“We must not think of it,” said Primrose; “God hears our prayers wherever we say them, Jasmine, darling.”
“Yes,” answered Jasmine; “and I am not going to complain. Well, Poppy, you are a very lucky girl, and I hope you’ll be as good as gold, and as happy as the day is long.”
“And if ever you does come to London, Miss Jasmine,” said Poppy, rising to her feet, “you’ll remember aunt’s boarding-house, for ladies only; and proud I’ll be to wait on you, miss.”
“But we can’t come, Poppy dear—we are very poor now—we have only got thirty pounds a year to live on.”
To Poppy, who had never been known in her life to possess thirty pence, this sum sounded by no means modest.
“Might I make bold to inquire, miss,” she asked, “if the thirty pounds is once for all, or if it’s a yearly recurrence?”
“Oh, it’s an income, Poppy—how stupid you are!”
“Then I’ll consult my aunt in town, miss, and try to find out if you three dear young ladies couldn’t contrive a London visit out of part of the savings.”
After this sapient speech Poppy bade the Mainwarings good-bye. They looked after her retreating form down the street with many regrets, for they were very fond of her, and Jasmine at least envied her.
Ways of earning A living.
That night, after her sisters were in bed, Primrose again sat up late—once again she read her mother’s letter; then burying her face in her hands, she sat for a long, long time lost in thought.
Jasmine and Daisy, all unconcerned and unconscious, slept overhead, but Hannah was anxious about her young mistress, and stepped into the drawing-room, and said in her kind voice—
“Hadn’t you better be getting your beauty sleep, missie?”
“Oh, Hannah! I am so anxious,” said Primrose.
“Now, deary, whatever for?” asked the old servant.
Primrose hesitated. She wanted to talk to Hannah about her mother’s letter; she half took it out of her pocket, then she restrained herself.
“Another time,” she whispered to herself. Aloud she said—
“Hannah, Mrs. Ellsworthy and Miss Martineau hinted to me what Mr. Danesfield said plainly to-day—we three girls have not got money enough to live on.”
“Eh, dear!” answered Hannah, dropping on to the nearest chair, “and are you putting yourself out about that, my pretty? Why, tisn’t likely that you three young ladies could support yourselves. Don’t you fret about that, Miss Primrose; why, you’ll get quite old with fretting, and lose all your nice looks. You go to bed, my darling—there’s a Providence over us, and he’ll find ways and means to help you.”
Primrose rose to her feet, some tears came to her eyes, and taking Hannah’s hard old hand, she stooped and kissed her.
“I won’t fret, Hannah,” she said, “and I’ll go to bed instantly. Thank you for reminding me about God.” Then she lit her bedroom candle and went very gently up the stairs to her bedroom, but as she laid her head on the pillow she said to herself—“Even Hannah sees that we can’t live on our income.”