The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations
Now have I then eke this condicion
That above all the flouris in the mede;
Then love I most these flouris white and rede,
Soche that men callin daisies in our town.
To them have I so great affection,
As I said erst, when comin is the Maie,
That in my bed there dawith me no daie
That I am up and walking in the mede,
To see this floure agenst the sunne sprede.--CHAUCER.
"That is better!" said Margaret, contemplating a butterfly of the penwiper
class, whose constitution her dexterous needle had been rendering less
rickety than Blanche had left it.
Margaret still lay on the sofa, and her complexion had assumed the dead
white of habitual ill-health. There was more languor of manner, and her
countenance, when at rest, and not under the eye of her father, had a
sadness of expression, as if any hopes that she might once have entertained
were fading away. The years of Alan Ernescliffe's absence that had elapsed
had rather taken from her powers than added to them. Nevertheless, the
habit of cheerfulness and sympathy had not deserted her, and it was with a
somewhat amused glance that she turned towards Ethel, as she heard her
answer by a sigh.
These years had dealt more kindly with Etheldred's outward appearance.
They had rounded her angles, softened her features, and tinged her cheeks
with a touch of red, that took off from the surrounding sallowness. She held
herself better, had learned to keep her hair in order, and the more womanly
dress, plain though it was, improved her figure more than could have been
hoped in the days of her lank, gawky girlhood. No one could call her pretty,
but her countenance had something more than ever pleasing in the animated
and thoughtful expression on those marked features. She was sitting near the
window, with a book, a dictionary, and pencil, as she replied to Margaret,
with the sigh that made her sister smile.
"Poor Ethel! I condole with you."
"And I wonder at you!" said Ethel, "especially as Flora and Mrs. Hoxton say it
is all for your sake;" then, nettled by Margaret's laugh, "Such a nice
occupation for her, poor thing, as if you were Mrs. Hoxton, and had no
resource but fancy-work."