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invisible under their heavy red lids; her hair was tossed; the rest of
her little thin face was ghastly pale.

"Is that you, Flower?" she exclaimed. "Are you going to stay here? If
you are, I'll go away."

"What do you mean?" said Flower. "_You_ go away? You can go or stay,
just as you please. I have come here because I want some food, and
because I've been shamefully neglected and starved all day. Ring the
bell, please, Fly. I really must order up something to eat."

Fly rose from her chair. She had long, lanky legs and very short
petticoats, and as she stood half leaning against the wall, she looked
so forlorn, pathetic, and yet comical, that Flower, notwithstanding her
own anger and distress, could not help bursting out laughing.

"What is the matter?" she said. "What an extraordinary little being you
are! You look at me as if you were quite afraid of me. For pity's sake,
child, don't stare at me in that grewsome fashion. Ring the bell, as I
tell you, and then if you please you can leave the room."

There was a very deep leather arm-chair near the fireplace. Into this
now Flower sank. She leant her head comfortably against its cushions,
and gazed at Firefly with a slightly sarcastic expression.

"Then you don't know!" said Fly, suddenly. "You sit there and look at
me, and you talk of eating, as if any one could eat. You don't know. You
wouldn't sit there like that if you really knew."

"I think you are the stupidest little creature I ever met!" responded
Flower. "I'm to know something, and it's wonderful that I care to eat. I
tell you, child, I haven't touched food all day, and I'm starving.
What's the matter? Speak! I'll slap you if you don't."

"There's bread on the sideboard," said Fly. "I'm sorry you're starving.
It's only that father is ill; that - that he's very ill. I don't suppose
it is anything to you, or you wouldn't have done it."

"Give me that bread," said Flower. She turned very white, snatched a
piece out of Fly's hand, and put it to her lips. She did not swallow it,
however. A lump seemed to rise in her throat.

"I'm faint for want of food," she said in a minute. "I'd like some wine.
If David was here, he'd give it to me. What's that about your father?
Ill? He was quite well this morning; he spoke to me."

She shivered.

"I'm awfully faint," she said in a moment. "Please, Fly, be merciful.
Give me half a glass of sherry."

Fly started, rushed to the sideboard, poured a little wine into a glass,
and brought it to Flower.

"There!" she said in a cold though broken-hearted voice. "But you
needn't faint; he's not your father; you wouldn't have done it if he was
your father."

Flower tossed off the wine.

"I'm better now," she said.

Then she rose from the deep arm-chair, stood up, and put her two hands
on Fly's shoulder.

"What have I done? What do you accuse me of?"

"Don't! You hurt me, Flower; your hands are so hard."

"I'll take them off. What have I done?"

"We are awfully sorry you came here. We all are; we all are."

"Yes? you can be sorry or glad, just as you please! What have I done?"

"You have made father, our own father - you have made him ill. The
doctor thinks perhaps he'll die, and in any case he will be blind."

"What horrid things you say, child! _I_ haven't done this."

"Yes. Father was out all last night. You took baby away, and he went to
look for her, and he wasn't well before, and he got a chill. It was a
bad chill, and he has been ill all day. You did it, but he wasn't your
father. We are all so dreadfully sorry that you came here."

Flower's hands dropped to her sides. Her eyes curiously dilated, looked
past Fly, gazing so intently at something which her imagination conjured
up that the child glanced in a frightened way over her shoulder.

"What's the matter, Flower? What are you looking at?"

"Myself."

"But you can't see yourself."

"I can. Never mind. Is this true what you have been telling me?"

"Yes, it's quite true. I wish it was a dream, and I might wake up out of
it."

"And you all put this thing at my door?"

"Yes, of course. Dr. Strong said - Dr. Strong has been here twice this
evening - he said it was because of last night."

"_Sometimes we can never give back what we take away._" These few words
came back to Flower now.

"And you all hate me?" she said, after a pause.

"We don't love you, Flower; how could we?"

"You hate me?"

"I don't know. Father wouldn't like us to hate anybody."

"Where's Helen?"

"She's in father's room."

"And Polly?"

"Polly is in bed. She's ill, too, but not in danger, like father. The
doctor says that Polly is not to know about father for at any rate a
day, so please be careful not to mention this to her, Flower."

"No fear!"

"Polly is suffering a good deal, but she's not unhappy, for she doesn't
know about father."

"Is baby very ill, too?"

"No. Nurse says that baby has escaped quite wonderfully. She was
laughing when I saw her last. She has only a little cold."

