Melbourne House, Volume 2
Part 3 out of 7
thought you would not have kept it."
"I wanted to keep it very much--but I could not," said Daisy with the
tears in her eyes.
"Why 'could not'? why couldn't you? did you give it away, Daisy? that
spoon I gave you?"
"Nora, I could not help it! Somebody else wanted it very much, and I was
obliged to let her have it. I could not help it."
"I shall tell Marmaduke that you did not care for it," said Nora in an
offended tone. "I wish I had kept it myself. It was a beautiful spoon."
Daisy looked very much troubled.
"Who has got it?" Nora went on.
"It is no matter who has got it," said Daisy. "I couldn't keep it."
"She is right, Nora," said Preston, who came up just then, at the same
time with the doctor. "She could not keep it, because it was taken away
from her without any leave asked. I mean she shall have it back, too,
one of these days. Don't you say another word to Daisy!--she has behaved
like a little angel about it."
Preston's manner made an impression, as well as his words. Nora was
"What is all that, Nora?" the doctor asked.
Now Nora had a great awe of him. She did not dare not answer.
"It is about a spoon I gave Daisy, that she gave away."
"She did not, I tell you!" said Preston.
"A spoon?" said the doctor. "Silver?"
"O no! A beautiful, old, very old, carved, queer old spoon, with a
duck's bill, that came out of an old Egyptian tomb, and was put there
ever so long ago."
"Did your brother give it to you?"
"Yes, to give to Daisy, and she gave it to somebody else."
"Nora, I did not give it as you think I did. I loved it very much. I
would not have let anybody have it if I could have helped it."
"Who has got it, Daisy?" asked the doctor.
Daisy looked at him, looked perplexed, flushed a little, finally said
with demure gentleness, "Dr. Sandford, I think I ought not to tell."
The doctor smiled, took Daisy's hand, and led her off to the supper
room, whither they were now invited. So it happened that her seat at the
table was again by his side. Daisy liked it. Just then she did not care
about being with Nora.
The people gathered, bright and fresh, around the supper table, all
seeming to have forgotten their fatigues and frights; and every face
looked smiling or gracious. The day was over, the river was crossed; the
people were hungry; and the most dainty and perfectly arranged supply of
refreshments stood on the board. Coffee and tea steamed out their
grateful announcements; ice cream stood in red and white pyramids of
firmness; oysters and cold meats and lobster salad offered all that
hungry people could desire; and everybody was in a peculiar state of
gratified content and expectation. Daisy was no exception. She had let
slip her momentary trouble about the Egyptian spoon; and in her quiet
corner, quite unnoticed as she thought, looked at the bright scene and
enjoyed it. She liked being under the doctor's care too, and his care of
her was very thoughtful and kind. He did not forget the little quiet
mouse at his elbow; but after he had properly attended to the other
people whose claims came first, he served her nicely with whatever was
good for her. Was Daisy going to omit her usual giving of thanks? She
thought of her mother's interference with a moment's flash of hesitancy;
but resolved to go on just as usual. She did not think she would be
noticed, everybody was so busy; and at any rate there was a burden of
gladness in her little heart that must speak. While the talking and
laughing and click of knives and forks was thick all around her, Daisy's
little head bent in a moment's oblivion of it all behind her hand.
She had raised her head and just taken her fork in her fingers when she
heard her own name. She looked up.
"Daisy--" said her mother quietly--"come here."
Daisy left her seat and went round to her mother's side.
"You may go up stairs," said Mrs. Randolph.
"Go--and remain till I send for you."
Daisy slipped away quietly, before anybody could notice that she was
gone or going. Then slowly went up the stairs and along the passages to
her own room. It was empty and dark, except for the moonlight without;
June had not expected her to be there, and had not made preparation.
Daisy went and kneeled down in her old place by her window; her eyes
filled as full of tears as they could hold. She bent her little head to
brush them away, but they came again. Daisy was faint and tired; she
wanted her supper very much; and she had enjoyed the supper-table very
much; it was a great mortification to exchange it for the gloom and
silence of her moonlit room. She had not a bit of strength to keep her
spirits up. Daisy felt weak. And what was the matter? Only--that she
had, against her mother's pleasure, repeated her acknowledgment of the
hand that had given her all good things. How many good things that day!
And was she not to make such acknowledgment any more? Ought she to
please her mother in this? Had she really done wrong? Daisy could not
tell; she thought not; she could not wish she had not done what she did;
but at the same time it was very miserable to have Mrs. Randolph at odds
with her on such a point as this.
Daisy shed some tears about it; yet not a great many, and without the
least bitterness in them. But she felt faint and tired and disappointed.
Here, however, at her own room window, and alone, there was no bar to
thanksgivings; and Daisy had them in her heart, as well as prayers for
the people who had them not. She was too tired to pray at last; she only
knelt at the window with her arms on the sill, (Daisy was raised up on
an ottoman) and looked out at the moonlight, feeling as if she was going
into a dream.
"Miss Daisy!"--said the smothered voice of June behind her--"are you
there, Miss Daisy?"
June's accent was doubtful and startled. Daisy turned round.
"Miss Daisy!--I thought you was in the supper-room."
"No, June--I'm here."
"Will you go to bed, Miss Daisy?"
"I wish, June, you would get me something to eat, first," said Daisy
"Didn't you get your supper, Miss Daisy?"
"No, and I'm hungry. I haven't had anything since the dinner at the
lake. I wish you'd make haste, June."
June knew from Daisy's way of speaking, as well as from the facts of the
case, that there was some trouble on foot. She went off to get supper,
and as she went along the passages the mulatto woman's hand was clenched
upon itself, though her face shewed only its usual wrinkles.
Small delay was there before she was back again, and with her June had
brought a supply of very nearly everything there had been on the
supper-table. She set down her tray, prepared a table for Daisy, and
placed a chair. The room was light now with two wax candles. Daisy sat
down and took a review.
"What will you have now, Miss Daisy? here's some hot oysters--nice and
hot. I'll get you some ice cream when you're ready to eat it--Hiram's
got it in the freezer for you. Make haste, Miss Daisy--these oysters is
But Daisy did not make haste. She looked at the supper tray
"June," she said with a very gentle pure glance of her eyes up at the
mulatto woman's face--"I am very much obliged to you--but I don't think
mamma means me to eat these things to-night--Will you just get me some
milk and some bread? I'll take some bread and milk!"
"Miss Daisy, these oysters is good for you," said June.
"I'll take some bread and milk to-night--if you will please make haste.
Thank you, June."
"Miss Daisy--then maybe take a sandwich."
"No--I will have nothing but bread and milk. Only quick, June."
June went off for the bread and milk, and then very unwillingly carried
her supper-tray down stairs again. Going through one of the passages she
was met by her master.
"Where is that coming from, June?" he asked her in surprise.
"From Miss Daisy's room, sir."
"Has she been taking supper up there?"
"No, sir--Miss Daisy wouldn't touch nothing."
"Is she unwell?" Mr. Randolph asked in a startled tone.
"No, sir." June's tone was dry. Mr. Randolph marched at once to the room
in question, where Daisy was eating her bread and milk.
"What are you doing, Daisy?"
"Papa!"--said the child with a start; and then quietly--"I am taking my
"Were you not at the table down stairs?"
"How came you not to have your supper there?"
"I had to come away, papa."
"Are you not well, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph tenderly, bending down over
"Yes, papa--quite well."
"Then why did you come away?"
Daisy's spoon lay still in her fingers and her eyes reddened.
"Mamma sent me."
If the child was to have any supper at all, Mr. Randolph saw, he must
forbear his questioning. He rose up from leaning over her chair.
"Go on, Daisy--" he said; and he left her, but did not leave the room.
He walked up and down the floor at a little distance, while Daisy
finished her bread and milk She was too much in want of it not to do
that. When it was done she got out of her chair and stood on the floor
looking at her father, as gentle as a young sparrow. He came and wheeled
her chair round and sat down upon it.
"What is the matter, Daisy?"
"Mamma was displeased with me." The child dropped her eyes.
"Papa"--said Daisy slowly, trying for words and perhaps also for
self-command--"mamma was displeased with me because--I--"
"Papa--because I did what she did not like at dinner."
"At dinner? what was that?"
The child lifted her eyes now to her father's face, a little wistfully.
