doctor had been early, so he was late to-day. It was near sunset when he came, and Daisy was a little disappointed, fancying that he was tired. He said nothing at first; attended to Daisy's foot in the profoundest gravity; but in the midst of it, without looking up, he asked, "What wonderful things have you seen to-day?"
"I am afraid you are tired, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, very gently.
"Then it might tire you more to talk to me."
"You have seen something wonderful, have you?" said he doctor, glancing at her.
"Two or three things, sir."
"One at a time," said the doctor. "I am tired. I have ridden nearly seventy miles to-day, one way and another. Have you got a cup of milk for me, Mrs. Benoit?"
Daisy eagerly beckoned Juanita, and whispered to her, and the result was that with the cup of milk came a plate of the magnificent raspberries. The doctor opened his grave eyes at Daisy, and stood at the foot of her couch, picking up raspberries with his finger and thumb, as he had taken that one in the morning.
"Now what are the wonderful things?" said he.
"You are too tired to-night, Dr. Sandford."
"Let us have number one. Promises must be kept, Daisy. Business is business. Have you got such hard work for me? What was the first thing?"
"The first wonderful thing that I saw or at least that I thought of " said Daisy, "was the sun."
The doctor eat half a dozen raspberries without speaking, giving an odd little smile first in one corner of his mouth, and then in the other.
"Do you expect me to tell you about that?" said he.
"You said business was business," Daisy replied, with equal gravity to his own.
"I am glad the idea of the universe did not occur to you," said the doctor. "That might have been rather inconvenient for one evening's handling. What would you like me to tell you about the sun?"
"I do not know anything at all about it," said Daisy. "I would like to know everything you can tell me."
"The thought that first comes to me," said the doctor, "is, that it ripened these raspberries."
"I know that," said Daisy. "But I want to know what it is."
"The sun! Well," said the doctor, "it is a dark, round thing, something like this earth, only considerably bigger."
"Dark!" said Daisy. "Certainly. I have no reason to believe it anything else."
"But you are laughing at me, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, feeling very much disappointed and a little aggrieved.
"Am I? No, Daisy if you had ridden seventy miles to-day, you might be tempted, but you would not feel like laughing. Business is business, I must remind you again."
"But you do not mean that the sun is dark?" said Daisy.
"I mean precisely what I say, I assure you."
"But it is so bright we cannot look at it," said Daisy.
"Something is so bright you cannot look at it. The something is not the body of the sun."
"Then it is the light that comes from it."
"No light comes from it, that I know. I told you, the sun is a dark body."
"No," said Dr. Sandford, though he did laugh now; "the sun, you see, is a more wonderful thing than you imagined."
"But sir, may I ask any question I have a mind to ask?"
"Certainly! All in the course of business."
"How do you know that it is dark, sir?"
"Perfectly fair. Suppose that Mrs. Benoit stood behind your curtain there, and that you had never seen her; how could you know that she has a dark skin?"
"Why, I could not."
"Yes, you could if there were rents in the curtain."
"But what are you talking of, sir?"
"Only telling you, in answer to your question, how I know the sun to be a dark body."
"But there is no curtain over the sun."
"That proves you are no philosopher, Daisy. If you were a philosopher, you would not be so certain of anything. There is a curtain over the sun; and there are rents or holes in the curtain sometimes, so large that we can see the dark body of the sun through them."
"What is the curtain? Is that the light?"
"Now you are coming pretty near it, Daisy," said the doctor. "The curtain, as I call it, is not light, but it is what the light comes from."
"Then what is it, Dr. Sandford?"
"That has puzzled people wiser than you and I, Daisy. However, I think I may venture to say, that it is something like an ocean of flame, surrounding the dark body of the sun."
"And there are holes in it?"
"But they must be very large holes to be seen from this distance?"
"Very," said the doctor. "A great many times bigger than our whole earth."
"Then how do you know but they are dark islands in the ocean?"
"For several reasons," said the doctor, looking gravely funny; "one of which reasons is, that we can see the deep ragged edges of the holes, and that these edges join together again."
"But there could not be holes in our ocean?" said Daisy.
Dr. Sandford gave a good long grave look at her, set aside his empty plate which had held raspberries, and took a chair. He talked to her now with serious, quiet earnest, as if she had been a much older person.
