Melbourne House, Volume 1
Part 2 out of 6
"How are gentlemen to understand you, in the future experience of life,
if you are in the habit of saying what you do not mean?"
"I am not in the habit of it," said Daisy, half laughing, for she knew
her questioner. He was a handsome young man, with a grave face and
manner through all his absurd speeches; dressed rather picturesquely;
and altogether a striking person in Daisy's eyes. To her relief, as they
reached the hall her mother appeared.
"Come in to breakfast, Gary--Daisy, run and get yourself ready."
And Daisy went, in great glee on various accounts. When she came down,
everybody was at table; and for a little while she was permitted to eat
her breakfast in peace. Daisy felt wonderfully happy. Such a pleasant
breakfast, for the talk among the elders went on very briskly; such
pleasant work done already, such pleasant work to do all through the
day; nothing but joy seemed to be in the air.
"And what did you get at market, Daisy?" suddenly asked the gentleman
whom her mother called "Gary."
"I went to buy baskets," said Daisy concisely.
"What else did you get at market?"
"I didn't go to market, sir."
"She told me she did"--said Mr. Gary looking at her father.
"Did you buy anything else, Daisy?" said her father carelessly.
"Papa," said Daisy colouring, "Mr. McFarlane asked me, I thought, where
we went to market, and I told him New York. I did not mean that _I_ went
"Didn't you get anything but baskets?" said Mr. McFarlane mischievously.
"Papa," said Daisy making a brave push, "if I only spend what you give
me for my birthday, don't you think it would be considerate in Mr.
McFarlane not to ask me any more?" But this speech set the gentlemen to
"Daisy, you make me curious," said her father. "Do you think it would be
inconsiderate in _me_ to ask?"
"Papa, I think it would."
"Answer, Daisy, directly, and don't be ridiculous," said her mother.
Daisy's face clouded, coloured, and the tears came into her eyes.
"Answer, Daisy, since it is put so," said her father gravely.
"I bought a ham, papa."
But the shout that was raised at this was so uproarious that Daisy was
almost overcome. She would certainly have made her escape, only she knew
such a thing would not be permitted. She sat still, and bore it as well
as she could.
"The baskets held eggs, no doubt," said Capt. Drummond, the other
"Roast potatoes would be better for your Irish friends, Daisy," said
McFarlane. "Ham and eggs is good for the Yankees. It would be the best
plan to make a fire out of doors and let each one cook for himself,
according to his country. How do you expect to please everybody?"
"Come here, Daisy," said her father kindly, and he put his arm round her
and kissed her; "did you have money enough for your ham and your other
"Plenty, papa," said Daisy gratefully.
"And why didn't you go yesterday afternoon, as I thought you intended?"
Daisy's and Ransom's eyes met.
"Papa, it was a great deal pleasanter this morning than it would have
been then; I never had such a nice ride."
"And what do you want done now? Is your table ready?"
"It will be ready--Mr. Stilton is getting it ready."
"Who is invited, Daisy?" inquired Mr. McFarlane. "Do you intend to
receive any except those who are not your friends?"
"I don't think those of a different class had better come," said Daisy.
"Daisy is quite right," said Mrs. Randolph. "Do you not intend to shew
yourself?" said her husband, with some meaning.
"I? No! Certainly not. At her age, since you choose to indulge Daisy in
her whim, she may do what she pleases."
Was this what the man meant by Randolph's people being "stuck up?" Daisy
looked grave, and her father bade her run away and attend to her
Even then she went slowly and a little puzzled, till she reached the
housekeeper's room; and there the full beauty of the occasion burst upon
her. Such nice things as Joanna was making ready!
Daisy ran off at full speed to Logan to get a supply of greens and
flowers to trim her baskets. Nora was coming to help her and be with her
all day, and arrived just in time. With aprons and baskets full, the two
children sought a hidden spot on the bank under the trees, and there sat
down, with strawberry baskets in one heap and the sprigs and leaves to
dress them in another.
"Now throw off your hat," said Daisy. "It's shady enough, and you'll
feel cooler. Now Nora, how shall we do?--You try one and I'll try one;
that will be best; and then we can see. I want them to look very pretty,
you know; and they are to be filled with strawberries to send home to
the children; if we make them very nice they will go on the table, I
think, and help dress it up."
For a time there was comparative silence, while the little hands turned
and twisted the mosses and bits of larch and cedar and hemlock in and
out of the openings of the baskets. It was not found easy at first to
produce a good effect; hands were unused to the work; and Nora declared
after half an hour she believed the baskets would look best plain, just
as they were. But Daisy would not give up. She grew very warm indeed
with the excitement of her efforts, but she worked on. By and by she
succeeded in dressing a basket so that it looked rich with green; and
then a bit or two of rosebuds or heath or bright yellow everlasting made
the adornment gay and pretty enough. It was taken for a model; and from
that time tongues and fingers worked together, and heat was forgotten.
"Isn't this pleasant!" exclaimed Daisy at length, dropping her work into
her lap. "Isn't it just as pleasant as it can be, Nora?"
"Yes," said Nora, working away.
"Just see the river--it's so smooth. And look up into the leaves;--how
pretty they are!--and every one of them is trembling a little; not one
of them is still, Nora. How beautiful the green is, with the sun shining
through! Wouldn't you like to be a bird up there?"
"No," said Nora; "I'd rather be down here."
"I think it would be nice to be a bird." said Daisy; "it must be
pleasant up in those branches--only the birds don't know anything, I
suppose. What do you think heaven must be like, Nora?"
"Daisy, you're so funny. What makes you think about heaven?"
"Why, you know," said Daisy slowly, "I expect to go there. Why shouldn't
I think about it?"
"But you won't go there till you die," said Nora.
"I don't see what that has to do with my thinking about it. I shall die,
"Yes, but Daisy, don't be so queer. You are not going to die now."
"I don't know about that," said Daisy; "but I like to think of heaven.
Jesus is there. Isn't it pleasant, Nora, that he can see us always, and
knows what we are doing?"
"Daisy, Marmaduke said he wished you would invite him to your party."
The turn Nora wished to give to Daisy's thoughts took effect for the
moment. It was grievous; to wish so much for her friend and to have him
join in the wish, and all in vain. But, characteristically, Daisy said
nothing. She was only silent a moment.
"Nora, did you ever hear Mr. Dinwiddie say that poor people disliked
"No. They don't dislike _him_, I know."
"Is Mr. Dinwiddie rich too?"
"Of course he is," said Nora.
"I shouldn't think anybody would dislike him," said Daisy; "but then he
never seemed like rich people." She went into a muse about it.
"Well, he is," said Nora. "He has got as much money as he wants, I
"Nora, you know the parable of the servants and the talents?"
"Are you one of the good servants?"
Nora looked up very uneasily. Daisy's face was one of quiet inquiry.
"Daisy, I wish you would be like yourself, as you used to be, and not
"But are you, Nora?"
"No, I don't suppose I am! I couldn't do much."
"But would you like to have the King say to you what he said to the
servant who had one talent and didn't do anything?"
"Daisy, I don't want to have you talk to me about it," said Nora, a
little loftily. "I have got Marmaduke to talk to me, and that's as much
as I want."
"_I_ mean to be one of them!" said Daisy gently. "Jesus is the king; and
it makes me so glad to think of it!--so glad, Nora. He is my king, and I
belong to him; and I _love_ to give him all I've got; and so would you,
Nora. I only want to find out all I have got, that I may give it to
Nora went on very assiduously with the covering of the baskets, and
Daisy presently followed her example. But the talk was checked for a
"Nora, Jesus is _your_ king, though," said Daisy again. "He made
everything, and he made you; and he _is_ your king. I wish you would be
his servant too."
Daisy was greatly astonished at the effect of this speech; for Nora
without speaking arose, left her baskets and greens on the ground, and
set off from the spot with an air that said she did not mean to return
to it. Daisy was too bewildered to speak, and only looked after her till
she was too far to be recalled.
What was the matter? Greatly puzzled and dismayed, she tried to find a
possible answer to this question. Left alone on her birthday in the
midst of her business, by her best friend,--what could have brought
about so untoward a combination of circumstances? Daisy could not
understand it; and there was no time to go after Nora to get an
understanding. The baskets must be finished. Luckily there did not much
remain to be done, for Daisy was tired. As soon as her work was out of
her hand, she went to see about the success of her table. It was done; a
nice long, neat table of boards, on trestles; and it was fixed under a
beautiful grove of trees, on the edge of a bank from which the view over
the grounds was charming. Mr. Stilton was just gathering up his tools to
go away, and looked himself so smiling and bright that Daisy concluded
there was reason to hope her party was going to be all right; so with
fresh spirit she went in to her own dinner.