"Papa--don't you know?--I was only praying a minute."
Mr. Randolph stretched out his arm, drew Daisy up to him, placed her on
his knee, and looked down into her face.
"Did you have no supper down stairs?"
"Do you like bread and milk better than other things?"
"I met June with a great tray of supper things, and she said you would
not eat them. Why was that?"
"Papa," said Daisy, "I thought mamma did not mean me to have those
"She did not forbid you?"
Mr. Randolph's arm was round Daisy; now he wrapped both arms about her,
bringing her up close to his breast, and putting down his lips to her
face, he kissed her over and over, with a great tenderness.
"Have you had a pleasant day?"
"Papa, I have had a great many pleasant things," said Daisy eagerly. Her
voice had changed and a glad tone had come into it.
"Dr. Sandford took proper care of you?"
"Papa, he is _very_ good!" said Daisy strongly.
"I rather think he thinks you are."
"He is nice, papa."
"Nice--" said Mr. Randolph. "He is pretty well. But now, Daisy, what do
you think of going to bed and to sleep?"
"And to-morrow, if you have got into any difficulty, you may come to me
and talk about it."
Daisy returned a very earnest caress to her father's good night kiss,
and afterwards had no difficulty in doing as he had said. And so ended
the day on Silver Lake.
Daisy reflected the next morning as to what was her right course with
respect to the action that had troubled her mother so much. Ought she to
do it? In the abstract it was right to do it; but ought _she_ in these
circumstances? And how much of a Christian's ordinary duty might she be
required to forego? and where must the stand be made? Daisy did not
know; she had rather the mind of a soldier, and was much inclined to
obey her orders, as such, come what might. That is, it seemed to her
that so she would be in the sure and safe way; but Daisy had no appetite
at all for the fighting that this course would ensure. One thing she
knew by experience; that if she drew upon herself a direct command to do
such a thing no more, the order would stand; there would be no dealing
with it afterwards except in the way of submission. That command she had
not in this case yet received, and she judged it prudent not to risk
receiving it. She went down to breakfast as usual, but she did not bow
her little head to give any thanks or make any prayers. She hoped the
breakfast would pass off quietly. So it did as to that matter. But
another subject came up.
"What became of you last night at supper, Daisy?" her aunt asked. "Dr.
Sandford was enquiring for you. I think you received quite your share of
attention, for so young a lady, for my part."
"Daisy had more than anybody else, yesterday," remarked Eloise.
"A sprained or a broken ankle is a very good thing occasionally," said
"Yes," said Mrs. Gary--"I think Daisy had quite the best time of anybody
yesterday. A palanquin with gentlemen for her porters, and friendly arms
to go to sleep in--most devoted care!"
"Yes, I was one of her porters," said Ransom. "I think Dr. Sandford
takes rather too much on himself."
"Did he take _you_?" said Mr. Randolph.
"Yes, sir,--when there was no occasion."
"Why Ransom," said Daisy, "there was no one else to carry my chair but
Preston and you."
"Did Preston feel aggrieved?" asked his uncle.
"Certainly not, sir," replied the boy. "It was a pleasure."
"It was not Ransom's business," said Mrs. Randolph.
"I suppose it was not the doctor's business either," said Mr.
Randolph--"though he made it so afterwards."
"O, I dare say it was a pleasure to him, too," said Mrs. Gary. "Really,
the doctor did not take care of anybody yesterday, that I saw, except
Daisy. I thought he admired Frederica Fish--I had heard so--but there
was nothing of it. Daisy was quite queen of the day."
Mr. Randolph smiled. Ransom seemed to consider himself insulted. "I
suppose that was the reason," he said, "that she called me worse than a
dog, because I took a meringue from the dinner-spread."
"Did you do that, Daisy?" asked her mother.
"No, mamma," said Daisy low. Her nice had flushed with astonishment and
"You did," said Ransom. "You said just that."
"O no, Ransom you forget."
"What _did_ you say, Daisy?" asked her mother.
"Mamma, I did not say _that_. I said something--I did not mean it for
anything like that."
"Tell me exactly what you did say--and no more delay."
"Wait till after breakfast," said Mr. Randolph. "I wish to be present at
the investigation of this subject, Felicia--but I would rather take it
by itself than with my coffee."
So there was a lull in the storm which seemed to be gathering. It gave
Daisy time to think. She was in a great puzzle. How she could get
through the matter without exposing all Ransom's behaviour, all at least
which went before the blow given to herself, Daisy did not see; she was
afraid that truth would force her to bring it all out. And she was very
unwilling to do that, because in the first place she had established a
full amnesty in her own heart for all that Ransom had done, and wished
rather for an opportunity to please than to criminate him; and in the
second place, in her inward consciousness she knew that Mrs. Randolph
was likely to be displeased with her, in any event. She would certainly,
if Daisy were an occasion of bringing Ransom into disgrace; though the
child doubted privately whether her word would have weight enough with
her mother for that. Ransom also had time to think, and his brow grew
gloomy. An investigation is never what a guilty party desires; and
judging her by himself, Ransom had reason to dread the chance of
retaliation which such a proceeding would give his little sister. So
Daisy and Ransom wore thoughtful faces during the rest of
breakfast-time; and the result of Ransom's reflections was that the
investigation would go on most pleasantly without him. He made up his
mind to slip away, if he had a chance, and be missing. He had the
chance; for Mr. and Mrs. Randolph were engaged with a call of some
neighbours immediately after breakfast; all thought of the children's
affairs seemed to be departed. Ransom waited a safe time, and then
departed too, with Preston, on an expedition which would last all the
morning. Daisy alone bided the hour, a good deal disturbed in the view
of what it might bring.
She was summoned at last to the library. Her father and mother were
there alone; but just after Daisy came in she was followed by Dr.
Sandford. The doctor came with a message. Mrs. Sandford, his sister, he
said, sent by him to beg that Daisy might come to spend the day with
Nora Dinwiddie, who much desired her presence. In the event of a
favourable answer, the doctor said he would himself drive Daisy over,
and would call for that purpose in another hour or two. He delivered his
message, and Mrs. Randolph replied at once that Daisy could not go; she
could not permit it.
Mr. Randolph saw the flush of hope and disappointment on Daisy's face
and the witness of another kind in her eyes; though with her
characteristic steady self-control she neither moved nor spoke, and
suffered the tears to come no farther. Dr. Sandford saw it too, but he
said nothing. Mr. Randolph spoke.
"Is that decision on account of Daisy's supposed delinquency in that
"Of course--" Mrs. Randolph answered drily.
"Can you explain it, Daisy?" her father asked, gravely and kindly
drawing her up to his side. Daisy struggled with some thought.
"Papa," she said softly, "will mamma be satisfied to punish me and let
it go so?"
"Let it go how?"
"Would she be satisfied with this punishment, I mean, and not make me
say anything more about it?"
"I should not. I intend to know the whole. Can you explain it?"
"I think I can, papa," Daisy said, but with a troubled unwillingness,
her father saw. He saw too that it was not the unwillingness of a
"Dr. Sandford, if you are willing to take the trouble of stopping
without the certainty of taking Daisy back with you, I have some hopes
that the result may be satisfactory to all parties."
"_Au revoir_, then," said the doctor, and he strode off.
"Now, Daisy," said her father, still having his arms about her--"what is
it?" Mrs. Randolph stood by the table and looked coldly down at the
group. Daisy was under great difficulty; that was plain.
"Papa--I wish Ransom could tell you!"
"Where is the boy?"
Mrs. Randolph rang the bell.
"It is no use, mamma; he has gone off with Preston somewhere."
"That is a mere subterfuge, Daisy, to gain time."
Daisy certainly looked troubled enough, and timid also; though her meek
look at her mother did not plead guilty to this accusation.
"Speak, Daisy; the telling whatever there is to tell must come upon
you," her father said. "Your business is to explain the charge Ransom
has brought against you."
All Daisy's meditations had not brought her to the point of knowing what
to say in this conjuncture. She hesitated.
"Speak, Daisy!" her father said peremptorily.
"Papa, they had put me--Eloise and Theresa Stanfield--they had put me to
watch the things."
"The dinner--the things that had been taken out of the hampers and were
spread on the tablecloth, where we dined."
"Watch for fear the fishes would carry them off?"
"No, sir, but Fido; Ransom's dog; he was running about."
