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Stan Goodman, Beth Trapaga, Tonya Allen, and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.



MRS. DAY'S DAUGHTERS

By

MARY E. MANN







"The common growth of Mother Earth
Suffices me - her tears, her mirth,
Her humblest mirth and tears."



CONTENTS

CHAPTER
I Their Large Hours
II Something Wrong At The Office
III Forcus's Family Ale
IV Disaster
V Deleah's Errand
VI Sour Misfortune
VII Husband And Father
VIII The Way Out
IX For The Widow And The Fatherless
X Exiles From Life's Revels
XI The Attractive Bessie
XII The Attractive Deleah
XIII The Gay, Gilded Scene
XIV A Tea-Party In Bridge Street
XV The Manchester Man
XVI For Bernard
XVII What Is It Now?
XVIII The Dangerous Scrooge
XIX When Beauty Calls
XX Sir Francis Makes A Call
XXI In For It!
XXII The Importunate Mr. Gibbon
XXIII Deleah Has No Dignity
XXIV The Cold-Hearted Fates
XXV To Make Reparation
XXVI A Householder
XXVII Promotion For Mrs. Day
XXVIII At Laburnum Villa
XXIX A Prohibition Cancelled
XXX Deleah Grows Up
XXXI Bessie's Hour
XXXII The Man With The Mad Eyes
XXXIII The Moment Of Triumph





CHAPTER I

Their Large Hours


It was three o'clock in the morning when the guests danced Sir Roger de
Coverley at Mrs. William Day's New Year's party. They would as soon have
thought of having supper without trifle, tipsy-cake, and syllabub, in those
days, as of finishing the evening without Sir Roger. Dancing had begun at
seven-thirty. The lady at the piano was drooping with weariness. Violin and
'cello yawned over their bows; only spasmodically and half-heartedly the
thrum and jingle of the tambourine fell on the ear.

The last was an instrument not included in the small band of the
professional musicians, but was twisted and shaken and thumped on hand and
knee and toe by no less an amateur than Mr. William Day himself.

The master of the house was too stout for dancing, of too restless and
irritable a temperament for the role of looker-on. He loved noise, always;
above all, noise made by himself. He thought no entertainment really
successful at which you could hear yourself speak. He would have preferred
a big drum whereby to inspirit the dancers, but failing that, clashed the
bells of the tambourine in their ears.

"The tambourine is such fun!" the dancers always said, who, out of breath
from polka, or schottische, or galop, paused at his side. "A dance at your
house would not be the same thing at all without your tambourine, Mr. Day."

He banged it the louder for such compliments, turned it on his broad thumb,
shook it over his great head with its shock of sand-coloured and grey hair;
making, as the more saturnine of his guests confided in each other, "a most
infernal row."

But an exercise of eight hours is long enough for even the most agreeable
performance, and by the time Sir Roger de Coverley had brought the
programme to an end the clash and rattle of the tambourine was only
fitfully heard. Perceiving which, Deleah Day, younger daughter of the
house, a slight, dark-haired, dark-eyed girl of sixteen, left her place in
one of the two sides of the figure, extending nearly the length of the
room, ran to her father, and taking the tambourine from him pulled upon his
hands.

"Yes, papa! Yes!" she urged him. "Every year since I was able to toddle you
have danced Sir Roger with me - and you shall!"

He shouted his protest, laughed uproariously when he yielded, and all in
the noisy way, which to his thinking contributed to enjoyment. Presently,
standing opposite the upright, pretty figure of his daughter, he was
brawling to her what a naughty rogue she was, and calling on all to witness
that he was about to make an exhibition of himself for the pleasure of his
tyrant - his little Deleah. Then, turning, with his hands on the shoulders
of the young man before him, he was racing down the room to join hands with
the laughing Deleah at the end of the procession, ducking his heavy,
short-necked head, to squeeze his broad figure with her slight one under
the archway of raised arms, dashing to his place opposite his daughter at
the top of the room again. Breathless, laughing, spluttering, stamping, he
went through it all.

And now he and his little partner are themselves top-couple, and must
dance the half length of the room to be swung round by the pair dancing
to meet them; must be swung by right hand, by left, by both hands; must
dance to bow, dance to caper with the opposite couple, back to back. And
William Day, who had loved dancing till he grew too fat to dance, and was
extraordinarily light on his feet for such a big, heavily-made man, never
cried for mercy, but cheered on his companions, and footed it to the end.

