Melbourne House, Volume 2
Susan Warner

Part 4 out of 7

"Having what for its object?"

"A miserable old crippled creature, who lives in a poor cottage about
half a mile from your gate."

"What was Daisy desiring to do, doctor?"

"Carry some comfort to this forlorn thing, I believe; whom nobody else
thinks of comforting."

"Do you know what shape the comfort was to take?"

"I think," said the doctor,--"I am not quite sure, but I think, it was a
rose bush."

Mr. Randolph looked at his wife and straightened himself up to a sitting

"And what hindered her, Dr. Sandford?"

"I think, some understanding that she had not liberty to go on."

"Very proper in Daisy," said Mrs. Randolph.

"That is your child who is wanting in docility," remarked Mr. Randolph.

"She might have remembered my orders before she got so far,"--said the

"I wish you would change the orders," said Dr. Sandford boldly.

"Not even to oblige you, doctor," said Mrs. Randolph. "Daisy has an idea
that the companions who are not fit for her are precisely the ones whom
she should cultivate."

"I think Daisy would state the question differently, however," Mr.
Randolph remarked.

"She has a tinge of the wildest fanaticism," Mrs. Randolph went on,
dropping her work and facing the doctor. "Wherever there are rags and
dirt, there, by force of contrast, Daisy thinks it is her business to
go. This is a miserable place, I suppose, that she was aiming for this
afternoon--is it not?"

"Very miserable. But the point is, to visit it would have made Daisy

"It is sheer fanaticism!" said Mrs. Randolph. "I cannot let her
encourage it. If I did, she would not be fit for anything by and by. She
is fit for very little now."

"You will of course judge as you please about it," said the doctor; "but
it is my duty to tell you that the danger in that line is far more than
compensated by the advantage to be gained. For Daisy's health, she
should be checked in nothing; let her go where she will and do what she
will; the more business on hand the better, that carries her out of
doors and out of herself. With a strong body and secure health, you will
find it far easier to manage fanaticism."

"I am sure Dr. Sandford is right, Felicia," said Mr. Randolph.

"I know Daisy--" said the lady.

"I think I know fanaticism," said the doctor; "and if I do, the best
thing you can do with it is to give it plenty of sun and air."

"Is it quite safe for Daisy to go to this cottage you speak of?" Mr.
Randolph asked.

"Quite safe."

"I cannot think of letting Daisy go there, Mr. Randolph!" said his wife.

"What danger do you apprehend, Felicia?"

It was not quite so easy to say. The lady handled her tetting pins,
which were in her fingers, for a moment or two in silence; then let them
fall, and raised her handsome head.

"Daisy must be withdrawn entirely from the associations which have taken
possession of her--if it is possible. The very best thing for her in my
opinion would be to send her to a boarding school. Unless you wish your
daughter to grow up a confirmed _religieuse_, Mr. Randolph. Do you wish

"I have not considered it. What do you suppose Daisy will do to harm
herself, at this place Dr. Sandford speaks of?"

"Some absurdity, that just cherishes the temper she is in."

"Quite as likely"--to wear it out, Mr. Randolph was going to say; but
some remembrance of Daisy came up and stopped him.

"Good evening!" said the doctor, rising to his feet.

"Are you going, Dr. Sandford?"


"Then you recommend that we let Daisy go to this place, and alone?"

"In my capacity of physician I should _order_ it," said the doctor with
a smile; "only, I do not like to give orders and have them dishonoured."

Off he went.

"Felicia," said Mr. Randolph, "I believe he is right."

"I am sure he knows nothing about it," said the lady.

"Do you? Daisy is very delicate."

"She will never die of want of resolution."

"Felicia, I mean to enquire into Daisy's wishes and purposes about this
matter; and if I find them unobjectionable, I shall give her leave to go
on with it."

"You do not know what you are about, Mr. Randolph."

"I shall find out, then," said the gentleman. "I would rather she would
be a _religieuse_ than a shadow."


Daisy pondered over the doctor's counsel. It was friendly; but she
hardly thought well advised. He did not know her father and mother so
well as she did. Yet she went to find out Logan that afternoon on her
return from the drive, and saw the rose-bush laid by the heels; with
perhaps just a shadow of hope in her heart that her friend the doctor
might mean to put in a plea for her somewhere. The hope faded when she
got back to the house, and the doctor was gone, and Mrs. Randolph's
handsome face looked its usual calm impassiveness. What use to ask her
such a thing as leave to go to the cripple's cottage? No use at all,
Daisy knew. The request alone would probably move displeasure. Every
look at her mother's face settled this conviction more and more deeply
in Daisy's mind; and she ended by giving up the subject. There was no
hope. She could do nothing for any poor person, she was sure, under her
mother's permission, beyond carrying soup and jelly in her pony chaise
and maybe going in to give it. And that was not much; and there were
very few poor people around Melbourne that wanted just that sort of

So Daisy gave up her scheme. Nevertheless next morning it gave her a
twinge of heart to see her rose-bush laid by the heels, exactly like her
hopes. Daisy stood and looked at it. The sweet half-blown rose at the
top of the little tree hung ingloriously over the soil, and yet looked
so lovely and smelt so sweet; and Daisy had hoped it might win poor
Molly Skelton's favour, or at least begin to open a way for it to come
in due time.

"So ye didn't get your bush planted--" said Logan coming up.


"Your hands were not strong enough to make the hole deep for it, Miss

"Yes, I think they could; but I met with an interruption yesterday,

"Weel--it'll just bide here till ye want it."

Daisy wished it was back in its old place again; but she did not like to
say so, and she went slowly back to the house. As she mounted the piazza
steps she heard her father's voice. He was there before the library

"Come here, Daisy. What are you about?" he said drawing her up in his

"Nothing, papa."

"How do you like doing nothing?"

"Papa, I think it is not at all agreeable."

"You do! So I supposed. What were you about yesterday afternoon?"

"I went to ride with Dr. Sandford."

"Did that occupy the whole afternoon?"

"O no, papa."

"Were you doing nothing the rest of the time?"

"No sir, not _nothing_."

"Daisy, I wish you would be a little more frank. Have you any objection
to tell me what you were doing?"

"No, papa;--but I did not think it would give you any pleasure. I was
only trying to do something."

"It would give me pleasure to have you tell about it."

"I must tell you more then, papa." And standing with her arm on her
father's shoulder, looking over to the blue mountains on the other side
of the river, Daisy went on.

"There is a poor woman living half a mile from here, papa, that I saw
one day when I was riding with Dr. Sandford. She is a cripple. Papa,
her legs and feet are all bent up under her, so that she cannot walk at
all; her way of moving is by dragging herself along over the ground on
her hands and knees; her hands and her gown all down in the dirt."

"That is your idea of extreme misery, is it not, Daisy?"

"Papa, do you not think it is--it must be--very uncomfortable?"

"Very, I should think."

"But that is not her worst misery. Papa, she is all alone; the
neighbours bring her food, but nobody stops to eat it with her. She is
all alone by night and by day; and she is disagreeable in her temper, I
believe, and she has nobody to love her and she loves nobody."

"Which of those two things is the worst, Daisy?"

"What two things, papa?"

"To love nobody, or to have nobody to love her?"

"Papa--I do not know." Then remembering Juanita, Daisy suddenly
added,--"Papa, I should think it must be the worst to love nobody."

"Do you? Pray why?"

"It would not make her happy, I think, to have people love her if she
did not love them."

"And you think loving others would be better, without anybody to give
love back?"

"I should think it would be very hard!"--said Daisy with a most profound
expression of thoughtfulness.

"Well--this poor cripple, I understand, lacks both those conditions of

"Yes, papa."

"What then? You were going to tell me something about her."

"Not much about _her_" said Daisy, "but only about myself."

"A much more interesting subject to me, Daisy."

You could only see the faintest expression of pleasure in the line of
Daisy's lips; she was looking very sober and a trifle anxious.

"I only thought, papa, I would try if I could not do something to make
that poor woman happier."

"What did you try?"

"The first thing was to get her to know me and like me, you know, papa;
because she is rather cross and does not like people generally, I

"So you went to see her?"

"I have never spoken much to her, papa. But I went inside of her gate
one day, and saw her trying to take care of some poor flowers; so then I
thought, maybe, if I took her a nice little rose-bush, she might like

"And then like you? Well--you tried the experiment?"

"No, papa. I did get a rose-bush from Logan and he told me how to plant
it; and I was on my way to the cottage and had almost got there; and
then I recollected mamma had said I must not speak to anybody without
her leave."

"So you came home?"

"Yes, papa. No, papa, I went to ride with Dr. Sandford."

"Have you asked leave of your mother?"

"No, papa,"--said Daisy, in a tone of voice which sufficiently expressed
that she did not intend it.

"So my dear little Daisy," said her father drawing his arm round her a
little more closely--"you think a rose-bush would serve instead of
friends to make this poor creature happy?"