"I kept Fido off, but I could not keep Ransom--" Daisy said low. "He was
"And why should he not?" said Mrs. Randolph coldly. "Why should not
Ransom take a sandwich, or a peach, if he wanted one? or anything else,
if he was hungry. There was enough provision for everybody."
Daisy looked up at her mother, with a quick refutation of this statement
of the case in her mind, but something stayed her lips. Mr. Randolph saw
and read the look. He put his arm round Daisy and drew her up to him,
speaking with grave decision.
"Daisy, say all you have to say at once--do you hear me? and spare
neither for Ransom nor yourself. Tell all there is to be told, without
"Papa, I should not have objected to his having a sandwich--or as many
as he liked. I should have thought it was proper. But he took the
meringues--and so many that the dish was left very small; and then he
carried off Joanna's lark pie, the whole of it; and he did not mind what
I said; and then, I believe--I suppose that is what Ransom meant--I
believe I told him he was worse than Fido."
"Was Ransom offended at that?"
"Yes, papa. He did not like my speaking to him at all."
"Of course not," said Mrs. Randolph. "Boys never like to be tutored by
girls; and Daisy must expect her brother will not like it if she meddles
with him; and especially if she addresses such language to him."
"I said only exactly that, mamma."
"Ransom put it differently."
A flush came up all over Daisy's face; she looked at her mother
appealingly, but said nothing and the next moment her eyes fell.
"Did Ransom answer you at the time, Daisy?"
"Yes, sir," Daisy said in a low voice.
"Papa!--" said Daisy confounded.
"What did he say to you?"
"He did not say much--" said Daisy.
"Tell me what his answer was?"
"Papa, he struck my ears," said Daisy. A great crimson glow came all
over her face, and she hid it in her father's breast; like an injured
thing running to shelter. Mr. Randolph was lying on a sofa; he folded
his arm round Daisy, but spoke never a word. Mrs. Randolph moved
"Boys will do such things," she said. "It is very absurd in Daisy to
mind it. Boys will do such things--she must learn that it is not her
place or business to find fault with her brother. I think she deserved
what she got. It will teach her a lesson."
"Boys shall not do such things in my house," said Mr. Randolph in his
usual quiet manner.
"As you please!" said the lady in a very dissatisfied way; "but I think
it is only what all boys do."
"Felicia, I wish to reverse your decision about this day's pleasure.
Seeing Daisy has had her lesson, do you not think she might be indulged
with the play after it?"
"As you please!" returned the lady very drily.
"Do you want to go, Daisy?"
"If you please, papa." Daisy spoke without shewing her face.
"Is Mr. Dinwiddie at Mrs. Sandford's?" inquired Mrs. Randolph.
"O no, mamma!" Daisy looked up. "He is not coming. He is gone a great
way off. I do not suppose he is ever coming here again; and Nora is
going away soon."
Mrs. Randolph moved off.
"Felicia--" said her husband. The lady paused. "I intend that Ransom
shall have a lesson, too. I shall take away the remaining week of his
vacation. To-morrow he goes back to school. I tell you, that you may
give the necessary orders."
"For this boy's freak, Mr. Randolph?"
"For what you please. He must learn that such behaviour is not permitted
Mrs. Randolph did not share the folly with which she charged Daisy, for
she made no answer at all, and only with a slight toss of her haughty
head resumed her walk out of the room. Daisy would fain have spoken, but
she did not dare; and for some minutes after they were left alone her
father and she were profoundly silent. Mr. Randolph revolving the
behaviour of Daisy as he now understood it; her willing silence and
enforced speech, and the gentleness manifested towards her brother, with
the meek obedience rendered to her mother and himself. Perhaps his
thoughts went deeper still. While Daisy reflected with sorrow on the
state of mind sure to be produced now both in Ransom and Mrs. Randolph
towards her. A matter which she could do nothing to help. She did not
dare say one word to change her father's purpose about Ransom; she knew
quite well it would be no use. She stood silent by his sofa, one little
hand resting fondly on his shoulder, but profoundly quiet. Then she
remembered that she had something else to talk about.
"Papa--" she said wheeling round a little to face him.
"Do you feel like talking?"
"Hardly--it is so hot," said Mr. Randolph. "Set open that sash door a
little more, Daisy. Now come here. What is it?"
"Shall I wait till another time, papa?"
He had passed an arm round her, and she stood as before with one hand
resting on his shoulder.
"Papa--it was about--what last night you said I might talk to you
"I remember. Go on, Daisy."
"Papa," said the child, a little in doubt how to go on--"I want to do
what is right."
"There is generally little difficulty in doing that, Daisy."
Daisy thought otherwise!
"Papa, I think mamma does not like me to do what I think is right," she
said very low and humbly.
"Your mother is the best judge, Daisy. What are you talking about?"
"_That_, papa--that you said I might talk to you about."
"What is it? Let us understand one another clearly."
"About--It was only that I liked to pray and give thanks a minute at
meal times." Daisy spoke very softly and as if she would fain not have
"That is a mere indifferent ceremony, Daisy, which some people perform.
It is not binding on you, certainly, if your mother has any objection to
your doing it."
"But, papa,"--Daisy began eagerly and then checked herself, and went on
slowly--"you would not like it if you were to give me anything, and I
should not thank you?"
"Cases are not parallel, Daisy."
She wondered in her simplicity why they were not; but her questions had
already ventured pretty far; she did not dare count too much upon her
father's gentleness. She stood looking at him with unsatisfied eyes.
"In one sense we receive everything we have from the bounty of Heaven."
"If your wish were carried out, we should be covering our faces all the
time--if that formality is needed in giving thanks."
Daisy had thoughts, but she was afraid to utter them. She looked at Mr.
Randolph with the same unsatisfied eyes.
"Do you see, Daisy?"
"Don't you!" said Mr. Randolph smiling. "Difficulties still unsolved?
Can you state them, Daisy?"
"Papa, you said I might shew you in the Bible things--do you remember?"
"Things? What things?"
"Papa, if I wanted to do things that I thought were right--you promised
that if _you_ thought they were in the Bible, I might do as it said."
"Humph!"--said Mr. Randolph, with a very doubtful sort of a grunt,
between displeasure at his own word, and annoyance at the trouble it
might bring upon him. Nevertheless, he remembered the promise. Daisy
went on timidly.
"When you get up--by and by, papa,--may I shew you what is in the
"You need not wait till I get up--shew it to me now."
"I cannot lift that big Bible, papa."
Mr. Randolph rose up from the sofa, went to the shelves where it lay,
and brought the great Bible to the library table. Then stood and watched
Daisy, who kneeled in a chair by the table and busily turned over the
large leaves, her little face very wise and intent, her little hands
small to manage the big book before her. Had such a child and such a
book anything to do with each other, Mr. Randolph thought? But Daisy
presently found her place, and looking up at him drew a little back that
her father might see it. He stooped over Daisy and read,
"_In everything give thanks_."
"Do you see it, papa?"
"Then here is another place--I know where to find it--"
She turned over more leaves, stopped again, and Mr. Randolph stooped and
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Mr. Randolph read, and went and threw himself on his sofa again. Daisy
came beside him. A wistful earnestness in the one face; a careless sort
of embarrassment on the other.
"You are led astray, little Daisy, by a common mistake of ignorant
readers. You fancy that these words are to be taken literally--whereas
they mean simply that we should cultivate a thankful spirit. That, of
course, I agree to."
"But, papa," said Daisy, "is a thankful spirit the same thing quite as
"It is a much better thing, Daisy, in my opinion."
"But, papa, would not a thankful spirit like to _give_ thanks?"
"I have no objection, Daisy."
The tears came into Daisy's eyes. Her mother _had_.
"Well? Let us get to the end of this difficulty if we can."
"I am afraid we cannot, papa. Because if you had told me to do a thing
so, you would mean it just so, and I should do it."
Mr. Randolph wrapped his arms round Daisy and brought her close to his
breast. "Look here, Daisy," said he--"tell me. Do you really try to give
thanks everywhere, and for all things, as the word says?"
"I do not _try_, papa--I like to do it."
"Do you give thanks for _everything_?"
"I think I do, papa; for everything that gives me pleasure."
"For Mrs. Sandford's invitation to-day, for instance?"
"O yes, papa," said Daisy smiling.
