Part 4 out of 6
"I am not going to listen to any of your nonsense," said Elma. "I want
to ask you a straight question. Where is my money?"
"Your money? What do you mean?"
"What I say. I have heard the whole story from Maggie, and I can bring
her as a witness. You have put that money in hiding, and I want it at
once. There, Carrie, like a dear old soul, do own up. Let me have the
money without any more delay. Of course you have not stolen it. I know
you have not; but you have hidden it. I wish you would give it back now.
If I can't return it to its rightful owner to-night I shall get into
worse trouble. Do let me have the money back."
Carrie's face also now became pale.
"I wish I could," she said in a frightened voice. "Do you mean to say
that you really want it back?"
"Why, of course. You haven't spent it? Oh, if you have I am
ruined--ruined for life."
"No, I have not spent it; but the fact is I--What a little wretch that
Maggie was to tell!"
"She couldn't help herself; I made her. Now, speak out, Carrie. Oh, we
need not go indoors. Where is the money? Please, please, Carrie, let me
have it at once."
Elma's troubled face, her trembling hands, the anxiety depicted all over
her nervous little figure, could not but show Carrie that there was
something serious in the wind.
"Well," she said, "I am awfully sorry. I--I just did it in a fit of
mischief. I read that letter which Kitty Malone wrote to you, and it
seemed to throw light on some of your actions which had puzzled me of
late. I went to your drawer and found the money, and thought I would
give it to Sam to keep for you."
"To Sam Raynes?" cried Elma, backing a few steps, her voice assuming a
tone of terror.
"Yes. Do be careful, Elma, or you'll fall right down into the area. Why
shouldn't I lend it to Sam Raynes?"
"Well, well, it's all the same; I asked him to keep it for me."
"I'll go to him at once and get it," said Elma, preparing to run down
Carrie caught her by the arm.
"I'm awfully sorry," she said, "but it's no use, he--he says we cannot
have it for a week, perhaps a fortnight. He is doing a little deal with
it, as he expresses it. He says perhaps we'll have it back doubled."
"What can you mean, Carrie?" Elma knew nothing whatever about
speculation. That will-o'-the-wisp which leads so many astray had not
yet entered into her life.
"You need not look so miserable. Won't you like to have it back again,
not seven pounds but fourteen? and Sam says this will probably be the
case in a week or a fortnight, or at any rate in a month from now."
Elma threw up her hand in despair.
"If I have to wait a month for the money," she said, "I may as well
never have it. Oh Carrie, what have you done? You have ruined me, ruined
me! Carrie, I cannot lead a low, common life like yours; I am not fit
for it. Oh, Aunt Charlotte will never do anything more for me after
this. Kitty wants the money, and I cannot give it to her. Oh, Carrie, to
think that you should have ruined my life!"
Poor Elma covered her face with her trembling hands and went into the
house. She entered the shabby little sitting-room and sank into the
nearest chair. Carrie stood near her in real perplexity and agitation.
"What a pity you didn't confide in me when you brought it home," she
said. "Of course I didn't really want to do you an ill turn, Elma; but
you were so sly and secretive, and--and I thought I would have my joke.
You don't know how precious dull my life is; and when I saw that letter
and felt that you were keeping a nice little hoard of money, all private
and without the knowledge of your sister, it was just too much for me,
and I took it to Sam because I didn't know where to hide it safe in this
"The thing that matters," said Elma, "is the fact that I cannot get it
back. But I must get it; I must see Sam Raynes at once."
"Tell me why it is so bad," said Carrie. "You must confide the whole
thing to me now. There's no use in keeping secrets from your sister."
Thus adjured, and because she was almost distracted, poor Elma did tell.
She described as well as she could the terrible position she would be in
at Middleton School if the whole of this transaction were known. She
managed to a certain extent to open Carrie's eyes.
"Although, I cannot see what they would be so angry about," said Carrie.
"You were offered the money and you accepted it. You never wanted to
keep it; you would have given it back some time; and even if you did
keep that Irish girl out of it for a month, what would it have mattered?
But there--I see you are in a state, and I am sure I don't want to ruin
your life. You, with your high-faluting notions, must not have all your
ambitions dashed to the ground. We'll go together to see Sam, and try to
find out what can be done."
"Yes, let us go at once," said Elma in feverish haste. "I wanted to take
the money to Kitty to-night. At present she cannot tell on me; but she is
quite certain to do so if I don't return it to her at once. Let us go
down to see Sam now."
