“What have you tried to pawn, Jasmine?” asked Miss Egerton, when she could find her voice. “Surely not that lovely, valuable Spanish lace. My dear child, come back with me into the shop this moment.”
“But I must keep my ten shillings,” exclaimed Jasmine “Oh! Miss Egerton, don’t, don’t! You don’t know what has happened to me!”
Miss Egerton took Jasmine’s little hand in hers.
“My poor child, you shall tell me all. Jasmine, dear, that lace is worth pounds. I shall redeem it at once, for my sake, if not for yours. There, poor little girl, keep your ten shillings, if it makes you happy.”
The man who had lent Jasmine half a sovereign on the Spanish lace of course knew little or nothing of its true value, and the good lady had therefore small difficulty in getting it back. She walked home holding Jasmine’s hot little hand, took her into her own pretty drawing-room, feasted her on many good things, which she had brought from the country, and finally made her tell her all her sorrowful little story.
“You always said that my writing was not up to much,” said Jasmine, in conclusion. “I did not like you to say it, and I was most anxious to prove you wrong, but now I know that you are right.”
Miss Egerton looked quietly at the excited child.
“My dear,” she said, in her gentle tones, “I do not know—no one knows—whether in the future you will be able to write. Our writers ought to be our teachers. Do you think you are fit to teach, Jasmine?”
“I do not know,” said Jasmine, hanging her head.
Miss Egerton got up, and laid her hand tenderly on the pretty little curly head.
“This day has taught you a grand though painful lesson, dearest. You will be better able to write in the future for and because of the suffering you have gone through to-day. Now, Jasmine, I will say no more—you must go straight to bed and to sleep. In the morning you can take your ten shillings to Poppy. Yes, dear, of course it is yours, and for the present the Spanish lace is mine.”
Jasmine, notwithstanding all her troubles, slept soundly that night, but Miss Egerton lay awake.
“The time has come,” she said to herself, “when energetic measures must be taken. The girls—dear, brave, sweet girls—have undoubtedly to a certain extent failed. Poor little Jasmine! she might have had a worse experience than the loss of that silly manuscript. But what terrible dangers sweet little Daisy ran! Yes, I shall go and have a talk with Mrs. Ellsworthy to-morrow—I know she is in town.”
Accordingly, when Jasmine went off to see Poppy holding her half-sovereign firmly inside her glove, and dimly wondering if she would have any money of her own left to buy some dinner with presently, Miss Egerton stepped into an omnibus which presently put her down in the vicinity of Park Lane. She was fortunate in finding Mrs. Ellsworthy at home, and also disengaged.