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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 48. One Shoe Off And One Shoe On
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 48. One Shoe Off And One Shoe On Post by :Grroeb9 Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1243

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 48. One Shoe Off And One Shoe On


"I must see you, Poppy--I must see you, and I can't come into the house. I could not face Mrs. Mortlock, nor Mrs. Dredge, nor Miss Slowcum. I am a dreadful failure, Poppy, a dreadful, dreadful failure, and I cannot look any one in the face. Do come out with me, dear Poppy, and at once; for if I can't speak to you at the present moment my heart will break."

"They're teaing just now," said Poppy, in a reflective tone; "they are all in the dining-room as snug as possible over their high tea. They have shrimps for tea, and a wonderful new kind of paste that Aunt Flint brought in to-day. It's called Gentlemen's Relish, and eats well on hot toast, and I made a lot. Oh, my! won't the ladies go in for it! Though Miss Slowcum always is so bitter against gentlemen, she will eat their relish, and no mistake. Well, Miss Jasmine they are all engaged over the pleasures of the social board, and what's to hinder you and me going down to the back scullery and having our talk there? You see, miss, if I went out with you I'd have to tidy up a bit first, and that would take time."

"You are quite sure they won't hear me, Poppy, if I walk across the hall. Miss Slowcum is dreadfully curious, and if she heard my step in the hall she would run out even though she was eating Gentlemen's Relish. I do not want any one to see me now that I am a failure."

"Step on this mat," said Poppy--"now on this; now make a spring here. There you are. Now we'll be down in my scullery long before Miss Slowcum can get to the dining-room door. Now, miss, let me put a seat for you. The scullery ain't so damp to-day, is it, Miss Jasmine?"

"I don't know," said Jasmine, who looked very tired, and almost ill. "Poppy, dear, I have not brought the one and sixpence."

"Oh, it don't matter," said Poppy. "One and sixpence never fretted me yet, and it ain't going to begin. You'll pay me when you can, Miss Jasmine, and there ain't no hurry."

But Jasmine noticed that Poppy moved her little feet out of sight, and in spite of her brave words Jasmine observed a look of dismay creeping into her bright eyes.

This slight action on Poppy's part--this little lurking gleam of disappointment--were as the proverbial last straw to poor Jasmine. Her fortitude gave way, and she burst into the bitterest tears she had ever shed.

Poppy was much alarmed, and stood over her dear little lady, and brought her cold water, and tried to comfort her by every means in her power.

When Jasmine had a little recovered herself she told the whole bitter story of her morning's adventure to Poppy. That young person's indignation knew no bounds.

"The editor must be put in prison," she said; "he must be caught and put in prison. Mrs. Jones the charwoman has a second cousin once removed, whose first cousin is married to a policeman, and Mrs. Jones is coming here to-morrow, and I'll get her to see her second cousin, and the second cousin shall see her first cousin who is married to a policeman, and he will tell us what is to be done. That's going to the fountainhead, ain't it, Miss Jasmine? Never you fear, miss, darling, that editor shall be locked up in prison, and be made to give back your money. Never you fear, dear Miss Jasmine, it will all come right when Mrs. Jones sees her second cousin who has a first cousin who is married to a policeman!"

Poppy became quite cheerful when she remembered Mrs. Jones's remarkable means of getting at a policeman, but Jasmine could not be comforted; she shook her head almost petulantly.

"It's all most puzzling for me," she said, "about Mrs. Jones and her policemen; it sounds exactly like the House that Jack Built, and I shall have a swimming head myself if I listen to you. No, Poppy, that policeman will never lock the wicked editor up in prison; he is a great deal too clever to allow himself to be locked up. Oh, dear! Poppy, what shall I do? All your money is gone, and my story is gone, and I know you are wanting boots as badly as possible. You are a dear, brave Poppy, but I know you have not a boot to your foot."

"Yes, Miss Jasmine, I has, I has one boot and one shoe; the shoe is an out-door one, and heavy, and the boot is a light one. Worn together, they make one walk a little one-sided, and the ladies, in particular Miss Slowcum, don't like it, but, lor', that don't matter nothing to speak of; they can't do nothing to me except tack on a few more names to Sarah. It don't fret me, Miss Jasmine, and it needn't fret you."

"All the same, I am going to get you your money, Poppy. I have absolutely made up my mind. I don't know how to do it, but do it I will. I had to come here to-night to tell you what had really happened; but now I am going home. You won't have to wear that dreadful boot and shoe together much longer."

