SHE COULD NEVER FORGET
by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Daisie was very busy the next morning packing her trunk, when Aunt Alice came upstairs, bringing Mrs. Fleming’s card.
“It’s that pretty little lady from Sea View, Mr. Sherwood’s cousin. You must drop everything and go down,” she said, with an authority that admitted no dispute; so Daisie pushed the tumbled lovelocks from her brow with a weary hand, and went down most reluctantly to meet her guest, who had scolded her so vigorously at their last meeting.
“Oh, I’m not very welcome, I know,” laughed the little widow gayly. “I behaved badly to you the last time I was here, and, of course, you haven’t forgiven me. But I had some excuse, you will admit; for Royall was my cousin, and you jilted him shamefully, didn’t you, now, Daisie Bell? But don’t be angry, dear; for I came this morning to beg your pardon for the scolding I gave you.”
Daisie had sunk into a chair near the open window, where the sunlight filtered through the wistaria leaves and flecked her wavy hair, all loose over her shoulders, with gleams of gold.
Mrs. Fleming thought, enviously, that she had never seen any one half so pretty as the girl in her white Empire morning gown. No wonder men raved over her charms, she was so beautiful, and so seemingly unconscious of it all.
“It was very silly in me, I dare say,” continued Mrs. Fleming lightly. “I am quite repentant now. Will you forgive me?”
Daisie was at a loss for words; she could only listen in silence.
“You must forgive me, Daisie; for I have come to ask you a favor. Will you help us up at Sea View in a little entertainment we are going to have to-night—some tableaus and charades?”
Daisie opened her lips to refuse, to say that she was going away; but the widow rattled on:
“I have just come from seeing poor little Annette, who helped us the last time, and would now, only she is not well enough yet. And she said she was sure you would be willing to take her place, you were always so obliging. Will you?”
“Oh, I cannot, Mrs. Fleming, thank you. I am just packing my trunk to return to New York this evening.”
“But you can put it off till to-morrow just as well, can you not? Oh, please do, just to oblige me! We have already secured all the available talent about here, but we lack one girl, and had expected Annette to fill that place; so everything is spoiled unless you will oblige us.”
Mrs. Fleming was lying glibly. She had reserved that rôle—a very conspicuous one—for herself; but to further Royall’s plans, she had decided to give it to Daisie.
Aunt Alice here put in frankly:
“Daisie can oblige you just as well as not, if she chooses. She doesn’t have to go home till the first of September, and this is only the twenty-fourth of August. The truth is, she was going off in a huff with me because I scolded her for breaking off with your cousin; so I think she ought to stay and help you to-night.”
Mrs. Fleming quickly discovered that she had a powerful ally in the old lady; so between them they harassed and worried her into consenting to the plan of Mrs. Fleming, little thinking, poor[Pg 86] girl, that she was being cunningly enmeshed in a spider’s web.
The widow was exuberant in her thanks, and begged Daisie to come home with her at once in the carriage.
“Because we have a rehearsal directly after luncheon,” she said; “and, my dear, you must take your prettiest things with you, for, really, I shall keep you with me several days at Sea View.”
In vain were Daisie’s protests, since her delighted aunt joined Mrs. Fleming in a chorus of dissent.
So the unhappy girl, blown hither and thither on the winds of destiny, went upstairs and packed up what they directed; and the triumphant little schemer carried her off in triumph, rejoicing inwardly at her success.
She was, in fact, very anxious to marry the girl off to Royall, so as to rid herself of a rival should Dallas Bain ever reappear.
It was true that a cloud of mystery hung over the young man, and that in his abrupt and hurried leave-taking he had given no hint of his future whereabouts, merely expressing a vague hope that they might some time meet again; but Lutie[Pg 87] Fleming knew that, despite the width of the world, the most unexpected rencounters are always happening, and she by no means despaired of meeting Dallas Bain again.
“Let me but get Daisie Bell married off safely to Royall, then I will find Dallas again, and wind my toils around him,” she mused, as she rode by Daisie’s side, weaving in her busy mind the details of a plot that would have made her spring from the carriage in dismay had she even guessed at her companion’s thought.
But the wondrous X-ray that is to lay bare the secrets of the mind to startled gazers not being discovered yet, Daisie rode on in peace, getting somewhat reconciled now to the prospect of the visit, having, like all healthy young girls, a keen appetite for social pleasures.
She knew that she should not forget for a moment her dream of love and its woeful ending, but she thought that participation in the evening’s amusement might dull the keen edge of her pain. Her pride was aroused, too, and she was determined that Mrs. Fleming should not see that she was pining over Dallas Bain’s desertion.
Daisie did not mean for any one to guess that[Pg 88] her poor heart was broken, so she did her part with the rest, laughing and singing like the happiest girl in the world, though all the while her poor heart was calling tenderly:
“Oh, Dallas, my love, come back, come back!”
The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Author: Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Native Language: English