Melbourne House, Volume 2
Part 5 out of 7
she resolved that she would do it, so long as her own stay at Melbourne
should be prolonged. What if her getting home late should bring on a
command that would put a stop to all this!
But nobody was on the piazza or in the library when she got home. Daisy
went safely to her own room. There was June all ready to dress her; and
making good speed, that business was finished and Daisy ready to go down
to the dinner-table at the usual time.
She was a little afraid of questions at the dinner-table; but it
happened that the older people were interested about some matter of
their own and she was not noticed at all. Except in a quiet way by Mr.
Randolph, who picked out nuts for her; and Daisy took them and thought
joyfully of carrying a testament to Molly's cottage and teaching her to
read it. If she could do but that--Daisy thought she would be happy.
The evening was spent by her and Preston over engravings again. Some new
ones were added to the stock already chosen for tableaux; and Preston
debated with her very eagerly the various questions of characters and
dresses. Daisy did not care how he arranged them, provided she only was
not called upon to be Priscilla to Alexander Fish, or Esther to Hamilton
Rush. "I will not, Preston--" she insisted quietly; and Preston was in
difficulty; for as he truly said, it would not do to give himself all
the best pieces.
The next day, after luncheon, a general conclave assembled, of all the
young people, to determine the respective parts and hold a little
rehearsal by way of beginning. Mrs. Sandford was there too, but no other
grown person was admitted. Preston had certainly a troublesome and
delicate office in his capacity of manager.
"What are you going to give me, Preston?" said Mrs. Stanfield's lively
"You must be Portia."
"Portia? let me see--O that's lovely! How will you dress me, Mrs.
Sandford? I must be very splendid--I have just been married, and I am
worth any amount of splendour. Who's to be Bassanio?--"
"George Linwood, I think. He must have dark hair, you know."
"What are wigs good for?" said Theresa. "But he has nothing to do but to
hold the letter and throw himself backward--he's surprised, you know,
and people don't stand straight when they are surprised. Only that, and
to look at Portia. I guess he can do it. Once fix him and he'll
stay--that's one thing. How will you dress Portia, Mrs. Sandford? Ah,
let me dress her!"
"Not at all; you must be amenable to authority. Miss Stanfield, like
"But what will you put on her, Mrs. Sandford? The dress is Portia."
"No, by no means; you must look with a very delicate expression, Miss
Theresa. Your face will be the picture."
"My face will depend on my dress, I know. What will it be, Mrs.
"I will give you a very heavy and rich purple brocade."
"Of course. Mrs. Randolph lets us have whatever we want."
"That will do!" said Theresa, clapping her hands softly. "I am made up.
What are you going to do with Frederica?"
"She has a great part. She must be Marie Antoinette going from the
"De la Roche's picture!" said Theresa.
"She's not dressed at all"--remarked Frederica coldly looking at the
"Marie Antoinette needed no dress, you know," Theresa answered.
"But she isn't handsome there."
"You will be standing for her," said Mrs. Sandford. "The attitude is
very striking, in its proud, indignant impassiveness. You will do that
well. I must dress your hair carefully, but you have just the right hair
and plenty of it."
"Don't she flatter her!" whispered Theresa to Preston;--then aloud,
"How will you make up the rest of the tableau, Preston?"
"I am going to be that old cross-eyed woman--Alexander will be one of
the guards--George Linwood another, I think. Hamilton Rush must shake
his fist at the queen over my head; and Theresa, you must be this nice
little French girl, looking at her unfortunate sovereign with weeping
eyes. Can you get a tear on your cheek?"
"Might take an uncommon strong spoonful of mustard--" said Theresa--"I
suppose that would do it. But you are not going to let the spectators
come so near as to see drops of tears, I hope?"
"No matter--your eyes and whole expression would be affected by the
mustard; it would tell, even at a distance."
When they got through laughing, some one asked, "What is Daisy to be?"
"O, she is to be Priscilla here--I thought nobody but Daisy would care
about being a Puritan; but it is her chosen character."
"It'll be a pretty tableau," said Theresa.
"And what am I to be, Preston?" said Nora.
"You are to be several things. You and Ella must be the two young
princes in the tower."
"What tower?" said Nora.
There was another general laugh, and then Daisy, who was well at home in
English history, pulled her little friend aside to whisper to her the
story and shew her the picture.
"What are those men going to do?" said Nora.
"They are going to kill the little princes. They have got a featherbed
or something there, and they are going to smother them while they are
"But I don't want the featherbed on top of me!" said Nora.
"No, no,--it is not to come down on you; but that is the picture; they
will hold it just so; it will not come down."
"But suppose they should let it fall?"
"They will not let it fall. The picture is to have it held just so, as
if they were going to smother the poor little princes the next minute."
"I think it is a horrid picture!" said Nora.
"But it will only last a little while. All you will have to do will be
to make believe you are asleep."
"I don't want to make believe I am asleep. I would rather have my eyes
open. What else am I going to be, Daisy?"
"Preston will tell. I believe--you are to be one of Queen Esther's
women, to hold her up when she fainted, you know."
"Let me see. Where is it?"
Daisy obtained the picture. Nora examined it critically.
"I would like to be the king, he is so handsome. Who will be the queen?"
"I don't know yet," said Daisy.
"Are you going to have any part where you will be dressed up?"
"We shall have to be dressed for them all. We cannot wear our own
dresses, you know; it would not be a picture."
"But, I mean, are you going to be dressed up with nice things?--not like
"This will be dressed up," said Daisy; "she will be very nicely
dressed--to be one of the queen's ladies, you know."
"Daisy! Daisy!--" was now called from the larger group of
counsel-takers, Daisy and Nora having separated themselves for their
private discourse. "Daisy! look here--come here! see what you are to be.
You are to be an angel."
"You are to be an angel, Daisy," Theresa repeated,--"with wonderful
wings made of gauze on a light frame of whalebone."
Daisy came near, looking very attentive; if she felt any more she did
not shew it in her face.
"Daisy, you will do it delightfully," said Mrs. Sandford. "Come and
look. It is this beautiful picture of the Game of Life."
"What is it, ma'am?" said Daisy.
"These two figures, you see, are playing a game of chess. The stake they
are playing for, is this young man's soul; he is one of the players, and
this other player is the evil one. The arch-fiend thinks he has got a
good move; the young man is very serious but perplexed; and there stands
his guardian angel watching how the game will go."
Daisy looked at the picture in silence of astonishment. It seemed to her
impossible that anybody could play at such a subject as that.
"Whom will you have for the fiend, Preston?" the lady went on.
"I will do it myself, ma'am, I think."
Daisy's "Oh no, Preston!"--brought down such a shower of laughter on all
sides, that she retreated into herself a little further than ever. They
pursued the subject for a while, discussing the parts and the making of
the angel's wings; deciding that Daisy would do excellently well for the
angel and would look the part remarkably.
"She has a good deal that sort of expression in ordinary times," said
Mrs. Sandford--"without the sadness; and that she can assume, I day
"I would rather not do it--" Daisy was heard to say very gently but very
soberly. There was another laugh.
"Do what, Daisy? assume a look of sadness?" said Preston.
"I would rather not be the angel."
"Nobody else could do it so well," said Mrs. Sandford. "You are the very
one to do it. It will be admirable."
"_I_ should like to be the angel--" murmured Nora, low enough to have no
one's attention but Daisy's. The rest were agreeing that the picture
would be excellent and had just the right performers assigned to it.
Daisy was puzzled. It seemed to her that Nora had a general desire for
"Ella will be one of the princes in the tower," Preston went on. "Nora
will be Red Riding-Hood."
"I won't be Red Riding Hood--" said Nora.
"Why not? Hoity, toity!"
"It isn't pretty. And it has no pretty dress."
"Why, it is beautiful," said Mrs. Sandford; "and the dress is to be made
with an exquisite red cashmere cardinal of Mrs. Randolph's. You will
make the best Red Riding-Hood here. Though Daisy would be more like the
lamb the wolf was after,"--continued the lady appealing to the manager;
"and you might change. Who is to be queen Esther? Nora would do that
well--with her black eyes and hair--she is more of a Jewess than any
other of them."
"Esther is fainting," said Preston. "Daisy's paleness will suit that
best. Nora could not look faint."
"Yes, I could," said that damsel promptly.
"You shall blow the cakes that Alfred has let burn," said Preston.
"Capital! Look here, Nora. You shall be that girl taking up the burnt
cakes and blowing to cool them; and you may look as fierce as you like.
You will get great applause if you do that part well. Eloise is going
to be the scolding old woman. She and I divide the old women between
"Too bad, Preston!" said Mrs. Sandford laughing. "What else are you
going to be?"
