The little sister, who was too young to acutely feel any change which did not part her from Primrose and Jasmine, was, perhaps, the only one of the three whose spirits were on a par with what they were in the old Rosebury days; but although Daisy’s little mind remained tranquil, and she did not trouble herself about ways and means, nor greatly fret over the fact that the skies were leaden, and the attic room foggy, still Daisy also suffered in her rather delicate little body. She caught cold in the London fogs, and the cold brought on a cough, and the cough produced loss of appetite. The two elder sisters, however, were scarcely as yet uneasy about her, and it was only Miss Egerton who saw the likeness to little Constance growing and growing in Daisy’s sweet face. Thus Christmas drew near, and the girls had not yet found their mission in life; they were by no means crushed, however, nor was Primrose tired of repeating what she firmly believed, that with the New Year some of the sunshine of London life would be theirs.
The quarterly allowance from Mr. Danesfield always arrived on the first of the month. On the first of December this year the welcome letter, with its still more welcome enclosure, was duly received. The girls celebrated the event with a little breakfast feast—they ate water-cresses, and Primrose and Jasmine had a sardine each to add flavor to their bread and butter. Whatever happened, Daisy always had her fresh egg, which she shared with the Pink, for the Pink had been brought up daintily, and appreciated the tops of fresh eggs. On this occasion Mrs. Dove herself brought up Primrose’s letter. Letters came so seldom to the girls that Mrs. Dove felt it quite excusable to gaze very hard at the inscription, to study the name of the post town which had left its mark on the envelope, and lingering a little in the room, under cover of talking to Jasmine, to watch Primrose’s face as she opened the cover.
“It is from Mr. Danesfield, is it not, Primrose?” exclaimed Jasmine—“Oh, I beg your pardon, Mrs. Dove; no I didn’t much care for that new story which is begun in The Downfall.”
Mrs. Dove had a habit of dropping little curtseys when she meant to be particularly deferential—she now dropped three in succession, and said in a high-pitched, and rather biting voice—
“It isn’t to be expected that the opinions of young ladies and of women who have gone through their world of experience, and therefore know what’s what, should coincide. I leave you ladies three to read your refreshing news from absent friends.”
Mrs. Dove then turned her back, and meekly shutting the door behind her, left the girls to themselves.