Mrs. Flint, when properly attacked, proved herself quite vulnerable. She was anxious to please the Mainwarings who she hoped would take up their abode with her, for naughty Primrose had by no means divulged her real plans. Accordingly, Poppy was allowed to get her dinner beforehand, and a very happy little quartet left the Mansion soon after eleven o’clock.
They had gone some little distance from Penelope Mansion, and found themselves in a far more cheerful and bright-looking street, before Poppy divulged her plans.
“I has got to choose,” she said, “and as I stated distinct to Miss Jasmine yesterday, I don’t go in for the glooms of the Tower, nor the solemns of the Cathedral. I’d like to walk from end to end of Oxford Street first, and then I’d like to take a penny boat on the river.”
“A penny boat!” exclaimed the three sisters in a breath, “that does sound delightful, and so cheap. Where did you hear of penny boats, Poppy?”
Poppy’s face became radiant.
“It was the last charwoman at the Mansion,” she answered. “She said that if you wanted a pleasure, and a pleasure cheap, there was nothing in all the world like a penny boat. You sit in it, and there you are, as snug as snug; plenty of room and plenty of company, and plenty of sights. Mrs. Jones said that if there was a pleasure to rest a tired charwoman it was to be found in a penny boat.”
“Well, we are not charwomen, but we may as well have a little rest and fun while we can,” answered Jasmine. “I think yours is a lovely treat, dear Poppy, and we will try and get into the penny boat as fast as possible.”
“I don’t know how we are to reach the boats,” said Primrose. “I begin to know my way a little about Oxford Street, but how are we to find the river?”
Poppy, however, had made good use of her acquaintance with Mrs. Jones the charwoman. She knew the name as well as the color of the omnibus which would safely convey them near to the pier at Westminster. She also knew, being instructed by Mrs. Jones, that a policeman was the right person to give her information as to where this special omnibus was to be found. She was by no means shy in making her desires known to one of these useful and worthy members of society, and in a short time the four found themselves bowling away in the direction of Westminster, and then, without any insurmountable difficulty, secured comfortable seats on one of the river steamers.
The day was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold, and the summer breezes fanned the young cheeks pleasantly, and raised the youthful spirits to an exhilarating height. Poppy forgot her troubles in Penelope Mansion, her difficulties with regard to the name of Sarah. She forgot the gloom of the back scullery, and the discontented frown quite vanished from her brow. London was again dazzling in her eyes, and her own future was replete with hope.
Primrose also ceased to worry over the anxieties and cares of the future; she ceased to reflect on the plan which was so soon to be carried into execution. Her serene face looked sweet and careless as in the happy days of her mother’s lifetime. She leaned back in her seat, gazed at the beauties of the river, and gave herself up to the happiness of the hour.