“Not at all,” answered Primrose. “Mrs. Ellsworthy has nothing to say to me. She is only a friend, nothing more. Miss Martineau, we have discovered that we cannot live on our little income. Please will you tell me how we can add to it, so that we three can keep together?”
“Keep together—impossible!” replied Miss Martineau. “There is nothing whatever before you, Primrose, but to face the inevitable. The inevitable means that you must break up your home—that you obtain, through the kind patronage of the Ellsworthys, a situation as governess, or companion, or something of that sort—and that the little girls, Jasmine and Daisy, are put into a good school for the orphan daughters of military men. The Ellsworthys will use their influence toward this end. They are very kind—they have taken up your cause warmly. Primrose, my dear, it sounds hard, but plain speaking is best. You must be parted from your sisters. This is inevitable. You have got to face it.”
“It is not inevitable,” answered Primrose—then she paused, and her face turned very white.
“It is not inevitable,” she repeated, “for this reason because neither you nor Mrs. Ellsworthy have the smallest control over my sisters or myself. I asked for your advice, but if this is the best you can give, it is useless. Mrs. Ellsworthy never cared to know my mother, and she is not going to part my mother’s children now. Good-bye, Miss Martineau—no, I am not hungry, I have a headache. Oh, I am not offended—people mean to be kind, but there are things which one cannot bear. No, Miss Martineau, the inevitable course you and Mrs. Ellsworthy have been kind enough to sketch out, my sisters and I will certainly not adopt.”
THEY WOULD NOT BE PARTED.
Primrose walked down the street, passing by the little cottage which for so many years had been her home. Her sisters did not expect her to return to dinner, and her heart was too full to allow her to go in just then.
So they were to be parted—this was the advice of those who called themselves their friends. Primrose, Jasmine, and Daisy, her three flowers, as mother had called them, were no longer to grow sweetly in one garden together. They were to be parted—Primrose was to go one way, and the little ones another. Impulsive Jasmine would no longer cry out her griefs on Primrose’s neck, or tell her joys and griefs, her hopes and aspirations, to the calm and elder sister. Daisy—their baby, as Primrose called her—might be ill or sad, or lonely, and she, Primrose, would no longer be there to comfort her.
Parted! No, they should not be parted—all their young lives they had lived together, and whether they starved, or whether they feasted, they would live together still. Thank God, no one had any real control over them—their very loneliness would now, therefore, be their safety—they might sketch out their own career, and no one could prevent them.