Miss Martineau shook her head, and looked really angrily at Jasmine.
“Nothing to tell,” she said, sorrowfully. “Is your poor dear mother then so soon forgotten? I could not have believed it. Alas! alas! how little children appreciate their parents.”
“You are not a parent yourself, and you know nothing about it,” said Jasmine, now feeling very angry, and speaking in her rudest tone.
Primrose’s quiet voice interposed.
“I think, Miss Martineau,” she began, “that the first subject will be more than Jasmine and I can quite bear—you must forgive us, even if you fail quite to understand us. It is no question of forgetting—our mother will never be forgotten—it is just that we would rather not. You must allow us to judge for ourselves on this point,” concluded Primrose, with that dignity that suited her so well. Primrose, for all her extreme quietness and simplicity of manner and bearing, could look like a young princess when she chose, and Miss Martineau, who would have quarrelled fiercely with Jasmine, submitted.
“Very well,” she said, in a tone of some slight offence; “I came here with a heart brimful of sympathy; it is repulsed; it goes back as it came, but I bear no offence.”
“Shall we discuss your second subject, dear Miss Martineau?” continued Primrose. “I know that you have a great deal of sense and experience, and I know that you have a knack of making money go very far indeed. You ask us what our plans are—well, I really don’t think we have got any, have we, Jasmine?”
“No,” said Jasmine, in her shortest tones. “We mean to live as we always did. Why can’t people leave us in peace?”
Miss Martineau cleared her throat, looked with some compassion at Jasmine, whom she thought it best to treat as a spoilt child, and then turned her attention to Primrose.
“My dear,” she said, “I am willing to waive my first head, to cast it aside, to pass it over, and consider my second. My dear Primrose, the first thing to consider in making your plans—I take no notice of Jasmine’s somewhat childish remarks—is on what you have to live.”
Primrose knit her brows.
“I suppose,” she said slowly, “we shall have what we always had—we spent very little money in the past, and, of course, we shall require still less now. We are fond of Rosebury; I think we shall do for the present at least just what Jasmine says, and stay on quietly here.”
Miss Martineau cleared her throat again.
“My dear girl,” she said, “even to live here you must have something to live on. Now, are you aware that your mother’s annuity as a captain’s widow ceases with her death? I believe something very trifling will still be allowed to you, as his orphans, but on that point I’m rather in the dark.”
“Mother always did get ten pounds a year apiece for us,” said Primrose.
“Well, yes, my dear, we will suppose, and trust, and hope that that small sum will still be continued; but even at Rosebury you three girls cannot live on thirty pounds a year.”