[Transcriber's note: The source text contained no Chapter VIII or Chapter XVIII.]
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD.
"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."—PROV. xx. II.
* * * * *
NEW YORK: ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS, 530 BROADWAY. 1865.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
Stereotyped by SMITH & MCDOUGAL, 82 & 81 Beekman St. Printer: by E.O. JENKINS, 20 North William St.
* * * * *
The next day turned out so warm, that the carriage was not brought for Daisy till late in the afternoon. Then it came, with her father and Dr. Sandford; and Daisy was lifted in Mr. Randolph's arms and carefully placed on the front seat of the carriage, which she had all to herself. Her father and the doctor got in and sat opposite to her; and the carriage drove away.
The parting with Juanita had been very tenderly affectionate and had gone very near to Daisy's heart. Not choosing to shew this more than she could help, as usual, Daisy at first lay still on the cushions with an exceedingly old-fashioned face; it was as demure and sedate as if the gravity of forty years had been over it. But presently the carriage turned the corner into the road to Melbourne; Daisy caught sight for a second of the houses and church, spires of Crum Elbow, that she had not seen for so long. A pink flush rose over her face.
"What is it, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph, who had been watching her.
"Papa—it's so nice to see things again!"
"You had a pretty dull time of it at Mrs. Benoit's?" remarked the doctor.
"No—O no, I didn't. I did not have it dull at all."
"How did you escape that, Daisy?"
"I do not know, Dr. Sandford. There was no room for dulness."
The gentlemen smiled, but Daisy's father with a not altogether satisfied expression. He grew satisfied, as he marked the changes in Daisy's face. The ride was delightful to her. The carriage was easy; she was nicely placed; and through the open glass before her she could look out quite uninterruptedly. It was so pleasant, she thought, even to see the road and the fences again. That little bit of view before Mrs. Benoit's window she had studied over and over till she knew it by heart. Now every step brought something new; and the roll of the carriage wheels was itself enlivening. There was a reaped grain field; there a meadow with cattle pasturing. Now they passed a farm wagon going home, laden with sheaves; next came a cottage, well known but not seen for a long time, with its wonted half door open and the cottager's children playing about. Then came patches of woodland, with the sun shining through; and a field of flourishing Indian corn with the sunlight all over it; then more meadows with cattle.
"Do you ride comfortably, Daisy?" her father asked, bending over to her.
"Yes, papa. It is so nice!"
Mr. Randolph gave up care about Daisy, and the two gentlemen fell into a conversation which did not regard her, and lasted till the carriage stopped at the door of Melbourne House. And there was her mother, and there were Preston and his mother and sister, and Gary McFarlane, who had been away and come back again, all waiting to welcome her; besides some other guests who were now at Melbourne.
Mr. Randolph, got out of the carriage first. Dr. Sandford followed him; but then without giving place to anybody else, he himself took Daisy carefully off the seat where she lay, lifted her out in his arms, and carried her into the house. All the others trooped around and after him, through the hall and into the drawing room, where the doctor laid his little charge on the sofa and put the pillows behind her so that she could sit up comfortably. Then he stood back and let the others come to her. Mrs. Randolph gave her some very contented kisses; so did Mr. Randolph. Very glad and tender his were, at having his little daughter back there again.
"We are very much pleased to see you here, Daisy," her aunt said.
"Poor Daisy," said Eloise.
"Glad to come back to life and the world again, Daisy?" said Preston, standing at the back of her sofa and drumming on it.
"I understand, Daisy," said McFarlane, "that you have been an enchanted beauty, or a sleeping princess, during these weeks of my absence—under the guardianship of an old black witch, who drew incantations and water together from her well every morning."
"I can answer for the incantations," said Preston. "I have heard 'em."
Daisy's face flushed all over. "Preston, you do very wrong," she said, turning her head round to him. But Preston only burst into a fit of laughter, which he turned away to hide. Others of the company now came up to take Daisy's hand and kiss her and say how glad they were to see her; these people were very much strangers to Daisy and their greeting was no particular pleasure; but it had to be attended to. Then tea came in, and Daisy was well petted. It was very pleasant to have it so; after the silence and quiet of Juanita's little cottage, the lights and dresses and people and silver urn and tea service and flowers made quite a picture. Flowers had been in the cottage too, but not such wealth of them. Just opposite to Daisy in the middle of the floor stood a great stone basket, or wide vase, on a pedestal; and this vase was a mass of beautiful flowers. Trailing wreaths of roses and fuchsias and geraniums even floated down from the edges of the vase and sought the floor; the pedestal was half draped with them. It was a very lovely sight to Daisy's eyes. And then her mother ordered a little stand brought to the sofa's side; and her father placed it; and Gary brought her cup of tea, and Dr. Sandford spread her slice of toast. Daisy felt as if she loved everybody, and was very happy. The summer air floated in at the long windows, just as it used to do. It was home. Daisy began to realize the fact.
Meanwhile attention ceased to be filled with her particular affairs, and conversation flowed off as usual, away from her. Preston still held his station at the back of the sofa, where he dipped sponge cake in tea with a wonderful persistency; in fact the question seemed to be whether he or the cake basket would give out first; but for a while Daisy eat her toast in happy quiet; watching everybody and enjoying everything. Till Gary McFarlane drew near, and took a seat, as if for a regular siege.
"So what about those incantations, Daisy?" he said.
"I do not know what you mean, Mr. McFarlane."
"No? don't you? That's odd. You have been so long in the witch's precincts. You have heard them, of course?"
"I do not know what you mean, Mr. McFarlane."
"Why you must have been bewitched. I wonder, now, if the witch's house did not seem to you a palace?"
"It seemed a very nice place."
"And the witch herself a sable princess?"
"I think she is a great deal better than a princess."
"Exactly so," said Gary with a perfectly sober face. "The witch drew water, didn't she?"
"I don't know what you mean. Mrs. Benoit used to bring pails of water from her well."
"Very good. And you never heard her incantations, muttering in the morning before the dew was off the grass, or at night just as the first beams of the moon, lighted on the topmost boughs of the trees?"
Daisy was confounded. "Mr. McFarlane," she said after a moment's looking at him—"I hope I do not know what you mean."
At that, Gary McFarlane went off into an ecstacy of laughter, delighted and amused beyond count. Preston interrupted the sponge cake exercise, and Daisy felt her sofa shaking with his burden of amusement. What had she done? Glancing her eye towards Dr. Sandford, who sat near, she saw that a very decided smile was curling the corners of his mouth. A flush came up all over Daisy's face; she took some tea, but it did not taste good any longer.
"What did you think I meant?—come Daisy, tell me," said Gary, returning to Daisy as soon as he could get over his paroxysm of laughter. "What did you think I meant? I shouldn't wonder if you had some private witchcraft of your own. Come! what did you think I meant?"
While he had been laughing, Daisy had been trying to get command of herself and to get her throat clear for talking; there had been a very uncomfortable thick feeling in it at first. Now she answered with simple dignity and soberness,
"I did not know, Mr. McFarlane, but you meant Juanita's prayers."
"Does she pray?" said Gary innocently.
"Long prayers, Daisy?"
"Yes," (unwillingly now.)
"Then that must have been what you heard!" Gary said looking up to Preston. No answer came from him. Gary was as sober now as seven judges.
"Did she speak her prayers where you could hear her, Daisy?"
"I used to hear her—"
"Mornings and evenings?"
"But you heard her in broad day, Preston?"
"Yes; one afternoon it was. I heard her as soon as I got near the house. Daisy was asleep, and I went away as wise as I came."
"This grows interesting," said Gary returning to Daisy. "Could you hear the words that were said?"
"Only a muttering?"
Daisy was silent. The tears came into her eyes.
"Depend upon it, Daisy, it was incantations you heard. Description agrees exactly. Confess now, didn't a sort of feeling grow over you—creep over you—whenever you heard that muttering sound, as if you would do anything that black woman told you?"
Daisy was silent.
"Don't you know it is not proper to pray so that people can hear you? 'tisn't the way to do. Witches pray that way—not good Christian people. I regard it as a very fortunate thing, Daisy, that we have got you safe out of her hands. Don't you think that prayer ought to be private?"
"Yes," said Daisy. She was overwhelmed with the rapidity and liveliness of Gary's utterances, which he rattled forth as lightly as if they had been the multiplication table.
"Yes, just so. It is not even a matter to be talked about—too sacred—so I am offending even against my own laws; but I wanted to know how far the old witch had got hold of you. Didn't you feel when you heard her mutterings, as if some sort of a spell was creeping over you?"
Daisy wished some sort of a spell could come over him; but she did not know what to say.
"Didn't you gradually grow into the belief that she was a sort of saint, Daisy?"
"What is a saint, Mr. McFarlane?"
Gary at that wheeled partly round, and stroked his chin and moustache with the most comical expression of doubt and confusion.
"I declare I don't know, Daisy! I think it means a person who is too good for this world, and therefore isn't allowed to live here. They all go off in flames of some sort—may look like glory, but is very uncomfortable—and there is a peculiar odour about them. Doctor, what is that odour called?"
Gary spoke with absurd soberness, but the doctor gave him no attention.
"The odour of sanctity!—that is it!" said Gary. "I had forgot. I don't know what it is like, myself; but it must be very disagreeable to have such a peculiarity attached to one."
"How can anybody be too good for this world?" Daisy ventured.
"Too good to live in it! You can't live among people unless you live like them—so the saints all leave the rest of the world in some way or other; the children die, and the grown ones go missionaries or become nuns—they are a sort of human meteor—shine and disappear, but don't really accomplish much, because no one wants to be meteors. So your old woman can't be a saint, Daisy, or she would have quitted the world long ago."
