The poor little Pink began to mew loudly in her basket, and Daisy let her out of her prison, and when kitty rubbed her soft head against her little mistress’s sleeve the child felt some fresh thrills of comfort. She felt terribly disinclined to move, however, and was really more weak and exhausted than absolutely hungry. The day wore on, and the little girl and her cat remained unnoticed in their corner of the large field. There was a right of way through the field, and foot-passengers came and went, but Daisy in her sombre little black dress failed to attract any attention. She was quite in the shade under her hedge-row, and it is to be doubted if any one saw her. At last from utter weariness she sank down on the ground and fell asleep. The Pink curled herself up by her little mistress’s side and slept also. It was then that the sun, slowly travelling across the heavens, found them out in their shady corner, and kissed them, and made pussy’s soft little grey coat shine. The child and the cat were thus made visible, and attracted the attention of a woman who was walking across the field with a market-basket on her arm. She came up at once to examine the little group; then she bent down close, then she gave an exclamation half of horror, half of delight, and then she took the sleeping child up in her arms, and covered her with passionate kisses.
[Illustration: SHE CAME UP TO EXAMINE THE LITTLE GROUP. Palace B]
“Oh! my own little Miss Daisy—my own little darling precious lamb! And is it thus you have come back to your poor old Hannah again!”
Nothing could have comforted Daisy more under present circumstances than to find herself in her old nurse’s arms. She quite gasped with the joy and relief, and putting up her little hand to Hannah’s face, she stroked it fondly.
“Now, my darling, where have you come from? and what are you doing? and—why, if that isn’t the little Pink, I declare! Now, my pet, tell me, have you all three come back to Rosebury again?”
“No, Hannah, I’m the only one who has come back. Oh Hannah, will you please take me to our little cottage for a few hours—I should so like to die there—I was born there, wasn’t I, Hannah?”
“Yes, love, but you’re not going to die there, nor nowhere else. I can’t take you back to the cottage, dearie, for it’s let, and I’m not living there. I’ve a little bit of a place of my own in the village of Teckford and I keep a small shop, and don’t do so bad. You must come home now with me, darling. Oh, yes, you must—not a word must you say against it; then, when you’ve rested, and have had some nice bread and milk, you shall tell old Hannah your story; and if so be as you’re in any trouble, why, your old nurse Hannah will set her wits to work to find a way out of it. Now, my darling, I’m going to carry you to my cottage.”