After this Jasmine managed to walk through the hall without being detected by Miss Slowcum; and very tired and weary, in process of time she found her way back to the Palace Beautiful. She drank a glass of milk which Bridget had laid ready for her, and ate two or three slices of bread and butter. Then she went into the little bedroom, with its three pretty white beds, and opening her own special trunk began to examine its contents. She was dreadfully frightened at what she was about to do, but all the same she was determined to do it. She would pawn or sell what little valuables she possessed to give Poppy back her wages.

When the girls left Rosebury, Primrose made a very careful division of her mother's possessions. To Jasmine's share had come some really beautiful Spanish lace. Jasmine had not particularly admired it, but Primrose fancied that it would some day suit her speaking and vivacious face better than it would herself or Daisy. Jasmine had jammed the lace into a corner of her trunk, and but for the memory of dear mamma which it called up, would have made it a present to anybody. But one day it so happened that Miss Egerton caught sight of it; she exclaimed at its beauty, and said that it was really worth a considerable sum of money.

The lace consisted of a handsome shawl of black Spanish, and what was more beautiful, and also rarer, two very lovely flounces of white.

Miss Egerton was quite right when she spoke of the lace as valuable, but her ideas of value and Jasmine's were widely different. Jasmine would have thought herself well repaid if any one had given her Poppy's wages for the old lace; she would indeed have opened her eyes had she known at what sum Miss Egerton valued it. In addition to the lace Jasmine had a little thin gold ring which Mrs. Mainwaring had worn as a guard to her wedding-ring. Jasmine much preferred the ring to the lace, but she slipped it on her finger, intending to part with it also, if the lace did not fetch enough money. She knew that Primrose would be deeply hurt at the lace being sold, for she had over and over said that come what might, they would not part with their few little home mementoes; but Jasmine was past caring even for what Primrose said to-night. With her lace wrapped up in an untidy parcel she slipped downstairs. Bridget came into the hall to speak to her.

"Look here, missie, is it not a little late for you to be going out?"

"Oh, not at all, Biddy, dear. I am going a little way. I won't be long."

Then Jasmine went up to the old servant and spoke in her most coaxing and fascinating tones.

"Biddy, what did you say was the sign of a pawnshop?"

"A pawnshop, Miss Jasmine? Why, bless us and save us, miss, what have you got to say to such places?"

"Oh, nothing in particular, Bridget, only I thought I would like to know. I am always trying to get information on every kind of subject. Is the pawnshop the sign of the three balls, Biddy?"

"Yes, yes, miss--what a curious young lady! There, run out and take your walk quick, and come back as soon as possible, for though it's close on Midsummer Day we'll have the night on us before you return if you are not quick."

Jasmine left the house, nodding brightly to Bridget as she did so, and the old servant returned to her interrupted work.

"She's a bright bonnie girl," she said to herself, "and hasn't she got a winsome way? I hope she drank up her milk, for she is looking a bit pale, and I hope she won't stay out late, for it may turn damp when the dew begins to fall."

Bridget was busy over her work, and was thinking of Jasmine after all in only a very lazy and comfortable fashion when a cab drew up to the door, and Miss Egerton most unexpectedly returned. She was not in the house a moment before she asked for Jasmine.

"She's just gone out, ma'am," answered Bridget. "She had a parcel in her hand, and she said she was going out for a run. No, ma'am, I don't say she's looking at all particularly well. She's very white and worried looking, and she is scarcely ever in the house. She says she must improve her mind, and that is why she is out, and she do ask the funniest questions. Just now it was to know what was the sign of a pawnshop."

"The sign of a pawnshop?" echoed Miss Egerton; "and did you tell her, Bridget?"

"Why, of course, ma'am. She said she wanted to know for the improving of her mind. She had a little parcel in her hand, and she said she would be back again in no time. Shall I get you a cup of tea, ma'am?"

"No, thank you, Bridget. I cannot eat until I find out about Miss Jasmine. I do not like her asking you those questions, Bridget, and I do not like her taking a little parcel with her. The child may be in want or trouble. I must see to it at once. Bridget, have you any idea which is the nearest pawnshop to this?"

"Oh, ma'am, there's Spiller's round the corner, and there's Davidson's in the main road. Now, Miss Egerton, I am most certain Miss Jasmine wanted to hear about the pawnshop for the sake of improving her mind, and for that reason only. I wish you would stay, ma'am, and have your cup of tea, for you look real tired."

But Miss Egerton was gone.

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