He brought the little head down within reach of his lips and kissed it a
good many times.
"I wish my little Daisy would not think so much."
"I think only to know what is right to do, papa."
"It is right to mind mamma and me, and let us think for you."
"And the Bible, papa?"
"You are quite growing an old woman a good while before the time."
Daisy kissed him with good child-like kisses, laying her little head in
his neck and clasping her arms around him; for all that, her heart was
"Papa," she said, "what do you think is right for me to do?"
"Thinking exhausts me, Daisy. It is too hot to-day for such an
Daisy drew back and looked at him, with one hand resting on his
shoulder. She did not dare urge any more in words; her look spoke her
anxious, disappointed questioning of her father's meaning. Perhaps he
did not care to meet such a gaze of inquiry, for he pulled her down
again in his arms.
"I do not want you to be an old woman."
"But, papa--that is not the thing."
"I will not have it, Daisy."
"Papa," she said with a small laugh, "what shall I do to help it? I do
not know how I came to be an old woman."
"Go off and play with Nora Dinwiddie. Are you ready to go?"
"Yes, papa--except my hat and gloves."
"Do not think anymore to-day. I will think for you by and by. But Daisy,
why should you and I set ourselves up to be better than other people?"
"Do you know anybody else that lives up to your views on the subject of
"O yes, papa."
Daisy softly said, "Juanita does, papa, I think."
"A poor ignorant woman, Daisy, and very likely full of superstitions.
Her race often are."
"What is a superstition, papa?"
"A religious notion which has no foundation in truth."
"Then papa, can it be superstition to do just what God tells us to do?"
"You are too deep for me, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph languidly. "Go and
get ready for Dr. Sandford. He will be here presently."
So Daisy went, feeling very uncertain of the result of her talk, but
doubtful and discouraged. Mr. Randolph had a book in hand when she
returned to the library: she could not speak to him any more; and soon
indeed the doctor came, helped her into his gig, and drove off with her.
Now it was pleasant. The fine gravelled roads in the grounds of
Melbourne were in beautiful order after the rain; no dust rose yet, and
all the trees and flowers were in a refreshed state of life and
sweetness. Truly it was a very hot day, but Daisy found nothing amiss.
Neither, apparently, did the doctor's good horse. He trotted along
without seeming to mind the sun; and Daisy in a good deal of glee
enjoyed everything. It was private glee--in her own mind; she did not
offer any conversation; and the doctor, of Mr. Randolph's mind, perhaps,
that it was a warm day, threw himself back in his seat and watched her
lazily. Daisy on the contrary sat up and looked busily out. They drove
in the first place for a good distance through her own home grounds,
coming out to the public road by the church where Mr. Pyne preached, and
near which the wintergreens grew. It looked beautiful this morning, with
its ivy all washed and fresh from the rain. Indeed all nature was in a
sort of glittering condition. When they came out on the public way it
was still beautiful; no dust, and fields and grass and trees all
The road they travelled now was one scarce known to Daisy; the carriages
from Melbourne never went that way; another was always chosen at the
beginning of all their excursions whether of business or pleasure. No
gentlemen's seats were to be seen; an occasional farmhouse stood in the
midst of its crops and meadows; and more frequently a yet poorer sort of
house stood close by the roadside. The road in this place was sometimes
rough, and the doctor's good horse left his trot and picked his way
slowly along, giving Daisy by this means an opportunity to inspect
everything more closely. There was often little pleasure in the
inspection. About half a mile from the church, Daisy's attention was
drawn by one of these poor houses. It was very small, unpainted and
dreary-looking, having a narrow courtyard between it and the road. As
the gig was very slowly going past, Daisy uttered an exclamation, the
first word she had uttered in a long while.
"O Dr. Sandford!--what is that? Something is the matter!"
"No," said the doctor coolly, "nothing is the matter--more than usual."
"But a woman was on her hands and knees on the ground? wasn't it a
"Yes. She cannot move about in any other way. She is a cripple."
"She cannot stand up?" said Daisy, looking distressed and horrified.
"No. She has no use of her lower limbs. She is accustomed, to it, Daisy;
she never had the use of them, or never for a very long while."
"Is she _old_?"
"Pretty old, I fancy. But she does not know her age herself, and nobody
else knows it."
"Has she got nice people to take care of her?"
The doctor smiled at the earnest little face. "She has nobody."
"No one to take care of her?" said Daisy.
"No. She lives there alone."
"But, Dr. Sandford, how does she do--how does she manage?"
"In some way that would be difficult for you and me to understand, I
suppose--like the ways of the beavers and wasps."
"I can understand _those_" said Daisy, "they were made to get along as
they do; they have got all they want."
Daisy was silent, musing, for a little time; then she broke out again.
"Isn't she very miserable, Dr. Sandford?"
"She is a very crabbed old thing, so the inference is fair that she is
miserable. In fact, I do not see how she can avoid it."
Daisy pondered perhaps this misery which she could so little imagine;
however she let the subject drop as to any more words about it. She was
only what the doctor called "quaintly sober," all the rest of the way.
"Why she looks child-like and bright enough now," said Mrs. Sandford, to
whom he made the remark. Daisy and Nora were exchanging mutual
gratulations. The doctor looked at them.
"At the rate in which she is growing old," said he, "she will have the
soul of Methusaleh in a body of twenty years."
"I don't believe it," said Mrs. Sandford.
Nora and Daisy had a great day of it. Nothing broke the full flow of
business and pleasure during all the long hours; the day was not hot to
them, nor the shadows long in coming. Behind the house there was a deep
grassy dell through which a brook ran. Over this brook in the dell a
great black walnut tree cast its constant flickering shadow; flickering
when the wind played in the leaves and branches, although to-day the air
was still and sultry, and the leaves and the shadows were still too, and
did not move. But there was life enough in the branches of the old
walnut, for a large family of grey squirrels had established themselves
there. Old and young, large and small; it was impossible to tell, by
counting, how many there might be in the family; at least now while they
were going in and out and running all over; but Nora said Mrs. Sandford
had counted fifteen of them at one time. That was in cold weather, when
they had gathered on the piazza to get the nuts she threw to them. This
kind of intercourse with society had made the squirrels comparatively
tame, so that they had no particular objections to shew themselves to
the two children; and when Nora and Daisy kept quiet they had great
entertainment in watching the gambols of the pretty grey creatures. One
in particular, the mother of the family, Nora said, was bolder or more
familiar than the rest; and came often and came pretty near, to look at
the children with her bright little eyes, and let them see her beautiful
feathery tail and graceful motions. It was a great delight to Daisy.
Nora had seen them before, as she said, and did not care quite so much
about the sight.
"I wonder what use squirrels are?" said Daisy.
"I guess they are not of any use," said Nora.
"O, I guess everything is of use."
"Why no it isn't," said Nora. "Grass is not of any use."
"O Nora! Think--what would the cows and horses do?"
"Well, then, stones are not of any use."
"Yes they are--to build houses--don't you know?"
"Houses might be built of wood," said Nora.
"So they might. But then, Nora, wooden houses would not last so long as
"Well--people could build new ones."
"But houses might be wanted where there was not wood enough to build
"I never saw such a place," said Nora. "I never saw a place where there
was not wood enough. And if there is such a place anywhere, people could
not live in it, because they would have nothing to make fires with."
"But Nora, I think it cannot be so. I guess everything is made for some
use. Dr. Sandford told me yesterday what the use is of those queer brown
leaves that grow upon rocks--you know--and the use of little mosses,
that I never thought before were good for anything. They are to begin
to prepare a place on the rocks where things can grow."
"Why, they grow themselves," said Nora.
"Yes, but I mean other things--ferns and flowers and other things."
"Well, what is the use of _them_?" said Nora.
"O Nora--just think how pretty they are."
"But prettiness isn't use."
"I think it is," said Daisy; "and I dare say they have other uses that
we do not know. And I think, Nora, that God would not have taken such
care to dress up the old rocks if the rocks were no good."
"Did He do it?" said Nora.
"Why, certainly. He did everything, you know."
"Of course; but I thought they just grew," said Nora.
The children were silent a little, watching the squirrels. Daisy began
"Nora, did you ever see that crippled woman that lives on the mill road
a little way from our church?"
"Old Molly Skelton, do you mean?"
"I do not know what her name is--she cannot walk; she creeps about as if
she had no legs."
