“I am, yours affectionately,
There was much in this letter to pain Primrose, and a year before she might have torn it up and determined in no way to be guided by it; but a year had brought her some very strange and some very sad experiences. She was troubled and shocked to think that Jasmine should have taken poor Poppy’s hard earnings. She was deeply distressed at owing herself so much to Miss Egerton, and now also so large a debt to Arthur Noel. She had worked hard, and had done wonderfully well considering, but nevertheless at the present moment, owing to adverse circumstances, she was plunged in debt in many directions, and saw little hope of repaying what she owed. Life seemed very difficult to Primrose just then, and hot tears rose to her eyes.
Should she go still farther in debt, and give up the great struggle to be independent? Oh, no, she could not—she could not. Her pride rose up in rebellion; her passionate longing to be free and her own mistress, to be beholden to no one for the necessaries of life, was too strong to be easily crushed. Better the dullest life, better be a “continual reader” all her days than take the money of strangers. This was her feeling, and it grew so strong moment by moment, that she might have sat down to answer Miss Egerton’s letter there and then but for a rather innocent little remark made by Daisy.
“Dear Primrose, I forgot it in all the other great trouble, but I do want to send fifteen shillings as soon as possible to dear good Poppy. She lent me fifteen shillings to buy a single third to come to Rosebury, and I forgot all about it. Please, Primrose, try and spare me fifteen shillings to send to Poppy.”
“So you too are in debt, Daisy,” said Primrose. “Oh, dear, what shall I do? Daisy, dear, forgive me, I ought not to mind anything now you are growing better, but my heart is heavy, and I feel almost crushed. Yes, Daisy, dear Poppy must have her money. I won’t write to Miss Egerton until to-morrow.”
Here Primrose wiped some tears from her sweet brown eyes, but she took good care not to allow Daisy to see that she was crying.
“I LOVE MRS. ELLSWORTHY.”
The next afternoon, to the surprise of both Primrose and Daisy, Noel arrived. Daisy greeted her Prince with rapture, but refused to hear any particulars of Dove’s trial.
“I want to forget him,” she said. “You say he is in the dungeon now. I don’t want to think of it. If I think of it long I shall begin to be so sorry for him.”
“We will talk of something better and pleasanter,” said Noel. “How soon are you coming back to your Palace Beautiful, little Princess?”
Daisy looked anxiously across the room at Primrose. Primrose was bending over some needlework, and a ray of sunlight was shining on her fair head. She did not raise her eyes or respond in any way to the little sister’s glance.