After that it was busy times. The long table was to be spread with a
table-cloth, and then the cups and plates in proper number and position,
leaving the places for the baskets of strawberries. It was a grave
question whether they should be arranged in a pyramid, with roses
filling the spaces, or be distributed all round the table. Daisy and
Joanna debated the matter, and decided finally on the simpler manner;
and Logan dressed some splendid bouquets for the centre of the table
instead. Daisy saw that the maids were bringing from the house pretty
china dishes and cups; and then she ran away to get dressed herself.
Just as this was almost done she saw her mother driving off from the
house with several gentlemen in her party. It suddenly struck Daisy, who
was to do the honours of the strawberry feast? She ran down stairs to
find her father; she could not find him, he was out; so Daisy went to
see that the setting the table was going on all right, and then came and
planted herself in the library, to wait for Mr. Randolph's coming in.
And while she waited eagerly, she began to think about its being her
"Nine years old," thought Daisy; "there isn't much of my life passed.
Perhaps, if I live a good while, I may do a great deal to serve the
Lord. I wonder if I know all the things I can do now! all my 'talents'?
I am afraid of missing some of them, for not knowing. Everything I
have, Mr. Dinwiddie said,--so Nora said,--is a talent of some sort or
other. How strange Nora was to-day! But I suppose she will come and tell
me what was the matter. Now about the talents--I wish papa would come!
This birthday was one talent, and I thought it would be a good thing if
papa's people could be made to know that he is not 'stuck up,' if he is
rich,--but if neither he nor mamma come out to speak to them at all, I
wonder what they will think?"
Daisy ran out again to view the table. Yes, it was looking very
handsome. Joanna was there herself, ordering and directing; and china
and glass, and flowers, and silver, made a very brilliant appearance,
though none of the dishes were on the table as yet.
"But who is going to pour out the coffee and the tea, Joanna?" said
Daisy. "Aren't you going to dress and come and do it for me?"
"La! Miss Daisy, I don't see how I can. I expect the best plan will be
to have you do it yourself. That will give the most satisfaction, I
"Joanna! I don't know how."
"Yes, you do, Miss Daisy; you'll have the coffee urn, and all you have
to do is to turn the faucet, you know; and Sam will wait upon you, and
if you want tea poured out he can lift it for you. It'll taste twice as
good to all the party if you do it."
"Do you think so, Joanna?"
"I don't want to think about it," said Joanna; "I know without
"But, Joanna, I can't reach the things."
"I'll have a high seat fixed for you. I know what you want."
Daisy stood watching; it was such a pleasure to see Joanna's nice
preparations. And now came on the great dishes of strawberries, rich and
sweet to the eye and the smell; and then handsome pitchers filled with
milk and ice-water, in a range down the table. Then came great fruit
cakes and pound cakes, superbly frosted and dressed with strawberries
and rosebuds; Joanna had spared no pains. Great store of sliced bread
and butter too, and plates of ham and cold beef, and forms of jelly. And
when the dressed baskets of strawberries were set in their places all
round the table, filling up the spaces, there was a very elegant,
flowery, and sparkling appearance of a rich feast. Why was not Nora
there?--and with the next thought Daisy flew back to the library to find
her father. He was found.
"Oh papa," she said gently, though she had rushed in like a little
summer wind, "are you going to come to the feast?"
"What for, my dear?"
"Papa, they will all like it; they will be pleased."
"I think they will enjoy themselves better without me."
"Papa, I am _sure_ they would be pleased."
"I should only make it a constraint for them, Daisy. I do not think they
will want anything but the strawberries--especially if _you_ look at
"But mamma is not here to speak to them either, papa."
"You think somebody must speak to them, eh? I don't think I can make
speeches, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph, stretching himself at ease in a
chaise longue. "But perhaps I may step down and look at them by and by,
There was no more to be done, Daisy knew. She went slowly off over the
grounds, meditating whether the people would be satisfied with so very
at-arms'-length an entertainment. Would _this_ draw the poor nearer to
the rich? or the rich nearer to the poor? Daisy had an instinctive,
delicate sense of the want, which she set herself to do the best her
little self could to supply. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to
you"--that sweet and most perfect rule of high breeding was moving her
now; and already the spirit of another rule, which in words she did not
yet know, was beginning to possess her heart in its young discipleship;
she was ready "to do good to all men, even as she had opportunity."
She went slowly back to the table. Nobody come yet. Joanna was there,
putting some last touches. Suddenly a new idea struck Daisy, as she saw
what a long table it was.
"Joanna--there must be somebody else to wait. Sam can never do it all."
"He'll have to. James is busy, and Hiram. Sam's all that can be spared;
and that's as much as ever."
"But I must have more, Joanna. Can't some of the maids come?"
"To wait?--they wouldn't, Miss Daisy."
"Yes they would, Joanna. You must make them, Joanna. Send Maria and
Ophelia down here, and I'll tell them what I want of them. And quick,
Joanna; and don't you tell them, please, what I want."
"I hope you'll grow up to marry the President, some day," said Joanna,
walking off; "you could help him if he got puzzled!"
Poor Daisy almost felt as if she had the affairs of a nation on her
hands, when she saw Mr. and Mrs. Stilton, dressed in their best, coming
near through the trees. But the spirit of kindness was so thoroughly at
work in Daisy, that it made her reception of her guests just what it
ought to be, and she was delighted a few minutes after to see that their
eyes were kindling with gratification. Logan looked at the table as if
he had some right to take an interest in it; the hay-makers were
open-mouthed; the women in a flutter of ribands and propriety; and the
various people who had come upon the ground with doubtful expectancy,
sat down to table proud and gay. It was a pretty sight! and prettier was
the sight of little Daisy perched up at one end of the board and with
tremulous fingers filling cups of coffee and ordering cups of tea.
"Miss Daisy," said Mrs. Stilton, "it's too much trouble for you to fill
all them cups--sha'n't I come there, and take the responsibility? if you
would delegate me."
Gladly Daisy agreed, slipped off her high chair, and saw Mrs. Stilton's
full portly figure take the place. But Daisy's labours were not ended.
She saw one of the Irish labourers sitting with his eyes straight before
him and nothing on his plate for them to look at. Daisy went round. It
was her feast; she felt she must do the honours.
"Will you have a cup of coffee?" said a soft little voice at the man's
elbow. He started.
"Ach!--Sure Miss, I wouldn't be troublesome."
"It's no trouble. Will you have some tea or some coffee?"
"'Dade, sorrow a drop ever I tuk of ary one of 'em but the one time,
plase yer ladyship. It's too good for me, sure; that's why it don't
agree wid me, Miss."
Very much puzzled by the confidential little nod with which this
information was communicated, Daisy yet felt she could not give up the
"Then what will you have?--some ham? or some strawberries?"
"Sure I'll do very well, niver fear, plase yer ladyship; don't trouble
yerself. The angels wouldn't want something purtier to eat, than what we
Daisy gave up in despair and charged Sam to see that the man had his
supper. Then without asking any more questions she carried a cup of
coffee down the table to a meek-looking old woman who likewise seemed to
be in a state of bewilderment. It was the mother of Michael the
gate-keeper. She started a little too, as Daisy's hand set down her cup,
and half rose from her chair.
"Blessings on ye, for a dear little lady! It's a wonder to see the
likes of you. The saints above bless the hand and the fut that wasn't
above doing that same! and may ye always have plenty to wait on ye, and
the angels of heaven above all!"
"Sit down, Mrs. Sullivan," said Daisy. "Do you like coffee?"
"Do I like it! It's better to me nor anything else in the worruld, when
it wouldn't be a sup o' summat now and thin, if I'd have the rheumatiz."
"A sup of what?"
"Medicine, dear, medicine that I take whin the doctor says it's good for
me. May you niver know the want of it, nor of anything in the wide
worruld! and niver know what it is to be poor!"
