“Your humble and
most devoted friend,
This letter was received by the girls while they were eating their breakfast. Primrose read it aloud to her sisters, and the effect of Poppy’s words was certainly not enlivening. Jasmine was the first to recover her spirits.
“Never mind,” she said; “Poppy feels a little dull and it is more than ever our duty to go up to London, and try and cheer her. Poor Poppy! it is very wrong of her aunt not to let her go out to see the sights, and you see, Primrose, she really knows no part of London yet, except Penelope Mansion. Poor Poppy! how she did long to go to see the wonderful city; but she was a little frivolous, and seemed only to want to look at the shop windows and to examine the newest fashions. We go to this grand, great London in a different spirit—we go determined to conquer, don’t we, Queen Rose?”
“We go to do what seems to be our duty,” answered Primrose, solemnly. “Oh, Jasmine! I hope we are doing right—I hope, I pray that God may help us.”
Then a letter was written to Poppy, in which the noisy room was secured for the following Thursday, and as this was Monday, the girls were too busy packing to give many mere thoughts to poor Poppy’s somewhat melancholy epistle.
The last time in the funny little old-fashioned garden, the last loving look at Jasmine’s carnations, the last eager chase of the Pink across the little grass-plot, the last farewell said to the room where mother had died, to the cottage where Daisy was born, the final hug from all three to dear old Hannah who vowed and declared that follow them to London she would, and stay in Devonshire any longer she would not, and the girls had left Woodbine Cottage.
Notwithstanding all their obstinacy, and their determination to have their own way, quite a bevy of friends accompanied them to the railway station—Miss Martineau was there, looking prim and starched, but with red rims round her eyes, and her lips only stern because they were so firmly shut, and because she was so determined not to show any emotion—Mrs. Jenkins, Poppy’s mother, was also present; she was sending up a great bouquet of wild flowers and some eggs and butter to Poppy; and a lame boy, whom Jasmine had always been kind to, came hobbling on to the platform to bid the young ladies good-bye; and Mr. Danesfield drove up on his trap at the last moment in a violent hurry, and pushed an envelope, which he said contained a business communication, into Primrose’s hand. Last of all, just at the very end, Mrs. Ellsworthy arrived panting on the scene; a footman followed her, also hurrying and panting, and he put into the railway carriage a great basket containing hot-house flowers, and grapes, and peaches, and then Mrs. Ellsworthy kissed the girls, giving Primrose and Daisy a hurried salute, but letting her lips linger for a moment on Jasmine’s round cheek. During that brief moment two tears dropped from the kind little lady’s eyes.