“My dear, you are very kind,” said Mrs. Mortlock, and the other ladies also said the Mainwarings were kind, and they sent their dutiful respects to Mrs. Ellsworthy and were pleased to accept. Accordingly, Primrose gave them full directions with regard to the right address, and the hour at which they were to be present; and finally the girls left Mrs. Flint and her three lady boarders in a state of considerable excitement and so deeply interested in what was about to occur that they forgot to grumble at each other.
A PALACE BEAUTIFUL.
Hannah Martin had come up with her young ladies to London, and she also was invited by Mrs. Ellsworthy to come to her house. The girls all thought Hannah very much altered; they could not understand her queer illusions, or her mysterious little nods, or in particular the way she used to stare at Jasmine, and say under her breath, “Yes, yes, as like as two peas. What a blind old woman I was not to see it when I clapped eyes on him.”
“I cannot make out what Hannah is always muttering,” Jasmine said to her sisters. “Who is it I am so remarkably like. To judge from the way Hannah frowns and shakes her head, and then smiles, the fact of this accidental likeness seems to have a very disturbing effect upon her.”
“I know whom you are like, Jasmine,” said little Daisy. “I’ve seen it for a long time. You are the very image of my dear Prince. You have got just the same colored eyes, and just the same curly hair, and both your foreheads are broad and white. It’s perfectly natural,” continued Daisy, “for you are both geniuses, and all geniuses must have a look of each other.”
Hannah had old-fashioned ideas on many subjects. One of these was that people could not remain too long in mourning. She liked very deep black, and wished those who had lost relations to wear it for a long, long time. The girls, therefore, were quite amazed when she suggested that they should all go to Mrs. Ellsworthy in white. They began to consider her quite an altered Hannah; but Jasmine took her advice, and bought many yards of soft flowing muslin, which the old servant helped her dear young ladies to make up.
At last the day and hour arrived when, as Primrose said sorrowfully, “Our fate is to be sealed and we are to bid ‘Good-bye’ to dear independence.”
The girls, looking as sweet as girls could look, arrived at Mrs. Ellsworthy’s at a fairly early hour in the afternoon. The good little lady received them with marked tenderness, but said, in an almost confused manner, and by no means with her usual self-possession that a slight change had been found necessary in the afternoon’s programme, and that the meeting of friends and acquaintances to hear their future plans was not to take place at her house after all.
“We are to go to another house not far from this,” she said, “indeed, only a stone’s throw away. It is so close that we will walk it. Come, Daisy, I see a number of questions in your eyes, but they shall all be answered presently. Take my hand now, and let us lead the way. The other house is very pretty, but it is smaller than mine.”