Daisy managed to get the old woman to eat, supplying her with various
things, every one of which was accepted with--"Thank you, Miss," and
"Blessings on ye!" and turning away from her at last, saw her handmaids
approaching from the house. The girls, however disposed to stand upon
their dignity, could not refuse to do what their little mistress was
doing; and a lively time of it they and Daisy had for the next hour,
with all the help Sam and Mrs. Stilton could give them. Daisy saw that
strawberries and cream, cake and coffee, were thoroughly enjoyed; she
saw too that the honour of being served off silver and china was duly
felt. If her father had but come out to say a kind word! but he did not
come. His little substitute did all a substitute could do; and at last
when everybody seemed in full tide of merry-making, she stole away that
they might have no constraint upon it. Before she had got far, she was
startled by a noise behind her, and looking round saw that all the
tableful had risen to their feet. The next instant there was a great
shout. Daisy could not imagine what they were doing, but she saw that
they were all looking at her. She came back a step or two. Now there was
another shout greater than the other; the women flourished
handkerchiefs, the men waved their arms above their heads. "Long life to
ye!" "Good luck to ye forever!" "Blessings on ye for a lady!" "Many
thanks to ye, Miss Daisy!" "May ye niver want as good!" "Hurra for the
flower of Melbourne!"--Shouts various and confused at last made Daisy
comprehend they were cheering _her_. So she gave them a little courtesy
or two, and walked off again as fast as she thought it was proper to go.
She went home and to the library, but found nobody there; and sat down
to breathe and rest; she was tired. Presently Ransom came in.
"Hallo, Daisy!--is nobody here?"
"Have you seen your things yet?"
"My things?--what things?"
"Why your _things_--your birthday things. Of course you haven't or you'd
know. Never mind, you'll know what I mean by and by. I say, Daisy----"
"You know when papa asked you this morning why you didn't go yesterday
to Crum Elbow?----"
"Why didn't you tell him?"
Daisy hesitated. Ransom was cutting a pencil vigorously, but as she was
silent he looked up.
"Why didn't you tell him? did you tell him _afterwards_?"
"Why no, Ransom!"
"Well why didn't you?--that's what I want to know. Didn't you tell
"No, of course not."
"Why didn't you, then?"
"Ransom----" said Daisy doubtfully.
"What? I think you're turned queer."
"I don't know whether you'd understand me."
"Understand _you_! That's a good one! I couldn't understand _you_! I
should rather like to have you try."
"Well, I'll tell you," said Daisy.
"Ransom, you know who the Lord Jesus Christ is."
"I used to; but I have forgotten."
"Come, go ahead, and don't palaver."
"I am his servant," said Daisy; "and he has bid me do to other people
what I would like to have them do to me."
"He has bid you! What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. It is in the Bible."
"What's in the Bible?"
"_That_;--that I must do to other people what I would like to have them
do to me."
"And I suppose you thought I wouldn't like to have you tell? Well you're
out, for I don't care a shot about it--there! and you may tell just as
fast as you're a mind to."
"Oh Ransom! you know--"
"What do I know?"
"It's no matter," said little Daisy checking herself.
"Go ahead, and finish! What is the use of breaking off? That's the way
with girls;--they don't know how to speak English. You may just as well
say the whole of something ugly, as the half of it."
If Daisy was tempted to comply with the request, she did not give way to
the temptation; for she was silent; and in a mood less pleasant than her
own apparently, Ransom took himself out of her presence. Left alone,
Daisy presently curled herself down on a couch, and being very tired
Daisy slept on, until a bustle and sounds of voices and laughter in the
hall, and boots clattering over the marble and up the staircase, at last
found their way into her ears.
The riding party had got home. Daisy sat up and rubbed her eyes and
The sun was low, and shining from the western mountains over the tops of
all the trees. It was certainly near dinner-time; the cool glittering
look of the light on the trees and shrubs could not be earlier than
that. What had become of the strawberry feast? It seemed like a dream.
Daisy shook off the remains of her sleep and hurried out by one of the
glass doors to go and see. She ran down to the bank where the table was
spread. It was a feast over. The company were gone, so were the baskets
of strawberries; yes, and the very bouquets of flowers had been taken
away. That was a sign of pleasure. Nothing was left but the disordered
table. Daisy hoped the people had had a good time, and slowly went back
towards the house. As she came near the library window she saw her
father, standing in it.
"How has the feast gone off?"
"I don't know, papa. There's nothing left but the boards and the cups
Mr. Randolph sat down and drew his little daughter up to his side.
"Have you enjoyed it, Daisy?"
"Yes, papa--I have enjoyed it pretty well."
"Only pretty well!--for your birthday! Do you think now you made a good
"Yes, sir--I think I did."
"What has been wanting? I am afraid your ham did not figure on the
board, if it is so empty?"
Daisy did not answer, but her father watching her saw something in her
face which made him pursue the subject.
"No, papa," said Daisy, colouring a little.
"How was that?"
"Joanna arranged everything that was to go on the table."
"And left the ham out of the question? It seems to me that was a
mistake, though I am not much of a housekeeper. Why was that?"
"Papa," said Daisy, "do you think I would make a wrong use of a ham?"
Mr. Randolph laughed. "Why Daisy, unless you are a finished economist,
that might be. Do you mean that I am not to know the particular use made
of this ham?"
"Papa, I wish you would not desire to know!"
But Daisy's face was too much in earnest. "I think I cannot grant that
request," said her father. "You must tell me."
Daisy looked distressed. But she dared not evade the order, though she
feared very much what might come of it.
"I didn't buy the ham for the party, papa."
"Then for what?"
"I bought it, papa, for a little girl who was going without her
breakfast. She came to Mr. Lamb's to buy ham, and she had no money, and
he wouldn't let her have any."
"And what became of your baskets?"
"O I got them, papa; I got cheaper ones; and Nora and I dressed them
with greens. I had money enough."
Mr. Randolph took his little daughter on his knee and softly put down
his lips to kiss her.
"But Daisy, after all, why did you not go to Crum Elbow yesterday
afternoon, as you meant to do?"
"Papa, this morning did better, for it was pleasanter."
"Do you call that an answer?" said Mr. Randolph, who was still softly
"Papa, if you would be so _very_ good as not to ask me that?"
"I am not good at all, Daisy. I ask,--and I mean to know."
Daisy was in trouble. No entreaty was worth a straw after that. She was
puzzled how to answer.
"Papa," she ventured, "I don't like to tell you, because Ransom would
not like I should."
"Ransom's pleasure must give way to mine, Daisy."
"He wanted the pony-chaise," said Daisy, looking very downcast.
"And you gave it him?"
"What then? Daisy," said Mr. Randolph bringing her head round to face
him, "tell me what I want to know without any more questions."
"He took the chaise, papa,--that was all,--so I went this morning."
"Ransom knew you wanted it?"
"Then Daisy, tell me further, why you did not give me this information
when I asked about your drive this morning at breakfast?"
"Papa, I thought Ransom would not like to have it told."
"Were you afraid he would revenge himself in any way if you did?"
"O no, papa! not at all."
"Then what moved you to silence?"
"Why papa, I did not want to trouble Ransom. I was afraid you would be
displeased with him perhaps, if I told."
"Were you not displeased when he took the chaise?"
"Yes, papa," said Daisy softly.
"And had your displeasure all gone off by this morning?"
Mr. Randolph was not quite satisfied. There was no doubting Daisy; but
he had reasons of his own for knowing that she had not said to him quite
all that she had confessed to her brother. He would have liked the whole
confession; but did not see how he could get at it just now. He took a
little gold piece out of his pocket and quietly slipped it into Daisy's
"Papa! what is this for?"
"For your poor woman, if you like. You can send it to her by Sam."
"O thank you, papa! But papa, she won't take it so--she will not take
the least thing without working to pay for it."
"How do you know?"
"She told me so, papa."
"Who told you so?"
"The poor woman--Mrs. Harbonner."
"Where did you see her?"
"I saw her at her house, papa."
"Why did you go to her house?"
"To take her the ham, sir."
"And she told you she wouldn't have anything without doing work for
"Yes, papa--she wouldn't even take the ham any other way."
"What work did you engage her to do, Daisy?"
"I thought Joanna could find her some, papa."
"Well, let Joanna manage it. You must not go there again, nor into any
strange house, Daisy, without my leave. Now go and get ready for dinner,
and _your_ part of your birthday."