Something called off Gary. Daisy was left feeling very thoroughly disturbed. That people could talk so—and think so—about what was so precious to her; talk about being saints, as if it were an undesirable thing; and as if such were unlovely. Her thought went back to Juanita, who seemed now half a world's distance away instead of a few miles; her love and gentleness and truth and wisdom, her prayers and way of living, did seem to Daisy somewhat unearthly in their beauty, compared with that which surrounded her now; but so unearthly, that it could not be understood and must not be talked about. Juanita could not be understood here; could Daisy? She felt hurt and troubled and sorry; she did not like to hear such talk, but Gary was about as easy to stop as a cataract.
Dr. Sandford, lifting his eyes from what had occupied them, though his ears had not been stopped, saw that the face of his little charge was flushed with pain and her eyes glistening. He came and took Gary's place, and silently felt of her hand and looked at her; but he did not ask Daisy what was the matter, because he pretty well knew. His own face, as usual, shewed nothing; however, Daisy's came back to its accustomed expression.
"Dr. Sandford," said she softly, "what is a meteor?"
"Meteors are fiery stones which fall on the earth occasionally."
"Where do they come from?"
"Doctors are divided."
"But where do you think they come from?"
If Dr. Sandford's vanity could be touched by a child, it received a touch then. It was so plain, that what satisfied him would satisfy her. He would not give the skeptical answer which rose to his lips. Looking at the pure, wise little face which watched his, he made answer simply, not without a smile:
"I am inclined to think they are wandering bodies, that we fall in with now and then, in our journey round the sun."
"Dr. Sandford, what do they look like?"
"You have seen shooting-stars?"
"Yes—are those meteors?"
"Those are meteors that do not come to the earth. Sometimes they are nearer, and look like great fire-balls."
"Have you seen them?"
"Yes, a great many."
"And have you seen them after they fell on the ground?"
"What are they like then?"
"A very black stone, on the outside, and made up of various metals and earths within."
"But then, what makes them look like fire-balls, before they fall?"
"Can't tell, Daisy. As I said, the doctors are divided; and I really have no opinion that you would understand if I gave it."
Daisy would have liked to hear all the opinions, but she did not ask for them. Preston was still standing at the back of the sofa, and started a new subject.
"Dr. Sandford, how soon will Daisy's foot let her go to Silver Lake?"
"In what way do you propose to get there?"
"By boat, sir, across the river; and the rest of the way is walking."
"On plain ground?"
"Not exactly!" said Preston.
"How far do you call it?"
"Of walking! I think Daisy may walk across this floor by next week; and in a little while after she may go up and down stairs."
"O doctor!" exclaimed Preston. "Why, at that rate, she cannot go to Silver Lake at all!"
"Does she want to go very much?" said the doctor. The question was really put at Daisy's face, and answered by a little flush that was not a flush of pain this time. He saw what a depth of meaning there was in it; what a charm, the sound of Silver Lake had for Daisy. No wonder, to a little girl who had lain for so many weeks looking out of one window, where there was not much to be seen, either.
"Who is going, Daisy?" said the doctor.
"Mamma means to make up a large party—I do not know exactly who."
"Then I think I can promise that you shall go too. You may count upon me for that."
Daisy's eyes shone and sparkled, but she said not a word. Preston was less sagacious.
"Will you do something to make her foot strong, sir?" he asked.
"When you have studied in my profession, you will know more about a physician's powers,"—was all the answer he got. The doctor turned off to conversation with other people, and Daisy was left to herself again. She was very happy; it was very pleasant to lie there comfortably on the sofa, and feel that her long imprisonment was over; it was amusing to look at so many people together, after having for days and days looked at only one; and the old wonted scene, the place and the lights, and the flowers and the dresses, yes, and the voices, gave her the new sense of being at home. Nevertheless, Daisy mused a little over some things that were not altogether pleasant. The faces that she scanned had none of them the placid nobleness of the face of her black nurse; no voice within her hearing had such sweet modulation; and Daisy felt a consciousness that Juanita's little cottage lay within the bounds of a kingdom which Mrs. Randolph's drawing-room had no knowledge of. Gradually Daisy's head became full of that thought; along with the accompanying consciousness, that a subject of that kingdom would be alone here and find nobody to help her.
"Daisy, what's the matter?" whispered Preston. "You are as sober as a judge."
"Am I?" said Daisy.
"What's to pay?"
"Nothing. I feel very nicely."
"Why don't you look like other people, then?"
"I suppose," said Daisy slowly, "I do not feel like other people."
"I wish you'd make haste about it, then," said Preston.
"Do be my own dear little old Daisy! Don't be grave and wise."
"Are you going to spend the night here, Daisy?" said Dr. Sandford, coming up to the sofa.
"No, sir," said Daisy, smiling.
"I suppose, in my room, sir—up-stairs."
"I must see you there before I go; and it is time now. Shall I carry you up?"
"If you please, sir."
"Pray do not, Dr. Sandford!" said Mrs. Randolph. "Mr. Randolph will do it, or one of the servants. There is no occasion for you to trouble yourself."
"Thank you, ma'am, but I like to see after my patients myself. Unless Daisy prefers other hands."
Mrs. Randolph protested. The doctor stood quiet and looked at Daisy, waiting for her to say what she would like. Now Daisy knew, that of all hands which had touched her, the doctor's and Juanita's were far the best; and of those two, the doctor's; perhaps because he was the strongest. Her father was very kind and tender, but he did not understand the business.
"I should like Dr. Sandford to take me," she said, when she found she must speak.
"Then I will trouble you, Mrs. Randolph, for somebody to shew me the way." And the doctor stooped and put his strong arms under Daisy, and lifted her up.
"Quite a conquest, I declare, you have made, Dr. Sandford!" said Mrs. Randolph, laughing. "Preston, shew the way, and I'll send June."
So the doctor marched off with Daisy, Preston going before to shew the way. He carried her without the least jar or awkwardness, through the company, out into the hall, and up the stairs. There June met him, and took Preston's office from him. Into Daisy's own room at last they came, and Dr. Sandford laid his little charge at once on her bed.
"You must not try to move, Daisy, until I see you again. Stay here till then."
"Good-night. Thank you, sir, for bringing me up."
Dr. Sandford smiled. "Thank you," said he, and with a wave of his hand, away he went.
"O June!" said Daisy, "how glad I am to see you."
June had seen Daisy only once during her abode at Mrs. Benoit's cottage; and now Daisy squeezed her hands and welcomed the sight of her with great affection; and June on her part, though not given to demonstrations, smiled till her wrinkles took all sorts of queer shapes, and even shewed her deep black eyes twinkling with something like moisture. They certainly were; and putting the smiles and the tears together, Daisy felt sure that June was as glad to see her as she was to see June. In truth, Daisy was a sort of household deity to June, and she welcomed her back accordingly, in her secret heart; but her words on that subject, as on all others, were few. The business of undressing, however, went on with great tenderness. When it was finished, Daisy missed Juanita. For then Juanita had been accustomed to bring her Bible, and read and pray; and that had been a time Daisy always enjoyed wonderfully. Now, in bed, at night, she could not see to read for herself. She dismissed June, and was left alone in her old room, with, as she justly thought, a great deal to pray for. And praying, little Daisy went to sleep.
The next day Daisy felt very much at home. Her orders were not to stir till the doctor came. So after breakfast and after receiving visits from everybody in the house, she was left to her own devices, for it happened that everybody had something on hand that morning and nobody staid with her.
Left with June, Daisy lay for awhile feasting her eyes on all the pleasant wonted objects around her. She was a particular little body, and very fond of her room and its furniture and arrangements. Then came a hankering for the sight of some of her concealed treasures from which she had been separated so long.
"June, I wish you would open the drawer of my bureau, the second drawer from the top, and put your hand back at the left side and give me a book that lies there."
June got the key and rummaged. "Don't feel nothing, Miss Daisy."
"Quite back, June, under everything—"
"Why, Miss Daisy, it's tucked away as though you didn't mean nobody should never find it!"
Precisely what Daisy did mean. But there it was, safe enough—Mr. Dinwiddie's Bible. Daisy's hands and eyes welcomed it. She asked for nothing more in a good while after that; and June curiously watched her, with immense reverence. The thin pale little face, a little turned from the light, so that she could see better; the intent eyes; the wise little mouth, where childish innocence and oldish prudence made a queer meeting; the slim little fingers that held the book; above all, the sweet calm of the face. June would not gaze, but she looked and looked, as she could, by glances; and nearly worshipped her little mistress in her heart. She thought it almost ominous and awful to see a child read the Bible so. For Daisy looked at it with loving eyes, as at words that were a pleasure to her. It was no duty-work, that reading. At last Daisy shut the book, to June's relief.
"June, I want to see my old things. I would like to have them here on the bed."
"What things, Miss Daisy?"
"I would like my bird of paradise first. You can put a big book here for it to stand on, where it will be steady."
The bird of paradise June brought, and placed as ordered. It was a bird of spun glass only, but a great beauty in Daisy's eyes. Its tail was of such fine threads of glass that it waved with the least breath.
"How pretty it is! You may take it away, June, for I am afraid it will get broken; and now bring me my Chinese puzzle, and set my cathedral here. You can bring it here without hurting it, can't you?"
"Where is your puzzle, Miss Daisy?"
"It is in the upper drawer of my cabinet," (so Daisy called a small chest of drawers which held her varieties) "and the cathedral stands on the top, under the glass shade. Be very careful, June."
June accomplished both parts of her business. The "cathedral" was a beautiful model of a famous one, made in ivory. It was rather more than a foot long, and high, of course, in proportion. Every window and doorway and pillar and arcade was there, in its exact place and size, according to the scale of the model; and a beautiful thing it was to look upon for any eyes that loved beauty. Daisy's eyes loved it well, and now for a long time she lay back on her pillow watching and studying the lights among those arcades, which the rich colour of the ivory, grown yellow with time, made so very pleasant to see. Daisy studied and thought. The Chinese puzzle got no attention. At last she cried, "June, I should like to have my Egyptian spoon."
"What is that, Miss Daisy?"