"O no, papa!"

"What was the purpose of it, then?"

"Only--to get her to like me, papa."

"What were _you_ going to do to make her happy?"

"Papa, if you lived in such a place, in such a way, wouldn't you like to
have a friend come and see you sometimes?"

"Certainly!--if you were the friend."

"I thought--by and by--she might learn to like it," Daisy said in the
most sedately meek way possible. Her father could not forbear a smile.

"But Daisy, from what you tell me, I am at a loss to understand the part
that all this could have had in _your_ happiness."

"O papa--she is so miserable!" was Daisy's answer. Mr. Randolph drew her
close and kissed her.

"_You_ are not miserable?"

"No, papa--but--"

"But what?"

"I would like to give her a little bit of comfort."

There was much earnestness, and a little sorrow, in Daisy's eyes.

"I am not sure that it is right for you to go to such places."

"Papa, may I shew you something?" said the child with sudden life.

"Anything, Daisy."

She rushed away; was gone a full five minutes; then came softly to Mr.
Randolph's shoulder with an open book in her hand. It was Joanna's
Bible, for Daisy did not dare bring her own; and it was open at these

"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

"What does this mean, Daisy? It seems very plain; but what do I want
with it?"

"Only, papa, that is what makes me think it is right."

"What is right?"

"To do this, papa."

"Well but, are you in want of somebody to come and make you happy?"

"O no, papa--but if I were in her place, then I should be."

"Do you suppose this commands us to do in every case what we would like
ourselves in the circumstances?"

"Papa--I suppose so--if it wouldn't be something wrong."

"At that rate, I should have to let you go with your rose-bush," said
Mr. Randolph.

"O papa!" said Daisy, "do you think, if you asked her, mamma would
perhaps say I might?"

"Can't tell, Daisy--I think I shall try my powers of persuasion."

For answer to which, Daisy clasped her arms round his neck and gave him
some very earnest caresses, comprised in one great kiss and a clinging
of her little head in his neck for the space of half a minute. It meant
a great deal; so much that Mr. Randolph was unable for the rest of the
day to get rid of a sort of lingering echo of Daisy's Bible words; they
haunted him, and haunted him with a strange sense of the house being at
cross purposes, and Daisy's line of life lying quite athwart and
contrary to all the rest. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto
you;"--who else at Melbourne considered that for one moment?

However, Mr. Randolph had a fresh talk with his wife; the end of which
was that he gave Daisy leave to do what she liked in the matter of Molly
Skelton; and was rewarded on the spot by seeing the pink tinge which
instantly started into the pale cheeks.

No lack of energy had Daisy for the rest of that day. She went off first
to see what was the condition of her rose-bush; pretty fair; lying by
the heels seemed to agree with it quite well. Then the pony chaise was
ordered and a watering pot of water again; much to the boy's disgust who
was to carry it; and Daisy took her dinner with quiet satisfaction. So
soon as the afternoon had become pleasantly cool, Daisy's driving gloves
and hat went on, the chaise was summoned, and rose-bush and all she set
forth on her expedition. Mr. Randolph watched her off, acknowledging
that certainly for the present the doctor was right; whether in the
future Mrs. Randolph would prove to have been right also, he was
disagreeably uncertain. Still, he was not quite sure that he wished
Daisy anything other than she was.

Troubled by no fears or prognostications, meanwhile, the pony chaise and
its mistress went on their way. No, Daisy had no fears. She did doubt
what Molly's immediate reception of her advances might be; her first
experience bade her doubt; but the spirit of love in her little heart
was overcoming; it poured over Molly a flood of sunny affections and
purposes, in the warmth and glow of which the poor cripple's crabbedness
and sourness of manner and temper were quite swallowed up and lost.
Daisy drove on, very happy and thankful, till the little hill was
gained, and slowly walking up it Loupe stopped, nothing loth, before the
gate of Molly Skelton's courtyard.

A little bit of hesitation came over Daisy now, not about what was to be
done, but how to do it. The cripple was in her flowery bit of ground,
grubbing around her balsams as usual. The clear afternoon sunbeams shone
all over what seemed to Daisy all distressing together. The ragged
balsams--the coarse bloom of prince's feather and cockscomb--some
straggling tufts of ribband grass and four-o'clocks and marigolds--and
the great sunflower nodding its head on high over all; while weeds were
only kept away from the very growth of the flowers and started up
everywhere else, and grass grew irregularly where grass should not; and
in the midst of it all the poor cripple on her hands and knees in the
dirt, more uncared-for, more unseemly and unlovely than her little plot
of weeds and flowers. Daisy looked at her, with a new tide of tenderness
flowing up in her heart, along with the doubt how her mission should be
executed or how it would be received; then she gave up her reins, took
the rose-tree in her hands, and softly opened the little wicket gate.
She went up the path and stood beside the cripple, who hearing the gate
shut had risen from her grubbing in the earth and sat back looking at
who was coming. Daisy went on without hesitation now. She had prayed out
all her prayer about it before setting out from home.

"I have brought you a rose-bush," she said simply. "Do you like roses?
this is very sweet. I thought maybe you would like a rose. Where would
you like to have it go?"

The answer was a very strange sort of questioning
grunt--inarticulate--nevertheless expressive of rude wonder and
incredulity, as far as it expressed anything. And Molly stared.

"Where shall I put this rose-tree?" said Daisy. "Where would it look
prettiest? May I put it here, by these balsams?"

No answer in words; but instead of a sign of assent, the cripple after
looking a moment longer at Daisy and the rose-tree, put her hand beyond
the balsams and grubbed up a tuft of what the country people call
"creepin' Charley;" and then sitting back as before, signified to Daisy
by a movement of her hand that the rose-bush might go in that place.
That was all Daisy wanted. She fell to work with her trowel, glad enough
to be permitted, and dug a hole, with great pains and some trouble; for
the soil was hard as soon as she got a little below the surface. But
with great diligence Daisy worked and scooped, till by repeated trials
she found she had the hole deep enough and large enough; and then she
tenderly set the roots of the rose-tree in the prepared place and shook
fine soil over them, as Logan had told her; pressing it down from time
to time, until the job was finished and the little tree stood securely
planted. A great feat accomplished. Daisy stayed not, but ran off to the
road for the watering pot, and bringing it with some difficulty to the
spot without soiling herself, she gave the rose-bush a thorough
watering; watered it till she was sure the refreshment had penetrated
down to the very roots. All the while the cripple sat back gazing at
her; gazing alternately at the rose-bush and the planting, and at the
white delicate frock the child wore and the daintily neat shoes and
stockings, and the handsome flat hat with its costly riband. I think
the view of these latter things must in some degree have neutralized the
effect of the sweet rose looking at her from the top of the little bush;
because Molly on the whole was not gracious. Daisy had finished her work
and set down her empty watering pot, and was looking with great
satisfaction at the little rose-bush; which was somewhat closely
neighboured by a ragged bunch of four-o'clocks on one side and the
overgrown balsams on the other; when Molly said suddenly and gruffly,

"Now go 'long!"------

Daisy was startled, and turned to the creature who had spoken to see if
she had heard and understood aright. No doubt of it. Molly was not
looking at her, but her face was ungenial; and as Daisy hesitated she
made a little gesture of dismissal with her hands. Daisy moved a step or
two off, afraid of another shower of gravel upon her feet.

"I will come to-morrow and see how it looks"--she said gently.

Molly did not reply yes or no, but she repeated her gesture of
dismissal, and Daisy thought it best and wisest to obey. She bid her a
sweet "good bye," to which she got no answer, and mounted into her
chaise again. There was a little disappointment in her heart; yet when
she had time to think it all over she was encouraged too. The rose-tree
was fairly planted; that would keep on speaking to Molly without the
fear of a rebuff; and somehow Daisy's heart was warm towards the gruff
old creature. How forlorn she had looked, sitting in the dirt, with her
grum face!

"But perhaps she will wear a white robe in heaven!"--thought Daisy.

Seeing that the rose-tree had evidently won favour, Daisy judged she
could not do better than attack Molly again on her weak side, which
seemed to be the love of the beautiful!--in one line at least. But Daisy
was not an impatient child; and she thought it good to see first what
sort of treatment the rose-bush got, and not to press Molly too hard. So
the next day she carried nothing with her; only went to pay a visit to
the garden. Nothing was to be seen but the garden; Molly did not shew
herself; and Daisy went in and looked at the rose. Much to her
satisfaction, she saw that Molly had quite discarded the great bunch of
four-o'clocks which had given the little rose tree no room on one side;
they were actually pulled up and gone; and the rose looked out in fair
space and sunshine where its coarse-growing neighbour had threatened to
be very much in its way. An excellent sign. Molly clearly approved of
the rose. Daisy saw with great pleasure that another bud was getting
ready to open and already shewing red between the leaves of its green
calyx; and she went home happy.