"I am going to be one of those fellows coming to murder the little
"Who is Bassanio?"
"Hamilton says he will undertake that. George declines."
"Suppose we do some work, instead of so much talking," said the former
person; who had hitherto been a very quiet spectator and listener. "Let
us have a little practice. We shall want a good deal before we get
All agreed; agreed also that something in the shape of artistic
draperies was needed for the practice. "It helps"--as Hamilton Rush
remarked. So Daisy went to desire the attendance of June with all the
scarfs, mantles and shawls which, could be gathered together. As Daisy
went, she thought that she did not wish Nora to be queen Esther; she was
glad Preston was firm about that.
The practising of Bassanio and Portia was so very amusing that she
fairly forgot herself in laughter. So did everybody else; except Mrs.
Sandford, who was intent upon draperies, and Preston whose hands held a
burden of responsibility. Hamilton was a quiet fellow enough in
ordinary; but now nobody was more ready for all the life of the play. He
threw himself back into an attitude of irresolution and perplexity, with
the letter in his hand which had brought the fatal news; that is, it was
the make-believe letter, though it was in reality only the New York
Evening Post. And Daisy thought his attitude was very absurd; but they
all declared it was admirable and exactly copied from the engraving. He
threw himself into all this in a moment, and was Bassanio at once; but
Theresa was much too well disposed to laugh to imitate his example. And
then they all laughed at Theresa, who instead of looking grave and
inquiring, as Portia should, at her lord's unusual action and
appearance, flung herself into position and out of position with a
mirthfulness of behaviour wholly inconsistent with the character she was
to personify. How they all laughed!
"What is it, Daisy?" whispered Nora.
"Why, he has got a letter,"--said Daisy.
"Is that newspaper the letter?"
"Make believe it is," said Daisy.
"But what are they doing!"
"Why, this man, Bassanio, has just got a letter that says his dearest
friend is going to be killed, because he owes money that he cannot pay;
and as the money was borrowed for his own sake, of course he feels very
badly about it."
"But people are not killed because they cannot pay money," said Nora. "I
have seen people come to papa for money, and they didn't do anything to
him because he hadn't it."
"No, but--those were different times," said Daisy--"and Bassanio lived
in a different country. His friend owed money to a dreadful man, who was
going to cut out two pounds of his flesh to pay for it. So of course
that would kill him."
"O, look at Theresa now!" said Nora.
The young lady had brought her muscles into order; and being clever
enough in her merry way, she had taken the look of the character and was
giving it admirably. It was hardly Theresa; her moveable face was
composed to such an expression of simple inquiry and interest and
affectionate concern. The spectators applauded eagerly; but Nora
"What does she look like that, for?"
"Why, it's the picture," said Daisy. "But what does she _look_ so for?"
"She is Bassanio's wife--they have just got married; and she looks so
because he looks so, I suppose. She does not know what is in the
"Is he going to tell her?"
"Not in the picture--" said Daisy, feeling a little amused at Nora's
simplicity. "He did tell her in the story."
"But why don't we have all the story?" insisted Nora.
"O, these are only pictures, you know; that is all; people dressed up to
look like pictures."
"They don't look like pictures a bit, _I_ think," said Nora; "they look
just like people."
Daisy thought so too, but had some faith in Preston's and Mrs.
Sandford's powers of transforming and mystifying the present very
natural appearance of the performers. However, she was beginning to be
of the opinion that it was good fun even now.
"Now, Daisy,--come, we must practise putting _you_ in position," said
Mrs. Sandford. "We will take something easy first--what shall it
be?--Come! we will try Priscilla's courtship. Where is your John Alden,
Preston quietly moved forward Alexander Fish and seated him. Daisy began
to grow warm with trepidation.
"You must let your hair grow, Sandie--and comb out your long curls into
your neck; so,--do you see? And you will have to have a dress as much as
Priscilla. This tableau will be all in the dress, Mrs. Sandford."
"We will have it. That is easy."
"Now, Alexander, look here, at the picture. Take that attitude as nearly
as you can, and I will stroke you into order.--That is pretty
well,--lean over a little more with that elbow on your knee,--you must
be very much in earnest."
"What am I doing?" said Alexander, breaking from his prescribed
attitude to turn round and face the company.
"You are making love to Priscilla; but the joke is, you have been
persuaded to do it for somebody else, when all the time you would like
to do it for yourself."
"I wouldn't be such a gumph as that!" muttered Alexander as he fell back
into position. "Who am I, to begin with?"
"A highly respectable old Puritan. The lady was surprised at him and he
came to his senses, but that is not in the picture. Now Daisy--take that
chair--a little nearer;--you are to have your hand on your spinning
wheel, you know; I have got a dear little old spinning wheel at home for
you, that was used by my grandmother. You must look at Alexander a
little severely, for he is doing what you did not expect of him, and you
think he ought to know better. That attitude is very good. But you must
look at him, Daisy! Don't let your eyes go down."
There was a decided disposition to laugh among the company looking on,
which might have been fatal to the Puritan picture had not Preston and
Mrs. Sandford energetically crushed it. Happily Daisy was too much
occupied with the difficulty of her own immediate situation to discover
how the bystanders were affected; she did not know what was the effect
of her pink little cheeks and very demure down-cast eyes. In fact Daisy
had gone to take her place in the picture with something scarcely less
than horror; only induced to do it, by her greater horror of making a
fuss and so shewing the feeling which she knew would be laughed at if
shewn. She shewed it now, poor child; how could she help it? she shewed
it by her unusually tinged cheeks and by her persistent down-looking
eyes. It was very difficult indeed to help it; for if she ventured to
look at Alexander she caught impertinent little winks,--most unlike John
Alden or any Puritan,--which he could execute with impunity because his
face was mostly turned from the audience; but which Daisy took in full.
"Lift your eyes, Daisy! your eyes! Priscilla was too much astonished not
to look at her lover. You may be even a little indignant, if you choose.
I am certain she was."
Poor Daisy--it was a piece of the fortitude that belonged to her--thus
urged, did raise her eyes and bent upon her winking coadjutor a look so
severe in its childish distaste and disapproval that there was a
unanimous shout of applause. "Capital, Daisy!--capital!" cried Preston.
"If you only look it like that, we shall do admirably. It will be a
tableau indeed. There, get up--you shall not practise any more just
"It will be very fine," said Mrs. Sandford.
"Daisy, I did not think you were such an actress," said Theresa.
"It would have overset _me_, if I had been John Alden--" remarked
Daisy withdrew into the background as fast as possible, and as far as
possible from Alexander.
"Do you like to do it, Daisy?" whispered Nora.
"Are you going to have a handsome dress for that?"
"What sort, then?"
"Like the picture."
"Well--what is that?"
"Brown, with a white vandyke."
"Vandyke? what is a vandyke?"
"Hush," said Daisy; "let us look."
Frederica Fish was to personify Lady Jane Grey, at the moment when the
nobles of her family and party knelt before her to offer her the crown.
As Frederica was a fair, handsome girl, without much animation, this
part suited her; she had only to be dressed and sit still. Mrs. Sandford
threw some rich draperies round her figure, and twisted a silk scarf
about the back of her head; and the children exclaimed at the effect
produced. That was to be a rich picture, for of course the kneeling
nobles were to be in costly and picturesque attire; and a crown was to
be borne on a cushion before them. A book did duty for it just now, on a
"That is what I should like--" said Nora. "I want to be dressed and look
"You will be dressed to be one of the queen's women in Esther and
Ahasuerus, you know."
"But the queen will be dressed more--won't she?"
"Yes, I suppose she will."
"I should like to be the queen; that is what I should like to be."
Daisy made no answer. She thought she would rather Nora should _not_ be
"Doesn't she look beautiful?" Nora went on, referring again to
Which Frederica did. The tableau was quite pretty, even partially
dressed and in this off hand way as it was.
Next Mrs. Sandford insisted on dressing Daisy as Fortitude. She had seen
perhaps a little of the child's discomposure, and wished to make her
forget it. In this tableau Daisy would be quite alone; so she was not
displeased to let the lady do what she chose with her. She stood
patiently, while Mrs. Sandford wound a long shawl skilfully around her,
bringing it into beautiful folds like those in Sir Joshua Reynolds'
painting; then she put a boy's cap, turned the wrong way, on her head,
to do duty for a helmet, and fixed a nodding plume of feathers in it.
Daisy then was placed in the attitude of the picture, and the whole
little assembly shouted with delight.
"It will do, Mrs. Sandford," said Preston.
"Isn't it pretty?" said the lady.
