“No,” answered Primrose, almost shortly for her—“Mrs. Ellsworthy’s letter can keep,” and then she slipped the thick white envelope into her pocket.
“Why sister darling, how pale you look!—are you tired?”
“A little,” said Primrose—“I had no dinner—I should like a cup of tea.”
Jasmine flew out of the room to get it for her, and Daisy nestled up to her elder sister’s side.
“Primrose,” she whispered, “Jasmine and I read that letter in the garden together. Oh! we were so surprised to know we had a little baby brother long ago. We went to Hannah and asked her about him, and Hannah cried—I never saw Hannah cry so long and so hard. She said he was the sweetest baby. Oh, how I wish we had him now!—he would be much, much nicer than my new doll.”
“But if he were with us now he would be a man, Eyebright—a big, brave man, able to help us poor girls.”
“I can only think of him as a baby,” she said. “Hannah said he was lost in London. How I wish we could go to London and find our brother!”
MRS. ELLSWORTHY’S LETTER.
The girls had finished tea, and Hannah had removed all traces of the evening meal before Primrose would even glance at the thick letter which was addressed to her. She did so at last, at the earnest entreaties of her two sisters—for Daisy climbed on the sofa beside her, and put her arms round her neck, and coaxed her to read what dear Mrs. Ellsworthy had written, and Jasmine took the letter and placed it in her lap, and seated herself on a footstool at her feet, and the two young girls looked interested and excited, and their eyes were bright with anticipation, and even some impatience.
Primrose, on the contrary, appeared indifferent. She broke the seal of the thick letter languidly, and began to read its contents aloud, in an almost apathetic voice.
This was what Mrs. Ellsworthy had written:
“MY DEAR PRIMROSE,
“(You remember our compact that I was to call you Primrose.) I had not courage to say to you the other day all that was in my heart. My dear child, it seems rather absurd to say it, but I felt afraid of you. In the eyes of the world I am considered a great lady—for I have riches, and my husband holds a good position—whereas you, Primrose, would be considered by that same world nothing but a simple village maid. Nevertheless, the innocent and unsophisticated girl contrived to keep the woman of the world at a distance, and to let her see very plainly that she thought her curious questions impertinent. When I read this expression of opinion so plainly in your eyes, Primrose, I felt afraid, and questioned no further. My dear, it is a fact that cowards always resort to pen and ink when they want to express a frank opinion. I am now going to say on paper what I feared to put into so many words the other night. First of all, you are mistaken about me. I am not what you think me.