"My Egyptian spoon—it is a long, carved, wooden thing, with something like a spoon at one end; it is quite brown. Look for it in the next drawer, June, you will find it there. It don't look like a spoon."
"There is nothing like it in this drawer, Miss Daisy."
"Yes, it is. It is wrapped up in paper."
"Nothing here wrapped in paper," said June, rummaging.
"Aren't my chessmen there? and my Indian canoe? and my moccasins?—"
"Yes, Miss Daisy, all them's here."
"Well, the spoon is there too, then; it was with the canoe and the moccasins."
"It ain't here, Miss Daisy."
"Then look in all the other drawers, June."
June did so; no spoon. Daisy half raised herself up for a frightened look towards her "cabinet."
"Has anybody done anything to my drawers while I have been away?"
"No, Miss Daisy, not as I know of."
"June, please look in them all—every one."
"'Taint here, Miss Daisy."
Daisy lay down again and lay thinking.
"June, is mamma in her room?"
"Yes, Miss Daisy."
"Ask her—tell her I want to speak to her very much."
Mrs. Randolph came.
"Mamma," said Daisy, "do you know anything about my Egyptian spoon?"
"Do you want it, Daisy?"
"O yes, mamma! I do. June cannot find it. Do you know where it is?"
"Yes—it is not a thing for a child like you, Daisy, and I let your aunt Gary have it. She wanted it for her collection. I will get you anything else you like in place of it."
"But mamma, I told aunt Gary she could not have it. She asked me, and I told her she could not have it."
"I have told her she might, Daisy. Something else will give you more pleasure. You are not an ungenerous child."
"But, mamma! it was mine. It belonged to me."
"Hush, Daisy; that is not a proper way to speak to me. I allow you to do what you like with your things in general; this was much fitter for your aunt Gary than for you. It was something beyond your appreciation. Do not oblige me to remind you that your things are mine."
Mrs. Randolph spoke as if half displeased already, and left the room. Daisy lay with a great flush upon her face, and in a state of perturbation.
Her spoon was gone; that was beyond question, and Daisy's little spirit was in tumultuous disturbance—very uncommon indeed with her. Grief, and the sense of wrong, and the feeling of anger strove together. Did she not appreciate her old spoon? when every leaf of the lotus carving and every marking of the duck's bill had been noted and studied over and over, with a wondering regard to the dark hands that so many, many years and ages ago had fashioned it. Would Mrs. Gary love it as well? Daisy did not believe any such thing. And then it was the gift of Nora and Mr. Dinwiddie, and precious by association; and it was gone. Daisy lay still on her pillow, with a slow tear now and then gathering in her eyes, but also with an ominous line on her brow. There was a great sense of injustice at work—the feeling that she had been robbed; and that she was powerless to right herself. Her mother had done it; in her secret thought Daisy knew that, and that she would not have done it to Ransom. Yet in the deep fixed habit of obedience and awe of her mother, Daisy sheered off from directly blaming her as much as possible, and let the burden of her displeasure fall on Mrs. Gary. She was bitterly hurt at her mother's action, however; doubly hurt, at the loss and at the manner of it; and the slow tears kept coming and rolling down to wet her pillow. For a while Daisy pondered the means of getting her treasure back; by a word to her father, or a representation to Preston, or by boldly demanding the spoon of Mrs. Gary herself. Daisy felt as if she must have it back somehow. But any of these ways, even if successful, would make trouble; a great deal of trouble; and it would be, Daisy had an inward consciousness all the time, unworthy of a Christian child. But she felt angry with Mrs. Gary, and as if she could never forgive her. Daisy, though not passionate, was persistent in her character; her gentleness covered a not exactly yielding disposition.
In the midst of all this, Dr. Sandford came in, fresh from his morning's drive, and sat down by the bedside.
"Do you want to go down stairs, Daisy?"
"No, sir; I think not."
"Not? What's the matter? Are you of a misanthropical turn of mind?"
"I do not know. Dr. Sandford; I do not know what that is."
"Well, now you have got back to human society and fellowship, don't you want to enjoy it?"
"I should not enjoy it to-day."
"If I do not see you down stairs, you will have to stay up till another day."
"What is the matter, Daisy?" And now the doctor bent over and looked hard in her face. The wet spot in her pillow no doubt he had seen long ago. Daisy's eyes drooped.
"Look up here, and give me an answer."
"I can't very well tell you, sir."
"Why do you not want to go down stairs?"
"Because, Dr. Sandford, I am not good."
"Not good!" said he. "I thought you always were good."
Daisy's eye reddened and her lip twitched. He saw that there was some uncommon disturbance on hand; and there was the wet spot on the pillow.
"Something has troubled you," he said; and with that he laid his hand—it was a fresh, cool hand, pleasant to feel—upon Daisy's forehead, and kept it there; sometimes looking at her, and as often looking somewhere else. It was very agreeable to Daisy; she did not stir her head from under the hand; and gradually she quieted down, and her nerves, which were all ruffled, like a bird's feathers, grew smooth. There were no lines in her forehead when Dr. Sandford took away his hand again.
"Now tell me," said he smiling, "what was the matter? Shall I take you down to the library now?"
"O no, sir, if you please. Please do not, Dr. Sandford! I am not ready, I am not fit."
"Not fit?" said the doctor, eyeing her, and very much at a loss what to make of this. "Do you mean that you want to be more finely attired before you make your appearance in company?"
"No, sir," said Daisy. It struck her with a great sorrow, his saying this. She knew her outward attire was faultless; bright and nice as new silver was every bit of Daisy's dress, from her smooth hair to her neat little slippers; it was all white and clean. But the inward adorning which God looked at—in what a state was that? Daisy felt a double pang; that Dr. Sandford should so far mistake her as to think her full of silly vanity, and on the other hand, that he should so much, too well judge of her as to think her always good. The witnessing tinge came about Daisy's eyelids again.
"Dr. Sandford, if people tell you their private affairs, of course it is confidential?"
"Of course," said the doctor, without moving a muscle.
"Then I will tell you what I meant. I am not good. I am dressed well enough; but I have anger in my heart."
Dr. Sandford did not say how much he was surprised; for Daisy looked as meek as a lamb. But he was a philosopher, and interested.
"Then I am sure you have had reason, Daisy."
"I think I had," said Daisy, but without looking less sorrowful.
"Do you not consider that one has a right to be angry when one has a reason?"
"But one shouldn't stay angry," said the child, folding her hands over her heart.
"How are you going to help it, Daisy?"
"There is a way, Dr. Sandford."
"Is there? But you see I am in the dark now. I am as much abroad about that, as you were about a journey of three hundred years to the sun. When I am angry I never find that I can help it. I can maybe help using my horsewhip; but I cannot manage the anger."
"No—" said Daisy, looking up at him, and thinking how terrible it must be to have to encounter anger from his blue eye.
"What then, Daisy? how do you make out your position?"
Daisy did not very well like to say. She had a certain consciousness—or fear—that it would not be understood, and she would be laughed at—not openly, for Dr. Sandford was never impolite; but yet she shrunk from the cold glance of unbelief, or of derision, however well and kindly masked. She was silent.
"Haven't we got into a confidential position yet?" said the doctor.
"Yes, sir, but—"
"Jesus will help us, Dr. Sandford, if we ask him." And tears, that were tears of deep penitence now, rushed to Daisy's eyes.
"I do not believe, Daisy, to begin with, that you know what anger means."
"I have been angry this morning," said Daisy sadly. "I am angry now, I think."
"How do you feel when you are angry?"
"I feel wrong. I do not want to see the person—I feel she would be disagreeable to me, and if I spoke to her I should want to say something disagreeable."
"Very natural," said the doctor.
"But it is wrong."
"If you can help it, Daisy. I always feel disagreeable when I am angry. I feel a little disagreeable now that you are angry."
Daisy could not help smiling at that.
"Now suppose we go down stairs."
"O no, sir. O no, Dr. Sandford, please! I am not ready—I would rather not go down stairs to-day. Please don't take me!"
"To-morrow you must, Daisy. I shall not give you any longer than till then."
Away went Dr. Sandford to the library; kept Daisy's counsel, and told Mrs. Randolph she was to remain in her room to-day.
"She thinks too much," he said. "There is too much self-introversion."
"I know it! but what can we do?" said Mr. Randolph. "She has been kept from books as much as possible."
"Amusement and the society of children."
"Ay, but she likes older society better."
"Good morning," said the doctor.
"Stay! Dr. Sandford, I have great confidence in you. I wish you would take in hand not Daisy's foot merely but the general management of her, and give us your advice. She has not gained, on the whole, this summer, and is very delicate."
"Rather—" said the doctor. And away he went.
Meanwhile Daisy turned away from her beautiful little ivory cathedral, and opened Mr. Dinwiddie's Bible. Her heart was not at all comforted yet; and indeed her talk with Dr. Sandford had rather roused her to keener discomfort. She had confessed herself wrong, and had told him the way to get right; yet she herself, in spite of knowing the way, was not right, but very far from it. So she felt. Her heart was very sore for the hurt she had suffered; it gave her a twinge every time she thought of the lotus carving of her spoon handle, and those odd representations of fish in the bowl of it. She lay over on her pillow, slowly turning and turning the pages of her Bible, and tear after tear slowly gathering one after another, and filling her eyes and rolling down to her pillow to make another wet spot. There was no harm in that, if that had been all. Daisy had reason. But what troubled her was, that she was so strongly displeased with her aunt Gary. She did not want to see her or hear her, and the thought of a kiss from her was unendurable. Nay, Daisy felt as if she would like to punish her, if she could; or at least to repossess herself of her stolen property by fair means or by foul. She was almost inclined to think that she must have it at all events. And at the same time, she had told Dr. Sandford that she was not right. So Daisy lay slowly turning the pages of her Bible, looking for some word that might catch her eye and be a help to her. There were a good many marks in the Bible, scattered here and there, made by its former owner. One of these stopped Daisy's search, and gave her something to think of. It stood opposite these words:
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."