"And Daisy does it admirably," said Theresa. "You are a fairy at
dressing, Mrs. Sandford; your fingers are better than a fairy's wand. I
wish you were my godmother; I shouldn't despair to ride yet in a coach
and six. There are plenty of pumpkins in a field near our house--and
plenty of rats in the house itself. O, Mrs. Sandford! let us have
"What, for a tableau?"
"You must ask the manager. I do not know anything about that."
Preston and Theresa and Hamilton and Alexander now went into an eager
discussion of this question, and before it was settled the party
discovered that it was time to break up.
"Well Daisy," said Mr. Randolph that evening, "how do you like your new
play that you are all so busy about?"
"I like it pretty well, papa."
"Only pretty well! Is that the most you can say of it? I understood that
it was supposed to be an amusement of a much more positive character."
"Papa, it is amusing--but it has its disagreeablenesses."
"Has it? What can they be? Or has everything pleasant its dark side?"
"I don't know, papa."
"What makes the shadows in this instance?"
It seemed not just easy for Daisy to tell, for her father saw that she
looked puzzled how to answer.
"Papa, I think it is because people do not behave perfectly well."
It was quite impossible for Mr. Randolph to help bursting into a laugh
at this; but he put his arms round Daisy and kissed her very
affectionately at the same time.
"How does their ill behaviour affect your pleasure, Daisy?"
"Papa--you know I have to play with them."
"Yes, I understand that. What do they do?"
"It isn't _they_, papa. It is only Alexander Fish--or at least it is he
"What does _he_ do?"
"Papa--we are in a tableau together."
"Yes. You and he?"
"Yes, papa. And it is very disagreeable."
"Pray how, Daisy?" said Mr. Randolph, commanding his features with some
difficulty. "What is the tableau?"
"Papa, you know the story of Priscilla?"
"I do not think I do. What Priscilla?"
"Priscilla and John Alden. It is in a book of engravings."
"O!--the courtship of Miles Standish?"
"Miles Standish was his friend, papa."
"Yes, I know now. And are you Priscilla?"
"And who is Miles Standish?"
"O, nobody; he is not in the picture; it is John Alden."
"I think I remember. Who is John Alden, then?"
"Papa, they have put Alexander Fish in, because he has long curling
hair; but I think Preston's hair would do a great deal better."
"Preston is under some obligation to the others, I suppose, because he
is manager. But how does Alexander Fish abuse his privileges?"
"Papa," said Daisy unwillingly,--"his face is turned away from the other
people, so that nobody can see it but me;--and he winks."
Daisy brought out the last word with an accession of gravity impossible
fully to describe. Mr. Randolph's mouth twitched; he bent his head down
upon Daisy's, that she might not see it.
"That is very rude of him, Daisy," he said.
"Papa," said Daisy, who did not relish the subject, and chose a
departure,--"what is a _Puritan_?"
"Yes, papa. What is it? Priscilla was a Puritan."
"That was a name given to a class of people in England a long time ago."
"What did it mean?"
"They were a stiff set of people, Daisy; good enough people in their
way, no doubt, but very absurd in it also."
"What did they do, papa?"
"Concluded to do without whatever is graceful and beautiful and
pleasant, in dress or arts or manners. The more disagreeable they made
life, they thought it was the better."
"Why were they called that name? Were they purer than other people?"
"I believe they thought themselves so."
"I think they look nice in the picture," said Daisy meditatively. "Are
there any Puritans now, papa?"
"There are people that are called Puritans. It is a term apt to be
applied to people that are stiff in their religion."
"Papa," said Daisy when an interval of five minutes had passed,--"I do
not see how people can be stiff in their religion."
"Don't you. Why not?"
"Papa, I do not see how it can be _stiff_, to love God and do what he
"No--" said Mr. Randolph; "but people can be stiff in ways of their own
"Ways that are not in the Bible, papa?"
"But papa, it cannot be _stiff_, to do what God says we must do?"
"No,--of course not," said Mr. Randolph getting up.
He left her, and Daisy sat meditating; then with a glad heart ran off
and ordered her pony chaise. If tableaux were to be the order of the day
every afternoon, she must go to see Molly in the morning. This time she
had a good deal to carry and to get ready. Molly was in want of bread.
A nice little loaf, fresh baked, was supplied by Joanna, along with some
"She will like those, I dare say," said Daisy. "I dare say she never saw
rolls in her life before. Now she wants some meat, Joanna. There was
nothing but a little end of cold pork on the dish in her cupboard."
"Why I wonder who cooks for the poor wretch?" said Joanna.
"I think she cooks for herself, because she has a stove, and I saw iron
things and pots to cook with. But she can't do much, Joanna, and I don't
believe she knows how."
"Sick, is she too?" said Joanna.
"Sick with rheumatism, so that she did not like to stir."
"I guess I must go take a look at her; but maybe she mightn't let me.
Well, Miss Daisy, the way will be for you to tell me what she wants, if
you can find out. She must have neighbours, though, that take care of
"We are her neighbours," said Daisy.
Joanna looked, a look of great complacency and some wonder, at the
child; and packed forthwith into Daisy's basket the half of a cold
chicken and a broken peach pie. A bottle of milk Daisy particularly
desired, and a little butter; and she set off at last, happier than a
queen--Esther or any other--to go to Molly with her supplies.
She found not much improvement in the state of affairs. Molly was
gathered up on her hearth near the stove, in which she had made a fire;
but it did not appear, for all that Daisy could see, that anything else
had been done or any breakfast eaten that morning. The cripple seemed to
be in a down-hearted and hopeless state of mind; and no great wonder.
"Molly, would you like another cup of tea?" said her little friend.
"Yes, it's in there. You fix it,"--said the poor woman, pointing as
before to the cupboard, and evidently comforted by Daisy's presence and
proposal. Daisy could hear it in the tone of her voice. So, greatly
pleased herself, Daisy went to work in Molly's house just as if she was
at home. She fetched water in the kettle again and made up the fire.
While that was getting ready, she set the table for breakfast. The only
table that Molly could use was a piece of board nailed on a chair. On
this Daisy put her plate and cup and saucer, and with secret glee
arranged the cold chicken and loaf of bread. For the cupboard, as she
saw, was as empty as she had found it two days before. What Molly had
lived on in the mean time was simply a mystery to Daisy. To be sure, the
end of cold pork was gone, the remains of the cake had disappeared, and
nothing was left of the peaches but the stones. The tea-kettle did not
boil for a time; and Daisy looked uneasily at Molly's cup and saucer and
plate meanwhile. They had not been washed, Daisy could not guess for how
long; certainly no water had touched them since the tea of two nights
ago, for the cake crumbs and peach stones told the tale. Daisy looked at
them with a great feeling of discomfort. She could not bear to see them
so; they ought to be washed; but Daisy disliked the idea of touching
them for that purpose more than I can make you understand. In all
matters of nicety and cleanliness Daisy was notional; nothing suited her
but the most fastidious particularity. It had been a trial to her to
bring those unwashed things from the cupboard. Now she sat and looked at
them; uneasily debating what she should do. It was not comfortable, that
Molly should take her breakfast off them as they were; and Molly was
miserable herself and would do nothing to mend matters. And
then--"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,"--As soon as that
came fairly into Daisy's head, she knew what she ought to be about. Not
without an inward sigh, she gathered up the pieces again.
"What you going to do?" said Molly.
"I'll bring them back," said Daisy. "I will be ready directly. The water
is not boiling yet."
For she saw that Molly was jealously eager for the hoped-for cup of tea.
She carried the things out into the shed, and there looked in vain for
any dish or vessel to wash them in. How could it be that Molly managed?
Daisy was fain to fetch a little bowl of water and wash the crockery
with her fingers, and then fetch another bowl of water to rinse it.
There was no napkin to be seen. She left the things to drain as they
could, and went to the spring to wash her own fingers; rejoicing in the
purifying properties of the sweet element. All this took some time, but
Daisy carried in her clean dishes with a satisfied heart.
"It's bi'lin',--" said Molly as soon as she entered.
So the little kettle was. Daisy made tea, and prepared Molly's table
with a little piece of butter and the bottle of milk. And no little girl
making an entertainment for herself with tiny china cups and tea-set,
ever had such satisfaction in it. Twenty dinners at home could not have
given Daisy so much pleasure, as she had now to see the poor cripple
look at her unwonted luxuries and then to see her taste them. Yet Molly
said almost nothing; but the grunt of new expression with which she set
down the bottle of milk the first time, went all through and through
Daisy's heart with delight. Molly drank tea and spread her bread with
butter, and Daisy noticed her turning over her slice of bread to examine
the texture of it; and a quieter, soothed, less miserable look, spread
itself over her wrinkled features. They were not wrinkled with age; yet
it was a lined and seamed face generally, from the working of unhappy
and morose feelings.
