“God bless you, love,” said the nice, pleasant-faced woman, and then she got out of the carriage, nodding her head to Daisy as she walked away.
The loneliness which had more or less been soothed or kept in abeyance by this good woman’s company now returned very strongly, and Daisy had to feel a certain empty little purse which she held in her pocket to keep up her resolution. She did not seem so certain about Mrs. Ellsworthy being nice and kind as she was the night before. The third-class carriage in which she had travelled was now nearly empty, and when she at last arrived at Rosebury she was the only passenger to alight. She gave up her ticket and walked out of the station, a forlorn and unnoticed little personage. It was still very early in the morning, not quite six o’clock, and there were very few people about, and the whole place had a strange, deserted, and unhomelike feeling. Could this be the Rosebury where Daisy was born, where she had been so petted and loved? She did not like its aspect in the cold grey morning light. There was a little drizzling mist falling, and it chilled her and made her shiver.
“I know I’ve been very, very selfish,” she kept murmuring to herself. “I oughtn’t to have minded the dungeon. I ought not to have been so terrified at the ogre. I’m afraid God is angry with me for being so dreadfully selfish, and for letting the ogre take Primrose’s money. I always did think the sun shone at Rosebury, but perhaps even the sun won’t get up because he is angry with me.”
Daisy knew her way down the familiar and straggling village street, but there were one or two different roads to Shortlands, and she became puzzled which to take, and what with the drizzling rain, and her own great fatigue of body, soon really lost her way.
An early laborer going to work was the first person she met. She asked him eagerly if she was on the right road; but he answered her so gruffly that she instantly thought he must be a relation of Mr. Dove’s and ran, crying and trembling, away from him. The next person she came across was a little boy of about her own age, and he was kind, and took her hand, and put her once more in the right direction, so that, foot-sore and weary, the poor little traveller did reach the lodge-gates of Shortlands about nine o’clock.
But here the bitterest of her disappointments awaited her, for the woman who attended to the gates said, in a cold and unsympathizing voice, that the family were now in London, and there was no use whatever in little miss troubling herself to go up to the house. No use at all, the woman repeated, for she could not tell when the family would return, probably not for several weeks. Daisy did not ask any more questions, but turned away from the inhospitable gates with a queer sinking in her heart, and a great dizziness before her eyes. She had come all this weary, weary way for nothing. She had taken dear Poppy’s last money for nothing. Oh, now there was no doubt at all that God was very angry with her, and that she had been both wicked and selfish. She had still twopence in her pocket—for the good-natured omnibus conductor had paid her fare himself. She would go to the nearest cottage and ask for some milk for the Pink, and then she wondered—poor, little, lonely, unhappy child—how long it would take her to die.