The other house was quite close to Mrs. Ellsworthy’s luxurious mansion. It was built more in the cottage shape, was much smaller, and had a charming little garden and grounds round it. The hall door opened into a porch, which was covered with roses, so that though the house was really in London, the effect was quite that of the country. Standing in the porch, and looking extremely pretty in its flickering light and shade, stood Poppy Jenkins, in the neatest of handmaiden’s attire, and as the girls all came into the shade of the cool porch, Noel himself, looking somewhat pale, and with a curious agitation in his manner, came out to meet them.
“This is my house,” he said, “and Poppy is engaged as one of the servants. I thought we might all meet here to discuss the new plans. Poppy, will you take the young ladies to their room? I’ve had a room prepared,” he continued, blushing slightly, “for I thought Daisy might like to rest a little.”
Poppy instantly tripped forward, and in quite a demure manner took the girls up some broad stairs, and into a long, rather low-ceilinged room on the first floor. There were three little white beds in the room, and three toilet tables, and, in short, three sets of everything. It was the prettiest, the brightest, the most lovely room the girls had ever seen. It contained luxury, and neatness, and comfort, and refinement, for beautiful pictures were placed on the walls, and flowers peeped in at the windows, and the furniture was of that sort which can best accommodate girls’ pretty dresses and knick-knacks.
“What a room!” said Jasmine. “Why, it’s just like a girls’ room! Any one would suppose Mr. Noel had sisters.”
Daisy began to skip about, and to poke her little fingers amongst the curiosities and treasures which were scattered broadcast. Primrose became silent, and walked over to one of the windows, and Poppy, suddenly dropping her demure air, said in a voice of ecstasy—
“He’s a lovely young man, and I’m engaged here permanent, and it’s no more Sarah Ann, nor Sarah Jane, but Poppy I’m to be from this time and for ever. Oh, Miss Primrose, don’t it make you real happy even to take off your bonnet in a room like this?”
“I do feel happy,” said Primrose, in that slow voice of hers. “I feel happy, and I can’t tell why. I am just going to give up my independence, and I ought to be miserable, but at the present moment I have a peculiar sense of rejoicing.”
“And so have I,” said Jasmine, “I could skip all day long; and as to Eyebright, she looks fit to dance this very moment.”
“I’m happy because I’m with the Prince,” said Daisy; “that’s always quite enough for me.”
Then the three sisters linked their arms round one another, and went downstairs.