“So I have,” answered Daisy; “thank you, Primrose. Please don’t say anything to me when I’m writing.”
Then Daisy in her corner blotted her fingers, and brought a deep flush to her little pale face, and ruined several sheets of note-paper, all of which she carefully tore up to the smallest fragments. At last an epistle, over which she sighed and trembled, and even dropped tears, was finished. It ran as follows:—
“MY DEAR FRIEND, MR. DOVE,—I always and always will be most true to you. I would not be such a wicked little girl as to break my word for anything I’m going always to keep it, and tortures, even the Inquisition, and even the rack, wouldn’t get it out of me. Did you ever hear of the rack, Mr. Dove? but perhaps you had better not know. Yes, I’ll always keep my word, the word that I promised, and no one shall ever know about you and me and the sticky sweetmeats; but I won’t keep the word that I didn’t promise. You remember how you wanted me to give you another word that I’d always stay here, and keep Primrose and Jasmine here, instead of letting them go and going with them to the Palace Beautiful. I almost promised you, for you looked so fierce, and your eyes were so bloodshot, and cruel, and terrible, and I’d great work to keep remembering that you were really my friend; but I’m so glad I did not give you that word too, for now I know that I’d have done very wrong. A Prince has come to me, Mr. Dove, and told me I am very selfish to try to keep my sisters out of the Palace Beautiful. He says the walls are covered with Goodness and the furniture is put there by Self-Denial, and the windows are shining because Love has polished them up. He says there’s no Love and no Goodness here, and he calls your rooms dungeons. He’s a very, very strong Prince, and he kills ogres—he even kills ogres who are friends to little girls. Please, Mr. Dove, this is to say that I’m going away to the Palace Beautiful, and that I’ll always keep my word about the sweeties.
“Your true little
Then Daisy fastened her letter, and directed it to Mr. Dove, No. 10, Eden Street, and she asked Primrose for a stamp, and then she and her eldest sister went out, and Primrose turned her back while Daisy dropped the letter into the nearest pillar-box.
The moment this was done the child gave a little skip, and caught Primrose’s hand, and squeezed it hard, and said, in an excited voice—
“Now I’ve done it! I’m not going to be the selfish little girl who breaks people’s hearts. Primrose, darling let us hurry back to the dungeons, and put all our things together, so that we may reach the Palace Beautiful to-night.”
Poor Primrose, who was not in Daisy’s secret, and knew nothing of Arthur Noel’s allegory, was conscious of a momentary wild fear that her little sister had taken leave of her senses; but she soon began to see meaning in Daisy’s words, and was only too glad to yield to the child’s caprice at once.