Daisy went very soberly. To see Mrs. Harbonner and her daughter again,
and to do them all sorts of good, had been a dream of hers, ever since
the morning. Now this was shut off. She was very sorry. How were the
rich to do good to the poor, if they never come together? A question
which Daisy thought about while she was dressing. Then she doubted how
her feast had gone; and she had been obliged to tell of Ransom.
Altogether, Daisy felt that doing good was a somewhat difficult matter,
and she let June dress her in very sober silence. Daisy was elegantly
dressed for her birthday and the dinner. Her robe was a fine beautifully
embroidered muslin, looped with rose ribands on the shoulder and tied
with a broad rose-coloured sash round the waist. There was very little
rose in Daisy's cheeks, however; and June stood and looked at her when
she had done, with mingled satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
"You've tired yourself to-day, Miss Daisy, with making that party for
the men!" she said.
"Have you done? Now June, will you go away, please, and leave me my room
for a few minutes?"
"Yes, Miss Daisy--but it's most time for you to go down."
June went, and Daisy locked her doors, and dropped on her knees by her
little bed. How was she to know what was right to do? and still more,
how was she to do it wisely and faithfully? Little Daisy went to her
stronghold, and asked for help; and that she might know what her talents
"Miss Daisy," said the voice of June at the door, "you are wanted in the
Down went Daisy in a hurry. There was her father; and there also, to
her great surprise, were Nora and Mr. Dinwiddie!
"I have brought Nora to make her peace with you, Daisy," said Mr.
Dinwiddie. "I found her in great trouble because, she said, you were
offended with her. Will you love her again?"
Daisy put her arms round Nora, who looked a little ashamed, and gave her
a very peaceful and reassuring kiss. The gentlemen both smiled at her
action. It was too graceful to need the aid of words.
"My mission is successful," said Mr. Dinwiddie.
"But I was not offended the least bit, Mr. Dinwiddie," said Daisy.
"I believe it; but Nora thought you had so much reason, that she would
not come alone to make her apology."
The young man looked towards Mr. Randolph, whose attention was just then
taken by somebody who had come to him on business. He waited.
"Won't you sit down, Mr. Dinwiddie?" said Daisy.
"I must go."
"But I want to ask you a question, sir."
Mr. Dinwiddie sat down.
"Mr. Dinwiddie," said Daisy with a grave face, "what are my talents?"
"What is the question, Daisy? I do not understand."
"You know, sir--one servant had ten and another had five. What are my
"I do not know."
"But how can I tell, Mr. Dinwiddie?"
Then the young man's eyes glowed, as Daisy had a few times seen them do
before. "Ask the Lord, Daisy. See what his word tells you to do."
"But Mr. Dinwiddie, I am little; I can't do much."
"_You_ cannot do anything. But Jesus can use you, to do what he
pleases,--if you will be his little servant.--Give me that spoon,
"Yes--I know," said her brother. He took from Nora's hand and unfolded
from its wrapping-paper a very curious thing, which he told Daisy was an
Egyptian spoon. He did not give her time to look at it, only he held it
so that she saw what it was.
"You see that spoon, Daisy. It cannot do anything. But in your hand it
might carry drops of comfort to somebody's lips."
Daisy looked earnestly at the spoon, then at the bright eyes that were
fixed on her; and taking his meaning, she smiled, a bright, satisfied
smile. It satisfied Mr. Dinwiddie too. He wrapped up the spoon again,
handed it to Nora, and rose up to make his adieus to Mr. Randolph.
"Daisy," whispered Nora, "this spoon is for you. Will you take it for my
birthday present? Marmaduke says it is very handsome. It is his--he gave
it to me to give to you."
"It is very, very old," said Mr. Dinwiddie coming to Daisy. "It was
found in an old Egyptian tomb, and was made and put there perhaps before
the Israelites came out of Egypt. Good bye!"
He took Daisy's hand with a strong, kindly grasp, and went away with his
little sister just as the dinner-bell rang. Daisy had not time to look
at her present. She held it tight, and went in to dinner with it in her
Daisy did not generally dine with her father and mother. To-day was a
great exception to the rule. Even to-day she was not expected to eat
anything till the dessert came on; she had had her dinner; so she had
the more time for other things. Her place was by her mother; Capt.
Drummond on the other side, and Gary McFarlane opposite. Then her aunt,
Mrs. Gary, had arrived, just an hour before dinner; and she and her
children and one or two other friends filled the table, and the talking
and laughing went round faster than the soup. Daisy looked and
listened, very much pleased to see her aunt and cousins, and amused;
though as usual in her quiet fashion she gave no sign of it.
"How did that party come off, Daisy?" said Mr. Gary McFarlane.
"What party?" said Mrs. Gary.
"Daisy's birthday entertainment."
"Daisy invited all the gardeners and hay-makers to take supper and
strawberries with her, Aunt Gary," said Ransom.
"What is that?" said Mrs. Gary, looking to her sister.
"Ransom has stated the matter correctly."
"Gardeners and hay-makers! What was that for, Daisy?"
"I thought it would give them pleasure, aunt Gary,--" said Daisy.
"Give _them_ pleasure! of course, I suppose it would; but are we to give
everybody pleasure that we can? At that rate, why not invite our footmen
and chambermaids too? Why stop?"
"I suppose that will be the next thing," said Mrs. Randolph. "Daisy, you
must not eat that cheese."
"What's Daisy's notion?" said Mrs. Gary, appealing to her
"A child's notion," said Mr. Randolph. "The worst you can say of it is,
that it is Arcadian."
"How did it go off, Daisy?" said Gary McFarlane.
"I don't know," said Daisy. "I think it went off pretty well."
"How did the hob-nails behave themselves?"
"They had lots of things to eat," said Ransom. "I don't believe we shall
have any strawberries for a day or two ourselves."
"Did you give them strawberries?" said Mrs. Gary.
"A tableful," said Ransom; "and baskets and baskets to take home."
"Something new,--" said Mrs. Gary, eating her salad.
"But how did the company behave?" said Mr. McFarlane.
"I saw no behaviour that was not proper," Daisy answered gravely. She
thought as much could not be said of the present company, seeing that
servants were present.
"What have you there, Daisy?" said her mother.
"It is a birthday present, mamma. It is an Egyptian spoon."
"An Egyptian spoon! Where did you get it?"
"Mr. Dinwiddie--I mean, Nora gave it to me."
"What about Mr. Dinwiddie?"
"Then why did you speak his name?"
"I don't know. He brought Nora to see me just now."
"Where did you see him?"
"In the library."
"Mr. Randolph"--said the lady--"did Mr. Dinwiddie call to see you?"
"He did me that honour," said Mr. Randolph; "but I think primarily his
visit was to Daisy."
"Who is Mr. Dinwiddie?" said Mrs. Gary, seeing a contraction in her
sister's brow. "It's a Virginian name."
"He is a fanatic," said Mrs. Randolph. "I don't know what else he is."
"Let us see the fanatic's spoon," said Gary McFarlane. "Egyptian, is it,
Daisy? Curious, upon my word!"
"Beautiful!" said Capt. Drummond, taking the spoon in his turn across
the table. "Beautiful! This is a nice piece of carving--and very old it
undoubtedly is. This is the lotus, Daisy--this stem part of the spoon;
and do you see, in the bowl here is the carving of a lake, with fish in
"Is it?" said Daisy; "and what is a _lotus_, Capt. Drummond?"
"If you will put me in mind to-morrow, privately, I will tell you about
it," said he.
"Let me look at that, Capt. Drummond," said Mrs. Gary.--"Why, here's a
duck's head at the end of the handle. What a dear old thing! Who is this
Mr. Dinwiddie, pray?"
"The duck's bill makes the spoon, aunt Gary," said Daisy.
"If you asked me _what_ he is, I have told you," said Mrs. Randolph.
"He is a young man, of good family I believe, spending the summer with a
neighbour of ours who is his relation," Mr. Randolph answered.
"What is he a fanatic about?"
This question did not get an immediate answer; the conversation
diverged, and it was lost. Daisy's spoon made the round of the company.
It was greatly admired, both from its oddness and from the beauty of its
"Daisy, I will buy this spoon of you," said her aunt.
Daisy thought not; but she said, "With what, aunt Gary?"
"With anything you please. Do you set a high value on it? What is it
Daisy hesitated; and then she said, "I think it is worth my regard, aunt
She could not guess why there was a general little laugh round the table
at this speech.
"Daisy, you are an original," said Mrs. Gary. "May I ask, why this piece
of old Egypt deserves your regard?"
