It was in this manner, and apparently quite by accident, that Jasmine made the acquaintance of Arthur Noel, who turned out to be one of the best friends the girls were to make in London. Mr. Noel had taken a fancy to Jasmine’s sweet little face, and Jasmine, when she met with a sympathetic listener, could be only too communicative. Before Miss Slowcum and her sisters and Poppy joined them Mr. Noel knew something of Jasmine’s ambitions and of Primrose’s modest hopes. Jasmine had even confided to him the brave resolve the three sisters had made not to sigh, or grumble, or wear themselves out with useless tears. He was very kind, although he could not be persuaded to say that he thought Primrose’s scheme a wise one, but this chance encounter might never have led to anything further but for a little coincidence which shows what a small place the world is, after all. When Primrose and Daisy, Poppy and the sedate Miss Slowcum, joined Jasmine, as she stood with her companion examining Nelson’s monument, they were accompanied by a handsome, bright-faced boy, who ran up to Mr. Noel, and linked his hand within his arm. This boy turned out to be young Frank Ellsworthy, and, as the girls all exclaimed on hearing the name, Mr. Noel assured them that the Ellsworthys were his greatest friends—that he loved Mrs. Ellsworthy almost as if she were his own mother.
“I felt that I must speak to you,” he said to Jasmine. “I cannot tell you why nor wherefore, but your face seemed familiar—I did not think you would turn out to be an absolute stranger.”
Thus the girls made a very valuable acquaintance; nevertheless, owing to circumstances, it was many a long day before they met Arthur Noel again.
A BRIGHT DAY.
Last times are always sad to write about and think about, but first times are generally pleasant. Notwithstanding a certain sense of disappointment which certainly did assail the three girls on their entrance into London, notwithstanding the fact which Jasmine only too quickly discovered, that the streets were not paved with gold, nor the air replete with promises, yet there was still something left in that same London air, a sort of mystery and wonder about it. There was still something of untold fascination in the busy and crowded streets, which brought a great sense of delight and exhilaration to the three young adventurers.
Jasmine spoke about the stories which met her at every turn; she felt almost melted to tears at the sight of the sadness in the eyes of some women, and some little children. But again, beautiful ladies driving past in carriages made of almost fairy lightness caused her to laugh with pleasure.
Primrose was more gravely impressed by London than Jasmine. Her emotions were not so keen as her younger sister’s, her purpose was far more steadfast; and even in the first few days when the girls gave themselves up to seeing the wonderful sights of the great metropolis she could never forget the real object for which they had come.