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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 1. Early Days
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 1. Early Days Post by :gananathan Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1238

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 1. Early Days

CHAPTER I. EARLY DAYS

The three girls were called after flowers. This is how it came about:

When Primrose opened her eyes on the world she brought back a little bit of spring to her mother's heart.

Mrs. Mainwaring had gone through a terrible trouble--a trouble so dark and mysterious, so impossible to feel reconciled to, that her health had been almost shattered, and she had almost said good-bye to hope.

The baby came in the spring-time, and the soft, velvety touch of the little face, and the sight of the round baby limbs, had made Mrs. Mainwaring smile: had caused her to pluck up heart, and to determine resolutely to take this new blessing, and to begin to live again.

The baby came in the month of March, just when the primroses were beginning to open their pale and yet bright blossoms. Mrs. Mainwaring said that the child was a symbol of spring to her, and she called her Primrose.

The next girl was born in Italy, in the middle of a rich and brilliant summer. Flowers were everywhere, and the baby, a black-haired, dark-eyed little mite, had a starry look about her. She was called Jasmine, and the name from the very first suited her exactly.

The third and youngest of the sisters also came in the summer, but she was born in an English cottage. Her mother, who had been rich when Jasmine was born, was now poor; that is, she was poor as far as money is concerned, but the three little daughters made her feel rich. She called the child from the first her little country wild flower, and allowed Primrose and Jasmine to select her name. They brought in handfuls of field daisies, and begged to have the baby called after them.

The three girls grew up in the little country cottage. Their father was in India, in a very unhealthy part of the country. He wrote home by every mail, and in each letter expressed a hope that the Government under which he served would allow him to return to England and to his wife and children. Death, however, came first to the gallant captain. When Primrose was ten years old, and Daisy was little more than a baby, Mrs. Mainwaring found herself in the humble position of an officer's widow, with very little to live on besides her pension.

In the Devonshire village, however, things were cheap, rents were low, and the manners of life deliciously fresh and primitive.

Primrose, Jasmine, and Daisy grew up something like the flowers, taking no thought for the morrow, and happy in the grand facts that they were alive, that they were perfectly healthy, and that the sun shone and the sweet fresh breezes blew for them. They were as primitive as the little place where they lived, and cared nothing at all for fashionably-cut dresses; or for what people who think themselves wiser would have called the necessary enjoyments of life. Mrs. Mainwaring, who had gone through a terrible trouble before the birth of her eldest girl, had her nerves shattered a second time by her husband's death; from that moment she was more ruled by her girls than a ruler to them. They did pretty much what they pleased, and she was content that they should make themselves happy in their own way.

It was lucky for the girls that they were amiable, and had strength of character.

Primrose was delightfully matter-of-fact. When she saw that her mother allowed them to learn their lessons anyhow she made little rules for herself and her sisters--the rules were so playful and so light that the others, for mere fun, followed them--thus they insisted on their mother hearing them their daily tasks; they insisted on going regularly twice a week to a certain old Miss Martineau, who gave them lessons on an antiquated piano, and taught them obsolete French. Primrose was considered by her sisters very wise indeed but Primrose also thought Jasmine wise, and wise with a wisdom which she could appreciate without touching; for Jasmine had got some gifts from a fairy wand, she was touched with the spirit of Romance, and had a beautiful way of looking at life which her sisters loved to encourage. Daisy was the acknowledged baby of the family--she was very pretty, and not very strong, was everybody's darling, and was, of course, something of a spoilt child.

Primrose had a face which harmonized very well with her quaint, sweet name; her hair was soft, straight, and yellow, her eyes were light brown, her skin was fair, and her expression extremely calm, gentle, and placid. To look at Primrose was to feel soothed--she had a somewhat slow way of speaking, and she never wasted her words. Jasmine was in all particulars her opposite. She was dark, with very bright and lovely eyes; her movements were quick, her expression full of animation, and when excited--and she was generally in a state of excitement--her words tumbled out almost too quickly for coherence. Her cheeks would burn, and her eyes sparkle, over such trivial circumstances as a walk down a country lane, as blackberry-hunting, as strawberry-picking--a new story-book kept her awake half the night--she was, in short, a constant little volcano in this quiet home, and would have been an intolerable child but for the great sweetness of her temper, and also for the fact that every one more or less yielded to her.

Daisy was very pretty and fair--her hair was as yellow as Primrose's, but it curled, and was more or less always in a state of friz; her eyes were wide open and blue, and she was just a charming little child, partaking slightly of the qualities of both her elder sisters.

These girls had never had a care or an anxiety--when they were hungry they could eat, when they were tired sleep could lull them into dreamless rest--they had never seen any world but the narrow world of Rosebury, the name of the village where they lived. Even romantic Jasmine thought that life at Rosebury, with perhaps a few more books and a few more adventures must form the sum and substance of her existence. Of course there was a large world outside, but even Jasmine had not begun to long for it.

Primrose was sixteen, Jasmine between thirteen and fourteen, and Daisy ten, when a sudden break came to all this quiet and happy routine. Mrs. Mainwaring without any warning or any leave-taking, suddenly died.

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