“My darling,” said Primrose, putting her arms round Jasmine, “I am sure that girls like us cannot be too independent, but I won’t go on with it if it really breaks your heart, Jasmine.”
“Oh, but it doesn’t really,” said Jasmine; “I think it’s a noble plan; I wouldn’t give in for the world. I have had my cry now, and I’m better—but, Rose, how are we to look out for these nice, clean, cheap lodgings if we aren’t to consult any one?”
“We can consult people, and find out the locality we want, but we need never tell the people we consult what number in the street we really choose. Oh, there are lots of ways of finding out what we really want to know.”
“I’ll talk to Mrs. Dredge to-night,” said Jasmine. “I think Mrs. Dredge is very practical and kind, and I don’t know why Miss Slowcum should dislike her so much. I’ll get her all by myself this evening, and talk to her.”
Accordingly that evening, after the inmates of Penelope Mansion had, as Mrs. Flint styled it, “tea’d,” Jasmine sat down on a footstool at Mrs. Dredge’s feet, and laid herself out to be bewitching. No one could be more charming than this little maiden when she chose, and she had tact enough to adapt herself on most occasions to her company.
“I’m sure you have lots of experience, Mrs. Dredge,” she began; “you look as if you had—your face tells me that you have gone through many episodes”—(Jasmine was rather proud of this expression; she began to consider that her style was forming).
“Episodes, my dear, and experiences?” answered Mrs. Dredge. “Well, well, I’m not to say over young, and years bring knowledge; but if you mean, Miss Jasmine, that I’m up to the acquirements of the present day, that I’m not, and I never will be,—no, thank Heaven! that I never will be.”
“Do you mean with regard to education?” remarked Jasmine. “Is the education of the present day wrong?—is that why you’re so thankful you are not up to it?”
“My dear Miss Jasmine,” answered Mrs. Dredge, with great solemnity, “the education of the present day is to the heart hardening, and to the mind demoralizing. No, no; none of it for me. Miss Slowcum, now! Miss Jasmine, between you and me I don’t admire Miss Slowcum.”
“Oh, she’s very kind,” answered Jasmine; “but look here, Mrs. Dredge, what I want to consult you about has nothing at all to say to education, and it has a great deal to say to experience. It’s a great secret, Mrs. Dredge, but we want to find cheap lodgings.”
“Oh, my dear! and don’t you want to abide at the Mansion—all things considered, it’s a respectable and safe quarter—you are all three young and attractive, my dears, and you have the advantage of being guarded here by women who have years on their shoulders. Yes, my dear Miss Jasmine, with the exception of your three selves and the maid Sarah, there is no one in Penelope Mansion who will ever see fifty again. Don’t talk to me of Miss Slowcum being younger than that—I know better.”