Chapter-2 The Strength of Love

Chapter 2



When Daisie Bell sat reading on the porch next day, a messenger brought her a basket of rare flowers and a note from Royall Sherwood, asking permission to call on her that evening.

She went in to her aunt, asking demurely what she ought to answer.

“Why, let him come, of course! Daisie Bell, you’re a lucky girl. This Royall Sherwood is a millionaire, they tell me, and your face is pretty enough to win him, or any other man.”

“Then I wish it had been the other man,” thought Daisie sadly, as she went to answer the note.

“The other man” meant Dallas Bain, whose dark, manly beauty and earnest glance into her eyes had made a deep impression on her heart.

His face was haunting her just as hers haunted him. It was a case of mutual attraction—of love at first sight.

Heaven had made these two for each other, but adverse forces were busy driving them apart.

[Pg 16]

Since Daisie had heard that Dallas was in love with the young widow, she tried to drive his handsome face from her thoughts, and since Dallas had been told that she was a simpering giggler he did not try to see her any more, and regretted that he had anonymously sent her a passionate love poem.

Yet he could not have helped being glad if he could have seen how she read and reread it in blushing solitude, with an unerring conviction that he had sent it—her hero of the brilliant dark eyes and winning smile.

But now, when told that he loved another, she cherished painful doubts.

“I must be mistaken, since he did not care to know me, and went past when Mr. Sherwood came in. Oh, why do I care? I do not even know him, unless our souls spoke to each other in our glances when he passed me by. And, of course, he is in love with that lovely little Lutie Fleming. Yet I hoped—and was vain enough to fancy—that he sent me these sweet verses,” half sobbed the girl, yet still reading them over with a thrill at her heart.

[Pg 17]

Sweet girl, though only once we met,

That meeting I can ne’er forget;

And though we never meet again,

Remembrance will thy form retain.

What though we never silence broke,

Our eyes a sweeter language spoke;

And soul’s interpreters, the eyes,

Spurn cold restraints and scorn disguise.

Now as on thee my memory ponders,

Perchance to me thine also wanders;

This for myself at least I’ll say:

Thy form appears through night, through day.

Awake, with it, my fancy teems;

In sleep it smiles in fleeting dreams;

The vision charms the hours away,

And bids me curse Aurora’s ray

For breaking slumbers of delight,

Which make me wish for endless night.

Since—oh, whate’er my future fate,

Shall joy or woe my steps await,

By hopeless love’s wild storm beset,

Thy image I can ne’er forget!

“Perhaps Mr. Sherwood sent the verses,” she sighed, in her sad disappointment; but on comparing them with his note she saw that the writing was distinctly different, leaving her still a little fluttering hope that Dallas Bain had indeed sent the poem, bitterly as she was piqued that he had not cared to make her acquaintance.

[Pg 18]

When Royall called that evening she looked her loveliest, gowned in her favorite white, and she made herself most charming, hoping, dear heart, that he would tell Dallas Bain that she was such a charming girl he really ought to make her acquaintance.

But nothing was farther from Royall’s thoughts. He was delighted to find that she was rarely gifted and intelligent, but he kept his knowledge closely to himself, never letting his friend know that he was pursuing his acquaintance with Daisie, though he contrived to see her every day in the week, and even took her to drive one afternoon when the coast was clear, Dallas having stayed in to write some important letters.

She was very kind and friendly with Royall, but he saw that she took a secret, eager interest in Dallas, listening eagerly when he talked of him, though he was careful never to say anything good, still hoping to turn her heart to himself.

In fact, he pretended to decry the engagement he assumed to be existing between Dallas and his pretty cousin.

“If I had guessed at anything like this, I’d never have brought him to Sea View—never!”[Pg 19] he said. “In fact, I told Lutie so to her face. I said: ‘I haven’t the least idea of his antecedents, and you ought not to encourage him unless he explains everything.’ But she was so infatuated with the fellow she wouldn’t even let me hint such a thing to him, and he’s as reticent over himself as if he were an escaped convict—which he may be, for all we know,” argued Royall.

Daisie suppressed a sigh, and asked carelessly:

“But doesn’t he seem very nice? Isn’t he well educated, and—and—doesn’t he write a fine hand?”

Royall fell into her little trap, and answered:

“Oh, his manner is charming; that’s what made me take up with him first, you know—so frank and friendly; and he seems to be college bred. As for his writing—see,” and he exhibited to the trembling girl some random papers from his notebook, scribbled over with his friend’s name and some poetical quotations.

He did not notice that Daisie trembled, that the color rushed to her cheek and the light to her eyes, from pure joy.

The writing was identical with the poem. Her heart told her the truth. Dallas Bain had written[Pg 20] her those sweet verses. He loved her, after all.

“I see how it is,” she thought, with keenest pain. “When he first saw me, his heart went out to me, as did mine to him, in the thrilling glance we exchanged. But he was already pledged to another, and could not retreat in honor; so he dared not trust himself to know me better. That was why the verses breathed such hopeless sadness.”

There was balm in the thought, for his avoidance had wounded her cruelly until she thought she had fathomed the cause.

