“I don’t understand you. We have made no special arrangements. Mrs. Ellsworthy was friendly, and she asked us to come and see her at Shortlands; and we are going. Miss Martineau, I am so very busy this afternoon; will you forgive me if I run away?”
Primrose left the room, and Miss Martineau, turning to Jasmine, clasped her hands in some excitement.
“Oh, my dear!” she exclaimed, “I do hope Primrose won’t spoil everything by those little proud airs of hers; they really are—yes, I am grieved to be obliged to say it—but they really are affected. Now, Jasmine darling, a great deal depends on this visit—yes, a great deal. You and Daisy must be on your very best behavior. You have never been in a great house like Shortlands, and it is only right that I, your instructress, should tell you how you are to behave. You must take no liberties, dear; and you must not speak too much, or too fast; and you must look very grateful when Mrs. Ellsworthy notices you, loves. Oh, my poor dears! I feel over anxious, for so much depends on to-morrow.”
It was now Jasmine’s turn to stare, and to begin to say—“I don’t understand you.” But Daisy burst out volubly—
“We are going up to Shortlands to run about—she said so. She said we were to see the dogs—the black woolly Newfoundland and the tawny mastiff; and she has got a snow-white Persian kitten, only she likes the Pink best; and I promised her that if ever the Pink had a little kit of her own she should have it. Mrs. Ellsworthy didn’t say a word about being horrid, and proper, and waiting until you are spoken to. I won’t go to Shortlands if I have to behave like that, I won’t,” concluded spoiled Daisy, pouting her lips.
Jasmine bent forward and kissed her. “You may do just what you like, darling little Eyebright,” she said.
“Oh, Miss Martineau, really Mrs. Ellsworthy is not at all what you picture her. I should say she was the kind of lady who likes a real romp. Anyhow, she does not at all want people to be stiff with her. Daisy, and she, and I were as jolly as possible until Primrose came downstairs, and I suppose Primrose agreed with you, and thought it was manners to be formal. But, poor dear, she did not like it a bit. We three were having such a chatter before Primrose came. She is going to show me all her conservatories to-morrow, and she took a great fancy to my carnations. I promised her some slips. Oh dear! oh dear! who is that knocking at the hall door? Daisy, run and peep from behind the curtain, and let me know.”
Daisy started off on the instant, and returned in a moment with the intelligence that Mr. Danesfield, the manager of the bank, was standing on the steps, and that his face was very red.
On hearing this intelligence poor Miss Martineau’s face also became suffused with a deep flush, and she pushed her poke bonnet a little backward in her excitement. An awful idea had suddenly darted through her brain.