"Never again!" he declared when the dance was over, and he stood smacking
his chest, panting, struggling for breath with which to bid his guests
good-night, "You'll never any of you catch me making such a fool of myself
again."

"Why, papa, you danced it beautifully! Every single year you shall dance
Sir Roger de Coverley, and you shall always dance it with me."

He shouted that he would not. He always shouted. He would have felt himself
falling behind himself on this festive occasion if he had been less
boisterous to the end.

"I think it has been the nicest of all our parties," Deleah declared to her
sister, as the girls went to their room.

"I've certainly enjoyed it the most," said Bessie. "And Reggie said so had
he."

"You danced six times with Reggie, Bess. I counted."

"It is a pity you were not better employed. You wanted to dance with him
yourself, I suppose?"

"Why, I did!" Deleah cried, and laughed "I danced the Lancers with
him - _twice_. And in the grand chain he lifted me off my feet. He's most
beautifully strong, Reggie is! Did he lift you off your feet, Bess?"

"Reggie would know better than to take such a liberty," Bess said, who was
not dark and _petite_ like her sister, but plump and fair and somewhat
heavily built. "And you're too old for such romping, yourself, Deleah; and
you've nicely spoilt your frock with it!"

"Yards of frilling gone," Deleah said happily, as if the loss of so much
material was a merit. "Just a teeny bit came off to start with; Tom Marston
caught his toe in it, and went, galloping the whole length of the room
carrying it with him and his partner before I could stop him. Oh, _how_ I
laughed!"

"Mama won't laugh! She said you must wear the same frock at the Arkwrights'
dance next week."

"The white silk, underneath, is all right - look! Only a new net skirt over
it. Mama won't mind it in the least."

"If you have a new net over-skirt I shall have one too. You're not to have
an evening frock more than me. So come! I shall have blue again. Blue
tarlatan with white frillings on the flounces. Blue is my colour. Reggie
said so to-night."

"I suppose he admired you in that wreath of forget-me-nots?"

"He didn't say I was to tell you, if he did! You go to bed, and to sleep,
Deleah; and don't interfere."

"I'm getting out of my clothes as fast as I can. Why aren't you getting out
of yours, Bess?"

"I'm not going to bed yet. I'm waiting for mama. I've something to say to
her."

"What about? Oh, Bess, do tell! I always tell you everything."

She paused, stepped out of her dress which lay a heap of shining silk and
billowy net upon the floor, looked at her sister. "It's something about
Reggie," she declared with eager interest. "Yes, it is! Oh, Bessie, tell me
first. Your face is as red as red! Tell me first!"

You mind your own business, Deda; and brush your hair."

"I'm not going to brush it, to-night: I can't. It's so tangly. I'm just
going to say my prayers, and hop into bed."

"Mama won't like it if you don't brush your hair. I shall tell her if you
don't, Deda."

"Tell her, then!" Deda challenged, and hurried into her nightgown, and
flung herself on her knees by the side of her bed, and hid her face in her
hands, preparatory to making her devotions.

A soft tapping on the door before it opened, and Mrs. Day, candlestick in
hand, appeared. A pretty woman of medium height, middle-aged, as women
allowed themselves to be frankly, fifty years ago. She wore a handsome
dress of green satin, a head-dress of white lace, green velvet and pink
roses almost covering her plentiful dark hair.

"Not in bed yet?" she whispered, and looked at the small white kneeling
figure of the younger girl, her hair hanging in a dusky mass of waves and
curls and tangles upon her back. Deleah was hurrying conscientiously
through the established form of her orisons, trying to achieve the
prescribed sum of her supplications before her mother left.

"Can I speak to you for a minute, mama?" Bess demanded, with an air of
importance. "Not here," glancing at Deleah; "outside; just a minute."

"Pray God bless dear papa and mama, sister and brothers, and friends. Make
us all good and bring us safe to heaven at last. Amen," Deleah gabbled, her
face upon the white quilt, her ears open.

"Certainly, dear." Mrs. Day stepped back, closing the door behind her
daughter and herself.

"I don't want Deda to know. She's such a blab, mama."

"Oh, my dear, I don't like to hear you say that!"

"But she is. And she listens to things." Here Bessie pushed the door behind
her open, to reveal the culprit in her white nightgown on the other side of
it. "I should be ashamed to be a Paul Pry!" Bessie said with indignation
and scorn.