"I've seen her. Isn't she horrid?"
"Did you ever see her near by?"
"No, I guess I haven't. I have heard Duke tell about her."
"What? do tell me."
"O she's a horrid old thing--that is all I know."
"Why, she is wicked, and she don't know anything. She would hardly
listen to Marmaduke when, he wanted to talk to her."
"Has she got a Bible, I wonder?" said Daisy in an awestruck voice.
"She? She can't read. She don't know anything; and she is as ugly and
cross as she can be."
"Was she cross to Mr. Dinwiddie?"
"Yes, indeed. He said he never saw such a crabbed old thing. O she's
horrid. I don't like to ride by that way."
The children were called in to dinner, and kept in the house by Mrs.
Sandford during the intensest heat of the day. But when the afternoon
was cooling off, or at least growing less oppressive, the two children
again sought the shade under the walnut tree, where the gurgle of the
water over the stones, and the company of the squirrels in the tree,
made the place pleasant. And there they sat down in a great state of
mutual contentment. Nora's feet were swinging about for very jollity.
But Daisy sat still. Perhaps she was tired. Nevertheless it could not be
that which made her little face by and by take on it as profound an
expression as if she had been looking over all Methuselah's years.
"Nora--" said Daisy, and stopped.
"What?" said Nora, kicking her heels.
"You know that poor old crippled woman--what did you call her?"
"Suppose you were in her place--what do you think you would wish for?"
"In her place!" said Nora. "I should wish for everything."
"Yes, but I mean, things that you could have."
"I should wish some doctor would come and make me straight, the first
thing; and then--"
"No, Nora, but I mean, things that might be possible, you know. I do not
mean things like a fairy tale."
"I don't know," said Nora. "I don't believe Molly Skelton wishes for
"But what would _you_ wish for, in her place?"
"I should want to be straight, and stand and go about like other
"Yes, Nora, but I say! I mean, what would you wish for that would not
"Why, Daisy, how funny! Let me see. I should wish that somebody would
come and be good to me, I think."
"O--tell me stories and read to me, and take tea with me--and I don't
"Do you suppose nobody ever does take tea with her?" said Daisy, upon
whose fancy a new shadow of wretchedness darkened.
"I guess not," said Nora. "I don't believe anybody would. I guess nobody
likes her well enough, she is so bad."
"Who gets her tea for her then?"
"Why nobody. She does it herself."
"How _can_ she?"
"I don't know. Marmaduke says she keeps her house clean too, though she
only goes about on her hands and knees."
"Nora," said Daisy, "that isn't like the Bible."
"Don't you remember what the Bible says? that whatever we would like
other people to do to us, we should do so to them."
"What do you mean, Daisy?"
"I mean just so."
"But what isn't like the Bible?"
"Why--to let that poor old woman go without what we would like if we
were in her place."
"Why Daisy! Molly Skelton! The Bible does not mean that we ought to go
and make visits to such horrid people as that."
"You said you would like it if you were in her place," observed Daisy,
"and I know _I_ should. I thought so when you told me."
"But, Daisy, she is wicked!"
"Well, Jesus loves wicked people," said Daisy calmly. "Maybe she will
wear a white robe in heaven, and have a crown of gold upon her head."
"Daisy!--she is wicked," exclaimed Nora indignantly. "Wicked people do
not go to heaven."
"Yes, but if Jesus gives them his white robe, they do," said Daisy. "He
came to save wicked people."
"I don't want to talk any more about Molly Skelton," said Nora. "Look,
Daisy!--there's the old mother squirrel peeping out of her hole. Do you
see? Now she is coming out--see her black eyes! now there's her
beautiful feather tail!"--
This subject was to the full as interesting to Daisy as it was to her
friend; and in watching the grey family in the walnut tree and trying to
induce them to come near and get some almonds, the rest of the afternoon
flew by. Only the "mother squirrel" could be tempted near; but she,
older in experience and wisdom than her young ones, did venture into the
neighbourhood of the children, attracted by the nuts they threw down;
and getting pretty close to them, before she would venture quite so far
as where the nuts lay, she sat down on her haunches to look and see
whether all were safe; curling her thick, light plume of a tail up along
her back, or whisking it about in various lines of beauty, while her
bright little black eyes took all the observations they were equal to.
It was unending amusement for the children; and then to see Mrs. Bunny
finally seize an almond and spring away with it, was very charming. So
the afternoon sped; nor ever brought one moment of weariness, until the
summons came to bid the children into the house again to tea.
After tea the doctor took Daisy in his gig and drove her home. The drive
was unmarked by a single thing; except that just as they were passing
the cripple's house Daisy broke silence and asked,
"Is that woman--Molly Skelton--is she very poor, Dr. Sandford?"
"If to live on charity be poor. I do not suppose the neighbours let her
"Is she cross to everybody, Dr. Sandford?"
"She has the name of it, I believe, Daisy. I really do not remember
whether she was cross to me or not."
"Then you know her?"
"Yes. I know everybody."
The family at Melbourne were found just taking their late tea as the
doctor and Daisy entered. They were met with complaints of the heat;
though Daisy thought the drawing room was exceeding pleasant, the air
came in at the long windows with such gentle freshness from the river.
The doctor took a cup of tea and declared the day was excellent if you
only rode fifty miles through the heat of it.
"Coolness is coolness, after that," he said.
Daisy sat in a corner and wondered at the people. Hot? and suffocating?
she had no recollection of any such thing all day. How delicious it had
been in that green dell under the walnut tree, with the grey squirrels!
"How has it been with you, Daisy?" said her aunt at last.
"Nice, aunt Gary."
Two or three people smiled; Daisy's favourite word came out with such a
dulcet tone of a smooth and clear spirit. It was a syrup drop of
sweetness in the midst of flat and acid qualities.
"It has been satisfactory, has it?" said her aunt, in a tone which did
not share the character. "Come here, Daisy--I have got something for
you. You know I robbed you a little while ago, and promised to try to
find something to make amends. Now come and see if I have done it.
Preston, fetch that box here."
A neat wooden case of some size was brought by Preston, and set at his
mother's feet. Mrs. Gary unlocked it, and went on to take out of its
enveloping coverings a very elegant French doll; a real empress Eugenie.
The doll's face was even modelled into some likeness to the beauty she
was named after; a diadem sat gracefully on her head, and her robes were
a miniature imitation of royalty, but very exquisitely fashioned.
Everybody exclaimed at the perfection of the beautiful toy, except Daisy
herself, who stood quite still and quiet looking at it. Mrs. Gary had
not done yet. The empress had a wardrobe; and such variety and elegance
and finish of attire of all sorts rarely falls to the lot of a doll. A
very large wardrobe it was, and every article perfectly finished and
well made as if meant for actual wear. Mrs. Gary displayed her present;
Daisy looked on, standing by her father's knee and with one hand resting
"Have you nothing to say to express your pleasure, Daisy?"--This was
Mrs. Randolph's question.
Daisy at the word pronounced a sober "thank you, aunt Gary." But it was
so very sober and passionless that Mrs. Randolph grew impatient.
"I do not hear you express any pleasure, Daisy," she said meaningly.
Daisy turned her face towards her mother with a doubtful look, and was
"Speak!" said Mrs. Randolph.
"Whatever you choose, to shew your sense of your aunt's kindness."
"Do not concern yourself, my dear," said her sister. "I am sorry if I
have failed in meeting Daisy's taste--that is all."
"Daisy, speak, or leave the room"--said Mrs. Randolph.
"Mamma," said Daisy, pushed into a corner, "I would speak, but I do not
know what to say."
"Tell your aunt Gary she has given you a great deal of pleasure."
Daisy looked again mutely at her mother, somewhat distressed.
"Tell her so, Daisy!" Mrs. Randolph repeated in a tone of command.
"I cannot, mamma--" the child answered sorrowfully.
"Do you mean to tell your aunt that her exquisite present gives you _no_
"I did not intend to tell her so," Daisy answered in a low voice.
Another storm rising! Storms seemed to get up very easily in these days.
"My dear," said Mrs. Gary, "do not concern yourself. It is not of the
least consequence, as far as I am concerned. Preston, remove this box.
If Daisy chooses to receive it, perhaps it will find more favour at
Mrs. Gary got up and moved off.
