Accordingly, in a funny little street off the Junction Road, the three Mainwaring girls found a nest. It was a queer nest, up at the top of a tall and rambling house; but Mrs. Dove appeared good-natured, and had no objection to the young ladies doing their own papering and white-washing, and as Primrose took the rooms on the spot, and paid a week’s rent in advance, she became quite gracious. Every morning, as soon as ever breakfast was over at Penelope Mansion, the girls started off to the new home they were preparing for themselves. There they worked hard, papering, white-washing, and, finally, even painting. By the end of a week Mrs. Dove scarcely knew her attic apartments—elegant she now called them—a charming suite. The enthusiasm of the three young workers even infected Mrs. Dove, who condescended to clean the windows, and to rub up the shabby furniture, so that when, at the end of the week, the attics were ready for occupation, they were by no means so unlike Jasmine’s ideal London rooms as might have been expected. The girls kept their own counsel, and during the week they were preparing for their flight to Eden Street—for No. 10 Eden Street would be their future address—they told no one at Penelope Mansion of their little plans. The good ladies of the Mansion, Mrs. Flint excepted, were very curious about them; they wondered why the girls disappeared every day immediately after breakfast, and came back looking hot and tired, and yet with bright and contented faces, at night; but Jasmine had ceased to confide in Mrs. Dredge; and Primrose, when she chose to be dignified, had quite power enough to keep even Miss Slowcum at a distance. Mrs. Mortlock, who was stout, and rich, and good-tempered, tried the effect of a little bribery on Daisy, but the sweet, staunch little maid would not be corrupted.
“Oh, thank you so much for those delicious chocolate creams,” she said. “Yes, I do love chocolate creams, and you are so kind to give them to me. Where do we spend our day?—but that is Primrose’s secret—you would not have me so naughty as to tell!”
So the week drew to an end, and the nest, as the girls called their rooms, was finally ready for its inmates. The snowy-white muslin curtains were really put up to the now clean windows—the walls, covered with a delicate paper, had a soft, rosy glow about them—some of the pretty home ornaments were judiciously scattered about, and the rather small bedroom had three very small, but very white, little beds in it.
“We’ll go in for lots of flowers, you know,” said Jasmine. “I don’t suppose even in London flowers are very dear.”
At last there came a morning when the girls went away from Penelope Mansion as usual, and only Mrs. Flint and Poppy knew that they were not returning in the evening. Mrs. Flint felt rather indignant with the young ladies for deserting her—not that she said anything for she always made it a rule not to wear herself out with unnecessary words, or with fretting, or with undue excitement; nevertheless, on this occasion she was a little indignant, for surely, what place could compare with the Mansion? Poor Poppy bade the young ladies, whom she loved, good-bye with an almost breaking heart.