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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 36. The Joy-Bell
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 36. The Joy-Bell Post by :Bonuses Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :938

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 36. The Joy-Bell

CHAPTER XXXVI. THE JOY-BELL

It is to be feared that Poppy stole away from her work that morning. Poor Poppy was getting into a sadly defiant mood. She was getting thoroughly tired of her aunt, Mrs. Flint, and when Jasmine appeared and said a few coaxing words the naughty girl left her work undone, disregarded the many cries for Sarah Ann and Sarah Maria, and putting on her brilliant hat and her smart jacket, sallied forth citywards with Jasmine and Daisy. In due time the three reached the office of _The Joy-bell and were admitted into the presence of the editor.

"You musn't let me accept too low terms, Poppy," said Jasmine, as they were going in at the door.

Poppy nodded very brightly in reply, and Jasmine took the seat the editor offered her with a certain little air of modest elation.

"I got your note," she began, "and I thought you'd like to see me immediately, so I came. This is my sister; she knows all about it; she's in the story herself. I've drawn all my characters from the life; and my friend, Poppy Jenkins--you saw her a fortnight ago--she's in the book too."

The editor--Mr. Potter was his name--had a habit of waving his hand when anything that he considered superfluous was being said; he now waved both Daisy and Poppy into the background, and addressed himself to Jasmine in a style which, as she said afterwards, riveted her attention on the spot.

"I wrote to you, Miss Mainwaring," he said, "because I saw germs of promise in your composition--it is young, of course, for you are very young, but it is fresh, and with due correctness, which I myself am willing to supply, I do not see why 'The Pursuit of Happiness' should not appear in our journal. We publish, however, only under certain conditions, and before I make any offer for your writings I should like to know whether you are able to fulfil them."

"That sounds in the nature of a bargain," here burst from Poppy's lips. "Now, Miss Jasmine, please will you listen very sharp, and see what the gentleman is after? Bargains seem to me to be all in favor of them that makes them. Aunt Flint made a bargain with me, and, oh my! I thought it good enough to leave the country and come up to a town whose name is wanity. Nothing have I got, Miss Jasmine, from my share of the bargain but a swimming head and the name of Sarah!"

"If this young person will cease to interrupt us," proceeded the editor, in his blandest tones.

"Oh, yes; Poppy, please stop talking," said Jasmine. "I beg your pardon, sir; I only wanted Poppy to help me when we came to terms. We have not come to the money part yet, dear Poppy. Yes, sir, I am most anxious to listen to you."

"Well, Miss Mainwaring, the facts are these--yes, I fear it is a question of money, after all. _The Joy-bell is a new magazine; we are most anxious to extend its circulation by every means in our power. We have hit on what we consider a novel, but effective expedient. Each contributor to our pages is expected to subscribe for a hundred copies per month of our magazine--these copies he is asked to disseminate as widely as possible amongst his friends. The magazine is only sixpence a month. Of course you get your friends to take the copies off your hands. Your story will, I think, run for six months--you are really put to no expense, for, of course, you must know a hundred people who will gladly take a magazine in which you appear. Thus you gain the advantage of having your story widely read and published not at your own expense."

"But please--" began Jasmine.

"If I might speak who am brought here for the purpose," here burst from Poppy, "what pay is the young lady to have for the words of genius that she has wrote upon the paper? Yes, Miss Jasmine, you said I was to let my voice be heard here--I'm not afraid, not of nobody, and here, I puts down my foot, and I says, 'What's the pay?'"

"The pay?" echoed the editor. "Surely the young lady does not expect to be paid for anything so very amateur--no, she cannot expect to be paid in money--in another way she is paid, and largely; she obtains a reputation, and what immature talent she has is brought to the fore! I am afraid, Miss Mainwaring, I must not take up any more of your valuable time--I think I have explained myself quite clearly--do you accept my offer? If you are willing to become a subscriber for one hundred copies monthly of _The Joy-bell your story shall appear; if not, I must return you your MS. with regret."

Poor Jasmine's white little face grew piteous.

"Oh, Poppy!" she began.

"Do you want it, Miss Jasmine?" said Poppy. "I calls it a cheat; but do you want it?"

"Oh, dear Poppy, I thought my words would look so lovely in Print--I am disappointed!"

"Then you shan't be, Miss Jasmine, darling. Here, sir, you're another of the Aunt Flint tribe, but my darling Miss Jasmine shall not look as she does now if I can prevent it. Please, sir, will you look in this here little purse given to you by the honest hand of toil, and see if it contains the price of a hundred of those nasty _Joy-bells_. There's my three months' wage in that purse, sir, so I expect it will prove sufficient."

The editor opened the little purse gingerly.

"Do you wish your friend to subscribe for you?" he asked, looking at Jasmine. "I will allow you to have the first instalment at a reduction. The full price for a hundred copies of _The Joy-bell at sixpence a copy will be, of course, fifty shillings. On this occasion you shall have these delivered to you at your residence for forty-five shillings."

