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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 22. Cross Purposes
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 22. Cross Purposes Post by :dmindia Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :2369

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 22. Cross Purposes

CHAPTER XXII. CROSS PURPOSES

After his interview with Jasmine in St. Paul's Cathedral, Arthur Noel went home to his very luxurious chambers in Westminster, and wrote the following letter to Mrs. Ellsworthy:--

"MY DEAR MOTHER-FRIEND,

"The most curious thing has happened. I came accidentally to-day across the three girls about whom you were so interested. I met them at St. Paul's, and could not help speaking to the second one. The brightness, and yet the melancholy, of her little face attracted my attention. She was not with the rest of her party, but sat for some of the time on one of the chairs, and then knelt down and covered her face. Poor little soul! I think she was crying. My sympathies were roused by her, and I spoke. She flashed up a very bright glance at me, and we became friends on the spot. I took her about the cathedral, and showed her one or two objects of interest. She was full of intelligence. Then her sisters joined her, and your boy came up, and, of course, his name came out; and there was confusion and wondering glances, and the girl whom I had spoken to turned first crimson, and then white, and her dark grey eyes became full of tears. 'I know the Ellsworthys; they are my dear, dear friends!' she exclaimed.

"I found out where the three lived before I left them. They were accompanied by a prim-looking maiden lady, who was introduced to me as a Miss Slowcum, and who appeared to be taking excellent care of the pretty creatures. All three are delightful, and I have lost my heart to them all.

"Can I do anything for them? Of course you have already told me what perverse creatures they are, and Miss Jasmine confirmed your story, only, of course, she put her own coloring on it. I pity them, and yet, to a certain extent--forgive me, mother-friend--I admire their spirit. That eldest girl had a look about her face which will certainly keep every one from being rude to her. Such an expression of innocence and dignity combined I have seldom come across. Now, can I help them? It is an extraordinary thing, but I have a wonderful fellow-feeling for them. I can never forget the old days when I too was alone in London, and you took me up. Do you remember how you met me, and took my thin and dirty hands in yours, and looked into my face and said: 'Surely this is a gentleman's son, although he is clothed in rags?' I could just remember that I was a gentleman's son, and that I used to put my arms round a beautiful lady's neck and kiss her, and call her mother. Between her face and me there was a great horror of darkness, and suffering, and ill-usage; and my memories were feeble and dream-like. I don't even now recall them more vividly. You took me up, and--you know the rest of my history.

"Well, it is a strange thing, but those girls, especially that little Jasmine, brought back the memory of the lady whose sweet face I used to kiss. Can I do anything for your girls? There are a thousand ways in which I could help them without hurting their proud spirits.


"Yours affectionately,
"ARTHUR NOEL."

In a very short time Mr. Noel received a brief communication from Mrs. Ellsworthy:--

MY DEAR ARTHUR,

"Your letter has been an untold relief. It was a special and good Providence that directed your steps to St. Paul's on that afternoon. My dear little Jasmine!--she is my pet of all the three. My dear Arthur, pray call on the girls at that dreadful Penelope Mansion; they are so naughty and so obstinate that they simply must be caught by guile. You must use your influence to get them out of that dreadful place. Look for respectable and nice lodgings, and go beforehand to the landlady. If she is very nice, confide in her, and tell her she is to look to me for payment, but she is on no account to let out this fact to the girls. Kensington is a nice, quiet, respectable neighborhood; you might take the drawing-room floor of a very quiet, nice house, and ask the landlady to offer it to the girls for five shillings a week, or something nominal of that sort. Primrose is so innocent at present that she will think five shillings quite a large sum; but tell the lady of the house to let it include all extras--I mean such as gas and firing. I suppose you could not get a house with the electric light?--no, of course not; it is not used yet in private dwellings--gas is so unwholesome, but the girls might use candles. Tell the landlady to provide them with the best candles, and tell her I'll pay her something handsome if she'll go out with them. And, my dear Arthur, _don't let them go in omnibuses. Do your best, and, above all things, take them away from that awful mansion as soon as possible.


"Your affectionate Mother-Friend,
"KATE ELLSWORTHY."

But alas! when Arthur Noel, in accordance with Mrs. Ellsworthy's instructions, went to see the girls, he was confronted first by Mrs. Flint, who assured him in her soft and cushion-like style that the young ladies had left, and as they had been undutiful enough not to confide in her she could furnish him with no address. As he was leaving the mansion Poppy Jenkins rushed up to him.

"I heard you asking for my young ladies, sir, but it ain't no use, for they're gone. Flowers of beauty they was--beautiful in manner and in face--but they ain't to be found here no more. The Mansion didn't suit them, and the people in the Mansion didn't suit them, and that isn't to be wondered at. I suppose they has gone to a more congenial place, but the address is hid from me; no, sir, I know nothing at all about them. Yes, sir, it's quite true--I misses them most bitter!"

Here poor Poppy, covering her face with her hands, burst into tears and disappeared down the back staircase.

Noel wrote to Mrs. Ellsworthy, and Mrs. Ellsworthy wrote back to him, and between them they made many inquiries, and took many steps, which they felt quite sure must lead to discovery, but notwithstanding all their efforts they obtained no clue to the whereabouts of the Mainwaring girls.

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