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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 8. Thirty Pounds A Year
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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 8. Thirty Pounds A Year Post by :gananathan Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :2495

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The Palace Beautiful: A Story For Girls - Chapter 8. Thirty Pounds A Year

CHAPTER VIII. THIRTY POUNDS A YEAR

Miss Ellsworthy thought Primrose both tiresome and obtuse, but here she was mistaken.

Miss Martineau's solemn looks, Mr. Danesfield's emphatic injunctions to make the most of their visit to Shortlands, and, above all, the expression of deep distress on Mrs. Ellsworthy's charming face when she spoke of their poverty, were by no means thrown away on her.

She felt very grave as the three sisters were driven home in the Ellsworthys' luxurious carriage. She scarcely joined at all in Jasmine's chatter, nor did she notice Daisy's raptures over a tiny white pup--Mrs. Ellsworthy's parting gift.

On their arrival at home the Pink greeted this unlooked-for addition to the family with a furious assault; and Jasmine, Daisy, and Hannah were all intensely excited over the task of dividing the combatants; but Primrose felt but small interest, and owned that she had a slight headache.

Nevertheless, when the younger girls retired to bed she sat up, and, taking out an account-book, began an impossible task. Even all the resources of this young and vigorous brain could not make thirty pounds cover a year's expenses. Again and again Primrose tried. The rent of the cottage was twelve pounds a year. She pronounced this extravagant, and wondered if they could possibly get a cheaper dwelling.

Then there were Hannah's wages. Well, of course, they could do without Hannah--it would be very painful to part with her, but anything would be better than the humiliating conclusion that Mrs. Ellsworthy and Miss Martineau considered them too poor to live. Then, of course, they could do without meat--what did healthy girls want with meat? Only--and here Primrose sighed deeply--Daisy was not _very strong. Eggs were cheap enough in Rosebury, and so was butter, and they could bake their own bread; and as to clothes, they would not want any more for a long time. Here Primrose again felt herself pulled up short, for Jasmine's walking-shoes were nearly worn through.

She went to bed at last, feeling very depressed and anxious. Thirty pounds was really a much smaller sum of money than she had given it credit for being. Try as she might, it would not stretch itself over the expenses of even the humblest establishment of three. She was much comforted, however, by the reflection that there remained a large sum to their credit in the bank. Primrose found her faith shaken in the capacities of an income of thirty pounds a year; but a sum total of two hundred pounds she still believed to be almost inexhaustible. She resolved to go and consult Mr. Danesfield on the morrow.

Mr. Danesfield was generally to be found in his private room at the bank by ten o'clock in the morning. Very soon after that hour on the following day a clerk came to say that one of the young ladies from Woodbine Cottage wanted to see him. "The eldest young lady, and she says her business is very pressing," continued the man.

The bank at Rosebury was only a branch office of a large establishment in the nearest town. It happened that that morning Mr. Danesfield was particularly busy, and anxious to get away to the large bank at an early hour. For more reasons than one, therefore he felt annoyed at Primrose's visit.

"Poor child," he said to himself, "I have certainly nothing very good to tell her; and I have undoubtedly no time to waste over her this morning."

Aloud, however, he said to his clerk--

"Ask Miss Mainwaring to step this way--and, Dawson, order my trap to be at the door in ten minutes."

"I won't keep you very long, Mr. Danesfield," began Primrose, in a quick and rather nervous manner for her.

Mr. Danesfield was always the soul of politeness, however irritable he might feel.

"Sit down, my dear young lady," he said; "I am delighted to see you, and I can give you exactly five minutes."

"I want to ask you two questions," began Primrose. "The questions are short. They are about money; and you understand all about that."

"Not all, my dear girl--money is far too great a theme to be wholly comprehended by one single individual."

Primrose tapped her foot impatiently--then, after a brief pause, she raised her clear brown eyes, and looked full at the banker.

"How much money have we in the bank, Mr. Danesfield?"

"My dear child, not much--very little, scarcely anything. 'Pon my word, I am sorry for you, but your entire capital does not amount to quite two hundred pounds."

Primrose received this information calmly.

"Thank you," she said--"I just wanted to know from yourself. Now, I have one other question to ask you, and then I will go. My sisters and I have thirty pounds a year to live on. By drawing a little on our capital, say, taking ten or fifteen pounds a year from it, can we live, Mr. Danesfield?"

Mr. Danesfield rose from his seat, and coming over to Primrose, laid his hand on her shoulder--

"Live! my poor, dear child; you and your sisters would starve. No, Miss Mainwaring, there is nothing for you three girls to do but to turn to and earn your living. Your friends, I doubt not, will help, and you must take their help. I shall be delighted to give advice. Now, my dear child, my trap is at the door, and I must go. Good morning--good morning."

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