Daisy of "Old Meadow."

Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.









Daisy Meads and John Davis lay senseless, side by side,

upon the half-made hay.    Frontispiece.
















"If I have made gold my hope . . . this also were an iniquity

to be punished."—JOB xxxi.


"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth."—MATT. vi.












THE following pages are issued with two objects:—

First; they may be used for daily meditation on rising or retiring to rest, in the quiet chamber, when none but God is near.

Secondly; for short services in sick chambers, or for invalids. Many a child of God suffers from infirmities of such a nature that none but a very short service can be borne. This may be carried out by reading the whole chapter, or a portion of it, from which the text is taken; then the address, and the poem. This may be preceded or followed by a short prayer, thus compressing the entire service within ten minutes or a quarter of an hour.

I am aware of the many and great deficiencies which mark these addresses. But they have been issued with one desire and one aim—to glorify Jesus. May He thus use them, by His Holy Spirit, for this end is my earnest prayer!


        October, 1885.


































"HE'S the crookedest crabbedest cantankerousest old fellow ever I came across, and that's all I have to say! And she's a little angel, if ever there was one, and that's all I have to say too!"

It might have been all that Betsy Simmons had to say, but it certainly was not all that she did say. For, finding her hearer not indisposed to listen, she started off afresh. Betsy Simmons was fresh-complexioned, large in make, and verging on fifty. The other, a younger woman by many years, was quiet and thoughtful in look, with a face and a manner some degrees superior to her poor style of dress.

"He comes in here of a morning, every day, punctual as the clock is on the stroke of nine. And he pokes into everything and fingers everything, afore he'll have his penn'orth or two penn'orth of this or that, till I'm driven nigh crazy. 'Tisn't much more than a penn'orth that he'll take, commonly. But there's often a deal more of fuss with customers about a penn'orth than about a pound's worth. Well, and I know one thing, and that is that if he's after starving anybody, it is Miss Meads and not Mr. Meads, and that you may be sure. He's an old skinflint, and all the world knows it. They do say," and Mrs. Simmons lowered her voice, "they do say as he broke his wife's heart; and I shouldn't wonder but he's going near to break his daughter's too. Not as she speaks a word of complaint—no, she isn't that sort, little angel as she is."

Mary Davis, the listener, seemed more moved than might have been expected under the circumstances. She lifted the corner of her faded shawl to wipe away a tear.

"And they do say—" pursued Mrs. Simmons—but the advent of another customer caused her to break off. "I'll come back to you, Mrs. Davis," she said, with a nod. "Don't you hurry away." And Mary Davis waited patiently, making no protest.

A brown-skinned child, in tattered frock and curl-papers, stood gazing about her with curious eyes. "Please'm," she said, "mother wants two penn'orth of tea, please."

Two pennies dropped on the counter from the little soiled hand. Mrs. Simmons proceeded to weigh the article, and to twist up the packet. "If I was you, Janey Humphrey, I wouldn't be seen out in that trim," she said reprovingly, while so occupied. "Curl-papers in broad daylight,—and face and hands as soap and water haven't come near to for twenty-four hours past. It isn't decent nor respectable, and you'd ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"I've got to mind the baby," said Janey, in a manner of abashed self-excuse.

"That don't make no difference," said Mrs. Simmons decisively. "Nor it wouldn't if you had to mind a dozen babies. If there's time to eat there's time to wash, and I suppose you ain't too busy to eat. And if you haven't time to get your hair out of curl-papers, you'd best never put it in."

"Mother told me to, 'cause it's the school feast, and she wanted me to look 'speckrable," said Janey.

"You'd look a deal more respectable with your hair brushed plain behind your ears. I can tell you the ladies will be none the better pleased with you, for having a lot of frizzly corkscrews over your head—and you may tell your mother so, if you like. I declare I'd well-nigh forgotten it was the school feast this afternoon. Well—get along with you, child—but mind you don't come here again looking like a guy."

Betsy Simmons was counted a privileged person, in the matter of advice-giving. The widow of a sailor, childless, and alone in the world, she had held this little shop during some fifteen years past, and was known in the neighbourhood as no less kind-hearted than outspoken. She sold groceries, green-groceries, and confectioneries, and she drove a brisk trade, being content with small gains.

It was a quaint little shop, standing in the middle of the chief street of a large village, called Banks. There were other shops in the same street. Near the upper end stood a Church, with an ivy-covered square tower, and a Rectory-house and schools adjoining.

Exactly opposite the shop was to be seen a very old and worn-out house, surrounded by a small and very untidy garden. The village stretched well around and beyond it.

For many years "Old Meadow"—so the house was named—had been inhabited by two maiden sisters, whose father had once owned and farmed some hundreds of acres in the neighbourhood. But he and his family had met with reverses, and gradually their possessions had dwindled down to just the ancient house and its garden. When the last aged Miss Meads died, the house and garden went to a cousin, Isaac Meads by name; and it was now about a year since Isaac Meads had settled down there, with his daughter.

"Old Meadow" had not been too well kept in the latter days of old Miss Meads and her sister; but certainly its appearance had not improved since the coming of their cousin. The house was low and spreading, and was covered with masses of ivy, which hung low over the cracked and broken panes of the latticed windows, and served to hide dilapidations in the roof. Huge hollyhocks flourished within the garden wall, and weeds grew in profusion. All this could be seen from the open door of Mrs. Simmons' shop.

Mary Davis was the wife of a working man, who had just come to the place in search of employment. There was a market-town, called Little Sutton, about two miles distant, where work was rather plentiful; and as rent was lower and food was cheaper in Banks than in Little Sutton, many workmen preferred to make their homes in the village, walking to and from the town every day.

Betsy Simmons dearly liked a little gossip with her customers, and she was particularly taken with the gentle face and manner of Mary Davis. Usually she was reserved in her remarks about her opposite neighbour, especially with strangers. It happened, however, that the old man, Isaac Meads, was in the shop when Mary Davis entered it; and after his departure Mrs. Simmons had naturally mentioned his name.

Thereupon Mary Davis had asked some questions about him, showing so marked an interest in the subject that Betsy Simmons had been drawn on to say more than was usual with her. She descanted on the odd ways of the old man, and on the sweetness of his young daughter, Daisy Meads, until the entrance of Janey Humphrey made a break. After Janey's departure, the thread of the talk seemed broken.

"That child, now!" Mrs. Simmons said,—not returning at once to the subject of the Meads family, as Mary Davis had hoped she might do,—"she's a fair specimen, Mrs. Davis, of what you'll see here, and better than ordinary I may say. Her father's a well-meaning man, and he don't drink often, which isn't too common." Mary Davis sighed quietly. "And he brings home his wages pretty regular; and that isn't too common neither. And her mother's a well-meaning woman too—wants to do her best, I don't doubt. Yes, I'll say that of Janet Humphrey—she does want to do her best. But dear me, she's never straight. Go when you will, the place is all of a mess, and the children are dirty, and nothing is where it should be. Mrs. Humphrey's for ever cleaning up, and never clean. That's what I say. Always cleaning, and never clean! It's the way of the folks about here. She don't have a go at her work, and get it done, and make things tidy; but she potters about, and she washes a little, and scrubs a little, and cooks a little, and don't finish off anything out of hand. Works like a slave, of course—folks of that sort mostly do,—and has nothing to show for it. I wonder she hasn't driven her husband to the bad long ago; for he never has a dinner fit to eat, nor a tidy corner to sit down in. And yet she isn't lazy, nor a gossip."

"It's a pity," Mary Davis said absently. "But, Mrs. Simmons, there was something you began to say about Miss Meads over the way."

"To be sure,—yes. Well, as I was saying—What was it I was saying?"

"He'd broke his wife's heart, and was near breaking of his daughter's," said Mary Davis promptly.

"Just so," said Mrs. Simmons, with emphasis. "Not as she complains. O no, she isn't of the grumbling sort. She don't say a word: only goes about smiling, with that sweet face of hers, like a little angel. She's scarce more than a child to look upon, and yet she's got a sort of old way, and there's trouble in her face, beside the sweetness; trouble of a sort, as if she'd had no proper childhood. Well, but I was going to say about the old man, and I'm near forgetting; they do say he isn't near so poor as he makes believe to be. It's no business of yours nor mine, I dare say, but I have heard said as he's got a lot of money stowed away somewhere. He don't make no use of it, if he has. He's that shabby, he goes about scarce fit to be seen; and he's that particular, he'd sooner go without a meal, I do believe, than pay one farthing more for it than he means to. Times and again I've let him have goods under the price, sooner than he should go off empty-handed. Not as I'd mind about him; but Miss Daisy's sweet face comes up, and I can't say a word. Yes, I call her 'Miss Daisy' most commonly. She don't mind, and it seems to suit her better than 'Miss Meads.'"

Mary Davis murmured something about the old man being fond of his daughter.

"Couldn't say as to that," responded Mrs. Simmons. "He mighty fond of himself. Maybe he's fond of her too, after a sort,—but it's a queer sort. If you want to catch a sight of Miss Daisy, you'd best be at the school feast this afternoon. Lots of folks go. It is in the big meadow round near Farmer Grismond's. She's sure to be there, for she has a class in the Sunday-school."







THE "big meadow round near Farmer Grismond's" presented a gay scene that afternoon. Two long tables were early spread at its upper end, under the shade of some large elms; and four rows of bright-faced children went in extensively for tea and buns and cake. Some of the children's mothers had kept them on short commons since breakfast, in preparation for the school feast: so no wonder the little things were hungry.

The clergyman, Mr. Roper, was present; and his wife, with several other ladies to help, was very busy, pouring out tea and handing plates of bread-and-butter. Mrs. Roper was a kind-hearted little lady, always busy about something.

The big meadow belonged to Farmer Grismond, and the annual June school feast had taken place in it for many a year past. He never refused leave,—not even when he had not succeeded in carrying his hay beforehand; but he rarely failed in this. The school children always hoped that they might find a few ridges or cocks remaining in which to riot; and the ladies were never sorry for so easy a method of amusing the children. But Farmer Grismond naturally preferred to have it all safely stacked as soon as possible.

Although hay making was just over in the "big meadow," it was going on still in the adjoining field. The sun shone brightly, but Farmer Grismond saw signs of a speedy change in the weather, and he could allow no delay. So, while the children ran races and scrambled for sugar-plums and played games in the next meadow, he was hard at work. The mown grass lay in long ridges, and women in print sun-bonnets stood among men in smock-frocks, all busily engaged with their pronged forks, tossing and turning. For this was a good many years ago; and Farmer Grismond liked old-fashioned ways; and hay making machines had not yet obtained entrance upon his farm.

Mary Davis found her way to the big meadow in the course of the afternoon, as advised by Mrs. Simmons. Her husband was at work that day among Farmer Grismond's haymakers. He was a mason, and work was promised him in Little Sutton a week later; but in his young days he had been a country boy, and had practised haymaking. So, hearing that the farmer wanted additional help, he had offered himself. Mary Davis was thankful for any employment for him, thankful for anything that should keep him for a few hours out of the public-house. That was John Davis' weakness. He was an affectionate husband, and really a well-meaning man, in a general way; but he was weak as water, utterly without strength of principle or resolution; and he seldom came out of a public-house quite sober.

Mary Davis took a look at the haymakers first, and had a kind word from Farmer Grismond, a stout burly man, with a face as red as his own pocket-handkerchief, from the blaze of the sun. "Good day, Mrs. Davis,—I hope you are quite well," he said cheerily, having already seen her. "Your husband is doing capitally for an unpractised hand,—clever fellow, I should say. I wish I had a dozen more like him. But it's of no use. The rain is coming too quick."

"You don't think it will rain to-day, sir, do you?" asked Mary.

He pointed towards a bank of dark clouds, which Mary had not noticed. "If it keeps off two hours I shall be surprised," he said.

Farmer Grismond was much too busy for chitchat, so Mary made her way into the next field. She asked one or two people quietly "If they could tell her which was Miss Meads." But the answer in each case was: "No, I don't see her just now; she's somewhere near." So Mary stood about, and waited patiently.

Farmer Grismond was in the right. Other people, less observant, did not take notice of the coming change, till suddenly a cloud rolled over the face of the sun; and then everybody looked up startled, and many said, "Dear me, is it going to rain?" Yet still the games and shouts and merry laughter went on. One or two remarked that the absence of sunshine was comfortable; it had been so very hot. There was no coolness yet, however, but only a close heavy heat, like that of an oven.

The greater number of the children had collected near the lower part of the field, in the vicinity of a large cow-house, and some were running in and out of the cow-house. Mrs. Roper kept guard over them there; and several of her friends about this time said good-bye to her, and went home, expecting rain. Mrs. Roper, however, did not like to cut the children's pleasure short, and she hoped the threatening shower might keep off for an hour or two yet.

At the upper end of the field, quite far away from the rest, several children were having a merry game among the trees, and somebody said to Mary, "That's Daisy Meads' class, over yonder." So Mary immediately made her way all across the meadow, and watched the game. She noticed at once a rather older girl with the little ones, slight and small in figure, and dressed in a plain stuff dress and brown bonnet. At first Mary took her for one of the older school children, till she heard her called, "Teacher, Teacher!" and till she saw that the little pale face within the brown bonnet was scarcely that of a child. It was a sweet face, delicate and small, with a smile which came and went like sunshine, and there was something round the mouth which told of long endurance of trouble.

Mary Davis had found what she wanted. That was Daisy Meads; and she knew it.

She could not interrupt the game: so she waited still. Presently some of the children began to flag, and Daisy Meads herself seemed to have had enough. She stood, with her back against a tree, near Mary Davis, her hand pressed against her side.

"You're tired, Miss," Mary ventured to say; and Daisy, looking round, saw her for the first time.

"Yes, I can't run any more. It gives me a 'stitch,'" said Daisy. "Are you one of the mothers? I don't seem to know you—and yet—"

A puzzled expression came into her face, and she looked earnestly at Mary.

"I'm only just come to Banks, and I haven't got any children," said Mary. "My husband's John Davis, and he's haymaking in the next field."

"I thought I didn't exactly know you," said Daisy. "And yet—it is curious, but I seem to remember your face."

"I shouldn't wonder but you do, Miss Daisy, seeing I've had you in my arms many a time."

Daisy came nearer, looking earnestly still. "Then I do know you," she said. "I thought I did. And you are Nurse—my own dear Nursie."

Daisy did not hesitate a moment, but threw her arms round Mary Davis, and kissed her warmly. No spectators were near except the little children; but she would probably have done the same in any case.

"Dear good kind Nursie, you can't think how often I have longed to see you. Why did you never write? But I don't wonder, after the way things happened. Only I always knew you loved me still. I did feel so lonely after you went—and I do still," Daisy said sadly, speaking in a low quick voice. "Nursie, he is worse than ever. I can't do anything with him."

"Only God can, Miss Daisy."

Daisy's eyes were full of tears, but a smile broke over her face.

"Yes," she said, "God can, and that is my comfort. I am always praying for him. But he won't hear about religion, and he seems to care for nothing at all but just trying to save and lay by. And he is growing an old man now. It does seem so sad. But I try to do everything I can to please him, and perhaps some day things will be different. And you are married, Nursie. Your name used not to be Davis. Ought I to call you 'Mrs. Davis?' It does not sound natural."

"I shouldn't like to be anything but 'Nurse' to you, Miss Daisy," said Mary. "I've been married close upon four years."

"That was three years after you left us. Yes, I was only a little thing, nine years old then, but I remember all perfectly, and the comfort that you were to poor mother."

"And she died, Miss Daisy? But I don't need to ask. I knew she couldn't last long."

"Only a few weeks after you left us," said Daisy, her face growing sorrowful. "It was very hard to bear the loss of both together. And the time has seemed so long and slow since. I can't believe sometimes that I am only sixteen. I feel so old and grave."

"You are not well, Miss Daisy," said Mary anxiously.

"Yes, I think I am well, only old," said Daisy, lifting her soft child-like face. "I seem to have lived such a very long time. But tell me about your husband, Nursie. Is he good and kind?"

"He's kind, Miss Daisy, commonly. If only it wasn't for the—"

Mary did not finish her sentence, but Daisy understood. How many a poor wife has to say the same. A good husband, a kind husband, an affectionate husband—a man who would be all these, if only it wasn't for the drink!

Daisy looked her sympathy, and would have expressed it in words, but a sudden interruption came. A flash of brilliant lightning shone in their faces, and a heavy crash of thunder followed.

