"Mrs. Stanfield, you had better come with us," Mr. Randolph said. "There is plenty of room. Your boat is too small. You would find it unpleasantly rough in mid-channel."
"Oh, is it rough?" exclaimed the lady.
"For your little row-boat I am afraid you would find it so. The wind has roughened the water considerably, and it has not had time to get quiet. Come with us, and we will all take supper together at Melbourne."
It was arranged so. The party were stowed away in the large sail-boat, which held them all well enough; the children being happy at finding themselves seated together.
"What are we waiting for?" said Mrs. Gary when all had been in their places some minutes, and conversation was the only thing moving. "What are we staying here for?"
"He is yonder in our late place of shelter. James and Michael have gone to fetch him with Daisy's chair."
"Sam! Why, he might have stayed there till to-morrow and no hurt. Have we got to wait till the men go there and bring him back? We shall be late at supper!"
"The river will be all the quieter, Mrs. Gary," said Mr. Randolph, mischievously.
"The river? You don't mean to say it is not quiet?"
"It was not quiet a while ago, I assure you."
"Well, I do think, if ever there was a misnamed thing, it is a party of pleasure," said the lady, disconsolately.
"They are very pleasant when they are over, sister Gary," said Mr. Randolph.
"Daisy," Nora whispered, "are you afraid?"
"Your father says it is rough."
"He knows how to manage the boat," said Daisy.
"It isn't rough, I don't believe," said Ella Stanfield. "It isn't rough now."
"I wish we were at the other side," said Nora.
"Oh, Nora, I think it is nice," said Daisy. "How bright the moonlight is! Look! all over the river there is a broad strip. I hope we shall sail along just in that strip. Isn't it wonderful, Nora?"
"No. What?" said Nora.
"That there should be something like a looking-glass up in the sky to catch the sunlight and reflect it down to us when we cannot see the sun itself."
"Well, the moon catches the sunlight just so, as a looking- glass would."
"How do you know, Daisy? I think it shines."
"I know because I have been told. It does not shine, any more than a looking-glass."
"Who told you?"
"Dr. Sandford," Daisy whispered.
"Did he! Then why don't we have the moon every night?"
"Because the looking-glass, if you can imagine that it is a looking-glass, does not always hang where it can catch the sun."
"Don't it? I don't like to think it is a looking-glass," said Nora. "I would a great deal rather think it is the moon."
"Well, so it is," said Daisy. "You can think so."
"Daisy, what should we do if it should be rough in the middle of the river?"
"I like it," said Ella Stanfield.
"Perhaps it will not be very rough," said Daisy.
"But suppose it should? And where the moon don't shine it is so dark!"
"Nora," said Daisy, very low, "don't you love Jesus?"
Nora at that flounced round, and turning her face from Daisy. and the moonlight, began to talk to Ella Stanfield on the other side of her. Daisy did not understand what it meant.
All this while, and a good while longer, the rest of the people were waiting with various degrees of patience and impatience for the coming of Sam and the men. It was pretty there by the shore, if they had not been impatient. The evening breeze was exceedingly fragrant and fresh; the light which streamed down from the moon was sparkling on all the surface of the water, and laid a broad band of illumination like a causeway across the river. In one or two places the light showed the sails of a sloop or schooner on her way up or down; and along the shore it grew daintily hazy and soft. But impatience was nevertheless the prominent feeling on board the sail-boat; and it had good time to display itself before Michael and James could go all the distance back to the house and bring Sam away from it.
"Here he is!" "There they are at last!" were the words of hail with which their appearance was greeted. "Now off" and with all haste the three were received on board and the vessel pushed out into the stream. Immediately her sail caught the breeze which came fair down the river, and careening a little as she took it, her head began to make good speed across the causeway of moonlight. But then the ladies began to scream; for in mid-channel the wind was fresh and the waters had not quite forgotten yet the tumult of the late storm, which had tossed them well. The sail-boat danced bravely, up and down, going across the waves. Among the frightened people was Nora, who, grasping Daisy's dress with one hand and some part of the boat with the other, kept uttering little cries of "Oh Daisy " "Oh! Daisy," with every fresh lurch of the vessel. Ella Stanfield had thrown herself down in her mother's lap. Daisy was very much tried.
"Nora," she said, "I wish you would not cry so!"
"But I am afraid!"
"I wish you would be comforted, and not cry out so," sighed Daisy. "Papa says there is no danger didn't you hear him?"
"But, oh, I am afraid!" re-echoed Nora.
Daisy folded her hands, and tried to bide patiently the time of smooth water. It came, partially at least, as they neared the opposite bank. The boat went steadily; spirits revived; and soon the passage was brought to an end and the sail-boat laid alongside the little jetty, on which the party, men, women and children, stepped out with as sincere a feeling of pleasure as had moved them all day. Carriages were in waiting; a few minutes brought the whole company to Melbourne House.
Here they were to stay supper; and the ladies and gentlemen dispersed to various dressing rooms to prepare for it. Soonest of all ready and in the drawing-room were the three children.
"I am so hungry!" said Nora.
"So am I!" said Ella Stanfield.
"We shall have supper presently," said Daisy.
"Oh, Daisy, weren't you afraid in the boat, when it went up and down so?"
"I do not think I was afraid," said Daisy, "if other people had not been so disturbed."
"I don't see how they could help being disturbed," said Ella Stanfield. "Why, the boat didn't sail straight at all."
"But that does not do any harm," said Daisy.
"How do you know?" said Nora. "I think it does harm; I do not think it is safe."
"But you know, Nora, when the disciples were in the boat, and thought it was not safe the wind blew so, you know they ought to have trusted Jesus, and not been afraid."
Nora and Ella both looked at Daisy for a minute after this speech, and then by some train of association Nora started another subject.
"Daisy, have you got my Egyptian spoon yet?"
Now was Daisy in a great difficulty. She flushed; the little face which had been pale enough before, became of a delicate pink hue all over. Not knowing what to say, she said nothing.
"Have you got it yet?" repeated Nora, curiously.
"No, Nora. I have not."
"You have not? What have you done with it?"
"My Egyptian spoon! that Marmaduke gave me to give to you! You have not kept it! What did you do with it, Daisy?"
"I did nothing with it."
"Did you break it?"
"Did you give it away?"
"Oh, Nora, I loved it very much," said poor Daisy; "but I could not keep it. I could not!"
"Why couldn't you? I would not have given it to you, Daisy, if I had thought you would not have kept it."
"I wanted to keep it very much but I could not," said Daisy, with the tears in her eyes.
"Why 'could not'? why couldn't you? Did you give it away, Daisy? that spoon I gave you?"
"Nora, I could not help it! Somebody else wanted it very much, and I was obliged to let her have it. I could not help it."
"I shall tell Marmaduke that you did not care for it," said Nora in an offended tone. "I wish I had kept it myself. It was a beautiful spoon."
Daisy looked very much troubled.
"Who has got it?" Nora went on.
"It is no matter who has got it," said Daisy. "I couldn't keep it."
"She is right, Nora," said Preston, who came up just then, at the same time with the doctor. "She could not keep it, because it was taken away from her without any leave asked. I mean she shall have it back, too, one of these days. Don't you say another word to Daisy! she has behaved like a little angel about it."
Preston's manner made an impression, as well as his words. Nora was checked.
"What is all that, Nora?" the doctor asked.
Now Nora had a great awe of him. She did not, dare not answer.
"It is about a spoon I gave Daisy, that she gave away."
"She did not, I tell you!" said Preston.
"A spoon?" said the doctor. "Silver?"
"Oh, no! A beautiful, old, very old, carved, queer old spoon, with a duck's bill, that came out of an old Egyptian tomb, and was put there ever so long ago."
"Did your brother give it to you?"
"Yes, to give to Daisy, and she gave it to somebody else."
"Nora, I did not give it as you think I did. I loved it very much. I would not have let anybody have it if I could have helped it."
"Who has got it, Daisy?" asked the doctor.
Daisy looked at him, looked perplexed, flushed a little, finally said with demure gentleness, "Dr. Sandford, I think I ought not to tell."
The doctor smiled, took Daisy's hand, and led her off to the supper room, whither they were now invited. So it happened that her seat at the table was again by his side. Daisy liked it. Just then she did not care about being with Nora.
The people gathered, bright and fresh, around the supper table, all seeming to have forgotten their fatigues and frights; and every face looked smiling or gracious. The day was over, the river was crossed; the people were hungry; and the most dainty and perfectly arranged supply of refreshments stood on the board. Coffee and tea steamed out their grateful announcements; ice cream stood in red and white pyramids of firmness; oysters and cold meats and lobster salad offered all that hungry people could desire; and everybody was in a peculiar state of gratified content and expectation.
Daisy was no exception. She had let slip her momentary trouble about the Egyptian spoon; and in her quiet corner, quite unnoticed as she thought, looked at the bright scene and enjoyed it. She liked being under the doctor's care too, and his care of her was very thoughtful and kind. He did not forget the little quiet mouse at his elbow; but after he had properly attended to the other people whose claims came first, he served her nicely with whatever was good for her. Was Daisy going to omit her usual giving of thanks? She thought of her mother's interference with a moment's flash of hesitancy; but resolved to go on just as usual. She did not think she would be noticed, everybody was so busy; and at any rate there was a burden of gladness in her little heart that must speak. While the talking and laughing and click of knives and forks was thick all around her, Daisy's little head bent in a moment's oblivion of it all behind her hand.
She had raised her head and just taken her fork in her fingers when she heard her own name. She looked up.
"Daisy " said her mother, quietly "come here."
Daisy left her seat, and went round to her mother's side.
"You may go up stairs," said Mrs. Randolph.
"Go and remain till I send for you."