Next morning she went among the flower beds, and took a very careful
survey of all the beauties there to see what best she might take for her
next attack upon Molly. The beauties in flower were so very many and so
very various and so delicious all to Daisy's eye, that she was a good
deal puzzled. Red and purple and blue and white and yellow, the beds
were gay and glorious. But Daisy reflected that anything which wanted
skill in its culture or shelter from severities of season would
disappoint Molly, because it would not get from her what would be
necessary to its thriving. Some of the flowers in bloom, too, would not
bear transplanting. Daisy did not know what to do. She took Logan into
her confidence, so far as she could without mentioning names or

"Weel, Miss Daisy," said the gardener, "if ye're bent on being a Lady
Flora to the poor creature, I'll tell ye what ye'll do--ye'll just take
her a scarlet geranium."

"A geranium?" said Daisy.

"Ay. Just that."

"But it would want to be in the greenhouse when winter comes."

"Any place where it wouldn't freeze," said Logan. "You see, it'll be in
a pot e'en now, Miss Daisy--and you'll keep it in the pot; and the pot
you'll sink in the ground till frost comes; and when the frost comes,
it'll just come up as it is and go intil the poor body's house, and make
a spot of summer for her in her house till summer comes again."

"O Logan, that is an excellent thought!"

"Ay, Miss Daisy--I'm glad ye approve it."

"And than she would have the flowers all winter."

"Ay--if she served it justly."

The only thing now was to choose the geranium. Daisy was some time about
it, there were so many to choose from. At last she suited herself with a
very splendid new kind called the "Jewess"--a compact little plant with
a store of rich purple-red blossoms. Logan murmured as he took up the
pot in which it was planted--"Less than the best will never serve ye,
Miss Daisy"--but he did not grumble about it after all, and Daisy was

She was very content when she had got it in her pony chaise and was
driving off, with the magnificent purple-red blossoms at her feet. How
exquisitely those delicate petals were painted, and marked with dashes
of red and purple deeper than the general colour. What rich clusters of
blossoms. Daisy gave only half an eye to her driving; and it was not
till she had almost reached Melbourne gate that she discovered her
trowel had been forgotten. She sent her attendant back for it and

Loupe was always willing to stand, lazy little fat fellow that he was;
and Daisy was giving her undivided attention to the purple "Jewess,"
with a sort of soft prayer going on all the while in her heart that her
errand might be blessed; when she was suddenly interrupted.

"Why where are you going, Daisy?"

"Where have you been, Preston?" said Daisy as suddenly drawing up.

"Little Yankee!" said Preston. "Answer one question by another in that
fashion? You mustn't do it, Daisy. What are you doing?"

"Nothing. I am waiting."

"What are you going to do, then?"

"I am going to drive."

"Do you usually carry a pot of geraniums for company?"

"No, not usually," said Daisy smiling at him.

"Well set out the pot of geraniums, and we will have a glorious ride,
Daisy. I am going to the Fish's, to see some of Alexander's traps; and
you shall go with me."

"O Preston--I am sorry; I cannot."


"I cannot this afternoon."

"Yes, you can, my dear little Daisy. In fact you _must_. Consider--I
shall be going away before very long, and then we cannot take rides
together. Won't you come?"

"Not now--I cannot, Preston! I have got something to do first."


"Something which will take me an hour or two. After that I could go."

"Scarcely, this afternoon. Daisy, it is a long drive to the Fish's. And
they have beautiful things there, which you would like to see, I know
you would. Come! go with me--that's my own little Daisy."

Preston was on horseback, and looked very much in earnest. He looked
very gay and handsome too, for he was well mounted and knew how to
manage himself and his horse. He wanted to manage Daisy too; and that
was difficult. Daisy would have been tempted, and would have gone with
him at the first asking; but the thought of Molly and her forlornness,
and the words warm at her heart--"Whatsoever ye would that men should do
to you"--and a further sense that her visitations of Molly were an
extraordinary thing and very likely to be hindered on short notice, kept
her firm as a rock. She had an opportunity now in hand; she would not
throw it away; not for any self-gratification. And to tell the truth, no
sort of self-gratification could balance for a moment in Daisy's mind
the thought of Molly's wearing a crown of gold in heaven. That crown of
gold was before Daisy's eyes; nothing else was worth a thought in

"Are you going to see that wretched old being?" said Preston at last.


"Daisy--dear Daisy--I do not know what to do with you. Do you like, is
it possible that you can like, dirt and vulgarity?"

"I don't think I do," Daisy said gently; "but Preston, I like the poor

"You do!" said Preston. "Then it is manifest that you cannot like me."
And he dashed spurs into his horse and sprung away, with a grace and
life that kept Daisy looking after him in admiration, and a plain mood
of displeasure which cast its shadow all over her spirit.

"Here is the trowel, Miss Daisy."

Her messenger had come back, and Daisy recalled to the business in hand
took up her reins again and drove on; but she felt deeply grieved. Now
and then her gauntleted hand even went up to her face to brush away a
tear that had gathered. It was not exactly a new thing, nor was Daisy
entirely surprised at the attempt to divert her from her purpose. She
was wise enough to guess that Preston's object had been more than the
pleasure of her company; and she knew that all at home, unless possibly
her father might be excepted, neither liked nor favoured her kindness to
Molly and would rejoice to interrupt the tokens of it. All were against
her; and Daisy's hand, went up again and again. "It is good I am weak
and not very well," she thought; "as soon as I grow strong mamma will
not let me do this any more. I must do all I can now."

So she came to the cripple's gate; and by that time the tears were all

Nobody was in the little courtyard; Daisy went in first to see how the
rose looked. It was all safe and doing well. While she stood there
before it, the cottage door opened and the poor inmate came out. She
crawled down the walk on hands and knees till she got near Daisy, and
then sat back to look at her.

"What do you want?" she said, in a most uninviting and ungracious tone
of voice.

"I came to see you," said Daisy, venturing to let her eyes rest for the
first time on those poor, restless, unloving eyes opposite her--"and I
wanted to see the rose, and I have brought you another flower--if you
will let me bring it in."

Her words were sweet as honey. The woman looked at her, and answered
again with the unintelligible grunt, of unbelieving wonder, which Daisy
had heard once before. Daisy thought on the whole the safest way was not
to talk but to fetch her beautiful "Jewess" flowers to speak for
themselves. So she ran off and brought the pot and set it on the ground
before Molly. It was a great attraction; Daisy could see that at once.
The cripple sat back gazing at it. Daisy prudently waited till her eyes
came round again from the flowers and rested on her little visiter's

"Where shall I put it?" said Daisy. "Where would you like to have it

Molly's eyes presently followed hers, roaming over the little flower
plot in search of room for the geranium, which did not appear; prince's
feather and marigolds so choked up the ground where balsams did not
straggle over it. Molly looked as Daisy did at the possibilities of the
case, looked again at the strange sweet little face which was so busy in
her garden; and then made a sudden movement. With two or three motions
of hands and knees she drew herself a few steps back to one of the
exclusive bunches of balsams, and began with her two hands to root it
up. Actually she was grubbing, might and main, at the ungainly stalks of
the balsams, pulling them up as fast as she could and flinging them
aside, careless where. Daisy came to help with her trowel, and together
they worked, amicably enough but without a word, till the task was done.
A great space was left clear, and Molly threw herself back in her wonted
position for taking observations. Daisy wasted no time. In hopeful
delight she went on to make a hole in the ground in which to sink the
pot of geraniums. It was more of a job than she thought, and she dug
away stoutly with her trowel for a good while before she had an
excavation sufficient to hold the pot. Daisy got it in at last; smoothed
the surface nicely all round it; disposed of the loose soil till the bed
was trim and neat, as far as that was concerned; and then stood up and
spoke. Warm,--how warm she was! her face was all one pink flush, but she
did not feel it, she was so eager.

"There," she said, "that will stand there nicely; and when the cold
weather comes, you can take the pot up and take it into the house, just
as it is; and if you do not let it freeze, it will have flowers for you
in the winter."

"Cold?" said Molly.

"Yes--by and by, when the cold weather comes, this must be taken up. The
cold would kill it, if it was cold enough to freeze. It would have to go
in the house. The rose can stay out all winter if you like; but this
must be kept warm. This is a geranium. And it will give you flowers in
the winter."

"J'anium?" said Molly.

"Yes. This is called the 'Jewess'--there are so many kinds that they
have to be named. This is the 'Jewess' geranium."

"Water?"--said Molly.

"Water? No, this does not need water, because the roots are in a pot,
you know, and have not been disturbed. It will want water if rain don't
come, by and by."

"What's you?" was Molly's next question, given with more directness.

"Me? I am Daisy Randolph. And I love flowers; and you love flowers. May
I come and see you sometimes? Will you let me?"

Molly's grunt this time was not unintelligible. It was queer, but there
was certainly a tone of assent in it. She sat looking now at the
"Jewess" blossoms and now at Daisy.