A general rush of children might be seen in the distance, towards the cow-house, encouraged by Mrs. Roper; and the little ones of Daisy's class made a like rush to the shelter of the tall elm trees, some of them screaming. But Daisy sprang after them.

"Stop, all of you," she cried. "You must not go under the trees. Children, do as you are told. Come to me."

Terrified as they were, they obeyed her, and a frightened cluster drew round the girlish figure. A second flash and crash came, and some of them wailed piteously.

"Now listen to me," said Daisy Meads steadily. "You mustn't, any of you, go near a single tree. It is very very dangerous to do so in a storm. If the lightning strikes anywhere it always strikes something tall. If a tree were struck, and you were standing at the bottom, you might be killed. There is another flash. But you need not mind the noise of the thunder, for thunder never hurts anybody."

The peal was so loud that Daisy had to pause. Mary Davis looked wonderingly at her, as she stood, pale and quiet, among the clinging children.

"Hadn't we better get them under shelter somewhere, Miss Daisy?" she asked. "There's a shed in the next field, where they are haymaking, quite away from trees, and much nearer than the cow-house."

"Then that will do," said Daisy decisively.

She pulled up one little crying girl from the ground, and Mary Davis carried the youngest. As they hurried through the nearest gate, rain pattered heavily around them, and the haymakers, leaving their now useless work, sped away in different directions for shelter. One man, not far from the hut, lifted a pile of hay on his fork, held it erect over his head, and under this shelter proceeded deliberately towards a tree, smiling at his own cleverness. The children had by this time clustered into the hut, and Daisy stood panting in the doorway. She gave one look, and exclaimed: "Oh, how mad!"

Mary Davis glanced in the same direction, not understanding. "That's my husband, Miss Daisy," she said. "He seems bent on keeping himself dry. But I'd best go and tell him not to go near the trees, if it's dangerous." Mary had her doubts whether Daisy's idea were not a delusion, being ignorant, as many people are, about the nature of lightning.

"Your husband! But he mustn't do that," said Daisy breathlessly. She did not wait to explain, but darted straight out into the rain, and reached the man. "Put your fork down,—don't hold it up!" she cried. "Don't you know that's dangerous? There's iron on it."

John Davis stood still, and looked at Daisy in surprise. He did not know what she meant, and he was in no hurry to lower his new-fangled umbrella, of which, indeed, he felt rather proud. Daisy did not try the effect of argument. She put out her little hand impulsively to grasp the handle, intending to drag it from him. John swerved, loosening instinctively his own grasp, and her hand only fell upon his arm. Another instant, and the uplifted hayfork would have fallen.

But it was just too late. A zigzag stream of blue light leapt out from the black cloud overhead, accompanied by a harsh and rattling peal of thunder. Daisy Meads and John Davis lay senseless, side by side, upon the half-made hay.







ISAAC MEADS had not been to the school feast. He did not trouble himself about such frivolities. What mattered buns and banners, and tea and games to him? Or, in other words, what mattered the good and the happiness and the innocent enjoyment of two hundred children, for whom others were thinking and working? Isaac Meads had not learnt to care for others' joys.

It had been very much against the old man's will that Daisy had undertaken a class in the Sunday-school. She would never have undertaken it without his consent, and probably no one less gently and kindly persistent than Mrs. Roper would have won his consent. Once yielded, he did not withdraw it, but he objected still, in his sullen silent fashion. Isaac Meads was a very silent, and oftentimes a very sullen man. He did not fly into violent passions, like some people, but he sulked and grumbled, and spent a great part of his life in a most uncomfortable fog, so far as his own temper was concerned. The worst of such a fog is that it does not only affect oneself, but touches those about one. So poor Daisy knew a great deal already about that particular kind of foggy atmosphere in a house. It is a much worse kind than the yellowest and densest of London fogs.

Isaac had never taught in a Sunday-school himself, and therefore he did not see why Daisy should do so. There was a difference in the two cases: for if Isaac had been set down with a dozen children, and desired to give them a lesson out of the Bible, he would not have had the least idea what to say; whereas Daisy's mind was so full of thoughts that she could never get half she wanted into the time allowed. But Isaac reasoned out matters from his own notions, and not from actual facts: so no wonder his conclusions were wrong. He looked upon Sunday-schools and Churches, and religion altogether, as very tiresome and superfluous matters, and he took good care for his own part to have as little as possible to do with them.

There was one thing which Isaac Meads really loved, one thing which he really did count worth working for, and striving for, and living for. Not religion, not God, not the great future! Isaac could not for a moment say with David, "THOU, O God, art the thing that I long for;" and he was content to leave the question of his own home and happiness through the awful countless ages of a coming eternity just to chance. But there was one thing that Isaac Meads did love, did long for, did count worthy of his best attention; and that one thing was MONEY.

Whether he had much or little of it, few people knew; but whether he loved what he had nobody could doubt. Whether such as he had was stored up in his house, or put away in a savings bank, the world around was ignorant; but whether his money possessions were deeply treasured in his own heart, everybody might see.

Isaac loved money. He did not merely like it, did not merely enjoy what it could bring him. He loved money for its own sake, with a real heart-devotion for the poor senseless gold which could give him no love in return. He loved money with that heart-love which a man can bestow upon one object only, everything and everybody else being secondary to it. There was a throne in Isaac Meads' heart, as there is a throne in the heart of every man, belonging by right to God Himself: and that throne, in the secret chamber of his being, was occupied by Money.

Mrs. Simmons had seemed doubtful whether he really cared for his daughter Daisy.

It was quite true, as she had said, that he cared for himself best. Love to self always goes with love for money.

But he loved Daisy too, only it was with a lower and secondary sort of affection. He was proud of her, and he leant upon her in his dull home life. He never felt comfortable when she was away. He was a man with no friends, no occupation; with nothing to do except to take care of his money. He was past earning it now; so all the energies of his feeble old age were bent to the task of saving instead of getting. He grudged the spending of a single unnecessary penny.

It was money itself, not money's worth, which Isaac so loved. That terrible heart disease, "the root of all evil," as money-love is called in the Bible, takes different forms with different people; and in old Isaac Meads it was to be seen in its most grovelling form of all, the sheer love of base coin.

He sat dismally alone that sunny afternoon in the dingy front parlour of "Old Meadow." There were some books in a book-case at one end of the room, but Isaac Meads never dreamt of indulging in the unprofitable occupation of reading. Why should he? If he had read fifty books, he would not have gained a penny by so doing. He had only one mode of testing the worth of things or actions. Would they "bring in" so much? If not, they had no charm for him. Poor old Isaac!

Daisy had made the room very neat before she went. She did most of the house-work herself, with only a girl to help. Isaac grumbled often at the expense of the girl, and in his heart he wished often to dismiss her altogether. While Daisy was a child some such help had been an absolute necessity, but now that she was sixteen and a child no longer, he did not see why Daisy should not do the whole herself. It was a good-sized house, to be sure, but some rooms were shut up; and though Daisy had a strong love for keeping everything clean, like her mother before her, Isaac had not the least objection to any amount of dust.

He thought he would speak about this to Daisy, on her return from the school feast, and would insist on a change. Then he wondered whether Daisy would perhaps get some tea and a bun, and so would not need anything more when she came back. If so, her presence at the feast was a saving to his pocket, and he was glad of it.

Isaac did not look a happy old man, sitting there all alone, buried in these thoughts, with his wrinkled forehead, and dull eyes, and dropping lower jaw. He was not at all an attractive or lovable old man. Daisy worked hard to keep his clothes tidy, but he persisted in wearing an old coat of tindery texture, which almost dropped into holes with its own weight. He had one other suit, very aged, yet tolerably respectable, but he would scarcely ever put it on, for he was terribly afraid of its wearing out and having to be replaced. He often told Daisy that she was doing her best to ruin him; and if she ventured to ask anything for herself, he sometimes positively cried like a little child. He did not see why Daisy's clothes, once bought, needed ever to wear out.

The room grew dark, as the old man sat musing, for clouds had crept over the sun, and a stormy blackness gathered round. Isaac hardly noticed the change, until he was startled by a sudden and blinding flash, straight in his eyes, followed by a loud thunder-crash.

He pushed his chair back into the shade between the two windows, disliking the glare. If Daisy had been present he would have affected indifference: but being alone he did not disguise from himself a feeling of uneasiness, almost amounting to fear. The lightning blazed, and the thunder crashed again and again; and he pushed his chair yet farther into the shade. There had not been so heavy a storm for a long while in Banks. Isaac muttered once or twice, "Shouldn't wonder if something was struck, I shouldn't! Why don't Daisy make haste home?"

But Daisy was long in returning. The storm came nearer, and the flashes were in quick succession, and rain pattered heavily on the trees outside. Presently, however, the pauses between the lightning grew longer, and slowly the storm seemed to grumble and growl itself away into the distance.

Suddenly Isaac was roused from the half sleepy state into which he had fallen, by a smart ringing and knocking at the front door. He sat still, wondering what it could all be about. Then the door was opened and he heard a suppressed shriek from the girl, Bess, and a voice said, "Hush, hush, you will frighten the old man. Where is he? Let me go to him first."

"He's in yonder," gasped Bess, in tones of blank dismay.

But Isaac rose and came out, in a tremor of fear. He thought the house must be on fire, and he wanted to go after a certain strong little iron box, locked up in another room. Mrs. Roper met him just at the parlour door, and she began to say pityingly, "Stop a moment, Mr. Meads, stop,—such a sad thing has happened."

Isaac would not stop. He pushed past her into the passage. There he was brought to a standstill. For Daisy, carried by two men, lay, white and helpless and senseless, with shut eyes and no sign of life in her.

"Which is Daisy's room?" asked Mrs. Roper. "Upstairs, I suppose?"

"No, it isn't," said the dismayed Bess. "There isn't no upstairs room used. Miss Daisy, she sleeps in here."

Daisy was carried in and laid upon her narrow bed. As they placed her, so she remained, one little hand dropping weakly over one side, and not a tinge of colour in the still face. The half-closed lids had a stiffened look, and only a faint twitching now and then round the parted lips showed her to be alive.

Daisy had lain thus, ever since she and John Davis were struck down together. The cruel flash which had torn and shattered John's right arm, burning the hair from his head and the very eyebrows from his face, and melting the metal buttons of his shirt, yet strange to say not killing him, had not even scorched Daisy. Only, from the moment that she had dropped to the ground, she had not stirred, or spoken, or looked at anybody.

The two men, Jem Humphrey and Will Saunders, who had carried Daisy, stood waiting for further directions, and old Isaac gazed at Daisy with a fixed stare, which might have meant grief, or bewilderment, or both.

Mrs. Roper, a slight and active little lady, with kind eyes, and a quick manner which could become very cordial at times, went close to Isaac and laid her hand on his arm, to draw his attention. He had only stared vacantly when she spoke, seeming not to understand.

"Listen to me," she said; "Daisy is very ill, Mr. Meads, and she may be ill many days. I had her carried into my house, and sent for Mr. Bennet at once. He cannot tell at present how long this state will last—it is impossible to know—but he will look in and see her again in an hour or two."

Isaac's dull eyes travelled slowly from Daisy's senseless form to Mrs. Roper's kind sad face,—she always looked sad when others were in trouble.

"Been—a' struck—with lightning," he muttered, as if the idea had just managed to find its way into his poor old mind, through a doorway which had long been well-nigh clogged up with gold-dust. "Been a' struck with lightning! And whose fault's that, I'd like to know?" Isaac glared round quite fiercely, as if he wanted very much to punish somebody for what had happened.

"It is nobody's fault," said Mrs. Roper. "It is nobody's fault, Mr. Meads. Daisy saw a man holding up a pitchfork, and, knowing the danger to him, she bravely rushed to stop him, and he and she were struck together. We hope she is not so much hurt as he is, but we cannot tell yet. It is a great trouble for you, Mr. Meads, but it comes from God's Hand, and you have to be thankful that it is not worse. Daisy might have been killed on the spot. Now you must all three go out of the room, and leave me with Daisy. Bess and I have to put her to bed. Then I will come and speak to Mr. Meads about a nurse, and I shall want one of you men to go on an errand—so please do not both leave yet."

Isaac looked stupefied, but Will Saunders pulled him away. Humphrey had work to do elsewhere, which could not be longer delayed: so Saunders remained behind, doing his best to cheer the old man, and receiving small response for his pains. Isaac sat dolefully in silence, with staring eyes and dropping jaw, lost in a remembrance of Mrs. Roper's last words. When Mrs. Roper at length came into the room, Saunders thoughtfully retired into the passage, leaving the two alone together. He was the chief carpenter in Banks, young still, and a remarkably thoughtful and obliging man in his ways.

"Daisy is in bed," Mrs. Roper said, standing in front of old Isaac; and he stood up slowly, waiting to hear what she would say. "We have put her to bed, and I do not think she has been quite unconscious all the time, though she does not open her eyes yet. But I have come now to ask you about a nurse. I will watch by her till some one can come. That is all I can do, I fear, and she will need good nursing, poor child. You must hire somebody, Mr. Meads."

Isaac's face grew longer and longer. "Doctor and nurse!" he ejaculated. "And how ever in the world am I to pay for doctor and nurse, I'd like to know! It'll be ruin—stark ruin!"

"Come, come,—you and I know better, Mr. Meads," Mrs. Roper said significantly, for she happened to be more intimately acquainted with the condition of Isaac Meads' affairs than perhaps anybody else in Banks. "No danger of ruin at present. Of course you must have doctor and nurse, and of course you must pay for them too. Why, you would not wish Daisy to die for want of proper care, would you,—your own little Daisy! We sent off John Davis to the hospital, for there was nothing else to be done in his case; but everybody felt sure that you in your position wouldn't and couldn't want your dear little Daisy to go to the hospital—couldn't want it, Mr. Meads. All Banks would have cried shame upon the notion; and you would be shocked at it yourself as much as anybody,—would you not?"

Isaac certainly did look shocked, but whether at the idea of Little Sutton hospital for Daisy was another matter. "Nurse!—and doctor!—and medicine!" he murmured. "It'll be stark ruin. And all of 'em free in the hospital."

Mrs. Roper drew a step nearer.

"Don't talk about the hospital for Daisy," she said in a low voice. "If you do not wish to be despised by everybody in the place, don't let Saunders or any one hear a whisper of it. There are so many who love Daisy. And it is not a right thought. You know that the hospital is meant for those who are poor,—and, Mr. Meads, you know you are not poor."

Isaac quailed before the lady's bright keen gaze, and he shivered all over. "Who says so?" he asked entreatingly. "I haven't got one penny to spare,—not one penny."

"You and I understand one another, Mr. Meads," said Mrs. Roper quietly. "It would not be honest to send Daisy to the hospital, even if you love her so little as to want to get rid of the poor child in such a way. You see what I mean,—it would not be honest. Now tell me, who will you have to nurse Daisy?"

"It's an awful expense," Isaac said mournfully, and tears actually ran down his furrowed cheeks.

"The expense need not be heavy," said Mrs. Roper. "There is a nice woman, Mary Davis, the wife of the man who has been struck. She has gone with him to the hospital,—poor fellow,—but she will have to leave him there. She told me that she would gladly nurse your Daisy, while he does not need her, receiving only food and lodging."

"And no pay?" asked Isaac eagerly.

"I think she ought to have payment, but she seems quite willing to do the work without. You ought to pay her, Mr. Meads,—still, that question I must leave with yourself. Shall I send a message to her through Saunders? She will be at the Rectory before long; and I will sit with Daisy until she comes to take my place. Daisy cannot be left alone, and Bess has no experience. Will you have Mrs. Davis? Very well,—then the matter is settled."

Mrs. Roper went to speak with Saunders; and Isaac sat alone once more, in silence which was only broken now and then by sighing mutters, "It'll be ruination,—sheer ruination! Why couldn't she ha' been taken to the hospital?"







MRS. HUMPHREY'S cottage was in its usual uncomfortable condition of "cleaning up." She had begun "putting straight" in the morning, and she had been at it ever since, off and on. Yet, though evening was come, things were not straight. It would have been a mystery to any orderly housewife, how she managed to be so busy, and to get so little done.

Some men's wives waste a great deal of time in perpetual gossiping with the neighbours, and then of course it is not surprising that their homes should be in a mess. But wasting time in that particular fashion was not one of Janet Humphrey's faults. She did not care for gossip, and she did not care for the neighbours. Indeed, it was rather a subject of complaint among the said neighbours that "Mrs. Humphrey was so unsociable, nobody could get to know her." She rather took a pride in holding aloof, and in not allowing her children to associate with the children around more than could be helped.