"I think anything does, aunt Gary, that is a gift," Daisy said, a little
"If your first speech sounded forty years old, your second does not,"
said the lady.
"Arcadian again, both of them," Mr. Randolph remarked.
"You always take Daisy's part," said the lady briskly. But Mr. Randolph
let the assertion drop.
"Mamma," said Daisy, "what is an original?"
"Something your aunt says you are. Do you like some of this _biscuit_,
"If you please, mamma. And mamma, what do you mean by a fanatic?"
"Something that I will not have you," said her mother, with knitting
Daisy slowly eat her biscuit-glace and wondered. Wondered what it could
be that Mr. Dinwiddie was and that her mother was determined she should
Mr. Dinwiddie was a friend of poor people--was that what her mother
meant? He was a devoted, unflinching servant of Christ;--"so will I be,"
said Daisy to herself; "so I am now; for I have given the Lord Jesus all
I have got, and I don't want to take anything back. Is that what mamma
calls being a fanatic?"--Daisy's meditations were broken off; for a
general stir round the table made her look up.
The table was cleared, and the servants were bringing on the fruit; and
with the fruit they were setting on the table a beautiful old fashioned
silver epergne, that was never used but for great occasions. Generally
it was adorned with fruit and flowers; to-day it was empty, and the
attendants proceeded to arrange upon it very strange looking things;
packages in white paper, books, trinkets, what not; and in the middle of
all a little statuette of a Grecian nymph, which was a great favourite
of Daisy's. Daisy began to guess that the epergne had something to do
with her birthday. But the nymph?--perhaps she came there by her beauty
to dignify this use made of the stately old thing. However, she forgot
all about fanatics and Mr. Dinwiddie for the present. The looks and
smiles of the company were unmistakable. Who would speak first?
"How are you to reach the epergne, Daisy?" said her father.
"Shall I be the medium?" said Mrs. Gary. "These things are to travel up
to Daisy, I suppose."
"I will represent the rolling stock of this road, and undertake to carry
parcels safely," said Mr. McFarlane. "Any message with the goods, Mrs.
"I believe they carry their own message with them," said the lady;--"or
else I don't see what is the use of these little white tickets. Where
shall I begin, Mr. Randolph?"
"I do not think the order of proceedings will be criticised, provided it
does not delay," said Daisy's father.
"Then transmit this, Gary."
"Literary freight"--said Gary McFarlane, handing over to Daisy a little
parcel of books. Five or six little volumes, in pretty binding--Daisy
looked eagerly to see what they might be. "Marmion"--"The Lady of the
Lake"--Scott's Poetical Works.
"O thank you, papa!" said Daisy, looking delighted.
"Not me," said Mr. Randolph. "I am not to be thanked."
"There's no name in them--" said Daisy.
"That's Preston's gift," said her aunt. Preston was Daisy's oldest
cousin; a fine boy of sixteen.
"I like it so much, Preston!" said Daisy, sending a grateful look down
the table to where he sat.
"Is Daisy fond of poetry?" inquired Mr. McFarlane with a grave look.
"Very fond," Mrs. Randolph said.
"Dangerous taste!" said Gary. "What is this new consignment?"
"Something valuable--take care of it."
"To be taken with care--right side up," said Gary, putting before Daisy
by a stretch of his long arm a little paper covered package. Daisy's
cheeks were beginning to grow pink. She unfolded the package.
A little box--then white cotton--then a gold bracelet.
"Mamma?--" said Daisy instantly. Mrs. Randolph stooped and kissed her.
"It's beautiful, mamma!" Daisy spoke very earnestly; however her face
did not shew the light of pleasure which the first gift had called into
"How did you know so well?" said Mr. McFarlane. "Mrs. Randolph, I am
afraid you are not literary. Now Daisy, exercise your discernment upon
It was a little box containing a Chinese puzzle, with the plans and keys
belonging to it.
"Where do you think _that_ comes from?"
Daisy looked up. "I think--perhaps--from _you_, Mr. McFarlane."
"Do you think I am anything like a puzzle?"
"I think--perhaps--you mean to be,"--Daisy said innocently. But a shout
from the whole tableful answered to this chance hit. Daisy didn't know
what they could mean.
"I have done!" said Gary. "I have got more than my match. But I know who
will plague people worse than a puzzle, if she gets well educated.
There's a pair of gloves, you little fencer."
It was a nice little thick pair of riding or driving gloves; beautifully
made and ornamented. These came from Eloise, Daisy's other cousin. Mrs.
Gary had brought her two beautiful toilet bottles of Bohemian glass.
Daisy's end of the table was growing full.
"What is this?" said Mrs. Gary, taking from the epergne a sealed note
directed to Daisy.
"That is Ransom's present. Give her mine first," said Mr. Randolph.
"Which is yours? I don't see anything more."
"That little Proserpine in the middle."
"_This_? Are you going to give this to Daisy? But why is she called
Proserpine? I don't see."
"Nor I," said Mr. Randolph, "only that everything must have a name. And
this damsel is supposed to have been carrying a basket, which might
easily have been a basket of flowers, I don't see how the statement
could be disproved. And Daisy is fonder of the little nymph, I believe,
than any one else in the house."
"O papa! thank you," exclaimed Daisy, whose eyes sparkled. "I like to
have her _very_ much!"
"Well, here she goes," said Mrs. Gary. "Hand her over. You have a
variety, Daisy. Chinese playthings and Grecian art."
"_Some_ modern luxury," said Gary McFarlane. "Just a little."
"Egyptian art, too," said Capt. Drummond.
"O where's my spoon?" cried Daisy. "Has papa got it?"
"Here is Ransom's present," said her aunt, handing the note. "Nobody
knows what it is. Are we to know?"
Daisy opened and read, read over again, looked very grave, and finally
folded the note up in silence.
"What is it?" said her aunt.
Daisy hesitated, wishing, but in doubt if she would be permitted to keep
it to herself. Her father answered for her.
"It is all of Ransom's part, share, and possession in a certain small
equipage known about these premises; the intent and understanding being,
that henceforth the pony carriage and pony are Daisy's sole property,
and to be by her used and appropriated without any other person's
"But, papa--" Ransom began.
"I think it is a very poor arrangement, Mr. Randolph," said Ransom's
mother. "Daisy cannot use the pony half enough for his good."
"She will make more use of him now," said Mr. Randolph.
Ransom looked very glum. His mother rose, with the ladies, and went to
A day or two after the birthday, it happened that Capt. Drummond was
enjoying the sunshine in a way that gentlemen like to enjoy it; that is,
he was stretched comfortably on the grass under the shade of some elm
trees, looking at it. Perhaps it was not exactly the sunshine that he
was enjoying, but the soft couch of short grass, and the luxurious warm
shadow of the elms, and a little fanciful breeze which played and
stopped playing, and set the elm trees all a flutter and let them be
still, by turns. But Capt. Drummond was having a good time there, all by
himself, and lying at length in a most lazy luxurious fashion; when he
suddenly was "ware" of a fold of white drapery somewhere not very far
from his left ear. He raised himself a little up, and there to be sure,
as he had guessed, was Daisy. She was all alone too, and standing there
looking at him.
Now Capt. Drummond was a great favourite of Daisy's. In the first place
he was a handsome fellow, with a face which was both gentle and manly;
and his curly light-brown hair and his slight well-trimmed moustache set
off features that were pleasant for man or woman to look upon. Perhaps
Daisy liked him partly for this, but I think she had other reasons. At
any rate, there she stood looking at him.
"Can you command me, Daisy?" said the young officer.
"Are you at leisure, Capt. Drummond?"
"Looks like it!" said the gentleman rousing himself. "What shall I give
you? a camp-chair? or will you take the--O! that is a better
For Daisy had thrown on the ground a soft shawl for a carpet, and took
her place upon it beside Capt. Drummond, who looked at her in a pleased
kind of way.
"Are you quite at leisure, Capt. Drummond?"
"Gentlemen always are--when ladies' affairs are to be attended to."
"Are they?" said Daisy.
"They ought to be!"
"But I am not a lady."
"What do you call yourself?"
"I don't know," said Daisy gravely. "I suppose I am a little piece of
"Is that it?" said Capt. Drummond laughing. "Well, I will give you as
large a piece of my leisure as you can make use of--without regard to
proportions. What is on hand, Daisy?"