"And I love Jesus," the child went on. "Do you love him?"

The grunt was of pure question, in answer to this speech. Molly did not
understand. Daisy stooped down to face her on more equal terms.

"There is a great King up in heaven, who loves you, Molly. He loves you
so well that he died for you. And if you love him, he will take you
there when you die and give you a white robe and a crown of gold, and
make you blessed."

It is impossible to describe the simple earnestness of this speech.
Daisy said it, not as a philosopher nor as even a preacher would have
done; she said it as a child. As she had received, she gave. The utter
certainty and sweetness of her faith and love went right from one pair
of eyes to the other. Nevertheless, Molly's answer was only a most
ignorant and blank, "What?"--but it told of interest.

"Yes," said Daisy. "Jesus loved us so well that he came and died for
us--he shed his blood that we might be forgiven our sins. And now he is
a Great King up in heaven; and he knows all we do and all we think; and
if we love him he will make us good and take us to be with him, and give
us white robes and crowns of gold up there. He can do anything, for he
raised up dead people to life, when he was in the world."

That was a master-stroke of Daisy's. Molly's answer was again a grunt of
curiosity; and Daisy, crouching opposite to her, took up her speech and
told her at length and in detail the whole story of Lazarus. And if
Daisy was engaged with her subject, so certainly was Molly. She did not
stir hand or foot; she sat listening movelessly to the story, which came
with such loving truthfulness from the lips of her childish teacher. A
teacher exactly fitted, however, to the scholar; Molly's poor closed-up
mind could best receive any truth in the way a child's mind would offer
it; but in this truth, the undoubting utterance of Daisy's love and
belief won entrance for her words where another utterance might not.
Faith is always catching.

So Daisy told the wonderful story, and displayed the power and love and
tenderness of the Lord with the affection of one who knew him _her_
Lord, and almost with the zeal of an eye-witness of his work. It was
almost to Daisy so; it seemed to her that she had beheld and heard the
things she was telling over; for faith is the substance of things not
seen; and the grief of the sisters, and their joy, and the love and
tenderness of the Lord Jesus, were all to her not less real than they
were to the actors in that far distant drama. Molly heard her
throughout, with open mouth and marvelling eyes.

Neither of them had changed her position, and indeed Daisy had scarce
finished talking, when she heard herself hailed from the road. She
started. Preston was there on horseback, calling to her. Daisy got up
and took up her trowel.

"Good bye," she said, with a little sigh for the lost vision which
Preston's voice had interrupted--"I'll come again, I hope." And she ran
out at the gate.

"It is time for you to go home, Daisy. I thought you did not know how
late it is."

Daisy mounted into her pony chaise silently.

"Have I interrupted something very agreeable?"

"You would not have thought it so," said Daisy diplomatically.

"What were you doing, down there in the dirt?"

"Preston, if you please, I cannot talk to you nicely while you are so
high and I am so low."

Preston was certainly at some height above Daisy, being mounted up in
his saddle on a pretty high horse, while the pony chaise was hung very
near the ground. He had been beside her; but at her last words he
laughed and set off at a good pace in advance, leaving the chaise to
come along in Loupe's manner. Daisy drove contentedly home through the
afternoon sunlight, which laid bands of brightness across her road all
the way home. They seemed bands of joy to Daisy.

Preston had gallopped ahead and was at the door ready to meet her. "What
kept you so long at that dismal place?" he asked as he handed her out of
the chaise.

"You were back very soon from the Fish place, I think," said Daisy.

"Yes--Alexander was not at home; there was no use in my staying. But
what were you doing all that while, Daisy?"

"It was not so very long," said Daisy. "I did not think it was a long
time. You must have deceived yourself."

"But do you not mean to tell me what you were about? What _could_ you
do, at such a place?"

Daisy stood on the piazza, in all the light of the afternoon sunbeams,
looking and feeling puzzled. How much was it worth while to try to tell
Preston of her thoughts and wishes?

"What was the attraction, Daisy? only tell me that. Dirt and ignorance
and rudeness and disorder--and you contented to be in the midst of it!
Down in the dirt! What was the attraction?"

"She is very unhappy, Preston."

"I don't believe it. Nonsense! All that is not misery to such people,
unless you make it so by shewing them something different. Marble tables
are not the thing for them, Daisy."

"Marble tables!" echoed Daisy.

"Nor fuchsias and geraniums either. That old thing's old flowers do just
as well."

Daisy was silent. She could have answered this. Preston went on.

"She won't be any better with her garden full of roses and myrtles, than
she is with her sunflowers now. What do you expect to do, little Daisy?"

"I know what I would like if I were in her place," said Daisy.

"_You_,--but she is not you. She has not your tastes. Do you mean to
carry her a silver cup and fork, Daisy? You would certainly like that,
if you were in her place. Dear little Daisy, don't you be a mad

But Daisy had not been thinking of silver cups and forks, and she was
not misled by this argument.

"Daisy, do you see you have been under a mistake?"

"No, Preston,"--she said looking up at him.

"Daisy, do you think it is _right_ for you to go into houses and among
people where my uncle and aunt do not wish you to go? You know they do
not wish it, though they have given consent perhaps because you were so
set upon it."

Daisy glanced behind her, at the windows of the library; for they were
at the back entrance of the house; and then seizing Preston's hand and
saying, "Come with me," she drew him down the steps and over the grass
till she reached one of the garden seats under the trees, out of hearing
of any one. There they sat down; Preston curious, Daisy serious and even

"Preston"--she began with all her seriousness upon her,--"I wish I had
the book here, but I will tell you. When the Lord Jesus comes again in
glory, and all the angels with him, he will have all the people before
him, and he will separate them into two sets. One will be on the right
and one on the left. One set will be the people that belong to him, and
the other set will be the people that do not belong to him. Then he will
welcome the first set, and bless them, because they have done things to
the poor and miserable such as they would have liked to have done to
themselves. And he will say--'Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the
least of these, ye have done it unto me.'" Daisy's eyes were full of
water by this time.

"So you are working to gain heaven, Daisy?" said Preston, who did not
know how to answer her.

"O no!" said the child. "I don't mean that."

"Yes, you do."

"No,--that would be doing it for oneself, not for the Lord Jesus"--said
Daisy gravely looking at Preston.

"Then I don't see what you mean by your story."

"I mean only, that Jesus likes to have us do to other people what we
would want in their place."

"Suppose you were in my aunt and uncle's place--do you not think you
would like to have a little daughter regard their wishes?"

Daisy looked distressed.

"I think it is time to go in and get ready for dinner, Preston," she

If she was distressed, Preston was displeased. They went in without any
more words. But Daisy was not perplexed at all. She had not told
Preston her innermost thought and hope--that Molly Skelton might learn
the truth and be one of that blessed throng on the right hand in the
Great Day; but the thought and hope were glowing at her heart; and she
thought she must carry her Master's message, if not positively
forbidden, to all whom she could carry it to. Preston's meditations were

"I have tried my best," he said that evening when Daisy was gone to
bed,--"and I have failed utterly. I tried my best--and all I got was a
rebuke and a sermon."

"A sermon!" said Mrs. Randolph.

"An excellent one, aunt Felicia. It was orderly, serious, and pointed."

"And she went to that place?"

"Yes, ma'am. The sermon was afterwards."

"What do you mean, Preston! Speak intelligibly."

"Daisy did, ma'am. I am speaking sober truth, aunt Felicia."

"What is her motive in going to that horrid place? can you understand?"

"Its disagreeableness, ma'am--so far as I can make out."

"It is very singular," said Mrs. Gary.

"It is very deplorable." said Mrs. Randolph. "So at least it seems to
me. There will be nothing in common soon between Daisy and her family."

"Only that this kind of thing is apt to wear out, my dear. You have that

"No comfort at all. You do not know Daisy. She is a persistent child.
She has taken a dose of fanaticism enough to last her for years."

"I am sure nevertheless that Dr. Sandford is right in his advice," said
Mr. Randolph;--"both as a physician and as a philosopher. By far the
best way is not to oppose Daisy, and take as little notice as possible
of her new notions. They will fade out."

"I do not believe it," said the lady "I do not believe it in the least.
If she had not your support, I would have an end of this folly in a

"Indirect ways"--said Mrs. Gary--"indirect ways, my dear; those are your
best chance. Draw off Daisy's attention with other things. That is what
I would do."

And then the ladies put their heads together and concerted a scheme;
Preston joining eagerly in the discussion, and becoming the
manager-in-chief intrusted with its execution. Mr. Randolph heard, but
he gave no help and made no suggestion. He let the ladies alone.


Daisy came down to breakfast the next morning, looking so very bright
and innocent and fresh, that perhaps Mr. Randolph thought his wife and
sister were taking unnecessary trouble upon themselves. At least Mrs.
Randolph so interpreted his manner, as she saw him put his arm round
Daisy and bend down his head to hers. The gay visitors were still at
Melbourne, but they had not come down yet to breakfast that morning.

