It is to be feared that Poppy stole away from her work that morning. Poor Poppy was getting into a sadly defiant mood. She was getting thoroughly tired of her aunt, Mrs. Flint, and when Jasmine appeared and said a few coaxing words the naughty girl left her work undone, disregarded the many cries for Sarah Ann and Sarah Maria, and putting on her brilliant hat and her smart jacket, sallied forth citywards with Jasmine and Daisy. In due time the three reached the office of The Joy-bell and were admitted into the presence of the editor.
“You musn’t let me accept too low terms, Poppy,” said Jasmine, as they were going in at the door.
Poppy nodded very brightly in reply, and Jasmine took the seat the editor offered her with a certain little air of modest elation.
“I got your note,” she began, “and I thought you’d like to see me immediately, so I came. This is my sister; she knows all about it; she’s in the story herself. I’ve drawn all my characters from the life; and my friend, Poppy Jenkins—you saw her a fortnight ago—she’s in the book too.”
The editor—Mr. Potter was his name—had a habit of waving his hand when anything that he considered superfluous was being said; he now waved both Daisy and Poppy into the background, and addressed himself to Jasmine in a style which, as she said afterwards, riveted her attention on the spot.
“I wrote to you, Miss Mainwaring,” he said, “because I saw germs of promise in your composition—it is young, of course, for you are very young, but it is fresh, and with due correctness, which I myself am willing to supply, I do not see why ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ should not appear in our journal. We publish, however, only under certain conditions, and before I make any offer for your writings I should like to know whether you are able to fulfil them.”
“That sounds in the nature of a bargain,” here burst from Poppy’s lips. “Now, Miss Jasmine, please will you listen very sharp, and see what the gentleman is after? Bargains seem to me to be all in favor of them that makes them. Aunt Flint made a bargain with me, and, oh my! I thought it good enough to leave the country and come up to a town whose name is wanity. Nothing have I got, Miss Jasmine, from my share of the bargain but a swimming head and the name of Sarah!”
“If this young person will cease to interrupt us,” proceeded the editor, in his blandest tones.
“Oh, yes; Poppy, please stop talking,” said Jasmine. “I beg your pardon, sir; I only wanted Poppy to help me when we came to terms. We have not come to the money part yet, dear Poppy. Yes, sir, I am most anxious to listen to you.”