Daisy slipped away quietly, before anybody could notice that she was gone or going. Then slowly went up the stairs and along the passages to her own room. It was empty and dark, except for the moonlight without; June had not expected her to be there, and had not made preparation. Daisy went, and kneeled down in her old place by her window; her eyes filled as full of tears as they could hold. She bent her little head to brush them away, but they came again. Daisy was faint and tired; she wanted her supper very much; and she had enjoyed the supper-table very much; it was a great mortification to exchange it for the gloom and silence of her moonlit room. She had not a bit of strength to keep her spirits up. Daisy felt weak. And what was the matter? Only that she had, against her mother's pleasure, repeated her acknowledgment of the hand that had given her all good things. How many good things that day! And was she not to make such acknowledgment any more? Ought she to please her mother in this? Had she really done wrong? Daisy could not tell; she thought not; she could not wish she had not done what she did; but at the same time it was very miserable to have Mrs. Randolph at odds with her on such a point as this.
Daisy shed some tears about it; yet not a great many, and without the least bitterness in them. But she felt faint and tired and disappointed. Here, however, at her own room-window, and alone, there was no bar to thanksgivings; and Daisy had them in her heart, as well as prayers for the people who had them not. She was too tired to pray at last; she only knelt at the window with her arms on the sill, Daisy was raised up on an ottoman and looked out at the moonlight, feeling as if she was going into a dream.
"Miss Daisy!" said the smothered voice of June behind her "are you there, Miss Daisy?"
June's accent was doubtful and startled. Daisy turned round.
"Miss Daisy! I thought you was in the supper-room."
"No, June I'm here."
"Will you go to bed, Miss Daisy?"
"I wish, June, you would get me something to eat, first," said Daisy, languidly.
"Didn't you get your supper, Miss Daisy?"
"No, and I'm hungry. I haven't had anything since the dinner at the lake. I wish you'd make haste, June."
June knew from Daisy's way of speaking, as well as from the facts of the case, that there was some trouble on foot. She went off to get supper, and as she went along the passages the mulatto woman's hand was clenched upon itself, though her face showed only its usual wrinkles.
Small delay was there before she was back again, and with her June had brought a supply of very nearly everything there had been on the supper-table. She set down her tray, prepared a table for Daisy, and placed a chair. The room was light now with two wax candles. Daisy sat down and took a review.
"What will you have now, Miss Daisy? Here's some hot oysters nice and hot. I'll get you some ice-cream when you're ready to eat it Hiram's got it in the freezer for you. Make haste, Miss Daisy these oysters is good."
But Daisy did not make haste. She looked at the supper tray thoughtfully.
"June," she said, with a very gentle pure glance of her eyes up at the mulatto woman's face "I am very much obliged to you but I don't think mamma means me to eat these things to- night Will you just get me some milk and some bread? I'll take some bread and milk!"
"Miss Daisy, these oysters is good for you," said June.
"I'll take some bread and milk to-night if you will please make haste. Thank you, June."
"Miss Daisy, then, maybe take a sandwich."
"No I will have nothing but bread and milk. Only quick, June."
June went off for the bread and milk, and then very unwillingly carried her supper-tray down stairs again. Going through one of the passages she was met by her master.
"Where is that coming from, June?" he asked her, in surprise.
"From Miss Daisy's room, sir."
"Has she been taking supper up there?"
"No, sir Miss Daisy wouldn't touch nothing."
"Is she unwell?" Mr. Randolph asked, in a startled tone.
"No, sir." June's tone was dry.
Mr. Randolph marched at once to the room in question, where Daisy was eating her bread and milk.
"What are you doing, Daisy?"
"Papa!" said the child, with a start; and then quietly, "I am taking my supper."
"Were you not at the table down stairs?"
"How came you not to have your supper there?"
"I had to come away, papa."
"Are you not well, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph, tenderly, bending down over her chair.
"Yes, papa quite well."
"Then, why did you come away?"
Daisy's spoon lay still in her fingers and her eyes reddened. "Mamma sent me."
If the child was to have any supper at all, Mr. Randolph saw, he must forbear his questioning. He rose up from leaning over her chair. "Go on, Daisy " he said; and he left her, but did not leave the room. He walked up and down the floor at a little distance, while Daisy finished her bread and milk She was too much in want of it not to do that. When it was done she got out of her chair and stood on the floor looking at her father, as gentle as a young sparrow. He came and wheeled her chair round and sat down upon it.
"What is the matter, Daisy?"
"Mamma was displeased with me." The child dropped her eyes.
"Papa" said Daisy, slowly, trying for words and perhaps also for self-command "mamma was displeased with me because I "
"Papa because I did what she did not like at dinner."
"At dinner? what was that?"
The child lifted her eyes now to her father's face, a little wistfully.
"Papa don't you know? I was only praying a minute."
Mr. Randolph stretched out his arm, drew Daisy up to him, placed her on his knee, and looked down into her face.
"Did you have no supper downstairs?"
"Do you like bread and milk better than other things?"
"I met June with a great tray of supper things, and she said you would not eat them. Why was that?"
"Papa," said Daisy, "I thought mamma did not mean me to have those things to-night."
"She did not forbid you?"
Mr. Randolph's arm was round Daisy; now he wrapped both arms about her, bringing her up close to his breast, and putting down his lips to her face, he kissed her over and over, with a great tenderness.
"Have you had a pleasant day?"
"Papa, I have had a great many pleasant things," said Daisy, eagerly. Her voice had changed and a glad tone had come into it.
"Dr. Sandford took proper care of you?"
"Papa, he is very good!' said Daisy, strongly.
"I rather think he thinks you are."
"He is nice, papa."
"Nice " said Mr. Randolph. "He is pretty well. But now, Daisy, what do you think of going to bed and to sleep?"
"And to-morrow, if you have got into any difficulty, you may come to me and talk about it."
Daisy returned a very earnest caress to her father's good- night kiss, and afterwards had no difficulty in doing as he had said. And so ended the day on Silver Lake.
RANSOM AND FIDO.
Daisy reflected the next morning as to what was her right course with respect to the action that had troubled her mother so much. Ought she to do it? In the abstract it was right to do it; but ought she in these circumstances? And how much of a Christian's ordinary duty might she be required to forego? and where must the stand be made? Daisy did not know; she had rather the mind of a soldier, and was much inclined to obey her orders, as such, come what might. That is, it seemed to her that so she would be in the sure and safe way; but Daisy had no appetite at all for the fighting that this course would ensure. One thing she knew by experience; that if she drew upon herself a direct command to do such a thing no more, the order would stand; there would be no dealing with it afterwards except in the way of submission. That command she had not in this case yet received, and she judged it prudent not to risk receiving it. She went down to breakfast as usual, but she did not bow her little head to give any thanks or make any prayers. She hoped the breakfast would pass off quietly. So it did as to that matter. But another subject came up.
"What became of you last night at supper, Daisy?" her aunt asked. "Dr. Sandford was enquiring for you. I think you received quite your share of attention, for so young a lady, for my part."
"Daisy had more than anybody else, yesterday," remarked Eloise.
"A sprained or a broken ankle is a very good thing occasionally," said Mr. Randolph.
"Yes," said Mrs. Gary "I think Daisy had quite the best time of anybody yesterday. A palanquin with gentlemen for her porters, and friendly arms to go to sleep in most devoted care!"
"Yes, I was one of her porters," said Ransom. "I think Dr. Sandford takes rather too much on himself."
"Did he take you?" said Mr. Randolph.
"Yes, sir, when there was no occasion."
"Why, Ransom," said Daisy, "there was no one else to carry my chair but Preston and you."
"Did Preston feel aggrieved?" asked his uncle.
"Certainly not, sir," replied the boy. "It was a pleasure."
"It was not Ransom's business," said Mrs. Randolph.
"I suppose it was not the doctor's business either," said Mr. Randolph "though he made it so afterwards."
"Oh, I dare say it was a pleasure to him, too," said Mrs. Gary. "Really, the doctor did not take care of anybody yesterday, that I saw, except Daisy. I thought he admired Frederica Fish I had heard so but there was nothing of it. Daisy was quite queen of the day."
Mr. Randolph smiled.
Ransom seemed to consider himself insulted. "I suppose that was the reason," he said, "that she called me worse than a dog, because I took a meringue from the dinner-spread."
"Did you do that, Daisy?" asked her mother.
"No, mamma," said Daisy, low. Her face had flushed with astonishment and sorrow.
"You did," said Ransom. "You said just that."
"Oh, no, Ransom you forget."
"What did you say, Daisy?" asked her mother.
"Mamma, I did not say that. I said something I did not mean it for anything like that."
"Tell me exactly what you did say and no more delay."
"Wait till after breakfast," said Mr. Randolph. "I wish to be present at the investigation of this subject, Felicia but I would rather take it by itself than with my coffee."
So there was a lull in the storm which seemed to be gathering. It gave Daisy time to think. She was in a great puzzle. How she could get through the matter without exposing all Ransom's behaviour, all at least which went before the blow given to herself, Daisy did not see; she was afraid that truth would force her to bring it all out. And she was very unwilling to do that, because in the first place she had established a full amnesty in her own heart for all that Ransom had done, and wished rather for an opportunity to please than to criminate him; and, in the second place, in her inward consciousness she knew that Mrs. Randolph was likely to be displeased with her, in any event. She would certainly, if Daisy were an occasion of bringing Ransom into disgrace; though the child doubted privately whether her word would have weight enough with her mother for that. Ransom also had time to think, and his brow grew gloomy. An investigation is never what a guilty party desires; and judging her by himself, Ransom had reason to dread the chance of retaliation which such a proceeding would give his little sister. So Daisy and Ransom wore thoughtful faces during the rest of breakfast-time; and the result of Ransom's reflections was that the investigation would go on most pleasantly without him. He made up his mind to slip away, if he had a chance, and be missing. He had the chance; for Mr. and Mrs. Randolph were engaged with a call of some neighbours immediately after breakfast; all thought of the children's affairs seemed to be departed. Ransom waited a safe time, and then departed too, with Preston, on an expedition which would last all the morning. Daisy alone bided the hour, a good deal disturbed in the view of what it might bring.