Janey, the eldest of the party, the little nine years old maiden of the curl-papers, sat on a chair, in the pink cotton which she had worn at the school feast, nursing the baby; and the baby, a plump infant of nine months, being hungry, was screaming lustily. Jackey and Sukey, aged eight and seven, were quarrelling in the window; and Willie and Tommy, aged five and three, were rolling about upon the floor, with rough heads and smeared faces, each having a piece of bread-and-butter. Janet herself, with a soiled cap and a heated anxious face, was hurrying to and fro distractedly. Some damp clothes hung round the fire, and cooking utensils were scattered uncomfortably here and there, while the china used at the mid-day meal lay still unwashed upon the wooden table.

"Father'll be in directly, and he'll be so vexed not to find things straight." This was Janet's usual observation every evening, as if it were quite an uncommon event for him to find them so; whereas in reality it was a matter of daily occurrence. "Oh dear, dear, whatever am I do? If I'd known it would have taken so long, I'd never have got those things washed out to-day. To-morrow would have done as well. Do stop that child's crying, Janey. It goes through my head. And those children,—if I wash them one minute, they're not fit to be seen the next."

Janet's "minute" was a long one on this occasion, since she had not found time to wash them for several hours. She came forward, and pulled Tommy up with a jerk, whereupon he burst into a howl. "Have done, will you?" said Janet pettishly, giving him a little shake. "Father'll be back directly, and he'll be angry. Where's the soap? O dear,—nobody knows what I have to go through. I don't think there ever was such a set of children. Stop crying this minute, Tommy, or you shan't have one single bit more of bread-and-butter."

Whereupon Tommy wailed the more, and a man's head appeared in the doorway.

"Not ready—as usual!" said Jem.

"No, and shan't be for another hour," said Janet sharply; for the general condition of things made her feel cross, though she was not naturally ill-tempered.

"Then I'm best out of the way," said Jem rather gruffly, and he disappeared.

"There! and he'll go to the public, and get into trouble, as sure as can be," exclaimed Janet despairingly. "Whatever did make me speak like that to him? Well, I must just get on, and make things straight. Stop crying, Tommy, do,—come now, be a good boy, and mother will give him a halfpenny."

The promised bribe took effect, and Tommy's howls lessened. Janet decided to defer the washing for fear of setting him off again. She slipped a halfpenny into one grimy little hand, and a piece of bread into the other, and placed him again on the floor. Then, having given her children an unwholesome lesson on the easiest mode of getting their own way, she turned round, flurried and annoyed, to find herself facing Mrs. Simmons.

"Good evening," said Mrs. Simmons. "I came to bring a few apples for the young ones, Mrs. Humphrey; and I had to make bold to walk in, seeing I couldn't manage to get a hearing through the clamour."

Janet looked and felt ashamed. "I'm sure I'm very much obliged," she said. "It's a bad day with me—cleaning up."

"Why, so was yesterday, wasn't it?" asked Mrs. Simmons, taking a seat, and regarding attentively Tommy's dingy and buttery cheeks.

"Well, yes,—but I didn't get done," said Janet uncomfortably. "I take a bit a day, you see, so as to get through things."

"You don't seem quite through 'em yet," said Betsy, surveying the scene. "I saw your husband going off just now, seemingly in a huff."

"He hadn't any reason. I'm sure it wasn't my fault," Janet said, in a melancholy tone, "I've toiled hard enough and to spare. I'm pretty near ready to drop this minute. Janey came back and told me what had happened, and it gave me such a turn, I haven't felt right since."

Betsy Simmons' rather grim look softened. "Ah,—Poor little Miss Daisy," she said. "And poor Davis too, for the matter of that. Not a bit less one than the other, only the one seems to come nearer to us. Yes, it's an awful thing to have happened, and nobody can know yet if either of the two will get over it. The man suffers terribly, they say, and poor little Miss Daisy just lies still with shut eyes and don't know anybody. Well, well,—I don't doubt it's all for the best,—and she's ready for death, if anybody ever was. I wish I was as sure I was ready myself. But it's an awful thing to be struck down, all in a moment."

"I wish you wouldn't talk so. It turns me quite queer," said Janet.

"You do look as if a cup of tea would do you good," said Mrs. Simmons.

"I haven't had time to get one. There's no getting anything done, with a pack of children about."

"You should train your children to be a help and not a hindrance," said Mrs. Simmons, rising, with a business-like air. "That's what I would do. Why, dear me, there isn't one but might take his share of work, unless it's the baby. Even Tommy isn't too small to pick up scraps, and clear away crumbs. Now you sit still a few minutes, Mrs. Humphrey, and get a bit of quiet, and I'll do for you. I couldn't take a cup of tea, for my part, or anything else, in such a mess as this. You sit still, and just see!"

Janet looked astonished, but obeyed. Mrs. Simmons divested herself of shawl and bonnet, folding the former, and laying the latter neatly upon it. She never flung off what she wore, or tossed articles of clothing anywhere, as some people are apt to do when in a hurry.

Then she proceeded to "tidy" the room. Janet had been "tidying" all day, quite in vain; for the simple reason that as fast as she made one part tidy she made another part untidy. Betsy Simmons, on the contrary, advanced steadily, step by step, placing everything in order, putting away this, hanging up that, pushing chairs back against the wall, collecting stray scraps of paper, string and cotton, and working a rapid transformation. Once Janet protested, "I shall want that directly, Mrs. Simmons; it's no good putting it by."

"Want it! And if you do," said Mrs. Simmons, "what then, Mrs. Humphrey? Can't you get it out again? I shall want my bed by-and-by, but I don't keep it at hand all day in my shop. It saves a deal of trouble, to put everything straight away in its right place the moment it's been used."

"But the children'll only drag all the chairs crooked in another minute," said Janet.

"Chairs are meant to be used," said Mrs. Simmons, in an oracular manner. "But there's no need for them all to stand about the whole day like a set of dancing dervishes. If every child was taught to put his chair back straight against the wall after he's done with it, the world would be over so much tidier."

"Why, I don't do that," said Janet.

"More's the pity!" said Mrs. Simmons.

Having swept up the hearth,—an operation which Janet rarely performed, because it was sure to need sweeping again before long,—Mrs. Simmons brought out water and soap. The missing soap she had accidentally discovered, lying hidden under Janet's bonnet. The elder children submitted with tolerable composure to having their dirty little faces and hands made clean and shining. Tommy, however, had a strong dislike to soap, and Tommy shrieked his disapproval.

"He won't like it," gasped Janet, in dismay.

"Then he'll have to get along without the liking," said Betsy Simmons calmly, as she lifted Tommy into a convenient position.

"Tommy will be a good boy, won't he?" said Janet coaxingly. "Mother will give him a nice bun if he is good."

"Give him a bun for having his face washed!" said Mrs. Simmons. "And a halfpenny for stopping crying! He's like to cost you dear at this rate, Mrs. Humphrey. Haven't you got any better use for your pennies than that?"

Janet sat rebuked; ashamed yet angry. Tommy yelled, but he yelled in vain. Mrs. Simmons quietly soaped him, scrubbed him, sponged him, and dried him. A clean though tearful little boy was presently seated on a chair, and told to "be good."

"He wouldn't let me do all that, now," said Janet.

Mrs. Simmons turned round quite indignantly. "Wouldn't let!" she said. "A baby of three not let his mother do as she likes with him! What on earth do you mean, Mrs. Humphrey?"

"Well, I don't know,—it doesn't seem as if I could manage them like you do," said Janet.

"Maybe not,—because you don't set to work the right way," said Mrs. Simmons. "Give in to a child because he cries, or bribe him to be good, and your mastery over him is gone. But once make him understand that you mean what you say, and that he has to do what he's told, and your trouble's at an end. Why, dear me, I wonder what my mother would have said, when I was a girl, if any one of us—and she had a dozen children—had set up for a moment against her will. Not we! There wasn't such a thing known among us. Mother's will was law, and no mistake. But for all that we loved her more than I can tell, and she did toil for us. The world never looked the same to me, Mrs. Humphrey, since mother died."

"Everybody isn't like that, though," Janet said hopelessly, as Mrs. Simmons placed the teapot on the table.







MRS. SIMMONS gave Janet Humphrey a little more good advice still, before she had done with her: and Janet took the good advice humbly. For whatever Janet's faults might be, she had not among them the silly pride which will not bear to be told of being in the wrong.

"I am sure I wish I could do better," she said, standing at the open door with Betsy Simmons, when the latter was about to leave. "I don't pretend to say everything is as it should be. But it isn't so easy to keep straight as some folks fancy."

"No, that it isn't," said Mrs. Simmons. "I'm on your side of the matter there. It isn't easy to get out of bad habits and into good ones. A deal of striving and praying have to go to it."

"Why, Mrs. Simmons, you wouldn't surely have me pray about keeping my house straight!"

"And about getting up early, and having the rooms clean, and the children tidy, and the meals comfortable! Surely I would," said Betsy Simmons. "I don't see that you're likely to get things right without praying. You've a deal to fight against—laziness and forgetfulness and what-not! And you'll want help from above, if ever a woman does."

"But such little things," remonstrated Janet.

"Ah, that's where you mistake," said Mrs. Simmons. "That's where you and others go wrong. They are not little things at all, but big things. It don't seem so very much, perhaps, if one day or another you don't get done in time, and the place is all of a muck, and the children are in a mess, and the dinner isn't properly cooked, and your husband goes somewhere else for the comfort he can't find in his own house. Maybe each time it's a small matter alone. But it's no small matter if you stop short of your duty in that state of life where God has put you. And it won't be a small matter, if your husband is driven from his home so often that at last he takes to the public-house instead."

"My husband isn't one of them as is for ever in and out at the public," said Janet hastily, forgetting her own lately-expressed fear.

"Maybe not, but he isn't one that never goes there. Mind you don't give him a push down hill with your own hand, Mrs. Humphrey. A man won't commonly stand more than a certain amount and degree of uncomfortableness. I can tell you I didn't like the look in his face to-day, as I saw him coming away from your door."

Janet felt uneasy.

"I'll try—I will really try," she said. "I shouldn't like that. He's so steady mostly, I didn't somehow think there was danger he'd ever turn to being anything else."

"The more steady he is, the more shame he shouldn't have a cosy house to sit quiet in," said Mrs. Simmons.

"I'll try," repeated Janet. "I'll do things different. And you'll come in sometimes, and tell me how, won't you?"

"I'm glad enough to help anyone I can," said Betsy Simmons. "But it's other help than mine you'll need to keep straight. Now, if I was you, Mrs. Humphrey, I'd see to having everything nice, and the children off to bed early, before he comes back again. Don't let him find you in a mess a second time."

"But Tommy don't like being sent to bed early."

"And if he don't, what then?"

"Why, he'll scream," said Janet.

"That's soon settled," said Mrs. Simmons. "Tuck him up, and he'll soon scream himself out. All the more need to have it over while your husband's away. And if I was you, Mrs. Humphrey, I'd put the little ones to sleep every evening before he comes back from work, until they've learnt to go off quiet without any screaming. It'll be the best lesson they ever had yet."

"But they won't—" began Janet.

"Talk of 'won't' about a parcel of babies!" said Mrs. Simmons. "I'll tell you what,—I never yet saw the child, big or little, who couldn't be mastered, if one knew how to do it. You needn't think it's a matter of scolding and storming. The gentler you speak the better, so as only you make a child understand that you mean what you say. But if your children's 'won't' is stronger than your 'must,'—why, all I can say is, you're scarce fit to be a mother. You'd best send them away, and pay somebody else to do the bringing up for you."

"I never could bear to see a child unhappy," said Janet.

"Yes, yes. I know the feeling. It sounds a deal kinder than it really is. So you don't mind bearing to see your husband unhappy, and you let them do just whatever they like, never thinking of the misery they'll be in after life to themselves and others,—and thinking least of all of the Life that's to come, and whether your children are to be happy then or not. That isn't tender-heartedness. It's downright cruelty."

"I hope it'll all come right with them," Janet said uneasily.

"I hope so too, but I don't see as you've much reason to expect it. If you don't train them up now in the way they should go, it isn't very likely they'll take to walking in it by-and-by."

Janet was not offended by Mrs. Simmons's plain speaking. She said again that she would "try;" and when Betsy Simmons was gone she returned indoors.

"Mother, do you like Mrs. Simmons?" asked Janey, in a doubtful voice, as Janet began to undress the baby.

"Yes, she's good and she's true," Janet answered. "She says a sharp word sometimes, but she don't mean it unkindly. Janey, I wonder if you couldn't help me now, by getting Willie ready. I want to have him and Tommy and baby in bed, against father comes back. And you've got to smooth your hair too."

Janey entered into the spirit of the thing with astonishing quickness. Tommy was, as usual, the most troublesome, and Janet kept him in her own hands. He always kicked and cried while being undressed, and generally he gained his will in the shape of repeated delays. This evening, to his infantine astonishment, the kicks and cries were of no avail. Janet was heated and sorry, but she persevered, and, to her surprise, Tommy was no sooner fairly in bed than he turned himself round and dropped asleep,—"sound as a top," Janey remarked.

"I am glad I went on," said Janet. "Now we'll pop Willie in, and baby will soon be off too. Dear me, I do think father will be pleased. He does like a bit of quiet."

Jem Humphrey presently reappeared, rather later than Janet had expected. She found time beforehand to put everything neatly away, and to spread the table for supper. There was only a half-loaf of stale bread, besides cheese. Not that they could not afford more; for Jem received good wages, and he seldom squandered money on himself: but Janet had not taken the trouble to prepare anything else. She had counted herself too busy, and had said that "things would do as they were." Now she was sorry that she had not managed better.

Jem looked moody and vexed still, and he sat down without a word. But as his eyes travelled round the kitchen, noting its unwonted order, marking the absence of noisy babies, and perceiving the clean cap on Janet's smooth hair—not often smooth, alas!—an expression of relief came over his face.

"Why, whatever in the world have you been after?" he asked. "I shouldn't know the place."

"Mrs. Simmons came in, and helped me to tidy up," said Janet.

"I wish she'd come every day," muttered Jem.

"She couldn't do that," said Janet. "But I do mean to try—really and truly, Jem. I don't mean to have things all of a mess, if I can help it. I know I've been wrong, and I'll try to make a difference from this very day."

Jem looked at Janet and said no more. He took a hunch of bread, and ate silently.

"I might have got you something warm. I wish I had," said Janet.

"Well, it's been cold comfort you've given me lately, there's no manner of doubt," said Jem. "I shouldn't have minded a hot potato or two,—and it wouldn't have been such a vast deal of trouble neither."

Janet made no answer to this, and supper progressed with the addition of very few remarks. When it was over he took to a book from the Parish Lending Library, and read diligently. Janet cleared the table, mindful still of Mrs. Simmons' exhortations, and presently the elder children were sent to bed. Jem was at length alone with his wife. He put down his book and looked at her.

"Janet, you're just in time," he said, and his voice was a little husky. "You're just in time, but it's only just. It was getting to be beyond bearing, and I was angry. I don't say I was in the right, but I do say things were getting to be beyond bearing. I haven't been to the public this evening, but I made up my mind I'd go to-morrow, and take to it every evening after, regular,—and I made up my mind I'd take a drop too much and pay you out. And I'd have done it too!"

Janet came nearer, a frightened look on her face.

"You won't go, Jem,—you won't do that," she faltered. "Promise me you won't."

"No, I won't," Jem answered, in a clear firm voice. "I won't, Janet,—and, God helping me, I'll never even mean to do it again. But I was near it to-day. I suppose there's a sort of evil spirit gets hold on a man once in a while. If I'd begun, there's no knowing where I'd have stopped."

"O Jem, I'll never forget," Janet said earnestly.







BETSY SIMMONS did not return home on leaving the Humphreys' cottage. This was the weekly half-holiday in Banks, and all shops were closed early, including her own. So, having plenty of time at her disposal, she passed along the other side of the road, and stopped before the front door of "Old Meadow."

Bell-pulling was useless there. Mrs. Simmons tried her hand at it, but, as she expected, the crazy wire yielded feebly, and brought no response. After a minute's waiting, she pushed open the door and entered.

Nobody was visible. Mrs. Simmons deposited her umbrella in a corner, gave her boots a good rubbing on the mat,—for the heavy rain of the storm had left mud,—and peered cautiously into the parlour.