"Our ocean, Daisy, you will remember, is an ocean of fluid matter. The ocean of flame which surrounds the sun is gaseous matter or a sort of ocean of air, in a state of incandescence. This does not touch the sun, but floats round it, upon or above another atmosphere of another kind like the way in which our clouds float in the air over our heads. You know how breaks come and go in the clouds; so you can imagine that this luminous covering of the sun parts in places, and shows the sun through, and then closes up again."
"Is that the way it is?" said Daisy.
"Dr. Sandford, you said a word just now I did not understand."
"Only one?" said the doctor.
"I think there was only one I did not know in the least."
"Can you direct me to it?"
"You said something about an ocean of air in a state what state?"
"That was it."
"That is a state where it gives out white heat."
"I thought everything at the sun must be on fire," said Daisy, looking meditatively at the doctor.
"You see you were mistaken. It has only a covering of clouds of fire so to speak."
"But it must be very hot there."
"It is pretty hot here," said the doctor, shrugging his shoulders, "ninety five millions of miles away; so I do not see that we can avoid your conclusion."
"How much is ninety five millions?"
"I am sure I don't know," said Dr. Sandford, gravely. "After I have gone as far as a million or so, I get tired."
"But I do not know much about arithmetic," said Daisy, humbly. "Mamma has not wanted me to study. I don't know how much one million is."
"Arithmetic does not help one on a journey, Miss Daisy," said the doctor, pleasantly. "Counting the miles did not comfort me to-day. But I can tell you this. If you and I were to set off on a railway train, straight for the sun, and go at the rate of thirty-two miles an hour, you know that is pretty fast travelling?"
"How fast do we go on the cars from here to New York?"
"Thirty miles an hour."
"Now I know," said Daisy.
"If we were to set off and go straight to the sun at that rate of speed, keeping it up night and day, it would take us how long do you guess? It would take us three hundred years and more; nearly three hundred and fifty years, to get there."
"I cannot imagine travelling so long," said Daisy, gravely. At which Dr. Sandford laughed; the first time Daisy had ever heard him do such a thing. It was a low, mellow laugh now; and she rather enjoyed it.
"I should like to know what a million is," she observed.
"Ten hundred thousand."
"And how many million miles did you say the sun is?"
"Ninety-five millions of miles away."
Daisy lay thinking about it.
"Can you imagine travelling faster? And then we need not be so long on the journey," said Dr. Sandford. "If we were to go as fast as a cannon ball, it would take us about seven years not quite so much to get to the sun."
"How fast does a cannon ball go?"
"Fifty times as fast as a railway train."
"I cannot imagine that either, Dr. Sandford."
"Give it up, Daisy," said the doctor, rising, and beginning to put himself in order for travelling.
"Are you going?" said Daisy.
"Not till you have done with me!"
"Dr. Sandford, have you told me all there is to tell about the sun?"
"Would it take too long this evening?"
"Considering that the sun will not stay to be talked about, Daisy," said the doctor, glancing out of the window, "I should say it would."
"Then I will ask only one thing more. Dr. Sandford, how can you tell so exactly how long it would take to go to the sun? How do you know?"
"Quite fair, Daisy," said the doctor, surveying her gravely. "I know, by the power of a science called mathematics, which enables one to do all sorts of impossible things. But you must take that on my word; I cannot explain so that you would understand it."
"Thank you, sir," said Daisy.
She wanted further to ask what sort of a science mathematics might be; but Dr. Sandford had answered a good many questions, and the sun was down, down, behind the trees on the other side of the road. Daisy said no more. The doctor, seeing her silent, smiled, and prepared himself to go.
"Shall we finish the sun to-morrow, Daisy?"
"Oh, if you please."
"Very well. Good-bye."
The doctor went, leaving Daisy in a very refreshed state; with plenty to think of. Daisy was quite waked out of her weariness and disappointment, and could do well enough without books for one day longer. She took her own raspberries now with great spirit.
"I have found two more wonderful things to talk to Dr. Sandford about, Juanita; that is three to-day."
"Does Miss Daisy think the doctor can tell her all?"
"I don't know. He knows a great deal, Juanita."
"Seems he knows more than Job did," said Mrs. Benoit, who had her private misgivings about the authenticity of all Dr. Sandford's statements.
Daisy thought a little. "Juanita, Job lived a great while ago."
