The next morning early Primrose said rather abruptly to her two sisters—
“I have found out the meaning of Miss Martineau’s fussiness and Mrs. Ellsworthy’s kindness. They are both sorry for us girls, for they know we can’t live on thirty pounds a year.”
“Oh, what nonsense!” said Jasmine; “any one can live on thirty pounds a year. Didn’t you see how Poppy opened her eyes when we mentioned it;—she thought it quite a lot of money, and said we could come to London out of the savings. I am sure, Primrose, if any one ought to know, it is Poppy, for her mother is really very poor.”
“Mr. Danesfield, too, says we can’t live on it,” continued Primrose; “and when I asked Hannah last night, she said ’Of course not’—that no one expected us to. Now look here, Jasmine, this is all quite fresh to you and Daisy, but I’m accustomed to it, for I have known it for twenty-four hours, and what I say is this, if we can’t live on our income we have got to make some more income to live on. If thirty pounds a year is not enough for us at the end, neither is it enough for us at the beginning, so we had better see about earning an income at once, or we’ll get into debt, which will be quite awful. Jasmine, I am afraid the days of our merry childhood are over, and I am so sorry for you and Daisy, for you are both very young.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” said Jasmine—“I—I—I’d do anything—I fancy I could make dresses best, or—Oh, suppose I wrote poetry, and sold it? You know you and Daisy do like my poems. Do you remember how you cried over the one I called ‘An Ode to the Swallow?’”
“No, I didn’t cry over that one,” interrupted Daisy. “I thought that one rather stupid—I cried over the one in which you spoke about my darling Pink being caught in a trap, and having her leg broken.”
“Oh, that one,” repeated Jasmine—“I thought that one a little vulgar. I only made it up to please you, Daisy. Primrose, don’t you notice what a lot of poems there are in all the magazines, and of course, somebody must write them. I should not be a bit surprised if I could add to our income by writing poetry, Primrose. All the books, nearly all the magazines and newspapers, come from London. Poppy will not be going to London until to-morrow—I’ll run round this morning and ask her to try and find out for me which of the publishers want poems like my ‘Ode to the Swallow.’ Perhaps they’d like it in the —— Review; only the —— Review is so horribly deep. My ode is deep too, for Daisy cannot understand it. Perhaps I could send my poem about Pink to one of the other magazines. Oh, Primrose! may I run round to Poppy, and see if she can help us?”
Primrose smiled very faintly, and it dawned across her again in rather a painful manner what a mere child her little sister was.