"All right," answered Carrie; "come along. I dare say we'll find him at
home. I hope we shall."
Five minutes later the girls were standing outside the door of the
Raynes' very humble dwelling. It was opened by Florrie Raynes herself.
"Hullo, Carrie, what do you want now?" she cried. "Oh, and _Miss_
Lewis," with a mocking emphasis on the word "Miss." "To what do we owe
the honor of this visit?"
"I want to see your brother," said Elma brusquely. "He has got some
money of mine, which I must ask him to have the goodness to return at
"Money?" said Florrie, opening her eyes rather wide. "Well, you can see
him for yourselves; but if it's money that is lent to Sam, I--I rather
pity the girl who wants to get it back from him again. Sam is a very
whale on money. He always swallows it wholesale."
With these anything but encouraging words, Florrie threw open the door
of the shabby little smoking-room, where Sam, with a pipe in his mouth,
was lying at his ease. He started up when he saw the girls, removed his
pipe, and going up to Carrie, laid his hand familiarly on her shoulder.
"Well, Car, so you could not do without me," he said with a smile.
"The fact is this," answered Elma, "my sister has told me that she gave
you seven pounds a couple of nights ago to keep for her. That money
happens to have been lent to me, and I want it back immediately. I have
come for it. Will you give it to me, please?"
Sam drew in his breath preparatory to giving a long whistle.
"Highty! tighty!" he cried. "You have very grand airs, Miss Elma Lewis;
but I didn't know that money was borrowed. Ho! ho! this puts a very
unpleasant complexion on things. When dear old Car brought it to me I
thought I might do what I liked with it. Did you not give me to
understand as much Car?" Here he gave Carrie a perceptible wink. She was
very much under his influence, and immmediately too her cue.
"Well, yes, Sam," she answered. "I did say you might speculate with it
if you liked."
"Of course you did, my little girl, and I took the hint and did
speculate with it, and a pretty little deal I made. So if you have
patience, Miss Elma, you will get your money back doubled, then you will
be able to return the principal and have a nice little nest-egg of your
own. Now, what do you say to that? Aren't you awfully obliged to me?"
"I say," replied Elma, "that I want the money immediately. I cannot wait
until you have doubled it, as you call it, whatever you mean by that.
Please let me have it at once, Mr. Raynes. I must have it, I----"
"I am afraid you ask for the impossible," said Sam in a careless tone.
"I have speculated with the money, and the returns will come in perhaps
in a week, perhaps a fortnight, perhaps longer. I say again that you
ought to be obliged to me. It is not every fellow who would take so much
Poor Elma gave him a despairing glance. There was evidently nothing more
to be got out of him. She left the house without a word. Carrie followed
her into the street.
"Oh Elma, don't look so miserable," said Carrie. "What is the good of
sinking into despair?"
"Don't talk to me," said Elma, pushing her sister's hand away. "You have
ruined me; that is the sort of sister you are. And I would have done
anything for you, Carrie. When I rose myself and improved myself in the
social scale, when I got my post as teacher, I would have done all in my
power to aid you and mother; but now--now we must all sink together. Oh,
Carrie, to think that I should be ruined by my own sister!"
PADDY WHEEL-ABOUT'S OLD COAT.
It was a moonlit evening in the County Donegal, and there was a broad
bar of silver shining in burnished splendor across the beautiful Lake
Coulin. Two boys were standing on the edge of the lake. A
prettily-trimmed little boat was lying at their feet. One, the taller of
the two, was standing with his hand up to his ear, listening intently.
"Ah, then, Pat, can't you stop that shuffling?" he cried to his younger
companion. "I can't listen if you keep whistling and moving your feet.
It is about time for Daneen to appear. Kitty is sure to send the tinos,
dear old girl. Father takes care to keep her well supplied."
"There, I hear Dan's horn; he is coming through the Gap," cried Pat, his
face lighting up. "Stay there, Laurie, and I'll run to meet him. He'll
just be at the other side of Haggart's Glen when I get up."
The younger boy put wings to his feet, and the next moment was out of
sight. The older boy, thrusting both his hands deep into his pockets,
stood staring straight before him into the silver light caused by a full
moon. The white radiance lit up his young person, his pronounced
features, and handsome face. There were gloomy depths in his big black
eyes, although the slightest movement, the faintest play of expression
would cause them to dance with vitality and fun; the petulant
expression, round lips, curved and cut with the delicacy of a cameo, was
very manifest. The lad was built in almost Herculean mould, so broad
were his shoulders, so upright and tall his young figure. With his head
thrown back, the listening attitude on his face, his black hair swept
from his forehead, he looked almost like a young god--all was _verve_,
expectancy, eagerness in his attitude.
