Read CHAPTER XIII - GREY COATS of Daisy , free online book, by Elizabeth Wetherell, on ReadCentral.com.

I went back to school comforted. I had got strength to face all that might be coming in the future. And life has been a different thing to me ever since. Paul’s words, “I can do all things through Christ,” I have learned are not his words any more than mine.

From that time I grew more and more popular in the school. I cannot tell why; but popularity is a thing that grows upon its own growth. It was only a little while before my companions almost all made a pet of me. It is humbling to know that this effect was hastened by some of the French dresses my mother had sent me, and which convenience obliged me to wear. They were extremely pretty; the girls came round me to know where I got them, and talked about who I was; and “Daisy Randolph,” was the name most favoured by their lips from that time until school closed. With the exception, I must add, of my four room-mates. Miss St. Clair held herself entirely aloof from me, and the others chose her party rather than mine. St. Clair never lost, I think, any good chance or omitted any fair scheme to provoke me; but all she could do had lost its power. I tried to soften her; but Faustina was a rock to my advances. I knew I had done irreparable wrong that evening; the thought of it was almost the only trouble I had during those months.

An old trouble was brought suddenly home to me one day. I was told a person wanted to speak to me in the lower hall. I ran down, and found Margaret. She was in the cloak and dress I had bought for her; looking at first very gleeful, and then very business-like, as she brought out from under her cloak a bit of paper folded with something in it.

“What is this?” I said, finding a roll of bills.

“It’s my wages, Miss Daisy. I only kept out two dollars, ma’am I wanted a pair of shoes so bad and I couldn’t be let go about the house in them old shoes with holes in ’em; there was holes in both of ’em, Miss Daisy.”

“But your wages, Margaret?” I said “I have nothing to do with your wages.”

“Yes, Miss Daisy they belongs to master, and I allowed to bring ’em to you. They’s all there so fur. It’s all right.”

I felt the hot shame mounting to my face. I put the money back in Margaret’s hand, and hurriedly told her to keep it; we were not at Magnolia; she might do what she liked with the money; it was her own earnings.

I shall never forget the girl’s confounded look, and then her grin of brilliant pleasure. I could have burst into tears as I went up the stairs, thinking of others at home. Yet the question came too, would my father like what I had been doing? He held the girl to be his property and her earnings his earnings. Had I been giving Margaret a lesson in rebellion, and preparing her to claim her rights at some future day? Perhaps. And I made up my mind that I did not care. Live upon stolen money I would not, any more than I could help. But was I not living on it all the while? The old subject brought back! I worried over it all the rest of the day, with many a look forward and back.

As the time of the vacation drew near, I looked hard for news of my father and mother, or tidings of their coming home. There were none. Indeed, I got no letters at all. There was nothing to cause uneasiness; the intervals were often long between one packet of letters and the next; but I wanted to hear of some change now that the school year was ended. It had been a good year to me. In that little world I had met and faced some of the hardest temptations of the great world; they could never be new to me again; and I had learned both my weakness and my strength.

No summons to happiness reached me that year. My vacation was spent again with my Aunt Gary, and without Preston. September saw me quietly settled at my studies for another school year; to be gone through with what patience I might.

That school year had nothing to chronicle. I was very busy, very popular, kindly treated by my teachers, and happy in a smooth course of life. Faustina St. Clair had been removed from the school; to some other I believe; and with her went all my causes of annoyance. The year rolled round, my father and mother in China or on the high seas; and my sixteenth summer opened upon me.

A day or two before the close of school, I was called to the parlour to see a lady. Not my aunt; it was Mrs. Sandford; and the doctor was with her.

I had not seen Mrs. Sandford, I must explain, for nearly a year; she had been away in another part of the country, far from New York.

“Why, Daisy! is this Daisy?” she exclaimed.

“Is it not?” I asked.

“Not the old Daisy. You are so grown, my dear! so That’s right, Grant; let us have a little light to see each other by.”

“It is Miss Randolph ” said the doctor, after he had drawn up the window shade.

“Like her mother! isn’t she? and yet, not like

“Not at all like.”

“She is, though, Grant; you are mistaken; she is like her mother; though as I said, she isn’t. I never saw anybody so improved. My dear, I shall tell all my friends to send their daughters to Mme. Ricard.”

