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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 11. Bread And Butter
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 11. Bread And Butter Post by :gananathan Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1555

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 11. Bread And Butter

CHAPTER XI. BREAD AND BUTTER

Primrose, her head a little more erect than usual, her step firm, and a proud bright light in her eyes, went quickly down the little rambling village street. The plain black dress she wore set off her yellow hair and extremely fair complexion to the best advantage. She had never looked sweeter or more independent than at this moment, when, for the first time in her young life, she was about to ask for help.

Mr. Danesfield was not so busy this morning, and he saw his young visitor without delay.

"Sit down, my dear," he said; "I am very pleased to see you. You want to ask for my advice? I will give it with the greatest pleasure."

Primrose raised her head slowly. "I have been thinking over what you said yesterday," she began. "As it is quite impossible for my sisters and me to live on our little income, even with the help of what you have in the bank, we must try to help ourselves, must we not?"

"This is a brave thought, my dear--of course you must help yourselves, and you will be none the worse for doing so."

"We must earn money," continued Primrose. "How can girls like us, who are not educated--for I know we are not _really educated--add to our incomes?"

Mr. Danesfield knit his brows. "Child," he said, "you ask me a puzzler. I have no children of my own, and I know very little about young folk. Of one thing, however, I am quite certain; Daisy can earn no money, nor can Jasmine. You, Primrose, might with some difficulty get a little place as a nursery governess; you are a nice, presentable-looking girl, my dear."

Primrose flushed, and the tears, wrung from great pain, came into her eyes.

"There is just one thing," she said, in a tremulous voice; "whatever happens, we three girls won't be parted. On that point I have quite firmly made up my mind."

Mr. Danesfield again knit his brows, and this time he fidgeted uneasily on his chair.

"Look here, Primrose," he said: "I am an old bachelor, and I don't know half nor a quarter the ways in which a woman may earn her living. I have always been told that a woman is a creature of resources. Now it is a well-known fact that an old bachelor has no resources. You go and put your question to Miss Martineau, my dear. Miss Martineau is a kind soul--'pon my word, now, a very kind soul--and she has managed wonderfully to exist herself on absolutely nothing. You go to Miss Martineau, Primrose, and get some secrets from her. Everything in my power you may depend on my doing. I will exert my interest, and my purse is at your service."

Here Primrose got up.

"Good-bye, Mr. Danesfield," she said. "I know you mean to be very kind, but we three must keep together, and we must be independent." Then she left the office, and went again down the street.

Mr. Danesfield looked after her as she walked away.

"Poor, proud young thing!" he said to himself. "Life will be a tussle for her, or I am much mistaken. She is really growing wonderfully nice-looking, too. How she flushed up when I said she was presentable--poor child! poor child! That mother of theirs might have done something to provide for those girls--lady-like girls--distinguished-looking. I expect the mother was a weak, poor soul. Well, I hope Miss Martineau will think of something. I must call and see Miss Martineau; 'pon my word I don't know what to suggest for the children to do."

When Primrose arrived at Miss Martineau's, that lady was just dismissing the last of her morning pupils. She was standing on her steps in her neat brown alpaca dress, over which she wore a large black apron of the same material with a bib to it. This apron had capacious pockets, which at the present moment were stuffed with her pupils' French exercises. On her head she had an antique-looking cap, made of black lace and rusty black velvet, and ornamented with queer little devices of colored beads.

She was delighted to see Primrose, and took her at once into her little sitting-room. "Now my dear, you will stay and have dinner with me. You don't mind having no meat, dear. My middle-day meal to-day consists of a salad and a rice soufflee. You are welcome to share it with me, Primrose."

"Thank you," said Primrose, "but I am not at all hungry. If you do not mind, I will talk to you while you dine. Miss Martineau, I have come to ask your advice."

Miss Martineau came up instantly and kissed the young girl on both cheeks.

"My love, I am delighted. It gives me the sincerest pleasure to give counsel to the young and inexperienced. Have you come from Mrs. Ellsworthy, dearest?"

"Not at all," answered Primrose. "Mrs. Ellsworthy has nothing to say to me. She is only a friend, nothing more. Miss Martineau, we have discovered that we cannot live on our little income. Please will you tell me how we can add to it, so that we three can keep together?"

"Keep together--impossible!" replied Miss Martineau. "There is nothing whatever before you, Primrose, but to face the inevitable. The inevitable means that you must break up your home--that you obtain, through the kind patronage of the Ellsworthys, a situation as governess, or companion, or something of that sort--and that the little girls, Jasmine and Daisy, are put into a good school for the orphan daughters of military men. The Ellsworthys will use their influence toward this end. They are very kind--they have taken up your cause warmly. Primrose, my dear, it sounds hard, but plain speaking is best. You must be parted from your sisters. This is inevitable. You have got to face it."

"It is not inevitable," answered Primrose--then she paused, and her face turned very white.

"It is not inevitable," she repeated, "for this reason because neither you nor Mrs. Ellsworthy have the smallest control over my sisters or myself. I asked for your advice, but if this is the best you can give, it is useless. Mrs. Ellsworthy never cared to know my mother, and she is not going to part my mother's children now. Good-bye, Miss Martineau--no, I am not hungry, I have a headache. Oh, I am not offended--people mean to be kind, but there are things which one cannot bear. No, Miss Martineau, the inevitable course you and Mrs. Ellsworthy have been kind enough to sketch out, my sisters and I will certainly not adopt."

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CHAPTER X. WAYS OF EARNING A LIVINGThat night, after her sisters were in bed, Primrose again sat up late--once again she read her mother's letter; then burying her face in her hands, she sat for a long, long time lost in thought. Jasmine and Daisy, all unconcerned and unconscious, slept overhead, but Hannah was anxious about her young mistress, and stepped into the drawing-room, and said in her kind voice-- "Hadn't you better be getting your beauty sleep, missie?" "Oh, Hannah! I am so anxious," said Primrose. "Now, deary, whatever for?" asked the old servant. Primrose hesitated. She wanted to talk
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