Deleah was not at all abashed. "Mama, I don't see why, when nice,
interesting things happen, I should not know them as well as Bessie!" she
complained.

She was sent to bed, however, and tucked up there, and kissed, and enjoined
by an indulgent, reproving mother to be a good girl, and to go quietly to
sleep. What mother could be angry with Deleah, looking at her rose and
white face amid the tumult of tossed dark curls upon her pillow!

Then Bessie led her mother into an unoccupied room, hard by, upon the
landing, and began to unfold her tale.

"Mama, it is about Reggie." The room was only lit by the flame of the
candle Mrs. Day held, but there was light enough to show the blushes on
Bessie's young plump cheeks. "Mama, he has said something about _that_
again. _You_ know."

"About his being engaged to you?"

Bessie, cheeks and eyes aglow and alight, ecstatically nodded; her fair
bosom in its garniture of white tulle and forget-me-nots, rose and fell.
"What two pretty daughters I have!" Mrs. Day said to herself, and, being a
devout woman, gave thanks accordingly.

"Well, dear, and what did you say?"

"I said - I don't know what I said, mama. We were dancing that last
galop - the Orlando Furioso one, you know - and the room was so full, and
other couples were rushing down upon us - people are so horribly selfish
when they dance, and some of them dance so boisterously."

"It would be a very nice engagement for you, Bessie. I suppose there was
not a girl here to-night who would not gladly take him."

"I know that. I know that, mama. So does he - Reggie."

"He did not say so, I hope?"

"No. Reggie does not always want exactly to _say_ things."

"But what did he say to you, dear? Is the matter any forwarder than it was
the last time you spoke of it to me?"

"Well, I suppose so, mama."

"You mean you and Reggie Forcus consider yourselves engaged?"

"I think so. But it was so difficult to catch every word in that galop. If
he did not say the _exact words_ he said as much."

"Did he say anything about speaking to papa?"

"No. But I said it."

"_You_ said it, Bessie?"'

"Well, mama! Reggie did not seem to wish to be bothered."

"I see."

"Not quite yet, you understand."

"I see."

In the pause that followed the mother's large eyes, surrounded by dark
rings, and set rather deeply in the dusky paleness of her well-featured
face, dwelt consideringly upon her daughter's round cheeks with their fair
smooth skin, upon her grey-green eyes, and smooth fair hair.

"It is not very satisfactory, I'm afraid, Bessie," she said reluctantly at
length.

Bessie's face fell. "I thought I'd better tell you."

"Certainly, my dear."

"I wonder what we ought to do, mama?"

"To do, Bessie?"

"I thought, perhaps, if Reggie does not speak to papa, that papa might
speak to Reggie?"

Mrs. Day shook a sharply dissenting head. "That would not be the same thing
at all, my dear child."

"What ought we to do, then? I thought you would know. Mothers have to
arrange these things, haven't they?"

"Well, you see, Bessie, usually the young man - "

"I know. But Reggie does not wish to. If you must know, mama, he said so,
in so many words."

"Then, Bessie - !"

"But I think that something ought to be done. You ought to do something - or
papa. _Everything_ can't be left to me!"

The tip of Bessie's nose grew pink, her lip quivered, tears showed in her
pale blue eyes. Mrs. Day laid a soothing hand upon her arm.

"We won't talk of it any more now," she said. "We are both tired. We will
sleep on it, Bessie. Go to bed, dear, and leave everything till the
morning."

Her silver candlestick in her hand, Mrs. Day trailed her rich green satin
across the landing, pausing at the door of Bernard, her second-born, coming
between Bessie and Deleah. She listened a moment, then rapped upon the
door. "In bed, dear?"

"Yes, mother."

"Lights out?"

"A half hour ago."

"Not smoking, Bernard?"

"Of course not. Go away."

To the bedside of the youngest child she betook herself next. Franky, who
had been sent to bed several hours before the rest, was sound asleep.
There were nine years between this child and Deleah; Franky was the baby,
the darling of them all. The mother, tired as she was with the duties and
responsibilities of the evening, stood long to look upon the sleeping
face of the boy. His dark hair, allowed, through mother's pride in its
beauty, to grow longer than was fitting for a boy, curled damply about
his brow, his small, dark, delicately aquiline features were like the
pretty Deleah's. The elder boy and girl, fair of skin, with straight hair
of a pale, lustreless gold, resembled their father; Mrs. William Day was
not so far blinded by love of her husband as not to rejoice in secret
that at least two of her children "favoured" herself.