Isaac Meads sat there alone, his head dropping forward on his chest in sleepy style, and his lower jaw falling with its wonted unhappiness of expression. Mrs. Simmons drew back, not feeling as if she cared to have speech with the old man. But a second impulse came over her, and she stepped forward. He looked so lonely and miserable; might he not be in need of a kind word?

"Good evening to you, Mr. Meads," she said, in her full pleasant tones. "I've come to ask how your little girl is." Mrs. Simmons herself was so large a person that she always thought of Daisy as a "little girl," and in a time of illness such thoughts naturally find expression in words.

Isaac Meads woke up very slowly out of his fit of drowsiness, and stared blankly at his visitor.

"Is your little girl any better by this time?" asked Mrs. Simmons, pitching her voice higher. She never could quite understand whether his slowness of understanding sprang from stupidity or deafness. "I haven't been able to get her out of my mind all day, poor little dear, and I'm sure I couldn't rest without hearing how she is before night."

"She hadn't got no business to go and get struck with lightning," growled Isaac Meads, enough awake to bring out the uppermost ideas in his feeble old mind. "It's an awful expense—doctor and nurse and all! It's just awful; and I was a-thinking I wouldn't put up no longer with having a girl. It would have been a saving."

"Why, you don't mean to say—," began Mrs. Simmons.

Then she stopped, and stood looking at him, her clear strong sense coming to the conclusion that the old man was crazy. So he was, with the craziness of money greed.

"Somebody'd ought to have seen after her," said Isaac Meads. "It's all along of them school feasts. She shan't go to none of them again."

"She isn't like to go anywhere yet awhile, judging by all accounts," said Betsy Simmons, her womanly indignation mastering other sensations. "Doctor and nurse an expense! Well, I never! What's your money good for, if it isn't to be spent on her? Isn't she your own flesh and blood,—the only thing you have got belonging to you, and the sweetest girl as ever was? I never! If that's all you've got to say about the matter, I'm ashamed of you, Mr. Meads—downright ashamed. Why didn't you go to the school feast yourself to see after her? Wasn't everybody else in the same danger—least-ways, except for the pitchfork? Why, dear me, do you think trouble is never to come to you, as well as to other people?"

Whether or no Isaac Meads took in the sense of Mrs. Simmons' eager words may be doubted. His lack-lustre eyes did not wander from her face; but when she paused there was only a low and renewed mutter about "expense."

"You've got a nurse," said Mrs. Simmons shortly.

"She's come. I didn't get her," said Isaac, with something of energy. "It wasn't my doing, and she's nought to me. She was my servant once, but she isn't now. It wasn't none of my doing."

"It don't seem half as if you counted Miss Daisy to be your own," said Betsy Simmons. "Not much good asking of you how she is. I'd best go and see for myself."

Without more ado Mrs. Simmons quitted the parlour, and went straight across to the little back room where she knew Daisy Meads slept.

It was a sunshiny room on a summer evening, and the blinds were partially lowered, so as to lessen the glare. But the sun was near his setting, and some warm red rays crept in below those frail and aged blinds, to fall upon Daisy's white face.

She was lying quite quietly, and with no sign of suffering about her, except in the occasional twitchings round the mouth. Mary Davis stood beside the bed, looking earnestly, when Mrs. Simmons entered; and neither woman showed surprise at the sight of the other.

"I'm come to see if I can be of use," Mrs. Simmons said. "Poor little dear! It's bad, isn't it, Mrs. Davis? And she don't come round yet?"

"She's opened her eyes twice," Mary Davis answered; "but she don't seem to know nothing nor nobody. The doctor says the mischief isn't in the sight. He thought at first it might be that."

"Then that's something to be thankful for—if it isn't a worse mischief," said Mrs. Simmons. "She don't seem in pain neither."

Mary Davis shook her head, not quite assuringly. "No, but she do moan if I try to move her, or make her take something. It just goes to my heart."

"Well, look here," said Betsy Simmons, after a pause, "I'm just over the way, Mrs. Davis, and I'm ready to help. It isn't that I'm anxious to do much for old Mr. Meads, but Miss Daisy's given me many a smile and kind word since first she came to this place, and I'd do anything I could for her, poor little dear! Maybe she'll be well again in a day or two, and maybe she won't. Seems to me the 'won't' is more likely than the 'will.' But there's no knowing. And you can't be in this room always, and never get out."

"I don't mind for that," Mary Davis answered. "But the day after to-morrow is visiting-day at the hospital, and it would be a fret to me if I couldn't get there for a sight of my husband."

"To be sure you must; and you shall too. That's easy managed," said Mrs. Simmons. "Most part of my business is done before three, and after that my little maid'll keep shop for me while I come here. She's a handy girl, and I can trust her right and left. I've often left her in charge for an hour. I'll do it now, and I'll come and take your place. So you be easy in your mind, and don't you worry. How did it all come about, Mrs. Davis? I've heard a dozen tales, more or less, and I don't see how they can all be true."

Mary Davis in subdued tones described the scene at the school feast, tears coming into her eyes as she spoke of Daisy's brave attempt to save her husband from the effects of his own rashness. "She knew the danger, Mrs. Simmons, though we didn't, and yet she never thought of herself. But that's her all over, and it always was. It seems queer that lightning should take to one thing more than another, but Mr. Bennet says so it is. He says any manner of iron or steel touching us is dangerous in a storm, and he's known a lady's hand hurt from having a needle in her fingers. To be sure there's the lightning conductor on the Church, but I didn't think of that before. Mr. Bennet says my husband was just making a lightning conductor of himself. It's a pity folks can't learn more of such things when they are young. But Miss Daisy was always so quick to take in and remember, even when she was but a mite of a child."

"Yes; you've known Miss Daisy before?" Mrs. Simmons said, in an inquiring tone.







MARY DAVIS was not unwilling to give the information desired.

"Yes," she said. "I was Miss Daisy's nurse, not to say general servant in the house as well, except that I had a girl under me. From the time Miss Daisy was three to the time she was nine, I lived with them. A little darling she was, and so like her mother. I always did say Mrs. Meads was a real lady in her ways,—not the least bit like Mr. Meads in his ways. How in the world she ever married him!—but she told me once it wasn't of her own will. She had a life of it, poor thing—brought up so different as she must have been too! And Miss Daisy takes after her. I'd never have wanted to leave of my own choice, but Mr. Meads was for ever talking of the expense of my keep; and though it's little enough of wages I had from him, I couldn't get along without eating. I bore a deal for the sake of his wife and little Miss Daisy; but he worried and worried and treated me so bad, that at last it seemed as if I couldn't bear myself under the way he went on. Not as I really ever thought of leaving, but I got vexed with things being as they were, and I answered my master again when he scolded, which wasn't right. He was wrong of course, but I put myself in the wrong too. I've been often enough sorry since, for if I had just held my tongue I might have stayed on awhile longer, and been with Mrs. Meads to the last. I don't know how ever she managed after I went."

"Mr. Meads got very angry with me one day for spending a penny too much on something, and he did just storm at me and no mistake. And I got angry and answered him back, and at last he ordered me out of the house that minute. Mrs. Meads couldn't do anything, she was always so frightened of her husband, and Miss Daisy was but a child, and he wasn't weak and broken as he is now. How Miss Daisy did sob, to be sure. I couldn't get the sound of the sobs out of my mind for weeks. I think I was so vexed with Mr. Meads, I didn't myself feel the worst till after I was gone. I had to put my things together there and then, and to go straight home by train,—and mother was so glad to have me she wouldn't let me look out for another place at first; and then she fell ill, and I nursed her, and after a while I married."

"But I didn't hear nor see anything more of Mr. and Mrs. Meads. When I came to think the matter over, I was so ashamed of myself I couldn't resolve to write; and when I did write, a good bit later, I hadn't any answer. So I made sure Mrs. Meads had died, for she had been long in ill-health, and no hope of her recovery,—and it's most like that Mr. Meads burnt the letter, and never told little Miss Daisy of it. I hope I'm safe in telling all this to you, Mrs. Simmons. I wouldn't like it talked about; but I've got no friends in Banks, and somehow I seemed drawn to you the first moment I heard you speaking about dear Miss Daisy."

"Yes, yes, I saw you took an uncommon interest in her and in the old man," said Mrs. Simmons. "I couldn't make out why at all. But don't you be afraid, my dear. I'll keep your tale to myself, and nobody shan't hear a word. It's well you're here to nurse Miss Daisy, for I doubt me the old man wouldn't have had a stranger."

"I don't know as he counts me anything else," said Mary, "I told him who I was, but he didn't seem to remember. His memory is all of a fog, like. He's let me come because I didn't look for payment. It's as much as ever he'll do to let me have enough food to keep me going."

"Well, if you're short, mind you come to me," said Mrs. Simmons heartily. "Dear! dear! What a man he is! What ever made him take first to such ways?"

Mary Davis shook her head, unable to explain. She thought it was "nature."

"Nature has a deal to answer for, there's no doubt," said Mrs. Simmons shrewdly. "But it don't explain everything."

Then they stood looking at Daisy, and as they looked the pale eyelids were slowly lifted, and the dim eyes seemed to gaze at something.

"Miss Daisy," said Mary Davis gently, "Miss Daisy, my dear,—don't you know me?"

But there was no response. Daisy did not seem to hear the words. Mary Davis laid a hand on her forehead, with slight pressure, and there was a distressed faint moan.

"That's the only sound she makes," said Mary sorrowfully. "And if I try to lift her, she's like a log."

"It'll be an illness calling for patience, I shouldn't wonder," said Mrs. Simmons. "Now mind you, I'm ready to come in if I'm wanted,—and I'm not looking for money rewards, any more than you are yourself, Mrs. Davis. I'll come of an afternoon or a night, just as you please. I don't say I'm ready for morning work,—that's another matter. But don't you have scruples about asking me,—see you don't."







IT was growing late as the two women watched and talked by Daisy's bedside,—talked rather more perhaps than was quite wise, for one cannot always be sure how far a sick person is really unconscious.

While they were thus busied, Isaac Meads retired from the parlour to his own bedroom, on the same floor, and at the back of the house. He did not go in on his way to ask about Daisy, for the idea of so doing never occurred to him. His mind was engrossed with other thoughts.

Isaac Meads always retired to bed by nine o'clock at the latest, and he always expected Daisy to do the same. Supper and candles, and in winter firing also, were saved by this habit.

He fastened carefully the bolt of the parlour window, and turned the big rusty key in the front door, forgetting or not knowing that Mrs. Simmons would have to unlock it again to pass out. Then, bearing the solitary candle which had been his companion, he went slowly with dragging footsteps to his own room, bolted himself in, and placed the light on the table,—an old green card-table standing in the centre.

This was Isaac Mead's happiest time,—the only hour in all the twenty-four which, after a certain fashion, he really did enjoy.

Pleasure had to be delayed yet a few minutes. Isaac performed a careful tour of his apartment, in slow shambling fashion. Candle in hand, he peered under the bed, he peeped into the cupboard, he shook each curtain, he displaced every movable piece of furniture. Not the skinniest and wiriest little street Arab could have escaped detection in the course of that search.

Satisfied at length that he was really alone, Isaac once more placed his candle on the table, and went to a dark corner beside the old wardrobe. There he touched a spring, cleverly hidden from careless observation, and a small piece of the deep wainscoting sprang out.

A hollow place in the wall was disclosed by this move. Isaac bent low, and carefully dragged up a heavy leathern bag. This bag he carried to the table, not without difficulty.

Now came Isaac's time of enjoyment. His shaking fingers untied the strings, and drew forth from the bag handfuls of gold. He piled sovereigns before him in a succession of little heaps, gazing at the same with admiring affection. He held them in his withered hands, and counted them over with ardent pleasure. His aged face brightened, and his lustreless eyes gleamed. For here was where Isaac's heart had found its home. If he loved nothing else in life, he loved gold.

Presently he put back the piles of sovereigns in the bag, and restored the bag to its hole behind the wainscoting, gloating over it to the last moment with greedy eyes, and sighing as it vanished from sight.

Isaac had not done yet. He went to another corner of the room, close beside the heavy four-post bed, and stooped down as if to touch another spring.

Something made him pause and stand up. What was that sound? Could it be only the crawling of a snail outside the window pane?

Isaac was suddenly seized with trembling dismay. For he saw that a corner of the window had been left uncovered by blind and curtain,—strangely unnoticed by himself. Possibly he might have pulled the curtain aside, unknowingly, as he passed. What if anyone had peeped in?

Isaac hastened to the window, and stared through the little bit of exposed pane. His limbs shook, and a cold perspiration broke out all over him. This window opened on a lonely corner of the back yard, but anybody might wander round from the road.



If he loved nothing else in life,

he loved gold.


Enjoyment was at an end. Isaac could see nobody, looking into the darkness, yet that did not prove nobody to be there. He covered the window over, and stood near it a long while, listening and trembling. Nothing happened, and presently he went to bed, not venturing to gloat any more over his treasure that night.







"FATHER," Daisy said.

It was not the first word she had uttered, but it was her first word in a clear and natural voice. Long days and nights of stupor had passed, and when at length sense returned it came slowly. She began first to notice things about her with languid glances of interest, and then there was an occasional "thank you," or a faint smile of recognition. She showed no surprise at her own condition, or at the presence of her nurse. But she seemed to be gradually waking up, as if from a trance; and one day she opened her eyes, to say with unexpected distinctness:—


"He's in the other room, Miss Daisy," said Mary Davis.

Daisy looked at Mary steadily. "I've been ill a very long time, haven't I, Nursie?" she asked, in her soft voice, which had become weak as well as soft.

"No, Miss Daisy, dear, not so very long. It's a good many days."

"Days! It seems—years," said Daisy, making a pause. "It has been so nice, Nursie. I thought I was a little child again, and you were taking care of me, only I was afraid it was a dream, and I didn't want to wake up. So I tried not."

"But you're awake now, my dear," said Mary.

"I suppose I am," murmured Daisy, shutting and opening her eyes with a rather distressed look. "My head is so strange, I feel as if I were somebody else. And my legs seem tied down to the bed. Isn't it funny?"

"Very funny," said Mary, with a smile to hide a heart-ache. "You mustn't mind being weak for a time."

"I suppose it was the rain made me so ill. It rained—hard," said Daisy slowly, with a puzzled expression, as if she were trying to recall something. Then she seemed quite tired out, and lay again as she had lain so much of late; only Mary Davis thought there was more of sleep and less of stupor about her unconsciousness.

Later in the afternoon the doctor came in. He was the Parish doctor, a stout quick-mannered man, sometimes a little apt to be sharp as well as quick; but, like most people, he was gentle with Daisy.

When she opened her eyes and smiled at him, he said, "Come, you are better to-day."

"Mayn't I see father, please?" asked Daisy.

"Well, yes, perhaps you may," said Mr. Bennet. "Do you think it would do you good?"

"No," said Daisy, without any hesitation. "I only think I ought."

"Why won't it do you good, my dear?" asked Mr. Bennet, bending down to look into her eyes.

"I'm tired," Daisy said. "But there's nobody else to take care of father."

"O yes; there's Mrs. Davis to take care of you both," said Mr. Bennet cheerily. "Where do you feel tired? All over?"

"Yes, everywhere," said Daisy. "And my legs are so heavy, I can't move them,—and my head too."

The doctor's broad hand was laid on Daisy's forehead, not pressing much; yet she moaned, and for an instant her eyes had a wandering look.

"She can't bear that, sir," Mary Davis said. "Her head do seem very bad still."

"Yes. She mustn't see her father yet," said Mr. Bennet decidedly. "Keep her as quiet as possible, and if Mrs. Simmons comes in from over the way, don't you have too much talk."

"No, sir," said Mary Davis.

"I like Mrs. Simmons," said Daisy. "She is kind—and so big—"

"Well, yes, she's big undoubtedly," said the doctor. "Much bigger than you will ever be, Daisy."

Daisy seemed to take the words in a sense which the doctor had certainly not intended. She asked calmly:—

"Shall I never be well again?"

"Tut, tut! Nonsense!" said Mr. Bennet. "Why, you're ever so much better to-day."

Daisy smiled a little; not as if she were quite sure that he meant what he said. Mary Davis presently followed the doctor, as he left the room, and while opening the front door she asked anxiously: "Will Miss Daisy soon be up again, please, sir?"

"Can't say. Can't say at all," responded Mr. Bennet hastily. "There's no knowing. It has been a terrible shock to the nervous system altogether, and the head is a good deal affected,—no doubt about that. She's a delicate little creature. May pass off soon, or may not. How is your husband going on? You saw him yesterday, did you not?"

