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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 26. A Delightful Plan
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 26. A Delightful Plan Post by :dmindia Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1710

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 26. A Delightful Plan

CHAPTER XXVI. A DELIGHTFUL PLAN

Neither Primrose nor Jasmine could quite understand their little sister that night--her cold was worse, but that fact Primrose accounted for by Jasmine's imprudence in taking her out; but what neither she nor Jasmine could understand was Daisy's great nervousness--her shrinking fear of being left for a moment by herself, and the worried and anxious look which had settled down on her usually quiet little face. Primrose determined to do what she had never done yet since they had come to London--she would commit the unheard-of extravagance of calling in a doctor.

"I think Daisy is very feverish," she said to Jasmine; "only that it seems impossible, I would say she has got some kind of shock, and was trying to conceal something. You are quite sure that you locked the door when you left her alone here this afternoon, Jasmine?"

"Oh, yes," answered Jasmine, "and I found it locked all right when I came back. I was rather longer away than I meant to be, for I did such a venturesome thing, Primrose--I took my 'Ode to Adversity' to the Editor of _The Downfall_. I saw him, too--he was a red-faced man, with such a loud voice, and he didn't seem at all melancholy--he said he would look at the poem, but he wasn't _very encouraging. I told him what Mrs. Dove said about his readers liking tearful things, and he gave quite a rude laugh; however, I shouldn't be surprised if the poem was taken; if it fails in that quarter, I must only try one of the very best magazines. Oh, what was I saying about Daisy? I think she was asleep when I came back--she was lying very quiet, only her cheeks were rather flushed. Of course, Primrose, nothing happened to our little Daisy; if there did, she would tell us."

"I will send for the doctor, at any rate," said Primrose; "I don't like her look. I will send for the doctor, and--and--"

But Primrose's brave voice broke, and she turned her face away.

Jasmine ran up to her, and put her arms round her neck.

"What is it, Rose darling?--are you really troubled about Daisy? or are you thinking of the expense? I wonder what a London doctor will charge? Have you got any money to pay him, Primrose?"

"I've got Mr. Danesfield's money," said Primrose; "I have always kept it for an emergency. I had hoped never to need it, but if the real emergency comes it is right to spend it. Yes, Jasmine, I can pay the doctor and you had better go down and ask the Doves the name of one, for I don't know a single doctor in London."

"Yes," said Jasmine, "I'll run down at once."

Mr. and Mrs. Dove were greatly concerned when they heard of Daisy's illness--in especial, Mr. Dove was concerned, and expressed himself willing to do all in his power for the sweet, pretty little lady. He said he knew a doctor of the name of Jones, who was a dab hand with children, and if the young ladies liked he would run round to Dr. Jones's house, and fetch him in at once.

Jasmine thought Mr. Dove very good-natured, and she expressed her great gratitude to him for the trouble he was about to take, and requested him to seek Dr. Jones and to bring him to see Daisy without a moment's delay. Accordingly, in a very short time the doctor of Dove's selection stood by Daisy's bedside and pronounced her to be suffering from nothing whatever but a common cold, ordered some medicine for her cough, and went away with the assurance that she would be as cheerful as ever on the morrow. But Daisy was not cheerful the next day; and day after day passed without bringing back either her sweet calm, or any of the brightness which used to characterize her little face. Daisy possessed in a certain degree Primrose's characteristics, but she was naturally more highly strung and more nervous than her eldest sister. After a little time her cold got better, but her nightly terrors, the look of watchfulness and anxiety, grew and deepened as the time wore on. Daisy's sweet little face was altering, and Primrose at last resolved to dismiss Dr. Jones, who was doing the child no good whatever, and to consult Miss Egerton about the little one. It may be added that Primrose was able to pay Dr. Jones's account without breaking into Mr. Danesfield's money.

Miss Egerton from the very first had taken a great interest in the girls, and when Primrose went to her, and told her pitiful little story, the kind governess's eyes filled with tears.

"My dear," she said, in conclusion, "whatever is or is not the matter with that nice little sister of yours, I am sure she wants one thing, and that is change. Now, I am not so greatly taken with those rooms of yours, Primrose. You remember I paid you a visit at Christmas, and you tried to show me all the beauties of your apartments. They were neatly kept, dear, and were clean, and were furnished with some little attempt at taste, but the ceilings were very low, the window sashes fitted badly, and there was such a draught from under the door--and, my dear child, now that you have come to me in confidence I may as well tell you that I did _not admire your landlady Mrs. Dove."

"She is rather fond of borrowing money, certainly," said Primrose, in a thoughtful voice, "but on the whole I believe she is good-natured--she lends Jasmine books, and yesterday she baked a cake herself for Daisy, and her husband brought it up to her."

"All the same," repeated Miss Egerton, "I don't admire the woman. I have never seen the man; but I would rather you were in a nice house. Now I have a proposal to make. I too have got some attics--they are quite as large as Mrs. Dove's, and can soon be made as cheerful. I can also promise you that the windows will not shake, nor will a draught as keen as a knife come in from under the door. My attics, however, I grieve to say, are unfurnished. Now, my dear, what do you pay at Mrs. Dove's?"