"If only Kitty is true it will be all right," he muttered. "Ah, then,
what a fool I was when I allowed the other fellows to tempt me to play
that practical joke on old Wheel-about. I don't think the governor minds
anything else; but he cannot stand our making fun of that poor, old,
half-witted chap. Never again will I do such a thing. I would not have
father know this matter for all the world. Hullo! there comes Pat. I
wonder if he has got my letter."
"Nothing, nothing, and worse than nothing," sang out Pat, extending two
empty hands as he approached.
"No letter for me?" cried Laurie. He stepped out of the light, and
striding up to his brother, laid one of his big hands on the boy's
slighter shoulder. "No letter? But did you really meet Daneen?"
"Of course I did. Don't grip me so hard, old chap. He had only one
letter in his pocket, and that was for Aunt Honora, two newspapers for
father, and a heap of circulars--nothing else whatever."
"But are you certain sure? Surely Kitty would not fail a gossoon when he
was in trouble."
"I tell you, Laurie, there was nothing from her, nor from any one,
except that one letter for Aunt Honora; but perhaps you'll hear in the
Laurie made no reply; his hands dropped to his sides. The next moment he
dived into his trousers pocket and extracted a few coins.
"Have we enough for a telegram, I wonder?" he said. "Ah, to be
sure--why, we can send one now for sixpence. And I have tenpence here.
I'll wire at once. I say, Pat, we must go to the nearest post office,
and to-night. We will start now; do you mind? We can row across the
Coulin, and anchor the boat at the opposite side, and then it is only
eight miles across the mountains to Ballyshannon."
"But James Dunovan will have shut up the office," exclaimed Pat; "and if
we are absent from supper what will father say?"
"Old Jim knows us; he'll open fast enough when he hears that we two lads
have come on business."
"But they can't send the telegram after the office is shut."
"Don't make difficulties, Pat. I tell you this is a serious business.
You don't want to be banished from the country do you? We'll go
to the post office at once, and see that the message is sent to Kitty
the very first thing in the morning. Come, what are young lingering
"Supper is waiting, and Aunt Bridget will make a fuss. You know we are
not allowed to be out after ten at night."
"Bother!" cried Laurie. "Well, then, we must go home first. What a
nuisance. We'll have a bite, and then slink out. The dad can think we
have gone to bed. Why, Pat, old boy, I met Wheel-about to-day, and he
was like a mad man. He told me he had collected all that money for his
funeral. What apes we were to touch the coat!"
"Sure, it's unlike Kitty not to write," said Pat. "She is the last in
the world to leave a fellow in the lurch."
"Don't I know that? Who's fault it is it isn't hers, poor old girl.
Something has happened to the letter. Now, Pat, let us get supper over,
for we have no time to lose."
As Laurie spoke he fastened the little boat securely by a rope to a
stone near by, and then the lads turned their backs upon the
silver-burnished lake, and strode into the darkness of a narrow mountain
defile. The path was steep, and they had to scramble up, doing so with
the agility of young ponies.
"It is the thought of Wheel-about that bothers me entirely," said
Laurie, after a pause. "I don't want to have it lying on my soul--upon
my honor I don't--that I turned the poor old chap's brain still
"Oh, the money will come along before Saturday," said Pat; "and you know
you told him he must wait until Saturday. Don't you worry, Laurie. Come
on, I tell ye; there's the gong sounding at the Castle."
The deep notes of a very sonorous old gong were distinctly borne on the
breeze; the boys ran, hurrying and panting. A few moments later they had
climbed an almost inaccessible rock, had tumbled over each other up a
lawn, and entered a huge hall, where supper was spread. Squire Malone
was seated at the head of the table; down both sides were crowded
guests and different retainers--Squire Malone's cousins, all of them,
some to the fifth or sixth removed. Miss Honora Malone was at the foot
of the table, and Miss Bridget presided at the tea tray at one of the
"Sit down, you lads," roared the squire when he saw his sons; "you have
been keeping us waiting. Now take your places and fall to."
The boys dropped into the seats reserved for them without a word. They
were hungry, and enjoyed the abundant fare provided. Miss Honora began
to address them with a volley of words.