"Yes, sir. It's like to be a long business with him, they say; but he's been more himself than Miss Daisy has been. His arm is shocking bad, and he has a deal of pain."

"Well, well, the worst cases are not always those where there's most pain—not by any means," said Mr. Bennet. "Your husband will have gained experience for the future, when he comes out of the hospital."

"Yes, sir; in more ways than one, maybe," said Mary quietly. "He says he means to sign the pledge, and to turn over a new leaf."

"A good day for you if he does," said the doctor, aware of John Davis' propensities. "Good evening. Keep that child quiet, and don't let her old father bother her."

Mary returned to the bedroom, with this injunction full in her mind. To her astonishment, she found old Isaac Meads in the sick room, seated beside Daisy's bed, with his chin resting on the knob of his stick, and his eyes fixed solemnly upon Daisy. He had evidently crossed the passage unobserved, while she was speaking with the doctor. Daisy lay with shut eyes, unconscious of his presence.

Mary Davis was at a loss what to do. She did not wish to rouse Daisy, yet silent signs and beckonings proved of no avail. The old man did not see, or chose to ignore them. Mary laid one hand on his shoulder to draw attention, and with the other she pointed to the door; but Isaac shook off her hand, and doggedly retained his seat.



She found old Isaac Meads in the sick room,

seated beside Daisy's bed.


"You must go away," Mary whispered. "The doctor says so. You are not to come here, Mr. Meads."

"Not to come here? And who's got any right to say that to me?" growled Isaac. "Isn't it my own house? Eh?"

"Hush—hush!" whispered Mary. "Hush! You will startle Miss Daisy and make her worse."

But Daisy had heard. She opened her eyes, and a smile broke over her face as she said, "Father."

"Didn't I know she'd know me?" asked Isaac Meads. "Whatever in the world makes you keep on lying here all this time, Daisy? Ain't you going to get up and be busy? Everything'll go to wrack and ruin if you don't, and I haven't got one penny to spare—not one penny."

"I'll get up as soon as ever I can," said Daisy. "I can't stand yet, father."

"Can't you stand?" inquired Isaac, in a tone of dismay.

"No," Daisy answered. "My legs are so heavy, father, I can't move them."

"Couldn't you if I was to help you up?" asked Isaac, suiting action to word. Daisy shrank from his outstretched hands.

"No, father, I couldn't. Please don't touch me,—oh, please!"

"Mr. Meads, you'll please to go!" said Mary indignantly. "The doctor said you weren't to be here at all. Why, you'll just kill Miss Daisy outright, if you go on like this."

"I'm not a-going if I don't choose. Old Meadow is my house if it's anybody's," grumbled Isaac. "If I've a mind to stay with Daisy, who's to hinder?"

Mary was alarmed at Daisy's shortened breath and dilated eyes. She went close to the bed, laying a protecting hand on her, and the movement seemed to excite the old man's ire.

"Get away with you, woman," he cried wrathfully, shaking his stick. "'Tisn't the first time. Yes, yes, I know you now; always a-meddling in somebody's concerns. If I didn't remember you at first, I do now. Get away with you, and leave Daisy to them as have a right over her. If I tell her to get up, she's got to get up, and she shall too."

Despite a quick movement on Mary's part, the old man seized Daisy's arm, and made a feint of pulling her to a sitting posture. Perhaps it was more of pretence than reality, but it was enough. Daisy uttered a low cry, and became unconscious.

"Are you crazy, Mr. Meads?" asked Mary, hardly able to contain herself. "Are you quite crazy? Do you want to kill your only child, your poor little Daisy? See what you have done,—yes, look—look at her. How will you feel if she never comes to again?"

Isaac's fit of childish anger was at an end. He stared stolidly at the white face on the pillow.

Another figure had appeared on the scene, a capacious figure, filling a goodly space in the doorway.

"See, that's what he has done," Mary said bitterly, turning to Mrs. Simmons. "And the poor little darling was getting on so nicely. That's what he has done! I shouldn't wonder if he has killed her outright."

"What's he been after?" asked Mrs. Simmons, coming forward.

"Why, he's wanting her to get up and work, and save his coppers," said Mary. "She that hasn't power to lift her head off the pillow, nor to turn herself in bed! I doubt me sometimes she never will have power again. He loves his money a deal better than he loves his own flesh and blood. And I can't get him out of the room; and if she comes to and sees him here, I shouldn't wonder if it was as much as her life was worth."

"Well, that's a pretty piece of work, if there ever was one!" said Mrs. Simmons, contemplating the old man's crouching form. "Now then,—will you go, Mr. Meads?"

Mrs. Simmons was a large woman, and Isaac Meads was not a large man. He gave her a glance, and moved.

"Come, be quick!" said Betsy Simmons. "And mind, if ever you dare to come inside this door again, without the doctor's leave—"

The rest of the sentence was left to Isaac's imagination. He beat a hasty retreat.







DURING many hours after Isaac's visit to the sick room, Daisy was more or less unconscious. She moaned often, and sometimes she started and cried out in fear, and now and then she would grasp at Mary Davis as if for protection. Occasionally she seemed to know her nurse, and then again the blank would come back, blotting out all sense. This state passed slowly away, and Daisy regained gradually her lost ground. But Mary made up her mind that Isaac Meads should not be again admitted into his child's presence. She kept the door bolted thenceforward, and never left Daisy alone for even a few seconds without locking it behind her. Isaac made one or two more attempts to enter, and found himself foiled.

"Father hasn't been to see me again," Daisy remarked unexpectedly one evening, several days later.

"He's been wanting to, but I didn't think it was good for you," Mary answered.

"But perhaps it isn't right to keep him away," said Daisy. "Poor father has nobody else, you know."

"It's his own fault if he hasn't," said Mary. "I'm not going to have him frighten you, and make you ill again, Daisy." She not seldom addressed the sick girl thus, as she had been wont in past years to address the little child, dropping half-unconsciously the "Miss," which had at first come naturally. Daisy looked so small and young, lying in her narrow bed, that Mary Davis began to think of her again as quite a child.

"I should not be so frightened, perhaps, a second time," said Daisy calmly. "I have been thinking about it, Nursie. Father wouldn't really want to hurt me, I am sure,—and you know it wouldn't do to keep him always from me."

"Not always. Only till you are better, dear," Mary said.

"But perhaps I never shall be better," said Daisy slowly. "I can't sit up yet, or move my legs. You can't think how heavy they seem. What does the doctor say is the reason, Nursie?"

"He don't say very clear, Miss, but he seems to think it is a sort of paralysis-like, from the lightning stroke,—not as he's used that word neither." Mary forgot at the moment that the real cause of Daisy's illness had never yet been recalled to her.

Daisy had hitherto asked few questions, and her doing so now took Mary by surprise. "Seems as if the power was all gone out of you; and he don't say just how long it'll last."

Daisy repeated the word "lightning," as if in surprise, and then she lay thinking.

"Yes," she said at length, "I remember now,—I remember the storm coming on; and the thunder; and the children being so frightened. And your husband put up his pitchfork. He didn't know any better, I suppose. But I don't seem to remember anything particular afterwards. Did the lightning really strike me?"

Mary Davis nodded. "Yes, and my husband too, Daisy."

"Then that is why he is ill in hospital. If he wasn't, I suppose you could not have come to nurse me. Is he hurt the same as I am?"

"No," Mary said. "His arm is badly burnt, and he is a good deal scorched beside; but it don't seem to have taken away all his strength nor made his legs bad, like with you."

"I dare say he is much the worst, really," said Daisy. "And the doctor doesn't know how long I shall be ill, Nursie?"

"He don't say, Miss Daisy."

"Father wouldn't like me to live on for years, if I couldn't walk," said Daisy, with a touching look of sadness. "He wouldn't like the expense, Nursie. It would be better for me to die."

"Miss Daisy, you mustn't talk so," said Mary.

"But I think it would be better," repeated Daisy. "Father would not want me, if I could not work for him, and there is nobody else. No one to take care of me except you, and your husband will want you by-and-by. Don't you think, Nursie, that perhaps I shall die soon?" Daisy did not sob, but her chest heaved quickly, and two large tears fell upon the white sheet.

"I think God knows best what is right for you, dear, and you oughtn't to want to die sooner than it's His will you should," said Mary, hardly able to command her voice.

"Yes, He knows best," said Daisy, tears dropping again. "And He loves me. I haven't been afraid once about dying, all the time I have been ill. It seemed so easy, when I thought of the Lord Jesus dying for me on the Cross. But—Nursie, I do feel afraid of having to live a long while, if I can't stand or work or do anything,—and nobody except father to take care of me. I'd a great deal rather die."

"I wouldn't be afraid," said Mary, leaning over the bed, and trying to smile. "If God is able to take care of you when you die, don't you think He's able to take care of you while you're alive too?"

"Yes,—able," said Daisy in a low voice.

"And don't you think He will, Daisy?"

"I ought to feel sure," said Daisy, with a distressed look. Then she asked quite suddenly, "Nursie, do you love God?"

"I hope so," faltered Mary Davis.

"I mean real love," said Daisy. "I mean the sort of love that makes you want to obey Him, and want to be with Him. You didn't in old days, did you, Nursie?" She always spoke of her childhood's years as "old days."

"No," Mary Davis answered at once, quite decidedly. "I don't say I hadn't a sort of wish to do right, Miss Daisy, but I didn't really try to serve God from my heart, and I don't think I loved Him at all."

"And you do now?"

"I hope so," said Mary Davis.

"I hope I do too," said Daisy slowly. Then she paused, and looked up, a bright smile lighting her whole face. "No,—I don't hope—I know I do. I think I love the Lord Jesus in just the sort of way I used to love mother. I can't love poor father like that, can I? It is more like being so very sorry for him. Nursie, I don't know what I should do, if God didn't love me. I don't know what in the world I should do. It's just my one real comfort."

"Then, Miss Daisy," said Mary, "if you feel like that, you won't need to be frightened any more about getting well, because you know He'll take care of you. Hasn't He said, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee'?"

"Yes," said Daisy thoughtfully, "I am quite sure. I ought to be quite sure. I suppose that is the real meaning of 'casting all your care on Him, for He careth for you.' I'll try not to be afraid any more."







"You don't know how to make a rice pudding. No, I shouldn't wonder if you don't," said Mrs. Simmons.

Janet Humphrey intimated that this was a mistake. She knew quite well how to make a rice pudding.

"O yes—you make a pudding of a sort, I don't doubt," said Mrs. Simmons. "Put a lot of rice into some milk, and boil it for half an hour into a sort of pap, fit to turn the stomach of anybody as looks at it; or maybe you have a grand concern, with sugar and butter and eggs in it. I dare say that's good to the taste,—and it had ought to be. But it isn't cheap, and folks have to give a thought to cheapness once in a while. What do you have mostly in the way of puddings?"

"Well, my husband likes a good custard pudding as much as anything," said Janet.

"Shouldn't wonder if he does. Maybe he'd like a turkey supper, and salmon for breakfast, as much as anything, too," said Mrs. Simmons.

Janet did not perceive the satire. "I haven't got him salmon for a good while past," she said. "It seems to cost a lot."

"There's a good many gentlefolk who don't touch salmon from year's end to year's end, without they come across it in a friend's house," said Mrs. Simmons. "And there's a good many more who are mighty sparing of eggs in puddings, because of the expense. Why, dear me, when I was cook in Mrs. Mason's family,—and a real out-and-out lady was Mrs. Mason, though she wasn't rich,—if I says to her, 'Why shouldn't we have a baked custard pudding, mum, for a change?' knowing she liked it uncommon; 'Why, Simmons,' says she, 'that'll take three or four eggs to make it big enough for us all, and you don't think I can afford four eggs to one pudding, do you?' says she. She was wonderful careful about her expenses always, and that's how it was her husband got along as well as he did, I make no doubt."

"Well, I never thought gentlefolks had to count the price of eggs in a pudding," said Janet.

"There's often a deal more calculating of expenses in a gentleman's kitchen than there is in a cottage kitchen," said Mrs. Simmons. "And I'll tell you the reason why, if you like. The reason why is because a gentleman commonly counts himself called upon to lay by for a rainy day, and to provide for his children after he's dead, and a working man too often don't count himself called upon to do anything of the sort. There'd be a deal less poverty and distress in the country, if once our men could be got to look ahead, and if their wives could be got to see that saving is a twin-duty to spending."

"I never thought about that," said Janet. "Jem works steady, and he mostly brings home enough."

"And how if he was to be taken ill, or if he was to fall and break his leg, or if work was to stop?" asked Mrs. Simmons.

"Well, I don't know. I suppose things would come right somehow," said Janet.

"I shouldn't wonder if they were to go a good way wrong first," said Mrs. Simmons.

"It's no good looking forward and expecting troubles," said Janet.

"No, it isn't," said Mrs. Simmons. "But looking forward and expecting troubles, is a different sort of thing altogether from doing what lies in your power to keep off trouble. Why, when bees and ants lay by food against the winter, you wouldn't blame them and say they were expecting to be starved, would you? The starvation would come, sure enough, if they didn't lay by."

"Well, I know Mr. Roper is always telling us in his preaching that we've got to trust," said Janet in self-defence.

"That's true enough. He tells you to trust what, Mrs. Humphrey?"

Janet seemed rather at a loss. "I've heard him say many times we had to trust," she repeated.

"You'd best listen with both your ears next time," said Mrs. Simmons, "seeing you've only managed to lay hold on half the sense of what he said. You've got to trust GOD, Mrs. Humphrey. That means that if you are God's faithful servant and child, you needn't worry and fret for your future, but while you do the little you can do, you may trust Him to do all that you can't do, and to care for you in need. But I can tell you it don't mean that you are to live a life of self-indulgence and pleasure, and trust God to do for you what He has given you the power to do for yourself, just to save you a bit of trouble and thought."

"I'm sure it isn't much pleasure I ever have in my life," said Janet, almost in tears. "I'm always working and slaving for somebody."

"You wouldn't be one grain the happier for having no work," said Mrs. Simmons calmly. Then she suddenly put a direct question: "Your husband gets good wages, Mrs. Humphrey, and he brings them pretty near all to you, for you've told me so. Now how much of them wages have gone this year into the Savings Bank?"

"There don't seem much to spare," faltered Janet. "The children are always wanting something new,—and food costs such a lot."

"Then I'd make the children wait a bit longer, and I'd have food that costs less," said Mrs. Simmons gravely. "I tell you, Mrs. Humphrey, it's a sin and a shame to go on month after month, spending every penny you get, and never making provision for the changes that's sure to come sooner or later. It's a sin and a shame. You don't suppose you and your husband will keep health for ever, do you? Why, either one of you might die to-morrow. What would become of those poor little ones of yours, if your husband and you were both taken?"

"I wish you wouldn't talk like that," said Janet, with a shiver.

"Then I won't, if you don't like; but it's truth," said Mrs. Simmons. "It's truth, and it has got to be faced. You go and do your best, and then you may trust God; but if you don't do the little you can, I don't see what call you have to trust."

"But what am I to do?" asked Janet helplessly.

"Begin to lay by at once. Don't wait till next month or next year. There's the Post Office Savings Bank, which is perfectly safe, and it'll hold as small sums as you like. I'd keep a locked box by me, with a hole in the top, and I'd slip in every penny I could spare. It'll grow wonderfully quick, I can tell you. I'm not advising you to become a miser, like poor old Mr. Meads, loving the money more than your own flesh and blood. But I do say it's your duty to provide all you can against a rainy day, and to teach your children to help you. I shouldn't wonder but there's many a penny goes in goodies, which don't do nobody any good."

"Why, they get the goodies at your shop," said Janet.

"That don't make no difference. My goodies are wholesome and won't hurt the children. But if they're properly fed, they don't need a lot of goodies between meals. It's a bad habit, and a wasteful one. You might save many a penny that way."

"Well, I'll think about it," said Janet.

"And now about the rice pudding," said Mrs. Simmons.

Janet looked relieved, and her face cleared.

"About the rice pudding," said Mrs. Simmons again. "When I was cook at Mrs. Mason's, there wasn't any pudding we had oftener. Mr. Mason scarce counted he'd dined without one. But I didn't make it like you make yours, though I'd been used to your way before I went to Mrs. Mason. I had to learn their way, and a good way I found it,—cheap and nourishing too."

"How was it?" asked Janet.

"There was no butter in the pudding, and no eggs, and no sugar," said Betsy Simmons.

"No sugar!" repeated Janet.

