Then the girls sat down by the open window and looked out into the street. It was a very dull street, and the day was warm and murky, with no sun shining.
“This afternoon we will go out,” said Primrose. “I shall speak about it at lunch, and ask Mrs. Flint to allow us to take Poppy with us. I am so sorry Poppy feels dull. Now, girls, we must just make up our minds not to do that—we must keep up brave hearts, and not sigh and look dismal; that would never do. We have elected our own course, and if we are not courageous we shall be beaten. I for one am determined not to be beaten.”
“I’ve always heard,” said Jasmine, “that to sigh was very weakening. What I propose is this—that we give each other a fine whenever we are heard sighing, and another much more severe fine if we grumble, and the worst fine of all if we cry. Now, what shall the fines be?”
After a little consideration the girls decided that the fines might as well lead in the direction of their education. Accordingly they marked out for themselves some of the most ponderous passages in “Paradise Lost” to learn by heart, and as a severe punishment they selected little bits of a very incomprehensible book, called Butler’s “Analogy.” When they had carefully made these selections a rather feeble bell was heard to tinkle in the mansion, and they went downstairs to lunch.
“I hope you are comfortably unpacked now, young ladies?” inquired Mrs. Flint.
“And I trust you have recovered from the fatigues of your long journey?” questioned Mrs. Dredge. “It is a weary way from Devonshire—a long and weary way.”
“You speak of it as though it were a kind of disappointment to come from Devonshire to London,” remarked Miss Slowcum, “whereas London is the place for aspiring souls.”
“Oh, I’m so delighted to hear you say that!” said Jasmine—“Poppy—I mean Sarah—spoke quite dismally this morning, but I knew she must be wrong.”
“The young country servant,” responded Miss Slowcum, “Sarah Jane, I think her name is—oh, well, her judgment need scarcely be depended on. Yes, London is the place of places. I have lived here for years, and I ought to know.”
“We quite believe you,” said Jasmine—“don’t we, Primrose?—we have come up here because we quite feel with you; we are going out after lunch to see the beauties of the city.”
“May I ask, young ladies, if this is your first visit to the metropolis?” suddenly inquired Mrs. Mortlock.
Primrose answered her “Yes; we have never been here before.”
“Then, Mrs. Flint, I put it to you, is it safe to allow these young unfledged birds out into this vast and bewildering place? ought not some one to chaperon them?”
“We thought of asking for Poppy,” answered Jasmine.
Here Mrs. Flint frowned at her.