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June Daisies

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It was only a London gardon, but t was so walled in from iutrusive eyos, was so judicionsly planted with ilowers that could stand tho air of cities and the noighborbood of smoke, was so surrouudcd by trees, and the walls that enoircled it were so covered with creopers, that it was dillicult to realize tliat it was actnallj a part of that "Old Court Suburb" which is now a part of London itself. There was an old bowling-green that made the smoolhest and sreenest of tennishiwns; there wero stutely alleys, planted with quaint trapes of box and ycw; an ancient sundial and a mossgrown l'ountaiii; trim walks through trellised doprways, that led to conservatorics gorgeoua witli tropical tlowers; and slnuly corners, much appreciatcd by tho young peoplo who carne toLadyMary II.lcwood's garden partios, and that at other times wero Meta Hazlewood's favorito retreat Lady Marv w;is the widow of a general and Meta was hor only daughter, a tall and rather stately brunetto of twenty-tWO, who had been out two or tliree seasons, and had refused sereral eligible oft'ers witliout any very ent reason. .Miss Hazlewood did not even give any reason, The gentlemen who had doac her the honor to vish to marry her woro not to her tasto, she said, and secmed to think that statement conclusivo. Meta's indilïerence to suitors was the only point of dilierenco between her mother and herself. Lady Mary would gladly havo seen her daughter suitabl}1 settled - as, indeed, what motlier would not? - but in the long run the girl alwaya had her way. 'Do you want to get rid of me, niamrua?" slio would aak, wilhone of the smiles that were half saucy, and wholly sweet; and thorc could De but one answer to such a question. Nevertheless, Lady Mary could not help feelins that her daughtor was j verse. The feeling was intensitied just now by an offer from Meta's latest i admirer, and by the fact that Lord j Castleman seemed likelv to fare no botter than thoso who bil 1 gone before him. "I can't understand it, niy dear," said Lady Mary, plaintively. "W'liat was there in Sir John Hope that any girl need have objected to?" "He was not to inv laste," said Meta, for the bundredtn time. "Or in Captain ShawP And I am suro they both worshiped the ground you trod on." "They would have been weieome to do that if they would only havo abstained ironi worshiping me," said Meta, lightlv. "My dear, dou't be ilippant; when you reaily fall in lovo yourself, you will know it ia not a joking matter." "Ah! yes - when I do!" said Meta. "And now there is Lord Castleman, and you don't sooni auy moro favorably ineliued to him." "1 can't help it, mamma," said Meta, rathor wearily. She rose and ïathered her work together, and left the field to Lady Mary. She was so tired of these endless latnentations, and she kuew enough of her mother to know that sho would not leave hor petgrievance till she had thoroughly I exhausted both that and her I ter's patience. So Meta put on her liat and Btrollod into the garden, the shady old world garden 'that always seemed such a haven of peace and solitude amid the whirl and dm of the jjreat city. It was here that Meta 2fenerall3' came when her mother's mood was too pbiintivo or too loquajious, not railing against the kindly, iinwise woruan, even in her, but fetfJÍTUÍ.;,1' V ' Vm l iff ' 'Yimo ' ' in ■ Wiftbtf 1o ?ather her thoughts, and perhaps live over again the one little month in wlneh the garden had seemed greener and fairer and sweeter than it had ever seemed since. That was live reara ago now - that one month of Meta's Tifo that liad seemed to Lady Mary, so nnicli like auy other Juno, but ihat had made the very name of June musical forever in her daughter' s ears, It was June again now, and even in London there was a sense of summer in the air. The garden was at its bost, with roses just uutolding, and creepers ereenly twinln and putting forth [lelicate, as vet unsmirched by dust or soot. The great Juno ia'isiea that grow wild in such abundanco In Southern pastures and on breezy cliüs by the sea, but that i Dd much care and pains to induce them to grow here al all, were opening their yellow dises, and spreading their white fringea in the sun. Meta-gatlicred one, and put it softly to her lip.s. "The one lower in the snrUlULvlr,v,V(--i1 ,Uv;, ■7,vA,ï.'w' 'Jifin fastened tlio flower in her girdle, and told herself it was folly, and vorso : han folly, to let anv man's words dweil in her heart like this, and como back to her acrosa theyeara whenever, i tho daisics blew. Jt was five years ago now, luit every June, as the great white daisics opened to the suiumer sun, it seemed to Meta that she stood once more by Kobin Lindsay's side, ! and heard him teil her that he should oever see their blossoms again without thinking of this garden of hiscousin Meta. "Because they are Marguerites, and [ am Marsraret?" she askèd. "If you like. Or because they are' fair and white, and tall and stately and beautiful," said Mr. Lindsay. Shall I find them and you still here when I come back, I wonder? Will the daisies bloom year after vear, in spite of fogs and smoke? A'nd j'ou, Margaret, will you be here, in spite