She was summoned at last to the library. Her father and mother were there alone; but just after Daisy came in she was followed by Dr. Sandford. The doctor came with a message. Mrs. Sandford, his sister, he said, sent by him to beg that Daisy might come to spend the day with Nora Dinwiddie, who much desired her presence. In the event of a favourable answer, the doctor said he would himself drive Daisy over, and would call for that purpose in another hour or two. He delivered his message, and Mrs. Randolph replied at once that Daisy could not go; she could not permit it.
Mr. Randolph saw the flush of hope and disappointment on Daisy's face and the witness of another kind in her eyes; though with her characteristic steady self-control she neither moved nor spoke, and suffered the tears to come no further. Dr. Sandford saw it too, but he said nothing. Mr. Randolph spoke.
"Is that decision on account of Daisy's supposed delinquency in that matter?"
"Of course " Mrs. Randolph answered, dryly.
"Can you explain it, Daisy?" her father asked, gravely, and kindly drawing her up to his side. Daisy struggled with some thought.
"Papa," she said, softly, "will mamma be satisfied to punish me and let it go so?"
"Let it go how?"
"Would she be satisfied with this punishment, I mean, and not make me say anything more about it?"
"I should not. I intend to know the whole. Can you explain it?"
"I think I can, papa," Daisy said, but with a troubled unwillingness, her father saw. He saw too that it was not the unwillingness of a troubled conscience.
"Dr. Sandford, if you are willing to take the trouble of stopping without the certainty of taking Daisy back with you, I have some hopes that the result may be satisfactory to all parties."
"Au revoir, then," said the doctor, and he strode off.
"Now, Daisy," said her father, still having his arms about her "what is it?"
Mrs. Randolph stood by the table and looked coldly down at the group. Daisy was under great difficulty; that was plain.
"Papa I wish Ransom could tell you!"
"Where is the boy?"
Mrs. Randolph rang the bell.
"It is no use, mamma; he has gone off with Preston somewhere."
"That is a mere subterfuge, Daisy, to gain time."
Daisy certainly looked troubled enough, and timid also; though her meek look at her mother did not plead guilty to this accusation.
"Speak, Daisy; the telling whatever there is to tell must come upon you," her father said. "Your business is to explain the charge Ransom has brought against you."
All Daisy's meditations had not brought her to the point of knowing what to say in this conjuncture. She hesitated.
"Speak, Daisy!" her father said, peremptorily.
"Papa, they had put me Eloise and Theresa Stanfield they had put me to watch the things."
"The dinner the things that had been taken out of the hampers and were spread on the tablecloth, where we dined."
"Watch for fear the fishes would carry them off?"
"No, sir, but Fido; Ransom's dog; he was running about."
"Oh! Well? "
"I kept Fido off, but I could not keep Ransom " Daisy said, low. "He was taking things."
"And why should he not?" said Mrs. Randolph, coldly. "Why should not Ransom take a sandwich, or a peach, if he wanted one? or anything else, if he was hungry. There was enough provision for everybody."
Daisy looked up at her mother, with a quick refutation of this statement of the case in her mind, but something stayed her lips. Mr. Randolph saw and read the look. He put his arm round Daisy and drew her up to him, speaking with grave decision.
"Daisy, say all you have to say at once do you hear me? and spare neither for Ransom nor yourself. Tell all there is to be told, without any shuffling."
"Papa, I should not have objected to his having a sandwich or as many as he liked. I should have thought it was proper. But he took the meringues and so many that the dish was left very small; and then he carried off Joanna's lark pie, the whole of it; and he did not mind what I said; and then, I believe I suppose that is what Ransom meant I believe I told him he was worse than Fido."
"Was Ransom offended at that?"
"Yes, papa. He did not like my speaking to him at all."
"Of course not," said Mrs. Randolph. "Boys never like to be tutored by girls; and Daisy must expect her brother will not like it if she meddles with him; and especially if she addresses such language to him."
"I said only exactly that, mamma."
"Ransom put it differently."
A flush came up all over Daisy's face; she looked at her mother appealingly, but said nothing and the next moment her eyes fell.
"Did Ransom answer you at the time, Daisy?"
"Yes, sir," Daisy said, in a low voice.
"Papa! " said Daisy, confounded.
"What did he say to you?"
"He did not say much " said Daisy.
"Tell me what his answer was?"
"Papa, he struck my ears," said Daisy. A great crimson glow came all over her face, and she hid it in her father's breast; like an injured thing running to shelter. Mr. Randolph was lying on a sofa; he folded his arm round Daisy, but spoke never a word. Mrs. Randolph moved impatiently.
"Boys will do such things," she said. "It is very absurd in Daisy to mind it. Boys will do such things she must learn that it is not her place or business to find fault with her brother. I think she deserved what she got. It will teach her a lesson."
"Boys shall not do such things in my house," said Mr. Randolph, in his usual quiet manner.
"As you please!" said the lady, in a very dissatisfied way; "but I think it is only what all boys do."
"Felicia, I wish to reverse your decision about this day's pleasure. Seeing Daisy has had her lesson, do you not think she might be indulged with the play after it?"
"As you please!" returned the lady, very dryly.
"Do you want to go, Daisy?"
"If you please, papa." Daisy spoke without showing her face.
"Is Mr. Dinwiddie at Mrs. Sandford's?" inquired Mrs. Randolph.
"Oh, no, mamma!" Daisy looked up. "He is not coming. He is gone a great way off. I do not suppose he is ever coming here again; and Nora is going away soon."
Mrs. Randolph moved off.
"Felicia " said her husband. The lady paused. "I intend that Ransom shall have a lesson, too. I shall take away the remaining week of his vacation. To-morrow he goes back to school. I tell you, that you may give the necessary orders."
"For this boy's freak, Mr. Randolph?"
"For what you please. He must learn that such behaviour is not permitted here."
Mrs. Randolph did not share the folly with which she charged Daisy; for she made no answer at all, and only with a slight toss of her haughty head resumed her walk out of the room. Daisy would fain have spoken, but she did not dare; and for some minutes after they were left alone her father and she were profoundly silent. Mr. Randolph revolving the behaviour of Daisy as he now understood it; her willing silence and enforced speech, and the gentleness manifested towards her brother, with the meek obedience rendered to her mother and himself. Perhaps his thoughts went deeper still. While Daisy reflected with sorrow on the state of mind sure to be produced now both in Ransom and Mrs. Randolph towards her. A matter which she could do nothing to help. She did not dare say one word to change her father's purpose about Ransom; she knew quite well it would be no use. She stood silent by his sofa, one little hand resting fondly on his shoulder, but profoundly quiet. Then she remembered that she had something else to talk about.
"Papa" she said, wheeling round a little to face him.
"Do you feel like talking?"
"Hardly it is so hot," said Mr. Randolph. "Set open that sash-door a little more, Daisy. Now come here. What is it?"
"Shall I wait till another time, papa?"
He had passed an arm round her, and she stood as before with one hand resting on his shoulder.
"Papa it was about what last night you said I might talk to you about."
"I remember. Go on, Daisy."
"Papa," said the child, a little in doubt how to go on "I want to do what is right."
"There is generally little difficulty in doing that, Daisy."
Daisy thought otherwise!
"Papa, I think mamma does not like me to do what I think is right," she said, very low and humbly.
"Your mother is the best judge, Daisy. What are you talking about?"
"That, papa that you said I might talk to you about."
"What is it? Let us understand one another clearly."
"About it was only that I liked to pray and give thanks a minute at meal times." Daisy spoke very softly and as if she would fain not have spoken.
"That is a mere indifferent ceremony, Daisy, which some people perform. It is not binding on you, certainly, if your mother has any objection to your doing it."
"But, papa," Daisy began eagerly, and then checked herself, and went on slowly "you would not like it if you were to give me anything, and I should not thank you?"
"Cases are not parallel, Daisy."
She wondered in her simplicity why they were not; but her questions had already ventured pretty far; she did not dare count too much upon her father's gentleness. She stood looking at him with unsatisfied eyes.
"In one sense we receive everything we have from the bounty of Heaven."
"If your wish were carried out, we should be covering our faces all the time if that formality is needed in giving thanks."
Daisy had thoughts, but she was afraid to utter them. She looked at Mr. Randolph with the same unsatisfied eyes.
"Do you see, Daisy?"
"Don't you!" said Mr. Randolph, smiling. "Difficulties still unsolved. Can you state them, Daisy?"
"Papa, you said I might show you in the Bible things do you remember?"
"Things? What things?"
"Papa, if I wanted to do things that I thought were right you promised that if you thought they were in the Bible, I might do as it said."
"Humph!" said Mr. Randolph, with a very doubtful sort of a grunt, between displeasure at his own word, and annoyance at the trouble it might bring upon him. Nevertheless, he remembered the promise. Daisy went on timidly.
"When you get up by and by, papa, may I show you what is in the Bible?"
"You need not wait till I get up show it to me now."
"I cannot lift that big Bible, papa."
Mr. Randolph rose up from the sofa, went to the shelves where it lay, and brought the great Bible to the library table. Then stood and watched Daisy, who kneeled in a chair by the table and busily turned over the large leaves, her little face very wise and intent, her little hands small to manage the big book before her. Had such a child and such a book anything to do with each other, Mr. Randolph thought. But Daisy presently found her place, and looking up at him drew a little back that her father might see it. He stooped over Daisy and read, "In everything give thanks."
"Do you see it, papa?"
"Then here is another place I know where to find it "
She turned over more leaves, stopped again, and Mr. Randolph stooped and read, "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Mr. Randolph read, and went and threw himself on his sofa again. Daisy came beside him. A wistful earnestness in the one face; a careless sort of embarrassment on the other.
"You are led astray, little Daisy, by a common mistake of ignorant readers. You fancy that these words are to be taken literally whereas they mean simply that we should cultivate a thankful spirit. That, of course, I agree to."
"But, papa," said Daisy, "is a thankful spirit the same thing quite as giving thanks?"
"It is a much better thing, Daisy, in my opinion."
"But, papa, would not a thankful spirit like to give thanks?"