"Ain't it good!--" was Molly's single word of comment as she finished
her meal. Then she sat back and watched Daisy putting all the things
nicely away. She looked hard at her.
"What you fetch them things here for?" she broke out suddenly. "H--n?"
The grunt with which her question concluded was so earnest in its demand
of an answer, that Daisy stopped.
"Why I like to do it, Molly," she said. Then seeing the intent eyes with
which the poor creature was examining her, Daisy added,--"I like to do
it; because Jesus loves you."
"H--n?"--said Molly, very much at a loss what this might mean, and very
eager to know. Daisy stood still, with the bread in her hands.
"Don't you know, Molly?" she said. "He does. It is Jesus, that I told
you about. He loves you, and he came and died for you, that he might
make you good and save you from your sins; and he loves you now, up in
"What's that?" said Molly.
"Heaven? that is where God lives, and the angels, and good people."
"There ain't none," said Molly.
"There ain't no good people."
"O yes, there are. When they are washed in Jesus' blood, then they are
good. He will take away all their sins."
Molly was silent for a moment and Daisy resumed her work of putting
things away; but as she took the peach pie in her hands Molly burst out
"What you bring them things here for?"
Daisy stopped again.
"I think it is because Jesus is my king," she said, "and I love him. And
I love what he loves, and so I love you, Molly."
Daisy looked very childish and very wise, as she said this; but over
Molly's face there came a great softening change. The wrinkles seemed to
disappear; she gazed at Daisy steadily as if trying to find out what it
all meant: and when the eyes presently were cast down, Daisy almost
thought there was a little moisture about them. She had no further
interruption in her work. The dishes were all put away, and then she
brought her book. Daisy had her Bible with her this time, that she might
give Molly more than her own words. And Molly she found as ready to
listen as could be desired. And she was persistent in desiring to hear
only of that incredible Friend of whom Daisy had told her. That name she
wanted; wherever that name came in, Molly sat silent and attentive; if
the narrative lost it, she immediately quickened Daisy's memory to the
knowledge of the fact that nothing else would do. At last Daisy proposed
that Molly herself should learn to read. Molly stared very hopelessly at
first; but after getting more accustomed to the idea and hearing from
Daisy that it was by no means an impossible thing, and further that if
she could learn to read, the Bible would be forthcoming for her own use,
she took up the notion with an eagerness far exceeding all that Daisy
had hoped for. She said very little about it; nevertheless it was plain
that a root of hope had struck down into the creature's heart. Daisy
taught her two letters, A and B, and then was obliged to go home.
It was quite time, for little Daisy was tired. She was not accustomed to
making fires and boiling kettles, neither to setting tables and washing
dishes. Yet it was not merely, nor so much, the bodily exertion she had
made, as the mind work. The excitement both of pleasure and
responsibility and eager desire. Altogether, Daisy was tired; and sat
back in her chaise letting the reins hang languidly in her hands and
Loupe go how he would. But Loupe judged it was best to get home and have
some refreshment, so he bestirred himself. Daisy had time to lie down a
little while before her dinner; nevertheless she was languid and pale,
and disposed to take all the rest of the day very quietly.
The rest of the day was of course devoted to the tableaux. The little
company had got warmed to the subject pretty well at the first meeting;
they all came together this fine afternoon with spirits in tone for
business. And Daisy, though she was tired, presently found her own
interest drawn in. She was not called upon immediately to take any
active part; she perched herself in the corner of a couch and looked on
and listened. Thither came Nora Dinwiddie, too much excited to sit down,
and stood by Daisy's elbow. They had been practising "Alfred in the
neat-herd's cottage;" Nora had been called upon to be the girl blowing
the burnt cakes; she had done it, and everybody had laughed, but the
little lady was not pleased.
"I know I look horrid!" she said to Daisy,--"puffing out my cheeks till
they are like a pair of soapbubbles!"
"But soapbubbles are not that colour," said Daisy. "Your cheeks didn't
look like soapbubbles."
"Yes, they did. They looked horrid, I know."
"But the picture is so," urged Daisy quietly. "You want to be like the
"No I don't. Not that picture. I would like to be something handsome. I
don't like that picture."
Daisy was silent, and Nora pouted.
"What are you going to be, Daisy?" said Ella Stanfield.
"I am going to be Priscilla. No, I don't know whether I am or not; but I
am going to be Fortitude, I believe."
"That's pretty," said Ella. "What else? O, you are going to be the
angel, aren't you? I wonder if that will be pretty. It will be queer.
Nora, shall you like to be one of the little princes in the Tower? with
that featherbed coming over us? But we shall not see it, I suppose,
because our eyes have got to be shut; but I shall be afraid every minute
they will let it fall on us."
"My eyes won't be shut," said Nora.
"O, they must. You know, the little princes were asleep, when the men
came to kill them. Your eyes must be shut and you must be asleep. O,
what are they doing to Theresa?"
"Dressing her--" said Daisy.
"What is she going to be?"
"Portia--" said Daisy.
"Isn't that beautiful!--" said Nora with a deep breath. "O, what a
splen--did dress! How rich-looking it is. What a lovely purple. O, how
beautiful Theresa is in it. O--! Isn't that splen--did?"
A very prolonged, though low, breath of admiring wonder testified to the
impressive power, upon the children at least, of Theresa's new
habiliments. The purple brocade was upon her; its full draperies swept
the ground in gorgeous colouring; a necklace of cameos was bound with
great effect upon her hair; and on the arms, which were half bare, Mrs.
Sandford was clasping gold and glittering jewels. Theresa threw herself
slightly back in her prescribed attitude, laid her arms lightly across
each other, and turned her head with a very saucy air towards the
companion figure, supposed to be Bassanio. All the others laughed and
"Not that, Theresa, not that; you have got the wrong picture. You are
going with the Prince of Arragon now, to the caskets; and you ought to
be anxiously asking Bassanio about his letter."
Theresa changed attitude and expression on the instant; bent slightly
forward, lost her sauciness, and laid her hand upon Bassanio's arm with
a grave, tender look of inquiry. They all shouted again.
"Bravo, Theresa! capital!" said Preston.
"Hamilton, can you act up to that?" said Mrs. Sandford.
"Wait till I get my robes on, ma'am. I can make believe a great deal
easier when I am under the persuasion that it is not me--Hamilton Rush."
"I'd like to see Frederica do as well as that," said Alexander Fish, in
a fit of brotherly concern.
"Let us try her--" said good-natured Mrs. Sandford. Mrs. Sandford
certainly was good-natured, for she had all the dressing to do. She did
it well, and very patiently.
"There," said Nora, when Ella had left the couch to go to her
sister,--"that is what I like. Didn't she look beautiful, Daisy?"
"Her dress looked beautiful--" said Daisy.
"Well, of course; and that made _her_ look beautiful. Daisy, I wish I
could have a nice part. I would like to be the queen in that fainting
"You are going to be in that picture."
"But, I mean, I would like to be the queen. She will have the best
dress, won't she?"
"I suppose she will be the most dressed," said Daisy.
"I don't want to be one of the women--I want to be the queen. Hamilton
Rush said I would be the best one for it, because she was a Jewess; and
I am the only one that has got black eyes and hair."
"But her eyes will not be seen," said Daisy. "She is fainting. When
people faint, they keep their eyes shut."
"Yes, but I am the only one that has got black hair. That will shew. Her
hair ought to be black."
"Why will not other hair do just as well?" said Daisy.
"Why, because she was a Jewess."
"Do Jewesses always have black hair?"
"Of course they _ought_ to have black hair," said Nora; "or Hamilton
Rush would not have said that. And my hair is black."
Daisy was silent. She said nothing to this proposition. The children
were both silenced for a little while the practising for "Marie
Antoinette" was going on. The principal part in this was taken by
Frederica, who was the beauty of the company. A few touches of Mrs.
Sandford's skilful hands transformed her appearance wonderfully. She put
on an old-fashioned straight gown, which hung in limp folds around her;
and Mrs. Sandford arranged a white handkerchief over her breast, tying
it in the very same careless loose knot represented in the picture; but
her management of Frederica's hair was the best thing. Its soft fair
luxuriance was, no one could tell how, made to assume the half dressed,
half undressed air of the head in Delaroche's picture; and Frederica
looked the part well.
"She should throw her head a little more back,"--whispered Hamilton Rush
to the manager;--"her head or her shoulders. She is not quite indignant
"That handkerchief in her hand is not right--" said Preston in a
responding whisper. "You see to it--while I get into disguise."