"Capt. Drummond," said Daisy with a very serious face,--"do soldiers
have a very hard time?"
"Not always. Not when they are lying out under the trees at Melbourne,
"But I mean, when they are acting like soldiers?"
He was ready with a laughing answer again, but seeing how earnest
Daisy's face was, he controlled himself; and leaning on his elbow, with
just a little smile of amusement on his face, he answered her.
"Well, Daisy--sometimes--they do."
"How, Capt. Drummond?"
"In a variety of ways."
"Will you please tell me about it?"
He looked up at her. "Why, Daisy, what makes you curious in the matter?
Have you a friend in the army?"
"No other but you," said Daisy.
"That is a kind speech. To reward you for it, I will tell you anything
you please. What is the question, Daisy?"
"I would like to know in what way soldiers have a hard time?"
"Well, Daisy, to begin, with, a soldier can't do what he has a mind."
"Not about anything?"
"Well--no; not unless he gets leave. I am only at Melbourne now because
I have got leave; and I must go when my leave is up. A soldier does not
belong to himself."
"To whom does he belong?'
"To his commander! He must go and come, do or not do things, just as his
General bids him; and ask no questions."
"Ask no questions?" said Daisy.
"No; only do what he is ordered."
"But why mayn't he ask questions?"
"That isn't his business. He has nothing to do with the reason of
things; all he has got to do is his duty. The _reason_ is his General's
duty to look after."
"But suppose he had a very good General--then that wouldn't be much of a
hardship," said Daisy.
"Well, that is a very material point," said the Captain. "_Suppose_ he
has a good General--as you say; that would make a great difference,
"Is that all, Capt. Drummond?"
"Not quite all."
"Well, Daisy, a soldier, even under a good General, is often ordered to
do hard things."
"What sort of things?"
"What do you think," said the Captain lolling comfortably on the green
bank, "of camping out under the rain-clouds--with no bed but stones or
puddles of mud and wet leaves--and rain pouring down all night, and hard
work all day; and no better accommodations for week in and week out?"
"But Capt. Drummond!" said Daisy horrified, "I thought soldiers had
"So they do--in fine weather--" said the Captain. "But just where the
hardest work is to do, is where they can't carry their tents."
"Couldn't that be prevented?"
"I'm afraid not."
"I should think they'd get sick?"
"_Think_ they would! Why they do, Daisy, by hundreds and hundreds. What
then? A soldier's life isn't his own; and if he has to give it up in a
hospital instead of on the field, why it's good for some other fellow."
So this it was, not to belong to oneself! Daisy looked on the soldier
before her who had run, or would run, such risks, very tenderly; but
nevertheless the child was thinking her own thoughts all the while. The
Captain saw both things.
"What is the 'hard work' they have to do?" she asked presently.
"Daisy, you wouldn't like to see it."
"Poor fellows digging and making walls of sand or sods to shelter them
from fire--when every now and then comes a shot from the enemy's
batteries, ploughs up their work, and knocks over some poor rascal who
never gets up again. That's one kind of hard work."
Daisy's face was intent in its interest; but she only said, "Please go
"Do you like to hear it?"
"Yes, I like to know about it."
"I wonder what Mrs. Randolph would say to me?"
"Please go on, Capt. Drummond!"
"I don't know about that. However, Daisy, work in the trenches is not
the hardest thing--nor living wet through or frozen half through--nor
going half fed--About the hardest thing I know, is in a hurried retreat
to be obliged to leave sick and wounded friends and poor fellows to fall
into the hands of the enemy. That's hard."
"Isn't it hard to fight a battle?"
"You would not like to march up to the fire of the enemy's guns, and see
your friends falling right and left of you--struck down?"
"Would you?" said Daisy.
"Would I what?"
"Don't _you_ think it is hard, to do that?"
"Not just at the time, Daisy. It is a little tough afterwards, when one
comes to think about it. It is hard to see fellows suffer too, that one
Daisy hardly knew what to think of Capt. Drummond. His handsome pleasant
face looked not less gentle than usual, and _did_ look somewhat more
sober. Daisy concluded it must be something about a soldier's life that
she could not understand, all this coolness with which he spoke of
dreadful things. A deep sigh was the testimony of the different feelings
of her little breast. Capt. Drummond looked up at her.
"Daisy, women are not called to be soldiers."
Daisy passed that.
"Have you told me all you can tell me, Capt. Drummond?"
"I should not like to tell you all I could tell you."
"Why? Please do! I want to know all about soldiers."
He looked curiously at her. "After all," he said, "it is not so bad as
you think, Daisy. A good soldier does not find it hard to obey orders."
"What sorts of orders does he have to obey?"
"But suppose they were wrong orders?"
"Makes no difference."
"Yes," said Capt. Drummond, laughing. "If it is something he can do, he
does it; if it is something he can't do, he loses his head trying."
"Loses his head, sir?"
"Yes--by a cannon ball; or his heart, by a musket ball; or maybe he gets
off with losing a hand or a leg; just as it happens. That makes no
difference, either." He watched Daisy as he spoke, seeing a slight
colour rise in her cheeks, and wondering what made the-child's quiet
grey eyes look at him so thoughtfully.
[Illustration: A SOLDIER.]
"Capt. Drummond, is he ever told to do anything he _can't_ do?"
"A few years ago, Daisy, the English and the French were fighting the
Russians in the Crimea. I happened to be there on business, and I saw
some things. An order was brought one day to an officer commanding a
body of cavalry--you know what cavalry is?"
"Yes, I know."
"The order was brought in--Hallo! what's that?"
For a voice was heard shouting at a little distance, "Drummond!--Ho,
Drummond! Where are you?"
"It's Mr. McFarlane!" said Daisy. "He'll come here. I'm very sorry."
"Don't be sorry," said the Captain. "Come,--let us disappoint him. He
can't play hide and seek."
He jumped up and caught Daisy's willing hand, with the other hand caught
up her shawl, and drew her along swiftly under cover of the trees and
shrubbery towards the river, and away from the voice they heard calling.
Daisy half ran, half flew, it seemed to her; so fast the strong hand of
her friend pulled her over the ground. At the edge of the bank that
faced the river, at the top of a very steep descent of a hundred feet or
near that, under a thick shelter of trees, Capt. Drummond called a halt
and stood listening. Far off, faint in the distance, they could still
hear the shout.
"Drummond!--where are you? Hallo!"
"We'll go down to the river," said the Captain; "and he is too lazy to
look for us there. We shall be safe. Daisy, this is a retreat--but it is
not a hardship, is it?"
Daisy looked up delighted. The little face so soberly thoughtful a few
minutes ago was all bright and flushed. The Captain was charmed too.
"But we can't get down there,"--said Daisy, casting her eye down the
very steep pitch of the bank.
"That is something," said the Captain, "with which as a soldier you have
nothing to do. All you have to do is to obey orders; and the orders are
that we charge down hill."
"I shall go head first, then," said Daisy, "or over and over. I couldn't
keep my feet one minute."
"Now you are arguing," said the Captain; "and that shews
insubordination, or want of discipline. But we have got to charge, all
the same; and we'll see about putting you under arrest afterwards."
Daisy laughed at him, but she could not conceive how they should get to
the bottom. It was very steep and strewn with dead leaves from the trees
which grew thick all the way. Rolling down was out of the question, for
the stems of the trees would catch them; and to keep on their feet
seemed impossible. Daisy found however that Capt. Drummond could manage
what she could not. He took hold of her hand again; and then--Daisy
hardly believed it while she was doing it,--but there she was, going
down that bank in an upright position; not falling nor stumbling, though
it is true she was not walking neither. The Captain did not let her
fall, and his strong hand seemed to take her like a feather over the
stones and among the trees, giving her flying leaps and bounds down, the
hill along with him. How _he_ went and kept his feet remained always a
marvel to Daisy; but down they went, and at the bottom they were in a
trifle of time.
"Do you think he will come down there after us?" said the Captain.
"I am sure he won't," said Daisy.
"So am I sure. We are safe, Daisy. Now I am your prisoner and you are my
prisoner; and we will set each other at any work we please. This is a
Behind them, was the high, steep, wooded bank, rising right up. Before
them was a little strip of pebbly beach, and little wavelets of the
river washing past it. Beyond lay the broad stream, all bright in the
summer sunshine, with the great blue hills rising up misty and blue in
the distance. Nothing else; a little curve in the shore on each side
shut them in from all that was above or below near at hand.