"I am glad that I gave her to your father myself," said Flower, in a
queer, still voice. "I'm glad of that. Is David anywhere about?"

"No. He's at the farm. He's to sleep there to-night with Bob and Bunny,
for there mustn't be a stir of noise in the house."

"Well, well, I'd have liked to say good-by to David. You're quite sure,
Fly, that you all think it was _I_ made your father ill?"

"Why, of course. You know it was."

"Yes, I know. Good-by, Fly."

"Good-night, you mean. Don't you want something to eat?"

"No. I'm not hungry now. It isn't good-night; it's good-by."

Flower walked slowly down the long, low, dark room, opened the door,
shut it after her, and disappeared.

Fly stood for a moment in an indifferent attitude at the table. She was
relieved that Flower had at last left her, and took no notice of her
words.

Flower went back to her room. Again she shut and locked her door. The
queer mood which had been on her all day, half repentance, half
petulance, had completely changed. It takes a great deal to make some
people repent, but Flower Dalrymple was now indeed and in truth facing
the consequences of her own actions. The words she had said to Fly were
quite true. She had looked at herself. Sometimes that sight is very
terrible. Her fingers trembled, her whole body shook, but she did not
take a moment to make up her mind. They all hated her, but not more than
she hated herself. They were quite right to hate her, quite right to
feel horror at her presence. Her mother had often spoken to her of the
consequences of unbridled passion, but no words that her mother could
ever have used came up to the grim reality. Of course, she must go away,
and at once. She sat down on the side of her bed, pressed her hand to
her forehead, and reflected. In the starved state she was in, the little
drop of wine she had taken had brought on a violent headache. For a time
she found it difficult to collect her thoughts.




CHAPTER XI.

THE WORTH OF A DIAMOND.


Flower quite made up her mind to go away again. Her mood, however, had
completely changed. She was no longer in a passion; on the contrary, she
felt stricken and wounded. She would go away now to hide herself,
because her face, her form, the sound of her step, the echo of her
voice, must be painful to those whom she had injured. She shuddered as
she recalled Firefly's sad words:

"Father says it is wrong to hate any one, but, of course, we cannot love
you."

She felt that she could never look Polly in the face again, that Helen's
gentle smile would be torture to her. Oh, of course she must go away;
she must go to-night.

She was very tired, for she had really scarcely rested since her fit of
mad passion, and the previous night she had never gone to bed. Still all
this mattered nothing. There was a beating in her heart, there was a
burning sting of remorse awakened within her, which made even the
thought of rest impossible.

Flower was a very wild and untaught creature; her ideas of right and
wrong were of the crudest. It seemed to her now that the only right
thing was to run away.

When the house was quiet, she once more opened her little cabinet, and
took from thence the last great treasure which it contained. It was one
solitary splendid unset diamond. She had not the least idea of its
value, but she knew that it would probably fetch a pound or two. She had
not the least notion of the value of money or of the preciousness of the
gem which she held in her hand, but she thought it likely that it would
supply her immediate needs.

The house was quite still now. She took off her green cloth dress, put
on a very plain one of black cashmere, slipped a little velvet cap on
her head, wrapped a long white shawl round her, and thus equipped opened
her door, and went downstairs.

She was startled at the foot of the stairs to encounter Maggie. Maggie
was coming slowly upwards as Flower descended, and the two girls paused
to look at one another. The lamps in the passages were turned low, and
Maggie held a candle above her head; its light fell full on Flower.

"You mustn't go to Miss Polly on no account, Miss Flower," said Maggie,
adopting the somewhat peremptory manner she had already used to Flower
in the hermit's hut. "Miss Polly is not to be frightened or put out in
any way, leastways not to-night."

"You mean that you think I would tell her about Dr. Maybright?"

"Perhaps you would, Miss; you're none too sensible."

Flower was too crushed even to reply to this uncomplimentary speech.
After a pause, she said:

"I'm not going to Polly. I'm going away. Maggie, is it true that
the - that Dr. Maybright is very ill?"

"Yes, Miss, the Doctor's despert bad."

Maggie's face worked; her candle shook; she put up her other hand to
wipe away the fast-flowing tears.

"Oh, don't cry!" said Flower, stamping her foot impatiently. "Tears do
no good, and it wasn't you who did it."

"No, Miss, no, Miss; that's a bit of a comfort. I wouldn't be you, Miss
Flower, for all the wide world. Well, I must go now; I'm a-sleeping in
Miss Polly's room to-night, Miss."

"Why, is Polly ill, too?"

"Only her foot's bad. I mustn't stay, really, Miss Flower."