"Did you go to see your old woman yesterday?" Mr. Randolph said.

"Yes, papa."

"Did you enjoy your visit?"

"Very much, papa."

Mrs. Randolph's head made a motion of impatience, which however those
two did not see.

"How was that, Daisy? I do not comprehend in this instance the sources
of pleasure."

"Papa"--said Daisy hesitating--"I think I _gave_ pleasure."

She could not explain to him much more, but Mr. Randolph at least
understood that. He gave Daisy another kiss, which was not disapproving,
the child felt. So her breakfast was extremely happy.

She had a new plan in her head now about Molly. She wanted to get
established on the footing of a friend in that poor little house; and
she thought she had better perhaps not confine her line of advance to
the garden. After breakfast she sought the housekeeper's room, and let
Joanna know that she was in want of a nice little cake of some sort to
carry to a poor creature who could make nor buy none. Daisy was a great
favourite with Miss Underwood, especially ever since the night when she
had been summoned in her night dress to tell the child about the words
of the minister that day. Joanna never said "no" to Daisy if it was
possible to say "yes;" nor considered anything a trouble that Daisy
required. On this occasion, she promised that exactly what Daisy wanted
should be in readiness by the afternoon; and having thus secured her
arrangements Daisy went with a perfectly light heart to see what the
morning was to bring forth.

"Daisy!" shouted Preston as she was going down the piazza
steps,--"Daisy! where are you bound?"

"Out--" said Daisy, who was vaguely seeking the September sunshine.

"Well, 'out' is as good as anywhere. Wait till I get my hat. Come,
Daisy!--we have business on hand."

"What business?" said Daisy, as she was led along through the trees.

"Great business," said Preston,--"only I shall want help, Daisy--I want
a great deal of help. I cannot manage it alone. Wait till we get to a
real good place for a talk.--Here, this will do. Now sit down."

"How pretty it is to-day!" said Daisy.

For indeed the river opposite them looked a bright sheet of glass; and
the hills were blue in the morning light, and the sunshine everywhere
was delightsome. The beautiful trees of Melbourne waved overhead;
American elms hung their branches towards the ground; lindens stood in
masses of luxuriance; oaks and chestnuts spotted the rolling ground with
their round heads; and English elms stood up great towers of green. The
September sun on all this and on the well kept greensward; no wonder
Daisy said it was pretty. But Preston was too full of his business.

"Now, Daisy, we have got a great deal to do!"

"Have we?" said Daisy.

"It is this. Aunt Felicia has determined that she will give a party in
two or three weeks."

"A party! But I never have anything to do with parties--mamma's

"No. But with this one I think you have."

"How can I?" said Daisy. She was very pleasantly unconcerned as yet, and
only enjoying the morning and Preston and the trees and the sunshine.

"Why, little Daisy, I have got to furnish part of the entertainment; and
I can't do it without you."

Daisy looked now.

"Aunt Felicia wants me to get up some tableaux."

"Some what?" said Daisy.

"Tableaux. Tableaux vivants. Pictures, Daisy; made with living people."

"What do you mean, Preston?"

"Why we will choose some pictures, some of the prettiest pictures we can
find; and then we will dress up people to represent all the figures, and
place them just as the figures are grouped in the engraving; and then
they look like a most beautiful large painted picture."

"But pictures do not move?"

"No more do the people. They hold still and do not stir, any more than
if they were not real."

"I should think they would look like people though, and not like a
picture," said Daisy. "No matter how still you were to keep, I should
never fancy you were painted."

"No," said Preston laughing; "but you do not understand. The room where
the spectators are is darkened, and the lights for the picture are all
set on one side, just as the light comes in the picture; and then it all
looks just right. And the picture is seen behind a frame too, of the
folding doors or something."

Daisy sat looking at Preston, a little curious but not at all excited.

"So I shall want your help, Daisy."

"About what?"

"First, to choose what pictures we will have. We must look over all the
books of engravings in the house, and see what would do. Shall we go at

Daisy consented. They repaired to the library and took position by a
large portfolio of engravings.

"'Fortitude'! Capital!" cried Preston as he turned over the first sheet
in the portfolio. "Capital, Daisy! That's for you. You would make an
excellent 'Fortitude.'"

"I!--" said Daisy.

"Capital--couldn't be better. This is Sir Joshua Reynolds'
'Fortitude'--and you will do for it wonderfully well. You have half the
look of it now. Only you must be a little more stern."

"Why must Fortitude look stern?" said Daisy.

"O, because she has hard work to do, I suppose."

"What is Fortitude, Preston?"

"O Daisy, Daisy! are you going through life like that? Why you'll turn
all your play into work."

"Why?--But what _is_ it?"

"Fortitude? Why it is, let me see,--it is the power of endurance."

"The power of bearing pain, Daisy," said Mr. Randolph, who was walking
through the room.

"I do not think Fortitude ought to look stern."

"The old gentleman thought so. I suppose he knew. You must,
anyhow,--like the picture."

"But Preston, how could I look like that? My dresses are not made so."

"I hope not!" said Preston laughing. "But Daisy, we'll get some of aunt
Felicia's riggings and feathers and set you out in style."

"But you can't put feathers on my head like those," said Daisy. "They
wouldn't stay on. And I don't see why Fortitude should be dressed in

"Why it is the crest of her helmet, Daisy! Fortitude must have something
strong about her, somewhere, and I suppose her head is as good a place
as any. We'll make a helmet for you. And I will make Dolce lie down at
your feet for the lion."

"You couldn't, Preston."

"I could make him do anything." Dolce was Preston's dog; a great shaggy
St. Bernard.

"Well!--" said Daisy with a half sigh.

"I think you'll make a beautiful Fortitude. Now let us see what next.
That is for one."

"How many pictures do you want?" said Daisy.

"O a good many. Plenty, or it wouldn't be worth taking all the trouble,
and shutting the people up in a dark room. 'Alfred in the neat-herd's
cottage'--getting a scolding for his burnt cakes. How splendid that
would be if we could get Dr. Sandford to be Alfred!"

"Who would be that scolding old woman?"

"No matter, because we can't get Dr. Sandford. We are not to have grown
folks at all. It is a pity Ransom is not here. We shall have to get
Alexander Fish--or Hamilton! Hamilton will do. He's a good looking

"You would do a great deal better," said Daisy. "And Alexander would not
do at all. He has not a bit the look of a king about him."

"I must be that old man with the bundle of sticks on his head," said
Preston, who was however immensely flattered.

"But his beard?" said Daisy.

"O I'll put that on. A false beard is easy. You won't know me, Daisy.
That will be an excellent picture. See that girl blowing the burnt cakes
and making her face into a full moon!"

"Will you have her in the picture?"

"Certainly! Most assuredly."

"But, who will you get to do that, Preston?"

"Nora Dinwiddie, I reckon."

"Will _she_ come?"

"We shall want all we can get. All Mrs. Stanfield's young ones, and Mrs.
Fish's and Linwood's and everybody. Now Daisy, here you are! This is the
very thing."

"For what?" said Daisy.

"Don't you see? For you. This is Queen Esther before Ahasuerus--you know
the story?"

"O yes!--when he stretched out the golden sceptre to her. She is
fainting, isn't she?"

"Exactly. You can do that glorious, because you have always a pair of
pale cheeks on hand."

"I?"--said Daisy again. "Do you want me to be two things?"

"A dozen things, perhaps. You must be Queen Esther at any rate. Nobody
but you."

"And who will be Ahasuerus?"

"I don't know. Hamilton Rush, I reckon; he's a nice fellow."

"O Preston, why don't you be Ahasuerus?"

"I am manager, you know, Daisy; it won't do for the manager to take the
best pieces for himself. Ahasuerus is one of the best. See how handsome
the dress is--and the attitude, and everything."

"I don't see where you will find the dresses," said Daisy. "All those
are robes of silk and velvet and fur; and then the jewels, Preston!"

"Nonsense, Daisy. Aunt Felicia will let us take all her stores of satins
and velvets and feathers and jewellery too. It won't hurt them to be
looked at."

"I think," said Daisy slowly,--"I think I will not be Queen Esther."

"Why not? don't you like her looks?"

"O yes. _That's_ no matter; but I would rather somebody else would be

"Why, little Daisy? You are the one; nobody can be Esther but you."

"I think I will not," said Daisy thoughtfully.

"What's the matter, Daisy? You _must_. I want you for Esther and nobody
else. What is the objection?"

"I would rather not," said Daisy. "I don't know Hamilton Rush much."

This was said with extreme demureness, and Preston bit his lips almost
till the blood came to prevent the smile which would have startled

"You won't know him at all when he is dressed and with his crown on.
It's all a play. You can imagine he is the real old Persian king, who
looked so fiercely on the beautiful Jewess when she ventured unsummoned
into his presence."

"I could not stand like that," said Daisy.