"Yes, Miss Daisy."
"How much did he know about the sun? does the Bible tell?"
"It tells a little what he didn't know, Miss Daisy."
"Oh, Juanita, after I get through my tea, and when you have had yours, won't you read me in the Bible all about Job and the sun?"
Mrs. Benoit liked nothing better; and whatever other amusements failed, or whatever other parties anywhere in the land found their employments unsatisfactory, there was one house where intent interest and unflagging pleasure went through the whole evening; it was where Daisy and Mrs. Benoit read "about Job and the sun." Truth to tell, as that portion of Scripture is but small, they extended their reading somewhat.
Daisy's first visitor the next day was her father. He came with fresh flowers and fresh fruit, and with "Sandford and Merton," too, in which he read to her; so the morning went well.
"Papa," said Daisy, when he was about leaving her, "do you not think Dr. Sandford is a very interesting man?"
"It is the general opinion of ladies, I believe, Daisy; but I advise you not to lose your heart to him. I am afraid he is not to be depended on."
"Oh, papa," said Daisy, a little shocked, "I do not mean that he is a man one would get fond of."
"Pray who do you think is, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph, maintaining his gravity admirably.
"Papa, don't you think Captain Drummond is and "
"And who, Daisy?"
"I was thinking Mr. Dinwiddie, papa." Daisy did not quite know how well this last name would be relished, and she coloured a little apprehensively.
"You are impartial in your professional tastes, I am glad to see," said Mr. Randolph. Then, observing how innocent of understanding him was the grave little face of Daisy, he bent down to kiss her.
"And you are unfortunate in your favourites. Both at a distance! How is Gary McFarlane?"
"Papa, I think he has good nature; but I think he is rather frivolous."
Mr. Randolph looked soberly at the little face before him, and went away, thinking his own thoughts. But he had the cruelty to repeat to Dr. Sandford so much of this conversation as concerned that gentleman; in doing so he unwittingly laid the foundation of more attention to Daisy on the doctor's part, than he probably would ever otherwise have given her. To say truth the idea propounded by Daisy was so very novel to the doctor that it both amused and piqued him.
Mr. Randolph had hardly gone out, when Hephzibah came in. And then followed a lesson the like of which Daisy had not given yet. Hephzibah's attention was on everything but the business in hand. Also, she had a little less awe of Daisy lying on Mrs. Benoit's couch in a loose gown, than when she met her in the Belvedere at Melbourne, dressed in an elegant cambric frock, with a resplendent sash.
"C, a, spells ca, Hephzibah. Now what is that?"
"Over your finger?"
"C, a. And what does it spell?"
"Did the stone fall right onto your foot?"
"Yes partly on."
"And was it broke right off?"
"No. Oh, no. Only the bone of my ankle was broken."
"It smarted some, I guess; didn't it?"
"No. Now Hephzibah, what do those two letters spell?"
"C, a, ca. That don't mean nothin'."
" Now the next. D, a "
"What's D, a?"
"D, a, da."
"Nothing; only it spells that."
"How soon'll you be up again?"
"I do not know. In a few weeks."
"Before the nuts is ripe?"
"Oh, yes, I hope so."
"Well, I'll show you where there's the biggest hickory nuts you ever see! They're right back of Mr. Lamb's barn only three fields to cross and there's three hickory trees; and the biggest one has the biggest nuts, mother says, she ever see. Will you go and get some?"
"But, Hephzibah, those are Mr. Lamb's nuts, aren't they?"
"I don't care."
"But," said Daisy, looking very grave, "don't you know, Hephzibah, it is wrong to meddle with anything that belongs to other people?"
"He hain't no right to 'em, I don't believe."
"I thought you said they were in Mr. Lamb's field?"
"So they be."
"Then they are his nuts. You would not like anybody to take them, if they belonged to you."
"It don't make no odds," said Hephzibah, sturdily, but looking down at the same time. "He'll get it out of us some other way."
"Get it out of you?" said Daisy.
"What do you mean?"
"He gets it out of everybody," said Hephzibah. "Tain't no odds."
"But, Hephzibah, if those trees were yours, would you like to have Mr. Lamb come and take the nuts away?"
"No. I'd get somebody to shoot him."