"I have no objection, Daisy."
The tears came into Daisy's eyes. Her mother had.
"Well? Let us get to the end of this difficulty if we can."
"I am afraid we cannot, papa. Because if you had told me to do a thing so, you would mean it just so, and I should do it."
Mr. Randolph wrapped his arms round Daisy and brought her close to his breast. "Look here, Daisy," said he "tell me. Do you really try to give thanks everywhere, and for all things, as the word says?"
"I do not try, papa I like to do it."
"Do you give thanks for everything?"
"I think I do, papa; for everything that gives me pleasure."
"For Mrs. Sandford's invitation to-day, for instance."
"Oh, yes, papa," said Daisy, smiling.
He brought the little head down within reach of his lips and kissed it a good many times.
"I wish my little Daisy would not think so much."
"I think only to know what is right to do, papa."
"It is right to mind mamma and me, and let us think for you."
"And the Bible, papa?"
"You are quite growing an old woman a good while before the time."
Daisy kissed him with good childlike kisses, laying her little head in his neck and clasping her arms around him; for all that, her heart was busy yet.
"Papa," she said, "what do you think is right for me to do?"
"Thinking exhausts me, Daisy. It is too hot to-day for such an exercise."
Daisy drew back and looked at him, with one hand resting on his shoulder. She did not dare urge any more in words; her look spoke her anxious, disappointed questioning of her father's meaning. Perhaps he did not care to meet such a gaze of inquiry, for he pulled her down again in his arms.
"I do not want you to be an old woman."
"But, papa that is not the thing."
"I will not have it, Daisy."
"Papa," she said with a small laugh, "what shall I do to help it? I do not know how I came to be an old woman?"
"Go off and play with Nora Dinwiddie. Are you ready to go?"
"Yes, papa except my hat and gloves."
"Do not think any more to-day. I will think for you by and by. But, Daisy, why should you and I set ourselves up to be better than other people?"
"Do you know anybody else that lives up to your views on the subject of thanksgiving?"
"Oh, yes, papa."
Daisy softly said, "Juanita does, papa, I think."
"A poor ignorant woman, Daisy, and very likely full of superstitions. Her race often are."
"What is a superstition, papa?"
"A religious notion which has no foundation in truth."
"Then papa, can it be superstition to do just what God tells us to do?"
"You are too deep for me, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph, languidly. "Go and get ready for Dr. Sandford. He will be here presently."
So Daisy went, feeling very uncertain of the result of her talk, but doubtful and discouraged. Mr. Randolph had a book in hand when she returned to the library: she could not speak to him any more; and soon indeed the doctor came, helped her into his gig, and drove off with her.
Now it was pleasant. The fine gravelled roads in the grounds of Melbourne were in beautiful order after the rain; no dust rose yet, and all the trees and flowers were in a refreshed state of life and sweetness. Truly it was a very hot day, but Daisy found nothing amiss. Neither, apparently, did the doctor's good horse. He trotted along without seeming to mind the sun; and Daisy in a good deal of glee enjoyed everything. It was private glee in her own mind; she did not offer any conversation; and the doctor, of Mr. Randolph's mind, perhaps, that it was a warm day, threw himself back in his seat and watched her lazily. Daisy on the contrary sat up and looked busily out. They drove in the first place for a good distance through her own home grounds, coming out to the public road by the church where Mr. Pyne preached, and near which the wintergreens grew. It looked beautiful this morning, with its ivy all washed and fresh from the rain. Indeed all nature was in a sort of glittering condition. When they came out on the public way it was still beautiful; no dust, and fields and grass and trees all shining.
The road they travelled now was one scarce known to Daisy; the carriages from Melbourne never went that way; another was always chosen at the beginning of all their excursions whether of business or pleasure. No gentlemen's seats were to be seen; an occasional farmhouse stood in the midst of its crops and meadows; and more frequently a yet poorer sort of house stood close by the roadside. The road in this place was sometimes rough, and the doctor's good horse left his trot and picked his way slowly along, giving Daisy by this means an opportunity to inspect everything more closely. There was often little pleasure in the inspection. About half a mile from the church, Daisy's attention was drawn by one of these poor houses. It was very small, unpainted and dreary-looking, having a narrow court-yard between it and the road. As the gig was very slowly going past, Daisy uttered an exclamation, the first word she had uttered in a long while.
"Oh, Dr. Sandford! what is that? Something is the matter!"
"No," said the doctor coolly, "nothing is the matter more than usual."
"But a woman was on her hands and knees on the ground? Wasn't it a woman?"
"Yes. She cannot move about in any other way. She is a cripple."
"She cannot stand up?" said Daisy, looking distressed and horrified.
"No. She has no use of her lower limbs. She is accustomed to it, Daisy; she never had the use of them, or never for a very long while."
"Is she old?"
"Pretty old, I fancy. But she does not know her age herself, and nobody else knows it."
"Has she got nice people to take care of her?"
The doctor smiled at the earnest little face. "She has nobody."
"No one to take care of her?" said Daisy.
"No. She lives there alone."
"But, Dr. Sandford, how does she do how does she manage?"
"In some way that would be difficult for you and me to understand, I suppose like the ways of the beavers and wasps."
"I can understand those," said Daisy, "they were made to get along as they do; they have got all they want."
Daisy was silent, musing, for a little time; then she broke out again.
"Isn't she very miserable, Dr. Sandford?"
"She is a very crabbed old thing, so the inference is fair that she is miserable. In fact, I do not see how she can avoid it."
Daisy pondered perhaps this misery which she could so little imagine; however, she let the subject drop as to any more words about it. She was only what the doctor called "quaintly sober," all the rest of the way.
"Why, she looks child-like and bright enough now," said Mrs. Sandford, to whom he made the remark.
Daisy and Nora were exchanging mutual gratulations. The doctor looked at them.
"At the rate in which she is growing old," said he, "she will have the soul of Methuselah in a body of twenty years."
"I don't believe it," said Mrs. Sandford.
Nora and Daisy had a great day of it. Nothing broke the full flow of business and pleasure during all the long hours; the day was not hot to them, nor the shadows long in coming. Behind the house there was a deep grassy dell through which a brook ran. Over this brook in the dell a great black walnut tree cast its constant flickering shadow; flickering when the wind played in the leaves and branches, although to-day the air was still and sultry, and the leaves and the shadows were still too, and did not move. But there was life enough in the branches of the old walnut, for a large family of grey squirrels had established themselves there. Old and young, large and small; it was impossible to tell, by counting, how many there might be in the family; at least now, while they were going in and out and running all over; but Nora said Mrs. Sandford had counted fifteen of them at one time. That was in cold weather, when they had gathered on the piazza to get the nuts she threw to them. This kind of intercourse with society had made the squirrels comparatively tame, so that they had no particular objections to show themselves to the two children; and when Nora and Daisy kept quiet they had great entertainment in watching the gambols of the pretty grey creatures. One in particular, the mother of the family, Nora said, was bolder or more familiar than the rest; and came often and came pretty near, to look at the children with her bright little eyes, and let them see her beautiful feathery tail and graceful motions. It was a great delight to Daisy. Nora had seen them before, as she said, and did not care quite so much about the sight.
"I wonder what use squirrels are?" said Daisy.
"I guess they are not of any use," said Nora.
"Oh, I guess everything is of use."
"Why, no, it isn't," said Nora. "Grass is not of any use."
"Oh, Nora! Think what would the cows and horses do?"
"Well, then, stones are not of any use."
"Yes, they are to build houses don't you know?"
"Houses might be built of wood," said Nora.
"So they might. But then, Nora, wooden houses would not last so long as stone ones."
"Well people could build new ones."
"But houses might be wanted where there was not wood enough to build them."
"I never saw such a place," said Nora. "I never saw a place where there was not wood enough. And if there is such a place anywhere, people could not live in it, because they would have nothing to make fires with."
"But Nora, I think it cannot be so. I guess everything is made for some use. Dr. Sandford told me yesterday what the use is of those queer brown leaves that grow upon rocks you know and the use of little mosses, that I never thought before were good for anything. They are to begin to prepare a place on the rocks where things can grow."
"Why, they grow themselves," said Nora.
"Yes, but I mean other things ferns and flowers and other things."
"Well, what is the use of them?" said Nora.
"Oh, Nora just think how pretty they are."
"But prettiness isn't use."
"I think it is," said Daisy; "and I dare say they have other uses that we do not know. And I think, Nora, that God would not have taken such care to dress up the old rocks if the rocks were no good."
"Did He do it?" said Nora.
"Why, certainly. He did everything, you know."
"Of course; but I thought they just grew," said Nora.
The children were silent a little, watching the squirrels. Daisy began again abruptly.
"Nora, did you ever see that crippled woman that lives on the mill road a little way from our church?"
"Old Molly Skelton, do you mean?"
"I do not know what her name is she cannot walk; she creeps about as if she had no legs."
"I've seen her. Isn't she horrid?"
"Did you ever see her near by?"
"No, I guess I haven't. I have heard Duke tell about her."
"What? do tell me."
"Oh, she's a horrid old thing that is all I know."
"Why, she is wicked, and she don't know anything. She would hardly listen to Marmaduke when he wanted to talk to her."
"Has she got a Bible, I wonder?" said Daisy, in an awestruck voice.
"She? She can't read. She don't know anything; and she is as ugly and cross as she can be."
"Was she cross to Mr. Dinwiddie?"
"Yes, indeed. He said he never saw such a crabbed old thing. Oh, she's horrid. I don't like to ride by that way."
The children were called in to dinner, and kept in the house by Mrs. Sandford during the intensest heat of the day. But when the afternoon was cooling off, or at least growing less oppressive, the two children again sought the shade under the walnut tree, where the gurgle of the water over the stones, and the company of the squirrels in the tree, made the place pleasant. And there they sat down in a great state of mutual contentment. Nora's feet were swinging about for very jollity. But Daisy sat still. Perhaps she was tired. Nevertheless it could not be that which made her little face by and by take on it as profound an expression as if she had been looking over all Methuselah's years.