"Look here," said Flower, struck by a sudden thought, "before you go
tell me something. Your mother lives in the village, does she not?"

"Why, yes, Miss, just in the main street, down round by the corner.
There's the baker's shop and the butcher's, and you turn round a sharp
corner, and mother's cottage is by your side."

"I've a fancy to go and see her. Good-night."

"But not at this hour, surely, Miss?"

"Why not? I was out later last night."

"That's true. Well, I must go to Miss Polly now. Don't you make any
noise when you're coming in, Miss! Oh, my word!" continued Maggie to
herself, "what can Miss Flower want with mother? Well, she is a
contrairy young lady mischievous, and all that, and hasn't she wrought a
sight of harm in this yer house! But, for all that, mother'll be mighty
took up with her, for she's all for romance, mother is, and Miss
Flower's very uncommon. Well, it ain't nought to do with me, and I'll
take care to tell no tales to Miss Polly, poor dear."

The night was still and calm; the stars shone peacefully; the wind,
which had come in gusts earlier in the evening, had died down. It took
Flower a very few minutes to reach the village, and she wasn't long in
discovering Mrs. Ricketts' humble abode.

That good woman had long retired to rest, but Flower's peremptory
summons on the door soon caused a night-capped head to protrude out of a
window, a burst of astonishment to issue from a wonder-struck pair of
lips, and a moment later the young lady was standing by Mrs. Ricketts'
fireside.

"I'm proud to see you, Miss, and that I will say. Set down, Miss, do
now, and I'll light up the fire in a twinkling."

"No, you needn't," said Flower. "I'm hot; I'm burning. Feel me; a fire
would drive me wild."

"To be sure, so you are, all in a fever like," said Mrs. Ricketts,
laying her rough hand for a moment on Flower's dainty arm. "You'll let
me light up the bit of a paraffin lamp, then, Miss, for it ain't often
as I have the chance of seeing a young lady come all the way from
Australy."

"You can light the lamp, if you like," said Flower. "And you can stare at
me as much as you please. I'm just like any one else, only wickeder.
I've come to you, Mrs. Ricketts, because you're Maggie's mother, and
Maggie's a good girl, and I thought perhaps you would help me."

"I'm obligated for the words of praise about my daughter, Miss. Yes, she
don't mean bad, Maggie don't. What can I do to help you, Miss? Anything
in my power you are kindly welcome to."

"Have you ever seen a diamond, Mrs. Ricketts?"

"I don't know, I'm sure, Miss."

"Diamonds are very valuable stones, you know."

"Maybe, Miss. They ain't in my way. I wish you'd let me light you a bit
of fire, Miss Flower. You'll have the chills presently, Miss, for you're
all of a burning fever now."

"You can do anything you like in the way of fire by-and-by. I have a
diamond here. Shall I show it to you?"

"Oh, law, Miss, I'm sure you are condescending."

"Come over close to the paraffin lamp. Now you shall see. Doesn't it
sparkle!"

Mrs. Ricketts dropped a curtsey to the gem, which, unpolished as it was,
cast forth strange reflections, giving her, as she afterwards explained,
a "queer feel" and a sense of chill down the marrow of her back.

"This is very valuable," said Flower. "I don't know what it is worth,
but my father gave it to my mother, and she gave it to me. She said it
would be well for me to have it in case of emergency. Emergency has
come, and I want to sell this stone. It is very likely that whoever buys
it from me will become rich. Would you like it? You shall have it for
what money you have in the house."

"Oh, law, Miss! but I'm a very poor woman, Miss."

Mrs. Ricketts curtseyed again, and drew closer. "For all the world, it
looks as if it were alive, Miss."

"All valuable diamonds look as if they lived. If this were cut and
polished it would dazzle you."

"And if I had it, I could sell it for a good bit of money?"

"I am sure you could. I don't know for how much, but for more than I am
likely to get from you."

"I'd like to pay Miss Polly back that pound as Maggie took from her."

"Don't worry me about your debts. Will you have this beautiful uncut
diamond for the money you have in the house?"

Mrs. Ricketts did not reply for a moment.

"I have nine shillings and fourpence-halfpenny," she said at last, "and
to-morrow is rent day. Rent will be eight shillings; that leaves me
one-and-fourpence-half penny for food. Ef I give you all my money, Miss,
how am I to pay rent? And how are the children to have food to-morrow?"

"But you can sell the diamond. Why are you so dreadfully stupid? You can
sell the diamond for one, two, or perhaps three pounds. Then how rich
you will be."

