The two younger girls, being never over anxious and being always more or less full of hope, were to-day only more hopeful and bright than usual. Many people turned to look at the pretty sisters, and to laugh at Poppy’s innocent expressions of rapture.
They landed at Battersea, and wandered about the pretty park, and had refreshments in a quaint restaurant, where they really managed to satisfy their hunger at a very moderate charge.
That evening they returned to the Mansion, having kept within the limits of the prescribed five shillings, and each of them declaring that she had never known a happier day.
“But now,” said Primrose, addressing her two sisters solemnly, “we must remember that after to-night we have done with pleasure. To-morrow we must seriously set about forming our plans.”
Primrose’s scheme had, of course, been considered most wild and most foolish by all her friends at Rosebury but even they were not prepared for her crowning act of folly. She, Jasmine and Daisy had a consultation together. This consultation was really nothing but a matter of form, for Primrose, quiet as she appeared could lead her two sisters as she willed—her slightest word was law to them, and the most outrageous plan proposed by her would have been delightful in their eyes. Her suggestion to them was as follows:
“We will go to London,” she said—“we will try to be independent, and to earn our own living, and in order to do so really, and to prevent ourselves being tempted by Mrs. Ellsworthy’s riches, or by Miss Martineau’s advice, we will not give our address. We will stay for a short time at Penelope Mansion, and then we will go away. We will find those nice, clean, cheap lodgings, where we can hang up our muslin curtains, and keep things lovely and fresh, even though we are in London, and we will stay there without troubling our friends about us until we have succeeded. The moment we have succeeded in earning enough to live on we will write home.”
Jasmine, and of course little Daisy, approved of this idea—Jasmine said it was both romantic and strong—Daisy said she only wanted to be with her own Primrose and her own Jasmine, and if the Pink might always stay with her too she would be quite happy.
Accordingly, when the girls’ week of pleasure had quite come to an end, Primrose reminded her sisters that it was time for them to begin to get lost.
“We are not really lost here,” she said. “Mrs. Ellsworthy thinks nothing of coming to town, and she could come to us at the Mansion any moment; and now that we have met that friend of hers, that Mr. Noel, she may be sending him to see about us—so you see it is more important than ever that we should find a place where we can really commence our work.”
“I don’t dislike Mr. Noel at all,” said Jasmine. “It is a great pity he is related to our darling Mrs. Ellsworthy, for we might have had the comfort of his advice without being considered dependent. Oh, Primrose! is it possible that we are too independent—I can’t help it, Primrose; I do feel lonely. I must cry just for a minute. I’d rather do a page of the ‘Analogy’ to-night than not cry for a minute.”