"Why this is a fine place," repeated the Captain. "Were you ever here
"Not in a long time," said Daisy. "I have been here with June."
"June! Aren't we here with June now?"
"_Now_!--O I don't mean the month--I mean mamma's black June," said
"Well that is the first time I ever heard of a black June!" muttered the
Captain. "Does she resemble her name or her colour?"
"She isn't much like the month of June," said Daisy. "I don't think she
is a very cheerful person."
"Then I wouldn't come here any more with her--or anywhere else."
"I don't," said Daisy. "I don't go with her, or with anybody else--much.
Only I go with Sam and the pony."
"Where's Ransom? Don't he go with you?"
"O Ransom's older, you know; and he's a boy."
"Ransom don't know his advantages. This is pleasant, Daisy. Now let us
see. What were you and I about?"
"You were telling me something, Capt. Drummond."
"What was it? O I know. Daisy, you are under arrest, you know, and
sentenced to extra duty. The work you are to perform, is to gather as
many of these little pebbles together--these white ones--as you can in
Daisy went to work; so did the Captain; and very busy they were, for the
Captain gathered as many pebbles as she did. He made her fetch them to a
place where the little beach was clean and smooth, and in the shadow of
an overhanging tree they both sat down. Then the Captain throwing off
his cap, began arranging the white pebbles on the sand in some
mysterious manner--lines of them hero and lines of them there--whistling
as he worked. Daisy waited with curious patience; watched him closely,
but never asked what he was doing. At last he stopped, looked up at her,
"Well!--" he said.
"What is it all, Capt. Drummond?"
"This is your story, Daisy."
"Yes. Look here--these rows of white stones are the Russians;--these
brown stones are the English," said he, beginning to marshal another set
into mysterious order some distance from the white stones. "Now what
shall I do for some guns?"
Daisy in a very great state of delight began to make search for
something that would do to stand for artillery; but Capt. Drummond
presently solved the question by breaking some twigs from the tree
overhead and cutting them up into inch lengths. These little mock guns
he distributed liberally among the white stones, pointing their muzzles
in various directions; and finally drew some lines in the sand which he
informed Daisy were fortifications. Daisy looked on; it was better than
a fairy tale.
"Now Daisy, we are ready for action. This is the battle of Balaklava;
and these are part of the lines. An order was brought to an officer
commanding a body of cavalry stationed up here--you know what cavalry
"Yes, I know."
"The order was brought to him to charge upon the enemy down _there_,--in
a place where he could do no good and must be cut to pieces;--the enemy
had so many guns in that place and he had so few men to attack them
with. The order was a mistake. He knew it was a mistake, but his General
had sent it--there was nothing for him to do but to obey. So he
"And his men?"
"Every one. They knew they were going to their death--and everybody else
knew it that saw them go--but they charged!"
"Did you see it, Capt. Drummond?"
"I saw it."
"And did they go to their death?" said Daisy, awe-stricken, for Captain
Drummond's look said that he was thinking of something it had been grave
"Why yes. Look here, Daisy--here were cannon; there were cannon; there
were more cannon; cannon on every side of them but one. They went into
death they knew, when they went in there."
"How many of them went there?"
"Six hundred!--were they _all_ killed?"
"No. There were a part of them that escaped and lived to come back."
Daisy looked at the pebbles and the guns in profound silence.
"But if the officer knew the order was a mistake, why must he obey it?"
"That's a soldier's duty, Daisy. He can do nothing but follow orders. A
soldier can't know, very often, what an order is given for; he cannot
judge; he does not know what his General means to accomplish. All he has
to think of is to obey orders; and if every soldier does that, all is
What was little Daisy thinking of? She sat looking at her friend the
Captain. He was amused.
"Well, Daisy--what do you think? will it do? Do you think you will stand
it and be a soldier?"
Daisy hesitated a good deal, and looked off and on at the Captain's
face. Then she said very quietly, "Yes."
"You will!" he said. "I wish you would join my branch of the service.
Suppose you come into my company?"
"Suppose you join mine?"
"With all my heart!" said the Captain laughing; "if it is not
inconsistent with my present duties. So you have enlisted already? Are
you authorized to receive recruits?"
Daisy shook her head and did not join in his laugh.
"Honestly, Daisy, tell me true; what did you want to know about soldiers
for? I have answered you; now answer me. I am curious."
Daisy did not answer, and seemed in doubt.
"Will you not honour me so far?"
Daisy hesitated still, and looked at the Captain more than once. But
Capt. Drummond was a great favourite, and had earned her favour partly
by never talking nonsense to her; a great distinction.
"I will tell you when we get back to the house," she said,--"if you will
not speak of it, Capt. Drummond."
The Captain could get no nearer his point; and he and Daisy spent a good
while longer by the river-side, erecting fortifications and studying the
charge of the Light brigade.
The Captain was not able to claim Daisy's promise immediately. On their
return to the house he was at once taken up with some of the older
people, and Daisy ran off to her long delayed dinner.
The next day in the course of her wanderings about the grounds, which
were universal, Daisy came upon her cousin Preston. He sat in the shade
of a clump of larches under a great oak, making flies for fishing; which
occupation, like a gentlemanly boy as he was, he had carried out there
where the litter of it would be in nobody's way. Preston Gary was a very
fine fellow; about sixteen, a handsome fellow, very spirited, very
clever, and very gentle and kind to his little cousin Daisy. Daisy liked
him much, and was more entirely free with him perhaps than with any
other person in the family. Her seeing him now was the signal for a
joyous skip and bound which brought her to his side.
"O Preston, are you going fishing?"
"Perhaps--if I have a good day for it."
"Who's going with you?"
"Nobody, I reckon. Unless you want to go, Daisy."
"O Preston, may I go with you? Where are you going?"
"Daisy, I'm bound for the Hillsdale woods, back of Crum Elbow--they say
there are first-rate trout streams there; but I am afraid you can't go
"O I can go anywhere, Preston! with Loupe, you know. You're going to
ride, aren't you?"
"Yes, but Loupe! What shall we do with Loupe? You see, I shall be gone
the whole day, Daisy--it's likely. You'd get tired."
"Why we could find somewhere to put Loupe--Sam could take care of him.
And I should like to go, Preston, if you think I would not frighten the
"O if Sam's going along, that is another matter," said Preston. "_You_
frighten the fish, Daisy! I don't believe you can do that for anything.
But I won't let you get into mischief."
So it was settled, and Daisy's face looked delighted; and for some time
she and Preston discussed the plan, the fish, and his flies. Then
suddenly Daisy introduced another subject.
"Preston, where is the Crimea?"
"The Crimea!" said Preston.
"Yes; where the English and the French were fighting with the Russians."
"The Crimea! Why Daisy, don't you know where it is? You'll find it in
the Black Sea somewhere."
"But Preston, I don't know where the Black Sea is."
"Why Daisy, what has become of your geography?"
"I never had much," said Daisy humbly, and looking serious;--"and lately
mamma hasn't wanted me to do anything but run about."
"Well, if you take the map of Europe, and set out from the north of
Russia and walk down, you'll find yourself in the Crimea after a while.
Just hold that, Daisy, will you?"
Daisy held the ends of silk he put in her fingers; but while he worked,
she thought. Might it not be possible that a good knowledge of geography
might have something to do with the use or the improvement of her
_talents_? And if a knowledge of geography, why not also a knowledge of
history, and of arithmetic,--and of everything! There could not be a
reasonable doubt of it. What would Preston be,--what would Mr. Dinwiddie
or Capt. Drummond be,--if they knew nothing? And by the same reasoning,
what would Daisy Randolph be? What could she do with her talents, if she
let them lie rusty with ignorance? Now this was a very serious thought
to Daisy, because she did not like study. She liked knowledge right
well, if she could get it without trouble, and if it was entertaining
knowledge; but she did not think geography at all entertaining, nor
arithmetic. Yet--Daisy forgot all about Preston's artificial flies, and
her face grew into a depth of sobriety.
"Preston--" she began slowly,--"is it hard?"
"Not just that," said Preston, busy in finishing a piece of work,--"it
is a little ticklish to stroke this into order--but it isn't hard, if
you have the right materials, and know how."
"O no--I don't mean flies--I mean geography."
"Geography!" said Preston. "O you are at the Crimea yet, are you? I'll
shew it to you, Daisy, when we go in."