"Oh, Miss! there's no one in this yer village 'ud give away good money
for a bit of a stone like that; they'd know better. My word! it do send
out a sort of a flame, though; it's wondrous to look upon!"

"People will buy it from you in a town. Go to the nearest town, take it
to a jeweler, and see how rich you will be when you come out of his
shop. There, I will give it to you for your nine-and-fourpence-half
penny."

Flower laid the diamond in the woman's hand.

"It seems to burn me like," she said. But all the same her fingers
closed over it, and a look of greed and satisfaction filled her face.

"I don't know if I'm a-doin' right," she said, "for perhaps this ain't
worth sixpence, and then where's the rent and the food? But, all the
same, I don't like to say no to a pretty lady when she's in trouble. Here's
the nine-and-fourpence-halfpenny, Miss. I earned it bit by bit by washing
the neighbors' clothes; it wasn't easy come by; there's labor in it, and
aches and dead-tiredness about it. You take it, Miss. I only trust the
diamond will repay what I loses on that nine-and-fourpence-half penny."

Flower handled the money as if she thought it dirty.

Without a word she slipped it into the pocket of her dress.

"I am going away," she said. "They are angry with me at Sleepy Hollow. I
have done wrong. I am not a bit surprised. I'm going away, so as not to
cause them any more trouble."

"Oh, law, now, Miss! but they'll fret to part with you."

"No they won't. Anyhow, it isn't your affair. I'm going away as soon as
I possibly can. Can you tell me where the nearest railway station is?"

"There's none closer than Everton, and that's a matter of five mile from
here."

"I must get there as quickly as possible. What road shall I take?"

"Do you think, Miss, I'd let a pretty young lady like you trape the
lanes in the dead of night? No, no; carrier goes between two and three
in the morning. You might go with him, if you must go."

"That is a good thought. Where does the carrier live?"

"Three doors from here. I'll run round presently and tell him to call."

"Thank you. Do you think nine-and-fourpence-halfpenny will take me to
Bath?"

"To Bath, Miss? It might, if you condescended to third class."

"Third class will do very well. Did you ever hear Polly Maybright speak
of an aunt of hers, a Mrs. Cameron?"

Mrs. Ricketts, whose back was half turned to Flower while she shut
and locked the box out of which she had taken the precious
nine-and-fourpence-halfpenny, now sprang to her feet, and began to speak
in a tone of great excitement.

"Did I hear of her?" she exclaimed. "Did I hear of the woman - for lady
she ain't - what turned my Maggie out of her good place, and near broke
Miss Polly's heart? Don't mention Mrs. Cameron, please, Miss Flower, for
talk of her I won't; set eyes on her I wouldn't, no, not if I was to
receive a pound for it!"

"You needn't get so excited," said Flower; "you have not got to see
Polly's aunt; only I thought perhaps you could give me her address, for
I am going to her to-morrow."

"I wouldn't, Miss, if I was you."

"Yes, you would if you were me. What is Mrs. Cameron's address?"

"I don't know as I can rightly tell you, Miss."

"Yes, you must. I see you know it quite well."

"Well then, well then - you won't like her a bit, Miss Flower."

"What's her address?"

"Jasper Street; I think it's Jasper Street."

"And the number? She doesn't live in the whole of Jasper Street."

"Now, was it a one and a six or a one and a seven?" queried Mrs.
Ricketts. "Oh, Miss! if I was you, I wouldn't go near her; but I think
her number is a one and a seven."

"Seventeen, you mean."

"Yes, that's it; I was never great at counting."




CHAPTER XII.

RELICS AND A WELCOME.


Mrs. Cameron's house in Bath was decidedly old-fashioned. It was a
large, solemn, handsome mansion; its windows shone from constant
cleaning; its paint was always fresh, its Venetian blinds in perfect
order.

When a certain wild, untidy, almost disreputable-looking girl ran up its
snow-white steps, and rang its highly polished brass bell, the neat
parlor maid who answered her summons stared at her, and doubted a good
deal if Mrs. Cameron could see her.

"You had better step into the hall for a moment," said the maidservant,
"and I'll inquire if my missis is at leisure; but if it's the new
housemaid's place you've come after - - "

Flower gasped; she drew herself up, raised her hand, and took off her
small black velvet cap.

"You forget yourself!" she said, with a haughtiness which did not ill
become her, notwithstanding her untidy and dishevelled state. "My name
is Flower Dalrymple, and I have come from Sleepy Hollow. Please let your
mistress know directly."

The parlor maid, who saw her mistake, was profuse in apologies.

She showed Flower into a dismal-looking dining room, and went upstairs.

