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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 40. A Bitter Disappointment
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 40. A Bitter Disappointment Post by :Bonuses Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :2210

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 40. A Bitter Disappointment


There are little girls of ten years old who in the present day are possessed of a large amount of self-possession. Some of these little maids are, in their own way, quite womanly--they can ask their way without faltering, and they can even walk about alone in a great world like London without losing themselves.

But to this class of self-possessed little girls Daisy Mainwaring did not belong. She had a charming, babyish little face, and was something of the baby still in the confiding and wistful way in which she leaned on others for support. Daisy was, perhaps, in all particulars younger than her years. When at last, after inconceivable difficulties--after being jostled about by an indifferent crowd, and pushed rudely against by more than one stupid, blundering porter--she did find her way to the right ticket-office, and did secure her single third to Rosebury, and then get a very small allowance of room in a crowded third-class carriage her heart was beating so loudly that she almost wondered it did not burst. The great train, however, moved out of the terminus, and Daisy felt herself whirling away through the night, and then she became conscious of a little sensation of thankfulness. Surely the worst of her journey was over now; surely she and the Pink would be received very kindly and very lovingly by Mrs. Ellsworthy; surely Mrs. Ellsworthy would listen with full credence to the little tale Daisy would make up about an ogre having stolen away her money, and would hasten to fill the poor empty little purse from her own abundant stores. Daisy thought such happy and hopeful thoughts as she was commencing her weary journey, and then she clasped the basket which contained the Pink tightly in her little arms, and presently, from sheer weariness, dropped asleep. When the little head bobbed forward two or three times a good-natured neighbor put her arm round the child, and after a little even took her into her arms, where Daisy, after many hours of deep slumber, awoke. The night train to Rosebury went very slowly, stopping at every little wayside station, and sometimes seeming to the exasperated passengers scarcely to move at all; but all these weary hours Daisy slumbered peacefully, and when she awoke the sun was shining brightly, and a new day had begun.

"Well, my dear, you have had a hearty sleep," said the good-natured woman; "and where are you bound, if I may make so bold as to ask, little miss?"

"I am going to Rosebury," said Daisy. "Oh! how kind of you to let me sleep in your arms. I've had quite a nice nap, and I'm not so very tired. Thank you very much for being so very good to me. Are we near Rosebury now, please?"

"In half an hour you'll get there, dear. Now I must say good-bye, for this is my station. Good-bye, missy, and a safe journey to you."

"I'm so sorry you are going away," said Daisy, and she raised her little lips to kiss her friend.

"God bless you, love," said the nice, pleasant-faced woman, and then she got out of the carriage, nodding her head to Daisy as she walked away.

The loneliness which had more or less been soothed or kept in abeyance by this good woman's company now returned very strongly, and Daisy had to feel a certain empty little purse which she held in her pocket to keep up her resolution. She did not seem so certain about Mrs. Ellsworthy being nice and kind as she was the night before. The third-class carriage in which she had travelled was now nearly empty, and when she at last arrived at Rosebury she was the only passenger to alight. She gave up her ticket and walked out of the station, a forlorn and unnoticed little personage. It was still very early in the morning, not quite six o'clock, and there were very few people about, and the whole place had a strange, deserted, and unhomelike feeling. Could this be the Rosebury where Daisy was born, where she had been so petted and loved? She did not like its aspect in the cold grey morning light. There was a little drizzling mist falling, and it chilled her and made her shiver.

"I know I've been very, very selfish," she kept murmuring to herself. "I oughtn't to have minded the dungeon. I ought not to have been so terrified at the ogre. I'm afraid God is angry with me for being so dreadfully selfish, and for letting the ogre take Primrose's money. I always did think the sun shone at Rosebury, but perhaps even the sun won't get up because he is angry with me."

Daisy knew her way down the familiar and straggling village street, but there were one or two different roads to Shortlands, and she became puzzled which to take, and what with the drizzling rain, and her own great fatigue of body, soon really lost her way.

An early laborer going to work was the first person she met. She asked him eagerly if she was on the right road; but he answered her so gruffly that she instantly thought he must be a relation of Mr. Dove's and ran, crying and trembling, away from him. The next person she came across was a little boy of about her own age, and he was kind, and took her hand, and put her once more in the right direction, so that, foot-sore and weary, the poor little traveller did reach the lodge-gates of Shortlands about nine o'clock.

But here the bitterest of her disappointments awaited her, for the woman who attended to the gates said, in a cold and unsympathizing voice, that the family were now in London, and there was no use whatever in little miss troubling herself to go up to the house. No use at all, the woman repeated, for she could not tell when the family would return, probably not for several weeks. Daisy did not ask any more questions, but turned away from the inhospitable gates with a queer sinking in her heart, and a great dizziness before her eyes. She had come all this weary, weary way for nothing. She had taken dear Poppy's last money for nothing. Oh, now there was no doubt at all that God was very angry with her, and that she had been both wicked and selfish. She had still twopence in her pocket--for the good-natured omnibus conductor had paid her fare himself. She would go to the nearest cottage and ask for some milk for the Pink, and then she wondered--poor, little, lonely, unhappy child--how long it would take her to die.

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