"Yes, you could. That's easy. You are fainting in the arms of your

"Who will the attendants be?"

"I don't know. Who do you think?"

"I think I would rather not be in this picture,--" said Daisy.

"Yes, you will. I want you. It is too good to be given to somebody else.
It is one of the prettiest pictures we shall have, I reckon."

"Then you must be the king."

"Well--we will see," said Preston. "What comes next? 'Canute and his
courtiers.' That won't do, because we could not have the sea in."

"Nor the horse," said Daisy.

"Not very well.--What a stupid collection of portraits! Nothing but

"There are fortune tellers."

"That won't do--not interest enough. There! here's one. 'Little Red
Riding-hood.' That will be beautiful for you, Daisy."

"But Preston, I mustn't be everything."

"Plenty more things coming. You don't like Red Riding-hood? Then we will
give it to Nora or Ella."

"O like it," said Daisy. "I like it much better than Esther--unless you
will play Ahasuerus."

"Well I will put you down for both of 'em."

"But who's to be anything else?"

"Lots. Here.--Splendid! 'Marie Antoinette' going from the revolutionary
tribunal--that will be capital."

"Who will take that?" said Daisy.

"Let me see. I think--I think, Daisy, it must be Theresa Stanfield. She
is a clever girl, and it must be a clever girl to do this."

"But she will not look as old as she ought."

"Yes she will, when she is dressed. I know who will be our dresser, too;
Mrs. Sandford."

"Will she?" said Daisy.

"Yes. She knows how, I know. You and I must go and give invitations,

"Mamma will send the invitations."

"Yes, of course, to the party; but we have got to beat up recruits and
get contributions for the tableaux. You and I must do that. I engaged to
take all the trouble of the thing from aunt Felicia."

"Contributions, Preston?"

"Of people, Daisy. People for the tableaux. We must have all we can

"I can't see how you will make Theresa Stanfield look like that."

"_I_ cannot," said Preston laughing,--"but Mrs. Sandford will do part
and Theresa herself will do the other part. She will bring her face
round, you will see. The thing is, who will be that ugly old woman who
is looking at the queen with such eyes of coarse fury--I think I shall
have to be that old woman."

"You, Preston!" And Daisy went off into a fit of amusement. "Can you
make your eyes look with coarse fury?"

"You shall see. That's a good part. I should not like to trust it to
anybody else. Alexander and Hamilton Rush will have to be the Queen's
guards--how we want Ransom. Charley Linwood is too small. There's
George, though."

"What does that woman look at the queen so for?"

"Wants to see her head come down--which it did soon after."

"Her head come down?"--

"It had come down pretty well then, when the proud, beautiful queen was
exposed to the looks and insults of the rabble. But they wanted to see
it come down on the scaffold."

"What had she been doing, to make them hate her?"

"She had been a queen;--and they had made up their minds that nobody
ought to be queen, or anything else but rabble; so her head must come
off. A great many other heads came off; for the same reason."

"Preston, I don't think the poor would hate that kind of thing so, if
the rich people behaved right."

"How do you think rich people ought to behave?" said Preston gravely,
turning over the engravings.

Daisy's old puzzle came back on her; she was silent.

"Common people always hate the uncommon, Daisy. Now what next?--Ah! here
is what will do. This is beautiful."

"What is it?"

"Portia and Bassanio. He has just got that letter, you know."

"What letter?"

"Why, Antonio's letter. O don't you know the story? Bassanio was
Antonio's friend, and--O dear, it is a long story, Daisy. You must read

"But what is the picture about?"

"This. Bassanio has just this minute been married to Portia,--the
loveliest lady in all the world; that he knew of; and now comes a
letter, just that minute, telling him that his dear friend Antonio is in
great danger of being cut to pieces through the wickedness of a fellow
that he had borrowed money from. And the money had been borrowed for
Bassanio, to set him up for his courtship--so no wonder he feels rather

"Does she know?"

"No; she is just asking what is the matter. That will be a capital

"But you couldn't stand and look like that," said Daisy.

"I shall not," said Preston, "but Hamilton Rush will. I shall give it to
him. And--let me see--for Portia--that Fish girl cannot do it, she is
not clever enough. It will have to be Theresa Stanfield."

"I should like to see anybody look like _that_," said Daisy.

"Well, you will. We shall have to go to another book of
engravings.--Hollo! here you are again, Daisy. This will do for you
exactly. Exactly!"

"What is it?"

"Why Daisy, these are two old Puritans; young ones, I mean, of course;
and they are very fond of each other, you know, but somehow they don't
know it. Or one of them don't, and he has been goose enough to come to
ask Priscilla if she will be his friend's wife. Of course she is
astonished at him."

"She does not look astonished."

"No, that is because she is a Puritan. She takes it all quietly, only
she says she has an objection to be this other man's wife. And then John
finds what a fool he is. That's capital. You shall be Priscilla; you
will do it and look it beautifully."

"I do not think I want to be Priscilla,"--said Daisy slowly.

"Yes, you do. You will. It will make such a beautiful picture. I reckon
Alexander Fish will make a good John Alden--he has nice curly hair."

"So have you," said Daisy; "and longer than Alexander's, and more like
the picture."

"I am manager, Daisy. That wouldn't do."

"I shall not be in that picture if Alexander is the other one," said

"Well--we will see. But Daisy, it is only playing pictures, you know. It
will not be Daisy and Alexander Fish--not at all--it will be Priscilla
and John Alden."

"_I_ should think it was Alexander Fish," said Daisy.

Preston laughed.

"But Preston, what is that word you said just now?--what is a Puritan?"

"I don't know. I think you are one. I do not know another."

"You said these were Puritans?"

"Yes, so they were. They were very good people, Daisy, that liked
wearing plain dresses. We shall have to have a stuff dress made for
you--I reckon you have not one of anything like a Puritan cut."

"Then how am I a Puritan, Preston?"

"Sure enough. I mean that you would be one, if you got a chance. How
many pictures have we chosen out?--Six? That is not half enough."

The search went on, through other books and portfolios. There was good
store of them in Mr. Randolph's library, and Daisy and Preston were very
busy the whole morning till luncheon time. After Daisy's dinner,
however, her mind took up its former subject of interest. She went to
Joanna, and was furnished with a nice little sponge cake and a basket
of sickle pears for Molly Skelton. Daisy forgot all about tableaux. This
was something better. She ordered the pony chaise and got ready for

"Hollo, Daisy!" said Preston as she came out upon the piazza;--"what

"I am going out."

"With me."

"No, I have business, Preston."

"So have I; a business that cannot wait, either. We must go and drum up
our people for the tableaux, Daisy. We haven't much time to prepare, and
lots of things to do."


"First, arrange about the parts everybody is to take; and then the
dresses, and then practising."

"Practising what, Preston?"

"Why, the pictures! We cannot do them at a dash, all right; we must
drill, until every one knows exactly how to stand and how to look, and
can do it well."

"And must the people come here to practise?"

"Of course. Where the pictures and the dresses are, you know. Aunt
Felicia is to give us her sewing woman for as much time as we want her;
and Mrs. Sandford must be here to see about all that; and we must know
immediately whom we can have, and get them to come. We must go this
afternoon, Daisy."

"Must I?"

"Certainly. You know--or you would know if you were not a Puritan,
little Daisy, that I cannot do the business alone. You are Miss

"Did the Puritans not know much?" inquired Daisy.

"Nothing--about the ways of the world."

Daisy looked at the pony chaise, at the blue hills, at her basket of
pears; and yielding to what seemed necessity, gave up Molly for that
day. She went with Preston, he on horseback, she in her pony chaise, and
a very long afternoon's work they made of it. And they did not get
through the work, either. But by dint of hearing the thing talked over,
and seeing the great interest excited among the young folks, Daisy's
mind grew pretty full of the pictures before the day was ended. It was
so incomprehensible, how Theresa Stanfield could ever bring her merry,
arch face into the grave proud endurance of the deposed French queen; it
was so puzzling to imagine Hamilton Rush, a fine, good-humoured fellow,
something older than Preston, transformed into the grand and awful
figure of Ahasuerus; and Nora was so eager to know what part _she_ could
take; and Mrs. Sandford entered into the scheme with such utter good
nature and evident competence to manage it. Ella Stanfield's eyes grew
very wide open; and Mrs. Fish was full of curiosity, and the Linwoods
were tumultuous.

"We shall have to tame those fellows down," Preston remarked as he and
Daisy rode away from this last place,--"or they will upset everything.
Why cannot people teach people to take things quietly!"

"How much that little one wanted to be Red Riding-hood," said Daisy.

"Yes. Little Malapert!"

"You will let her, won't you?"

"I reckon I won't. You are to be Red Riding-hood--unless,--I don't know;
perhaps that would be a good one to give Nora Dinwiddie. I shall see."

