“How bitterly cold it is, Primrose!”
The speaker was Jasmine; she sat huddled up to a small, but bright fire, which burned in the sitting-room grate.
The girls had now been several months in Eden Street, and all the summer weather and the summer flowers had departed, and the evening in question was a very dull and foggy one in late November.
The little sitting-room still wore its rose-tinted paper, but the white curtains at the windows had assumed a decided and permanent tint of yellow, and the fog found its way in through the badly-fitting attic windows, and made the whole room look cloudy. The girls’ faces, too, had altered with the months. Jasmine had lost a good deal of her vivacity, her expression was slightly fretful, and she no longer looked the spruce and sparkling little lass who had gone away from Rosebury in the summer. Primrose had lost the faint color which used to tinge her cheeks; they were now almost too white for beauty, but her eyes were still clear, calm, and sweet; her dress was still the essence of simplicity and neatness, and her bearing was gentle and dignified as of old. The alteration in Daisy was less apparent at this moment, for she was stretched on two cushions in one corner of the sitting-room, and with a warm rug thrown over her, and with the Pink curled up in her arms, was fast asleep.
“How cold it is, Primrose,” repeated Jasmine; then, as her sister made no reply, but went on calmly darning some stockings, she continued, “I think you have really grown stingy. Why can’t we have some more coal? this is much too small a fire for weather with snow on the ground, and a horrid, odious fog filling every corner.”
“Hush!” said Primrose, laying down her work, and stooping towards her younger sister, who sat on the hearthrug, “I am keeping the coal to put on until Daisy wakes. You know, Jasmine, we resolved not to run up any bills, and I cannot get in any coal until Mr. Danesfield sends us our next quarter’s allowance—wrap my fur cloak round you, darling, and then you will be quite warm.”
Jasmine shivered, but rising slowly, she went into the bedroom, and returned in a moment, not with the fur cloak, but with a white woolly shawl. “The day for Mr. Danesfield’s money will arrive in less than a week,” she said. “Oh, Primrose! I thought you were going to be a good manager; I did not think you were going to bring us to this.”
“Jasmine, dear,” she said, “you are not quite brave to-night, or you would not speak to me in that tone. You forget that we should not have been short of money had not that five-pound note been stolen from us. When Mr. Danesfield’s allowance comes in we shall be able to go on as usual, and then you need not suffer from a short allowance of fire. Jasmine, I know what is the matter with you; you did not eat half enough dinner to-day. When I was out this afternoon I called to see Miss Egerton, and she gave me three delicious new-laid eggs—really new-laid—we’ll have them for supper.”