Daisy looked distressed.
“I think it is time to go in and get ready for dinner, Preston,” she said.
If she was distressed, Preston was displeased. They went in without any more words. But Daisy was not perplexed at all. She had not told Preston her innermost thought and hope—that Molly Skelton might learn the truth and be one of that blessed throng on the right hand in the Great Day; but the thought and hope were glowing at her heart; and she thought she must carry her Master’s message, if not positively forbidden, to all whom she could carry it to. Preston’s meditations were different.
“I have tried my best,” he said that evening when Daisy was gone to bed,—“and I have failed utterly. I tried my best—and all I got was a rebuke and a sermon.”
“A sermon!” said Mrs. Randolph.
“An excellent one, aunt Felicia. It was orderly, serious, and pointed.”
“And she went to that place?”
“Yes, ma’am. The sermon was afterwards.”
“What do you mean, Preston! Speak intelligibly.”
“Daisy did, ma’am. I am speaking sober truth, aunt Felicia.”
“What is her motive in going to that horrid place? can you understand?”
“Its disagreeableness, ma’am—so far as I can make out.”
“It is very singular,” said Mrs. Gary.
“It is very deplorable.” said Mrs. Randolph. “So at least it seems to me. There will be nothing in common soon between Daisy and her family.”
“Only that this kind of thing is apt to wear out, my dear. You have that comfort.”
“No comfort at all. You do not know Daisy. She is a persistent child. She has taken a dose of fanaticism enough to last her for years.”
“I am sure nevertheless that Dr. Sandford is right in his advice,” said Mr. Randolph;—“both as a physician and as a philosopher. By far the best way is not to oppose Daisy, and take as little notice as possible of her new notions. They will fade out.”
“I do not believe it,” said the lady “I do not believe it in the least. If she had not your support, I would have an end of this folly in a month.”
“Indirect ways”—said Mrs. Gary—“indirect ways, my dear; those are your best chance. Draw off Daisy’s attention with other things. That is what I would do.”
And then the ladies put their heads together and concerted a scheme; Preston joining eagerly in the discussion, and becoming the manager-in-chief intrusted with its execution. Mr. Randolph heard, but he gave no help and made no suggestion. He let the ladies alone.
Daisy came down to breakfast the next morning, looking so very bright and innocent and fresh, that perhaps Mr. Randolph thought his wife and sister were taking unnecessary trouble upon themselves. At least Mrs. Randolph so interpreted his manner, as she saw him put his arm round Daisy and bend down his head to hers. The gay visitors were still at Melbourne, but they had not come down yet to breakfast that morning.