"Preston, is the use of geography only to know where places are?"
"Well, that's pretty convenient," said Preston. "Daisy, just look for
that bunch of grey silk--I had it here a minute ago."
"But Preston, tell me what _is_ the use of it?"
"Why, my dear little Daisy--thank you!--you'd be all abroad without it."
"All abroad!" exclaimed Daisy.
"It comes to about that, I reckon. You wouldn't understand anything. How
can you? Suppose I shew you my pictures of the North American
Indians--they'll be as good as Chinese to you, if you don't know
Daisy was silent, feeling puzzled.
"And," said Preston, binding his fly, "when you talk of the Crimea you
will not know whether the English came from the east or the west, nor
whether the Russians are not living under the equator and eating ripe
"Don't they eat oranges?" said Daisy seriously. But that question set
Preston off into a burst of laughter, for which he atoned as soon as it
was over by a very gentle kiss to his little cousin.
"Never mind, Daisy," he said; "I think you are better without geography.
You aren't just like everybody else--that's a fact."
"Daisy," said Capt. Drummond, coming upon the scene, "do you allow such
"It is Preston's manner of asking my pardon, Capt. Drummond," Daisy
answered, looking a little troubled, but in her slow, womanly way. The
Captain could not help laughing in his turn.
"What offence has he been guilty of?--tell me, and I will make him ask
pardon in another manner. But Daisy, do you reckon such a liberty no
"Not if I am willing he should take it," said Daisy. The Captain seemed
"My dear little lady!" he said, "it is good for me you are not half a
score of years wiser. What were you talking about the Crimea?--I heard
the word as I came up."
"I asked Preston to shew it to me on the map--or he said he would."
"Come with me and I'll do it. You shouldn't ask anybody but me about the
So getting hold affectionately of Daisy's hand, he and she went off to
the house. No one was in the library. The Captain opened a large map of
Russia; Daisy got up in a chair, with her elbows on the great library
table, and leaned over it, while the Captain drew up another chair and
pointed out the Crimea and Sebastopol, and shewed the course by which
the English ships had come, for Daisy took care to ask that. Then,
finding so earnest a listener, he went on to describe to her the
situation of other places on the Peninsula, and the character of the
country, and the severities of the climate in the region of the great
struggle. Daisy listened, with her eyes varying between Capt. Drummond's
face and the map. The Black Sea became known to Daisy thence and
"I never thought geography was so interesting!" she remarked with a
sigh, as the Captain paused. He smiled.
"Now Daisy, you have something to tell me," he said.
"What?" said Daisy, looking up suddenly.
"Why you wanted to know about soldiers--don't you remember your
The child's face all changed; her busy, eager, animated look, became on
the instant thoughtful and still. Yet changed, as the Captain saw with
some curiosity, not to lesser but to greater intentness.
"Capt. Drummond, if I tell you, I do not wish it talked about."
"Certainly not!" he said suppressing a smile, and watched her while she
got down from her chair and looked about among the bookshelves.
"Will you please put this on the table for me?" she said--"I can't lift
"A Bible!" said the Captain to himself. "This is growing serious." But
he carried the great quarto silently and placed it on the table. It was
a very large volume, full of magnificent engravings, which were the sole
cause and explanation of its finding a place in Mr. Randolph's library.
He put it on the table and watched Daisy curiously, who disregarding all
the pictures turned over the leaves hurriedly, till near the end of the
book; then stopped, put her little finger under some words, and turned
to him. The Captain looked and read--over the little finger--
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
It gave the Captain a very odd feeling. He stopped and read it two or
three times over.
"But Daisy!"--he said.
"What, Capt. Drummond?"
"What has this to do with what we were talking about?"
"Would you please shut this up and put it away, first?"
The Captain obeyed, and as he turned from the bookshelves Daisy took his
hand again, and drew him, child-fashion, out of the house and through
the shrubbery. He let her alone till she had brought him to a shady
spot, where under the thick growth of magnificent trees a rustic seat
stood, in full view of the distant mountains and the river.
"Where is my answer, Daisy?" he said, as she let go his hand and seated
"What was your question, Capt. Drummond?"
"Now you are playing hide and seek with me. What have those words you
shewed me,--what have they to do with our yesterday's conversation?"
"I would like to know," said Daisy slowly, "what it means, to be a good
"I think I have told you," she said.
She said it with the most unmoved simplicity. The Captain could not
imagine what made him feel uncomfortable. He whistled.
"Daisy, you are incomprehensible!" he exclaimed, and catching hold of
her hand, he began a race down towards the river. Such a race as they
had taken the day before. Through shade and through sun, down grassy
steeps and up again, flying among the trees as if some one were after
them, the Captain ran; and Daisy was pulled along with him. At the edge
of the woods which crowned the river bank, he stopped and looked at
Daisy who was all flushed and sparkling with exertion and merriment.
"Sit down there!" said he, putting her on the bank and throwing himself
beside her. "Now you look as you ought to look!"
"I don't think mamma would think so," said Daisy panting and laughing.
"Yes, she would. Now tell me--do you call yourself a soldier?"
"I don't know whether there can be such little soldiers," said Daisy.
"If there can be, I am."
"And what fighting do you expect to do, little one?"
"I don't know," said Daisy. "Not very well."
"What enemies are you going to face?"
But Daisy only looked rather hard at the Captain and made him no answer.
"Do you expect to emulate the charge of the Light Brigade, in some tilt
against fancied wrong?"
Daisy looked at her friend; she did not quite understand him, but his
last words were intelligible.
"I don't know," she said meekly. "But if I do it will not be because the
order is a _mistake_, Capt. Drummond."
The Captain bit his lip. "Daisy," said he, "are you the only soldier in
Daisy sat still, looking up over the sunny slopes of ground towards the
The sunbeams shewed it bright and stately on the higher ground; they
poured over a rich luxuriant spread of greensward and trees, highly
kept; stately and fair; and Daisy could not help remembering that in all
that domain, so far as she knew, there was not a thought in any heart of
being the sort of soldier she wished to be. She got up from the ground
and smoothed her dress down.
"Capt. Drummond," she said with a grave dignity that was at the same
time perfectly childish too,--"I have told you about myself--I can't
tell you about other people."
"Daisy, you are not angry with me!"
"Don't you sometimes permit other people to ask your pardon in Preston
Daisy was about to give a quiet negative to this proposal, when
perceiving more mischief in the Captain's face than might be manageable,
she pulled away her hand from him, and dashed off like a deer. The
Captain was wiser than to follow.
[Illustration: MELBOURNE HOUSE.]
Later in the day, which turned out a very warm one, he and Gary
McFarlane went down again to the edge of the bank, hoping to get if they
could a taste of the river breeze. Lying there stretched out under the
trees, after a little while they heard voices. The voices were down on
the shore. Gary moved his position to look.
"It's that child--what under the sun is she doing! I beg pardon for
naming anything warm just now, Drummond--but she is building
fortifications of some sort, down there."
Capt. Drummond came forward too. Down below them, a little to the right,
where a tiny bend in the shore made a spot of shade, Daisy was
crouching on the ground apparently very busy. Back of her a few paces
was her dark attendant, June.
"There's energy," said Gary. "What a nice thing it is to be a child and
play in the sand!"
The talk down on the shore went on; June's voice could scarcely be
heard, but Daisy's words were clear--"Do, June! Please try." Another
murmur from June, and then Daisy--"Try, June--do, please!" The little
voice was soft, but its utterances were distinct; the words could be
heard quite plainly. And Daisy sat back from her sand-work, and June
began to sing something. _What_, it would have been difficult to tell at
the top of the bank, but then Daisy's voice struck in. With no knowledge
that she had listeners, the notes came mounting up to the top of the
bank, clear, joyous and strong, with a sweet power that nobody knew
Daisy's voice had.
"Upon my word, that's pretty!" said the Captain.
"A pretty thing, too, faith," said Gary. "Captain, let's get nearer the
performers. Look out, now, and don't strike to windward."
They went, like hunters, softly down the bank, keeping under
shelter, and winding round so as to get near before they should be seen.
They succeeded. Daisy was intent upon her sand-work again, and June's
back was towards them. The song went on more softly; then in a chorus
Daisy's voice rang out again, and the words were plain.
"Die in the field of battle,
Die in the field of battle,
Die in the field of battle,
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