Daisy felt quite certain that the Prince had come. Jasmine greeted her old friend of St. Paul’s Cathedral with sparkling eyes and effusive words of welcome. Primrose, too, was very pleased to see any one who brought such a contented look into Daisy’s little face, for the child asked herself to sit in his arms, and laying her head on his shoulder, she listened with pleasure to some wonderful fairy stories which he related. While Noel was by, Daisy seemed quite to forget her nervous fancies—she even spoke confidentially of ogres who tried to make themselves friendly, and she asked Arthur, with a very puzzled, anxious face, if a little girl, who was so unfortunate as to have an ogre for a friend, could ever get rid of him.
“Oh, yes; he might turn into an enemy,” answered Arthur.
But here poor Daisy shuddered violently, and turned very white.
“No, no,” she said; “not into an enemy, never into an enemy, dear Mr. Arthur.”
“What matter is it to you, little maid?” answered Arthur cheerily, though he regarded her with very keen observation. “There is no ogre going to trouble you as either friend or enemy; If he does he will have to meet me. I am the Prince, you know, and my mission in life is to slay the wicked ogres.”
“Oh! but his poor wife and his children!” half sobbed Daisy; “couldn’t you lock him up in a tower, dear Prince?”
Arthur smiled, and gradually managed to lead the child’s thoughts into another direction. He was already gaining the greatest possible influence over her, and he managed, on the occasion of his second visit, to coax her to let him carry her across to Miss Egerton’s for a couple of hours. Dove met them as Arthur was carrying the child away, and he first scowled, and then smiled obsequiously. Daisy turned deadly white, and Noel felt that she trembled.
[Illustration: DOVE MET THEM. Palace B]
“I’m coming back to-night, Mr. Dove,” she called out, in a shaky little voice; and Dove answered—
“Pleased to hear it, missy; the attics would be lonesome without you, missy.”
“Daisy,” whispered Noel, “tell me something—is Dove the ogre?”
“Oh, don’t, don’t, Mr. Prince!” answered back the child. “No, no, of course not; why, he’s only poor Mr. Dove—a friend of mine.”
When Daisy reached Miss Egerton’s and found herself seated in that lady’s cosy little drawing-room, with sponge-cakes ad libitum to eat, and Noel sitting by and willing to give up all his time to her benefit, she cheered up wonderfully; a faint color came to her white little cheeks, and Miss Egerton, as she passed the open drawing-room door, heard one or two silvery peals of laughter coming from her lips.
“Bless the child!” thought the kind woman; “how much better she is when she is out of that house. What nice influence that good fellow, Arthur, has over her. I do trust the silly little one will soon give up her fancies—for they surely can be nothing but fancies—and come to live with me.”