"Not a grain," said Mrs. Simmons. "A little sugar was eaten with the pudding after it was made, most commonly, though I don't care even for that. The pudding was made in a deepish dish, and it was nothing but milk and rice,—good Carolina rice. Mr. Mason liked it milky, and I used to put a good wine-glassful of rice into two quarts of milk, and that made a big enough pudding for his whole party. Same way it would have been half a wine-glassful to one quart of milk. But most people like it just a little more substantial, and maybe you'd come to putting an extra quantity of rice, according to taste. That's as may be."

"It don't sound nice," said Janet.

"I dare say it don't," said Mrs. Simmons. "Wait till you have tried. The secret of that pudding, and the secret of ever so much cooking beside, is SLOW DOING. We used to dine at half-past one, and by half-past nine I used to have my pudding ready,—the rice measured and put into the dish, and the milk poured in over. Then I used to put it into the oven and bake it slowly from three and a half to four hours. And of course it took some trouble and attention; for if the oven was too hot, the pudding got dried up and burnt; and if the oven was too cold, the pudding came out pale and sickly-looking and only half done; and if I moved it about too much in the oven, the milk would sometimes curdle. But I got into the way of it after a while, and I used to send up beautiful puddings, just nicely browned, with the milk thickened till it looked almost like cream, and the rice-grains quite tender, yet each one whole and separate from the rest."

"It sounds a deal of trouble," said Janet.

"It's worth the trouble," said Mrs. Simmons. "Cheap and wholesome food pretty nearly always gives trouble, but it's worth while. If you wanted to sit in an arm-chair, Mrs. Humphrey, with your hands before you, you had no business to marry a working man."

"O no,—I don't want that," said Janet. "I'll try to make the pudding as you say."

"You'd better. You won't be sorry after," said Mrs. Simmons. "And if you're inclined for a change, there's tapioca and sago can be made into puddings in pretty much the same way, only I'd put some sugar into them, and I'd use more of the tapioca or sago than of the rice. But you'll find there's nothing the children will take to like the plain rice pudding, if only you do it carefully and give it to them nice and hot."







"I WONDER if I couldn't manage to stand, if I tried," said Daisy wistfully. She had had the thought in her mind for some days before it came out. A month had passed since old Isaac's last visit to her room, and Daisy as yet seemed not much better. John Davis in hospital was making steady advance towards recovery, and Daisy was often haunted by a dread of the time when Mary would have to leave her. "I can't think what I shall do," she murmured sadly one day to her nurse, and then after some thought she broke into the wonder whether she might not be able to stand, if she tried.

"You'd be quick enough up if you could, Daisy," said Mary Davis.

"But perhaps I've grown lazy, Nursie," said Daisy. "Perhaps I ought just to try. You lift me and do everything for me, so that I haven't had to try. I'm sure father must be getting vexed at my staying in bed so long."

Mary Davis would not tell Daisy how vexed Mr. Meads was, nor how he grudged Daisy's nurse every mouthful of food that she ate. Her one aim was to shelter Daisy. But she did sometimes wonder how things were to end.

"Nurse," said Daisy suddenly, "I want to see father again."

"By-and-by," said Mary.

"No, not by-and-by. I want to see him now," said Daisy with firmness. "I am quite sure I ought, Nursie. He must be so lonely, with nobody to see after him all day. You needn't leave me alone with him, if you don't like, but I mast see him, please."

"He'll make you ill again, Miss Daisy."

"No, I don't think so. I'm better than I was—a great deal," said Daisy. "My head isn't so strange, and I don't seem to be so startled at everything. If only my legs didn't feel so heavy, I should think I was going to be quite well very soon indeed. Nursie, dear, I want to see father presently, but I do want first, please, to try if I can stand."

"You can't stand," said Mary gravely.

"I want to make sure. Father is sure to ask me, and then I can tell him that I've tried. I really can sit up a little now, with the pillows behind me, and I don't see why I shouldn't stand,—just for a second or two. I'd rather not ask Mr. Bennet, because he might tell me to wait, and I do want to try."

Mary did not argue the question longer. Daisy's imploring face was quite too much for her. She carefully wrapped a warm dressing-gown round the prostrate thin figure, and then she very gently lifted Daisy up and out of bed, placing and holding her in an upright position.

"Nursie, am I standing? I can't be sure," said Daisy, with dilated anxious eyes and quick breathing. "Are my feet down flat on the floor? It feels so queer."

"Yes, you're standing now, Daisy," said Mary Davis.

"Don't let go, please," said Daisy faintly. "The room is all going round. My legs are just as heavy as in bed, Nursie."

"Yes, dear. I'll put you back now," said Mary.

The words seemed to rouse Daisy. "No, no, I haven't tried standing alone yet," she said hurriedly. "Let me go a moment, Nursie."

"My dear, you can't," said Mary.

"I want to try. Please—oh, please, do, quickly."

Mary relaxed partially her firm hold, intending to do no more, but at the same instant Daisy with a quick movement pushed both her hands away. It was the work of a moment. Before Mary could grasp her again, Daisy had sunk in a heap on the ground.

"O Nursie, I can't, I can't," she said despairingly. "Oh, what shall I do?"

Mary uttered no reproaches. She lifted Daisy up from the floor, not without difficulty, laid her in the bed, and drew the clothes over her. Daisy hid her face in the pillow, with a burst of heart-broken sobbing.

"I did think I should be able," she moaned. "I didn't think it would be so bad. Nursie, I don't believe I shall ever be able to walk again. And what will father say?"

"There's no use looking forward for troubles that mayn't ever come," said Mary quietly. "If the trouble is sent by God, Mr. Meads'll have to bear it, and so will you, Miss Daisy. But you don't know yet as it will come. Nobody can tell yet. It's as like as not you'll be walking all right in a few weeks or months."

"Does Mr. Bennet say so?" asked poor Daisy, weeping still.

"He says it's a good sign that you're able to bear sitting up a bit. He says he don't know how long it'll be, but he hopes you'll get on better by-and-by."

Daisy fell into a fresh fit of sobs. "Oh, I did think I should be able to stand just for a moment," she said. "I did think I could. And it seemed as if I hadn't the least feeling in my legs."

"And you are so weak too," said Mary. "That makes the matter worse."

"Father will be so disappointed. I shouldn't mind if it wasn't for him. I can't think what he will say!" moaned Daisy, quite overcome by her bitter disappointment.

It came suddenly into Mary's head that this would be no bad time for Isaac to see Daisy again. She acted on the moment's impulse, not quite wisely, perhaps, since she could not tell at all how the old man would behave, and Daisy was already upset. Leaving the bedroom, she went quickly across to the parlour, and there accosted Isaac with the words,—

"Do you want to see Daisy, Mr. Meads?"

"I'd have seen her long ago, if it hadn't been for you," grumbled Isaac.

"I'll take you in now, if you promise me not to stay a moment longer than I give you leave."

Isaac Meads grunted a response.

"You mustn't be there many minutes, for Daisy is weak, but she wants to have a sight of you again."

"She isn't going to die?" asked Isaac, with some show of interest.

"No," said Mary sharply. "Much you'd care if she did. Come."

Mary was vexed with herself the next moment for her sharp way of speaking. After all, the old man could scarcely be counted to have his full wits. She led the way, and Isaac shuffled after.







DAISY was still crying when they entered. Her face was pressed into the pillow, and her sobs sounded through the room. Mary Davis motioned Isaac to the bedside, and he stood there, saying nothing, with a rather astonished look upon his face. Daisy had always been so cheery in her ways, that he could scarcely remember seeing her shed tears since she was quite a child.

Mary waited a little while, and then said: "Daisy, here's your father come to see you."

Daisy turned her head quickly, and lifted her tearful eyes to his. Then she wrung her hands together, and broke out anew into a passion of sobs. "O father, father," she cried, "I can't walk or stand. I've tried, and I can't. And you will get so tired of me; you will wish I was dead. O father, I don't know what to do; I don't know how to bear it."

"Can't you stand yet, Daisy?" asked Isaac, in a perplexed and dubious tone.

"No, no, no," sobbed Daisy. "I tried, and I fell down. My legs seem almost as if they were dead, father. I don't know if I shall ever be able to stand again."

"Don't know if ever you'll be able to stand again!" echoed Isaac, in tones of dismay.

"No," moaned Daisy. "Perhaps never—never."

"Who's ever a-going to do your work?" asked Isaac. "I can't afford to keep a woman, Daisy. It's sheer ruination,—and I haven't got a penny to spare—not one penny."

"Ah, I knew you'd say so," Daisy answered sorrowfully, yet struggling to be calmer. "Father, you'll get so tired of me soon; you'll wish I was dead. And I would rather die and go to Heaven—oh, much, much rather—if only I might. But I mustn't be in a hurry, if God doesn't wish it for me yet. Only—oh, father, I don't know what to do!"

"You hear her, Mr. Meads," said Mary Davis slowly. "You hear what she's telling you. She thinks you'll be tired of her, and want her to die, because she can't slave for you any longer,—she that's your own little Daisy, the only child you've got. If she's taken, you'll have nobody left you then—not a soul in all the world to care for you. I wonder if you'd mind? You'd have your gold still—only your gold. Maybe that's all you want."

"Who says I've got gold?" asked the old man tremblingly, an expression of fear coming over his face. "I tell you, woman, I ain't got one penny to spare,—not one penny. I'm only a poor old man."

"O yes, I know," said Mary calmly, with a touch of contempt. "You and I know one another pretty well, Mr. Meads, by this time. You can't take me in, as you take most people in. Poor!—" and her voice suddenly changed. "Yes, it's true, that, and no mistake. You are a poor man, Mr. Meads,—poor and miserable too. Any man 'ud be poor who had his heart wrapped up in gold. But it'll be taken from you some day,—mind that. It's your idol, and it'll be taken from you."

Isaac shook as if he had the palsy, and his lustreless eyes stared hard at Mary. "It'll be took!" he muttered hoarsely, "Who says it'll be took? I've got it all safe—all safe. There isn't a soul knows where I put it."

"Maybe yes, and maybe no," Mary answered. "Don't you be too sure, Mr. Meads. There's often a deal more known by folks around than you think for. You needn't look at me like that. I don't know where you keep your hoard,—no, nor I don't want to. The gold that can kill your love for your own child has a curse upon it, and I wouldn't finger it if I could. But it'll be taken from you some day, or you'll be taken from it. And what'll you have then?"

Daisy's tears were at an end. She had lain silently listening thus far, and now she stretched out both hands to him, saying, "Father, don't you love me?"

Isaac made no answer. He stared fixedly at Mary Davis, muttering, "I've got it safe."

"Then keep it safe, if you will," answered Mary, who was losing patience. "But don't make believe you haven't got pence when you've got pounds, for I can't stand it."

"Nursie, don't be angry with him," said Daisy softly. "He can't understand."

"I'm angry with him for your sake, Daisy," Mary answered, drawing a long breath. "How ever you stand it all as you do, passes me. I don't feel like a Christian when I see him."

"But you must," said Daisy quietly; and then again she asked, "Father, don't you love me at all?"

Isaac made no response. He did not seem to take in the sense of Daisy's question, for Mary's words were still haunting him, and he could only think of one thing at a time. Daisy's lips quivered, and her eyes filled anew, and Mary thought the scene had lasted long enough for her. "Come, Mr. Meads," she said, "it's time you should go. Say good-bye to Daisy."

"Good-bye, father," Daisy said submissively. "You'll come again, to-morrow, won't you?"

Isaac made no attempt to remain. He went slowly back into the parlour, and there sat until bed-time, lost in helpless thought. What could Mary Davis mean? How should anybody be aware of his carefully-guarded hoard?

Mary Davis had spoken, on the impulse of the moment, that which her womanly common-sense dictated to her. She had no doubt whatever that Mr. Meads really did possess a considerable amount of money. She knew that the conjectures of other people on this head amounted to almost certainty. She felt it to be by no means unlikely that an attempt might some day be made by evil-disposed persons to discover his supposed hoards. She remembered that at his age he must in any case soon leave all that he had. Her words were the outcome of these thoughts.

Mary spoke under impulse, not at all expecting to make so deep an impression on him. But a strange thing happened, following upon her words,—especially strange in that it did so closely follow after them.

Isaac retired at his usual time, taking his solitary candle to the bedroom, bolting the door, drawing the window-curtains closer, peering suspiciously under the bed and the wardrobe.

These and other preparations completed, he went to the corner, where the bag of gold habitually lay hidden in the hollow behind the deep wainscoting. He touched the spring, and bent to lift his treasure,—this golden treasure, so dear to his heart.

Isaac started back in horror and afright. Where was the bag? His hand found only a vacant space.

Ghastly pale, and shaking like an aspen, Isaac brought the candle from the table, and stared into the hole. Yes, it was empty—quite empty. The bag was gone.

Breathing hard, and with the air of a man stupefied by a sudden blow, Isaac put the panel back into its place, and then stood thinking, or trying to think.

"There's t'other hole," he muttered feebly. "I don't know as I mightn't—maybe—have put it in there."

He knew he had not done so, yet he tried to believe that it was possible. He knew well that the second small hiding-place could not have contained the big bag of gold, even if it had not been already half filled by a tin box, holding Bank of England notes, yet he tried to defer the agony of his loss by cheating himself into the notion that perhaps somehow the gold was there.

The second spring did not answer so readily to his touch as the first had done. Isaac slowly woke to the fact that it had been tampered with. Icy drops broke out on his face. What if here too—?

The wood-work yielded suddenly, and Isaac almost fell backwards with the force he had been exerting. He grasped the back of a chair, and steadied himself. Then he stooped and looked in.

A deep groan broke from Isaac. For the box of bank-notes was gone also.

Dazed and stunned, Isaac staggered to a chair. He was utterly bewildered. It did not at first occur to him that any steps might be taken for the recovery of the stolen money. He only knew that it was lost.

"Gone! gone!" broke now and then from his parched lips.

Isaac could not have told how long he sat there in his despair. The candle-end burnt itself out slowly, and after many flickerings and flarings up, the flame was quenched.

That roused the old man from his stunned condition. He sat more upright, and peered into the darkness. Words were suddenly coming back to him—words recently uttered by Mary Davis, but forgotten hitherto in the shock of his discovery. Mary Davis had spoken of his gold,—had foretold that he would some day lose it. What if Mary Davis had found his hiding-places, and had abstracted his treasure? The idea occurred to him distinctly. He did not suspect her of any intention to steal, for he knew her of old to be scrupulously honest; but she might, he thought, have laid hands on the money to use it for Daisy, since she so often complained that he would not allow Daisy enough; and somehow the dishonesty of such an act did not strike Isaac. He quite believed Mary to be capable of it.

Stumbling across the room, striking against pieces of furniture in the dark, he unbolted his door with nervous haste, reached Daisy's door, found it fastened, and rapped heavily.

Daisy, roused from her quiet sleep, gave a startled cry, and Mary, who had not yet gone to bed, hastened to her side. "Don't you be frightened, dear; it's nothing," she said. "Don't tremble, Daisy. It's only your father."

"But what can he want?" asked Daisy fearfully, as Isaac shouted hoarse demands for admittance.

"You can't come in now; it's too late," Mary called from beside Daisy.

Isaac was past taking in the sense of what she said. He battered furiously with all the strength at his command, finding relief in the action, and shouting incoherent words.

"It isn't like father to get in this sort of state," Daisy said tremblingly. "Nurse, what can it be? I never knew him in such a rage. He'll break in soon. The lock is so weak."

Mary had her own fears on that head. She went close to the door and called out, "Stop, Mr. Meads, stop. What is it you want?"

"I want my money," Isaac cried in a frenzy of distress. "I want my money. It's gone, every penny of it; and I mean to have it back. If you don't give it me this minute, I'll—"

The threat following was indistinct, but Mary could imagine its import. Though she had never before seen Isaac Meads in precisely this condition, she knew that a man completely overcome by passion is capable of almost any deed. Isaac Meads was old and feeble, yet the strength lent by rage might well make him temporarily more than a match for any ordinary woman. Mary thought of Betsy Simmons' strong frame longingly.

"Listen to me, Mr. Meads," she called. "I've not got your money, and I don't know anything about it."

"You told me it 'ud be taken, and you've gone and got it," yelled Isaac.

"It's a lie, Mr. Meads. I've not touched one farthing of your money," Mary answered. "But if it's gone, you'd best not waste your time here. Why don't you go straight to the police-station? Every minute you put off, the less likely you are to get your money back."

"Police-station!" Isaac said helplessly, and he ceased his battering.