“Dr. Sandford,” said I, “Mme. Ricard does not like to have the sun shine into this room.”

“It’s Daisy, too,” said the doctor, smiling, as he drew down the shade again. “Don’t you like it, Miss Daisy?”

“Yes, of course,” I said; “but she does not.”

“It is not at all a matter of course,” said he; “except as you are Daisy. Some people, as you have just told me, are afraid of the sun.”

“Oh, that is only for the carpets,” I said.

Dr. Sandford gave me a good look, like one of his looks of old times, that carried me right back somehow to Juanita’s cottage.

“How do you do, Daisy?”

“A little pale,” said Mrs. Sandford.

“Let her speak for herself.”

I said I did not know I was pale.

“Did you know you had head-ache a good deal of the time?”

“Yes, Dr. Sandford, I knew that. It is not very bad.”

“Does not hinder you from going on with study?”

“Oh no, never.”

“You have a good deal of time for study at night, too, do you not? after the lights are out.”

“At night? how did you know that? But it is not always study.”

“No. You consume also a good deal of beef and mutton, nowadays? You prefer substantials in food as in everything else?”

I looked at my guardian, very much surprised that he should see all this in my face, and with a little of my childish fascination about those steady blue eyes. I could not deny that in these days I scarcely lived by eating. But in the eagerness and pleasure of my pursuits I had not missed it, and amid my many busy and anxious thoughts I had not cared about it.

“That will do,” said the doctor. “Daisy, have you heard lately from your father or mother?”

My breath came short as I said no.

“Nor have I. Failing orders from them, you are bound to respect mine; and I order you change of air, and to go wherever Mrs. Sandford proposes to take you.”

“Not before school closes, Dr. Sandford?”

“Do you care about that?”

“My dear child,” said Mrs. Sandford, “we are going to West Point and we want to take you with us. I know you will enjoy it, my dear; and I shall be delighted to have you. But we want to go next week.”

“Do you care, Daisy?” Dr. Sandford repeated.

I had to consider. One week more, and the examination would be over and the school term ended. I was ready for the examination; I expected to keep my standing, which was very high; by going away now I should lose that, and miss some distinction. So at least I thought. I found that several things were at work in my heart that I had not known were there. After a minute I told Mrs. Sandford I would go with her when she pleased.

“You have made up your mind that you do not care about staying to the end here?” said the doctor.

“Dr. Sandford,” I said, “I believe I do care; but not about anything worth while.”

He took both my hands, standing before me, and looked at me, I thought, as if I were the old little child again.

“A course of fresh air,” he said, “will do you more good than a course of any other thing just now. And we may find ‘wonderful things’ at West Point, Daisy.”

“I expect you will enjoy it, Daisy,” Mrs. Sandford repeated.

There was no fear. I knew I should see Preston, at any rate; and I had been among brick walls for many months. I winced a little at the thought of missing all I had counted upon at the close of term; but it was mainly pride that winced, so it was no matter.

We left the city three or four days later. It was a June day can I ever forget it? What a brilliance of remembrance comes over me now? The bustle of the close schoolrooms, the heat and dust of the sunny city streets, were all left behind in an hour; and New York was nowhere! The waves of the river sparkled under a summer breeze; the wall of the palisades stretched along, like the barriers of fairyland; so they seemed to me; only the barrier was open and I was about to enter. So till their grey and green ramparts were passed, and the broader reaches of the river beyond, and as evening began to draw in we came to higher shores and a narrower channel, and were threading our way among the lights and shadows of opposing headlands and hilltops. It grew but more fresh and fair as the sun got lower. Then, in a place where the river seemed to come to an end, the “Pipe of Peace” drew close in under the western shore, to a landing. Buildings of grey stone clustered and looked over the bank. Close under the bank’s green fringes a little boat-house and large clean wooden pier received us; from the landing a road went steeply sloping up. I see it all now in the colours which clothed it then. I think I entered fairyland when I touched foot to shore. Even down at the landing, everything was clean and fresh and in order. The green branches of that thick fringe which reached to the top of the bank had no dust on them; the rocks were parti-coloured with lichens; the river was bright, flowing and rippling past; the “Pipe of Peace” had pushed off and sped on, and in another minute or two was turning the point, and then out of sight. Stillness seemed to fill the woods and the air as the beat of her paddles was lost. I breathed stillness. New York was fifty miles away, physically and morally at the antipodes.