Daisy considered that. What "vocation" meant, she did not know, nor who was "the prisoner of the Lord," nor what that could mean; but yet she caught at something of the sense. "Walk worthy," she understood that; and guessed what "vocation" stood for. Ay! that was just it, and that was just what Daisy was not doing. The next words, too, were plain enough.
"With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."
"Forbearing one another"—easy to read, how hard to do! Mrs. Gary's image was very ugly yet to Daisy. Could she speak pleasantly to her aunt? could she even look pleasantly at her? could she "forbear" all unkindness, even in thought? Not yet! Daisy felt very miserable and very much ashamed of herself, even while her anger was in abiding strength and vigour.
She went on, reading through the whole chapter; not because she had not enough already to think about, but because she did not feel that she could obey it. Some of the chapter she did not quite understand; but she went on reading, all the same, till she came to the last verse. That went through and through Daisy's heart, and her eyes filled so full that by the time she got to the end of it she could not see to read at all. These were the words:
"And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
That quite broke Daisy's heart. She rolled herself over upon her open Bible, so as to hide her face in her pillow, and there Daisy had a good cry. She standing out about a little thing, when Jesus was willing to forgive such loads and loads of naughtiness in her! Daisy would have no friendship with her resentment any more. She turned her back upon it, and fled from it, and sought eagerly that help by which, as she had told Dr. Sandford, it might be overcome. And she had said right. He who is called Jesus because be saves his people from their sins, will not leave anybody under their power who heartily trusts in him for deliverance from them.
Daisy received several visits that day, but they were all flying visits; everybody was busy. However they put to the proof the state of her feeling towards several persons. The next day the first person she saw was the doctor.
"How do you do, Daisy? Ready to go down stairs to-day?"
"Have you got the better of your anger?"
"Pray, at what hour did your indignation take flight?" said the doctor, looking at the gentle little face before him.
"I think—about three hours after you were here yesterday," said Daisy soberly. The doctor looked at her, and his gravity gave way, so far at least as to let the corners of his lips curl away from some very white teeth. Dr. Sandford rarely laughed. And there was nothing mocking about his smile now, though I have used the word "curl;" it was merely what Daisy considered a very intelligent and very benign curve of the mouth. Indeed she liked it very much.
"Have you seen the offending party since that time, Daisy?"
"And did you feel no return of displeasure?"
There was something so exceedingly sweet in Daisy's expression of face, so unruffled in its loving calm and assurance, that Dr Sandford received quite a new impression in his views of human character.
"I shall have an account to settle with that young Preston one of these days," he remarked as he took Daisy's little form in his arms.
"O he did nothing!" said Daisy. "It wasn't Preston at all. He had nothing to do with it!"
"He had not?" said the doctor.
"Not at all; nor any other boy."
"Beyond my management, then!" said the doctor; and he moved off. He had stood still to say that word or two; Daisy's arm was round his neck to help support herself; the two looked into each other's faces. Certainly that had come to pass which at one time she had thought unlikely; Daisy was very fond of the doctor.
He carried her now down to the library, and laid her on a sofa. Nobody at all was there. The long windows were standing open; the morning sweet air blew gently in; the books, and chairs, and tables which made the room pretty to Daisy's eyes, looked very pleasant after the long weeks in which she had not seen them. But along with her joy at seeing them again was mixed a vivid recollection of the terrible scene she had gone through there, a few days before her accident. However, nothing could make Daisy anything but happy just now.
"You must remain here until I come again," said the doctor; "and now I will send some of the rest of the family to you."
The first one that came was her father. He sat down by the sofa, and was so tenderly glad to have her there again, that Daisy's little heart leaped for joy. She put her hand in his, and lay looking into his face.
"Papa, it is nice," she said.
"O to be here, and with you again."
Mr. Randolph put his lips down to Daisy's, and kissed them a good many times.
"Do you know we are going to Silver Lake with you as soon as you are strong enough?"
"O yes, papa! Dr. Sandford says he can manage it. But I don't know when."
"In a week or two more."
"Papa, who is going?"
"Everybody, I suppose."
"But I mean, is anybody to be invited?"
"I think we must ask Dr. Sandford."
"O yes, papa! I wish he would go. But is anybody else to be asked?"
"I do not know, Daisy. Whom would you like to have invited?"
"Papa, I would like very much to have Nora Dinwiddie. She has come back."
"Well, tell your mother so."
Daisy was silent a little; then she began on a new theme.
"Papa, what is a 'vocation'?"
"What is what, Daisy?"
"Where did you get that word?"
"I found it in a book."
"It means commonly a person's business or employment."
"Only that, papa?"
"There is another sense in which it is used, but you would hardly understand it."
"Please tell me, papa."
"Papa, I like to know the meanings of things. Please tell me."
"Daisy, it means a 'calling'—in the idea that some persons are particularly appointed to a certain place or work in the world."
Daisy looked a little hard at him, and then said, "Thank you, papa."
"Daisy, I hope you do not think you have a 'vocation,'" said Mr. Randolph, half smiling.
"Papa," said the child, "I cannot help it."
"No, perhaps not," said Mr. Randolph, stooping again to Daisy's lips. "When you are older and wiser you will know better. At present your vocation is to be a good little daughter. Now what are you going to do to-day? Here is Preston—if you want him; or I will do for you what you please."
"Yes, Daisy, what shall we do?" said Preston.
"O, are you at leisure?"
"All your own, Daisy, for this morning at any rate. What shall we do?"
"O Preston, would you mind getting my tray for me; and let us go on with the battle of Hastings?"
"With what?" said Mr. Randolph, laughing.
"The battle of Hastings, papa—English history, you know. Captain Drummond and I got just there and then we stopped. But Harold was killed—wasn't he, papa?"
"I believe he was, Daisy."
"Good for him, too," said Preston. "He was nothing but a usurper. William the Conqueror was a great deal more of a man."
"But he was just as much of a usurper, wasn't he?" said Daisy.
"You must mind your ethics, Preston," Mr. Randolph said, laughing. "Daisy is on the Saxon side."
"Preston, will you get the tray, please? June will give it to you."
Preston did not quite understand the philosophy of the tray; however, Daisy must be humoured. It was brought. By Daisy's order it had been carefully protected from dust and danger; and the lineaments of England, as traced by the captain some time ago, were fresh and in good order. Daisy hung over the map with great interest, renewing her acquaintance with various localities, and gradually getting Preston warmed up to the play. It was quite exciting; for with every movement of William's victorious footsteps, the course of his progress had to be carefully studied out on a printed map, and then the towns and villages which marked his way noted on the clay map, and their places betokened by wooden pins. Daisy suggested that these pins should have sealing-wax heads of different colours to distinguish the cities, the villages, and the forts from each other. Making these, interrupted doubtless the march of the Conqueror and of history, but in the end much increased Daisy's satisfaction, and if the truth be told, Preston's too.
"There,—now you can see at a glance where the castles are; don't their red heads look pretty! And, O Preston! we ought to have some way of marking the battle-fields; don't you think so?"
"The map of England will be nothing but marks then, by and by," said Preston.
"Will it? But it would be very curious. Preston, just give me a little piece of that pink blotting paper from the library table; it is in the portfolio there. Now I can put a little square bit of this on every battle-field, and pressing it a little, it will stick, I think. There!—there is Hastings. Do you see, Preston? That will do nicely."
"England will be all pink blotting paper by and by," said Preston.
"Then it will be very curious," said Daisy. "Were new kings always coming to push out the old ones?"
"Not like William the Conqueror. But yet it was something very like that, Daisy. When a king died, two of his children would both want the place; so they would fight."
"But two men fighting would not make a battle-field."
"O Daisy, Daisy!" cried Preston; "do you know no better than that?"
"Well, but who else would fight with them?"
"Why, all the kingdom! Part would fight for the right, you know, as the Saxons did with Harold; and part would fight to be the best fellows and to get the fat places."
"Fat places?" said Daisy. At which Preston went off into one of his laughs. Daisy looked on. How could she be expected to understand him?
"What is the matter, my dear? What are you doing?" Daisy started.
"We are studying English, history, aunt Gary."
"History, my dear? And what is all this muss, and these red and black spots? does your mamma allow this in the library?"
"Just the place to study history, I am sure, mamma," said Preston; "and you cannot have less muss than this where people are fighting. But I really don't know what you mean, ma'am; there cannot be a cleaner map, except for the blood shed on it."
"Blood?" said Mrs. Gary. "My dear"—as Preston burst into another laugh—"you must not let him tease you."
Daisy's look was so very unruffled and gentle that perhaps it put Mrs. Gary in mind of another subject.
"Did you know, Daisy, that I had robbed you of your old-fashioned spoon?"
"I found it was not among my things," said Daisy.
"My dear, your mother thought you would not value it; and it was very desirable to my collection. I took it with her consent."
"I am willing you should have it, aunt Gary."
"Were you very angry, my dear, when you found where it had gone?"
"I am not angry now, aunt Gary."
Certainly Daisy was not; yet something in the child's look or manner made the lady willing to drop the subject. Its very calm gentleness did not testify to anything like unconcern about the matter; and if there had been concern, Mrs. Gary was not desirous to awaken it again. She kissed Daisy, said she was a good girl, and walked off. Daisy wondered if her aunt had a fancy for trilobites.
"What was all that about, Daisy?" Preston asked.
"O never mind—let us go on with William the Conqueror."
"What spoon of yours has she got?"
"My Egyptian spoon."
"That old carved thing with the duck's bill?"
"Yes. Now, Preston, what comes next?"
"Didn't you say she could not have it?"
"No matter what I said, if I say that she can have it now."
"Did you give it to her?"
"Preston, that has nothing to do with William the Conqueror. Please let us go on."
"Daisy, I want to know. Did you give it to her?"
"I am willing she should have it. Now, Preston, go on?"