"Mr. Randolph, I will trouble you to dismiss Daisy," said his wife. "If
she cannot behave properly she cannot be in the room with me."
Daisy was still standing with her hand on her father's knee. The other
little hand came for a moment across her brows and rested there; but she
would not cry; her lip did not even tremble.
"First let me understand," said her father; and he lifted Daisy on his
knee kindly. "Daisy, I never saw you uncivil before."
"Papa, I am very sorry--" said the child.
"Can you explain it?"
"Papa, I would have been civil if I could; but I had nothing to say."
"That is the very place where a person of good manners shews himself
different from a person who has no manners at all. Good manners finds
something to say."
"But, papa, there was nothing _true_."
"The doll gave you no pleasure?"
"No, papa," said Daisy low.
"And you felt no obligation for the thoughtfulness and kindness of your
aunt in getting for you so elegant a present?"
Daisy hesitated and flushed.
"Daisy, answer," said her father gravely.
"No, papa,"--Daisy said low as before.
"Papa," said Daisy with a good deal of difficulty and hesitation--"that
is all passed--I do not want to say anything more about it."
"About--papa, I do not think mamma would like to have me talk about it."
"Go on, Daisy.--About what?"
"All that trouble we had, papa."
"What I want to know is, why you did not feel grateful for your aunt's
kindness just now, which she had been at some pains to shew you."
"Papa," said Daisy wistfully,--"it was not kindness--it was pay; and I
did not want pay."
"Pay? For what?"
"For my Egyptian spoon, papa."
"I do not understand what you are talking of, Daisy."
"No, papa," said Daisy; so simply shewing her wish that he should not as
well as her knowledge that he did not, that Mr. Randolph could not
"But I mean to understand it," he said.
"It was my old Egyptian spoon, papa; the doll was meant to be pay for
A little explanation was necessary in order to bring to Mr. Randolph's
mind the facts Daisy referred to, the spoon itself and the time and
occasion when it was bestowed on her.
"Did you give your Egyptian spoon to your aunt Gary?"
"I said she might have it, papa."
"In exchange for this doll?"
"O no, papa--not in exchange for anything. I did not want any exchange."
"If I remember, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph, "your aunt Gary desired to
have that spoon the very day it was given to you; and I thought you did
not wish she should have it?"
"No, papa--so I didn't."
"Your mind changed afterward?"
"I do not think my mind changed," said Daisy slowly--"but I was willing
she should have it."
"Daisy, this whole affair is a mystery to me yet. In this case, why was
it not kind in your aunt to bestow this French doll upon you? it seems
to me very kind."
"Yes papa--you do not understand."
"Make me understand. Daisy, I command you to tell me all that you have
not told me. You need not think of anything now, except my command."
Daisy did, perhaps; for now her lip quivered slightly; and for a moment
she hid her face in her father's bosom. Mr. Randolph wrapped his arms
round her and stooped his head to hear the story which Daisy was
obliged to give. She gave it fully, and he heard it quite through in
silence. And he made no observation upon it when it was finished; he
only asked her,
"Was there no resentment in your refusal of thanks to your aunt just
"No, papa"--said Daisy; with too sweet and artless utterance for him to
"But then, Daisy, we come back to the cause of your mother's
displeasure. Good breeding requires that people should not be rude, even
"Papa, I did not know how to be polite with truth."
"You could have said you were very much obliged to your aunt."
"But, I was _not_, papa."
"Not obliged to her?"
"But, Daisy, that is a civil form, of expression which it is usual to
avail oneself of upon such occasions. It does not necessarily mean
"But, papa, would she not have thought I meant it, if I had said so?"
"Very likely. That is the polite advantage gained."
"But papa. _I_ should have known that I did not mean it; and it would
not have been true."
"This is getting to be too deep a question for you to discuss
to-night--it is time for you to go to bed. But I cannot have you rude."
Daisy kissed her father, who had been extremely gentle and tender with
her, and went off to her room. Mr. Randolph's brow looked moody.
"Have you brought Daisy's ideas into order?" asked his wife, who had
been engaged in conversation with Dr. Sandford.
"She has rather brought confusion into mine," said the gentleman.
"What is the matter?"
"Truth and Daisy, versus civility and the world. And it is not easy to
make a child comprehend some of the fine distinctions we are accustomed
to draw. White and black are _very_ white and black, to such eyes, and
no allowance is made for a painter's lights and shades."
"She must make allowance for what your eyes see," said Mrs. Randolph.
Mr. Randolph made no answer.
"Daisy is entirely changed," her mother went on,--"and is become
utterly obstinate and unmanageable. Perfectly self-important too--she
thinks there is no wisdom now but her own. I may thank you for it, Dr.
"You do me too much honour," said the doctor.
"It is an honour you share with Mr. Dinwiddie."
"I did not know I shared anything with Mr. Dinwiddie."
"He has infected the child with a set of perfectly fanatical notions;
and you persisted in keeping her under that creature's care, where they
had time to grow strong."
"I will do all I can to repair mischief done," said the doctor. "Mrs.
Benoit is a good nurse for the body and you will bear me witness it was
for repairs of _that_ I was called in. What is the other damage referred
"Rather young for that disease to take deep root," said the doctor.
"Anything takes deep root in Daisy; whatever she takes up she holds to."
"I advise you to let her be fanatical then a little while longer," said
the doctor, "till she has time to lay up some strength."
And the doctor took his departure.
"I am sure that is wise counsel, Felicia," Mr. Randolph said. But the
lady made him no answer.
Ransom went off to school the next day, as his father had promised.
Mrs. Randolph looked very gloomy; Mrs. Gary looked not otherwise; and
Daisy thought the mental and social horizon foreboded stormy weather.
But very happily, as it seemed to her, before dinner there was an
arrival of some expected visitors, coming to stay for a time in the
house. They had been desired as well as expected; there was a famous
lady and a learned gentleman among them; and every eye and ear were
taken up with attending to their words or waiting upon their movements.
Daisy and her concerns were, she thought, forgotten.
She enjoyed the feeling of this for a little while; and then ordered her
pony chaise. And presently you might have seen a little figure in a
white frock come out upon the front steps, with a large flat on her head
and driving gloves on her hands and in one of them a little basket. Down
the steps she came and took her place in the chaise and gathered up the
reins. The black pony was ready, with another boy in place of Sam;
nobody interfered with her; and off they went, the wheels of the little
chaise rolling smoothly over the gravel, Loupe in a gentle waddling
trot, and Daisy in a contented state of mind. It was very pleasant!
Clear sunny air, yet not too hot, and the afternoon shadows beginning to
make all things look lovely. Daisy took the way to the church, passed
out upon the high road, and turned the pony's head in the direction
which she had taken with Dr. Sandford the day before. She did not go
quite so fast, however; so that it was a little time before she came in
sight of the poor old house which she recognized as Molly Skelton's.
Daisy drew the reins then and let Loupe walk slowly up a slight ascent
in the road which led to it. But when the chaise was fairly opposite the
house door, Daisy drew the reins still more and brought Loupe to a
stand-still. She peered forth then anxiously to see if the poor old
inmate of the house were to be seen anywhere.
As she looked, the house door opened; and with a very straitened and
touched heart Daisy watched the crippled old creature come from within,
crawl down over the door step, and make her slow way into the little
path before the house. A path of a few yards ran from the road to the
house door, and it was bordered with a rough-looking array of flowers.
Rough-looking, because they were set or had sprung up rather confusedly,
and the path between had no care but was only worn by the feet of
travellers and the hands and knees of the poor inhabitant of the place.
Yet some sort of care was bestowed on the flowers themselves, for no
weeds had been suffered to choke them; and even the encroaching grass
had been removed from trespassing too nearly on their little occupation
of ground. The flowers themselves shot up and grew as they had a mind.
Prince's feather was conspicuous, and some ragged balsams. A few yellow
marigolds made a forlorn attempt to look bright, and one tall sunflower
raised its great head above all the rest; proclaiming the quality of the
little kingdom where it reigned. The poor cripple moved down a few
steps from the house door, and began grubbing with her hands around the
roots of a bunch of balsams.
