Primrose, Jasmine, and Daisy grew up something like the flowers, taking no thought for the morrow, and happy in the grand facts that they were alive, that they were perfectly healthy, and that the sun shone and the sweet fresh breezes blew for them. They were as primitive as the little place where they lived, and cared nothing at all for fashionably-cut dresses; or for what people who think themselves wiser would have called the necessary enjoyments of life. Mrs. Mainwaring, who had gone through a terrible trouble before the birth of her eldest girl, had her nerves shattered a second time by her husband’s death; from that moment she was more ruled by her girls than a ruler to them. They did pretty much what they pleased, and she was content that they should make themselves happy in their own way.
It was lucky for the girls that they were amiable, and had strength of character.
Primrose was delightfully matter-of-fact. When she saw that her mother allowed them to learn their lessons anyhow she made little rules for herself and her sisters—the rules were so playful and so light that the others, for mere fun, followed them—thus they insisted on their mother hearing them their daily tasks; they insisted on going regularly twice a week to a certain old Miss Martineau, who gave them lessons on an antiquated piano, and taught them obsolete French. Primrose was considered by her sisters very wise indeed but Primrose also thought Jasmine wise, and wise with a wisdom which she could appreciate without touching; for Jasmine had got some gifts from a fairy wand, she was touched with the spirit of Romance, and had a beautiful way of looking at life which her sisters loved to encourage. Daisy was the acknowledged baby of the family—she was very pretty, and not very strong, was everybody’s darling, and was, of course, something of a spoilt child.
Primrose had a face which harmonized very well with her quaint, sweet name; her hair was soft, straight, and yellow, her eyes were light brown, her skin was fair, and her expression extremely calm, gentle, and placid. To look at Primrose was to feel soothed—she had a somewhat slow way of speaking, and she never wasted her words. Jasmine was in all particulars her opposite. She was dark, with very bright and lovely eyes; her movements were quick, her expression full of animation, and when excited—and she was generally in a state of excitement—her words tumbled out almost too quickly for coherence. Her cheeks would burn, and her eyes sparkle, over such trivial circumstances as a walk down a country lane, as blackberry-hunting, as strawberry-picking—a new story-book kept her awake half the night—she was, in short, a constant little volcano in this quiet home, and would have been an intolerable child but for the great sweetness of her temper, and also for the fact that every one more or less yielded to her.
Daisy was very pretty and fair—her hair was as yellow as Primrose’s, but it curled, and was more or less always in a state of friz; her eyes were wide open and blue, and she was just a charming little child, partaking slightly of the qualities of both her elder sisters.