"Twelve shillings a week," said Primrose.

"That is a great deal for such rooms; I knew you were being imposed upon. Now, I would let you have mine for five, only somehow or other you must contrive to help me to furnish them. I can give you a carpet for your sitting-room, and a warm rug for your bedroom floor, and I believe I can supply you with bedsteads and beds, and there is a famous deep cupboard in the sitting-room, and two in the bedroom where you could easily keep all your clothes; but do you think you could provide the rest of the furniture? I would help you to get it as cheap as possible and would show you how to make old things look like new; for, my dear, I've gone through the contriving experience a long time ago. Now what do you say to my plan? You will not be cheated, you will be cared for, and you will be in the house of a friend--for I want to be your friend, my dear girl."

"Oh, how kind you are!" said Primrose, her eyes glistening. "Yes, you know how to give real help--the kind of help we girls want. I should love your plan, but I must try and find out if we really have the money. How much money will it take to put in very simple furniture--just enough for us to go on with, Miss Egerton?"

"You might manage it for ten pounds, dear, perhaps even for less, if you have that sum by you; you will soon save it in your lowered rent. Go home, and think it over, Primrose. I know Daisy will be much, much better in my house than at the Doves'. Go and think about it, and let me know what you decide to-morrow."

Primrose thanked Miss Egerton, and went back to her lodgings with a full heart. This offer from so good a friend had come, she felt, at the right moment. Accept it she must; find the ten pounds she must; and once again she thought with a feeling of satisfaction of Mr. Danesfield's letter, and felt glad that she had been able to pay Dr. Jones's bill without breaking into its contents.

She went upstairs, and instantly told Jasmine of the proposed change.

"But we can't do it," said Jasmine; "you know that we have not ten pounds to spare."

"I think," said Primrose, "that perhaps the time has come when we should open that letter Mr. Danesfield put into my hand the morning we left Rosebury. You know, Jasmine, how we determined to keep it, and return it to him unopened some day if we possibly could; but we also resolved to use it if a time of necessity really came--we resolved not to be proud about this. You know, Jasmine, it has come over me more than once lately that I have been headstrong in coming to London, only I could not endure being dependent on any one."

"Of course you could not, darling," said Jasmine. "I am certain you have done right; of course we are rather depressed now with difficulties, but I think yours was a grand plan. I have a kind of feeling, Primrose, that our worst days are over; I think it more than probable you will have a great run on your china-painting bye-and-bye, and if _The Downfall and the other magazines begin to wish for my poetry, why, of course, I shall earn two or three guineas a week. I am told that a guinea is not at all a large sum for a good poem, and I have no doubt I could write two or three a week; and then my novel--it is really going to be very good. Mr. Dove says that he would recommend me to put it in a newspaper first, and then offer it to a publisher to bring out as a book. I said I would only let my first work appear in a very high-class newspaper. I never much cared for newspaper stories, but I might put up with one of the illustrated weekly papers if it paid me well. Yes, Primrose, I feel hopeful; and I have not the smallest doubt that we can earn the ten pounds for our furniture very quickly, so let us borrow the money out of Mr. Danesfield's letter. But Rose, darling, how do you know there is any money in the letter? You have never opened it and you can't see inside."

"I've never opened it, certainly," said Primrose, "but from a hint Mr. Danesfield gave me on the last day I saw him, I believe there are three five-pound notes in the letter. Of course I am not sure, but I am nearly sure."

"Well, let us get the letter and open it," said Jasmine, "and then our minds will be at rest. Oh! there is Daisy waking out of her nice nap. Daisy, darling, would you not like to go and live at Miss Egerton's? You know you are fond of Miss Egerton, and she is turning out a very kind friend. Won't you like to live always in her nice house, Daisy love?"

Daisy's little face had flushed painfully when Jasmine began to talk, now it turned white, and her lips trembled.

"Are there--are there any little birds there?" she asked.

"Oh, Eyebright, what a silly question! Primrose had she not better have her beef-tea. I think Miss Egerton keeps a canary, but I am not sure."

"I'd rather not have any little birds about," said Daisy, with great emphasis, "and I'd greatly, greatly love to go. I like Miss Egerton. When shall we go, Primrose?"

"In a day or two," said Primrose. "We have just got to buy a little furniture, and I'm going to open my trunk now, and get a letter out which I know has money in it. Yes, we'll very soon go away from here, darling, and Miss Egerton has thought of this delightful plan entirely to please you. She says you will be much, much better when you are out of this house. Oh, Daisy! how bright your eyes look, and how pleased you seem."

"Yes," said Daisy, "I am delighted; we need never walk down this street again, need we, Primrose? and we need never to have anything to say to the Doves, most particularly to Mr. Dove; not but that he's very kind, and he's--oh, yes! he's my friend; yes, of course he told me he was my friend, but we needn't ever see him again, ever, _ever again, Primrose, darling?"

"Oh, Daisy! what a funny child you are! If Mr. Dove is your friend, why should you not wish to see him? He is not my friend, however; indeed, I may say frankly that I don't like him at all. Now drink up your beef-tea, darling."

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