The mother sat for a few minutes on the bed, her candle shaded by her
hand, to watch the child's regular breathing. "My darling Franky!" she
whispered aloud; and to herself she said, "If only they could all always
keep Franky's age!" She smiled as she sighed, thinking of Bessie and her
love affair, about which she had many doubts; of Bernard, who, in spite
of prayers and chidings, would smoke in bed, and had once set fire to his
bedclothes; of Deleah, even, who, schoolgirl as she was, had, and held
to, her own ideas, and was not so easy to manage as she had been. If a
mother could always keep her children about her, to be no older, no more
difficult to make happy than Franky!

She sighed, kissed the child, pushed from his face the admired curls, then
dragged her rich, voluminous draperies to her own room, where her husband
was already, by his silence she judged, asleep.

There was a pier-glass in the large, handsomely furnished bedroom. Mrs. Day
caught her reflection in it as she approached, and paused before it. Bessie
had thought her new green satin might have been made a yard or so fuller in
the skirt. Did it really need that alteration, she wondered? She lit the
candles branching from the long glass and standing before it seriously
debated the point with herself. Walking away from the glass, her head
turned over her shoulder, she examined the back effect; walked to meet
herself, gravely doubtful still; gathered the fullness of the skirt in her
hand, released it, spreading out the rich folds. Then, something making her
turn her head sharply to the big bed with its red moreen curtains hanging
straightly down beside its four carved posts, her eyes met the wide open
eyes of the man lying there.

"Oh!" she cried. "How you startled me, William! I thought you were asleep.
How silly you must have thought me!"

"Not more than usual," William growled. He held the idea - it was more
prevalent perhaps at that period than this - that wives were the better for
being snubbed and insulted.

"I was deciding if to have my evening dress altered or not."

"You are never in want of an excuse for posturing before the glass. What
does it matter at your time of life how your dress looks? Come to bed, and
give me a chance to get to sleep."

Mrs. Day extinguished again the candles she had lit, and began docilely to
unrobe herself. As she did so she talked.

"It all went off very well to-night, I think, William?"

"First-rate. Champagne-cup ran short."

"There should have been enough. The Barkers at their party never have
champagne at all."

"When you're about it, do the thing well. What's a few pounds more here and
there, when the end comes!"

"The end, William?"

"The end of the year. When the bills come in."

"How did you think Bessie looked to-night?"

"I thought my little Deleah was the belle of the ball."

"Deleah is a child only. You never have eyes but for Deleah."

"Bess was all right."

"I thought she looked so fair and sweet. Her neck and arms are like milk,
William. I wonder if Reggie Forcus - means anything?"

"Ba-a! Not he! No such luck."

"I really don't see why. I don't see why our girls should not have as good
luck as other people's. Reggie will marry some one, I suppose."

"Now, don't be a silly fool if you can help it; and don't encourage the
girl to run her head at any such nonsense. Francis Forcus will no more
allow his brother to marry your daughter than the queen will allow him to
marry one of hers. I told you that before."

"But Bessie - poor child - thinks differently."

"Tell Bessie not to be an ass then; and come to bed."

She went to bed; and, spite of her disturbing thoughts of Bessie and her
love affair, went to sleep.

"Oh, dear!" she said as she lay down. "What a lot of bother there'll be for
the servants, getting the house straight, tomorrow; and they so late to
bed! The drawing-room carpet to put down again, and all the furniture to
move into place. And it only seems the other day since we went through the
same thing on last New Year's Eve."

"Turning the house upside down is what women like. It's what they're made
for."

"I wonder how many more dances we shall have to give before both the girls
are married, and off our hands! I'm sure I shall never take the trouble to
give one for the boys."

"Shan't you, indeed!"

"Why do you speak like that, William? I don't know that I have said
anything for you to jeer at."

"Oh, go to sleep! And let's hope you won't have any worse troubles than the
laying down or taking up of a carpet."

The old servant Emily, who had lived with the Days since their marriage,
and was as much friend as servant to her mistress and the young people, had
once, in speaking of her master, made the memorable pronouncement that he
was "Apples abroad and crabs at home." This speech, being interpreted,
meant that the noisy, boisterous good temper and high spirit which his
acquaintances witnessed in him did not always characterise the deportment
of the head of the house in the bosom of his family.