Daisy hardly knew how to go along with her discourse; Hephzibah's erratic opinions started up so fast. She looked at her little rough pupil in absolute dismay. Hephzibah showed no consciousness of having said anything remarkable. Very sturdy she looked; very assured in her judgment. Daisy eyed her rough bristling hair, with an odd kind of feeling that it would not be more difficult to comb down into smoothness than the unregulated thoughts of her mind. She must begin gently. But Daisy's eyes grew most wistfully earnest.
"Would you shoot Mr. Lamb for taking away your nuts?"
"Just as lieves."
"Then, how do you think he would feel about your taking his nuts?"
"I don't care!"
"But, Hephzibah, listen. Do you know what the Bible says? It says, that we must do to other people just what we would like to have them do to us in the same things."
"Then he oughtn't to have sot such a price on his meat," said Hephzibah.
"But, then," said Daisy, "what would it be right for you to do about his nuts?"
"I don't care," said Hephzibah. " 'Tain't no odds. I'm a going to get 'em. I guess it's time for me to go home."
"But, Hephzibah, you have not done your lesson yet. I want you to learn all this row to-day. The next is, f, a, fa."
"That don't mean nothin'," said Hephzibah.
"But you want to learn it, before you can go on to what does mean something."
"I don't guess I do," said Hephzibah.
"Don't you want to learn to read?"
"Yes, but that ain't reading'."
"But you cannot learn to read without it," said Daisy.
Under this urging, Hephzibah did consent to go down the column of two-letter syllables.
"Ain't you going with me after them nuts?" she said, as soon as the bottom of the page was reached. "I'll show you a rabbit's nest. La! it's so pretty!"
"I hope you will not take the nuts, Hephzibah, without Mr. Lamb's leave."
"I ain't going to ask his leave," said Hephzibah. "He wouldn't give it to me, besides. It's fun, I tell you."
"It is wrong," said Daisy. "I don't think there's any fun in doing what's wrong."
"It is fun, though, I tell you," said Hephzibah. "It's real sport. The nuts come down like rain; and we get whole baskets full. And then, when you crack 'em, I tell you, they are sweet."
"Hephzibah, do you know what the Bible says?"
"I don't want to learn no more to-day," said the child. "I'm going. Good bye, Daisy."
She stayed no further instruction of any kind; but caught up her calico sun-bonnet, and went off at a jump, calling out "Good bye, Daisy!" when she had got some yards from the house.
Daisy lay still, looking very thoughtful.
"The child has just tired you, my love!" said the black woman.
"What shall I do, Juanita? She doesn't understand."
"My love knows who opened the eyes of the blind," said Juanita.
Daisy sighed. Certainly teaching seemed to take very small hold on her rough little pupil. These thoughts were suddenly banished by the entrance of Mrs. Randolph.
The lady was alone this time. How like herself she looked, handsome and stately, in characteristic elegance of attire and manner both. Her white morning dress floated off in soft edges of lace from her white arms; a shawl of precious texture was gathered loosely about them; on her head, a gossamer web of some fancy manufacture fell off on either side, a mock covering for it. She came up to Daisy and kissed her, and then examined into her various arrangements, to see that she was in all respects well and properly cared for.
Her mother's presence made Daisy feel very meek. Her kiss had been affectionate, her care was motherly; but with all that there was not a turn of her hand nor a tone of her calm voice, that did not imply and express absolute possession, perfect control. That Daisy was a little piece of property belonging to her in sole right, with which she did and would do precisely what it might please her, with very little concern how or whether it might please Daisy. Daisy was very far from putting all this in words, or even in distinct thoughts; nevertheless, she felt and knew every bit of it; her mother's hand did not touch Daisy's foot or her shoulder, without her inward consciousness what a powerful hand it was. Now it is true that all this was in one way no new thing; Daisy had always known her mother's authority to be just what it was now; but it was only of late that a question had arisen about the bearing of this authority upon her own little life and interests. With the struggle that had been, and the new knowledge that more struggles in the future were not impossible, the consciousness of her mother's power over her had a new effect. Mrs. Randolph sat down and took out her tetting-work; but she only did a few stitches.
"What child was that I met running from the house as I came up?" she asked, a little to Daisy's discomfiture.
"It was a little girl who belongs in the village, mamma."
"How comes she to know you?"
"It happened by accident partly, in the first place."
"Mamma, I will tell you another time, if you will let me." For Daisy knew that Juanita was not far off.
