“There is just one thing,” she said, in a tremulous voice; “whatever happens, we three girls won’t be parted. On that point I have quite firmly made up my mind.”
Mr. Danesfield again knit his brows, and this time he fidgeted uneasily on his chair.
“Look here, Primrose,” he said: “I am an old bachelor, and I don’t know half nor a quarter the ways in which a woman may earn her living. I have always been told that a woman is a creature of resources. Now it is a well-known fact that an old bachelor has no resources. You go and put your question to Miss Martineau, my dear. Miss Martineau is a kind soul—’pon my word, now, a very kind soul—and she has managed wonderfully to exist herself on absolutely nothing. You go to Miss Martineau, Primrose, and get some secrets from her. Everything in my power you may depend on my doing. I will exert my interest, and my purse is at your service.”
Here Primrose got up.
“Good-bye, Mr. Danesfield,” she said. “I know you mean to be very kind, but we three must keep together, and we must be independent.” Then she left the office, and went again down the street.
Mr. Danesfield looked after her as she walked away.
“Poor, proud young thing!” he said to himself. “Life will be a tussle for her, or I am much mistaken. She is really growing wonderfully nice-looking, too. How she flushed up when I said she was presentable—poor child! poor child! That mother of theirs might have done something to provide for those girls—lady-like girls—distinguished-looking. I expect the mother was a weak, poor soul. Well, I hope Miss Martineau will think of something. I must call and see Miss Martineau; ’pon my word I don’t know what to suggest for the children to do.”
When Primrose arrived at Miss Martineau’s, that lady was just dismissing the last of her morning pupils. She was standing on her steps in her neat brown alpaca dress, over which she wore a large black apron of the same material with a bib to it. This apron had capacious pockets, which at the present moment were stuffed with her pupils’ French exercises. On her head she had an antique-looking cap, made of black lace and rusty black velvet, and ornamented with queer little devices of colored beads.
She was delighted to see Primrose, and took her at once into her little sitting-room. “Now my dear, you will stay and have dinner with me. You don’t mind having no meat, dear. My middle-day meal to-day consists of a salad and a rice soufflee. You are welcome to share it with me, Primrose.”
“Thank you,” said Primrose, “but I am not at all hungry. If you do not mind, I will talk to you while you dine. Miss Martineau, I have come to ask your advice.”
Miss Martineau came up instantly and kissed the young girl on both cheeks.
“My love, I am delighted. It gives me the sincerest pleasure to give counsel to the young and inexperienced. Have you come from Mrs. Ellsworthy, dearest?”