Then the elder sister prayed aloud a very few earnest words, and the little one joined her in whispered sentences. The prayer was not long, but in Daisy’s case it was quickly answered. When the morning quite broke, and the real working-day had begun, Primrose sent a message to Noel to come at once to see the child. Daisy received him with a touching little smile.
“Was the little girl me?” she asked. “And was the wicked, wicked ogre, Mr. Dove?”
“It is clever of you to guess that much, Daisy,” answered Noel.
“Am I the little girl?” continued Daisy, “who made a promise which she ought now to break? Will God forgive me for breaking a promise which I made so very, very faithfully? Mr. Noel, I will tell you something. That promise has nearly killed me. The old Daisy went away when that promise was made, and such a poor, cowardly, wretched Daisy came in her place. She’d have been selfish, too, but for you; but you taught her a little bit about the Palace Beautiful, and she was trying to be good in spite of the dreadful promise. Then the ogre came again, and the second time he was so dreadful that she even became very selfish to get rid of him. Oh, Mr. Noel, is it right for me—will God think it really right for me—to break that dreadful promise?”
“He will, Daisy. The promise ought never to have been made. Only an innocent and ignorant little child would have made it; yes, Daisy, dear, yours is one of the rare cases of a promise better broken than kept. See, I am the Prince, and I’m going to take the spell of the ogre from you. The wicked ogre is locked up in a dungeon instead of you, and the Prince commands the poor little captive to tell him everything.”
Then Daisy, with some broken sobs, and with a piteous light in her blue eyes, told Noel the whole cruel story. He listened without once interrupting the little narrator. When she had finished, he kissed her, and told her that she now had nothing to fear, and then, bidding her sleep away all her troubles, he left her to Primrose’s care. By the next train he himself went to London in full time to attend Dove’s trial.
That worthy was at first inclined to brazen matters out, but when Noel, primed with Daisy’s confession, appeared on the scene, his face underwent a remarkable change. Its rubicund tints quite deserted it, an alarming pallor spreading over every feature. Tommy Dove, who might have been seen in a foremost position amongst the crowd of spectators, was heard audibly to exclaim—
“Law, I guess there ain’t no leg for my respected pa to stand on now!”
This, although not expressed aloud, seemed also to be Dove’s opinion, for he then and there made a full confession of his wicked practices, and of the cruel threats he had employed to terrify Daisy. He received his sentence, which was a severe one, with much stoicism, and, as he was led away from his place in the prisoner’s dock, addressed a parting word to his affectionate and hysterical spouse—