But Mrs. Randolph only said, "Tell me now."
"Mamma it was partly an accident," Daisy repeated. "I found out by accident that they were very poor and I carried them something to eat."
"Whom do you mean by 'them'?"
"That little girl and her mother Mrs. Harbonner."
"When did you do this?"
"About the time of my birthday."
"And you have kept up the acquaintance since that time?"
"I carried the woman work once, mamma. I had papa's leave to go."
"Did you ask mine?"
"No, mamma. It was papa who had forbidden me to go into any house without leave; so I asked him to let me tell her about the work."
"What was this child here for, to-day?"
"Mamma she is a poor child, and could not go to school; and I was trying to teach her something."
"What were you trying to teach her?"
"To read, mamma and to do right."
"Have you ever done this before."
"Yes, mamma a few times."
"Can it be that you have a taste for low society, Daisy?"
Mrs. Randolph had been asking questions calmly while going on with her tetting-work: at this one she raised her eyes and bent them full, with steady, cold inquiry, on Daisy's face. Daisy looked a little troubled.
"No, mamma I do not think I have."
"Is not this child very rude and ill-mannered?"
"Yes, ma'am, but "
"Is she even a clean child?"
"Not very, mamma."
"You are changed, Daisy," said Mrs. Randolph, with a slight but keen expression of disdain. The child felt it, yet felt it not at all to the moving of her steadfastness.
"Mamma it was only that I might teach her. She knows nothing at all, almost."
"And does Daisy Randolph think such a child is a fit companion for her?"
"Not a companion, mamma."
"What business have you with a child who is not a fit companion for you?"
"Only, mamma, to try to be of some benefit to her."
"I shall be of some benefit to you, now. Since I cannot trust you, Daisy since your own delicacy and feeling of what is right does not guide you in such matters, I shall lay my commands on you for the future. You are to have nothing to do with any person, younger or older, without finding out what my pleasure is about it. Do you understand me?"
"You are to give no more lessons to children who are not fit companions for you. You are not to have anything to do with this child in particular. Daisy, understand me I forbid you to speak to her again."
"Oh, mamma "
"Not a word," said Mrs. Randolph.
"But, mamma, please! just this. May I not tell her once, that I cannot teach her? She will think me so strange!"
Mrs. Randolph was silent.
"Might I not, just that once, mamma?"
"She will not know what to think of me," said Daisy; her lip trembling, her eye reddening, and only able by the greatest self-control to keep from bursting into tears.
"That is your punishment" replied Mrs. Randolph, in a satisfied, quiet sort of way.
Daisy felt crushed. She could hardly think.
"I am going to take you in hand, and bring you into order," said Mrs. Randolph, with a smile, bending over to kiss Daisy, and looking at her lips and eyes in a way Daisy wished she would not. The meek little face certainly promised small difficulty in her way, and Mrs. Randolph kissed the trembling mouth again.
"I do not think we shall quarrel," she remarked. "But if we do, Daisy, I shall know how to bear my part of it."
She turned carelessly to her tetting again, and Daisy lay still; quiet and self-controlled, it was all she could do. She could hardly bear to watch her mother at her work; the thought of "quarrels" between them was so inevitable and so dreadful. She could hardly bear to look out of her window; the sunshine and bright things out there seemed to remind her of her troubles; for they did not look bright now, as they had done in the early morning. She lay still and kept still; that was all; while Mrs. Randolph kept at her work, amusing herself with it an uncommonly long time. At last she was tired; threw her shawl round her shoulders again, and stood up to go.
"I think we can soon have you home, Daisy," she said, as she stooped to kiss her. "Ask Dr. Sandford when he comes, how soon it will do now to move you; ask him tonight; will you?"
Daisy said, "Yes, mamma," and Mrs. Randolph went.
The day was a heavy one to Daisy and Juanita after that. The little cottage was very silent. Daisy lay still, saying nothing, and generally keeping her face turned towards the window so that her friend could not see it; and when Mrs. Benoit proposed, as she several times did, to read to Daisy or sing to her, she was always answered by a gentle, "No, Juanita," which was as decided as it was gentle. The last time, indeed, Daisy had yielded, and given assent to the proposition; but Mrs. Benoit did not feel sure that she gave anything else; either attention or approbation. Daisy's dinner she had prepared with particular care; but it was not enjoyed; Mrs. Benoit knew that. She sighed to herself, and then sang to herself, in a softly kind of way; Daisy gave no heed, and only lay still with her face turned to the window.
