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Mariposilla by Mary Stewart Daggett


A Novel


[Illustration: Decoration]


Copyright, 1895, by Rand, McNally & Co.



When I abandoned the home of my girlhood, and took my delicate child to California, I started upon the journey goaded only by apathetic hopes, sustained only by the desperation of despair.

Marjorie was my all, and I could no longer endure the tension of her gradual decline. As I watched her fade away, I realized that my closest friends were becoming reconciled to my bereavement, with the philosophical fortitude of spectators. When I was coolly advised "not to sacrifice pecuniary interests for the sentiment of a hopeless experiment," an outraged love grew strong and defiant. The calculating counsel, so cruel and unexpected, strengthened, at last, the timid resolution. Even the silent walls of my house oppressed, while an absolute hatred of the machinery of life seized my tired soul. I determined to be free at any price. Fresh courage entered my life, and impelled me to remove, without a pang, most cherished household gods. My relief was immoderate when everything was gone. Then I experienced for the first time in years the sweet exhilaration that welcomes, breathlessly, a change. In my dreams I had apparitions of purple mountains, and long quiet days purified with sunshine. Suddenly, into my sad life there came new hope, kindled, it seemed, from the very ashes of an abortive past.

Before I realized the initial steps of my undertaking, anticipated perplexities had been absorbed by the novel conditions of our journey. Four days away from the old home and New York found me happier than for months, when I saw for the first time a flush upon the pallid cheeks of my child, the faintest reflection of the coveted boon I sought.

A fresh excitement made me strong for each new duty. The present at last held all that I craved. When I watched my child among her pillows, so much better that she prattled of great plans to be carried out on the far away Coast, I loved even then the land. To see the little one sleep, and watch for her awakening among the great quiet mountains, was to my heart an ecstasy. "Dear Mamma," she cried, clasping her thin hands as the train clambered close to the silent monarchs of the West, "I want to touch they!"

"Yes, sweetheart," I said; "When Marjorie is strong and well, she shall not only touch the dear mountains, but she shall crawl into their very arms! Mamma will take her into the beautiful canons, where little streams always sing to the tall ferns; we shall have a picnic, and perhaps the fairies will come! When my little girl sees the Fairy Queen she can ask for a boon, like Mabel in the song. Perhaps the Queen will say: 'So this is little Marjorie, who came all the way from New York to see us? Marjorie is a good child, and was very patient during her long journey. She took her bitter medicine bravely, and now she must be rewarded. What shall be done for her, my Fairies?'

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