"Ah, then, boys," she said, "it is ashamed of you I am. Why should you
come in to supper like that, without your hair brushed or your hand
washed and looking as rough as a pair of young colts? Look at me, now,
how neat I am--I have changed my dress for the evening." As she spoke
she glanced at her thin arms, bare to the elbow, and touched the gold
chain that encircled her scraggy throat. "You'll never get Dublin
manners, you two," she continued, "and what will you do when you go into
society? Ah, it is enough to break the heart to look at ye."
Laurie winked boldly at her; Pat laughed, and helped himself so some
"Dennis," called out the lady, addressing her brother, "don't you agree
with me that it is very bad manners on the part of the boys to come to
supper without so much as washing their hands or brushing their hair?
Ought they not to put on evening clothes now that they are almost
assuming manhood's estate?"
"Oh, leave 'em alone, Honor," was the reply. "Boys will be boys, and
Castle Malone is Liberty Hall. Time enough a few years hence to put on
that high-faluting style. I like 'em as they are: rough diamonds no
doubt, but diamonds all the same."
The old man looked fondly at his sons. He was a picturesque-looking
figure, with snow-white hair.
"What will you do, lads, when I send you to England to school?" he said.
"England, father?" said Pat, turning pale. "It would kill me to leave
the soil on which I was born. Ah, now, father, I could not live through
it; and as to Laurie, why he would--Laurie, you know what you would do."
"Oh, father's joking," said Laurie, but his face went a little white, and
as he drained off a great glass of ice-cold water his hand trembled a
"It would not be for the making of our happiness, father," he said, just
glancing at his father. "Pat is right--it would about kill us both."
"You young beggars, kill you, indeed!" cried the squire. "Well, I have
not made my plans yet. I am thinking of it, and you may as well know it.
I have sent the girleen away, and if you can't stand what she can, why,
I don't think you have much grit in you. As to Pat, when he's a little
older he'll have to prepare for the army."
"Ay, and that's a fine polishing up," said Aunt Bridget, bridling as she
spoke, and arranging the set of her very fashionable sleeve. "My jewel
of a lad, you'll know what life is like then. You'll think a deal of
your clothes, and of the sort of thing that will kill the girls then.
Why, if you know how to manage, and with my help I dare say I can
contrive it for you, you'll get easily into the very height of Dublin
society, and be petted, and spoiled, and coaxed no end. I wonder, now,
how that girleen is conducting herself. Sometimes, Dennis when I look at
you and think how your heart is wrapped up in her and how she is so to
speak the jewel of your eye and the core of your heart I wonder how you
had the courage to let her go."
"Don't you worry me about it," cried the squire. "I did it for her good.
Laurie, where are you off to?"
"I have had about enough supper," answered Laurie. Pat also scrambled
to his feet.
"You are as ill-mannered a pair of young cubs as I ever came across,"
cried Miss Honora, now really angry. "Why, the syllabub is coming on
soon, and the trifle, and the cream that I whipped myself. Well, Pat,
you'll have to mend your manners when you get into the army; and as to
you Laurie, you'll never be as good a squire as your father, try hard as
A loud laugh at the head of the table interrupted the good lady's flow
"Honora, my woman, you are talking to the air," called out the squire.
"The boys are out of earshot. Bless 'em can't you let 'em be? They are
hearty lads, and I don't think I'll send either of them out of the
country unless they happen to displease me."
Meanwhile the lads had gone down to the lake, unshipped the little boat,
and were by this time half across the Coulin. They soon reached the
opposite shore, jumped to land, pulled up the boat, fastened it, and
started along a long narrow and mountainous path which was the shortest
cut to Ballyshannon. They walked so quickly and the hill was so steep
that they had little or no time for words. Nor were they boys who talked
much when they were alone. Laurie was given to his own meditations. Pat
was always planning some scheme which should circumvent Aunt Honora, who
lived with them, and annoy Aunt Bridget, who nearly lived with them,
although not quite. Aunt Bridget was the most fashionable member of the
family; her real home was in Dublin. She was the one who had worked upon
the squire's feelings until he had decided to send Kitty to an English
school. Pat was not fond of either of his aunts, but he disliked Aunt
Bridget the most. After an hour-and-a-half's brisk walking they reached
Ballyshannon, knocked up the postmaster, who had gone to bed, asked him
to let them in, and confided to him what they wanted. He was a
hearty-looking Irishman, and was soon as much interested in the telegram
which Laurie was to send as the boy was himself.