"That handkerchief, Mrs. Sandford--" Hamilton, said softly.
"Yes. Frederica, your hand with the pocket-handkerchief,--it is not
quite the thing."
"You hold it like a New York lady."
"How _should_ I hold it?"
"Like a French queen, whose Austrian fingers may hold anything any way."
This was Hamilton's dictum.
"But how _do_ I hold it?"
"You have picked it up in the middle, and shew all the flower work in
"You hold it too daintily, Frederica," said Theresa. "You must grasp
it--grasp it loosely--but as the distinguished critic who has last
spoken has observed."
Frederica dropped her handkerchief, and picked it up again exactly as
she had it before.
"Try again--" said Mrs. Sandford. "Grasp it, as Theresa says. Never mind
how you are taking it up."
"Must I throw it down again?"
"If you please."
"Take it up any way but in the middle," said Hamilton.
Down went the handkerchief on a chair, and then Frederica's fingers took
it up, delicately, and with a little shake displayed as before what
Hamilton called the flowers in the corners. It was the same thing. They
"She can't hold a handkerchief any but the one way--I don't believe,"
said her brother Alexander.
"Isn't it right?" said Frederica.
"Perfect, I presume, for Madison Square or Fifth Avenue--but not exactly
for a revolutionary tribunal," said Hamilton.
"What is the difference?"
"Ah, that is exactly what it is so hard to get at. Hello! Preston--is it
Preston? Can't be better, Preston. Admirable! admirable!"
"Well, Preston, I do not know you!" said Mrs. Sandford.
Was it Preston? Daisy could hardly believe her ears. Her eyes
certainly-told her another story. Was it Preston? in the guise and with
the face of an extremely ugly old woman--vicious and malignant,--who
taking post near the deposed queen, peered into her face with spiteful
curiosity and exultation. Not a trace of likeness to Preston could Daisy
see. She half rose up to look at him in her astonishment. But the voice
soon declared that it was no other than her cousin.
"Come,"--said he, while they were all shouting,--"fall in. You
Hamilton,--and Theresa,--come and take your positions."
Hamilton, with a glance at the picture, went behind Preston; and putting
on a savage expression, thrust his clenched fist out threateningly
towards the dignified figure of Frederica; while Theresa, stealing up
into the group, put her hands upon a chair back to steady herself and
bent towards the queen a look of mournful sympathy and reverence, that
in the veritable scene and time represented would undoubtedly have cost
the young lady her life. The performers were good; the picture was
admirable. There was hardly anybody left to look when George Linwood and
Alexander had taken post as the queen's guards; and to say truth they
did not in their present state of undisguised individuality add much to
the effect; but Mrs. Sandford declared the tableau was very fine, and
could be made perfect.
The question of Cinderella came up then; and there was a good deal of
talk. Finally it was decided that little Ella should be Cinderella, and
Eloise the fairy godmother, and Jane Linwood and Nora the wicked
sisters. A little practising was tried, to get them in order. Then
Esther was called for. Daisy submitted.
Hamilton Rush was made magnificent and kingly by a superb velvet mantle
and turbaned crown--the latter not perfect, but improvised for the
occasion. For a sceptre he held out a long wooden ruler this time; but
Preston promised a better one should be provided. The wooden ruler was
certainly not quite in keeping with the king's state, or the queen's.
Daisy was robed in a white satin dress of her mother's; much too long,
of course, but that added to the rich effect; it lay in folds upon the
floor. Her head was covered with a rose-coloured silken scarf wound
artistically round it and the ends floating away; and upon this drapery
diamonds were bound, that sparkled very regally over Daisy's forehead.
But this was only the beginning. A zone of brilliants at her waist made
the white satin dazzling and gathered its folds together; bracelets of
every colour and of great beauty loaded Daisy's little arms; till she
was, what Mrs. Sandford had said Esther must be, a spot of brilliancy.
Her two maids, Nora and Jane Linwood, at this time were not robed in
any other than their ordinary attire; perhaps that was one reason why
their maintenance of their characters was not quite so perfect as that
of the principal two. Hamilton stretched forward his wooden sceptre to
the queen with benignant haste and dignity. Daisy, only too glad to
shrink away, closed her eyes and lay back in the arms of her attendants
in a manner that was really very satisfactory. But the attendants
themselves were not in order.
"Jane, you must not laugh--" said her brother.
"I ain't laughing!"
"Yes, but you were."
"The queen is fainting, you know," said Mrs. Sandford. "You are one of
her maids, and you are very much distressed about it."
"I am not distressed a bit. I don't care."
"Nora, do not forget that you are another attendant. Your business is
with your mistress. You must be looking into her face, to see if she is
really faint or if you can perceive signs of mending. You must look very
But Nora looked very cross; and as Jane persisted in giggling, the
success of that picture was not quite excellent this time.
"Nora is the most like a Jewess--" Theresa remarked.
"O, Nora will make a very good maid of honour by and by," Mrs. Sandford
But Nora had her own thoughts.
"Daisy, how shall I be dressed?" she inquired, when Daisy was disrobed
of her magnificence and at leisure to talk.
"I don't know. O, in some nice way," said Daisy, getting into her corner
of the couch again.
"Yes, but shall I--shall Jane and I have bracelets, and a girdle, and
something on our heads too?"
"No, I suppose not. The queen of course is most dressed, Nora; you know
she must be."
"I should like to have _one_ dress," said Nora. "I am not anything at
all. All the fun is in the dress. You are to have four dresses."
"Well, so are you to have four."
"No, I am not. What four?"
"This one, you know; and Red Riding-hood--and the Princes in the
"I am to be only one of the ugly sisters in Cinderella--I don't believe
aunt Frances will give her much of a dress; and I hate Red Riding-hood;
and the Princes in the Tower are not to be dressed at all. They are
covered up with the bed-clothes."
"Nora," said Daisy softly,--"would you like to be dressed as John
"As _what?_" said Nora, in no very accommodating tone of voice.
"John Alden--that Puritan picture, you know, with the spinning wheel. I
am to be Priscilla."
"A boy! Do you think I would be dressed like a boy?" cried Nora in
dudgeon. And Daisy thought _she_ would not, if the question were asked
her; and had nothing more to answer.
So the practising went on, with good success on the whole. The little
company met every other day; and dresses were making, and postures were
studied, and costumes were considered and re-considered. Portia and
Bassanio got to be perfect. So did Alfred in the neat-herd's
cottage--very nearly. Nora, however she grumbled, blew her cakes
energetically; Preston and Eloise made a capital old man and woman, she
with a mutch cap and he with a bundle of sticks on his head; while
Alexander Fish with his long hair and rather handsome face sat very well
at the table hearing his rebuke for letting the cakes burn. Alexander
was to have a six-foot bow in hand, which he and Hamilton were getting
ready: and meanwhile practised with an umbrella. But the tableau was
very good. Most of the others went very well. Still Daisy was greatly
tried by John Alden's behaviour, and continued to look so severe in the
picture as to draw out shouts of approving laughter from the company,
who did not know that Alexander Fish was to be thanked for it. And Nora
was difficult to train in Queen Esther. She wore obstinately a look of
displeased concern for herself, and no concern at all for her fainting
mistress. Which on the whole rather impaired the unity of the action,
and the harmony of the general effect.
"How is your task proceeding?" Mrs. Randolph asked one evening when Mrs.
Sandford was staying to tea.
"Excellently well. We shall make a good thing, I confidently expect."
"Hamilton is a good actor," said Preston.
"And Master Gary also," said Mrs. Sandford. "Your old French wife is
"Much obliged, ma'am."
"Not to me. My dressing has nothing to do with that. But Preston, what
shall we do with Frederica's handkerchief? She can _not_ hold
"Like a queen--" said Preston. "I do not know--unless we could scare her
out of her propriety. A good fright would do it, I think. But then the
expression would not suit. How is the Game, Mrs. Sandford?"
"Perfect! admirable! You and Hamilton do it excellently--and Daisy is a
"How does _she_ like it all?" Mrs. Randolph inquired.
"Aunt Felicia, she is as much engaged as anybody."
"And plays as well," added Mrs. Sandford.
"She has found out to-day, aunt Felicia," Preston went on, speaking
rather low, "that she ought to have a string of red stones round her
head instead of white ones."
Mrs. Randolph smiled.
"She was quite right," said Mrs. Sandford. "It was a matter of colour,
and she was quite right. She was dressed for Queen Esther, and I made
her look at herself to take the effect; and she suggested, very
modestly, that stones of some colour would do better than diamonds round
her head. So I substituted some very magnificent rubies of yours, Mrs.