"Who is it, Ann?" asked an anxious voice as she prepared to ascend the
richly-carpeted stairs.

A door was opened at the end of the passage, and a fusty, dusty-looking
little man put in an appearance.

"Who is it, Ann? Any one for me?"

"A young lady as wants to see the missis, sir. Oh, Mr. Cameron! what a
deal of dust you has brought out into the 'all!"

The little man looked meekly down at his dusty garments.

"I have just been unpacking my last crate of curiosities from China,
Ann. Where is the young lady? Perhaps she would like to see the relics."

"No, sir, that I'm sure she wouldn't; she's all blown and spent like.
She's for all the world like a relic herself."

Ann tripped lightly upstairs, and Mr. Cameron, pushing his spectacles
high up on his bald forehead, looked with an anxious glance to right and
left. Then very quickly on tiptoe he crossed the hall, opened the
dining-room door, and went in.

"How are you, young lady? If you are very quick, I can get you into my
sanctum sanctorum. I am just unpacking Chinese relics. I trust, I hope,
you are fond of relics."

Flower started to her feet.

"I thought, I certainly thought, Polly said _Mrs._ Cameron," she
remarked. "I don't think I shall be at all afraid to live with you. I
don't exactly know what Chinese relics are, but I should love to see
them."

"Then quick, my dear, quick! We haven't a minute to spare. She's sure to
be down in a jiffy. Now then, step on tiptoe across the hall. Ann has
the quickest ears, and she invariably reports. She's not a nice girl,
Ann isn't. She hasn't the smallest taste for relics. My dear, there's an
education in this room, but no one, no one who comes to the house, cares
to receive it."

While the little man was talking, he was rushing across the wide hall,
and down a long passage, Flower's hand clasped in his. Finally he pushed
open a baize-lined door, hastily admitted himself and Flower, and closed
it behind them. The sanctum sanctorum was small, stuffy, dusty, dirty.
There were several chairs, but they were all piled with relics, two or
three tables were also crammed with tokens of the past. Flower was very
weary, the dust and dirt made her sneeze, and she looked longingly for
even the smallest corner of a chair on which to seat herself.

"I do want some breakfast so badly," she began.

"Breakfast! My love, you shall have it presently. Now then, we'll begin.
This case that I have just unpacked contains teeth and a small portion
of a jawbone. Ah! hark! what is that? She is coming already! Will that
woman never leave me in peace? My love, the object of my life, the one
object of my whole life, has been to benefit and educate the young. I
thought at last I had found a pupil, but, ah, I fear she is very angry!"

The sound of a sharp voice was heard echoing down the stairs and along
the passage, a sharp, high-pitched voice, accompanied by the sharper,
shriller barking of a small dog.

"Zeb! I say, Zeb! Zebedee, if you have taken that young girl into your
sanctum, I desire you to send her out this moment."

The little man's face grew pale; he pushed his spectacles still higher
on his forehead.

"There, my love, do you hear her? I did my best for you. I was beginning
your education."

"Zeb! Zeb! Open the door this minute," was shouted outside.

"You'll remember, my love, to your dying day, that I showed you three
teeth and the bit of jawbone of a Chinaman who died a thousand years
ago."

"Zeb!" thundered the voice.

"Yap! yap! yap!" barked the small dog.

"You must go, my dear. She's a powerful woman. She always has her way.
There, let me push you out. I wouldn't have her catch sight of me at
this moment for fifty pounds."

The green baize door was opened a tiny bit, a violent shove was
administered to Flower's back, and she found herself in the arms of Mrs.
Cameron, and in extreme danger of having her nose bitten off by the
infuriated Scorpion.

"Just like Zebedee!" exclaimed the good lady. "Always struggling to
impart the dry bones of obsolete learning to the young! Come this way,
Miss - Miss - what's your name?"

"Dalrymple - Flower Dalrymple."

"An outlandish title, worthy of Sleepy Hollow. I have not an idea who
you are, but come into the dining-room."

"Might I - - might I have a little breakfast?"

"Bless me, the child looks as if she were going to faint! Ann, Ann, I
say! Down, Scorpion! You shall have no cream if you bark any more. Ann,
bring half a glass of port wine over here, and make some breakfast for
Miss - Miss Rymple as fast as you can."

"_Dal_rymple, please!"

"Don't worry me, child. I can't get my tongue round long names. Now,
what is it you are called? Daisy? What in the world have you come to me
for, Daisy?"

"I'm Flower - - "

"Well, and isn't Daisy a flower? Now then, Daisy Rymple, tell your story


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