"It's in the purse, sir," said Poppy, with an air of modest pride. "Forty-five shillings, and fifteen shillings over, for my wage with Aunt Flint comes exactly to three pounds a quarter. The fifteen shillings will find me in boots and house shoes, Miss Jasmine; and as my 'at is fresh trimmed, and I have enough cotton dresses to go on with, you are more than welcome to the two pound five."

"We will arrange it so, then," said the editor. "Miss Mainwaring, you must give me your address, and you shall receive proofs in a day or two. This sum of money provides for the appearance of the first instalment of your story. From the sale of the hundred copies you will be provided with funds for the second instalment, and so on."

"But how am I to pay Poppy back if I must give you the money that I get for the magazines?" asked Jasmine, her face becoming more crimson each moment.

"Ah! that," said the editor, with a slightly sarcastic smile, "that is surely not my affair."

After this a few comparatively trivial arrangements were made. Jasmine gave the address of the Palace Beautiful to Mr. Potter, and walked downstairs, feeling excited, pleased, and disappointed.

"Oh, Poppy!" she said, "how light, how very light your purse is."

"No, Miss Jasmine," answered Poppy, "you're out altogether there, for fifteen shillings in silver weighs more than three pounds in gold. It's my heart, not my purse, that's light, Miss Jasmine--it has done me a sight of good to help you, Miss Jasmine; I know he is a cheat in there, but never mind, when your pretty, beautiful tale appears there'll be a run on it, I think, and that _Joy-bell will be asked for high and low. You'll pay me back, never fear, and I'll be real proud to my dying day to feel that I was the first to help you."

That evening, as Jasmine and Daisy sat together waiting for Primrose to return, Daisy said suddenly--

"Did you soar to-day, Jasmine, when you took Poppy's wages to have your story printed?--was that what you call a soaring flight?"

Daisy spoke innocently, and with real desire for information, but at her words Jasmine covered her face and burst into tears.

"What a cruel remark, Eyebright," she said. "Do you know I'm quite miserable about this; I've been getting more and more wretched ever since I left that man's office. Suppose, Daisy, I don't sell a hundred copies of _The Joy-bell_; then I shall never be able to have any more of my story printed, and I shall never have it in my power to pay Poppy back. I think I must have yielded to temptation that time; perhaps I'm nothing but a vain little girl, and think myself cleverer than I am."

"Oh, I'm sure you're a genius, Jasmine," said Daisy. "I know, for I have studied your face a great deal; in the story-books I generally notice that the geniuses have the same kind of face that you have--they generally have a little discontented, surprised look about them. I admire the expression very much myself, and sometimes when I'm alone--for you know you and Primrose have to leave me a good deal alone--I try to practice it before the glass. I think it's mostly done with a rise of the eyebrows, but I never can keep mine up long enough."

Jasmine laughed.

"I do hope I am a genius," she said; "I have always longed so to be one. If I really am, it will be all right about Poppy's money, for, of course, the public will try to buy my story. It's really rather a striking story, Daisy. There's a girl in it who does such wonderfully self-denying things--she never thinks of herself for a moment--she is very poor, and yet she earns money in all sorts of delightful ways, and supports her family--she has got two sisters--they are not half as clever as she is at earning money. The story begins by the sisters rather despising Juliet, but in the end they find out how much she is worth. The leading idea in the story is the inculcation of unselfishness--oh dear! oh dear! I hope I shall prove myself a genius in having developed this character. If so, I shall be able to pay Poppy back."

"There is something so beautiful in unselfishness," said Daisy, in a rather prim, moralizing little tone. "Do you know, Jasmine, that I was once going to be frightfully selfish?--I should have been but for the Prince, but he spoke to me; he made up a lovely little story, and he told me about the Palace Beautiful."

"I never can make out why you call these rooms the Palace Beautiful, Daisy," said Jasmine.

"It's because of the way they've been furnished," said Daisy. "They are full of Love, and Self-denial, and Goodness. I do so dearly like to think of it. I lie often on the sofa for hours, and make up stories about three fairies, whom I call by these names; they are quite playmates for me, and I talk to them. I often almost fancy they are real, but the strange thing is, Jasmine, they will only come to me when I have tried to be unselfish, and cheerful, and done my best to be bright and happy. Then Goodness comes, and makes the walls shine with his presence, and Self-denial makes my sofa so soft and easy, and Love gives me a nice view through the window, for I try to take an interest in all the men and women and little children who pass, and when I sit at the window and look at them through Love's glass you cannot think how nice they all seem. I told the Prince about it one day, and he said that was making a real Palace Beautiful out of our rooms."

Jasmine sighed.

"I hear Primrose's step," she said. "Oh, Daisy! you are a darling! how sweetly you think. I wonder if these rooms could ever come to mean a Palace Beautiful to me! I don't think fairies could come to me here, Daisy. I don't think I could see things through their eyes. I want my palace to be much larger and grander than this. Perhaps if I am a real genius it will come to me through my story; but, oh! I hope I did not do wrong in taking Poppy's money."

"No, for you are a genius," said little Daisy, kissing her affectionately.

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