"Nora " said Daisy, and stopped.
"What?" said Nora, kicking her heels.
"You know that poor old crippled woman what did you call her?"
"Suppose you were in her place what do you think you would wish for,"
"In her place!" said Nora. "I should wish for everything."
"Yes, but I mean, things that you could have."
"I should wish some doctor would come and make me straight, the first thing; and then "
"No, Nora, but I mean, things that might be possible, you know. I do not mean things like a fairy tale."
"I don't know," said Nora. "I don't believe Molly Skelton wishes for anything."
"But what would you wish for, in her place?"
"I should want to be straight, and stand and go about like other people."
"Yes, Nora, but I say! I mean, what would you wish for that would not be impossible?"
"Why, Daisy, how funny! Let me see. I should wish that somebody would come and be good to me, I think."
"Oh tell me stories and read to me, and take tea with me and I don't know what!"
"Do you suppose nobody ever does take tea with her?" said Daisy, upon whose fancy a new shadow of wretchedness darkened.
"I guess not," said Nora. "I don't believe anybody would. I guess nobody likes her well enough, she is so bad."
"Who gets her tea for her then?"
"Why, nobody. She does it herself."
"How can she?"
"I don't know. Marmaduke says she keeps her house clean too, though she only goes about on her hands and knees."
"Nora," said Daisy, "that isn't like the Bible."
"Don't you remember what the Bible says? that whatever we would like other people to do to us, we should do so to them."
"What do you mean, Daisy?"
"I mean just so."
"But what isn't like the Bible?"
"Why to let that poor old woman go without what we would like if we were in her place."
"Why, Daisy! Molly Skelton! The Bible does not mean that we ought to go and make visits to such horrid people as that."
"You said you would like it if you were in her place," observed Daisy, "and I know I should. I thought so when you told me."
"But, Daisy, she is wicked!"
"Well, Jesus loves wicked people," said Daisy, calmly. "Maybe she will wear a white robe in heaven, and have a crown of gold upon her head."
"Daisy! she is wicked," exclaimed Nora, indignantly. "Wicked people do not go to heaven."
"Yes, but if Jesus gives them His white robe, they do," said Daisy. "He came to save wicked people."
"I don't want to talk any more about Molly Skelton," said Nora. "Look, Daisy! there's the old mother squirrel peeping out of her hole. Do you see? Now she is coming out see her black eyes! now there's her beautiful feather tail!"
This subject was to the full as interesting to Daisy as it was to her friend; and in watching the grey family in the walnut tree, and trying to induce them to come near and get some almonds, the rest of the afternoon flew by. Only the "mother squirrel" could be tempted near; but she, older in experience and wisdom than her young ones, did venture into the neighbourhood of the children, attracted by the nuts they threw down; and getting pretty close to them, before she would venture quite so far as where the nuts lay, she sat down on her haunches to look and see whether all were safe; curling her thick, light plume of a tail up along her back, or whisking it about in various lines of beauty, while her bright little black eyes took all the observations they were equal to. It was unending amusement for the children; and then to see Mrs. Bunny finally seize an almond and spring away with it, was very charming. So the afternoon sped; nor ever brought one moment of weariness, until the summons came to bid the children into the house again to tea.
MRS. GARY'S PRESENT.
After tea the doctor took Daisy in his gig and drove her home. The drive was unmarked by a single thing; except that just as they were passing the cripple's house Daisy broke silence and asked, "Is that woman Molly Skelton is she very poor, Dr. Sandford?"
"If to live on charity be poor. I do not suppose the neighbours let her suffer."
"Is she cross to everybody, Dr. Sandford?"
"She has the name of it, I believe, Daisy. I really do not remember whether she was cross to me or not."
"Then you know her?"
"Yes. I know everybody."
The family at Melbourne were found just taking their late tea as the doctor and Daisy entered. They were met with complaints of the heat; though Daisy thought the drawing room was exceeding pleasant, the air came in at the long windows with such gentle freshness from the river.
The doctor took a cup of tea and declared the day was excellent if you only rode fifty miles through the heat of it. "Coolness is coolness, after that," he said.
Daisy sat in a corner and wondered at the people. Hot? and suffocating? she had no recollection of any such thing all day. How delicious it had been in that green dell under the walnut tree, with the grey squirrels!
"How has it been with you, Daisy?" said her aunt at last.
"Nice, aunt Gary."
Two or three people smiled; Daisy's favourite word came out with such a dulcet tone of a smooth and clear spirit. It was a syrup drop of sweetness in the midst of flat and acid qualities.
"It has been satisfactory, has it?" said her aunt, in a tone which did not share the character. "Come here, Daisy I have got something for you. You know I robbed you a little while ago, and promised to try to find something to make amends. Now come and see if I have done it. Preston, fetch that box here."
A neat wooden case of some size was brought by Preston and set at his mother's feet. Mrs. Gary unlocked it, and went on to take out of its enveloping coverings a very elegant French doll; a real empress Eugnie. The doll's face was even modelled into some likeness to the beauty she was named after; a diadem sat gracefully on her head, and her robes were a miniature imitation of royalty, but very exquisitely fashioned. Everybody exclaimed at the perfection of the beautiful toy, except Daisy herself who stood quite still and quiet looking at it. Mrs. Gary had not done yet. The empress had a wardrobe; and such variety and elegance and finish of attire of all sorts rarely falls to the lot of a doll. A very large wardrobe it was, and every article perfectly finished and well made as if meant for actual wear. Mrs. Gary displayed her present; Daisy looked on, standing by her father's knee and with one hand resting on it.
"Have you nothing to say to express your pleasure, Daisy?" This was Mrs. Randolph's question.
Daisy at the word pronounced a sober "I thank you, aunt Gary." But it was so very sober and passionless that Mrs. Randolph grew impatient.
"I do not hear you express any pleasure, Daisy," she said, meaningly.
Daisy turned her face towards her mother with a doubtful look, and was silent.
"Speak!" said Mrs. Randolph.
"Whatever you choose, to show your sense of your aunt's kindness."
"Do not concern yourself, my dear," said her sister. "I am sorry if I have failed in meeting Daisy's taste that is all."
"Daisy, speak, or leave the room" said Mrs. Randolph.
"Mamma," said Daisy, pushed into a corner, "I would speak, but I do not know what to say."
"Tell your aunt Gary she has given you a great deal of pleasure."
Daisy looked again mutely at her mother, somewhat distressed.
"Tell her so, Daisy!" Mrs. Randolph repeated, in a tone of command.
"I cannot, mamma " the child answered, sorrowfully.
"Do you mean to tell your aunt that her exquisite present gives you no pleasure?"
"I did not intend to tell her so," Daisy answered, in a low voice. Another storm rising! Storms seemed to get up very easily in these days.
"My dear," said Mrs. Gary, "do not concern yourself. It is not of the least consequence, as far as I am concerned. Preston, remove this box. If Daisy chooses to receive it, perhaps it will find more favour at another time."
Mrs. Gary got up and moved off.
"Mr. Randolph, I will trouble you to dismiss Daisy," said his wife. "If she cannot behave properly she cannot be in the room with me."
Daisy was still standing with her hand on her father's knee. The other little hand came for a moment across her brows and rested there; but she would not cry; her lip did not even tremble.
"First let me understand," said her father; and he lifted Daisy on his knee kindly. "Daisy, I never saw you uncivil before."
"Papa, I am very sorry " said the child.
"Can you explain it?"
"Papa, I would have been civil if I could; but I had nothing to say."
"That is the very place where a person of good manners shows himself different from a person who has no manners at all. Good manners finds something to say."
"But, papa, there was nothing true."
"The doll gave you no pleasure?"
"No, papa," said Daisy, low.
"And you felt no obligation for the thoughtfulness and kindness of your aunt in getting for you so elegant a present?"
Daisy hesitated and flushed.
"Daisy, answer," said her father, gravely.
"No, papa," Daisy said, low as before.
"Papa," said Daisy, with a good deal of difficulty and hesitation "that is all passed I do not want to say anything more about it."
"About papa, I do not think mamma would like to have me talk about it."
"Go on, Daisy. About what?"
"All that trouble we had, papa."
"What I want to know is, why you did not feel grateful for your aunt's kindness just now, which she had been at some pains to show you."
"Papa," said Daisy, wistfully, "it was not kindness it was pay; and I did not want pay."
"Pay? For what?"
"For my Egyptian spoon, papa."
"I do not understand what you are talking of, Daisy."
"No, papa," said Daisy; so simply showing her wish that he should not, as well as her knowledge that he did not, that Mr. Randolph could not forbear smiling.
"But I mean to understand it," he said.
"It was my old Egyptian spoon, papa; the doll was meant to be pay for that."
A little explanation was necessary in order to bring to Mr. Randolph's mind the facts Daisy referred to, the spoon itself and the time and occasion when it was bestowed on her.
"Did you give your Egyptian spoon to your aunt Gary?"
"I said she might have it, papa."
"No, papa willingly."
"In exchange for this doll?"
"Oh, no, papa not in exchange for anything. I did not want any exchange."
"If I remember, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph, "your aunt Gary desired to have that spoon the very day it was given to you; and I thought you did not wish she should have it?"
"No, papa so I didn't."
"Your mind changed afterward?"
"I do not think my mind changed," said Daisy, slowly "but I was willing she should have it."
"Daisy, this whole affair is a mystery to me yet. In this case, why was it not kind in your aunt to bestow this French doll upon you? It seems to me very kind."
"Yes papa you do not understand."
"Make me understand. Daisy, I command you to tell me all that you have not told me. You need not think of anything now, except my command."
Daisy did, perhaps; for now her lip quivered slightly; and for a moment she hid her face, in her father's bosom. Mr. Randolph wrapped his arms round her and stooped his head to hear the story which Daisy was obliged to give. She gave it fully, and he heard it quite through in silence. And he made no observation upon it when it was finished; he only asked her, "Was there no resentment in your refusal of thanks to your aunt just now?"