Randolph; quite to Daisy's justification."
"Doesn't she make a magnificent little 'Fortitude,' though!" said
"The angel will be the best," said Mrs. Sandford. "She looks so
naturally troubled. But we have got a good band of workers. Theresa
Stanfield is very clever."
"It will do Daisy a world of good," said Mrs. Gary.
All this while Daisy's days were divided. Silks and jewels and pictures
and practising, in one part; in the other part, the old cripple Molly
Skelton, and her basket of bread and fruit, and her reading in the
Bible. For Daisy attended as regularly to the one as to the other set of
interests, and more frequently; for the practising party met only three
times a week, but Daisy went to Molly every day.
Molly was not sick now. Daisy's good offices in the material line were
confined to supplying her with nice bread and butter and fruit and milk,
with many varieties beside. But in that day or two of rheumatic pains,
when Molly had been waited upon by the dainty little handmaiden who came
in spotless frocks and trim little black shoes to make her fire and
prepare her tea, Daisy's tenderness and care had completely won Molly's
heart. She was a real angel in that poor house; no vision of one. Molly
welcomed her so, looked at her so, and would perhaps have obeyed her as
readily. But Daisy offered no words that required obedience, except
those she read out of the Book; and Molly listened to them as if it had
been the voice of an angel. She was learning to read herself; really
learning: making advances every day that shewed diligent interest; and
the interest was fed by those words she daily listened to out of the
same book. Daisy had got a large-print Testament for her at Crum Elbow;
and a new life had begun for the cripple. The rose-bush and the
geranium flourished brilliantly, for the frosts had not come yet; and
they were a good setting forth of how things were going in the house.
One lovely October afternoon, when air and sky were a breath and vision
of delight, after a morning spent in dressing and practising, Daisy went
to Molly. She went directly after luncheon. She had given Molly her
lesson; and then Daisy sat with a sober little face, her finger between
the leaves of the Bible, before beginning her accustomed reading. Molly
eyed her wistfully.
"About the crowns and the white dresses," she suggested.
"Shall I read about those?" said Daisy. And Molly nodded. And with her
little face exceedingly grave and humble, Daisy read the seventh chapter
of the Revelation, and then the twenty-first chapter, and the
twenty-second; and then she sat with her finger between the leaves as
before, looking out of the window.
"Will they all be sealed?" said Molly, breaking the silence.
"What is that?"
"I don't know exactly. It will be a mark of all the people that love
"A mark in their foreheads?"
"Yes, it says so."
"I don't know, Molly; it says, 'His name shall be in their foreheads.'"
And Daisy's eyes became full of tears.
"How will that be?"
"I don't know, Molly; it don't tell. I suppose that everybody that looks
at them will know in a minute that they belong to Jesus."
Daisy's hand went up and brushed across her eyes; and then did it again.
"Do they belong to him?" asked Molly.
"O yes! Here it is--don't you remember?--'they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'"
"So they are white, then?" said Molly.
"Yes. And his mark is on them."
"I wish," said the cripple slowly and thoughtfully,--"I wish 'twas on
me. I do!"
I do not think Daisy could speak at this. She shut her book and got up
and looked at Molly, who had put her head down on her folded arms; and
then she opened Molly's Testament and pressed her arm to make her look.
Still Daisy did not speak; she had laid her finger under some of the
words she had been reading; but when Molly raised her head she
remembered the sense of them could not be taken by the poor woman's
eyes. So Daisy read them, looking with great tenderness in the cripple's
"'I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of
life freely.' That is what it says, Molly."
"Why Jesus says it. He came and died to buy the life for us--and now he
will give it to us, he says, if we want it."
"What life?" said Molly vaguely.
"Why _that_, Molly; that which you were wishing for. He will forgive us,
and make us good, and set his mark upon us; and then we shall wear those
robes that are made white in his blood, and be with him in heaven. And
that is life."
"You and me?" said Molly.
"O yes! Molly--anybody. It says 'whosoever is athirst.'"
"Where's the words?" said Molly.
Daisy shewed her; and Molly made a deep mark in the paper under them
with her nail; so deep as to signify that she meant to have them for
present study or future reference or both. Then, as Molly seemed to
have said her say, Daisy said no more and went away.
It was still not late in the afternoon; and Daisy drove on, past the
Melbourne gates, and turned the corner into the road which led to Crum
Elbow. The air was as clear as October could have it; and soft, neither
warm nor cold; and the roads were perfect; and here and there a few
yellow and red maple leaves, and in many places a brown stubble field,
told that autumn was come. It was as pleasant a day for drive as could
possibly be; and yet Daisy's face was more intent upon her pony's ears
than upon any other visible thing. She drove on towards Crum Elbow, but
before she reached it she turned another corner, and drew up before
It was not the first visit she had made here since going home; though
Daisy had in truth not come often nor stayed long. All the more glad
were Juanita and she to see each other now. Daisy took off her flat and
sat down on the old chintz couch, with a face of content. Yet it was
grave content; not joyous at all. So Juanita's keen eyes saw, through
all the talking which went on. Daisy and she had a great deal to say to
each other; and among other things the story of Molly came in and was
enlarged upon; though Daisy left most of her own doings to be guessed
at. She did not tell them more than she could well help. However, talk
went on a good while, and still when it paused Daisy's face looked
thoughtful and careful. So Juanita saw.
"Is my love quite well?"
"O yes, Juanita. I am quite well. I think I am getting strong, a
Juanita's thanksgiving was earnest. Daisy looked very sober.
"Juanita, I have been wanting to talk to you."
Now they had been talking a good deal; but this, the black woman saw,
was not what Daisy meant.
"What is it, my love?"
"I don't know, Juanita. I think I am puzzled."
The fine face of Mrs. Benoit looked gravely attentive, and a little
anxiously watchful of Daisy's.
"The best way will be to tell you. Juanita, they are--I mean, we
are--playing pictures at home."
"What is that, Miss Daisy?"
"Why, they take pictures--pictures in books, you know--and dress up
people like the people in the pictures, and make them stand so or sit
so, and look so, as the people in the pictures do; and so they make a
picture of living people."
"Yes, Miss Daisy."
"They are playing pictures at home. I mean, we are. Mamma is going to
give a great party next week; and the pictures are to be all made and
shewn at the party. There are twelve pictures; and they will be part of
the entertainment. There is to be a gauze stretched over the door of the
library, and the pictures are to be seen behind the gauze."
"And does Miss Daisy like the play?" the black woman inquired, not
"Yes, Juanita--I like some things about it. It is very amusing. There
are some things I do not like."
"Did Miss Daisy wish to talk to me about those things she not like?"
"I don't, know, Juanita--no, I think not. Not about those things. But I
do not exactly know about myself."
"What Miss Daisy not know about herself?"
"I do not know exactly--whether it is right."
"Whether what be right, my love?"
Daisy was silent at first, and looked puzzled.
"Juanita--I mean--I don't know whether _I_ am right."
"Will my love tell what she mean?"
"It is hard, Juanita. But--I don't think I am quite right. I want you to
tell me what to do."
Daisy's little face looked perplexed and wise. And sorry.
"What troubles my love?"
"I do not know how it was, Juanita--I did not care at all about it at
first; and then I began to care about it a little--and now--"
"What does my love care about?"
"About being dressed, Juanita; and wearing mamma's jewels, and looking
like a picture."
"Will Miss Daisy tell Juanita better what she mean?"
"Why, you know, Juanita," said the child wistfully, "they dress up the
people to look like the pictures; and they have put me in some very
pretty pictures; and in one I am to be beautifully dressed to look like
Queen Esther--with mamma's jewels all over me. And there is another
little girl who would like to have that part,--and I do not want to give
it to her."
Juanita sat silent, looking grave and anxious. Her lips moved, but she
said nothing that could be heard.
"And Juanita," the child went on--"I think, somehow, I like to look
better than other people,--and to have handsomer dresses than other
people,--in the pictures, you know."
Still Juanita was silent.
"Is it right, Juanita?"
"Miss Daisy pardon me. Who Miss Daisy think be so pleased to see her in
the beautiful dress in the picture?"
"Juanita--it was not that I meant. I was not thinking so much of _that_.
Mamma would like it, I suppose, and papa;--but I like it myself."
Juanita was silent again.
"Is it right, Juanita?"
"Why do Miss Daisy think it not right?"
Daisy looked undecided and perplexed.
"Juanita--I wasn't quite sure."
"Miss Daisy like to play in these pictures?"
"Yes, Juanita--and I like--Juanita, I like it!"
"And another little girl, Miss Daisy say, like it too?"
"Yes, I think they all do. But there is a little girl that wants to take
"And who Miss Daisy want to please?"