I find it hard to write without epithets. As I said I was in fairyland; and how shall one describe fairyland?

Dr. Sandford broke upon my reverie by putting me into the omnibus. But the omnibus quite belonged to fairyland too; it did not go rattling and jolting, but stole quietly up the long hill; letting me enjoy a view of the river and the hills of the opposite shore, coloured as they were by the setting sun, and crisp and sharp in the cool June air. Then a great round-topped building came in place of my view; the road took a turn behind it.

“What is that?” I asked the doctor.

“I am sorry, Daisy, I don’t know. I am quite as ignorant as yourself.”

“That’s the riding-hall,” I heard somebody say.

One omnibus full had gone up before us; and there were only two or three people in ours besides our own party. I looked round, and saw that the information had been given by a young man in a sort of uniform; he was all in grey, with large round gilt buttons on his coat, and a soldier’s cap. The words had been spoken in a civil tone, that tempted me on.

“Thank you!” I said. “The riding-hall! who rides in it?”

“We do,” he said, and then smiled, “The cadets.”

It was a frank smile and a pleasant face and utterly the look of a gentleman. So, though I saw that he was very much amused, either at himself or me, I went on

“And those other buildings?”

“Those are the stables.”

I wondered at the neat beautiful order of the place. Then, the omnibus slowly mounting the hill, the riding-hall and stables were lost to sight. Another building, of more pretension, appeared on our left hand, on the brow of the ascent; our road turned the corner round this building, and beneath a grove of young trees the gothic buttresses and windows of grey stone peeped out. Carefully dressed green turf, with gravelled walks leading from different directions to the doors, looked as if this was a place of business. Somebody pulled the string here and the omnibus stopped.

“This is the library,” my neighbour in grey remarked; and with that rising and lifting his cap, he jumped out. I watched him rapidly walking into the library; he was tall, very erect, with a fine free carriage and firm step. But then the omnibus was moving on and I turned to the other side. And the beauty took away my breath. There was the green plain girded with trees and houses, beset with hills, the tops of which I could see in the distance, with the evening light upon them. The omnibus went straight over the plain; green and smooth and fresh, it lay on the one side and on the other side of us, excepting one broad strip on the right. I wondered what had taken off the grass there; but then we passed within a hedge enclosure and drew up at the hotel steps.

“Have you met an acquaintance already, Daisy?” Dr. Sandford asked as he handed me out.

“An acquaintance?” said I. “No, but I shall find him soon, I suppose.” For I was thinking of Preston. But I forgot Preston the next minute. Mrs. Sandford had seized my hand and drew me up the piazza steps and through the hall, out to the piazza at the north side of the house. I was in fairyland surely! I had thought so before, but I knew it now. Those grand hills, in the evening colours, standing over against each other on the east and on the west, and the full magnificent river lying between them, bright and stately, were like nothing I had ever seen or imagined. My memory goes back now to point after point of delight which bewildered me. There was a dainty little sail sweeping across just at the bend of the river; I have seen many since; I never forget that one. There was a shoulder of one of the eastern hills, thrown out towards the south-west, over which the evening light fell in a mantle of soft gold, with a fold of shadow on the other side. The tops of those eastern hills were warm with sunlight, and here and there a slope of the western hills. There was a point of the lower ground, thrust out into the river, between me and the eastern shore, which lay wholly in shadow, one shadow, one soft mass of dusky green, rounding out into a promontory. Above it, beyond it, at the foot of the hills, a white church spire rose as sharp as a needle. It is all before me, even the summer stillness in which my senses were wrapt. There was a clatter in the house behind me, but I did not hear it then.

