“It is often very hard to do right, Jasmine,” said Miss Egerton, “and I can quite believe that Primrose will find it difficult to accede to our plan. At the same time I feel convinced that although she will have a great struggle, in the end she will yield to it. This is like the ‘Hill Difficulty’ to Primrose, but she is not the sort of girl to turn away from it without conquering its steepness and its toils. Jasmine, dear, you three have tried bravely to help yourselves, and you have—yes, I must say it, dear—you have failed. Primrose cannot spend her life as continual reader to Mrs. Mortlock; you see now, my dear little girl, that you are much too young to earn anything by your pen, and little Daisy—ah! Jasmine, how thankful we ought to be that we have our little Daisy still with us—but Daisy must never again have her peace of mind so seriously imperilled. Jasmine, you three girls want two things—you want education, and you want protection. You want to be thoroughly educated, first of all, in those general matters which all cultivated women ought to know about; and secondly, in the special matter which each of you has a taste for. That special taste or talent ought to be developed to the very uttermost, so that bye-and-bye each of you girls can take up a profession and earn her living usefully to others, and with ease and comfort to herself. If Primrose feels that she can after a time paint very exquisitely and very beautifully on porcelain, she ought to be apprenticed to one of the best houses, and there properly learn her trade; and you, Jasmine, whether you eventually earn your bread by writing beautiful stories, or lovely poems, or whether the artist within you develops into a love for making painted pictures instead of word pictures, you must for many years to come be taught to think and have your little mind and vivid imagination fed on the wise and great thoughts of others. Daisy’s future we none of us can talk about, but I have no doubt she also has her special gift.
“Now, Jasmine, what a long, long lecture I am giving you, only the sum and substance of it all is, dear, that I want to protect you, and Mrs. Ellsworthy is willing and anxious to advance a sufficient sum of money to have you all properly educated. When you go to bed to-night I am going to write very fully to Primrose on the subject.”
“I wonder if she will refuse,” said Jasmine, speaking in a very thoughtful tone; “she is very, very determined. You think she will regard it as a ‘Hill Difficulty’ which she ought to climb. I think she will regard it as a fearful, dreadful temptation which she ought to put away.”
Miss Egerton smiled, for Jasmine’s sunny little face looked so grave and anxious, and there was such a disturbed frown between her brows.
“At any rate, dear,” continued the governess, “you will not oppose my scheme. You will see, dear, that the greatest strength sometimes shows itself in yielding. Jasmine, dear, are you not quite tired of having your own way?”