"But I say, did you give my mother that spoon?"
"Preston," said Daisy, "do you think it is quite proper to question me in that manner about what you see I do not wish to have you know?"
Preston laughed, though he looked vexed, and kissed her, nobody being in the library; he was too big a boy to have done it if anybody had been looking on. And after that he played the historico-geographical play with her for a very long time; finding it, with Daisy's eagerness and freshness, a very good play indeed. Only he would persist in calling every cause of war, every disputed succession, every rivalry of candidates, an Egyptian spoon. Daisy could not prevent him. She had a very happy morning; and Dr. Sandford was well satisfied with her bright face when he came, towards night, and carried, her up stairs again.
But Daisy was getting well now. It was only a few days more, and Dr. Sandford permitted her to walk a little way herself on her own feet. A little way at first, across the floor and back; no more that day; but from that time Daisy felt whole again. Soon she could walk to please herself, up and down stairs and everywhere; though she was not allowed to go far enough to tire her foot while it was yet unused to exercise.
Now all her home ways fell again into their accustomed order. Daisy could get up and be dressed; nobody knows what a luxury that is unless he has been hindered of it for a good while. She could stand at her window and look out; and go down on her own feet to join the family at breakfast. Her father procured her a seat next himself now, which Daisy did not use to have; and she enjoyed it. She knew he enjoyed it too; and it made breakfast a very happy time to Daisy. After breakfast she was at her own disposal, as of old. Nobody wished her to do anything but please herself.
At this moment nothing pleased Daisy better than to go on with English history. With Preston, if she could get him; if not, alone, with her book and her tray map. Poring over it, Daisy would lie on the sofa, or sit on a little bench with the tray on the floor; planting her towns and castles, or going hack to those already planted with a fresh interest from new associations. Certain red-headed and certain black-headed and certain green-headed pins came to be very well known and familiar in the course of time. And in course of time, too, the soil of England came to be very much overspread with little squares of pink blotting-paper. To Daisy it grew to be a commentary on the wickedness of mankind. Preston remarked on the multitude there was of Egyptian spoons.
"What do you mean by that, Preston?" said his aunt.
"Causes of quarrel, ma'am."
"Why do you call them Egyptian spoons?"
"Causes of trouble, I should say, ma'am."
"And again I say, why do you call them Egyptian spoons?"
"I beg your pardon, aunt Felicia. Egypt was always a cause of trouble to the faithful; and I was afraid little Daisy has had just a spoonful of it lately."
"Daisy, what have you been saying to your cousin?"
"Nothing, mamma, about that; only what Preston asked me."
"I am sure you did not say what I asked of you, Daisy. She told me nothing at all, aunt Felicia, except by what she did not tell me."
"She behaved very sweetly about it, indeed," said Mrs. Gary. "She made me feel quite easy about keeping it. I shall have to find out what I can send, to Daisy that she will like."
"What are you and Preston doing there?" Mrs. Randolph asked with a cloudy face.
"Studying, mamma; I am. English history."
"That is no way of studying; and that tray—what have you got in it?"
Preston laughed. Mrs. Randolph did not join him.
"What have you got in that thing, Daisy? sand?"
"O no, mamma—it's something—it's prepared clay, I believe."
"Prepared!" said Mrs. Randolph. "Prepared for something besides my library. You are hanging over it all day, Daisy—I do not believe it is good for you."
"O mamma, it is!"
"I think I shall try whether it is not good for you to be without it."
"O no, mamma." Daisy looked in dismay. "Do ask Dr. Sandford if he thinks it is not good for me."
"There he is, then," said Mrs. Randolph, "Doctor, I wish you would see whether Daisy is occupying herself, in your judgment, well, when she is hanging over that thing half the day."
Dr. Sandford came up. Daisy was not afraid of his decision, for she knew he was on her side. Mrs. Randolph on the other hand did not wish, to dispute it, for she was, like most other people, on the doctor's side. He came up and looked at the tray.
"What is this?"
"The map of England, sir."
"Pray what are you doing with it?"
"Making it, sir, and studying English history."
"What are these pins? armies? or warriors? they are in confusion enough."
"O there is no confusion," said Daisy. "They are castles and towns."
"This is Dover Castle," said Daisy, touching a red-headed pin; "and this is Caernarvon, and Conway; and these black ones are towns. There is London—and Liverpool—and York—and Oxford—don't you see?"
"I see, but it would take a witch to remember. What are you doing?"
"Studying English history, sir; and as fast as we come to a great town or castle we mark it. These bits of paper shew where the great battle-fields are."
"Original!" said the doctor.
"No sir, it is not," said Daisy. "Captain Drummond taught it to me."
"What, the history?"
"No; but this way of playing."
Preston was laughing and trying to keep quiet. Nothing could be graver than the doctor.
"Is it interesting, this way of playing?"
"Very!" said Daisy, with a good deal of eagerness, more than she wished to shew.
"I wish you would forbid it, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy's mother. "I do not believe in such a method of study, nor wish Daisy to be engrossed with any study at all. She is not fit for it."
"Whereabouts are you?" said the doctor to Daisy.
"We are just getting through the wars of the Roses."
"Ah! I never can remember how those wars began—can you?"
"They began when the Duke of York tried to get the crown of Henry the Sixth. But I think he was wrong—don't you?"
"Somebody is always wrong in those affairs," said the doctor. "You are getting through the wars of the Roses. What do you find was the end of them?"
"When the Earl of Richmond came. We have just finished the battle of Bosworth Field. Then he married Elizabeth of York, and so they wore the two roses together."
"Harmoniously?" said the doctor.
"I don't know, sir. I do not know anything about Henry the Seventh yet."
"What was going on in the rest of the world while the Roses were at war in England?"
"O I don't know, sir!" said Daisy, looking up with a sudden expression of humbleness. "I do not know anything about anywhere else."
"You do not know where the Hudson River was then."
"I suppose it was where it is now?"
"Geographically, Daisy; but not politically, socially, or commercially. Melbourne House was not thinking of building; and the Indians ferried their canoes over to Silver Lake, where a civilized party are going in a few days to eat chicken salad under very different auspices."
"Were there no white people here?"
"Columbus had not discovered America, even. He did that just about seven years after Henry the Seventh was crowned on Bosworth Field."
"I don't know who Columbus was," Daisy said, with a glance so wistful and profound in its sense of ignorance, that Dr. Sandford smiled.
"You will hear about him soon," he said, turning away to Mrs. Randolph. That lady did not look by any means well pleased. The doctor stood before her looking down, with the sort of frank, calm bearing that characterized him.
"Are you not, in part at least, a Southerner?" was the lady's first question.
"I am sorry I must lose so much of your good opinion as to confess myself a Yankee," said the doctor steadily.
"Are you going to give your sanction to Daisy's plunging herself into study, and books, and all that sort of thing, Dr. Sandford?"
"Not beyond my depth to reach her."
"I do not think it is good for her. She is very fond of it, and she does a great deal too much of it when she begins; and she wants strengthening first, in my opinion. You have said enough now to make her crazy after the history of the whole world."
"Mrs. Randolph, I must remind you that though, you can hinder a tree from growing, in a particular place, you cannot a fungus; if the conditions be favourable."
"What do you mean?"
"I think this may be a good alterative."
The lady looked a little hard at the doctor.
"There is one book I wish you could hinder her from reading," she said, lowering her tone.
"What is that, madam?"
"She is just the child not to bear it; and she is injured by poring over the Bible."
"Put the Bibles out of her way," suggested the doctor.
"I have, as much as I can; but it is not possible to do it perfectly."
"Then I counsel you to allow her the use of this medicine," said Dr. Sandford, glancing towards the tray, which no longer held Daisy's attention. For together with her mother's lowering of voice, the one word "Bible" had come to her consciousness. Daisy was at no loss to guess what it meant. The low tones of the speakers gave her sufficient information.
Thus far; that her Bible was reckoned an undesirable treasure for her by her mother. Was her own dear little particular Bible in danger? the one that Mr. Dinwiddie had given her? Daisy was alarmed. She did not enjoy any more battle-fields, nor enter with good heart into her history work from that time, until she could get up stairs again and see that it was safe, and contrive some way or place to keep it safe in time to come. Where could such a place be? It was a puzzle, because all Daisy's things were, of course, open to her mother. Perhaps Daisy's fears were needless; but after the affair of her Egyptian spoon she looked with jealous eves not only on her Bible, but on her trilobite. She sat down with a dismayed little face, to think where she could find a hiding-place. She thought of putting the Bible under her bed or pillow; but the bed was turned over every morning, and the servants would find it. None of her bureau drawers or cabinet drawers were secure. Daisy pondered all manner of impossible places. At last fixed upon a spot of the floor covered by an ottoman. The ottoman was hollow and not very heavy, and never moved after the room was put in order every day. Till the room was put in order Daisy hid her Bible in a drawer; then took it out and consigned it to the obscurity of the ottoman.
She was greatly afraid, then, of being found reading it. She had not heard the words which passed between the doctor and her mother; only the word "Bible;" but the low tones made her well enough aware that the matter of their talk was somehow adverse; it boded nothing kindly to her and the Bible. So Daisy was in another perplexity; and resolved that to be as safe as she could, she would read with locked doors for the future. And as doors must not be locked at times when her mother might be coming and going, Daisy chose early morning and late evening for her Bible-reading. She used to let June undress her, and finish all her duties of dressing-maid; then she sent her away and locked her doors, and read in comfort. This lasted a little while; then one unlucky night Daisy forgot to unlock her doors. The morning came, and June with it; but June could neither get in nor dare knock loud enough to make Daisy hear; she was obliged to come round through her mistress's dressing-room. But Daisy's door on that side was locked too! June was going softly away.
"What do you want?" said her mistress.
"If you please, ma'am," said June, stopping very unwillingly—"I thought it was time to wake Miss Daisy."
"Why do you not go in, then?"