Daisy hesitated, and her eyes reddened; she sat a minute still; then
looked up very wistfully.
"Juanita, I think I want to please myself."
"Jesus please not himself"--said the black woman.
Daisy made no answer to that. She bent over and hid her little head in
Mrs. Benoit's lap. And tears undoubtedly came, though they were quiet
tears. The black woman's hand went tenderly over the little round head.
"And he say to his lambs--'Follow me.'"
"Juanita"--Daisy spoke without raising her head--"I want to please him
"How Miss Daisy think she do that?"
Daisy's tears now, for some reason, came evidently, and abundantly. She
wept more freely in Juanita's lap than she would have done before father
or mother. The black woman let her alone, and there was silent
counsel-taking between Daisy and her tears for some time.
"Speak to me, Juanita"--she said at last.
"What my love want me to say?"
"It has been all wrong, hasn't it, Juanita? O have I, Juanita?"
"What, my love?"
"I know I have," said Daisy. "I knew it was not right before."
There was yet again a silence; a tearful silence on one part. Then Daisy
raised her head, looking very meek.
"Juanita, what ought I to do?"
"What my love said," the black woman replied very tenderly. "Please the
"Yes; but I mean, how shall I do that?"
"Jesus please not himself; and he say, 'Follow me.'"
"Juanita, I believe I began to want to please myself very soon after all
this picture work and dressing began."
"Then it not please the Lord," said Juanita decidedly.
"I know," said Daisy; "and it has been growing worse and worse. But
Juanita, I shall have to finish the play now--I cannot help it. How
shall I keep good? Can I?"
"My love knows the Good Shepherd carry his lamb in his bosom, if she let
him. He is called Jesus, for he save his people from their sins."
Daisy's face was very lowly; and very touching was the way she bent her
little head and passed her hand across her eyes. It was the gesture of
"Tell me some more, Juanita."
"Let the Lord speak," said the black woman turning over her well used
Bible. "See, Miss Daisy--'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity
envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not
behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own--'"
"I was puffed up," said Daisy, "because I was to wear those beautiful
things. I will let Nora wear them. I was seeking my own, all the time,
Juanita. I didn't know it."
"See, Miss Daisy--'That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with
shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or
pearls, or costly array.'"
"Is there any _harm_ in those pretty things, Juanita? They are so
"I don't know, Miss Daisy; the Lord say he not pleased with them; and
the Lord knows."
"I suppose," said Daisy----but what Daisy supposed was never told. It
was lost in thought.
"My love see here what please the Lord--'the ornament of a meek and
quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.'"
Daisy lifted her little face and kissed the fine olive cheek of her
"I know now, Juanita," she said with her accustomed placidness. "I
didn't know what was the matter with me. I shall have to play in the
pictures--I cannot help it now--but I will let Nora be Queen Esther."
It was quite late by this time and Daisy after a little more talk went
home; a talk which filled the child's heart with comfort. Daisy went
home quite herself again, and looked as happy and busy as a bee when she
"Daisy! what late doings!" exclaimed her father. "Out all the afternoon
and practising all the morning--Where have you been?"
"I have been visiting, papa."
"Molly, papa--and Juanita," Daisy said, not very willingly, for Mrs.
Randolph was within hearing.
"A happy selection!" said she. "Go and get ready for dinner, Daisy."
"Have you been all the afternoon at those two places, Daisy?" asked her
father, within whose arms she stood.
He let her go; and a significant look passed between him and his wife.
"A little too much of a good thing," said Mr. Randolph.
"It will be too much, soon," the lady answered.
Nevertheless Daisy for the present was safe, thanks to her friend Dr.
Sandford; and she passed on up stairs with a spirit as light as a bird.
And after she was dressed, till it was time for her to go in to the
dinner-table, all that while a little figure was kneeling at the open
window and a little round head was bowed upon the sill. And after that,
there was no cloud upon Daisy's face at all.
In the drawing-room, when they were taking tea, Daisy carried her cup of
milk and cake to a chair close by Preston.
"Well, Daisy, what now?"
"I want to talk to you about the pictures, Preston."
"We did finely to-day, Daisy! If only I could get the cramp out of
"Cramp!" said Daisy.
"Yes. She picks up that handkerchief of hers as if her hand was a bird's
claw. I can't get a blue jay or a canary out of my head when I see her.
Did you ever see a bird scratch its eye with its claw, Daisy?"
"Well, that is what she puts me in mind of. That handkerchief kills
Marie Antoinette, dead. And she won't take advice--or she can't. It is a
pity you hadn't it to do; you would hold it right queenly. You do Esther
capitally. I don't believe a Northern girl can manage that sort of
Daisy sipped her milk and eat crumbs of cake for a minute without making
"Preston, I am going to let Nora be Queen Esther."
"What!" said Preston.
"I am going to let Nora be Queen Esther."
"Nora! Not if I know it," said Preston.
"Yes, but I am. I would like it better. And Nora would like to be Queen
Esther, I know."
"I dare say she would! Like it! Of course. No, Daisy; Queen Esther is
yours and nobody's else. What has put that into your head?"
"Preston, I think Nora would like it; and you know, they said she was
most like a Jewess of all of us; I think it would be proper to give it
"I shall not do it. We will be improper for once."
"But I am going to do it, Preston."
"Daisy, you have not liberty. I am the manager. What has come over you?
You played Esther beautifully only this morning. What is the matter?"
"I have been thinking about it," said Daisy; "and I have concluded I
would rather give it to Nora."
Preston was abundantly vexed, for he knew by the signs that Daisy had
made up her mind; and he was beginning to know that his little cousin
was exceedingly hard to move when once she was fully set on a thing. He
debated within himself an appeal to authority; but on the whole
dismissed that thought. It was best not to disgust Daisy with the whole
affair; and he hoped coaxing might yet do the work. But Daisy was too
quick for him.
"Nora," she said at the next meeting, "if you like, I will change with
you in the fainting picture. You shall be the queen, and I will be one
of the women."
"Shall I be the queen?" said Nora.
"Yes, if you like."
"But why don't you want to do it?"
"I would rather you would, if you like it."
"Well, I'll do it," said Nora; "but Daisy, shall I have all the dress
you were going to wear?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Because, if I don't, I won't. I must have just exactly what you were
going to wear."
"Why you will of course, I suppose," said Daisy, a good deal astonished.
"Every bit," said Nora. "Shall I have that same white satin gown?"
"Yes, I suppose so. Of course you will. It is only you and I that
change; not the dress."
"And shall I have the ornaments too?"
"Just the same, I suppose; unless Mrs. Sandford thinks that something
else will look better."
"I won't have anything else. I want that same splendid necklace for my
"I suppose so, Nora."
"You say 'I suppose so' to everything. I want to _know_. Shall I have
that same pink silk thing over my hair?"
"That scarf? yes."
"And the red necklace on it? and the bracelets? and the gold and
diamonds round my neck? I won't be Esther if I don't have the dress."
"I suppose you will have the dress," said Daisy; "of course you will.
But if you say you do not want to be Esther, they will make me do it."
A hint that closed Nora's mouth. She did not say she did not want to be
Esther. Mrs. Sandford was astonished at the change of performers; but
Daisy's resignation was so simply made and naturally, and Nora's
acceptance was so manifestly glad, that nobody could very well offer any
hindrance. The change was made; but Preston would not suffer Daisy to be
one of the attendants. He left her out of the picture altogether and put
Jane Linwood in Nora's vacated place. Daisy was content; and now the
practising and the arrangements went on prospering.
There was a good deal of preparation to be made, besides what the
mantua-maker could do. Mr. Stilton was called into the library for a
great consultation; and then he went to work. The library was the place
chosen for the tableaux; the spectators to be gathered into the
drawing-room, and the pictures displayed just within the wide door of
communication between the two rooms. On the library side of this door
Mr. Stilton laid down a platform, slightly raised and covered with green
baize cloth, and behind the platform a frame-work was raised and hung
with green baize to serve as a proper background for the pictures. A
flower stand was brought in from the greenhouse and placed at one side,
out of sight from the drawing-room; for the purpose, as Preston informed
Daisy, of holding the lights. All these details were under his
management, and he managed, Daisy thought, very ably indeed. Meantime
the dresses were got ready. Fortitude's helmet was constructed of
pasteboard and gilt paper; and Nora said it looked just as if it were
solid gold. The crown of Ahasuerus, and Alfred's six-foot bow were also
made; and a beautiful old brown spinning wheel was brought from Mrs.