That day was gone. The next day there was a great overhauling, by
Preston and his mother and Daisy, of the stores of finery which Mrs.
Randolph put at their disposal. Mrs. Randolph herself would have nothing
to do with the arrangements; she held aloof from the bustle attending
them; but facilities and materials she gave with unsparing hand. Daisy
was very much amused. Mrs. Gary and Preston had a good deal of
consultation over the finery, having at the same time the engravings
spread out before them. Such stores of satin and lace robes, and velvet
mantles, and fur wrappings and garnishings, and silken scarfs, and
varieties of adornment old and new, were gathered into one room and
displayed, that it almost tired Daisy to look at them. Nevertheless she
was amused. And she was amused still more, when later in the day, after
luncheon, Mrs. Sandford arrived and was taken up into the tiring room,
as Preston called it. Here she examined the pictures and made a careful
survey of the articles with which she must work to produce the desired
effects. Some of the work was easy. There was an old cardinal, of
beautiful red cloth, which doubtless would make up Red Riding-hood with
very little trouble. There were beautiful plumes for Fortitude's head;
and Daisy began to wonder how she would look with their stately grace
waving over her. Mrs. Sandford tried it. She arranged the plume on
Daisy's head; and with a turn or two of a dark cashmere scarf imitated
beautifully the classic folds of the drapery in the picture. Then she
put Daisy in the attitude of the figure; and by that time Daisy felt so
strange that her face was stern and grave enough to need no admonishing.
Preston clapped his hands.

"If you will only look like that, Daisy, in the tableau!"

"Look how?" said Daisy.

"Mrs. Sandford, did you ever see anything so perfect?"

"It is excellent," said that lady.

"If they will all do as well, we shall be encored. But there is no dress
here for Bassanio, Mrs. Sandford."

"You would hardly expect your mother's or your aunt's wardrobe to
furnish that."

"Hardly. But I am sure uncle Randolph's wardrobe would not do any
better. It will have to be made."

"I think I have something at home that will do--something that was used
once for a kindred purpose. I think I can dress Bassanio--as far as the
slashings are concerned. The cap and plume we can manage here--and I
dare say your uncle has some of those old-fashioned long silk hose."

"Did papa ever wear such things?" said Daisy.

"Portia will be easy," said Preston, looking round the room.

"Who is to be Portia?"

"Theresa Stanfield, I believe."

"That will do very well, I should think. She is fair--suppose we dress
her in this purple brocade."

"Was Portia married in purple?" said Preston.

Mrs. Sandford laughed a good deal. "Well"--she said--"white if you like;
but Theresa will look most like Portia if she wears this brocade. I do
not believe white is _de rigueur_ in her case. You know, she went from
the casket scene to the altar. If she was like me, she did not venture
to anticipate good fortune by putting on a bridal dress till she knew
she would want it."

"Perhaps that is correct," said Preston.

"How come you to know so much about the dresses?" said the lady. "That
is commonly supposed to be woman's function."

"I am general manager, Mrs. Sandford, and obliged to act out of

"You seem to understand yourself very well. Priscilla!--we have no dress
for her."

"It will have to be made."

"Yes. Who is there to make it?"

The seamstress was now summoned, and the orders were given for
Priscilla's dress, to be made to fit Daisy. It was very amusing, the
strait-cut brown gown, the plain broad vandyke of white muslin, and
etceteras that Mrs. Sandford insisted on.

"She will look the part extremely well. But are you going to give her
nothing but Fortitude and Prudence, Preston? is Daisy to do nothing

"Yes ma'am--she is to be the queen of the Persian king here--what is his
name? Ahasuerus! She is Esther."

Daisy opened her lips to say no, but Preston got her into his arms and
softly put his hand upon her mouth before she could speak the word. The
action was so coaxing and affectionate, that Daisy stood still, silent,
with his arms round her.

"Queen Esther!" said Mrs. Sandford. "That will tax the utmost of our
resources. Mrs. Randolph will lend us some jewels, I hope, or we cannot
represent that old Eastern court."

"Mrs. Randolph will lend us anything--and everything," said Preston.

"Then we can make a beautiful tableau. I think Esther must be in white."

"Yes ma'am--it will lend to the fainting effect."

"And we must make her brilliant with jewels; and dress her attendants in
colours, so as to set her off; but Esther must be a spot of brilliancy.
Ahasuerus rich and heavy. This will be your finest tableau, if it is
done well."

"Alfred will not be bad," said Preston.

"In another line. Your part will be easy, Daisy--you must have a pair of
strong-armed handmaidens. What do you want Nora for, Preston?"

"Could she be one of them, Mrs. Sandford?"

"Yes,--if she can be impressed with the seriousness of the occasion; but
the maids of the queen ought to be wholly in distress for their
mistress, you know. She could be one of the princes in the tower, very

"Yes, capitally," said Preston. "And--Mrs. Sandford--wouldn't she make a
good John Alden?"

"Daisy for Priscilla! Excellent!" said Mrs. Sandford. "If the two could
keep their gravity, which I very much doubt."

"Daisy can keep anything," said Preston. "I will tutor Nora."

"Well, I will help you as much as I can," said the lady, "But, my boy,
this business takes time! I had no notion I had been here so long. I
must run."


As she made her escape one way, so did Daisy by another. When Preston
came back from attending Mrs. Sandford to her carriage he could find
nothing of his little co-worker. Daisy was gone.

In all haste and with a little self-reproach for having forgotten it,
she had ordered her pony chaise; and then examined into the condition of
her stores. The sponge cake was somewhat dry; the sickle pears wanted
looking over. Part of them were past ripe. Indeed so many of them, that
Daisy found her basket was no longer properly full, when these were
culled out. She went to Joanna. Miss Underwood, soon made that all right
with some nice late peaches; and Daisy thought with herself that sponge
cake was very good a little dry and would probably not find severe
criticism at Molly's house. She got away without encountering her
cousin, much to her satisfaction.

Molly was not in her garden. That had happened before. Daisy went in,
looked at the flowers, and waited. The rose tree was flourishing; the
geranium was looking splendid; with nothing around either of them that
in the least suited their neighbourhood. So Daisy thought. If all the
other plants--the ragged balsams and "creeping Charley" and the
rest--could have been rooted up, then the geranium, and the rose would
have shewn well together. However, Molly did not doubtless feel this
want of suitability; to her the tall sunflower was no question a
treasure and a beautiful plant. Would Molly come out!

It seemed as if she would not. No stir, and the closed house door
looking forbidding and unhopeful. Daisy waited, and waited, and walked
up and down the bit of a path, from the gate quite to the house door; in
hopes that the sound of her feet upon the walk might be heard within.
Daisy's feet did not make much noise; but however that were, there was
no stir of a sound anywhere else. Daisy was patient; not the less the
afternoon was passing away and pretty far gone already, and it was the
first of October now. The light did not last as long as it did a few
months ago. Daisy was late. She must go soon, if she did not see Molly;
and to go without seeing her was no part of Daisy's plan. Perhaps Molly
was sick. At any rate, the child's footsteps paused at the door of the
poor little house, and her fingers knocked. She had never been inside of
it yet, and what she saw of the outside was not in the least inviting.
The little windows, lined with paper curtains to keep out sunlight and
curious eyes, looked dismal; the weatherboards were unpainted; the
little porch broken. Daisy did not like such things. But she knocked
without a bit of fear or hesitation, notwithstanding all this. She was
charged with work to do; so she felt; it was no matter what she might
meet in the discharge of it. She had her message to carry, and she was
full of compassionate love to the creature whose lot in life was so
unlike her own. Daisy went straight on in her business.

Her knock got no answer, and still got none though, it was repeated and
made more noticeable. Not a sign of an answer. Daisy softly tried the
door then to see if it would open. There was no difficulty in that; she
pushed it gently and gently stepped in.

It looked just like what she expected, though Daisy had not got
accustomed yet to the conditions of such rooms. Just now, she hardly saw
anything but Molly. Her eye wandering over the strange place, was
presently caught by the cripple, sitting crouching in a corner of the
room. It was all miserably desolate. The paper shields kept out the
light of the sunbeams; and though the place was tolerably clean, it had
a close, musty, disagreeable, shut-up smell. But all Daisy thought of at
first was the cripple. She went a little towards her.

"How do you do, Molly?" her little soft voice said. Molly looked glum,
and spoke never a word.

"I have been waiting to see you," Daisy said, advancing a step
nearer--"and you did not come out. I was afraid you were sick."

One of Molly's grunts came here. Daisy could not tell what it meant.

"_Are_ you sick, Molly?"

"It's me and not you"--said the cripple morosely.

"O I am sorry!" said Daisy tenderly. "I want to bring in something for

She ran away for her basket. Coming back, she left the door open to let
in the sweet air and sun.

"What is the matter with you, Molly?"

The cripple made no answer, not even a grunt; her eyes were fastened on
the basket. Daisy lifted the cover and brought out her cake, wrapped in
paper. As she unwrapped it and came up to Molly, she saw what she had
never seen before that minute,--a smile on the cripple's grum face. It
was not grum now; it was lighted up with a smile, as her eyes dilated
over the cake.