Alas! Alas! Strange decree of fate. Between this pair, who had never even spoken to each other, only looked into each other’s eyes, love had been born full-grown, though each tried to thrust it away—she, believing it was hopeless; he, because he had been told by a false schemer that she was as silly as she was fair.

“I am sorry now that I sent her the poem. I hope she will never find me out, and gratify her vanity by telling her girl friends about it. When girls are very silly they always boast of their conquests,” thought the young man; and it vexed[Pg 21] him sorely that so fair a face should go with a shallow mind—vexed him, too, that her beauty should haunt him so, not dreaming yet that its spell was immortal.

He thought that he must go away, and presently forgetfulness would come. He ought to go away, anyhow, for Royall Sherwood did not seem as friendly as of old—had grown careless and neglectful; and, as for Mrs. Fleming, she was too kind, that was all; and he was afraid that she might assume the supposed prerogative of the new woman, to woo and win.

In a very gray mood, he excused himself from her company one day, saying that he had an engagement to ride with a fellow.

The fellow was himself; but he deemed any subterfuge permissible, since she had made him read poetry to her till he was hoarse as a raven, and he was wild to escape.

So he went to the livery stable, secured a light buggy, and set off for a solitary ride along the beach.

“The only chance a fellow can get to think, with so many women about, always chattering like magpies!” he muttered to himself, as he was[Pg 22] returning at a slow pace along the level sands, and watching the setting sun as it spread long lances of rosy light across the restless waves.

He had quite decided that he would leave Sea View to-morrow, and return to New York.

There would be no trouble in getting away from Royall Sherwood, who seemed already weary of him, and if the little widow got hysterical he could say he had important letters calling him away.

If he had not been so absorbed in half-sad thoughts, and secondarily interested in the sunset on the sea, he would not have forgotten what a timid animal he was driving, and that it was unsafe to leave the reins lying so slack on his back.

The beach was deserted, he thought, although only this morning it had been alive with gay bathers and fearless bicyclists. So, unthinking of danger, he drove on, and the voice of the sea, so solemn and profound, blending with his pensive thoughts, drowned the voices of two fair young girls wheeling toward him on their bicycles, one dark and sparkling, the other very fair and lovely.

[Pg 23]

Suddenly the spirited pony, looking ahead, saw the shining wheels spinning toward him, and took unexpected fright, and swerved from his course. Whinnying with fear, and plunging forward before Dallas could restrain him, he dashed upon the very object of his fright, his forward hoofs striking the wheel and overthrowing the fair rider before she could turn out of his way, just as Dallas reined him in with a grasp like steel.

Oh, horrors! There lay the poor girl on the sands, beneath her wheel, still as death! And as Dallas sprang from the buggy the other girl jumped from her wheel in grief and reproach.

“Alas, alas! You have killed sweet Daisie Bell!”

He answered with a cry of anguish, for there at their feet lay the lovely girl, her sweet eyes closed, her golden curls trailing on the sands, while a thin stream of blood trickled down her cheek from a little cut on her temple.

Dallas and Miss Janowitz—for it was the beautiful brunette again—bent over the prostrate girl, and they saw that she was quite unconscious, stunned, perhaps, by the blow on her temple, received[Pg 24] either from the horse’s hoof or a shell on the sands.

“It was an accident—I would give my life if it had not happened!” he cried wildly, and she saw that his face grew pale as Daisie’s while he felt for her heart, adding: “She cannot be dead, only stunned a little, I think. Oh, if she could but have turned aside as quickly as you did!”

Annette wrung her little hands, and her dark eyes filled with tears as she cried:

“Poor Daisie! She was just learning to ride, and was not skillful enough to get out of the way. Oh, what shall we do now, Mr. Bain?”

“Why, I will take her home in my buggy, and you had better remount your wheel and go for the doctor as fast as you can.”

Annette called a curious urchin loitering near to ride Daisie’s wheel back to town, and the sad procession started on its return, Annette soon leaving the buggy far in the rear in her haste to obtain a physician for her friend.

It was several miles back to the cottage, and Dallas Bain would never forget that ride, nor the love and grief that thrilled his heart as beautiful Daisie rested against it like a dead girl, with the[Pg 25] dark fringe of her lashes prone upon her pallid cheeks. All his thoughts were prayers that she might soon revive, and a little before he turned into Temple Street he saw her breast heave slightly and her eyelids quiver. The next moment they unclosed, while a moan of pain came from her colorless lips.

He could not help pressing her a little tighter in his arms for very joy, as he murmured tenderly:

“Do not be frightened, little Daisie. I am Dallas Bain, you know, and I am taking you home because you fainted.”

“Yes, I remember now. I fell from my wheel—your horse knocked me down!” She shuddered; and then, looking up into his face, Dallas saw her blush as she felt herself in his arms. “I—oh, I can sit up!” she murmured; but the effort made her moan with pain, and he said, with gentle authority:

“Lie still, child, for you are hurt, you know, and must not move.”

The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER

Status: Ongoing


Native Language: English

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