The Daisy Chain or Aspirations HTML version

Chapter I.1
Si douce est la Marguerite.--CHAUCER.
"Miss Winter, are you busy? Do you want this afternoon? Can you take a good
long walk?"
"Ethel, my dear, how often have I told you of your impetuosity--you have
"Very well"--with an impatient twist--"I beg your pardon. Good- morning, Miss
Winter," said a thin, lank, angular, sallow girl, just fifteen, trembling from
head to foot with restrained eagerness, as she tried to curb her tone into the
requisite civility.
"Good-morning, Ethel, good-morning, Flora," said the prim, middle- aged
daily governess, taking off her bonnet, and arranging the stiff little rolls of
curl at the long, narrow looking-glass, the border of which distorted the
"Good-morning," properly responded Flora, a pretty, fair girl, nearly two years
older than her sister.
"Will you--" began to burst from Etheldred's lips again, but was stifled by Miss
Winter's inquiry, "Is your mamma pretty well to-day?"
"Oh! very well," said both at once; "she is coming to the reading." And Flora
added, "Papa is going to drive her out to-day."
"I am very glad. And the baby?"
"I do believe she does it on purpose!" whispered Ethel to herself, wriggling
fearfully on the wide window-seat on which she had precipitated herself, and
kicking at the bar of the table, by which manifestation she of course
succeeded in deferring her hopes, by a reproof which caused her to draw
herself into a rigid, melancholy attitude, a sort of penance of decorum, but a
rapid motion of the eyelids, a tendency to crack the joints of the fingers, and
an unquietness at the ends of her shoes, betraying the restlessness of the
digits therein contained.
It was such a room as is often to be found in old country town houses, the
two large windows looking out on a broad old-fashioned street, through
heavy framework, and panes of glass scratched with various names and
initials. The walls were painted blue, the skirting almost a third of the height,
and so wide at the top as to form a narrow shelf. The fireplace, constructed in
the days when fires were made to give as little heat as possible, was