"Ma'am—the door is locked," said June, in a scarce audible undertone.
June went back and knocked.
"Louder," said Mrs. Randolph, who was under her maid's hands; "you would not waken a cat at that rate. Make yourself heard."
June's taps, however, continued so fearfully gentle, that Mrs. Randolph, arose and came to the door herself. One or two of the touches of her imperative fingers brought a little figure in white night-dress and just-awakened face, to open the door.
"Daisy," said her mother, "what is your door fast for?"
"Mamma—I wanted it fast for a few minutes."
"Did you lock it last night or this morning?"
"Last night—I thought—I meant to have opened it."
"Both your doors?"
"All night locked! Now, Daisy, I forbid you ever to turn the key in your door again, night or day."
"O mamma!—I want it shut sometimes."
"Hush. Go and let June dress you."
June was vexed enough with herself to have inflicted some punishment on her awkward tongue and head, when she saw that Daisy was for some reason or other deeply grieved. The tears gathered and fell, quietly, all through the process of dressing; and a sort of sob heaved from the child's breast now and then, without words and most involuntary. Juanita's cottage was a palace to Melbourne House, if peace made the furniture. But June did not know what to say; so she was silent too.
When June was gone Daisy went to her beloved window, and stood there. She did not like to kneel, because her mother might come in, or even June, while she was doing so. She stood at the sweet open window, and prayed that the Lord would take care of her, and help her to pray however she could. And then the thought of those words came to Daisy:—"Thou, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." She remembered very well how Captain Drummond had described the way a good soldier takes things—hard and disagreeable things as well as others. It is part of his business to endure them; he expects them, and minds them not at all in comparison with the service in which he is engaged. And a soldier of Jesus Christ has only to obey him, and take willingly whatever comes in the line of his service. What matter? The only thing was to obey orders, and do the work she was set upon. Hardships did not seem much like hardships when she thought of them in this way. And then it occurred to Daisy, that if she could not fasten her doors, she had better just kneel down as usual with them open. She could not do without praying; and if she must be in traded upon, why it was a little hardship that she had better not mind. And when she had thought that, Daisy kneeled down; and she never had any more trouble about it. She did fancy, even that first morning, that she heard the lock of her door turn; but she did not move to see, and hearing nothing more she soon forgot it. Nobody wore such a bright and fresh face at the breakfast-table as Daisy; such a glad and uncareful face; and Mrs. Randolph seeing it, was reassured; though she had just seen her little daughter at her prayers, on her knees, by the window. She looked so happy now, that the lady was inclined to hope her religion was a childish folly, which would pass away and be forgotten in time.
But for the present Daisy was a soldier; and meditating much on a service which she had to perform. That very day, if you had been there, and worn an invisible cap, you might have gone into her room and seen what she was about. On the ottoman aforesaid Daisy's writing-desk was placed; and before it on a cricket sat Daisy, with a face, O how grave and busy! A very weight of care of some sort seemed to lie under her childish little brow. She was opening her desk and looking out paper; some she felt and rejected—it was too thin or too blue, or something; she tried her pen on another kind; it did not go well. At last a thick little sheet of note paper was chosen; and Daisy began to write. Or rather, sat over the paper with her pen in her fingers, thinking how to write. She looked very anxious; then took bits of paper and a pencil and tried different forms of a sentence. At last, with slow care, and fingers that trembled, a line or two was inscribed on the beautiful thick little sheet of English note paper.
"Dear papa, won't you think about being a Christian? Do not be displeased with
It was written all out, as fair as she could; and then you might have seen Daisy's little round head go down on her hands on the desk. It did not move for a good while. When it was lifted up, she sought out an envelope rather hurriedly, directed it, folded and put in her note, and sealed it.
Daisy shut her desk then, and with a manner not quite as calm and careless as usual, went to her father's dressing table and stood considering where she should put the note. Under the cushion, it might be seen first by a servant, and then delivered to Mr. Randolph in the midst of company. Under his dressing-box, the same fate threatened it. Daisy peered about, and thought, and trembled for several minutes. She had a fancy that she did not want him to get it before the next morning, when he would be quietly dressing here alone. He would certainly be opening his dressing-box before that. The only place Daisy could be sure would not be invaded before that, was the place she chose; she took off the cover of his box of shaving soap and with some trouble squeezed the note in so that it would lie safely hid; then put on the cover and put the box in its place, and went away with light hands and a heavy heart. Heavy, that is, with a burden of doubt mingled with fear. Would Mr. Randolph be angry? Daisy could not feel sure that that would not be the consequence of her proceeding. Perhaps he would be very much displeased, and think it very disrespectful and improper that his little daughter should take so much upon herself. Daisy knew quite well all that. But who else in the world would take the responsibility if she did not? No one; and Daisy with all her fear did not once think of going to get her note away again before it should be read. Her heart yearned towards her father. He was so very gentle and tender in his manner with her, more than ever, Daisy thought; she felt that the love between them was growing strong and deep even beyond what it used to be. And while he knew nothing of the joy that filled her own heart, and while he refused obedience to the laws that she knew were binding on him as well as on her, he must be also, she knew, without the favour and blessing of God. He had no part in it; nothing to do with it; and Daisy's heart swelled with childish sorrow and longing. She had thought a great deal about it, and concluded that she must bear "the message," even plainly in words, to her father, before she could feel satisfied. Little hands might take the message, Juanita had said; so humbly Daisy's took it; and then she prayed that it might not be for nothing. She knew all her hands could do was not much.
All the remainder of that day, Daisy never forgot her note in the box of shaving soap. She knew it was extremely unlikely that the box would be opened sooner than the next morning; nevertheless, whenever Mr. Randolph came near where she was, Daisy looked up with something like a start. There was nothing in his face to alarm her; and so night came, and Daisy kissed him twice for good night, wondering to herself whether he would feel like kissing her when they met again. Never mind, the message must be delivered, cost what it might. Yes, this was soldier's service. Daisy was going into the enemy's country.
Mr. Randolph had felt the lingering touch of Daisy's lips, and the thought of it came to him more than once in the course of the evening—"like the wind that breathes upon a bank of violets"—with a breath of sweetness in the remembrance. Nevertheless he had pretty well forgotten it, when he pulled off the cover of his box of shaving soap the next morning. He was belated and in something of a hurry. If ever a man suddenly forgot his hurry, Mr. Randolph did, that morning. He knew the unformed, rather irregular and stiff handwriting in a moment; and concluded that Daisy had some request to make on her own account which she was too timid to speak out in words. That was what he expected when he opened the paper; but Eve could not have been much more surprised when the serpent spoke to her in the garden of Eden, than was Mr. Randolph at finding that his little lamb of a child had dared to open her mouth to him in this fashion.
"Mr. Randolph, you will be late," said the lady who owned that name, coming to his door. And seeing her husband standing still with his elbow leaning on his dressing-table, she walked in.
"You will assuredly be late! what have you got there?"
The little sheet of English note-paper lay spread out on the dressing-table. Mr. Randolph was looking at it. He did not answer, and the lady bent nearer for a moment and then stood upright.
"Daisy!" exclaimed Mrs. Randolph.
Her husband made an inarticulate sort of a noise, as he turned away and took up his neglected shaving soap.
"What is this?" said the lady in astonishment.
"What you see—" said Mr. Randolph.
"Where did it come from?"
"The signature tells you."
"But where did you get it?"
"The impertinent little minx!"
"Hush. She does not mean to be impertinent, Felicia."
"Do you like misbehaviour that is not meant, Mr. Randolph?"
"Better than that which is meant."
"I told you the child would get ruined in that place," said Mrs. Randolph, after musing a few minutes over the little sheet of note-paper.
Mr. Randolph made a lather and applied it. That might be the reason why he made no answer.
"I call it impertinence," the lady went on, "and very well grown impertinence too—from a child like that! It is the trick of all religious people, to think themselves better and wiser than the rest of the world; but I think Daisy has learnt the lesson early!"
Still silence on Mr. Randolph's part and steady attention to his toilet duties.
"What notice do you mean to take of this?"
"I think, none at all."
"Mr. Randolph, Daisy is ruined!"
"I do not quite see it yet."
"I wish you would see it. She is full of stupid stiff ways, which will be habits fixed as iron in a little time if we do not break them up. She does not act like a child."
"She is very like a child to me," said Mr. Randolph.
"You do not see. Do you observe her way whenever she sits down to table? She covers her face and remains in silent prayer, I suppose, a minute or so."
A slight laugh came from Mrs. Randolph with the words. Mr. Randolph could not well laugh, for he was shaving. He remarked that he had never seen it.
"I wish you would remember and take notice. She does it regularly. And she is not a docile child any longer, I give you warning. You will find it very difficult to do anything with her in the way of breaking up this religious stiffness of hers."
Mr. Randolph was silent a while, and Mrs. Randolph looked vexed. At length he remarked that indirect ways were the best.
"It will take both," said his wife; "direct and indirect." And after that they went down to breakfast.
Mr. Randolph was the last, and he was not early; but this morning Daisy was later still. Her father watched for her coming, and did not see it after all; Daisy stole in so quietly, she was in her seat by his side before he had noticed her. Then perceiving the gentle, sweet, quiet little face beside him, and recognizing the timid feeling which made Daisy afraid to meet his eye, he could not refrain; he bent down and gave her a kiss. He was very much touched by the little fluttering start and glance which Daisy returned to this salutation, and he saw that a pink flush of pleasure came into her cheeks. Perhaps all this put the subject of watching her out of Mr. Randolph's head; he certainly did not see the minute, a few minutes later, when Daisy's hand stole to her brow and her eyes were for a short space hidden and her hand moveless. Mrs. Randolph saw it, and saw that he did not. Daisy had forgotten that anybody could see her. The thanksgiving of her heart had more burden to-day than the ordinary gifts of the morning which she was wont to remember. Her father was not angry with her! It took a load off Daisy's heart; and she looked so happy all breakfast time that Mr. Randolph was very much inclined to slight his wife's fears.