"No, papa" said Daisy; with too sweet and artless utterance for him to doubt her.
"But, then, Daisy, we come back to the cause of your mother's displeasure. Good breeding requires that people should not be rude, even by silence."
"Papa, I did not know how to be polite with truth."
"You could have said you were very much obliged to your aunt."
"But, I was not, papa."
"Not obliged to her?"
"But, Daisy, that is a civil form of expression which it is usual to avail oneself of upon such occasions. It does not necessarily mean much."
"But, papa, would she not have thought I meant it, if I had said so?"
"Very likely. That is the polite advantage gained."
"But papa, I should have known that I did not mean it; and it would not have been true."
"This is getting to be too deep a question for you to discuss to-night it is time for you to go to bed. But I cannot have you rude."
Daisy kissed her father, who had been extremely gentle and tender with her, and went off to her room. Mr. Randolph's brow looked moody.
"Have you brought Daisy's ideas into order?" asked his wife, who had been engaged in conversation with Dr. Sandford.
"She has rather brought confusion into mine," said the gentleman.
"What is the matter?"
"Truth and Daisy, versus civility and the world. And it is not so easy to make a child comprehend some of the fine distinctions we are accustomed to draw. White and black are very white and black, to such eyes, and no allowance is made for a painter's lights and shades."
"She must make allowance for what your eyes see," said Mrs. Randolph.
Mr. Randolph made no answer.
"Daisy is entirely changed," her mother went on, "and is become utterly obstinate and unmanageable. Perfectly self- important too she thinks there is no wisdom now but her own. I may thank you for it, Dr. Sandford."
"You do me too much honour," said the doctor.
"It is an honour you share with Mr. Dinwiddie."
"I did not know I shared anything with Mr. Dinwiddie."
"He has infected the child with a set of perfectly fanatical notions; and you persisted in keeping her under that creature's care, where they had time to grow strong."
"I will do all I can to repair mischief done," said the doctor. "Mrs. Benoit is a good nurse for the body, and you will bear me witness it was for repairs of that I was called in. What is the other damage referred to?"
"Rather young for that disease to take deep root," said the doctor.
"Anything takes deep root in Daisy; whatever she takes up she holds to."
"I advise you to let her be fanatical then a little while longer," said the doctor, "till she has time to lay up some strength."
And the doctor took his departure.
"I am sure that is wise counsel, Felicia," Mr. Randolph said. But the lady made him no answer.
Ransom went off to school the next day, as his father had promised. Mrs. Randolph looked very gloomy; Mrs. Gary looked lot otherwise; and Daisy thought the mental and social horizon foreboded stormy weather. But very happily, as it seemed to her, before dinner there was an arrival of some expected visitors, coming to stay for a time in the house. They had been desired as well as expected; there was a famous lady and a learned gentleman among them; and every eye and ear were taken up with attending to their words or waiting upon their movements. Daisy and her concerns were, she thought, forgotten.
She enjoyed the feeling of this for a little while; and then ordered her pony chaise. And presently you might have seen a little figure in a white frock come out upon the front steps, with a large flat on her head, and driving gloves on her hands, and in one of them a little basket. Down the steps she came and took her place in the chaise and gathered up the reins. The black pony was ready, with another boy in place of Sam; nobody interfered with her; and off they went, the wheels of the little chaise rolling smoothly over the gravel, Loupe in a gentle waddling trot, and Daisy in a contented state of mind. It was very pleasant! Clear sunny air, yet not too hot, and the afternoon shadows beginning to make all things look lovely. Daisy took the way to the church, passed out upon the high road, and turned the pony's head in the direction which she had taken with Dr. Sandford the day before. She did not go quite so fast, however; so that it was a little time before she came in sight of the poor old house which she recognised as Molly Skelton's. Daisy drew the reins then, and let Loupe walk slowly up a slight ascent in the road which led to it. But when the chaise was fairly opposite the house door, Daisy drew the reins still more and brought Loupe to a standstill. She peered forth then anxiously to see if the poor old inmate of the house were to be seen anywhere.
As she looked, the house door opened; and with a very straitened and touched heart Daisy watched the crippled old creature come from within, crawl down over the door step, and make her slow way into the little path before the house. A path of a few yards ran from the road to the house door, and it was bordered with a rough-looking array of flowers. Rough-looking, because they were set or had sprung up rather confusedly, and the path between had no care but was only worn by the feet of travellers and the hands and knees of the poor inhabitant of the place. Yet some sort of care was bestowed on the flowers themselves, for no weeds had been suffered to choke them; and even the encroaching grass had been removed from trespassing too nearly on their little occupation of ground. The flowers themselves shot up and grew as they had a mind. Prince's feather was conspicuous, and some ragged balsams. A few yellow marigolds made a forlorn attempt to look bright, and one tall sunflower raised its great head above all the rest; proclaiming the quality of the little kingdom where it reigned.
The poor cripple moved down a few steps from the house door, and began grubbing with her hands around the roots of a bunch of balsams. Daisy looked a minute or two, very still, and then bade the boy hold her pony; while, without troubling herself about his mystification, she got out of the chaise, and, basket in hand, opened the wicket, and softly went up the path. The neat little shoes and spotless white dress were close beside the poor creature grubbing there in the ground before she knew it, and there they stood still; Daisy was a good deal at a loss how to speak. She was not immediately perceived; the head of the cripple had a three-cornered handkerchief thrown over it to defend it from the sun, and she was earnestly grubbing at the roots of her balsam; the earth- stained fingers and the old brown stuff dress, which was of course dragged along in the dirt too, made a sad contrast with the spotless freshness of the little motionless figure that was at her side, almost touching her. Daisy concluded to wait till she should be seen, and then speak, though how to speak she did not very well know, and she rather dreaded the moment.
It came, when, in throwing her weeds aside, a glance of the cripple saw, instead of stones and grass, two very neat and black and well-shaped little shoes planted there almost within reach of her hand. She drew herself back from the balsam, and looked sideways up, to see what the shoes belonged to. Daisy saw her face then; it was a bad face; so disagreeable that she looked away from it instantly to the balsams.
"What are you doing to your flowers?" she asked, gently.
The gentle little child-voice seemed to astonish the woman, although after an instant she made surly answer, "Whose business is it?"
"Wouldn't it be easier," said Daisy, not looking at her, "if you had something to help you get the weeds up? Don't you want a fork, or a hoe, or something?"
"I've got forks," said the cripple, sullenly. "I use 'em to eat with."
"No, but I mean, something to help you with the weeds," said Daisy "that sort of fork, or a trowel."
The woman spread her brown fingers of both hands, like birds' claws, covered with the dirt in which she had been digging. "I've got forks enough," she said, savagely "there's what goes into my weeds. Now go 'long! "
The last words were uttered with a sudden jerk, and as she spoke them she plunged her hands into the dirt, and bringing up a double handful, cast it with a spiteful fling upon the neat little black shoes. Woe to white stockings, if they had been visible; but Daisy's shoes came up high and tight around her ankle, and the earth thrown upon them fell off easily again; except only that it lodged in the eyelet holes of the boot-lacing and sifted through a little there, and some had gone as high as the top of the boot and fell in. Quite enough to make Daisy uncomfortable, besides that the action half frightened her. She quitted the ground, went back to her pony chaise without even attempting to do anything with the contents of her basket. Daisy could go no further with her feet in this condition She turned the pony's head, and drove back to Melbourne.
"Will I take him to the stable, Miss Daisy?" inquired the boy, as Daisy got out at the back door.
"No. Just wait a little for me, Lewis."
Upstairs went Daisy; took off her boots and got rid of the soil they had brought home; that was the first thing. Then, in spotless order again, she went back to Lewis and inquired where Logan was at work. Thither she drove the pony chaise.
"Logan," said Daisy, coming up to him she had left Loupe in Lewis's care "what do you use to help you get up weeds?"
"Maybe a hoe, Miss Daisy; or whiles a weeding fork."
"Have you got one here."
"No, Miss Daisy. Was it a fork you were wanting?"
"Yes, I want one, Logan."
"And will you be wanting it now?"
"Yes, I want it now, if you please."
"Bill, you go home and get Miss Daisy one o' them small hand forks out o' that new lot them's slenderer."
"And Logan, I want another thing. I want a little rose-bush and if you can, I want it with a rose open or a bud on it."
"A rose-bush!" said Logan. "Ye want it to be set some place, nae doute?"
"Yes, I do; but I want to set it out myself, Logan; so it must not be too big a bush, you know, for I couldn't manage it."
"Perhaps Miss Daisy had better let me manage it. It's dirty work, Miss Daisy."
"No; I only want the rose bush. I will take care of it, Logan. Have you got one that I can have?"
"Ou, ay, Miss Daisy! there's a forest of rose bushes ye can just please yourself."
"Where is it?"
Seeing his little mistress was greatly in earnest and must be presently satisfied, Logan cast a wistful glance or two at his own proper work in hand which he was abandoning, and walked away with Daisy. The flower garden and nursery were at some distance; but Daisy trudged along as patiently as he. Her little face was busy-looking now and eager, as well as wise; but no tinge of colour would yet own itself at home in those pale cheeks. Logan glanced at her now and then and was, as she said, "very good." He thought he was about the best business, after all, that could occupy him. He directed his steps to a great garden that yet was not the show garden, but hid away behind the plantations of trees and shrubbery. There were a vast number of plants and flowers here, too; but they were not in show order, and were in fact only the reserve stock, for supplying vacancies or preparing changes, or especially for furnishing cut flowers to the house; of which a large quantity must every day be sent in. There was a very nursery of rose trees, smaller and larger. Logan peered about, very particular in his own line as to how every thing should be done; at last he found and chose just the right thing for Daisy. A slender, thrifty young plant, with healthy strong leaves and shoots, and at the top a bud showing red, and a half opened sweet rose. Daisy was quite satisfied.
"Now where is it going, Miss Daisy?" Logan inquired.
