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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 32. Jasmine Begins To Soar
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 32. Jasmine Begins To Soar Post by :dmindia Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1485

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 32. Jasmine Begins To Soar


When Primrose went home and told her sisters and Miss Egerton what she had done, Jasmine's eyes had grown first bright, and then misty.

"To be continual reader to Mrs. Mortlock!" she exclaimed. "Oh, Primrose, it is an act of self-denial to you--it is, isn't it? Own at once that you were very brave to do it, darling."

"I don't think so," said Primrose; "there may be a certain little amount of drudgery in it, and perhaps I would rather have orders to paint beautiful roses and lilies on china plates, but you see, Jasmine, this work has been sent to me--I think God sent it, and I must not refuse it because perhaps I would like something else better."

"That's bravely spoken, Primrose," said Miss Egerton who was sitting by, for she often spent odd half-hours with the girls. "Look at everything in the same spirit, my love; try to see God's hand in all the little events, and you will have a brave life and a happy one."

"And a successful, I hope," added Jasmine. "Miss Egerton, how awful it would be if we girls were to fail!"

"My Prince says," here interrupted Daisy, "that whenever we do a good thing and a right thing, we bring something fresh and lovely into our Palace Beautiful. Isn't it nice to think that dear old Primrose has done this?"

"The money, too, will be of great help," added Primrose. "Why, Jasmine, we may even be able to save a little."

Thus encouraged, Primrose commenced her duties, and though her throat ached--and she certainly found the continual reading of politics, interspersed with very sharp discussions on the part of Mrs. Mortlock, anything but agreeable--she did not give way.

Miss Egerton was pleased to see Primrose so bright, and was glad to know she was really earning something; and Jasmine and Daisy prepared the cheeriest welcomes possible for her evening after evening on her return.

Jasmine, however, by no means intended Primrose to be the only one who was to bring assistance to the household purse.

Jasmine knew that they had all come up to London on purpose to be educated, or to educate themselves, sufficiently to earn their livings. She considered that six months' experience of the ups and downs of London life might bear fruit in her case as well as in her sister's.

Jasmine was supposed to be having her style formed by Miss Egerton's daily tuitions, but Miss Egerton's words of encouragement over her pupil's productions were decidedly meagre; and Jasmine, though she loved her, had long ago confided to Daisy that she considered Miss Egerton's manner had a damping effect on enthusiasm.

One bitterly cold March day Jasmine had been sitting for hours scribbling away at her novel. Daisy petted the cat, looked over some well-known picture-books, and finally sank back into the recesses of one of the most comfortable chairs in the room and began to think about the Prince.

"Don't go to sleep, Daisy," called out Jasmine presently. "I'm coming over in a minute to consult you."

Nothing could possibly be more gratifying to Daisy than to know that Jasmine wished to ask her advice. She accordingly roused herself, ceased to think of the Prince, and said, in a very bright little voice--

"I'll help you the best I can, Jasmine."

"It's just this," said Jasmine, dashing down her pen on the top of her manuscript, and causing thereby a great blot--"it's just this, Daisy; I've got to do something, and you have got to help me."

"Oh, I'm sure if I can," said little Daisy, still in that slightly patronizing voice, for the little maid's head was almost turned by being thus appealed to. "Is it to sew on buttons for you, Jasmine? for though I don't like sewing on buttons, I'll do it, or even--even--I'll darn your stockings, dear Jasmine."

Jasmine laughed.

"It's nothing of that kind, Eyebright; it's something much, much more important. You know, Daisy, what we came up to London for--why, of course you know why we left all our dear friends, and are living in about the very dullest part of London--of course you know?"

"Was it?" said Daisy, looking dubious; "was it--I never could quite make out--because Primrose did not like Mrs. Ellsworthy?"

"Oh, you silly, silly little thing! What a dreadful thing to get into your head, Daisy-flower! I did think you knew why we came to town, and gave everything up, and made ourselves so miserable."

"We did make ourselves miserable," sighed Daisy, "and I had to take Mr. Dove for my friend. I like to have him for my friend, though. What was the reason, please, Jasmine?"

"We came to London for the glorious privilege of being independent," chanted Jasmine, in a majestic voice. "Daisy, I'm going to be it. I'm going to fling my shackles to the winds. I'm going to soar."

"It sounds lovely," said Daisy. "You always were a poet, Jasmine, and I suppose poets do talk like that; but how are you going to be independent, Jasmine?"