He lay for a time, staring at the dying fire which was on his side of the
room. He lay still, to let his wife believe he was asleep, but was too
irritable and restless to lie so for long. He turned about on his pillow,
cautiously at first, so as not to wake her; yet when she did not awake was
aggrieved, and sharply called her name.

"You sleep like a pig," he said. "I have not closed my eyes since I came to
bed."

The fact that she could sleep and he could not was to him a grievance which
dated from their marriage, twenty years ago. Poor Mrs. Day had grown to
think her predilection to indulge in slumber when she went to bed was a
failing to be apologised for and hidden, if possible. She was often driven
fictitiously to protest that she also had lain wakeful. He received a like
statement when she made it now in contemptuous silence.

"I have been thinking about what you tell me of Bess and young Forcus," the
father said. "Of course, if there were, by chance, anything in it it would
be a very good thing for the girl."

"I am glad you see it in that light at last, William. I have always, of
course, known that it would be a good thing."

"What I have been thinking is, perhaps I had better go and see Francis
Forcus about it."

"Reggie's brother? Oh, no, William! I would not do that."

"And why not, pray? You and I can never look at a thing in the same light
for two minutes at a time. If I want to rest on my oars you're badgering me
to be up and doing. If I begin to see it's time for me to interfere, it's
'Oh, no, William!' There never was your equal for contradiction."

"All the same I should not go to Sir Francis."

"And why not? What's your reason? What is there against it? If his brother,
who is dependent on him for the present as if he were his son, is going to
marry my daughter, he and I will have to talk it over, I suppose?"

"Yes. But not until Reggie has spoken to you. At present he has not said a
word, except to Bessie. I think Reggie should. I think - "

"Never mind what you think. Let's come to facts. Is there or is there not
anything serious in this affair?"

"Bessie says there is."

"Can't you give a plain answer to a plain question? Is young Forcus, who is
always hanging about the place, making love to my girl or is he not?"

"He has certainly paid her attention."

"Is he engaged to her?"

"Bessie considers herself engaged. But as I tell Bessie - "

"I don't want that. What you think, or what you tell Bessie. I want facts
to go upon. Without facts you can't expect me to act."

"I really do not wish you to act, William."

"Leave that to me. I am not asking what you wish," William snapped at her;
and then turning on his side he seemed to go to sleep.




CHAPTER II

Something Wrong At The Office


Mrs. Day had decided to spend the first morning of the New Year in
superintending the relaying of the drawing-room carpet and the reducing
her house to its habitual order after the dance. Bessie had decided
otherwise. She had decided that she should be driven in the carriage, her
mother beside her, to some flooded and frozen meadows, three miles out of
the town, where many of the young people who had danced last night had
arranged to go to skate. Deleah and the boys had started to walk there
immediately after breakfast. Bessie, who could not skate, wished to be
there also, but did not choose to walk, and could not be allowed to be in
the carriage alone.

The girl, very fair and pretty in her velvet jacket with the ermine
collar and cuffs, seated in the victoria by her mother's side, eagerly
scanned the broad expanse of ice for the familiar figure of the young man
who had paid her such particular attention during the memorable galop.
She looked in vain. There were several of last night's partners who came
to the side of the carriage and asked for the ladies' health after the
fatigue of the dance, and descanted on their own freedom, or otherwise,
from weariness. Deleah, her face the colour of a wild rose, her loose
dark hair curling crisply in the frosty air, shouted greetings to her
mother as she flew past, a little erect, graceful figure keeping her
elegant poise with the ease of the young and fearless. Now and again she
was seen to be fleeing, laughing as she went, from the pursuit of a
skater who wished to make a circuit of the flooded meadow holding
Deleah's hand. The girl was at once a romp and shy. She laughed with
dancing eyes as she flew ahead; but captured, had a frightened, anxious
look, her eyes appealing to her mother as she passed in protest and for
protection.

"Deleah will be a flirt when she grows up," Bessie said, who knew that her
mother was regarding the pretty child with admiration.

"Do you think so, my dear? I hope not, Bessie."

"She will! And she wants looking after. I thought, for a girl not yet
'out,' she was very forward last night. Reggie thought so too."

"I'm afraid you put it into his head, Bessie."

"As if Reggie had not got ideas of his own! Without my even so much as
_hinting_ he said he supposed she knew she was pretty."

"Reggie isn't here to-day, Bessie."

"I think he will come. He said he would come, and as I could not skate he
promised to push me in a chair on the ice. We need not go home yet, mama. I


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