“We did think of coming back to Miss Egerton’s in the autumn,” said Daisy, “but last night Primrose—May I tell, Primrose?”
Primrose put down her work suddenly and came up to where Noel and Daisy were sitting.
“It is just this,” she said; “Daisy did not know she had such a proud and obstinate sister. We had made our plans for the autumn—at least we simply intended to struggle on, and hope and watch for brighter days—but yesterday I had a letter from Miss Egerton, and some of its contents troubled me a good deal. Daisy saw that I was unhappy, and I told her what Miss Egerton wanted. I thought the dear little one would object, but she only said, ’Oh, let us be brave, Primrose; our Palace Beautiful will be all the brighter if we really earn it.’ Then she added, ’I am beginning to wish to earn a little money myself, for I want to give a very kind person back what he gave me.’”
Noel gave Daisy’s thin little hand a squeeze. Primrose looked at the two, and stopped speaking. After a moment’s pause she said suddenly—
“I don’t like the plan; I never can like it. Mrs. Ellsworthy is all that is kind, but she is no relation of ours. She lived in the same place with us for years, and she never even called on our mother. Oh, I don’t blame her; she naturally thought that people who lived in an humble little cottage at Rosebury were not ladies, but you see we are ladies, and we cannot help feeling sore. I may agree to the plan—I may be forced to agree to it for Jasmine’s and Daisy’s sakes—but I can never, never like it.”
Here Primrose went out of the room.
“She was crying for a long time last night,” whispered Daisy; “it hurts her dreadfully to take Mrs. Ellsworthy’s money. I don’t suppose I mind it so much, because I was coming to Mrs. Ellsworthy to ask her for some money. I did not find her, and I was miserable until you found me and helped me, Prince. Then I love Mrs. Ellsworthy, and so does Jasmine.”
“That is it, Eyebright,” answered Noel; “we do not mind receiving kindnesses and favors from those we love. Yes, I am very sorry for Primrose; I wish matters could be differently arranged for her.”
While Noel was speaking Hannah came into the room with a cup of beef-tea for the little invalid.
“You have done her a sight of good already, sir,” she said, peering with her short-sighted eyes into the young man’s face. “I don’t know what we’d have done for her if you hadn’t come that day, and talked to her, and got her to tell you what that most villainous person in London was after.”
“Oh, don’t, Hannah,” said Daisy, “he’s in a dungeon now—poor, poor Mr. Dove; I must not think about him if I mean to get well.”
Here Daisy shivered, and added under her breath, with her little pale face working—
“I did promise it very faithfully that I would never tell about the sweetmeats.”
“He was a bad man, Daisy, and he richly deserves his punishment,” said Noel, in an almost stern voice, for he wished to check any unhealthy sentimentality on the part of the delicate child. “You must think of what you and your sisters have suffered, and be glad he has been prevented doing any more mischief.”