of all the suitors who will try te win and wear the Marffuerite that is the one flower in the world for me? She did not answer for a moment She was only sevpnteen, and with Robín Lindsay, at least, she was curiously ehy. And then, before she could speak, he caugnt her hands in his. "Don't answer, dear," he said; "I had no right to ask. I will not bind you by a i single word. Only give me a flower for old love's sake. It pledges you to nothiug, but I may be glad to have it if I come back somu day and find no daisies here." "One daisy wili be here," said Meta softly- so softly that perhaps he did not hear; or perhaps he would uot. Kobin Lindsay had no fortune but his professipn, but he was a 1 man, and as proud as he was poor. It seetued to him a baseuess U trv to win a pledge f rom this fair young cousin oí his, whose mother looked so mucli higher for her, and to wliom an engagoment to himseli could only bring years of indefinito waiting. The waiting and the burden of separation and doubt and anxiety sliould be his, and not hers, he told himself; and so he went away and left herfree, not understamiing that her freedoiu was a heavier burden than thetn all. He only wroto once, a formal letter to Lady Mary, acknowledging her boiipitality, that somehow found its way among Meta's treasures; but every year there carne a Christmas card adorned with whito Marguerite daisies, and bearing an Indian postmark and the initials 1!. L. That was all; just such Christmas cards as any ono might have sent, pretty tokens of cousinly remembrance that might be the empticst of compliments; but Mota flushed into trembling delight over them, and hid thera away as a miser hidos his gold. And Lady Mary, looking kindly at, her daughter, with the unexpected' acumen which otherwise foolish men sometimos display in mattors of the heart, thought to herself that if Meta had nofc beeu such a child when Rob!n Lindsay went away, she might havo fancied there had been some "nonesense" betweon the cousins when they wanderotl so long in the garden thoso soft Juno evenings live long years ago. It was ouly a passing thought, Msruissed the next instant as too unlikely for serious rellection, but it came back to Lady Mary with startling vividness this fair June morning as she went into the garden in search of Meta, and found her standing b.y the daisies with eyes that were lnminous and tender and sad. The golden bosses, surrounded with pearly shafts of whito, suddenly recalled the Christinas cards that had borne them in every variety of dainty devices. And when Lady Mary looked at her daughter with unconscious appeal and questioning, sho knew, with a thrill of unwelcome conviction, that the girl's eyes feil beforo her own. Was this it- this- that Meta, her proud, unapproachablo Meta, was only proud and unapproachablo becauso sho was already won, and won either clandestinely or unwooed? Either supposition socnied a desecration to Meta's mot her, with Meta standing before her in her proud young beauty; only the daisies made a back ground to her thoughts, an unacknowledged arriore pensee that hadits sharo in deterniining her speech. "Do you know that Lord Castleman is coming for his ansvver this morning?" she askod with an atterapt at soverity of deuieanor that was not too successful. What are you going to say to hiui, my dear?" "Won't you seo hiiu, mamma? You will say 'No' so niuch moro graciously than Ishould.'1 "But need it be 'No,' Meta?" "What elso can it be?" said Meta, rather drearily. The daisies were an unconscious background to her thoughts ilso. The daisies that had brought only happy memories and golden dreams to the girl in her teens, had como to have quite other meanings for the woinan of twenty-two. Fivo j'oars! Was it likely that the five-years-old story could seem anything but a boy aud girl romance to ltobin Lindsay now? That was the question that the daisies had been asking MargaretHazlewood this morning, that they had already askod her more than once as the einpty years went by, and Kobin Lindsay gave no sign of claiming "the one ilower In the world for hiru." "Need it be 'No,' Meta?" said her mother once more. "Lord Castleman is well born, distinguished, a pulished ficuuicmau, auu in upfight man. What fault can you find in him?'' "None," said Mptr, wearil}'. Sho thought that life would have been easior to her if her suitors had been a little loss unexceptionable. "Then, my dear, why do you not accept him? Do you know, Meta, what is the natural conclusión when a girl behaves as you do?" "Yes," said Meta, hastily. "The natural conclusión, the only conclusión, is that she likes her home and lier mother too well to leave them." Lady Mary put asido tho llattery with lofty indillerence. "The natural conclusión is that there is some one she likes better- or fancies shedoes," said the mother considerately changing the form of oxpression as she saw the sudden flaine in Meta's cheeks. It faded as quickly as it had come, and Meta said steadily - "That is not the case with me, mamma." It was nol a willful untruth. Her tion that Robin Lindsay had forgotten her, or thought of her only as a cousin, and nothing could therefore be more evident to Margaret Ilazelwood than that hor own leelings must have undergone