"You have heard what a scrape I have got into?" said Laurie.
"About that poor, mad fellow?" said James Dunovan.
"Yes; some other fellows and I stole his coat away in a fit of frolic
that day when we were out in the crazy boat on the Coulin. A sudden
breeze got up and the boat upset; and the coat--bad luck to it--sank to
the bottom like a stone. We have tried to get it up, but it is all no
go; it has got right into the mud, and not all the boys in Ireland
could move it. If the squire heard we had played a trick on Wheel-about
he would just do what I don't want him to."
"And what may that be, Master Laurie?"
"Why, Jim, he would banish me to England. You think of that!"
"Ah, to be sure, sir; and it would be a hard punishment entirely, and
all for a boy's freak. But how can you circumvent him, sir? that's the
puzzle, for old Wheel-about is as sly a fellow as walks. He knows his
power with the squire--there's a story about, but I have not got the
rights of it. Anyhow, the squire is always trying to help him. If he
cannot get his coat in which he has hidden all his money he will go
raving mad about the country, and the squire will soon get at the bottom
of the mischief."
"Oh, that's all right," answered Laurie. I saw there was no help for it,
and I took Wheel-about into my confidence. He promised if I gave him ten
pounds by Saturday next to let the matter of the coat slip by. He said
he would never tell."
"I wonder now if the craychur is to be trusted," muttered Jim, in a
"Oh, yes, he is, Jim; don't you meet trouble halfway. If once he gets
the money everything will be as right as possible. But this 'gram must
go off, and you must see to it for me."
"I'll do that, sir, and welcome, the very moment the office opens its
doors in the morning."
"How soon do you think it will reach my sister?"
"Well, to be sure, I expect in about half an hour or an hour at the
most. I often think I'd like to see them messages a-tumbling along the
wires. Do you believe as they go by the wires sir?"
"Oh, I suppose so; I don't bother my head about it. Now, then, Jim, hand
us a form and we'll fill it in. What do you think we had best say, Pat?"
"Make it strong," said Pat.
"Yes, I know that." Laurie stood biting the end of his pencil and
considering the blank form which Jimmy had provided him with.
"We must make it powerful strong," he said after a pause. "If dad hears
this, we two are about done, Pat. He's the easiest old boy in the world,
but when once he takes the bit between his teeth he is just like Slieve
Loon, our new mare. But I must not keep you up Jim; you are wanting to
get back to your bed."
"It don't matter, sir; don't you hurry yourself. I told the wife it was
two of the young gentlemen from Castle Malone, and she said I wasn't to
mind how much time I spent with you; it was only proper respect to the
"All right Jim. Now, then, Pat, what shall I say?"
"Hurry up," said Pat; "if you're not sleepy I am, and the whole house
will be locked up if we are not quick."
"I cracked a pane of glass in our window on purpose this morning," said
Laurie. "I thought it might turn out convenient."
Pat laughed. Laurie, his face flushed, bent over the telegraph form.
After a time, during which beads of perspiration stood out on his
forehead, the following message was transcribed:
"Miss Kitty Malone, care of Mrs. Denvers, Franklin Avenue, Middleton,
London, S.E.--Wake up, old girleen; hurry with the tin.--Laurie."
"That's the time of day," he said. "You read it, Jim. Can you make out
the address plain?"
"Yes, to be sure," answered Jim. "Very well, sir; this shall go. I am
sorry you're in trouble, sir; but I know the squire sends a lot of money
to Miss Kitty, for he is always coming here for postal orders."
"Oh, I am safe to have it," said Laurie. "Well, good-night Jim, and long
life to you."
The boys left the office and retraced their steps across the mountain.
They had gone about halfway home when they were interrupted by a curious
sort of sound, something between a croon and a chant. It came nearer and
nearer, and the next moment a grotesque figure showed clearly in the
moonlight. This was no other than Paddy Wheel-about himself. He was a
tall man, with a long shaggy beard, penthouse eyebrows, and eyes which
were lit now with a fitful and uncertain gleam. He was dressed in rags,
his hat was pushed far back on his head, his hair streamed over his
shoulders. The savage and yet pathetic-looking creature stopped now
before the two boys.
"I say, Paddy, it is all right," said Laurie, going up to him and laying
his hand on his shoulder. "You'll get the tin I promised either
to-morrow morning or the day after. I have just sent a telegram to the
girleen in England. Why, Kitty wouldn't let you suffer; no, not if it
were to break her heart."