"I'll have some tea!" she said.

Daisy put the cake on the table and delivered a peach into Molly's hand.
But she lifted her hand to the table and laid the peach there.

"I'll have some tea."

"Are you sick, Molly?" said Daisy again; for in spite of this
declaration and in spite of her evident pleasure, Molly did not move.

"I'm aching all through."

"What is the matter?"

"Aching's the matter--rheumatiz. I'll have some tea."

"It's nice and warm out in the sun," Daisy suggested.

"Can't get there," said Molly. "Can't stir. I'm all aches all over."

"How can you get tea, then, Molly? Your fire is quite out."

"Ache and get it--" said the cripple grumly.

Daisy could not stand that. She at first thought of calling her groom to
make a fire; but reflected that would be a hazardous proceeding. Molly
perhaps, and most probably, would not allow it. If she would allow
_her_, it would be a great step gained. Daisy's heart was so fall of
compassion she could not but try. There was a little bit of an iron
stove in the room, and a tea-kettle, small to match, stood upon it; both
cold of course.

"Where is there some wood, Molly?" said Daisy over the stove;--"some
wood and kindling? I'll try if I can make the fire for you, if you will
let me, please."

"In there--" said the cripple pointing.

Daisy looked, and saw nothing but an inner door. Not liking to multiply
questions, for fear of Molly's patience, she ventured to open the door.
There was a sort of shed room, where Daisy found stores of everything
she wanted. Evidently the neighbours provided so far for the poor
creature, who could not provide for herself. Kindling was there in
plenty, and small wood stacked. Daisy got her arms fall and came back to
the stove. By using her eyes carefully she found the matches without
asking anything, and made the fire, slowly but nicely; Molly meanwhile
having reached up for her despised peach was making her teeth meet in it
with no evidence of disapprobation. The fire snapped and kindled and
began immediately to warm up the little stove. Daisy took the kettle and
went into the same lumber shed to look for water. But though an empty
tin pail stood there, the water in it was no more than a spoonful.
Nothing else held any. Daisy looked out. A worn path in the grass
shewed the way to the place where Molly filled her water pail--a, little
basin of a spring at some distance from the house. Daisy followed the
path to the spring, filled her pail and then her kettle, wondering much
how Molly ever could crawl to the place in rainy weather; and then she
came in triumphant and set the tea-kettle on the stove.

"I am very sorry you are sick, Molly," said Daisy anew.

Molly only grunted; but she had finished her peach and sat there licking
her fingers.

"Would you like to see Dr. Sandford? I could tell him."

"No!"--said the poor thing decidedly.

"I'll pray to the Lord Jesus to make you well."

"Humph?"--said Molly, questioning.

"You know, he can do everything. He can make you well; and I hope he

"He won't make me well--" said Molly.

"He will make you happy, if you will pray to him."

"Happy!" said Molly; as if it were a yet more impossible thing.

"O yes. Jesus makes everybody happy that loves him. He makes them good
too, Molly; he forgives all their sins that they have done; and in
heaven he will give them white robes to wear, and they will not do wrong
things nor have any pain any more."

One of Molly's grunts came now; she did not understand this or could not
believe. Daisy looked on, pitiful and very much perplexed.

"Molly, you have a great Friend in heaven," said the child; "don't you
know it? Jesus loves you."

"H--n?"--said Molly again.

"Don't you know what he did, for you and me and everybody?"

Molly's head gave sign of ignorance. So Daisy sat down and told her.
She told her the story at length; she painted the love of the few
disciples, the enmity of the world, the things that infinite tenderness
had done and borne for those who hated goodness and would not obey God.
Molly listened, and Daisy talked; bow, she did not know nor Molly
neither; but the good news was told in that poor little house; the
unspeakable gift was made known. Seeing Molly's fixed eyes and rapt
attention, Daisy went on at length and told all. The cripple's gaze
never stirred all the while, nor stirred when the story came to an end.
She still stared at Daisy. Well she might.

"Now Molly," said the child, "I have got a message for you."

"H--n?" said Molly, more softly.

"It is from the Lord Jesus. It is in his book. It is a message. The
message is, that if you will believe in him and be his child, he will
forgive you and love you; and then you will go to be with him in

"Me?" said Molly.

"Yes," said Daisy, nodding her little head with her eyes full of tears.
"Yes, you will. Jesus will take you there, and you will wear a white
robe and a crown of gold, and be with him."

Daisy paused, and Molly looked at her. How much of the truth got fair
entrance into her mind, Daisy could not tell. But after a few minutes of
pause, seeing that Daisy's lips did not open, Molly opened hers and bade
her "Go on."

"I am afraid I haven't time to-day," said Daisy. "I'll bring my book
next time and read you the words. Can you read, Molly?"

"Read? no!"--

Whether Molly knew what reading was, may be questioned.

"Molly," said Daisy lowering her tone in her eagerness,--"would you
like to learn to read yourself?--then, when I am not here, you could see
it all in the book. Wouldn't you like it?"

"Where's books?" said the cripple.

"I will bring the book. And now I must go."

For Daisy knew that a good while had passed; she did not know how long
it was. Before going, however, she went to see about the fire in the
stove. It was burnt down to a few coals; and the kettle was boiling.
Daisy could not leave it so. She fetched more wood and put in, with a
little more kindling; and then, leaving it all right, she was going to
bid Molly good-bye, when she saw that the poor cripple's head had sunk
down on her arms. She looked in that position so forlorn, so lonely and
miserable, that Daisy's heart misgave her. She drew near.

"Molly--" said her sweet little voice, "would you like your tea now? the
water is boiling."

Molly signified that she would.

"Would you like to have me make it?" said Daisy doubtfully, quite afraid
of venturing too far or too fast. But she need not have been afraid.
Molly only pointed with her finger to a wall cupboard and said as
before,--"In there."

The way was clear for Daisy, time or no time. She went to the cupboard.
It was not hard to find the few things which Molly had in constant use.
The tea-pot was there, and a paper of tea. Daisy made the tea, with a
good deal of pleasure and wonder; set it to draw, and brought out
Molly's cup and saucer and plate and knife and spoon. A little sugar she
found too; not much. She put these things on the low table which was
made to fit Molly's condition. She could have it before her as she sat
on the floor.

"I don't see any milk for your tea, Molly."

"Milk? no. It's all gone," said Molly.

"I am sorry. You'll have to take your tea without milk then. Here it is.
I hope it is good."

Daisy poured out a cup, set the sugar beside it, and cut slices of
sponge cake. She was greatly pleased at being allowed to do it. Molly
took it as a very natural thing, and Daisy sat down to enjoy the
occasion a few minutes longer, and also to give such attentions as she

"Won't you have some?" said Molly.

"No, I thank you. Mamma does not let me drink tea, except when I am

Molly had discharged her conscience, and gave herself now to her own
enjoyment. One cup of tea was a mere circumstance; Daisy filled and
refilled it; Molly swallowed the tea as if cupfuls had been mouthfuls.
It was a subject of question to Daisy whether the poor creature had had
any other meal that day; so eager she was, and so difficult to satisfy
with the sponge cake. Slice after slice; and Daisy cut more, and put a
tiny fresh pinch of tea into the tea-pot, and waited upon her with
inexpressible tenderness and zeal. Molly exhausted the tea-pot and left
but a small remnant of the cake. Daisy was struck with a sudden fear
that she might have been neglected and really want things to eat. How
could she find out?

"Where shall I put this, Molly?" she said, taking the plate with the
morsel of cake. "Where does it go?"

"In there--" said Molly.

"Here?--or here?" touching the two doors of the cupboard.

"'Tother one."

So Daisy opened the other door of the cupboard, just what she wanted to
do. And there she saw indeed some remnants of food, but nothing more
than remnants; a piece of dry bread and a cold muffin, with a small bit
of boiled pork. Daisy took but a glance, and came away. The plate and
cup and saucer she set in their place; bid good-bye to Molly, and ran

Time indeed! The sun was sending long slant bright beams against the
cottage-windows and over the pony chaise, and the groom had got the
pony's head turned for home, evidently under the impression that Daisy
was staying a long time. A little fearful of consequences if she got
home after sundown, Daisy gathered up her reins and signified to Loupe
that he was expected to move with some spirit.

But Daisy was very happy. She was thoroughly at home now with Molly; she
was fairly admitted within the house and welcome there; and already she
had given comfort. She had almost done as Nora said; as near as possible
she had taken tea with Molly. Besides, Daisy had found out what more to
do for her. She thought of that poor cupboard with mixed feelings; not
pity only; for next day she would bring supplies that were really
needed. Some nice bread and butter--Daisy had seen no sign of
butter,--and some meat. Molly needed a friend to look after her wants,
and Daisy now had the freedom of the house and could do it; and joyfully


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