I was obliged to go away to get ready for tea. The house was full; only one room could be spared for Mrs. Sandford and me. That one had been engaged beforehand, and its window looked over the same view I had seen from the piazza. I took my post at this window while waiting for Mrs. Sandford. Cooler and crisper the lights, cooler and grayer the shadows had grown; the shoulder of the east mountain had lost its mantle of light; just a gleam rested on a peak higher up; and my single white sail was getting small in the distance, beating up the river. I was very happy. My school year, practically, was finished, and I was vaguely expecting some order or turn of affairs which would join me to my father and mother. I remember well what a flood of satisfied joy poured into my heart as I stood at the window. I seemed to my self so very rich, to taste all that delight of hills and river; the richness of God’s giving struck me with a sort of wonder. And then being so enriched and tasting the deep treasures of heaven and earth which I had been made to know, happy so exceedingly it came to my heart with a kind of pang, the longing to make others know what I knew; and the secret determination to use all my strength as Christ’s servant in bringing others to the joy of the knowledge of Him.

I was called from my window then, and my view was exchanged for the crowded dining-room, where I could eat nothing. But after tea we got out upon the piazza again, and a soft north-west breeze seemed to be food and refreshment too. Mrs. Sandford soon found a colonel and a general to talk to; but Dr. Sandford sat down by me.

“How do you like it, Daisy?”

I told him, and thanked him for bringing me.

“Are you tired?”

“No I don’t think I am tired.”

“You are not hungry, of course, for you can eat nothing. Do you think you shall sleep?”

“I don’t feel like it now. I do not generally get sleepy till a great while after this.”

“You will go to sleep somewhere about nine o’clock,” said the doctor; “and not wake up till you are called in the morning.”

I thought he was mistaken, but as I could not prove it I said nothing.

“Are you glad to get away from school?”

“On some accounts. I like school too, Dr. Sandford; but there are some things I do not like.”

“That remark might be made, Daisy, about every condition of life with which I am acquainted.”

“I could not make it just now,” I said. He smiled.

“Have you secured a large circle of friends among your schoolmates, that are to last for ever?”

“I do not think they love me well enough for that,” I said, wondering somewhat at my guardian’s questioning mood.

“Nor you them?”

“I suppose not.”

“Why, Daisy,” said Mrs. Sandford, “I am surprised! I thought you used to love everybody.”

I tried to think how that might be, and whether I had changed. Dr. Sandford interrupted my thoughts again

“How is it with friends out of school?”

“Oh, I have none,” I said; thinking only of girls like myself.

“None?” he said. “Do you really know nobody in New York?”

“Nobody, but one old lady.”

“Who is that, Daisy?”

He asked short and coolly, like one who had a right to know; and then I remembered he had the right. I gave him Miss Cardigan’s name and number.

“Who is she? and who lives with her?”

“Nobody lives with her; she has only her servants.”

“What do you know about her then, besides what she has told you? Excuse me, and please have the grace to satisfy me.”

“I know I must,” I said half laughing.

Must?

“You know I must too, Dr. Sandford.”

“I don’t know it, indeed,” said he. “I know I must ask; but I do not know what power can force you to answer.”

“Isn’t it my duty, Dr. Sandford?”

“Nobody but Daisy Randolph would have asked that question,” he said. “Well, if duty is on my side, I know I am powerful. But, Daisy, you always used to answer me, in times when there was no duty in the case.”

“I remember,” I said, smiling to think of it; “but I was a child then, Dr. Sandford.”

“Oh! Well, apropos of duty, you may go on about Miss Cardigan.”

“I do not know a great deal to tell. Only that she is very good, very kind to me and everybody; very rich, I believe; and very wise, I think. I know nothing more except the way her money was made.”

“How was it?”

“I have heard that her mother was a marketwoman,” I said very unwillingly; for I knew the conclusions that would be drawn.

“Is it likely,” Dr. Sandford said slowly, “that the daughter of a marketwoman should be a good friend in every respect for the daughter of Mrs. Randolph?”

“It may not be likely,” I answered with equal slowness; “but it is true.”

“Can you prove your position, Daisy?”

“What is your objection to her, Dr. Sandford?”

“Simply what you have told me. The different classes of society are better apart.”

I was silent. If Miss Cardigan was not of my class, I knew I wanted to be of hers. There were certain words running in my head about “a royal priesthood, a peculiar people,” and certain other words too which I thought it was no use to tell Dr. Sandford.

“She has no family, you say, nor friends who live with her, or whom you meet at her house?”