A wild and yet softened look came into the man's eyes.
"It is because of the girleen I'm fretting," he said. "Listen, you two,
I feel fit to die sometimes when I think the coat is lost, and it is all
on account of the girleen herself. Why, it was she put in the last patch
and a bit of gold was hidden in it; yes, and she sewed it round with her
own pretty hands, the darling."
"We'll get back the coat some day, see if we don't," said Laurie. "And
meanwhile Paddy, you are safe to have your money on Saturday."
"All right if I do," said Paddy; "if not it is all wrong. I go to Squire
Malone. Yes, I go to Squire Malone; but I'll wait until Saturday. I
promise that much, and I'll keep my word."
"You'll keep your word for Kitty's sake?" said Laurie.
The man nodded; again his eyes softened and changed in expression, the
next moment he had turned on his heel and was out of sight.
"I do believe the only person he cares for in the world is Kitty," said
Laurie. "Do you remember when he was so ill he would only allow Kitty to
visit him? I say, Pat, we must get back that coat somehow; but in the
meantime the ten pounds will keep matters quiet."
"WE ARE BOTH IN THE SAME BOAT."
Gwin had explained all her points, and Miss Sherrard had listened to her
with indulgence, sympathy, and comprehension. They were seated together
in Miss Sherrard's charming little sitting-room.
"I am glad you take such an interest in Kitty," she said when the girl
had stopped speaking.
"I do. She is uncommon; she is unlike anybody else," said Gwin Harley.
"I hope," she added, looking anxiously at the head-mistress, "that you
will feel it right so far to mitigate her punishment as to allow the
Tug-of-war girls to talk to her. This seems just the time for a society
of this sort to help its members.
"There's a great deal in what you say, Gwin; but all the same, to my
regret, I am obliged distinctly to refuse your request."
Gwin's face, which had been slightly flushed, now turned pale. She rose
to her feet.
"Don't be hurt with me, dear," said the mistress in a gentle voice. "I
admire you for your kindness, Gwin, and I can also see the thing from
your point of view; but all the same Middleton School is a very
important one; there are from six to seven hundred girls here. Most of
these girls have got parents; all have got guardians and friends. It
would not do for them to know that such a wild and reckless act as
Kitty Malone has perpetrated should be passed over without a severe
punishment. Kitty will live through this week of isolation and be all
the better for it. At the end of that time you Tug-of-war girls can do
all in your power to help her. For this one week I must insist on her
living in Coventry. She will do her lessons, of course, for it would not
be at all wise to give her a holiday; but no girl belonging to the
school with the exception of Alice must speak to her."
"I am sorry; and you will forgive me for saying, without any disrespect
to you, that I think you are wrong," answered Gwin. She now held out her
hand to Miss Sherrard. Miss Sherrard took it and pressed it gently.
"You are a very good girl, Gwin; and I wish with all my heart and soul
that I could grant your request."
Meanwhile Kitty had returned to the Denvers' house in a whirl of
passionate protest and indignation. She could not understand why she had
been punished. The sin she had committed did not seem to be any sin at
all to her. What did it matter how she dressed or when she went out? The
fact that she had broken a very strict rule of Middleton School did not
affect her. She was now seriously unhappy--the fetters with which she
was surrounded tortured her. How could she live through the terrible
week of isolation? And what made her more wretched than anything else
was the fact that she could not see Elma in order to get the money from
her to send to Laurie.
Kitty and Laurie had always been more than ordinary friends. The
thoughts of each were known to the heart of the other. If there was one
person in the wide world whom Kitty loved with passion, almost with
idolatry, it was her handsome brother Laurie. The bare idea that Laurie
should plead to Kitty to help him, and that Kitty would be obliged to
turn a deaf ear to his entreaties was enough to madden the reckless
The whole of that afternoon she spent in her bedroom, pacing up and down
like a young caged tiger. Mrs. Denvers went to talk to her, but Kitty
would not speak. She would pour out her troubles to no one. Her proud
Irish heart felt as if it would burst from misery; but she would not
stoop to the sympathy of those who, she felt, could not possibly
Of all the Denver family, she liked Fred the best; and when he ventured
to knock at her door in the course of the evening she did not refuse to
open it to him.
"Come along downstairs at once, Kitty," said Fred, holding out his hand
"I would rather stay where I am, Fred, asthore."
