But Daisy was very happy. She was thoroughly at home now with Molly; she was fairly admitted within the house and welcome there; and already she had given comfort. She had almost done as Nora said; as near as possible she had taken tea with Molly. Besides, Daisy had found out what more to do for her. She thought of that poor cupboard with mixed feelings; not pity only; for next day she would bring supplies that were really needed. Some nice bread and butter—Daisy had seen no sign of butter,—and some meat. Molly needed a friend to look after her wants, and Daisy now had the freedom of the house and could do it; and joyfully she resolved that she would do it, so long as her own stay at Melbourne should be prolonged. What if her getting home late should bring on a command that would put a stop to all this!
But nobody was on the piazza or in the library when she got home. Daisy went safely to her own room. There was June all ready to dress her; and making good speed, that business was finished and Daisy ready to go down to the dinner-table at the usual time.
She was a little afraid of questions at the dinner-table; but it happened that the older people were interested about some matter of their own and she was not noticed at all. Except in a quiet way by Mr. Randolph, who picked out nuts for her; and Daisy took them and thought joyfully of carrying a testament to Molly’s cottage and teaching her to read it. If she could do but that—Daisy thought she would be happy.
The evening was spent by her and Preston over engravings again. Some new ones were added to the stock already chosen for tableaux; and Preston debated with her very eagerly the various questions of characters and dresses. Daisy did not care how he arranged them, provided she only was not called upon to be Priscilla to Alexander Fish, or Esther to Hamilton Rush. “I will not, Preston—” she insisted quietly; and Preston was in difficulty; for as he truly said, it would not do to give himself all the best pieces.
The next day, after luncheon, a general conclave assembled, of all the young people, to determine the respective parts and hold a little rehearsal by way of beginning. Mrs. Sandford was there too, but no other grown person was admitted. Preston had certainly a troublesome and delicate office in his capacity of manager.
“What are you going to give me, Preston?” said Mrs. Stanfield’s lively daughter, Theresa.
“You must be Portia.”
“Portia? let me see—O that’s lovely! How will you dress me, Mrs. Sandford? I must be very splendid—I have just been married, and I am worth any amount of splendour. Who’s to be Bassanio?—”
“George Linwood, I think. He must have dark hair, you know.”
“What are wigs good for?” said Theresa. “But he has nothing to do but to hold the letter and throw himself backward—he’s surprised, you know, and people don’t stand straight when they are surprised. Only that, and to look at Portia. I guess he can do it. Once fix him and he’ll stay—that’s one thing. How will you dress Portia, Mrs. Sandford? Ah, let me dress her!”