Juanita's constant habit of thankfulness and of expressing her thankfulness, during the weeks Daisy had spent with her had gone down into the child's heart. With every meal, though taken by herself all alone, Daisy had seen the old woman acknowledging gratefully from whose hand she got it. And with other things beside meals; and it had seemed sweet and pleasant to Daisy to do so. At home, when she was suddenly transferred to her father's stately board, where every beauty and luxury were gathered together and an array of friends to help each other enjoy it; and no one remembered, no one acknowledged that any gratitude was due to the hand that had supplied the board and given the friends, Daisy's heart was pained by a great sense of want. Not thank God for all these things? give no acknowledgement of praise to him? She could not bear to have it so. She thought nobody would notice her, or know what she was doing if they did notice her; and she used to put her hand over her brow and comfort her own heart with giving the thanks she wanted to express. She soon forgot to be afraid anybody would notice her. But Mrs. Randolph marked it all, and now never missed the minute when Daisy's face was shielded.
The thing on hand now was the expedition to Silver Lake. Daisy's foot and ankle were getting sufficient strength to bear all the work that need be asked of them; and it was best to go while the hot weather still lingered. It was early in September, and the day was fixed. Quite a party was going. There were no visitors at Melbourne House now except Mrs. Gary and her children; but that brought the home party up to seven. Dr. Sandford was going, of course. Then some other neighbours. Mrs. Stanfield had promised to go, with her little daughter Ella and her older daughter Theresa. Mrs. Fish was coming from another quarter of the country, with her children, Alexander and Frederica. Mr. Fish and Mr. Stanfield were to go too; and Mr. and Mrs. Sandford, the doctor's brother and sister-in-law. However, though this was to be such a strong muster, Daisy thought of only two or three of the number that concerned her personally. Preston and Ransom, of course; Alexander Fish; though the two latter she thought of as likely to make disturbance more than anything else; and Daisy liked a most lady-like quietness and propriety in everything in which she was engaged. But besides these there was only Ella Stanfield whose age would bring her into contact with Daisy; and Daisy, very much of late accustomed to being alone or with older people, looked with some doubtfulness at the prospect of having a young companion to entertain. With that exception, and it hardly made one, nothing could look brighter in the distance than Silver Lake.
Several days passed between Daisy's giving the note to her father and the one fixed on for the expedition. In all that time Daisy was left to guess whether or not it had been seen and read by him. No sign or token told her; there was none; and Daisy could only conclude that he must have seen it, because he could not very well help doing so. But she was not at all discouraged. Rather the contrary; seeing that certainly her father was not displeased with her.
In all these days too, Mr. Randolph had ample time and chance to observe Daisy's action which had so disturbed her mother at meal times. Yet hitherto he had never spoken of it. In fact it was so quietly done that often the moment escaped him; and at other times, Daisy's manner so asked for a shield rather than a trumpet, and the little face that looked up from being covered with her hand was so bright and sweet, that perhaps his heart shrank from saying anything that would change the expression. At any rate, Daisy had been safe thus far.
Great preparations were making for the Silver Lake day. Thursday it was to be. Wednesday evening Dr. Sandford was at Melbourne. Daisy was considering the arrangements of a little packed basket of her own.
"Are you expecting to have a good time to-morrow, Daisy?" he asked. Daisy smiled as she said yes.
"But you will have to keep quiet. I shall not let you run about like the rest."
"I can sit quiet and look at the lake," said Daisy; with so absolutely contented a face that the doctor smiled.
"But in parties of pleasure, do you know, my friend, it generally happens that people cannot do what they expected to do?"
"Then I can do something else," said Daisy, looking very fearless of anything disagreeable.
"Will you let your old friend, Nora Dinwiddie, join the party?"
"Nora! O is Nora coming?" exclaimed Daisy.
"Mrs. Sandford commissioned me to make the enquiry, Mrs. Randolph, whether one more would be too many? Her little relation, Daisy's friend I believe, has returned to her for the rest of the season."
"Certainly!" Mrs. Randolph said,—"there was room for everybody." The lady's manner told nothing; but nevertheless Daisy did not venture to shew her joy. She did not say another word about Nora. The hour of meeting was determined, and the doctor withdrew. Daisy looked over the contents of her basket again with fresh satisfaction, made sure that all was right and everything there; and went to bed happy.
Thursday morning broke fair as eye could see. The September sun rose in a haze of warm rays; promising, as Mrs. Randolph said, that the heat would be stifling by and by. Daisy did not care, for her part. They had breakfast earlier than usual; for the plan was to get on the other side of the river before the sun should be too oppressive. They had scarcely risen from the table when the Sandford party drove up to the door. These were to go in a boat with the party from Melbourne House. Mr. and Mrs. Fish, from higher up the river, were to cross in their own boat and join the rest at the spot appointed on the opposite shore. The Stanfields were to do the same, starting from a different point; friends having arrived that would swell their numbers beyond the original four. Of all this, Daisy cared just for one thing; that Nora was come and was to go in the boat with her, and no other. The meeting between the two children, on the steps of Melbourne, was most joyous.
"O Nora! I'm so glad you have come!"—and, "O Daisy! I'm so glad to be here!"—and a small host of small questions and answers, that indeed meant a great deal, but would not read for much.
"O Nora, isn't it nice!" said Daisy, as they stood on the steps, while the carriages waited, below before the door.
"It's grand," said Nora. "Why aunt Frances says we shall be gone all day."
"To be sure we shall," said Daisy. "Papa is going to fish; and so is Preston, and Dr. Sandford and other people, I suppose; and some of the men take their tackle along too. There is nice fish in the Lake."
"What men do you mean?" said Nora.
"O, the men that manage the boat and carry the baskets; there are ever so many baskets to go, you know; and the men must carry them; because the path won't let a wagon go."
"Who is going to carry you?" said Dr. Sandford coming out behind them.
"Me?" said Daisy.
"Why I do not want anybody to carry me, Dr. Sandford."
"Don't you? I do. And I shall want two men to do it. Whom will you have? I have arranged a mountain chair for you, Daisy."
"A chair!" said Daisy. How could that be? And then she saw in Dr. Sandford's wagon, a chair to be sure; a common, light, cane-bottomed arm-chair; with poles sticking out before and behind it very oddly. She looked up at the doctor, and Nora demanded what that was?
"Something like the chairs they use in the mountains of Switzerland, to carry ladies up and down."
"To carry me?" said Daisy.
"For that purpose. Now see whom you will have to do it."
Daisy and Nora ran away together to consult her father. The matter was soon arranged. James the footman, and Michael the coachman, were to go to carry baskets and help manage the boat; James being something of a sailor. Now Logan and Sam were pressed into the service; the latter to take James's business, as porter, and leave the latter free to be a chair-bearer.
"I don't see how the boat is to carry all the people," Nora remarked.
"O yes," said Daisy, "it is a big boat; it will hold everybody, I guess; and it goes with a sail, Nora. Won't that be nice? Papa knows how to manage it."
"It will want a very large boat to take us all," Nora persisted. "I went out with Marmaduke in a sail-boat once—he knows how to manage a sail-boat too;—and I am sure it wouldn't have held half as many people as we have got here. No, nor a quarter as many."
"O yes, but our boat is bigger, I suppose," said Daisy. "Don't you like to go in a boat, Nora?"
"I like it if it don't lean over too far," said Nora. "I thought it was going to turn over once or twice, when I was out with Marmaduke that time. I was afraid."
"I am not afraid with papa," said Daisy. "I know he can manage it."
"Why so can Marmaduke manage it," said Nora; "and he said I needn't be afraid; but I was."
The carriages took the whole party down to the shore in a few minutes. There lay the sail-boat all ready, her sails shaken out; and James and Sam, on board already, received basket after basket from the hands of Logan and the coachman and stowed them away in what seemed to be a place of ample accommodations. Daisy and Nora, hand in hand, stood on the shore looking at all that was done, and with eager eyes. The summer breeze just played lightly and rippled the water, on which the morning sun made a warm glow, early in the day as it was.
"What could so many baskets be wanted for?" said Nora.
"Why, to carry all the things. You know there will be a great many people to eat dinner at Silver Lake."
"Dinner?" said Nora; "do people eat dinner when they go to a pic-nic?"
"Why yes. What do you think they do?"
"I thought it was just a pic-nic."
"What is that?" said Daisy curiously. But just then there was a stir; the ladies and gentlemen were getting into the boat, and the children had to be ready for their turn. It came; and Mr. Randolph handed one after the other safe over the gunwale of the big sail-boat and placed them happily beside each other in the middle space, where they could have an excellent time for talking. But they wanted no talking at first. When all were aboard and ready, the boat was cast loose from the shore and her sail trimmed to catch the soft northerly air that came blowing down the river. Slowly the sail caught the breeze—would it be strong enough to take her? the children thought—slowly, very slowly, the boat edged its way out from the shore—then the breeze filled the sail full, took good hold, and began to push the little vessel with a sensible motion out towards the river channel. Steady and sweet the motion was, gathering speed. The water presently rippled under the boat's prow, and she yielded gently a little to the pressure on the sail, tipped herself gracefully a little over, and began to cleave her way through the rippling water in good earnest. Then how the waves sparkled! how cheery the movement was! how delicious the summer air over the water! although, the sun was throwing down his beams with great power already and the, day promised to be sultrily hot.
"It is going to be intense," said Mrs. Randolph.
"Melting!"—said Mrs. Gary.
"You will have enough of it before the end of the day—" remarked Mr. Sandford. Mr. Sandford was a good-humoured looking gentleman, with a sensible face and black whiskers; but he was a gentleman, and Daisy approved of him. He was very unlike his brother. His wife was a very plain person, in feature, and not very talkative; letting her husband do that for her; but kindly and pleasant nevertheless; and Daisy approved of her too.