By and by, late in the afternoon, the doctor came in. He was not a favourite of Mrs. Benoit, but she was glad to see him now. She withdrew a little out of the way and watched to see what he would say.
The doctor's first care as usual was the foot. That was going on well. Having attended to that, he looked at Daisy's face. It did not seem to him satisfactory, Mrs. Benoit saw; for his next move was to the head of the couch, and he felt Daisy's hand, while his eyes studied her.
"How do you do to-day?"
"I am getting better," said Daisy.
"Are you? Your voice sounds weak to-night."
"I do not suppose I am very strong."
"How many wonderful things have you found to-day?"
"I have not thought about them I have not found any."
Doctor Sandford bent a little over Daisy's couch, holding her hand still, and examining her.
"What is the matter, Daisy?" said he.
Daisy fidgeted. The doctor's fine blue eyes were too close to her and too steady to be escaped from. Daisy turned her own eyes uneasily away, then brought them back; she could not help it. He was waiting for her to speak.
"Dr. Sandford," she said, humbly, "won't you please excuse me?"
"Excuse you what, Daisy?"
"From telling you what you want to know."
"Pray, why should I?"
"It is something that is quite private to myself."
If the doctor's lips remained perfectly still for some moments, it was because they had a private inclination to smile, in which he would not indulge them. Daisy saw nothing but the most moveless gravity.
"Private from all but your physician, Daisy," he said at last. "Do not you know he is an exception to general rules?"
"Is he?" said Daisy.
"Certainly. I always become acquainted with people's private affairs."
"But I do not want that you should be acquainted with mine."
"No matter. You are under my care," said the doctor. Then after a minute, he added, in a lower tone, "What have you been shedding tears about to-day?"
Daisy's face looked intensely grave; wise and old beyond her days, though the mouth was also sweet. So she faced the doctor, and answered him with the sedateness of fifty years "I can't very well tell you, Dr. Sandford."
"You have been shedding tears to-day?"
"Yes, sir " said Daisy, softly.
"A good many of them? You have been lying here with your face to the window, crying quietly, a good part of the afternoon have you not?"
"Yes, sir," said Daisy, wondering at him.
"Now, I am your physician, and must know what was the matter."
"It is something I cannot tell about, Dr. Sandford."
"Yes, Daisy, you are mistaken. Whatever concerns you, concerns me; if it is the concern of nobody else. Were you tired of lying here so long, day after day?"
"Oh, no, sir! I don't mind that at all. I mean I don't mind it at all, much."
"You do not?" said the doctor. "Have you lost a pet kitten, or a beloved lap-dog?"
"I haven't any, either a kitten or a dog," said Daisy.
"Has that young cavalier, Preston Gary, neglected you?"
"He would not do that," said Daisy; "but he is very fond of shooting."
"He is!" said Dr. Sandford. "Most boys are. You have not felt lonely, then, Daisy?"
"Oh, no, sir."
"I believe I should, in your place. What is the matter, then? I ask as your friend and physician; and you must tell me, Daisy. Who has been to see you to-day?"
"Papa he came and read to me. Then a little girl and mamma."
"Did the little girl trouble you?"
"Not much " said Daisy, hesitatingly.
"In what way?"
"She only would not learn to read as fast as I wanted."
"You were the teacher?"
"Yes, sir I was trying I wanted to teach her."
"And has her obduracy or stupidity caused all this sorrow and annoyance?"
"Oh, no, sir " But Daisy's eyes filled.
"Then has Mrs. Randolph been the trouble-maker?"
Now Daisy flushed, her lip worked tremblingly; she turned her little head to one side, and laid her hand over her brow, to baffle those steady blue eyes of the doctor's. But the doctor left the side of the couch, and took a step or two towards where Juanita was sitting.
"Mrs. Benoit," said he, "has this little patient of yours had her tea?"
"No, sir. His honour knows, it's early yet in the afternoon."
"Not so very. Do you mean she took enough for dinner to last her till to-morrow?"
"No, sir; her dinner was little better than nothing."
"Then make a cup, in your best style, Mrs. Benoit and perhaps you will give me one. And have you got any more of those big raspberries for her? bring them, and a bit of toast."
