The two who talked so earnestly were women—women with kind and large hearts, and their theme was engrossing.
Mrs. Ellsworthy bound herself by no promises, but she contrived to send the governess away with a heart full of hope.
Mrs. Ellsworthy had never yet called on any of the people who lived in the straggling village of Rosebury. Therefore, when her carriage, with its prancing horses and perfect appointments, drew up at the Mainwarings’ door, the old-fashioned little place felt quite a flutter through its heart.
Poppy Jenkins, the laundress’s pretty daughter, came out into the street, and stared with all her eyes. The doctor’s wife, who lived at the opposite side of the street, gazed furtively and enviously from behind her muslin blinds. The baker and the butcher neglected their usual morning orders; and Hannah, the Mainwarings’ servant, felt herself, as she expressed it, all of a tremble from top to toe.
“Let me brush your hair, Miss Primrose,” she said, when she had at last succeeded in inducing her young lady to dry her tears; “and are your hands nice and clean, Miss Primrose? and your collar, is it neat? It’s very condescending of Mrs. Ellsworthy to call.”
“I wonder what she has come about,” said Primrose; “she never knew my mother.”
Primrose felt at that moment the great lady’s visit to be an intrusion.
“I’ll just run into the garden and stop Miss Jasmine and Miss Daisy rushing into the drawing-room all in a mess,” said Hannah. “Oh! sakes alive! why, the young ladies will be seen anyhow from the French window.”
Hannah hurried off, wondering if she could smuggle these troublesome members of her flock out of sight through the kitchen.
Alas! she was too late—when Primrose, slim and graceful, and with her pretty eyes only slightly reddened by her crying fit, entered the drawing-room, she saw the French doors open, and her guest pacing tranquilly round the garden, hold the Pink in her arms, while Daisy danced in front of her, and Jasmine, chattering volubly, walked by her side.
“I’m so glad you like those carnations,” Jasmine was saying. “Mamma was very fond of them. Shall I set some slips for you? I will with pleasure.”
“If Pink ever has a kitten you shall have it,” said Daisy solemnly.
At this moment Primrose joined her sisters.
“Oh, Primrose—something so delightful!” began Jasmine.
“She thinks the Pink a perfect beauty. She wants another pussy just like it,” burst from Daisy’s pretty dimpled lips.
Mrs. Ellsworthy, still keeping the Pink in her arms, held out her other hand to Primrose.
“I have introduced myself to your sisters, dear Miss Mainwaring. I am Mrs. Ellsworthy, of Shortlands—a near neighbor. You must not consider my visit an intrusion.”
Before Primrose could reply Jasmine exclaimed volubly—
“Indeed we don’t—we are quite delighted; we were feeling ourselves awfully dull. Miss Martineau said every one would call now she had been. We did not want to see every one, but you are different.”