The Palace Beautiful eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 369 pages of information about The Palace Beautiful.

While Mrs. Dredge was speaking Mrs. Mortlock ceased to hold Miss Slowcum’s very thin hand.  Miss Slowcum’s face looked decidedly jealous, for she would have dearly liked to have been herself in Mrs. Dredge’s interesting and sympathizing position.  Mrs. Mortlock raised her almost sightless eyes to the fat little woman’s face, and remarked in a slightly acid voice—­

“I’m obliged to you, Mrs. Dredge, for thinking that in the moment of trial the sight of me and a sympathizing squeeze from my hand would have done my continual reader any harm.  It’s very good-natured of you to go with the orphan girls, Mrs. Dredge, and I’m glad to think you’ve just had the support of your chop to sustain you under the fatigue.  Please remember, Mrs. Dredge, that we lock up the house in this home at ten o’clock, and no latch-keys allowed.  Isn’t that so, Mrs. Flint?”

“Under ordinary circumstances, quite so, ma’am,” answered Mrs. Flint, who would not have minded snubbing Miss Slowcum, but was anxious to propitiate both the rich widows; “under ordinary circumstances that is so, but in a dire moment like the present I think the ten minutes’ grace might be allowed to Mrs. Dredge’s kind heart.”

“Here’s the four-wheeler!” exclaimed Mrs. Dredge.

“Good-bye, ladies.  If I’m not in at ten minutes past ten don’t look for me until the morning.”

When Mrs. Dredge, Primrose, Jasmine, and Poppy got back to the girls’ pretty sitting-room the good-natured little widow proved herself a very practical friend.  First of all, she listened carefully to Poppy’s account of all that had transpired that day.  She then got Primrose to tell her as much as possible about Daisy.  All the child’s distress and nervousness and unaccountable unhappiness were related, and the sage little woman shook her head several times over the narrative, and said at last, in a very common-sense voice—­

“It’s as clear as a pikestaff to Jemima Dredge that that sweet little child has been tampered with.  Somebody has been frightening the bit of a thing, Miss Primrose, and it’s for you to find out who that somebody is.  As to where she’s gone?  Why, she has gone back to where she was born, of course, and you and me will follow her by the first train in the morning, my dear.”

“She was taking care of a cheque of mine for seventeen pounds ten shillings,” exclaimed Primrose, “and in her little note she speaks of the money being lost.  I think nothing of the loss of the money beside Daisy, but, Mrs. Dredge, Jasmine and I cannot afford even a third-class ticket to Rosebury just at present.”

“Tut, tut, my dear,” said Mrs. Dredge, “what’s the good of a full purse except to share it?  My poor husband Joshua was his name—­we was two J’s, dear—­he always said, ’Jemima, thank God the chandlery is prospering.  A full purse means light hearts, Jemima.  We can shed blessings with our means, Jemima.’  Those was Joshua’s words, Miss Mainwaring, and I hear him now telling them to me from his grave.  You and me will go down to Rosebury in the morning, dear, and Miss Jasmine will stay at home with Sarah Mary for company, for there’s no sense in waste, and one of you is quite enough to come.”

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The Palace Beautiful from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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