While Juanita was gone on this business, which took a little time, the doctor slowly paced back and forth through the small cottage room, with his hands behind him, and a thoughtful face. Daisy fancied he was considering her affair; but she was very much mistaken; Dr. Sandford had utterly forgotten her for the moment, and was pondering some difficult professional business. When Juanita appeared with her tea tray, he came out of his abstraction; and, though still with a very unrelaxed face, he arranged Daisy's pillows so that she might be raised up a little, and feel more comfortable. His hands were strong and skilful, and kind too; there was a sort of pleasure in having them manage her; but Daisy looked on with a little wonder to see him take the charge of being her servitor in what came afterwards. He made her a cup of tea; let her taste it from his hands; and gave the plate of raspberries into her own.
"Is it good?" he asked her.
"Very good!" Daisy said, with so gentle and reverential a look at him, that the doctor smiled. He said nothing, however, at present, but to take care that she had her supper; and looked meanwhile to see the colour of Daisy's cheeks change a little, and the worn, wearied lines of her face take a more natural form. His own ministrations were more effectual than the eating and drinking; it was so very odd to have Dr. Sandford waiting upon her that Daisy was diverted, and could not help it.
"Will you take some tea too, Dr. Sandford?" she said, in the midst of this. "Won't you take it now, while it is hot?"
"I take my tea cold, Daisy, thank you. I'll have it presently."
So he poured out his own cup, and left it to cool, while he attended to Daisy; and when she would have no more, he took the cup from the tray, and sent Mrs. Benoit off with the rest of the things.
"Now, Daisy," said he, as he took away her bolstering pillows, and laid her nicely down again, "now, Daisy, I am your confidential friend and physician, and I want to know what command Mrs. Randolph has given to trouble you. It is my business to know, and you must tell me."
He was so cool about it, and so determined, that Daisy was staggered. He stood holding her hand, and waiting for her answer.
Daisy came to a great stop. The doctor waited.
"It was about the little girl."
"Very well. Go on, Daisy." He took up his cup of tea now and began to sip it.
Poor Daisy! She had never been more bewildered in her life.
"What about the little girl?"
"Mamma doesn't want me to teach her."
"Is it so favourite an amusement?"
"No, sir " said Daisy, hesitatingly.
"Was that all the trouble?"
The doctor sipped his cup of tea, and looked at Daisy. He did not say anything more; yet his eyes so steadily waited for what further she had to say, that Daisy fidgeted; like a fascinated creature, obliged to do what it would not. She could not help looking into Dr. Sandford's face, and she could not withstand what she saw there.
"Dr. Sandford," she began in her old-fashioned way, "you are asking me what is private between my mother and me."
"Nothing is private from your physician, Daisy. I am not Dr. Sandford; I am your physician."
"But you are Dr. Sandford to mamma."
"The business is entirely between you and me."
Daisy hesitated a little longer, but the power of fascination upon her was irresistible.
"I was sorry not to teach the little girl," she said at length; "but I was particularly troubled because because "
"Mrs. Randolph was displeased with your system of benevolence?"
"No not that. Yes, I was troubled about that too. But what troubled me most was that mamma would not let me speak to her, to tell her why I must not teach her. I must not say anything to her again, at all."
Dr. Sandford's eyes, looking, saw that Daisy had indeed spoken out her trouble now. Such a cloud of sorrow came over her brow; such witnessing redness about her eyelids, though Daisy let the witness of tears get no further.
"What do you suppose was your mother's purpose in making that last regulation?" he went on, in a cool, business tone.
"I don't know I suppose to punish me," Daisy said, faintly.
"Punish you for what?"
"Mamma did not like me to teach that little girl and I had done it, I mean I had begun to do it, without asking her."
"Was it a great pleasure?" said the doctor.
"It would have been a great pleasure if I could have taught her to read," Daisy said, with her face brightening at the idea.
"I presume it would. Well, Daisy, now you and I will arrange this affair. I do not consider it wholesome for you to engage in this particular amusement at this particular time; so I shall endorse Mrs. Randolph's prohibition; but I will go round where does this girl live, and who is she?"
"Her name is Hephzibah Harbonner; she lives in the village, on the road where the Episcopal church is you know; a little way further on. I guess it's a quarter of a mile."
