MY DEAR ARTHUR,
“Your letter has been an untold relief. It was a special and good Providence that directed your steps to St. Paul’s on that afternoon. My dear little Jasmine!—she is my pet of all the three. My dear Arthur, pray call on the girls at that dreadful Penelope Mansion; they are so naughty and so obstinate that they simply must be caught by guile. You must use your influence to get them out of that dreadful place. Look for respectable and nice lodgings, and go beforehand to the landlady. If she is very nice, confide in her, and tell her she is to look to me for payment, but she is on no account to let out this fact to the girls. Kensington is a nice, quiet, respectable neighborhood; you might take the drawing-room floor of a very quiet, nice house, and ask the landlady to offer it to the girls for five shillings a week, or something nominal of that sort. Primrose is so innocent at present that she will think five shillings quite a large sum; but tell the lady of the house to let it include all extras—I mean such as gas and firing. I suppose you could not get a house with the electric light?—no, of course not; it is not used yet in private dwellings—gas is so unwholesome, but the girls might use candles. Tell the landlady to provide them with the best candles, and tell her I’ll pay her something handsome if she’ll go out with them. And, my dear Arthur, don’t let them go in omnibuses. Do your best, and, above all things, take them away from that awful mansion as soon as possible.
But alas! when Arthur Noel, in accordance with Mrs. Ellsworthy’s instructions, went to see the girls, he was confronted first by Mrs. Flint, who assured him in her soft and cushion-like style that the young ladies had left, and as they had been undutiful enough not to confide in her she could furnish him with no address. As he was leaving the mansion Poppy Jenkins rushed up to him.
“I heard you asking for my young ladies, sir, but it ain’t no use, for they’re gone. Flowers of beauty they was—beautiful in manner and in face—but they ain’t to be found here no more. The Mansion didn’t suit them, and the people in the Mansion didn’t suit them, and that isn’t to be wondered at. I suppose they has gone to a more congenial place, but the address is hid from me; no, sir, I know nothing at all about them. Yes, sir, it’s quite true—I misses them most bitter!”
Here poor Poppy, covering her face with her hands, burst into tears and disappeared down the back staircase.
Noel wrote to Mrs. Ellsworthy, and Mrs. Ellsworthy wrote back to him, and between them they made many inquiries, and took many steps, which they felt quite sure must lead to discovery, but notwithstanding all their efforts they obtained no clue to the whereabouts of the Mainwaring girls.