"I say it's a beastly shame to have you treated like this."
"Oh, don't begin to sympathize with me," said Kitty; "if you do, I'll
cry the ocean full of tears. I am holding them back hard now. You don't
know what a thing it is when an Irish girl fairly gives way."
"Well, they're beastly hard on you; but I'm sure I would not cry if I
were you," said Fred. I'd just be too proud. But come downstairs to my
den, Kitty; I have made it awfully comfortable."
"Your den?" said Kitty, her eyes lighting up; "have you got one?"
"Yes; it's not in the house; it's in the garden, at the further end.
It's a shed; but I have made it waterproof, and I have got a little
lamp, an oil one; and we can sit there and have a jolly talk."
For a moment Kitty's eyes sparkled with renewed hope. "And I have still
got some chocolates in my drawer," she exclaimed. "We might eat them
together and have a real good time. But oh, that money! it's the money
that's bothering me entirely. Oh dear! dear! I'll let the whole thing
out if I talk any more to you Fred. Fred, it's the true comfort you are
to me, and I'll never forget it to the longest day I live; but I can't
go to that shed with you, gossoon asthore, for if I did I'd let out
"But why shouldn't you let out everything?" said Fred. "There's
something bothering you, and you're keeping it all to yourself."
"But I promised I wouldn't tell, and I don't want to break my word. I
said when she asked me, 'No; I can't keep secrets;' but then it was put
in such a way that I must keep it. I can't go with you Fred; pray don't
ask me again. Good-by to you, and thank you, thank you."
Kitty ran into her room, shut the door, locked it, and retreated to the
window, to be as far as possible from Fred's insinuating voice and ways.
Mr. and Mrs. Denvers were out again that night, and the time dragged
terribly. Kitty wondered how she was to live through a whole week of
"I promised Elma that I would not tell about her asking me for that
money," she said to herself. "I wish I hadn't said so now; but she
seemed so earnest, and I really thought nothing of it at the time. Oh
dear, dear! I wonder she does not bring it to me. She must be the
meanest of the mean. I never liked her; but now I hate her. Poor, poor,
dear old Wheel-about! Don't I know what he is feeling, and what Laurie
is feeling, my broth of a boy, my Laurie, asthore! Oh, to think that he
is in trouble, and I can't help him! How I wish I was back in Ireland
now! This will break my heart--it will break my heart."
Tears filled her eyes; but she was too proud to let them roll over.
"I will keep them back if I die for it," she said to herself. "I am
Kitty Malone, and they will break my heart if this goes on; but I won't
cry. No, that I won't."
While these thoughts were coursing through the poor girl's brain, there
came another knock at the door; an insistent and somewhat fierce one
this time. The handle was sharply turned, and the clear voice of Alice
"Open the door at once, please, Kitty," she said.
Kitty crossed the room, turned the key in the lock, and allowed Alice to
"I must beg of you, Kitty," said Alice, "not to lock the door again."
"And why not, pray? You locked it last night. It was on account of that
I am now in all this trouble."
"Really, Kitty, you are quite too ridiculous; as if I were the cause of
your trouble. You are in trouble because you disobeyed a strict rule;
and my locking the door or not had nothing whatever to do with it. You
are quite the most tiresome, inconsistent girl I ever came across."
"Well, it is nothing to you what I am," said Kitty. She sank down on a
chair by the side of her little bed as she spoke; her expression was so
woe-begone, her face so pale, the droop of her eyes so pathetic, that
Alice was slightly touched in spite of herself.
"I am going to see Bessie Challoner," she said. "If you were different I
would not leave you."
"Oh, never mind me, pray."
"All the same, I would not leave you, Kitty; for remember I am the only
girl belonging to the school who may speak to you for the next week;
but, really, your ways are so unpleasant----"
"And I so infinitely prefer your absence to your company," retorted
Kitty. "So you may go with quite an easy mind."
"Thanks awfully," replied Alice, with a sneer. Her momentary good-nature
had dried up like the dew. She put on her hat, wrapped a shawl round her
shoulders and left the room.
Kitty returned to her place by the window. It was now between eight and
nine o'clock. She had refused both dinner and tea, and was in
consequence feeling weak and faint. There was a giddy sensation in her
head to which she was not accustomed. She did not connect it with the
fact that she was starving, and wondered what was the matter with her.