“None at all. I think she is quite alone.”

There was silence again. That is, between the doctor and me. Mrs. Sandford and her officers kept up a great run of talk hard by.

“Now, Daisy,” said the doctor, “you have studied the matter, and I do not doubt you have formed a philosophy of your own by this time. Pray make me the wiser.”

“I have no philosophy of my own, Dr. Sandford.”

“Your own thus far, that nobody shares it with you.”

“Is that your notion of me?” I said, laughing.

“A very good notion. Nothing is worse than commonplace people. Indulge me, Daisy.”

So I thought I had better.

“Dr. Sandford if you will indulge me. What is your notion of dignity?”

He passed his hand over his hair, with a comical face. It was a very fine face, as I knew long ago; even a noble face. A steady, clear, blue eye like his, gives one a sure impression of power in the character, and of sweetness, too. I was glad he had asked me the question, but I waited for him to answer mine first.

“My notion of dignity!” he exclaimed. “I don’t believe I have any, Daisy.”

“No, but we are talking seriously.”

“Very. We always are when you are one of the talkers.”

“Then please explain your notion of dignity.”

“I know it when I see it,” said the doctor; “but faith! I don’t know what makes it.”

“Yes, but you think some people, or some classes, are set up above others.”

“So do you.”

“What do you think makes the highest class, then?”

“You are going too deep, or too high, which is the same thing. All I mean is, that certain feet which fate has planted on lofty levels, ought not to come down from them.”

“But it is good to know where we stand.”

“Very,” said Dr. Sandford, laughing. That is, in his way of laughing. It was never loud.

“I will tell you where I want to stand,” I went on. “It is the highest level of all. The Lord Jesus said, ’Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is MY BROTHER, and MY SISTER, and MOTHER.’ I want to be one of those.”

“But, Daisy,” said Dr. Sandford, “the society of the world is not arranged on that principle.”

I knew it very well. I said nothing.

“And you cannot, just yet, go out of the world.”

It was no use to tell Dr. Sandford what I thought. I was silent still.

“Daisy,” said he, “you are worse than you used to be.” And I heard a little concern in his words, only half hid by the tone.

“You do not suppose that such words as those you quoted just now, were meant to be a practical guide in the daily affairs of life? Do you?”

“How can I help it, Dr. Sandford?” I answered. “I would like to have my friends among those whom the King will call His sisters and brothers.”

“And what do you think of correct grammar, and clean hands?” he asked.

“Clean hands!” I echoed.

“You like them,” he said, smiling. “The people you mean often go without them if report says true.”

“Not the people I mean,” I said.

“And education, Daisy; and refined manners; and cultivated tastes; what will you do without all these? In the society you speak of they are seldom found.”

“You do not know the society I speak of, Dr. Sandford; and Miss Cardigan has all these, more or less; besides something a great deal better.”

Dr. Sandford rose up suddenly and introduced me to a Captain Southgate who came up; and the conversation ran upon West Point things and nothings after that. I was going back over my memory, to find in how far religion had been associated with some other valued things in the instances of my experience, and I heard little of what was said. Mr. Dinwiddie had been a gentleman, as much as any one I ever knew; he was the first. My old Juanita had the manners of a princess, and the tact of a fine lady. Miss Cardigan was a capital compound of sense, goodness, business energies, and gentle wisdom. The others well, yes, they were of the despised orders of the world. My friend Darry, at the stables of Magnolia my friend Maria, in the kitchen of the great house the other sable and sober faces that came around theirs in memory’s grouping they were not educated nor polished nor elegant. Yet well I knew, that having owned Christ before men, He would own them before the angels of heaven; and what would they be in that day! I was satisfied to be numbered with them.

I slept, as Dr. Sandford had prophesied I would that night. I awoke to a vision of beauty.

My remembrance of those days that followed is like a summer morning, with a diamond hanging to every blade of grass.

