“Well, dear, plans of girls as young as you are made to be altered. Now listen to my scheme.
“Mr. Ellsworthy writes for the papers and for one or two magazines. He has scientific tastes, and writing in this way gives interest to his life; but his eyes are not very strong, and he has for some time been wishing for some nice girl to whom he can dictate his thoughts. It seems to him, and to me too, that Primrose is just the sort of girl he wants, and if she will come and live with us at Shortlands, he will pay her something for giving him a couple of her hours daily—thus, you see, she will be earning her living and will be quite independent. You and Daisy, Jasmine, are to come to us on a visit, until we can find a school where, for your father’s sake, your education may be finished.”
“You mean a school for the orphan daughters of army men,” said Jasmine, “I know. Well, thank you very much, but I’m afraid your plan won’t answer. Neither Daisy nor I would at all like to go to a school for orphans. We don’t fancy the idea of school, and dear mamma once said that she would never allow her girls to be taught at school, so, of course, that point is settled. Then you know we could not always remain with you on a visit, for we are no relations of yours—you never heard of us at all until a few days ago, although we have lived here most of our lives. Of course you don’t mean to keep us always on a visit, so it would be very silly to begin a thing which could not go on. Then about Primrose—may I be quite honest with you about Primrose?”
“Oh yes, my dear.”
“Well now, she doesn’t write well—not really—her hand moves so slowly, and I have seen some spelling mistakes now and then in her letters—I fly over the page myself, but then I only can read my own writing. I am greatly afraid that poor Mr. Ellsworthy would find Primrose a bad secretary. No, no, no; ours is a much, much better plan. You see, Mrs. Ellsworthy, you must not be angry with us—we love you very much—we are greatly obliged to you, but we have quite made up our minds—we will not be separated. Ah! here comes Primrose. Primrose, darling, here is Mrs. Ellsworthy—she is just going to listen to our plan—she has told us hers, and I have been explaining to her that it will not answer, for Daisy and I are determined not to go to school, and you know, Primrose, you are really stupid with your pen.”
“How do you do, Mrs. Ellsworthy?” said Primrose—she came in looking fagged and tired, and with a worried expression between her eyebrows. “Mrs. Ellsworthy,” she said, “I am most grateful to you for being so kind to us. I know you won’t approve at all of our plan—you will agree with Mr. Danesfield, who said he thought we had taken leave of our senses, but I think we have made up our minds, and as we have no guardian, there is no one to prevent us doing as we please.”
“Oh, Primrose, how sad you look!” said Jasmine. “Has Mr. Danesfield been disagreeable to you? Well, I know our darling Mrs. Ellsworthy won’t. Tell her our plan quickly. Primrose, she says you don’t love her—tell her you do love her. Oh, she is sweet and dear and kind—tell her our plan—she won’t throw cold water on what we wish to do—she won’t think it wrong that we three girls should wish to keep together.”