"Yes, the police-station, down to the left, near the other end of the road. You'd best bring a policeman back with you, and see if he can find out anything. I wouldn't lose a minute if I was you. The thief'll get right off, if you do."

She heard the old man totter away,—how feebly she did not know. She heard him go out of the house, and shut the door behind him. But long as she waited and listened, she did not hear him return; and at length she came to the conclusion that he and the policeman must have started in pursuit of the thief, deferring their examination of the bedroom till later. It was a very simple thought of Mary's—helped on, perhaps, by her dread of meeting him, and her fear of leaving Daisy. She did once or twice wonder whether she was quite right not to go out and look after him. Yet, for Daisy's sake, how could she?

Mary would not have had far to go. The shock of his loss was telling rapidly on the old man, and the brief strength of passion was fast dying away. He only managed to get as far as the garden-path. There he fell to the ground, having no power to rise again; and there, when morning dawned, he was found, lying helplessly, damp with the night dews. When they carried him indoors, and laid him on his bed, he only stared about muttering monotonously, "Gone! gone! gone!" like the knell of a passing bell.







"THINGS are ever so much better than they used to be. Why, it feels like a different house," Janet Humphrey said to Mrs. Simmons, on the afternoon of the same Saturday when old Isaac Meads found his treasure to have vanished. The Humphreys had just been enjoying a good hot dinner, with "father" of course to share it, and Mrs. Simmons had dropped in afterwards, to find Janet, tidy and smiling, with the baby in her arms.



Mrs. Simmons had dropped in afterwards, to find Janet,

tidy and smiling, with the baby in her arms.


"I'm sure I'm glad to hear it," said Betsy Simmons; "and I hope it'll go on."

"I hope so too," said Janet. "I shouldn't like to go back and live all in a mess again. You haven't been near me for a great while, Mrs. Simmons."

"Well, no; it does seem a good bit," said Mrs. Simmons. "But I haven't had time to spare. Fact is, whenever I can I just go across, and sit with Miss Daisy for an hour, and let Mrs. Davis get out for a little fresh air. She ain't a strong woman, and the nursing's been a long pull upon her. And I'm sure nobody knows how much longer it mayn't go on. How's your husband to-day, Mrs. Humphrey?"

"He's quite well," Janet said; "and he's doing a lot of carpentering. It's wonderful how Jem has took to carpentering lately. He always was a good hand at it, but he used to say it wasn't worth while, and I couldn't get him to do anything. And now he's talking of making all sorts of things. Just look here, he's put up these shelves for me in the corner, so as I might have more room on the dresser. And he's just now making a book-case, and we mean to get it full of books too, in time. I don't see why we shouldn't. And Tommy broke the leg of a chair lately, and Jem got up early next morning and mended it. Why, if I'd asked him a while back—"

"It isn't so very astonishing," said Mrs. Simmons. "Stands to reason, a man don't care to waste his time in ornamenting a pig-stye."

"Oh, Mrs. Simmons, it wasn't a pig-stye," said Janet, rather hurt.

"Well no, my dear, it wasn't," said Mrs. Simmons. "Folks don't spend their whole lives in scouring and scrubbing of a pig-stye, and that's what you did, pretty nearly. But for all your scouring and scrubbing, you didn't get the place clean, Mrs. Humphrey."

"No, I didn't," assented Janet meekly. "I suppose it was because I hadn't regular times for regular work, and somehow I never seemed to finish anything off."

"Just that exactly," said Mrs. Simmons. "Well, and how are the children? I hope Janey's getting to be a help to you."

"Oh, she's only a child yet," said Janet.

"She isn't too much of a child to be trained into womanly ways," said Mrs. Simmons. "Now, Mrs. Humphrey, don't you give in to being one of them selfish mothers, as are always slaving for a lot of idle children, and never making the children do a hand's turn for themselves."

"Selfish!" Janet repeated in astonishment.

"Selfish—yes. Of course it's selfish," said Mrs. Simmons; "and lazy into the bargain. Of course it's a deal less trouble to do a thing yourself, than to teach Janey how to do it, more particularly if Janey gets a troublesome fit and won't try. But it isn't a question of just now only; it's a question of by-and-by as well. You've got to prepare Janey for being a woman; and one of the first lessons you ought to teach her is how to work. Half the wives and mothers of the present day are pretty nearly useless, because they've never learnt how to work."

"I shouldn't wonder," said Janet.

"Shouldn't wonder! Why, can't you see it for yourself? Children are left to grow up anyhow, and to scramble into any sorts of ways and habits, and then people expect 'em somehow suddenly to change into sensible hard-working useful women, with no trouble ever taken to make them so. O yes, they go to school, of course. But school can't do what I mean. School don't teach them to be useful and thoughtful and tidy in their own homes. School don't teach them scrubbing and washing, and dusting and cooking. Only a mother can teach them all that, or somebody in a mother's place. And mind you, it won't come by nature. Bees gather honey by nature, but girls don't scour and darn by nature."

"Well, I'm sure I never thought about teaching Janey such things," said Janet. "I thought it would all come by-and-by. And she hasn't got much time yet, what with schooling and all. She don't mind nursing the baby for me, when she's in."

"I should hope she didn't," said Mrs. Simmons. "Mind helping her mother! A pretty pass things are coming to! You're a deal too fond of thinking what your children 'mind,' Mrs. Humphrey. What is good for them is more to the point. Teach them to do their duty in God's sight, never stopping to think about their own fancies, and let them see you doing the same, and there's some hope they'll keep straight."

"I'm not what you may call a religious talker," said Janet.

"So much the better," answered Mrs. Simmons. "What folks call a 'religious talker' is very often a sham sort of specimen. It's more important to ask if you're a religious doer, Mrs. Humphrey."

"I've been trying to do better lately," said Janet.

"Yes, I know you have. It's good, so far," said Mrs. Simmons. "And yet that isn't all. Cleanliness and order of themselves aren't religion, though they ought and must go alongside of religion. If you're truly serving God from your heart, and if you sweep your room and cook your dinner the very best you possibly can, just because you want to please God, doing it with thoughts in your heart of trying to honour Him, why then your sweeping and cooking are a part of your religion, sure enough. But not else."

"I don't know as I've given much thought that way," said Janet shamefacedly.

"I'd begin," said Mrs. Simmons gravely. "I wouldn't put off, Mrs. Humphrey. And mind, you've got to train those children of yours for Heaven. That's the work that lies ready to your hand. It isn't only a question of training them to be useful men and women by-and-by. It's a question of training them for Heaven."

"There don't seem much time," began Janet.

"There's time enough for eating and sleeping, and dressing and seeing friends," said Mrs. Simmons. "Time enough, I suppose, for everything except that. And yet that's the one thing above all that calls most for attention."

"They go to Sunday-school," said Janet.

"That's something, but it isn't enough," said Mrs. Simmons. "It is mother's teaching they want, Mrs. Humphrey. It's the teaching that will help their little feet day after day to follow in the steps of the Lord Jesus—teaching that'll make them want to serve Him, and fight against naughty ways. That's what they want. You don't think an hour or two once a week can do everything. No, no—it's home teaching as well as Sunday-school that's needed. God has given them into your hands, for training."

Janet said, "But,—" and paused.

"Yes, there's a 'but,'" said Mrs. Simmons, lowering her full hearty tones, and looking gravely at Janet. "There's a 'but,' Mrs. Humphrey. I don't quite see, for my part, how you're to manage to bring your children to the Feet of the Lord Jesus, if you haven't ever come to Him yourself, and asked Him for healing. There were mothers that brought their little ones to Him to be blessed, and He sent none of them away. But I've marked often, in my mind, how those mothers brought the children themselves. They didn't just send them by somebody else."







"IT'S gone, Daisy, gone! It's all gone! I'm a poor man now. The gold's gone—gone—gone. I haven't anything left, Daisy."

They could do nothing to comfort old Isaac Meads for his loss, so at last they brought Daisy to him. It was now a month since the robbery, and the thief had not been discovered. No one had any hope that he would ever be discovered. Too good a start had been allowed him at the first. Isaac's treasure had utterly vanished.

He had been very ill since that evening, so ill that a great part of the month had been passed in unconsciousness or in delirium. But all through his wanderings of mind, he had kept up one monotonous cry of "Gone! gone!" and now that he was creeping back to life, the same plaint went on, only more bitterly.

Strange to say, Daisy had taken a sudden turn for the better, at the very time of her father's greatest danger. She could scarcely yet stand quite alone, but she had been able to walk slowly across the room, with the help of Mary's arm, and the doctor spoke hopefully of complete restoration to health. They had hitherto kept her from her father, fearing the possible effects of excitement and distress. But at length Daisy's own pleadings and the condition of the unhappy old man prevailed. Daisy was carried across the passage in a chair, by Mary Davis and Betsy Simmons, and was set down by her father's bedside.

Daisy looked very small and thin still, after her long illness, but the bright look in her face was in strange contrast with the utterly dismal and gloomy expression of old Isaac's unshaven and fallen visage.

"Oh, poor father, isn't he changed?" she said sorrowfully, her smile clouding over. Then she laid her hand on his and said, "Father, don't you know me?"

Yes, he knew her, that was plain; and the first thing he did was to break into his pitiful cry of "Gone, gone!—all gone, Daisy!" But suddenly he paused, as if with a new thought, looked round eagerly, and tried to draw Daisy closer, muttering, "Daisy, don't you tell, now don't you tell. I've something to say to you."

The two women kindly moved away, and stood in the window, talking. Daisy bent towards him. "Yes, father," she said.

"I durstn't do anything. She'd maybe pay me out," whispered Isaac. "But mind you, Daisy, it's she has gone and taken the money. It's she. See you look out sharp and get it back, else you'll be a workhouse lass, Daisy."

Isaac's pointing thumb left no doubt as to his meaning.

"O no no, indeed," said Daisy hurriedly. "O, father. It's nothing of that sort. You mustn't think so for a moment, for it's quite untrue."

"Who was it, if it wasn't she?" demanded Isaac.

"It was somebody else," said Daisy; "somebody who got in through your window, and who had man's boots. The police know that, but they can't tell who it was. Nobody can tell. Only it was a man, father, not a woman."

"When ever is the money a-going to be found?" demanded Isaac.

He had asked that question often of Mary Davis during the last month, as she had cared for him and tended him in his helplessness, toiling hard without hope of reward, for love of Daisy; and she had answered often, to soothe him, "Oh, I dare say it won't be long first, Mr. Meads. You must have patience."

But Daisy laid her hand upon his, and said gently, "I think—perhaps—never, father."

"Never!" echoed Isaac, with a tremulous start.

"I think perhaps not," said Daisy. "I'll tell you why father. I think you have loved the gold so much that it has kept you back from caring about God and Heaven. And so it has had to be taken away. And I don't much expect it will ever come back, because then you might love it again too much, and that would be so dreadful."

"So dreadful!" repeated Isaac mechanically, not as if he understood.

"Yes, dreadful," echoed Daisy's soft voice. "It is a dreadful thing, father, to love money more than you love God. I think that must be why the gold has gone."

Isaac caught up the words, and broke anew into his sorrowful cry. "It's gone, Daisy," he moaned, "all gone! I'm a poor man now. I haven't anything left."

She let him say this over and over, as he seemed disposed, but presently she chimed in with, "Yes, father, it's all gone—all gone. You haven't anything left."

The two women looked on curiously, half inclined to remonstrate, yet half disposed to think that Daisy knew well what she was about.

"It's all gone, Daisy," repeated Isaac once more and he burst into tears.

"Yes; I'm so glad, father," said Daisy.

The old man looked up at her in startled wonderment, and Daisy smiled.

"I'm so glad it is gone, so very glad," she said.

"Why, Daisy—you don't know what you're a-saying," protested Isaac. "Why, Daisy! you'd have been a rich woman one day, with lots of gold, and now there'll be near upon nothing for you, It's all gone!" and the last word sounded like a sob.

"I don't want to be rich," said Daisy. "I don't care about riches, father. They wouldn't make me happy. I'd a great great deal rather be poor now for a few years, than see you poor, up to the very end."

"See me poor!" said Isaac, perplexed.

"Father, having gold doesn't make a man rich," said Daisy. "You've had gold, but you have been poor. I want to see you free and rich now, able to think of something better."

"Something better!" repeated Isaac helplessly.

"Something better than gold," said Daisy. "That is what I mean. As long as you had the gold you didn't seem able to think of anything else. And, father, the gold wasn't really yours,—not yours for always, for ever. You only had it for a little while. And if it hadn't been stolen from you now, you would have had to leave it soon. You couldn't have taken it with you when you died."

"I'm not a-going to die yet. Whatever makes you talk about dying?" asked Isaac uneasily.

"I think about it often," said Daisy gently. "You and I have both been so near death lately, father. We are both getting well now, but it won't be for very long, you know. Father, I don't think I should have been afraid to die. Should you?"

Isaac's glances wandered about the room uncomfortably.

"I don't know as I'd need," he said. "I haven't been so particular bad,—not like some folks. I've never took a thing that wasn't mine,—not like that thief that's stolen my money. He deserves to be hanged, he does."

Daisy was looking so pale that the two women came to her side.

"You've been here long enough," Mary said. "It's no use talking too long to him, Daisy. He don't half understand."

"I wanted to say more," Daisy answered sadly. "But I suppose I am too tired. Yes, I'll go back. Only I must come again—every day. Poor father."







DAISY came to her father again and yet again, day after day, as she had said; and as she grew better able to bear the fatigue, she stayed longer and longer with her father.

The old man's recovery was very tardy. After a while he was able to totter into the parlour, and to spend some hours in his easy-chair every afternoon; but there improvement stood still. He was by no means the man he had been before his illness.

There seemed to be failure of mind, as well as failure of body. Often his brain appeared to be surrounded by such a mist, that he could hardly grasp the sense of what was said to him. One day he would cry and sob like a child over his lost gold; and another day he would seem almost happy, in a sort of childish forgetfulness of his trouble.

As weeks went on, one change became visible, which cheered Daisy's heart greatly, and that was that he no longer showed indifference to his little daughter—Daisy was always called "little" despite her seventeen years—but clung to her and leant upon her in a way he never had done before.

Was it that the loss of his gold had left his poor old heart free to love?

Daisy thought so, and the thought made her very joyous. She was feeble still, and could do little except sit for hours together by his side; but often, in her new happiness, she broke into soft scraps of singing, and Isaac's face showed that he liked to listen.

Yet this was a time of grave anxiety to Daisy; she could not at all tell how she and her father were to live thenceforward. His money was gone. It seemed quite a necessity that his house should be sold.

John Davis was now nearly well, and was expected to be out of the hospital in a week or ten days. Mary would have to join her husband then, and everything would rest upon Daisy. She looked too small and frail for the coming burden.

"But it will be all right," Daisy said often to Mary. "It will be all right, Nursie. God will take care of us. If only father loved God, I should not mind about anything else."

Friends had been very kind in helping Daisy and her father through their time of trouble. Gifts of food and of money also had come in repeatedly, some known to Daisy, some known only to her faithful nurse. This, of course, could not be expected to continue always. She had some anxious conversations with Mr. and Mrs. Roper, about her own and her father's future.

One day she was sitting with old Isaac in the parlour, Mary Davis having gone out from Old Meadow for half a day's charing, as she had frequently done of late. Isaac seemed unusually awake and clearheaded this afternoon, and in consequence unusually disposed to lament over his lost gold. Daisy bore for some time with his sorrowful murmurs, and then she drew her chair closer to him, and took one of his aged hands between her own, and said,—

"Father, do you mean to go on always being so unhappy about the money?"

Isaac repeated the word "always," as he was given to doing. "It's gone, Daisy—gone!" he added.

"Yes, it has quite gone, father—every bit of it," said Daisy firmly. "I think God has taken it from you, because you loved it too much."

"Too much?" echoed Isaac plaintively.

"Yes,—oh, a great deal too much," said Daisy, earnest in voice and look. "You loved that bag of gold more than me, father—more than everything—more than God."

Isaac's attention seemed arrested. He repeated "More than God!" not in his usual dreamy manner, but as if awe-struck.

"Yes, more than you loved God," said Daisy, calmly and clearly. "And, father, that means that you did not love God at all, for if you had you must have loved Him best. And it means that you didn't think about the Lord Jesus, or have Him for your Saviour. And that means that if you had died, you would have had no Heaven to go to. For the gold was your god and your heaven and your everything—and, father, if you had died, you must have left that behind, and then you would have had nothing left—nothing at all."