"I am going to plant it out myself, Logan; it is going in a place where I want it."
"Surely! but does Miss Daisy know how to plant a rose tree?"
"Won't you tell me how, Logan?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, there must be a hole dug for it, in the first place; you must take a trowel and make a hole for it But your dress will be the waur!" he exclaimed, glancing at his little mistress's spotless draperies.
"Never mind; only go on and tell me exactly how to manage, Logan."
"Does Miss Daisy intend to do it this afternoon?"
"Aweel, you must take a trowel and make a hole," said Logan, nipping off some useless buds and shoots from the plants in his neighbourhood as he was speaking "and be sure your hole is deep as it should be; and make the bottom soft with your trowel, or throw in a little earth, well broken, for the roots to rest on "
"How shall I know when my hole is deep enough?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, it depends on the haighth of the roots ye must even try and see till ye get it deep enough; but whatever ye do, keep the crown of the plant above ground."
"And what is the crown of the plant, Logan?"
Logan stooped down, and put his fingers to the stem of a rose tree.
"It's just called the crown o' the plant, Miss Daisy, here where the roots goes one way and the stem springs up another. Miss Daisy sees, there's a kind o' shouther there."
"No, I don't see," said Daisy.
Logan put in his spade, and, with a turn or two, brought up the little rose bush he had chosen for her purpose; and holding the ball of earth in his hand, showed her the part of the plant he spoke of, just above the surface of the soil.
"It's the most tenderest pairt of the vegetable nature," he said; "and it must be kept out of the ground, where it can breathe, like; it won't answer to cover it up."
"I will not," said Daisy. "Then? "
"Then, when ye have gotten the place prepared, ye must set in this ball of earth, as haill as ye can keep it; but if it gets broken off, as it's like it will! then ye must set the roots kindly in on the soft earth, and let them lie just natural; and put in the soft earth over them; and when ye have got a little in press it clown a bit; and then more, after the same manner, until it's all filled up."
"Why must it be pressed down?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, it must be dune; the roots is accustomed to have the soil tight round them, and they don't like it unless they have it so. It's a vara good way, to have a watering pot of water and make a puddle in the bottom of the hole, and set the roots in that, and throw in the soil; and then it settles itself all round them, and ye need not to coax it with your fingers. But if ye don't puddle the roots, the bush must be well watered and soaked when ye have dune."
"Very well, Logan thank you. Now please put it in a basket for me, with a trowel, and let me take a watering pot of water too; or Lewis can carry that, can't he?"
"He can take whatever ye have a mind," said Logan; "but where is it going?"
"I'll take the basket with the rose," said Daisy "it's going a little way you can set it just here, in my chaise, Logan."
The gardener deposited the basket safely in the chaise, and Daisy got in and shook the reins. Lewis, much wondering and a little disgustful, was accommodated with a watering pot full of water, by the grinning Logan.
"See ye ride steady now, boy," he said. "Ye won't want to show any graces of horsemanship, the day!"
Whatever Lewis might have wanted, the necessity upon him was pretty stringent. A watering pot full of water he found a very uncomfortable bundle to carry on horseback; he was bound to ride at the gentlest of paces, or inflict an involuntary cold bath upon himself every other step. Much marvelling at the arrangement which made a carriage and horses needful to move a rose-bush, Lewis followed, as gently as he could, the progress of his little mistress's pony-chaise; which was much swifter than he liked it; until his marvelling was increased by its turning out of Melbourne grounds and taking a course up the road again. Towards the same place! On went Daisy, much too fast for the watering pot; till the cripple's cottage came in sight a second time. There, just at the foot of the little rise in the road which led up to the cottage gate, Loupe suddenly fell to very slow going. The watering pot went easily enough for several yards; and then Loupe stopped. What was the matter?
Something was the matter, yet Daisy did not summon Lewis. She sat quite still, looking before her up to the cottage, with a thoughtful, puzzled, troubled face. The matter was, that just there, and not before, the remembrance of her mother's command had flashed on her that she should have nothing to do with any stranger out of the house unless she had first got leave. Daisy was stopped short. Get leave? She would never get leave to speak again to that poor crabbed, crippled, forlorn creature; and who else would take up the endeavour to be kind to her? Who else would even try to win her to a knowledge of the Bible and Bible joys? and how would that poor ignorant mortal ever get out of the darkness into the light? Daisy did not know how to give her up; yet she could not go on. The sweet rose on the top of her little rose-tree mocked her, with kindness undone and good not attempted. Daisy sat still, confounded at this new barrier her mother's will had put in her way.
Wheels came rapidly coursing along the road in front of her, and in a moment Dr. Sandford's gig had whirled past the cottage and bore down the hill. But recognizing the pony chaise in the road, he too came to a stop as sudden as Daisy's had been. The two were close beside each other.
"Where away, Daisy?"
"I do not understand, Dr. Sandford."
"Where are you going? or rather, why are you standing still here?"
"Because I was in doubt what to do."
"Did the doubt take you here, in the middle of the road?"
"Yes, Dr. Sandford."
"What is it, Daisy? To whom are you carrying a rose-bush?"
"I am afraid nobody."
"What is the matter or the doubt?"
"It is a question of duty, Dr. Sandford."
"Then I will decide it for you. Go on and do what you wish to do. That will be right."
"Oh, no, sir," said Daisy, smiling at her adviser that is just what would be wrong. I cannot."
"Do that, sir; do what I wish to do." And Daisy sighed withal.
"What do you wish to do?"
The doctor was quite serious, and as usual a little imperative in his questions, and Daisy knew him to be trusted.
"I wanted to take this little rose-bush and set it out in the garden up there."
"There? do you mean the garden of that cottage?" said the doctor, pointing with his whip.
"Are you bound thither now?"
"No, sir I am going home."
"Rose-bush and all? Daisy, let Lewis get Loupe home, and you come here and ride with me. Come! I want you."
Truly Daisy wanted nothing else. She left rose-bush and watering pot, chaise and pony, to Lewis's management, and gladly let the doctor take her up beside him. She liked to drive with him; he had a fine horse and went fast; and there were other reasons.
Now they drove off in fine style; fast, over the good roads; whisked by Melbourne, sped away along south, catching glimpses of the river from time to time, with the hills on the further side hazily blue and indistinct with the September haze of sunbeams. Near hand the green of plantations and woodland was varied with brown grainfields, where grain had been, and with ripening Indian corn and buckwheat; but more especially with here and there a stately roof-tree or gable of some fine new or old country house. The light was mellow, the air was good; in the excitement of her drive Daisy half forgot her perplexity and discomfiture. Till the doctor said, suddenly looking round at her with a smile, "Now I should like to know the history of that rose-bush."
"Oh, there is no history about it," said Daisy, quite taken by surprise.
"Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end," said the doctor. "What was the beginning of this?"
"Only, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy, doubtfully, "I was sorry for that poor woman, after what you told me about her."
"And you thought to comfort her with rose-bushes?"
"No sir, but I wanted to get on good terms with her."
"Are you on any other terms?"
"She does not know me, you know, sir," said Daisy, lifting to her friend a face that was beyond his comprehension, "and I do not think she was very well pleased to see me in her garden a little while ago."
"You have been in her garden, then?"
"Daisy, will you excuse me for asking, why you should be on any terms whatever with Molly Skelton?"
"She is so unhappy, Dr. Sandford," Daisy said, looking up again.
"And do you think you can do anything to make her less unhappy?"
"I thought" Daisy did not look up now, but the doctor watching her saw a witnessing tinge that he knew coming about her eyelids, and a softened line of lip, that made him listen the closer, "I thought I might teach her something that would make her happy, if I could."
"What would you teach her, Daisy?"
"I would teach her to read perhaps I thought; if she would like me and let me."
"Is reading a specific for happiness?"
"No sir but the Bible!" Daisy said, with a sudden glance. And so clear and sure the speech of her childish eye was, that the doctor, though believing nothing of it, would not breathe a question of that which she believed.
"Oh, that is it!" he said. "Well, Daisy, this is the beginning; but though I came in upon the middle of the subject I do not understand it yet. Why did not the rose-tree get to its destination!"
"Because I remembered, just when I had got to the bottom of the hill, that mamma would not let me."
Daisy's tone of voice told more than she knew of her subdued state of disappointment.
"Mrs. Randolph had forbidden you to go to Molly's cottage?"
"No sir; but she had forbidden me to speak to anybody without having her leave. I had forgotten it till just that minute."
"Ask her leave, and then go. What is the difficulty in that, Daisy?"
"She will not give me leave, Dr. Sandford. Mamma does not like me to do such things."
"Do you care much about it?"
"Present your request to Mrs. Randolph to-morrow, Daisy that is my advice to you."
"It would be no use, Dr. Sandford."
"Perhaps not; but I advise you to take my advice; and lay the rose-bush by the heels till to-morrow afternoon."
"By the heels, sir."
"Yes. Logan will tell you what that means."
Daisy looked with such a gaze of steadfast inquiry up in the doctor's face, that he had hard work to command his countenance. She could not make out anything from his face, except that somehow she got a little encouragement from it; and then they whirled in at the gate of Melbourne, and in another minute were at home. Daisy went off to see after her rose-bush, find Logan, and have it laid by the heels. The doctor marched in through the hall, into the library, and then catching sight of Mr. Randolph on the piazza, he went out there. Mr. Randolph was enjoying the September sunlight, and seemed to be doing nothing else.
"Good afternoon!" said the doctor.
"How do you do?" said Mr. Randolph. "Can you, possibly have business on hand, doctor, in this weather?"
"Very good weather for business," said the doctor.
"Too good. It is enough to look and breathe."
All Mr. Randolph was doing, apparently. He was lounging on a settee, with a satisfied expression of countenance. The doctor put himself in a great cane chair and followed the direction of his host's eyes, to the opposite river and mountains; over which there was a glory of light and atmosphere. Came back to Mr. Randolph's face with an air of the disparaged business.
"It is not bad, driving."
"No, I suppose not!"
"Your little daughter likes business better than you do."