I awoke suddenly, that first day, and rushed to the window. The light had broken, the sun was up; the crown of the morning was upon the heads of the hills; here and there a light wreath of mist lay along their sides, floating slowly off, or softly dispersing; the river lay in quiet beauty waiting for the gilding that should come upon it. I listened the brisk notes of a drum and fife came to my ear, playing one after another joyous and dancing melody. I thought that never was a place so utterly delightsome as this place. With all speed I dressed myself, noiselessly, so as not to waken Mrs. Sandford; and then I resolved I would go out and see if I could not find a place where I could be by myself; for in the house there was no chance of it. I took Mr. Dinwiddie’s Bible and stole downstairs. From the piazza where we had sat last night, a flight of steps led down. I followed it and found another flight, and still another. The last landed me in a gravelled path; one track went down the steep face of the bank, on the brow of which the hotel stood; another track crossed that and wound away to my right, with a gentle downward slope. I went this way. The air was delicious; the woods were musical with birds; the morning light filled my pathway and glancing from trees or rocks ahead of me, lured me on with a promise of glory. I seemed to gather the promise as I went, and still I was drawn farther and farther. Glimpses of the river began to show through the trees; for all this bank side was thickly wooded. I left walking and took to running. At last I came out upon another gravelled walk, low down on the hillside, lying parallel with the river and open to it. Nothing lay between but some masses of granite rock, grey and lichened, and a soft fringe of green underbrush and small wood in the intervals. Moreover, I presently found a comfortable seat on a huge grey stone, where the view was uninterrupted by any wood growth; and if I thought before that this was fairyland, I now almost thought myself a fairy. The broad river was at my feet; the morning light was on all the shores, sparkled from the granite rocks below me and flashed from the polished leaves, and glittered on the water; filling all the blue above with radiance; touching here and there a little downy cloud; entering in and lying on my heart. I shall never forget it. The taste of the air was as one tastes life and strength and vigour. It all rolled in on me a great burden of joy.

It was not the worst time or place in the world to read the Bible. But how all the voices of nature seemed to flow in and mix with the reading, I cannot tell, no more than I can number them; the whirr of a bird’s wing, the liquid note of a wood thrush, the stir and movement of a thousand leaves, the gurgle of rippling water, the crow’s call, and the song-sparrow’s ecstasy. Once or twice the notes of a bugle found their way down the hill, and reminded me that I was in a place of delightful novelty. It was just a fillip to my enjoyment, as I looked on and off my page alternately.

By and by I heard footsteps, quick yet light footsteps, sounding on the gravel. Measured and quick they came; then two figures rounded a point close by me. There were two, but their footfalls had sounded as one. They were dressed alike, all in grey, like my friend in the omnibus. As they passed me, the nearest one hastily pulled off his cap, and I caught just a flash from a bright eye. It was the same. I looked after them as they left my point and were soon lost behind another; thinking that probably Preston was dressed so and had been taught to walk so; and with renewed admiration of a place where the inhabitants kept such an exquisite neatness in their dress and moved like music. There was a fulness of content in my mind, as at length I slowly went back up my winding path to the hotel, warned by the furious sounds of a gong that breakfast was in preparation.

As I toiled up the last flight of steps I saw Dr. Sandford on the piazza. His blue eye looked me all over and looked me through, I felt. I was accustomed to that, both from the friend and the physician, and rather liked it.

“What is on the other side of the house?” I asked.

“Let us go and see.” And as we went, the doctor took my book from my hand to carry it for me. He opened it, too, and looked at it. On the other side or two sides of the house stretched away the level green plain. At the back of it, stood houses half hidden by trees; indeed all round two sides of the plain there was a border of buildings and of flourishing trees as well. Down the north side, from the hotel where we were, a road went winding: likewise under arching trees; here and there I could see cannon and a bit of some military work. All the centre of the plain was level and green, and empty; and from the hotel to the library stretched a broad strip of bare ground, brown and dusty, alongside of the road by which we had come across last night. In the morning sun, as indeed under all other lights and at all other hours, this scene was one of satisfying beauty. Behind the row of houses at the western edge of the plain, the hills rose up, green and wooded, height above height; and an old fortification stood out now under the eastern illumination, picturesque and grey, high up among them. As Dr. Sandford and I were silent and looking, I saw another grey figure pass down the road.

“Who are those people that wear grey, with a black stripe down the leg?” I asked.

“Grey?” said the doctor. “Where?”

“There is one yonder under the trees,” I said, “and there was one in the omnibus yesterday. Are those the cadets?”