Sandford's house for Priscilla. Priscilla's brown dress was put
together, and her white vandyke starched. And the various mantles and
robes of velvet and silk which were to be used, were in some way
accommodated to the needs of the young wearers. All was done well, and
Preston was satisfied; except with Daisy.
Not that Daisy did not enter into the amusement of what was going
forward; for perhaps nobody took so much real share in it. Even Mr.
Stilton's operations interested her. But she was not engrossed at all.
She was not different from her usual self. All the glory of the tableaux
had not dazzled her, so far as Preston could see. And daily, every
morning, she stepped into that little pony chaise with a basket and
drove off--Preston was at the pains to find out--to spend a couple of
hours with Molly Skelton. Preston sighed with impatience. And then in
the very act of dressing and practising for the pictures, Daisy was
provokingly cool and disengaged. She did her part very well, but seemed
just as much interested in other people's parts and as much pleased with
other people's adornment. Queen Esther in particular was Daisy's care,
since she had given up the character; and without putting herself
forward she had once or twice made a suggestion to Mrs. Sandford, of
something that she either thought would please Nora or that she felt
called for by her own tastes; and in each case Mrs. Sandford declared
the suggestion had been an improvement.
But with a pleasure much greater and keener, Daisy had seen the pot
containing the 'Jewess' geranium taken up out of the ground, and set,
with all the glory of its purple-red blossoms, in Molly's poor little
room. There it stood, on a deal table, a spot of beauty and refinement,
all alone to witness for the existence of such things on the earth. And
heeded by Molly as well as by Daisy. Daisy knew that. And all the
pleasure of all the tableaux put together could give nothing to Daisy
equal to her joy when Molly first began to read. That day, when letters
began really to be put together into words to Molly's comprehension,
Daisy came home a proud child. Or rather, for pride is a bad word, she
came home with a heart swelling with hope and exultation; hope and
exultation that looked forward confidently to the glory to be revealed.
The great day came, and the evening of the day; and June dressed Daisy
for the party. This was a simple dressing, however, of a white cambrick
frock; no finery, seeing that Daisy was to put on and off various things
in the course of the evening. But Daisy felt a little afraid of herself.
The perfected arrangements and preparations of the last few days had,
she feared, got into her head a little; and when June had done and was
sent away, Daisy kneeled down by her bedside and prayed a good while
that God would help her not to please herself and keep her from caring
about dress and appearance and people's flatteries. And then she got up
and looked very wistfully at some words of the Lord Jesus which Juanita
had shewed her first and which she found marked by Mr. Dinwiddie's
pencil. "The Father hath not left me alone; _for I do always those
things that please him_."
Daisy was beginning to learn, that to please God, is not always to seek
one's own gratification or that of the world. She looked steadily at the
words of that Friend in heaven whom she loved and wished to obey; and
then it seemed to Daisy that she cared nothing at all about anything but
"Miss Daisy--" said June,--"Miss Nora is come."
Away went Daisy, with a bound, to the dressing-room; and carried Nora
off, as soon as she was unwrapped from her mufflings, to see the
preparations in the library.
"What is all that for?" said Nora.
"O, that is to shew the pictures nicely. They will look a great deal
better than if all the room and the books could be seen behind them."
"I suppose they will look more like pictures. By and by all those lights
on the stand will be lighted. And we shall dress in the library, you
know,--nobody will be in it,--and in the room on the other side of the
hall. All the things are brought down there."
"Daisy," said Nora looking at the imposing green baize screen, "aren't
"Are you?" said Daisy.
"Yes--I am afraid I shall not do something right, or laugh, or
"O, but you must not laugh. That would spoil the picture. And Mrs.
Sandford and Preston will make everything else right. Come and see the
crown for Ahasuerus!"
So they ran across the hall to the room of fancy dresses. Here Ella
presently joined them with her sister, and indeed so many others of the
performers that Preston ordered them all out. He was afraid of mischief,
he said. They trooped back to the library.
"When are they going to begin?" said Nora.
"I don't know. O, by and by. I suppose we shall have tea and coffee
first. People at a party must get through that."
To await this proceeding, and indeed to share in it, the little company
adjourned to the drawing-room. It was filling fast. All the
neighbourhood had been asked, and all the neighbourhood were very glad
to come, and here they were, pouring in. Now the neighbourhood meant all
the nice people within ten miles south and within ten miles north; and
all that could be found short of some seven or eight miles east. There
was one family that had even come from the other side of the river. And
all these people made Melbourne House pretty full. Happily it was a
very fine night.
Daisy was standing by the table, for the little folks had tea at a
table, looking with a face of innocent pleasure at the scene and the
gathering groups of people, when a hand laid gentle hold of her and she
found herself drawn within the doctor's arm and brought up to his side.
Her face brightened.
"What is going on, Daisy?"
"Preston has been getting up some tableaux, Dr. Sandford, to be done by
the young people."
"Are you one of the young people?"
"They have got me in," said Daisy.
"Misled by your appearance? What are you going to play, Daisy?"
Daisy ran off to a table and brought him a little bill of the
performances. The doctor ran his eye over it.
"I shall know what it means, I suppose, when I see the pictures. What is
this 'Game of Life?'"
"It is Retsch's engraving," Daisy answered, as sedately as if she had
been forty years old.
"Retsch! yes, I know him--but what does the thing mean?"
"It is supposed to be the devil playing with a young man--for his soul,"
Daisy said very gravely.
"Who plays the devil?"
"And who is to be the angel?"
"I am to be the angel," said Daisy.
"Very judicious. How do you like this new play, Daisy?"
"It is very amusing. I like to see the pictures."
"Not to be in them?"
"I think not, Dr. Sandford."
"Daisy, what else are you doing, besides playing tableaux, all these
"I drive about a good deal," said Daisy. Then looking up at her friend
with an entirely new expression, a light shining in her eye and a
subdued sweetness coming into her smile, she added--
"Molly is learning to read, Dr. Sandford."
"Molly!" said the doctor.
"Yes. You advised me to ask leave to go to see her, and I did, and I got
Daisy's words were a little undertone; the look that went with them the
doctor never forgot as long as he lived. His questions about the
festivities she had answered with a placid, pleased face; pleased that
he should ask her; but a soft irradiation of joy had beamed upon the
fact that the poor cripple was making a great step upwards in the scale
of human life. The doctor had not forgotten his share in the permission
Daisy had received, which he thought he saw she suspected. Unconsciously
his arm closed upon the little figure it held and brought her nearer to
him; but his questions were somehow stopped. And Daisy offered no more;
she stood quite still, till a movement at the table seemed to call for
her. She put her hand upon the doctor's arm, as a sign that it must hold
her no longer, and sprang away.
And soon now all the young people went back again to the library. Mrs.
Sandford came with them to serve in her arduous capacity of dresser.
June attended to give her help.
"Now what are we going to do?" whispered Nora in breathless excitement.
"What is to be the first picture? O Daisy, I wish you would get them to
have my picture last of all."
"O because. I think it ought to come last. Aren't you afraid? Whew!
"No, I don't think I am."
"But won't you want to laugh?"
"Why?" Daisy. "No, I do not think I shall want to laugh."
"I shall be too frightened to laugh," said Jane Linwood.
"I don't see, Daisy, how you will manage those queer wings of yours,"
"I have not got to manage them at all. I have only to keep still."
"I can't think how they will look," said Nora. "They don't seem to me
much like wings. I think they will look very funny."
"Hush, children--run away; you are not wanted here. Go into the
drawing-room--and I will ring this hand bell when I want you."
"What comes first, aunt Sandford?"
"Run away! you will see."
So the younger ones repaired to the drawing-room, for what seemed a
weary time of waiting. Nora expressed her entire disapprobation of being
shut out from all the fun of the dressing; she wanted to see that. She
then declared that it would be impossible to shew all the twelve
pictures that evening, if it took so long to get ready for one. However,
the time was past at length; the signal was given; the lights in the
drawing-room were put down, till the room was very shadowy indeed; and
then, amid the breathless hush of expectation, the curtain that hung
over the doorway of the library was drawn back.
The children thought it was fairy-land.
Frederica Fish sat there facing the company, quaintly dressed in antique
costume; and before her knelt on one knee two grand-looking personages,
very richly attired, presenting a gilt crown upon a satin cushion. Lady
Jane Grey and the lords who came to offer her the kingdom The draperies
were exceedingly well executed and did Mrs. Sandford great credit. They
were the picture.
"Isn't she _beau_-tiful!" Nora exclaimed under her breath.
"Isn't it like a picture!" said Daisy.
"How funnily those boys kneel and twist themselves round!" said Jane.
"Who are they?"
"Daisy, wouldn't you like to be dressed every day like that?" said Nora.
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