Mr. Jones assured his industrious pupil when she entered his dark little shop that he had “all but” got a customer for her. The customer was a wealthy old gentleman, who had a passion for collecting china, and, in special, liked the work of beginners. The old gentleman had looked at Primrose’s plates, and had said that they were very fine, and had a certain crudity or freshness about them, which, for his part, he took to; and if she had three or four more lessons he felt morally certain that he would purchase her wares.
“He’s a splendid customer, but he was most explicit on the point of more lessons, Miss Mainwaring,” said Mr. Jones.
“But you have found me so many ‘all but’ customers who just wished me to have a few more lessons, Mr. Jones,” said Primrose, smiling sadly.
“None like the present man—none like the present man, my dear young lady,” answered Mr. Jones, rubbing his fat hands softly together. “A man who likes crudity, and calls it freshness, ain’t to be found every day of the week, Miss Mainwaring.”
Primrose admitted this fact, and, bidding her teacher good evening, without committing herself to any definite promise of taking further lessons, she turned her steps homewards. Even Mr. Jones had scarcely power to depress her to-night. She felt brave and bright, and all her youth made itself manifest in her springing, elastic step. Now that she was about to leave them, she felt horrified at the thought of having lived so long with the Doves. Her sense of relief at the thought of making her home with Miss Egerton was greater than she could express.
She entered the house, and came upstairs singing a gay air under her breath.
At the door of their attics she was met by Jasmine.
“Oh, Primrose! I have been watching for you. I am so glad you have come. I cannot think what is the matter with Daisy.”
“With Daisy?” echoed Primrose; “but I left her so bright two hours ago.”
“She was bright an hour ago, Primrose; she was sitting on the floor with the Pink in her arms, and laughing and chatting. I put on my bonnet, and left her alone for about ten minutes while I ran round the corner to get what we wanted for our supper, and when I came back she was sitting with her hands straight before her in her lap, and the Pink standing by her side, and looking into her face and mewing and Daisy not taking a scrap of notice, but with her eyes fixed straight in front of her in quite a dreadful way. When I went up to her and touched her, she began to shiver, and then to cry, and then she said, ’oh Jasmine! we can’t go away from here—we can’t; oh, we can’t! We mustn’t do it, Jasmine; we must stay here always, always!’”
“Poor little darling!” said Primrose. “She must have had a bad dream; certainly Miss Egerton is right, and her nerves are very much shaken and she wants change as soon as possible. Is she in the bedroom, Jasmine?”