“I have done it, my dear Joseph,” said Mrs. Ellsworthy. “I went to see the children, and I wrote to that little proud princess Primrose. It will be really very nice if they all come here. We have such heaps and heaps of money, more than we know what to do with; money becomes uninteresting when you have so much. I think I have tried most of the pleasures that money can buy. I have heaps of dresses, and quantities of jewels, and my lovely country home, and my season in town, but what I have never yet had, and what I have earnestly longed for, was a daughter. A boy, after all, has to go to school, and to fight his way in the world—our boy is at school, and a very good place for him—but a woman wants a girl of her own to quite satisfy her heart.
“Now it seems to me that I may have three girls. We must keep up the fiction of Primrose being useful to you in your library, Joseph—you must give her letters to write, and you must be very patient with her when she makes mistakes, for the dear child has not been educated, and will probably make the worst of secretaries. Never mind, you must try to appear delighted, and to seem as if you never could have got on until Primrose Mainwaring came to help you.
“Then the little ones—of course they are coming under the supposition that they are only to stay until I have found them berths in one of those horrid charity schools for the orphan daughters of military men—but I promise you those berths shall be hard to find. The three will insensibly consider themselves our adopted children. Oh, what a delightful plan it is! and how picturesque I shall feel with my girls! Joseph, did you ever see a brighter or more bewitching little soul than our Jasmine?”
“Our Jasmine?” repeated Mr. Ellsworthy; “she is by no means ours yet, my love. Well, I trust your plan will succeed—they are nice girls, and I like to feel I am doing a kindness to poor Mainwaring’s daughters. I shall be very pleased indeed if they make your life any happier, Kate.”
Mrs. Ellsworthy stooped down and kissed her husband’s brow—she was all impatience for the morning to arrive, for surely early then would come an answer to the letter she had written.
But Mrs. Ellsworthy was doomed to disappointment. The next day brought no answer from the Mainwaring girls. The good little lady bore her suspense as best she could until noon, then she ordered her carriage and drove into the village.
Jasmine herself opened the cottage door for her. Jasmine was looking excited, and there were red rings round her eyes as if she had been crying, and yet at the same time those bright eyes of hers were shining, and her lips were quivering between smiles and tears.