“Of course, I said so. We will not say any more on this subject at present. I have given you the money to-night, because I want you to have Primrose sitting by your side and nursing you and comforting you. When Primrose is with you again you will cease to think those gloomy thoughts about dying. Now I have something else to add before I leave you.”
Noel had now taken a very firm hold of Daisy’s little hand. She had been trembling a good deal, but she had certainly grown calmer. Perhaps the knowledge that she really did possess some money to give to Primrose was comforting her. Noel felt a sense of distress at disturbing even for her eventual good the child’s present calm. It must be done, however, and he thought a moment how he could most gently deal with her.
“I’m going to tell you a story, Daisy,” he said—“a very sad story, and, alas, a true one. There lives a little girl, I will not tell her name, although I know it, who has been unfortunate enough to get into the power of a very bad man. The man is very, very bad, but I will not mention his name here, although I know it also. The man came to the little girl and talked to her, and no doubt he threatened her, and at last he made her promise him something—what, I cannot say. From the moment this little girl made this promise she became thin and white, and anxious and unhappy. She struggled against the terrible promise which seemed to bind her with fetters of iron, but she could never get away from it, and the man appeared like a terrible ogre to her, and she longed for a Prince to come and deliver her from him. The wicked man having terrified this poor little girl, did his best to use his influence over her to his own ends. At one time she lived in the house with him, but although she struggled against it her friends induced her to go elsewhere. Even in the new palace, however, she was not safe from the terrible ogre; he followed her, and, it is to be feared, although nothing is absolutely known, that he used cruel threats to induce her to give him some money which was not hers to give. The poor little weak girl was afraid to consult any one on account of her promise. It was quite natural she should think it right to keep her promise, although it was very sad. She was so completely under the power of the wicked man, or the ogre, as we will call him, that she gave him her sister’s money—the money that was to support them all for some months, and then in her great despair she ran away.” Here Noel paused—Daisy’s eyes were fixed on him. Her face was white as death.
“You see, dear, it is a painful story,” he said, “but it is not quite finished yet. The poor little girl ran away, but she never knew what was happening to the ogre. That wicked man was not allowed to continue his evil ways without punishment. At the present moment he is locked up safely in prison, where he can hurt no one. He was put there because he stole a five-pound note and a ring from the gentleman