"South, eh? Well, I will go round by her house, and tell the girl that I cannot let you do any such kindnesses just now, and that, till I give her leave, she must not come to see you. How will that do, Daisy."
"Thank you, Dr. Sandford!"
He saw it was very earnestly spoken, and that Daisy's brow looked clearer.
"And instead of that amusement, you must study wonderful things to-morrow. Will you?"
"Oh, yes, Dr. Sandford! But we have not finished about the sun yet."
"No. Well to-morrow, then, Daisy."
"Thank you, sir. Dr. Sandford, mamma wanted me to ask you a question before you go."
"How soon I can be moved home?''
"Are you in a great hurry?"
"No, sir, but I think mamma is."
"You call bear to wait a little longer, and study wonderful things from your window?"
"Oh, yes, sir! I think I can do it better here than at home, because my bed is so close to the window, I can look right out."
"I shall not let you be moved just yet, Daisy. Good-night. I will see what's her name?"
"Harbonner Hephzibah Harbonner."
And Daisy watched the doctor as he went down the path, mounted his horse, and rode away, with great admiration; thinking how handsome and how clever and how chivalric he was. Daisy did not use that word in thinking of him; nevertheless, his skilful nursing, and his taking up her cause so effectually, had made a great impression upon her. She was greatly comforted. Juanita, watching her face, saw that it looked so; there was even a dawning smile upon Daisy's lips at one time. It faded however into a deep gravity; and one or two long drawn breaths told of heavy thoughts.
"What troubles has my love?" said the old woman.
Daisy turned her head quick round from the window, and smiled a very sweet smile in her face.
"I was thinking, Juanita."
"My little lady has a cloud come over her again."
"Yes, Juanita, I think I have. Oh, Juanita, I might tell you! What shall I do, when everybody wants me to do what what I don't think is right? What shall I do, Juanita? I don't know what I shall do."
"Suppose Miss Daisy take the Bible to her pa' Miss Daisy knows what her pa' promised."
"So he did, Juanita! thank you; I had forgotten that."
In five minutes more, Daisy was fast asleep. The black woman stood looking at her. There was no cloud on the little face now, but the signs of the day's work were there. Pale cheeks, and weary features, and the tokens of past tears. Juanita stood and looked, and twinkled away one or two from her own eye-lashes; and then knelt down at the head of the bed, and began a whispered prayer. A prayer for the little child before her, in which her heart poured itself out, that she might be kept from evil, and might walk in the straight path, and never be tempted or driven from it. Juanita's voice grew louder than a whisper in her earnestness; but Daisy slept on.
SUN AND MOON.
The next day was an exceedingly hot and sultry one. Daisy had no visitors until quite late in the afternoon; however it was a peaceful day. She lay quiet and happy, and Juanita was quite as well contented that the house should be empty, and they two alone. Late in the afternoon, Preston came.
"Well, my dear little Daisy! so you are coming home?"
"Arm I?" said Daisy.
"To be sure; and your foot is going to get well, and we are going to have all sorts of grand doings for you."
"My foot is getting well."
"Certainly. Don't be a Quaker, Daisy."
"What sort of doings are you going to have, Preston?"
"First thing as soon as you are well enough for it we are going to have a grand pic-nic party to Silver Lake."
"Silver Lake? what, on the other side of the river?"
"Oh, how delightful! But I shall not be able to go in a long time, Preston."
"Yes, you will. Aunt Felicia says you are coming back to Melbourne now; and once we get you there, we'll cure you up. Why, you must have moped half your wits away by this time. I don't expect to find more than two-thirds of the original Daisy left."
"I haven't moped at all."
"There! that is proof the first. When people are moping, and do not know they are moping, that is the sign their wits are departing. Poor Daisy! I don't wonder. We'll get you to rights at Melbourne."
"Doctor Sandford will not let me be moved."
"Doctor Sandford cannot help himself. When aunt Felicia says so, he will find ways and means."
"Preston," said Daisy, "I do not think you understand what sort of a man Dr. Sandford is."
"Pray enlighten me, Daisy. I thought I did."
But Daisy was silent.
"What sort of a man is he?"
"Preston," said Daisy, abruptly, "I wish you would bring me from Melbourne that tray filled with something, plaster, I don't know what it is, on which Captain Drummond and I studied geography, and history."