“Yes, dear—and you shall drive home in the carriage I could not hear of your walking.”
Thirty pounds A year.
Miss Ellsworthy thought Primrose both tiresome and obtuse, but here she was mistaken.
Miss Martineau’s solemn looks, Mr. Danesfield’s emphatic injunctions to make the most of their visit to Shortlands, and, above all, the expression of deep distress on Mrs. Ellsworthy’s charming face when she spoke of their poverty, were by no means thrown away on her.
She felt very grave as the three sisters were driven home in the Ellsworthys’ luxurious carriage. She scarcely joined at all in Jasmine’s chatter, nor did she notice Daisy’s raptures over a tiny white pup—Mrs. Ellsworthy’s parting gift.
On their arrival at home the Pink greeted this unlooked-for addition to the family with a furious assault; and Jasmine, Daisy, and Hannah were all intensely excited over the task of dividing the combatants; but Primrose felt but small interest, and owned that she had a slight headache.
Nevertheless, when the younger girls retired to bed she sat up, and, taking out an account-book, began an impossible task. Even all the resources of this young and vigorous brain could not make thirty pounds cover a year’s expenses. Again and again Primrose tried. The rent of the cottage was twelve pounds a year. She pronounced this extravagant, and wondered if they could possibly get a cheaper dwelling.
Then there were Hannah’s wages. Well, of course, they could do without Hannah—it would be very painful to part with her, but anything would be better than the humiliating conclusion that Mrs. Ellsworthy and Miss Martineau considered them too poor to live. Then, of course, they could do without meat—what did healthy girls want with meat? Only—and here Primrose sighed deeply—Daisy was not very strong. Eggs were cheap enough in Rosebury, and so was butter, and they could bake their own bread; and as to clothes, they would not want any more for a long time. Here Primrose again felt herself pulled up short, for Jasmine’s walking-shoes were nearly worn through.
She went to bed at last, feeling very depressed and anxious. Thirty pounds was really a much smaller sum of money than she had given it credit for being. Try as she might, it would not stretch itself over the expenses of even the humblest establishment of three. She was much comforted, however, by the reflection that there remained a large sum to their credit in the bank. Primrose found her faith shaken in the capacities of an income of thirty pounds a year; but a sum total of two hundred pounds she still believed to be almost inexhaustible. She resolved to go and consult Mr. Danesfield on the morrow.
Mr. Danesfield was generally to be found in his private room at the bank by ten o’clock in the morning. Very soon after that hour on the following day a clerk came to say that one of the young ladies from Woodbine Cottage wanted to see him. “The eldest young lady, and she says her business is very pressing,” continued the man.