a similar chango. "I am relieved to hear it,T' said Lady Mary. "I had really begun to wonder - absurd as itseems - if there could havo been anylhing between j"ou and Robin " ' "No! oh no!" cried Meta vehemcntly. "How could you think so, mamma, when he has - never - " She stopped, af raid of her own voice. What was sho going to do? To falter and break down before her mother - to betray the weakness that had robbed her girlhood of its bnghtness, aud that instead of being conqucred as slie had believed, seemed ready to overwhelm her now with a sudden despairing shame? Sho paused amoment, steadying herself against the garden seat, and then she said with a nervous little laugh- "How could you be so absurd, mamma? I should have thought you knew, me fee.ttej.ihan that..1 , The twg notice outside things. It carne upon them both with a httle shock, when a pago appeared before them and announced that Lord Castleman was in the drawing room. "1 will come," said Lady Mary nervously, and thon sho looked at her áaughter. "My dear, what shall I say. You will not sacrifico your prospects - your happinesss - " "My happiness is not in question, mamma," said Meta proudly. "You can send Lord Castleman to me." Lady Mary did not venture to ask any more. She kissed her dauehter, and went off to her guests, rejoïcing. Meta would not have sent for him ! only to reject him, she feit sure. And as for the doubts which the daisies had suggested, f Lady Marv did not believe her daugbter s protestations as entirely as Meta would bave wished, she believed in the healing power of time and the evanescent nature of human emotions, with a fullness of conviction that Meta herself would probably ncver attain to. She turned for a moment aDd looked at the girl's white ciad figure with tender maternaJ pride, and then sbe went on to the house and into the drawing room, glowine witk satisfaction and good will. Lord Castleman was standing by the table with a face tha was becoming anxious and grave, but hefiushed into eager anticipation as Lady Marycamo into the room. "You bring me good tidings," he cried joyfully. "ï see it in your eyes." "She wil! see you," said Lady Mary, beaming with snjiles. "You will find her n her favorito corner by tlio con servatories ' He pressed her haud, and went, eeing everything a little mistily through the sudden dazzle of new hope; but pleading his causo wilh as much huniility as though he had not just seen Lady Mnry, and drawn his own deduetioiis from the eneouraging interview. And Meta sat with downcast eyes.and listened to his tale in a silcncu he feit to be still more encouraging; but when lio would have takon her hand she drew it back. "Wait," she said; "thero is somothing I should liko to show vou first?' She took from her pocket a faded leathor case, and opened it with lingers that trembled a little in spite of her efforts to keep thom still. Insido were the Christmas cards with tho pretty frosted daisics, and tho robins that used to be so seldom absent from Christmas cards, but that had, perhaps a special rcference in these, and with theni a letter that was a little frayed about the edges now. Lord Castlornan stared, as ho might perhaps be excusod for doing. "What are these?" he said. "Pardon me; I don't understand." "It was very foolish - and it was all five years ago," faltered Meta, "but I thought y ou ought to know." Ho understood now, and his brow lowered ominously. He was all Lady Mary had called him - he was well born and distinguished, a polislied fentleman, and au upright man, but o was not largo souled. The confession that Meta had made, with a pain ho could not even understand, moved him to no geuerous sympathy;it onlr wounded his vamty and stung his pride. He took the cards and the letter from her, and tore Ihem into a thousand pieces, and then he turned upon his heel. "Miss Hazlewood, I havu tho honor to wish you good niorning, " he said, with a stifl' little bow. "I appreciato your candor, but 3011 vvill understand that a Uastleman does not care to bo socond to any othcr man." He went away with his head in the air, knocking over his chair in lus agitation, and Meta was conscious of a very unheroic feoliiisr of relief. To pleaso her mother, and to savo her own pride. she had brought herself to think that she might accept Lord Castleinan, but the sense of relief showed her how great an escape slio had had. How long sho sat where ho had left her slie never quito knew. Her eyes were on tho torn and scattered frágments that were all that remained to her of her girlhood's dream, and as sho sat and mused her face was gravo and sad - but it was a sadness in which Lord Castleman had neither part nor lot. The opening of the garden door rousod lior (vt lact. Anl tkon fvi life is soruetimes kinder to us than our deserts or our iinaginings - she lif ted her eyes and saw some one coming up the walk- some one whose coming her own pride had come near to making a curso instead of a Messing. For the somo ono was Robin Lirulsay, come back at last to explain his long absence, and the untoward fortuno that had till now made it impossiblo for liim to come and ask for the Margaret who was still to hiin "tho ono llower in the world."


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