Daisy looked a minute or two, very still, and then bade the boy hold her
pony; while without troubling herself about his mystification she got
out of the chaise, and basket in hand, opened the wicket and softly went
up the path. The neat little shoes and spotless white dress were close
beside the poor creature grubbing there in the ground before she knew
it, and there they stood still; Daisy was a good deal at a loss how to
speak. She was not immediately perceived; the head of the cripple had a
three-cornered handkerchief thrown over it to defend it from the sun and
she was earnestly grubbing at the roots of her balsam; the earth-stained
fingers and the old brown stuff dress, which was of course dragged along
in the dirt too, made a sad contrast with the spotless freshness of the
little motionless figure that was at her side, almost touching her.
Daisy concluded to wait till she should be seen, and then speak, though
how to speak she did not very well know and she rather dreaded the
It came, when in throwing her weeds aside a glance of the cripple saw,
instead of stones and grass, two very neat and black and well shaped
little shoes planted there almost within reach of her hand. She drew
herself back from the balsam and looked sideways up, to see what the
shoes belonged to. Daisy saw her face then; it was a bad face; so
disagreeable that she looked away from it instantly to the balsams.
"What are you doing to your flowers?" she asked gently. The gentle
little child voice seemed to astonish the woman, although after an
instant she made surly answer,--
"Whose business is it?"
"Wouldn't it be easier," said Daisy, not looking at her, "if you had
something to help you get the weeds up? Don't you want a fork, or a hoe,
"I've got forks," said the cripple sullenly. "I use 'em to eat with."
"No, but I mean, something to help you with the weeds," said
Daisy--"that sort of fork, or a trowel."
The woman spread her brown fingers of both hands, like birds' claws,
covered with the dirt in which she had been digging. "I've got forks
enough," she said savagely--"them's what goes into my weeds. Now go
The last words were uttered with a sudden jerk, and as she spoke them
she plunged her hands into the dirt, and bringing up a double handful
cast it with a spiteful fling upon the neat little black shoes. Woe to
white stockings, if they had been visible; but Daisy's shoes came up
high and tight around her ankle, and the earth thrown upon them fell off
easily again; except only that it lodged in the eyelet holes of the boot
lacing and sifted through a little there, and some had gone as high as
the top of the boot and fell in. Quite enough to make Daisy
uncomfortable, besides that the action half frightened her. She quitted
the ground, went back to her pony chaise without even attempting to do
anything with the contents of her basket. Daisy could go no further with
her feet in this condition. She turned the pony's head and drove back to
"Will I take him to the stable, Miss Daisy?" inquired the boy, as Daisy
got out at the back door.
"No. Just wait a little for me, Lewis."
Up stairs went Daisy; took off her boots and got rid of the soil they
had brought home; that was the first thing. Then, in spotless order
again, she went back to Lewis and inquired where Logan was at work.
Thither she drove the pony chaise.
"Logan," said Daisy coming up to him; she had left Loupe in Lewis's
care; "what do you use to help you get up weeds?"
"Maybe a hoe, Miss Daisy; or whiles a weeding fork."
"Have you got one here?"
"No, Miss Daisy. Was it a fork you were wanting?"
"Yes, I want one, Logan."
"And will you be wanting it noo?"
"Yes, I want it now, if you please."
"Bill, you go home and get Miss Daisy one o' them small hand forks--out
o' that new lot--them's slenderer."
"And Logan, I want another thing. I want a little rose bush--and if you
can, I want it with a rose open or a bud on it."
"A rose bush!" said Logan. "Ye want it to be set some place, nae doute?"
"Yes, I do; but I want to set it out myself, Logan; so it must not be
_too_ big a bush, you know, for I couldn't manage it."
"Perhaps Miss Daisy had better let me manage it. It's dirty work, Miss
"No; I only want the rose bush. I will take care of it, Logan. Have you
got one that I can have?"
"Ou, ay, Miss Daisy! there's a forest of rose bushes; ye can just please
"Where is it?"
Seeing his little mistress was greatly in earnest and must be presently
satisfied, Logan cast a wistful glance or two at his own proper work in
hand which he was abandoning, and walked away with Daisy. The flower
garden and nursery were at some distance; but Daisy trudged along as
patiently as he. Her little face was busy-looking now and eager, as well
as wise; but no tinge of colour would yet own itself at home in those
pale cheeks. Logan glanced at her now and then and was, as she said,
"very good." He thought he was about the best business, after all, that
could occupy him. He directed his steps to a great garden that yet was
not the show garden, but hid away behind the plantations of trees and
shrubbery. There were a vast number of plants and flowers here, too; but
they were not in show order, and were in fact only the reserve stock,
for supplying vacancies or preparing changes or especially for
furnishing cut flowers to the house; of which a large quantity must
every day be sent in. There was a very nursery of rose trees, smaller
and larger. Logan peered about, very particular in his own line as to
how every thing should be done; at last he found and chose just the
right thing for Daisy. A slender, thrifty young plant, with healthy
strong leaves and shoots, and at the top a bud shewing red and a half
opened sweet rose. Daisy was quite satisfied.
"Now where is it going, Miss Daisy?" Logan inquired.
"I am going to plant it out myself, Logan; it is going in a place--where
I want it."
"Surely! but does Miss Daisy know how to plant a rose tree?"
"Won't you tell me how, Logan?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, there must be a hole dug for it, in the first place;
you must take a trowel and make a hole for it--But your dress will be
the waur!" he exclaimed, glancing at his little mistress's spotless
"Never mind; only go on and tell me exactly how to manage, Logan."
"Does Miss Daisy intend to do it this afternoon?"
"Aweel, you must take a trowel and make a hole," said Logan, nipping off
some useless buds and shoots from the plants in his neighbourhood as he
was speaking--"and be sure your hole is deep as it should be; and make
the bottom soft with your trowel, or throw in a little earth, well
broken, for the roots to rest on"------
"How shall I know when my hole is deep enough?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, it depends on the haighth of the roots--ye must even
try and see till ye get it deep enough; but whatever ye do, keep the
crown of the plant above ground."
"And what is the crown of the plant, Logan?"
Logan stooped down and put his fingers to the stem of a rose tree.
"It's just called the crown o' the plant, Miss Daisy, here where the
roots goes one way and the stem springs up another. Miss Daisy sees,
there's a kind o' shouther there."
"No, I don't see," said Daisy.
Logan put in his spade, and with a turn or two brought up the little
rose bush he had chosen for her purpose; and holding the ball of earth,
in his hand, shewed her the part of the plant he spoke of, just above
the surface of the soil.
"It's the most tenderest pairt of the vegetable nature," he said; "and
it must be kept out of the ground, where it can breathe, like; it won't
answer to cover it up."
"I will not," said Daisy. "Then?--"
"Then, when ye have gotten the place prepared, ye must set in this ball
of earth, as haill as ye can keep it; but if it gets broken off, as it's
like it will!--then ye must set the roots kindly in on the soft earth,
and let them lie just natural; and put in the soft earth over them; and
when ye have got a little in press it down a bit; and then more, after
the same manner, until it's all filled up."
"Why must it be pressed down?"
"Weel, Miss Daisy, it must be dune; the roots is accustomed to have the
soil tight round them, and they don't like it unless they have it so.
It's a vara good way, to have a watering pot of water and make a puddle
in the bottom of the hole, and set the roots in that and throw in the
soil; and then it settles itself all round them, and ye need not to coax
it with your fingers. But if ye don't puddle the roots, the bush must be
well watered and soaked when ye have dune."
"Very well, Logan--thank you. Now please put it in a basket for me, with
a trowel, and let me take a watering pot of water too; or Lewis can
carry that, can't he?"
"He can take whatever ye have a mind," said Logan; "but where is it
"I'll take the basket with the rose," said Daisy--"it's going a little
way--you can set it just here, in my chaise, Logan."
The gardener deposited the basket safely in the chaise, and Daisy got in
and shook the reins. Lewis, much wondering and a little disgustful, was
accommodated with a watering pot full of water, by the grinning Logan.
"See ye ride steady now, boy," he said. "Ye won't want to shew any
graces of horsemanship, the day!"
Whatever Lewis might have wanted, the necessity upon him was pretty
stringent. A watering pot full of water he found a very uncomfortable
bundle to carry on horseback; he was bound to ride at the gentlest of
paces, or inflict an involuntary cold bath upon himself every other
step. Much marvelling at the arrangement which made a carriage and
horses needful to move a rose bush, Lewis followed as gently as he could
the progress of his little mistress's pony chaise; which was much
swifter than he liked it; until his marvelling was increased by its
turning out of Melbourne grounds and taking a course up the road again.