“I suppose so.”

“Then Preston wears that dress. I wonder how I shall find him, Dr. Sandford?”

“Find whom?” said the doctor, waking up.

“My cousin Preston Preston Gary. He is here.”

“Here?” repeated the doctor.

“Yes he is a cadet didn’t you know it? He has been here a long while; he has only one more year, I believe. How can we find him, Dr. Sandford?”

“I am ignorant, Daisy.”

“But we must find him,” I said, “for of course he will want to see me, and I want to see him, very much.”

The doctor was silent, and I remember an odd sense I had that he was not pleased. I cannot tell how I got it; he neither did nor said anything to make me think so; he did not even look anywise different from usual; yet I felt it and was sure of it, and unspeakably mystified at it. Could Preston have been doing anything wrong? Yet the doctor would not know that, for he was not even aware that Preston was in the Military Academy till I told him.

“I do not know, Daisy,” he said at last; “but we can find out. I will ask Captain Southgate or somebody else.”

“Thank you,” I said. “Who are those, Dr. Sandford, those others dressed in dark frock coats, with bright bars over their shoulders? like that one just now going out of the gate?”

“Those are officers of the army.”

“There are a good many of them. What are they here for? Are there many soldiers here?”

“No ” said the doctor, “I believe not. I think these gentlemen are put here to look after the grey coats the cadets, Daisy, The cadets are here in training, you know.”

“But that officer who just went out who is walking over the plain now he wore a sword, Dr. Sandford; and a red sash. They do not all wear them. What is that for?”

“What is under discussion?” said Mrs. Sandford, coming out. “How well Daisy looks this morning, don’t she?”

“She has caught the military fever already,” said the doctor. “I brought her here for a sedative; but I find it is no such matter.”

“Sedative!” said Mrs. Sandford; but at this instant my ears were “caught” by a burst of music on the plain. Mrs. Sandford broke into a fit of laughter. The doctor’s hand touched my shoulder.

“Get your hat, Daisy,” he said, “I will go with you to hear it.”

I might tell of pleasure from minute to minute of that day, and of the days following. The breath of the air, the notes of the wind instruments, the flicker of sunlight on the gravel, all come back to me as I write, and I taste them again. Dr. Sandford and I went down the road I have described, leading along the edge of the plain at its northern border; from which the view up over the river, between the hills, was very glorious. Fine young trees shaded this road; on one side a deep hollow or cup in the green plain excited my curiosity; on the other, lying a little down the bank, a military work of some odd sort planted with guns. Then one or two pyramidal heaps of cannon-balls by the side of the road, marked this out as unlike all other roads I had ever traversed. At the farther side of the plain we came to the row of houses I had seen from a distance, which ran north and south, looking eastward over all the plain. The road which skirted these houses was shaded with large old trees, and on the edge of the greensward under the trees we found a number of iron seats placed for the convenience of spectators. And here, among many others, Dr. Sandford and I sat down.

There was a long line of the grey uniforms now drawn up in front of us; at some little distance; standing still and doing nothing, that I could see. Nearer to us and facing them stood a single grey figure; I looked hard, but could not make out that it was Preston. Nearer still, stood with arms folded one of those whom the doctor had said were army officers; I thought, the very one I had seen leave the hotel; but all like statues, motionless and fixed. Only the band seemed to have some life in them.

“What is it, Dr. Sandford?” I whispered, after a few minutes of intense enjoyment.

“Don’t know, Daisy.”

“But what are they doing?”

“I don’t know, Daisy.”

I nestled down into silence again, listening, almost with a doubt of my own senses, as the notes of the instruments mingled with the summer breeze and filled the June sunshine. The plain looked most beautiful, edged with trees on three sides, and bounded to the east, in front of me, by a chain of hills soft and wooded, which I afterwards found were beyond the river. Near at hand, the order of military array, the flash of a sword, the glitter of an epaulette, the glance of red sashes here and there, the regularity of a perfect machine. I said nothing more to Dr. Sandford; but I gathered drop by drop the sweetness of the time.

The statues broke into life a few minutes later, and there was a stir of business of some sort; but I could make out nothing of what they were doing. I took it on trust, and enjoyed everything to the full till the show was over.