Isaac gazed steadfastly at Daisy's flushed and eager face.

"Nothing left?" he said.

"No, nothing—nothing!" said Daisy, almost passionately, yet she spoke slowly still that he might understand. "O father, it is like the verse that I read to you yesterday out of Proverbs—'THERE IS THAT MAKETH HIMSELF RICH, YET HATH NOTHING; THERE IS THAT MAKETH HIMSELF POOR, YET HATH GREAT RICHES.' Say the words after me, father dear."

Isaac obeyed in his half-childish way, but before finishing he stopped. "Yes, I made myself rich, sure enough," he said, with a momentary gleam of satisfaction. "I toiled, and I saved, and I did it all. But I didn't make myself poor. It was that wretched thief, Daisy—as deserves to be hung too."

"We needn't think about him," said Daisy. "He will be punished some day, one way or another. People always are, if they go on in wrong-doing. I like better to think of it the other way—that God took away your money, so that you might be free to think about Him. O father, I do so want you to learn to serve God."

Isaac was silent for some seconds, and when he spoke it was with a recurrence to Daisy's text. "Makes himself rich—yet has nothing," he muttered. "That wasn't me, Daisy. I'd got lots,—only it's all gone now—all gone."

"You had lots of gold, father, but that was nothing. It couldn't make you happy. It couldn't keep you from dying. It couldn't take you to Heaven. You had the gold and you were poor; and now the gold is gone, I want you to be rich—really rich. I want you to be rich in the love of the Lord Jesus. Father dear, won't you try to come to Him, and tell Him you are sorry you haven't thought more about Him, and ask Him to forgive you everything and to make you His very own for ever?"

"I don't know that I durst," said Isaac tremblingly. "I don't know that I durst, Daisy. And I don't know how."

But when Daisy knelt beside him, and prayed aloud for him, in pleading words which presently ended in a burst of weeping, Isaac was strangely moved. He bent his head low, and tried to join in, murmuring the words after her; and when she broke down he said hurriedly, "Don't you—now don't you, Daisy. I'll never speak about the gold any more, Daisy."







THAT Isaac should never again allude to his lost gold was hardly to be expected, more especially with his infirm memory. But from that day it became apparent that a marked change was passing over the poor old man. He clung yet more to Daisy, and evidently liked to hear her voice reading from the Bible or speaking to him of the things of God, so long left utterly out of his life. And though at times he broke out into his old moanings, he would frequently check himself, saying, with sudden recollection, "No, no, I'm not a-going to cry for the gold,—am I, Daisy?" And later on he began sometimes to add, "It was God took the gold, wasn't it, Daisy?"

He was very feeble in mind, and very ignorant also. Daisy was often sorely disappointed to find how little he could understand, how rapidly the impression made upon him one hour would fade away the next. But Mr. Roper, to whom she one day confided her distress, warned her not to expect too much.

"Your father is like a child in many ways," he said, "only with less sense than a child, Daisy, and with no memory. It is of no use to attempt to teach him, as you would teach a man in full vigour. All we can do is to lead him on gently, by very short steps, and in very simple paths. If he can take in the two great truths, first that he is a helpless sinner, and secondly that Christ is able and willing to save him, it is as much as we can hope for." And Daisy was comforted.

John Davis was by this time out of hospital, but instead of his wife going to him, he had joined his wife at Old Meadow. The girl, Bess, had been dismissed, and Mary did all the house-work and cooking, besides attending to the wants of Daisy and her father, and besides taking many a half-day's charing. John was by no means so capable a man bodily as he had once been, but he found work without difficulty, much interest being felt in his case. And as he had now signed the pledge, and as he kept it, he worked more steadily than of old, and thereby actually made more money than when his bodily strength had been greater. He and his wife thenceforward had their abode in the kitchen regions of the old house, having house-room free, but costing Isaac nothing in the way of food, and saving him the expense of a servant.

The arrangement was a happy one. As months went on, however, it became apparent that a change was inevitable. Old Meadow would have to be sold. Daisy could see no loophole of escape from this conclusion. Through the gifts of kind friends, and the disposal of certain useless articles of furniture, she had managed to keep on for a while, but she knew that to keep on thus much longer was a simple impossibility.

The thought of leaving her home was a trouble to Daisy, and she could not for a long while resolve to tell her father what was impending. When she did, he was terribly upset, and cried like a child. He was angry also, and spoke to Daisy as he had not spoken for a long while. Daisy was firm, though grieved, and she told him that it would have to be. They had nothing to live upon, and the house and garden would bring in a nice sum of money.

Isaac seized upon this idea suddenly, as if it were quite new to him. "Bring in money! Why, it'll bring in lots," he said eagerly. "Lots of gold, Daisy!" and the old greedy glitter might be seen in his eyes.

"Father, are you going to love the gold again?" asked Daisy sorrowfully. "You can't love money and love God as well."

But Isaac did not attend to what she said. He was strangely absent and restless, all that evening and all the next day. And instead of his former dislike to parting with the house, he now seemed quite eager to get rid of it as fast as possible. Daisy found the whole thing suddenly taken out of her hands.

The selling of the house was a matter of no difficulty. Mr. Marriott, a wealthy gentleman to whom most of the land in and around Banks belonged, had long wished to add to his possessions Old Meadow and the ground upon which it stood. As soon as he heard of Isaac's intentions, he offered a fair and liberal sum. Isaac Meads closed with the offer immediately, and the affair was quickly settled. Isaac's stipulation, that the full amount should be paid over into his own hands the day before that on which he and Daisy would quit Old Meadow, met with no opposition.

Daisy awaited that day in fear and trembling. A small low-rented cottage was found, and some of the old worn furniture was removed thither. John and Mary Davis would still reside under Isaac's roof, as before. Daisy was becoming quite reconciled to the thought of the move, and she even looked forward with positive pleasure to the tidy bright little cottage, instead of this rambling and gloomy place.

But how if the old money greed were to seize anew upon Isaac, shadowing their lives again?

Isaac's restlessness and abstraction increased day by day. He often refused now to let Daisy read to him out of the Bible, and checked her when she would have spoken of God. His manner quite ceased to be affectionate, and the eager unhappy look, of late absent from his face, was creeping over it once more.

Daisy could do little except pray for him. She had no power to meet the threatening evil.

The day of the money-payment at length came.

All through the night before Isaac had not slept. Daisy knew this, for his bed was undisturbed. He had not taken off his clothes or lain down at all. The old slavery to gold was tugging at his heartstrings, and he could not rest. At breakfast he seemed fractious and miserable.

Mrs. Roper appeared afterwards for a few minutes. She knew how things were, and she and her husband were very sorry for Daisy's new anxiety. Mrs. Roper hoped to have a few words with Isaac about investing the money that was coming to him; but when she spoke, she found his mind to be in a hopelessly stolid and dense condition. He either could not or would not understand a word that she uttered.

Then Mrs. Roper went away, and Mr. Marriott's agent and attorney came in. The business was very soon completed. Old Meadow belonged no more to Isaac Meads; but Isaac sat in the parlour, a bundle of bank-notes clasped in one withered hand, a small bag of gold pieces hugged to him by the other, and an expression of stealthy satisfaction in his face.

"Father, we must put this into the Bank for you," said Daisy.

Isaac looked up at her, chuckling. "Gold—gold, Daisy," he said exultingly. "Fifty pieces of gold in here, and lots more when I've changed all the bank-notes. Gold, Daisy!"

"Father, we must put all this money into the Bank at once, or it will be stolen," said Daisy steadily. "Then we can think what to do with it. Mr. Roper will advise us."

"I'm not a-going to have one penny of it in a Bank," retorted Isaac loudly. "The Banks are always a-failing. I'll keep it myself, so as no one shall get at it. I'll change all the notes for gold as soon as ever I can, and I'll lock it up safe—safe, Daisy."

"But the last was not safe," said Daisy. "It was stolen, in spite of all you could do. And there will be no secret places in our new home, father. And if the money is properly invested, Mr. Roper says it will bring in enough for you and me to live on; but if we keep it locked up and use it bit by bit, it will by-and-by be all gone."

"I'm not a-going to use it," said Isaac, "nor to spend it. I'm going to lock it up safe, so as nobody shall get at it."

"But, father, we have nothing else to live upon," said Daisy.

She could make no impression on him. He hugged his newly-gotten treasure tightly, and refused to answer her. All day he sat thus, gloating over it, seeming to care for nothing else.

Was gold once more to usurp dominion over his whole being, as the idol of his aged heart?

Daisy sorrowfully considered what to do, and consulted with Mary. They took care that he should be alone all day, fearing that a report might get about of the money in the house. Old Isaac, generally so drowsy, did not sleep; neither did he show any inclination to eat. But this could not continue. Towards evening they found that he was becoming very heavy; and at length, as he nodded in his easy-chair, the bundle of notes almost slipped from his grasp. Daisy gently took hold of it, and tried to draw it away. But Isaac in a moment was awake, and he struck at her savagely. Daisy narrowly escaped a severe blow.

A few minutes later Mr. Roper came in, and was made acquainted with the state of affairs. "This will never do," he said. "The money will be stolen to a certainty. I think you had better let me have some conversation with your father, Daisy. I will try to make him understand the danger of keeping so large a sum lying about."

"I am afraid it will be of no use," Daisy said sadly. "But do please try."

Mr. Roper went alone to the parlour, and the interview following was a very long one. A less kind and patient man would have given up the attempt in half the time. But Mr. Roper persevered, going over and over the same ground, repeating the same arguments, bearing with the old man's dulness and obstinacy, and at length his efforts met with partial success.

The parlour door opened, and Mr. Roper said, "Daisy!"

Daisy quickly answered the call, and found her father tottering towards the front door.

"Daisy, your father is going to pay his notes into the Bank at once for greater safety. He wishes to do it himself, so I will accompany him. I think he will manage that little distance, with the help of my arm. Where is his great-coat?"

"Oh, thank you!" said Daisy almost breathlessly.

"I have promised not to interfere about the bag of gold," Mr. Roper added in a lower voice. "It is not safe his keeping that about him; but the chief part of the money will be secured. You and I will have some conversation another day as to the investment of it."

Daisy could only repeat her "Oh, thank you," marvelling at his success. She brought her father's shabby hat and tindery great-coat, and watched him totter feebly down the road, leaning on Mr. Roper's strong arm, and muttering to himself.

The Bank was not three minutes' quick walk distant, but a good half-hour went by before the two came back. Isaac said nothing to Daisy. He reached his easy-chair, and sank into it with a groan. Then he drew out from under his great-coat the little bag of gold pieces.

"He has that still," said Daisy.

"Yes," Mr. Roper answered; "I must leave that to you. Here is the bank-book, Daisy. It is best in your charge. Put it safely away, and I do not think your father will remember to ask you for it. He seems content with the gold."







"CONTENT with the gold." That described Isaac's present state. He had gone back to the worship of his old idol.

Next day the move took place. Neither Isaac nor Daisy could walk so far as to their new home; and indeed poor old Isaac seemed quite spent with his unwonted exertion of the evening before. So a fly conveyed them together; Isaac hugging the bag of gold under his great-coat, caring for nothing else. He hardly spoke to Daisy, hardly looked at her. He seemed to want only to be alone, that he might enjoy his treasure. His former caution had forsaken him, and he was no longer willing to wait for the evening. The moment he was by himself, out came the wash-leather bag.

Matters went on so for two or three days. Isaac was sinking back into his old state.

Daisy could not be happy to leave him thus. Though the chief part of the purchase-money was safe, Isaac himself was not safe. She knew her poor old father to be in real and terrible peril. Daisy thought much and prayed much about her own mode of action. She feared greatly to take a wrong step; and the right opportunity for speech could not easily be found.

Every evening, before going to bed, Daisy read some verses to Isaac from the Bible. He had not refused to hear her the last few nights, but he had paid no manner of attention. She might almost as well have read to a stone wall.

The third night in the new home had come, and Daisy read as usual, old Isaac sitting opposite with an air of stolid indifference, while his fingers felt for the string of his bag.

Daisy suddenly put the Bible down, and said slowly,—.

"Father, there is that maketh himself rich, yet hath, NOTHING!"

"Eh?" said Isaac, his attention caught by her change of voice.

Daisy repeated the words distinctly, and a stirred look passed over his face.

"I've been poor," he muttered. "It was all gone—all. But I'm rich again now. I've got gold—gold, Daisy!"

"No, no; it is just the other way," said Daisy. "You have been getting rich lately, and now you are poor again." She came near and laid her hands on his. "Oh father, can't you see? It is a real great danger. If you keep this money, you'll love it again as much as ever, and then you will not care to hear about God, or to do His will. And when you die you will have no Saviour—no Heaven. Think, how dreadful."

"No—Heaven!" repeated Isaac.

"Not if you love this money best, father. It will come between you and God, and cut you off from Heaven. Oh, you had much much better put it behind the fire."

"Why, Daisy!" Isaac said in amaze, quite roused up. "Why, Daisy, you're mad. You wouldn't have me throw it into the fire. It's gold, Daisy—gold."

"Yes, poor miserable gold," said Daisy. "It is gold, father, real gold. I know that. You love those gold pieces dearly; more than you love me."

"No, no, I don't know as I'd say that, Daisy," put in the old man, with a gleam of his late affection for her.

"More than you love God, father."

Isaac was silent.

"And yet they can't give you back any love,—they can't help you,—and when you die, you will have to leave them all behind. What will you do then? O father, think, is it worth while?" asked Daisy, and tears streamed from her eyes.

Isaac looked uneasily at her.

"I think it is like that text," said Daisy, "'What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' The bag of gold is 'the whole world' to you just now, father."

"What 'ud you have me do, Daisy?" asked Isaac, with a perplexed air, and Daisy's heart sprang.

"I'd have you give up the gold, father," she cried eagerly. "It isn't safe for you to keep. It shall be taken care of for you; and we shall have plenty of money coming in every quarter to keep us going; plenty, for I mean to be very careful. And Mr. Roper will arrange it all for us. But if you keep that gold and love it so, father, you'll never be really happy. It will hang on you like a weight, and drag you back from serving God. Won't you give it up?"

There came a long pause. Isaac seemed to be thinking, with his head sunk on his chest. Daisy's hand lay still upon his.

"Father, the Lord Jesus loved you and died for you," she said softly, after a while. "And He wants you to love Him and serve Him. But I don't see how you can, if you keep that gold and love it best of all."

"No, I don't see how I can," echoed old Isaac.

Then, quite suddenly, quite unexpectedly, he pulled out the wash-leather bag, and held it with both hands towards Daisy.

"Take it all, Daisy—quick—quick," he said. "And don't you ever let me set eyes on it again."

Daisy caught the bag from him, and fled out of the room, as if she had been carrying a very serpent from his path. She ran to the kitchen, and then and there she sent Mary Davis straight off to Mr. Roper, asking him to take charge of the fifty pounds, and pay the sum next morning into the Bank, which would now be closed. Daisy knew she could thoroughly depend on the faithful Mary.

Coming back to the tiny parlour, she found Isaac crying and sobbing in his childish fashion, with his old moan of "Gone—gone—gone—all gone!"

"Yes, it's gone, father, gone to the Bank," said Daisy brightly. "Quite safe there, till we want it. And the danger is gone, too, thank God."

"Danger gone!" repeated Isaac in his dreamy fashion, and he added, "But it do go against the grain, Daisy."

"It won't in a little while," said Daisy. "It will be all right soon."

She began singing softly one of her favourite hymns, and Isaac presently fell sound asleep. When he awoke, an hour later, strange to say the longing for his bag of gold seemed for the time to have left him. He was quiet and affectionate towards Daisy once more, as he had been before it came into his possession.

As weeks and months passed by, this quiet content increased; and gradually the hunger after gold appeared to die quite out of Isaac's heart.

For a new heavenly treasure was taking the place of the old earthly treasure, and thus all sense of craving was stilled.

Isaac did not know much, could not understand much. But the aged eyes which had once glittered at the chink of coin, might now be seen to shine with happiness when Daisy read to him holy words from the Book of Life. A marked change passed over the old man. He ceased to be peevish and ill-tempered and untidy. Daisy made it her delight to attend to his needs, and he was at last willing to leave everything in her hands.

"In fact, he's like another man," Mrs. Simmons said. "I wouldn't know him for Mr. Meads, if I met him in another place. Dressed so decent and respectable, and ready to give a civil answer to any body that comes near him. I declare I never could have thought it! And Miss Daisy seems that happy, she can scarce contain herself."








Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. Edinburgh & London