Towards the same place! On went Daisy, much too fast for the watering
pot; till the cripple's cottage came in sight a second time. There, just
at the foot of the little rise in the road which led up to the cottage
gate, Loupe suddenly fell to very slow going. The watering pot went
easily enough for several yards; and then Loupe stopped. What was the
Something was the matter, yet Daisy did not summon Lewis. She sat quite
still, looking before her up to the cottage, with a thoughtful, puzzled,
troubled face. The matter was, that just there and not before, the
remembrance of her mother's command had flashed on her--that she should
have nothing to do with any stranger out of the house unless she had
first got leave. Daisy was stopped short. Get leave? She would never get
leave to speak again to that poor crabbed, crippled, forlorn creature;
and who else would take up the endeavour to be kind to her? Who else
would even try to win her to a knowledge of the Bible and Bible joys?
and how would that poor ignorant mortal ever get out of the darkness
into the light? Daisy did not know how to give her up; yet she could not
go on. The sweet rose on the top of her little rose tree mocked her,
with kindness undone and good not attempted. Daisy sat still, confounded
at this new barrier her mother's will had put in her way.
Wheels came rapidly coursing along the road in front of her, and in a
moment Dr. Sandford's gig had whirled past the cottage and bore down the
hill. But recognizing the pony chaise in the road, he too came to a stop
as sudden as Daisy's had been. The two were close beside each other.
"Where away, Daisy?"
"I do not understand, Dr. Sandford."
"Where are you going? or rather, why are you standing still here?"
"Because I was in doubt what to do."
"Did the doubt take you here, in the middle of the road?"
"Yes, Dr. Sandford."
"What is it, Daisy? To whom are you carrying a rose bush?"
"I am afraid--nobody."
"What is the matter--or the doubt?"
"It is a question of duty, Dr. Sandford."
"Then I will decide it for you. Go on and do what you wish to do. That
will be right."
"O no, sir," said Daisy, smiling at her adviser--"that is just what
would be wrong. I cannot."
"Do that, sir; do what I wish to do." And Daisy sighed withal.
"What do you wish to do?"
The doctor was quite serious and as usual a little imperative in his
questions, and Daisy knew him to be trusted.
"I wanted to take this little rose bush and set it out in the garden up
"_There?_? do you mean the garden of that cottage?" said the doctor
pointing with his whip.
"Are you bound thither now?"
"No, sir--I am going home."
"Rose bush and all? Daisy, let Lewis get Loupe home, and you come here
and ride with me. Come! I want you."
Truly Daisy wanted nothing else. She left rose bush and watering pot,
chaise and pony, to Lewis's management, and gladly let the doctor take
her up beside him. She liked to drive with him; he had a fine horse and
went fast; and there were other reasons.
Now they drove off in fine style; fast, over the good roads; whisked by
Melbourne, sped away along south, catching glimpses of the river from
time to time, with the hills on the further side hazily blue and
indistinct with the September haze of sunbeams. Near hand the green of
plantations and woodland was varied with brown grainfields, where grain
had been, and with ripening Indian corn and buckwheat; but more
especially with here and there a stately roof-tree or gable of some fine
new or old country house. The light was mellow, the air was good; in the
excitement of her drive Daisy half forgot her perplexity and
discomfiture. Till the doctor said, suddenly looking round at her with a
"Now I should like to know the history of that rose bush."
"O, there is no history about it," said Daisy, quite taken by surprise.
"Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end," said the doctor.
"What was the beginning of this?"
"Only, Dr. Sandford," said Daisy doubtfully,--"I was sorry for that poor
woman, after what you told me about her."
"And you thought to comfort her with rose bushes?"
"No sir,--but--I wanted to get on good terms with her."
"Are you on any other terms?"
"She does not know me, you know, sir," said Daisy lifting to her friend
a face that was beyond his comprehension,--"and I do not think she was
very well pleased to see me in her garden a little while ago."
"You have been in her garden, then?"
"Daisy, will you excuse me for asking, why you should be on any terms
whatever with Molly Skelton?"
"She is so unhappy, Dr. Sandford,"--Daisy said, looking up again.
"And do you think you can do anything to make her less unhappy?"
"I thought"--Daisy did not look up now, but the doctor watching her saw
a witnessing tinge that he knew coming about her eyelids, and a softened
line of lip, that made him listen the closer,--"I thought--I might teach
her something that would make her happy,--if I could."
"What would you teach her, Daisy?"
"I would teach her to read--perhaps--I thought; if she would like me and
"Is reading a specific for happiness?"
"No sir--but--the Bible!" Daisy said with a sudden glance. And so clear
and sure the speech of her childish eye was, that the doctor though
believing nothing of it would not breathe a question of that which she
"O that is it!" he said. "Well, Daisy, this is the beginning; but though
I came in upon the middle of the subject I do not understand it yet. Why
did not the rose tree get to its destination?"
"Because--I remembered, just when I had got to the bottom of the hill,
that mamma would not let me."
Daisy's tone of voice told more than she knew of her subdued state of
"Mrs. Randolph had forbidden you to go to Molly's cottage?"
"No sir; but she had forbidden me to speak to anybody without having her
leave. I had forgotten it till just that minute."
"Ask her leave, and then go. What is the difficulty in that, Daisy?"
"She will not give me leave, Dr. Sandford. Mamma does not like me
to----do such things."
"Do you care much about it?"
"Present your request to Mrs. Randolph to-morrow, Daisy--that is my
advice to you."
"It would be no use, Dr. Sandford."
"Perhaps not; but I advise you to take my advice; and lay the rose bush
by the heels till to-morrow afternoon."
"By the heels, sir?"
"Yes. Logan will tell you what that means."
Daisy looked with such a gaze of steadfast inquiry up in the doctor's
face, that he had hard work to command his countenance. She could not
make out anything from his face, except that somehow she got a little
encouragement from it; and then they whirled in at the gate of Melbourne
and in another minute were at home. Daisy went off to see after her
rose-bush, find Logan, and have it laid by the heels. The doctor marched
in through the hall, into the library, and then catching sight of Mr.
Randolph on the piazza, he went out there. Mr. Randolph was enjoying the
September sunlight, and seemed to be doing nothing else.
"Good afternoon!" said the doctor.
"How do you do?" said Mr. Randolph. "Can you possibly have business on
hand, doctor, in this weather?"
"Very good weather for business," said the doctor.
"Too good. It is enough to look and breathe."
All Mr. Randolph was doing, apparently. He was lounging on a settee,
with a satisfied expression of countenance. The doctor put himself in a
great cane chair and followed the direction of his host's eyes, to the
opposite river and mountains; over which there was a glory of light and
atmosphere. Came back to Mr. Randolph's face with an air of the
"It is not bad, driving."
"No, I suppose not!"
"Your little daughter likes business better than you do." A smile came
over Mr. Randolph's face, a smile of much meaning.
"She likes it too well, doctor. I wish I could infuse some degree of
nonchalant carelessness into Daisy's little wise head."
"We must deal with things as we find them," said the doctor. "I met her
this afternoon in the road, with a carriage-load of business on hand;
but what was very bad for her, it was arrested business."
"How do you mean?"
The doctor rose here to give his chair to Mrs. Randolph, who stepped out
through the library window. He fetched another for himself and went on.
"She was in the middle of the road, her chaise loaded with baskets and
greenhouse plants, and with a general distribution of garden tools
between herself and her outrider. All in the middle of the road at a
stand-still--chaise and pony and all,--and Daisy herself in particular.
I found it was an interrupted expedition, and invited Daisy to take a
ride with me; which she did, and I got at the rationale of the affair.
And I come now to make the request, as her physician, not as her friend,
that her expeditions may be as little interfered with as possible. Let
her energies work. The very best thing for her is that they should find
something to work upon, and receive no interruption."
"What interrupted her this afternoon?"
"Conscience--as I understand it."
"There is no dealing with Daisy's conscience, doctor," said Mr. Randolph
with a smile. "What _that_ says, Daisy feels herself bound to do."
"Do not burden her conscience then," said the doctor. "Not just
now--till she gets stronger."
"Where was she going this afternoon?" Mrs. Randolph asked in her calm
"On an errand of the most Utopian benevolence"--
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