"At what hour do you expect the day will end, practically?" inquired Mrs. Randolph of her husband. He smiled.
"I should say—judging from present tokens—not till the sun gets well down on his western way."
"First-rate!" said Preston aside. "We'll have a good time for fishing."
"But that will make it very late crossing the river, Mr. Randolph? will it not?"
"There is a moon," said Mrs. Sandford.
"Moon! I hope we are not to be beholden to the moon's good offices!" exclaimed the other lady. "It is only ten o'clock now—not that. We shall be tired to death of the woods before we have done with them."
"You must try fishing, aunt Felicia," said Preston.
"Yes—a good idea," remarked Mr. Sandford. "I do not know how the ladies can get along without some sport—ha, ha! There is a boat on the lake—isn't there?"
"They say so," Mr. Randolph returned. "I have not been there for a long time."
"Then I shall take the charge of your entertainment, Mrs. Randolph," Mr. Sandford went on. "I shall persuade you to put yourself under my guidance, and let me initiate you into the mysteries of pickerel catching."
"I do not think you can persuade me out of the shade—if once I get in it again—" said the lady.
"Why mamma," said Ransom, "pickerel fishing is splendid!"
Mr. Randolph looked at Daisy. No heat nor shadow too much for her! With one hand clasped in Nora's, her little face was a pattern of perfect content; nay, it was full of delighted joy. Mr. Randolph thought he could endure his portion of the heat.
"Nora," said Daisy, "isn't it nice?"
"It goes nicely now," said Nora.
"But isn't it pleasant?"
"Yes. It is a great deal pleasanter than in a little boat. This one is good and large."
"Isn't the water pretty?"
"I like the green grass better," said Nora.
"O yes! but then I like this too. I like it very much. Nora, what did you mean by a pic-nic?"
"A pic-nic?" said Nora.
"Yes; you said you thought people did not eat dinner, but it was a pic-nic."
"Well, I thought they didn't."
"What did you mean by a pic-nic?"
"Why I meant just that. You know what a pic-nic is."
"We always have dinner when we go on a pic-nic," said Daisy.
"Then I don't think it is a pic-nic."
"What is it?"
"I don't know. Daisy, are you going to ride in that queer chair?"
"I suppose so. My ankle isn't quite strong yet, you know. Wasn't it nice of Dr. Sandford to prepare it for me?"
"I don't know, I don't think he is nice," said Nora.
Which expression of opinion was so very startling to Daisy that it took her some time to recover from it. She sought out the doctor with her eye where he was sitting forward of the mast, somewhat hid from her by a piece of the sail; she scanned his countenance, with its calm nobleness of feature, and steadfast, reserved, beautiful blue eye. Doubtless, he was not everything Daisy wished him; nevertheless to her he was very "nice" indeed. Her eye came back satisfied.
At the other end of the boat the party were talkative and gay. Mr. Randolph held the main sheet in his own hand; Mr. Sandford had the rudder; neither of them had much to do; for the wind was gentle and fair, and the boat kept her straight course for the opposite shore. The river was wide however at this place; the other shore was an object in view for a good while before they reached it. Slowly and steadily the little skiff skimmed over; they got to the middle of the river; then the trees before them on the other side, with the cleared fields in one or two spots, began to shew in more distinct forms and colours. The sun was very hot! So hot, that it seemed to kill the breeze. As they drew near their place of disembarkation, the motion of the vessel grew slack; the sail fluttered now and then; the propelling force just lasted till they got to shore, and then nobody said anything more of any air felt to be stirring.
"I think we had better stay on the water," said Mrs. Gary. "It is positively stifling here."
"It will be better when we get in the woods," suggested Mr. Sandford.
"No,—begging your pardon," Mr. Randolph answered.
"No?—will it be worse, Mr. Randolph?" said his wife.
"I hope not—for I think you could broil a beefsteak here in another hour; when the sun gets on the meridian."
"Then do let us move away from here at once! it is oppressive. I do not know how we are going to walk, but I suppose we shall find out. We may hope there will be a little freshness by the lake."
Mr. Stanfield's boat however had to be waited for a few minutes. It got to shore just as Mr. Fish's skiff appeared in sight coasting down on the same side, from behind a point. The whole party were soon together, exchanging shakes of the hand and puffs of condolence on the state of the atmosphere. There was presently a division of forces. All the boys, Preston, Ransom, and Alexander Fish, compared notes and fishing tackle. The ladies and gentlemen, with one or two elder girls, Frederica Fish and Theresa Stanfield and Eloise Gary, congregated into a moving mass of muslins and parasols. While Daisy and Nora were joined by Ella Stanfield; and a great constraint fell upon all three. Ella was a comparative stranger; a nice looking child, thoughtful and old beyond her years. She looked like gravity; Nora liked gayety; while Daisy was most like the thing that bears her name. They stood like little pinks of propriety, without saying anything to each other. This constraint was soon broken up by the preparations for the march. On enquiry it was found that there were two or three ways to the lake. One was short and easy (in comparison) but very narrow; a mere footpath through the woods. Another had a wider track; but it had also a rough footing of rocks and stones, and was much longer; taking a circuit to reach the place. Another still was only used by eager lovers of the picturesque, though it was said to reward them.
As soon as all this was explained to the understanding of the company, the larger division set off immediately for the easiest and quickest road to the lake; no other recommendation was worth a moment's considering. With quick disappearance one after another muslin dress and gay parasol was lost within the edge of the woods which their chosen path immediately entered. They vanished from the shore. Every one of them was presently out of sight. Mr. Randolph had seen that Dr. Sandford was putting Daisy into her travelling conveyance; and thinking no attention of his own could be needful he had gone on in advance of the party with Mrs. Stanfield. The very last of them, muslins and parasols and all, was swallowed up in the enclosing woods, almost before Daisy was established in her chair. Her bearers lifted it then to receive instructions from Dr. Sandford as to their method of playing their part. They were Logan and Sam; James was devoted to his own particular charge.
"Why where are Nora and Ella?" Daisy suddenly exclaimed.
"Everybody seems to have gone on," answered the doctor. "Except the boys. Now Daisy, are you comfortable? is it all right?"
"It is nice, Dr. Sandford!"—But at the same time Daisy wondered much and grieved not a little that her companions should have left her to go alone. Was that kindness? or good manners?
"Did they know which way I was going?" she said.
"I fancy so," said the doctor; "they have done as everybody else does—gone with the crowd. Now, you fellows, you know the way."
"When you come to a house, remember, you must turn sharp to the right. Boys, you must go with the chair as a body-guard."
"Why must we?" said Ransom.
"You would not have your sister go alone?"
"You are going that way."
"You are mistaken. I am not."
"She has got Logan and Sam to take care of her. Girls always have to be taken care of!" exclaimed Ransom in disgust.
"I am astonished at your want of gallantry. Preston, I shall depend on you to see that the chair is properly attended."
"Which way are you going, sir?"
"By myself—to see if I can get a shot at something."
Preston did not look delighted, Daisy saw, though he accepted the charge the doctor gave him. The doctor himself strode off with his gun, disappearing in the woods at the nearest point. Daisy was left with her two bearers and her three attendants.
"Well boys, we may as well get along," said Ransom discontentedly. "There is no occasion that we should keep poking on behind this concern."
They passed it and took the lead. Preston as he passed asked Daisy how it went, and if she were comfortable. It went very nicely, and she was very comfortable; and receiving this assurance Preston sprang forward to regain Alexander Fish's company, with whom he was holding an animated discourse on the making and using of artificial flies. The three boys trudged along in advance; the motions of their busy heads, and of their active feet, telling that there was no lack of interest or excitement there. The chair followed steadily with its little burden. It went nicely; she was very comfortable; it was a new and most pleasant mode of getting over the ground; and yet—there was something at work in Daisy's heart that was not pleasure. She was sadly disappointed. She was left alone. It had tried her a good deal that Nora and Ella should have ran after the larger party with so cavalier an abandonment of her, when they knew her chair must go another road. Then she was very sorry that the doctor had seen good to forsake her; and felt that from the thoughtfulness or unselfishness of boys she had little to hope for. Look at them! there they went before her, putting more and more distance between them and the chair every minute. Perhaps they would entirely forget their little convoy and be out of sight in a trifle more time. And in all that big party of pleasure, everybody engaged with somebody else, she was left with no one to speak to her, and no company at all but that of Logan and Sam. Daisy two or three times put up her hand stealthily to her face to get rid of a tear that had found its way there. Daisy thought at first that she would not have done so to her friends as they had done to her; but then presently she reflected what reason she had to know better and to do better, that they had not; and instead of anything like resentment, a very gentle and tender feeling of pity and kindness arose in Daisy's mind toward them. Her hurt sense of unfriendliness quite soothed itself away; and now Daisy began to enjoy herself and the day and the party of pleasure. Her share of it, at least. Her chair was under shadow of the tall woods now. It is true, it was very hot there. No air seemed moving. The chair-bearers often raised an arm to their brows to wipe away the heated moisture that stood there and ran down their faces. But Daisy had no exertion to make; and instead of that, her own motion seemed to give a little life to the lifeless air. Then she was at leisure to look and enjoy; not having even to take care of her own footing. The depth of green leafage over her head when she looked up; the depth of green shade on either hand of her, pierced by the endless colonnade of the boles of trees; how wildly beautiful it was! Daisy thought of a good many things she would like to ask Dr. Sandford—if she had the liberty; but he did not talk about wonderful things to her now that she was well and had her own means of amusement. Now and then Daisy had the sight of a red squirrel, running along a tree bough or scampering over the ground from one rock to another. What jumps he would make to get out of her way! And birds were singing too, sometimes; and mosses were spread out in luxuriant patches of wood carpeting in many places; and rocks were brown and grey, and grown with other mosses and ferns; and through all this fairy work of beauty Daisy's chair went at an easy, quiet pace, with a motion that she thought it very pleasant to feel.