The child sat still, quiet and demure in white lace. Laughing, chattering grown-ups moved all around her, like a flock of brilliant birds on the green grass. They had forgotten her, as always - her mother and her empty-headed friends. They were not kind, or happy like her father. Her father thought she was the most important person in the world.
The child smiled. She loved her father - the way he laughed, the songs he sang, the games he played, the tales he told her...The child looked up at the windows of her father's room and was still again.
She never saw her father any more - not since the doctors and nurses had started coming to the house. Now she only had her voices, the voices that called to her whenever she was alone - as she was now...
'Elsie! Hey Elsie!' called the voices. 'Come on - hurry up! We're off to raid the Honeybee's larder - sweet, golden, honey - smelling of lavender...come on Elsie...come on...'
The child looked around - nobody was watching her. She slipped through the rhododendrons, and ran as fast as she could down the garden and into the trees.
It was peaceful here, among the trees. A squirrel chattered briefly and was quiet. The child felt safe - the trees loved her, always had. She found her special friend and put her arms around its ancient trunk, as far as they would go. For a long long moment, there was nothing and nobody in the world but the child and the old, twisted oak.
'Elsie! Hey Elsie...aren't you coming? Come on...down to the river...the dragonflies are calling...Elsie...come on...'
The child ran on through the trees, over the stile, down to the water's edge. The sun made golden patterns on the brown surface of the water. The child watched the river - a leaf twirled on its surface and floated gently out of sight. She was on that leaf, was that leaf...
'Elsie! Hey Elsie...it's time, don't you know? He's here Elsie...come on...he's waiting for you...Elsie...down in the meadow...where the buttercups dance...come on Elsie, it's time...'
And that's where the servants found her, when they went to tell her of her father's passing, among the buttercups, down in the meadow. The old women said the child had known, had left with her father, left her mother's garden parties forever...where nobody missed her, nobody cared.