"I'm going to earn money, little woman. Miss Egerton has kept me in shackles. I've worn them patiently, but now I burst the bonds. Daisy, I have formed a little theory. I believe girls are sent into the world with a strong bias in a particular direction. You see, it always did seem to be meant that dear Primrose was to be a companion, or secretary, of some sort; for Mrs. Ellsworthy wanted her to be Mr. Ellsworthy's secretary, and to write his letters for him. She would not be that, even though it was her bent, and now she's got to accept something far worse; for it really must be dreadful to be 'continual reader' to poor old Mrs. Mortlock. Now, Daisy, what I say is this--there's no use in wasting time or money looking after things which don't suit us. Primrose was meant to be a secretary or continual reader, and so she has to be one; and I have always been meant to belong to the rather higher order of novelist or poet, and there's no use in my being damped any longer by Miss Egerton. I don't mean to be conceited, but I know that I have got the flutterings of a poet's wings in my soul, and soar I must."

Jasmine looked very pretty while she was speaking, and little Daisy admired her high-flown words, and fully believed in her genius.

"Do soar, Jasmine, darling," she said; "I have not a notion how you are to do it, but do begin at once. It will make these rooms more than ever like a Palace Beautiful if you take to soaring in them."

"I've nearly finished my novel," said Jasmine; "and I've also written a poem. It is called the 'Flight of the Beautiful,' and is in seven parts. Each part would take up two or three pages of a magazine. To-morrow, Daisy dear, I am going to take my novel and poem into the market. I shall offer them to the highest bidders. I won't send them by post, for I always notice in books that, when gifted authors send their contributions by post, they are declined with thanks, because they aren't read. I am going to take my own manuscripts to the publishers, Daisy, and I shall propose to them to read aloud a few extracts."

"You can't be at all shy if you do that, Jasmine," said Daisy, looking in a rather awe-struck way at her sister.

"Shy?" echoed Jasmine. "If one feels it, one has only to get over it. Is that the way to conquer difficulties, Daisy?--just to be baffled by a little nervous feeling. No, I really want to fill the purse, and I also wish to give the publishers what I am sure they must be always looking for; for I have looked in vain, month after month, in several magazines, and nowhere have I seen three or four pages of continual blank verse. I suppose they can't get it, poor things! but they will in my 'Flight of the Beautiful!'"

"_I think blank verse a little dull," said Daisy, softly, and half under her breath; but, when Jasmine frowned, she added hastily, "Of course you're splendidly brave, dear Jasmine; and who'll go with you to the publisher's when you do go?"

"I've been considering that," said Jasmine; "and I think I'll take Poppy. Poppy is to have a whole holiday on Tuesday next, because her quarter's wages are due, and I'll ask her to come with me. She'd enjoy it--Poppy would--and very likely in the evening I'll be able to tell you and Primrose that I've made my first success. Oh, how happy and how proud I shall be!"

A few minutes afterwards Jasmine went out, and Daisy wondered solemnly if her bent in life was to keep on friendly terms with Mr. Dove.

"I'm very glad I took the Prince's advice," she said to herself. "I'm much, much happier since I came to the Palace Beautiful, and I don't think Mr. Dove minds much, for he has never answered my letter. Oh dear! perhaps I was too much afraid of Mr. Dove. I am so glad the Prince explained to me about being a selfish little girl. And, oh dear! there is the Prince!"

Arthur Noel often came to see Daisy. He came in the evenings at an hour when the elder girls were often away, and then Daisy sat on his knee, and chatted to him volubly.

This afternoon she told him about both her sisters.

"Is having a bent the same as destiny, Mr. Noel?" she inquired anxiously. "Jasmine says she has a bent, and she must follow it, and no one can prevent her."

"The bent can be guided, Daisy," said Arthur; but he looked puzzled and seemed uncomfortable at the little girl's news. The Ellsworthy's had begged of Noel to promote the interests of these girls. He was only too anxious to do so, but he found his task by no means an easy one. What wild imprudence would poor little Jasmine commit if she was not aided and helped; surely Primrose's work was too uncongenial for her long to continue it. Why did the girls persistently reject the kindnesses of those who would help them? Where was it all to end? Their money could only hold out to a certain date. How fragile Daisy looked, even now; had anybody been cruel to the little one? What was the mystery about Mr. Danesfield's letter? and above all things, why did not Mr. Danesfield reply to a long epistle which Arthur had sent him some weeks ago?

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