A smile came over Mr. Randolph's face, a smile of much meaning.
"She likes it too well, doctor. I wish I could infuse some degree of nonchalant carelessness into Daisy's little wise head."
"We must deal with things as we find them," said the doctor. "I met her this afternoon in the road, with a carriage-load of business on hand; but what was very bad for her, it was arrested business."
"How do you mean?"
The doctor rose here to give his chair to Mrs. Randolph, who stepped out through the library window. He fetched another for himself, and went on.
"She was in the middle of the road, her chaise loaded with baskets and greenhouse plants, and with a general distribution of garden tools between herself and her outrider. All in the middle of the road at a stand-still chaise and pony and all, and Daisy herself in particular. I found it was an interrupted expedition, and invited Daisy to take a ride with me; which she did, and I got at the rationale of the affair. And I come now to make the request, as her physician, not as her friend, that her expeditions may be as little interfered with as possible. Let her energies work. The very best thing for her is that they should find something to work upon, and receive no interruption."
"What interrupted her this afternoon."
"Conscience as I understand it."
"There is no dealing with Daisy's conscience, doctor," said Mr. Randolph, with a smile. "What that says, Daisy feels herself bound to do."
"Do not burden her conscience then," said the doctor. "Not just now till she gets stronger."
"Where was she going this afternoon?" Mrs. Randolph asked in her calm voice.
"On an errand of the most Utopian benevolence "
"Having what for its object?"
"A miserable old crippled creature, who lives in a poor cottage about half a mile from your gate."
"What was Daisy desiring to do, doctor?"
"Carry some comfort to this forlorn thing, I believe; whom nobody else thinks of comforting."
"Do you know what shape the comfort was to take?"
"I think," said the doctor, "I am not quite sure, but I think, it was a rose-bush."
Mr. Randolph looked at his wife and straightened himself up to a sitting posture.
"And what hindered her, Dr. Sandford?"
"I think, some understanding that she had not liberty to go on."
"Very proper in Daisy," said Mrs. Randolph.
"That is your child who is wanting in docility," remarked Mr. Randolph.
"She might have remembered my orders before she got so far," said the lady.
"I wish you would change the orders," said Dr. Sandford, boldly.
"Not even to oblige you, doctor," said Mrs. Randolph. "Daisy has an idea that the companions who are not fit for her are precisely the ones whom she should cultivate."
"I think Daisy would state the question differently, however," Mr. Randolph remarked.
"She has a tinge of the wildest fanaticism," Mrs. Randolph went on, dropping her work, and facing the doctor. "Wherever there are rags and dirt, there, by force of contrast, Daisy thinks it is her business to go. This is a miserable place, I suppose, that she was aiming for this afternoon is it not?"
"Very miserable. But the point is, to visit it would have made Daisy happy."
"It is sheer fanaticism!" said Mrs. Randolph. "I cannot let her encourage it. If I did, she would not be fit for anything by and by. She is fit for very little now."
"You will of course judge as you please about it," said the doctor; "but it is my duty to tell you that the danger in that line is far more than compensated by the advantage to be gained. For Daisy's health, she should be checked in nothing; let her go where she will and do what she will; the more business on hand the better, that carries her out of doors and out of herself. With a strong body and secure health, you will find it far easier to manage fanaticism."
"I am sure Dr. Sandford is right, Felicia," said Mr. Randolph.
"I know Daisy " said the lady.
"I think I know fanaticism," said the doctor; "and if I do, the best thing you can do with it is to give it plenty of sun and air."
"Is it quite safe for Daisy to go to this cottage you speak of?" Mr. Randolph asked.
"I cannot think of letting Daisy go there, Mr. Randolph!" said his wife.
"What danger do you apprehend, Felicia?"
It was not quite so easy to say. The lady handled her tetting- pins, which were in her fingers, for a moment or two in silence; then let them fall, and raised her handsome head.
"Daisy must be withdrawn entirely from the associations which have taken possession of her if it is possible. The very best thing for her in my opinion would be to send her to a boarding-school. Unless you wish your daughter to grow up a confirmed religieuse, Mr. Randolph. Do you wish that?"
"I have not considered it. What do you suppose Daisy will do to harm herself at this place Dr. Sandford speaks of?"
"Some absurdity, that just cherishes the temper she is in."
"Quite as likely" to wear it out, Mr. Randolph was going to say; but some remembrance of Daisy came up and stopped him.
"Good evening!" said the doctor, rising to his feet.
"Are you going, Dr. Sandford?"
"Then you recommend that we let Daisy go to this place, and alone?"
"In my capacity of physician I should order it," said the doctor, with a smile; "only, I do not like to give orders and have them dishonoured."
Off he went.
"Felicia," said Mr. Randolph, "I believe he is right."
"I am sure he knows nothing about it," said the lady.
"Do you? Daisy is very delicate."
"She will never die of want of resolution."
"Felicia, I mean to enquire into Daisy's wishes and purposes about this matter; and if I find them unobjectionable, I shall give her leave to go on with it."
"You do not know what you are about, Mr. Randolph."
"I shall find out, then," said the gentleman. "I would rather she would be a religieuse than a shadow."
Daisy pondered over the doctor's counsel. It was friendly; but she hardly thought well advised. He did not know her father and mother so well as she did. Yet she went to find out Logan that afternoon on her return from the drive, and saw the rose- bush laid by the heels; with perhaps just a shadow of hope in her heart that her friend the doctor might mean to put in a plea for her somewhere. The hope faded when she got back to the house, and the doctor was gone, and Mrs. Randolph's handsome face looked its usual calm impassiveness. What use to ask her such a thing as leave to go to the cripple's cottage? No use at all, Daisy knew. The request alone would probably move displeasure. Every look at her mother's face settled this conviction more and more deeply in Daisy's mind; and she ended by giving up the subject. There was no hope. She could do nothing for any poor person, she was sure, under her mother's permission, beyond carrying soup and jelly in her pony-chaise, and maybe going in to give it. And that was not much; and there were very few poor people around Melbourne that wanted just that sort of attention.
So Daisy gave up her scheme. Nevertheless next morning it gave her a twinge of heart to see her rose-bush laid by the heels, exactly like her hopes. Daisy stood and looked at it. The sweet half-blown rose at the top of the little tree hung ingloriously over the soil, and yet looked so lovely and smelt so sweet; and Daisy had hoped it might win poor Molly Skelton's favour, or at least begin to open a way for it to come in due time.
"So ye didn't get your bush planted " said Logan, coming up.
"Your hands were not strong enough to make the hole deep for it, Miss Daisy?"
"Yes, I think they could; but I met with an interruption yesterday, Logan."
"Weel it'll just bide here till ye want it."
Daisy wished it was back in its old place again; but she did not like to say so, and she went slowly back to the house. As she mounted the piazza steps she heard her father's voice. He was there before the library windows.
"Come here, Daisy. What are you about?" he said, drawing her up in his arms.
"How do you like doing nothing?"
"Papa, I think it is not at all agreeable."
"You do! So I supposed. What were you about yesterday afternoon?"
"I went to ride with Dr. Sandford."
"Did that occupy the whole afternoon?"
"Oh, no, papa."
"Were you doing nothing the rest of the time?"
"No sir, not nothing."
"Daisy, I wish you would be a little more frank. Have you any objection to tell me what you were doing?"
"No, papa; but I did not think it would give you any pleasure. I was only trying to do something."
"It would give me pleasure to have you tell about it."
"I must tell you more then, papa." And standing with her arm on her father's shoulder, looking over to the blue mountains on the other side of the river, Daisy went on.
"There is a poor woman living half a mile from here, papa, that I saw one day when I was riding with Dr. Sandford. She is a cripple. Papa, her legs and feet are all bent up under her, so that she cannot walk at all; her way of moving is by dragging herself along over the ground on her hands and knees; her hands and her gown all clown in the dirt."
"That is your idea of extreme misery, is it not, Daisy?"
"Papa, do you not think it is it must be very uncomfortable?"
"Very, I should think."
"But that is not her worst misery. Papa, she is all alone; the neighbours bring her food, but nobody stops to eat it with her. She is all alone by night and by day; and she is disagreeable in her temper, I believe, and she has nobody to love her and she loves nobody."
"Which of those two things is the worst, Daisy?"
"What two things, papa?"
"To love nobody, or to have nobody to love her?"
"Papa I do not know." Then, remembering Juanita, Daisy suddenly added, "Papa, I should think it must be the worst to love nobody."
"Do you? Pray why?"
"It would not make her happy, I think, to have people love her if she did not love them."
"And you think loving others would be better, without anybody to give love back?"
"I should think it would be very hard!" said Daisy, with a most profound expression of thoughtfulness.
"Well this poor cripple, I understand, lacks both these conditions of happiness?"
"What then? You were going to tell me something about her."
"Not much about her," said Daisy, "but only about myself."
"A much more interesting subject to me, Daisy."
You could only see the faintest expression of pleasure in the line of Daisy's lips; she was looking very sober and a trifle anxious.
"I only thought, papa, I would try if I could not do something to make that poor woman happier."
"What did you try?"
"The first thing was to get her to know me and like me, you know, papa; because she is rather cross, and does not like people generally, I believe."
"So you went to see her?"
"I have never spoken much to her, papa. But I went inside of her gate one day, and saw her trying to take care of some poor flowers; so then I thought, maybe, if I took her a nice little rose-bush, she might like it."
"And then like you? Well you tried the experiment?"
"No, papa. I did get a rose-bush from Logan, and he told me how to plant it; and I was on my way to the cottage, and had almost got there; and then I recollected mamma had said I must not speak to anybody without her leave."
"So you came home?"
"Yes, papa. No, papa, I went to ride with Dr. Sandford."
"Have you asked leave of your mother?"
"No, papa," said Daisy, in a tone of voice which sufficiently expressed that she did not intend it.
"So, my dear little Daisy," said her father, drawing his arm round her a little more closely "you think a rose-bush would serve instead of friends to make this poor creature happy?"