Jasmine was beset by several worries and anxieties; she was also extremely lonely, for Miss Egerton, owing to the dangerous illness of a near relation, was still absent from home, and Poppy, driven by the dire necessity of earning bread to eat, had been obliged to return, as little maid-of-all-work, to Penelope Mansion.
Jasmine was alone, but she was a brave child, and her strong longing now was to help Primrose, and above all things not to ask for any money from her.
For the first few days after Primrose had gone to the country the poor little girl’s resources were very meagre indeed. She had thought that first sovereign she had earned simply inexhaustible, but it was surprising how it melted in her inexperienced grasp, and how very, very little it seemed capable of purchasing.
In her first delight at finding herself capable of earning money she had written an extravagantly hopeful letter to Primrose.
“You need not think at all of me, dear Primrose,” she wrote; “keep all the money you can collect to buy nice nourishing things for dear little Daisy. Perhaps I shall become quite famous as an arranger of flowers on great London dinner-tables. If I do get orders, and I think I am sure of them, I shall not only be able to pay my own London expenses, but will save something towards our emergency fund. Oh, Primrose, my heart burns with longings to earn lots of money, and to be great and strong and famous!”
This poor little enthusiastic letter reached Primrose when Daisy was at her worst, and it so happened that it lightened her cares about the little sister alone in London. She felt quite sure that Jasmine was getting plenty of orders, and was earning sufficient money for her own modest wants in the pretty way she spoke of; and in consequence she did not send her any of the money which Daisy had returned to her.
But poor little Jasmine was not receiving orders so fast as Primrose anticipated. One or two other ladies did ask her to dress their dinner-tables for them, and one or two more promised to do so, and then forgot all about it; but no one paid her as well as Mrs. Daintree had done. Noel was out of town, and was unable to interest himself in her behalf, and so it came to pass that the slender purse could not supply the modest needs, and Jasmine was much too proud, and too determined to help herself, to write to Primrose for money.
These were hard days for the little girl—days which were to prove the stuff she was made of to the very uttermost—but doubtless they gave her, as all anxious days of pain bravely borne do, a valuable experience and a depth of character which she could not otherwise have acquired.
The lesson she was to learn, however, was a painful one, and its sharpness was to be felt very quickly.
Jasmine’s hope of hopes lay in her beloved manuscript. That story, the first-fruits of her young genius, must surely make her purse bulky, and must wreathe her little brow with laurels. That story, too, was to refund poor Poppy the money she had lent, and was to enable Jasmine to live in comfort during her sister’s absence.