She was too excited and wretched to feel her ordinary appetite. She had
gone through a great deal, and her nerves were reminding her of the
cruel trick she was playing on them. It was very dull in her room; the
gas jet shed a hideous glare over the place. The room in itself was by
no means pretty, for the paper was the worse for wear, and the paint was
nearly worn through to the woodwork. The hangings to the windows and to
the two little beds were of an ugly drab color; and the view out of
these windows only revealed a narrow street. At Kitty's own home she had
a bedroom in the Castle end; the paper hung in ribbons, the door was
draughty, the bedstead rickety and old; but what a view there was from
the windows! A view of Lake Coulin and the mountains in the distance,
and the park lying verdant and green between the lake and the house.
What a breeze blew in at those windows!
"Oh, I should never be dull if I were locked up in the dear old bedroom
at home," thought the girl. "But here! here it is enough to madden one;
and yet I must stay here, for I cannot talk to the others. I will not
allow Fred to guess my secret. Oh, what a miserable, unhappy, wretched
girl I am! I am a prisoner. Oh, if only Laurie saw me! Dear Laurie; the
darling, the treasure that he is! It would break his heart if he knew
what I am suffering."
There were no books at all interesting to Kitty in the room, so she
could not while away the lagging hours with a novel. As a rule the
arranging of her wardrobe, the trying on of her many dresses, gave her
pleasant occupation; but she was in no humor to make herself smart that
"I suppose the love of dress is a sin," she said to herself; "although
it is one of the rules of the Tug-of-war Society that the girls are to
be fashionably dressed. Anyhow, it seems to have been my undoing, for if
I had only gone out in somber ugly attire last night I might have the
money now for my darling Laurie; and this heavy, heavy weight would be
off my mind, and I should not be in disgrace at Middleton School--not
that that much matters."
She went to the window, flung it open, and looked out. It was a clear,
starlit night. She could see the sky from between the long rows of
houses. She looked up at it, and then put in her head again.
"I shall suffocate if I stay any longer in this room," she said to
herself. "After all, why should I obey Miss Sherrard? She spoke about my
word of honor; but I have not given it. I was silent--I was silent on
purpose. If I could only see Elma and get my money back all would be
right, and I could really bear the rest of this terrible week. I have a
great mind to risk it and go to her."
No sooner had the thought entered the head of the wayward girl than she
proceeded to act upon it. She put on a long cloak which reached nearly
to her feet, a little cap of blue cloth was secured over her mass of
curling hair, and then going cautiously across the room, she took the
key out of the lock, unfastened the door, shut it behind her, locked it
from the outside, put the key in her pocket, and ran downstairs.
"If the servants or Alice come up they will think I have gone to bed.
What fun if I keep Alice out of her bed for an hour or two!" laughed
Kitty. She was now once more in high excitement and pleasure. It never
took long to raise her volatile spirits. "I hope Fred won't be about. I
don't want to get the poor darling into mischief," she said to herself.
There was no one in sight, however. The younger children were away in
another part of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Denvers were out, the servants
were in the kitchen, Alice was with Bessie Challoner, and Fred was down
in his shed mourning the absence of Kitty, whose bright ways were
fascinating him more and more.
"It's all right," thought the girl. She left the house, and a few
moments later was walking at a rapid pace in the direction of
Constantine Road. The thought of her disobedience, of the daring of her
own act, but added zest and pleasure to her walk.
"How happy I shall be when I get the money," she said to herself. "I'll
coax Fred or Mrs. Denvers to get me a postal order to-morrow, and I'll
send it to Laurie at once. Oh, what a weight will be off my mind! Why,
I'll almost feel inclined to turn good again!"
The walk to Constantine Road was a long one, and Kitty on this occasion
was determined to avoid the neighborhood of the "Spotted Leopard." In
preference she took the short cut across the common. It was very lonely
here, but she had no fear of ghosts or bogies. She walked with her
upright, young carriage, her quick, alert, dancing step. It was ten
o'clock however, before she reached Constantine Road. She ran up the
steps of No. 14, and rang the bell. The door was opened to her by the
"Oh, Miss Malone," cried that young woman, "is that yourself, miss? I
has got into the most terrible trouble."
Maggie's face was flushed and blistered with crying.
"They has took away my wiolets, miss, and I call it a bitter, cruel
"Never mind that now, Maggie," answered Kitty, "I want to see Miss Elma.
Is she in?"
"That she is, miss, and she shan't escape you this time. Come right into
the parlor, and I'll send her down to you."
Kitty danced into the house. As far as her appearance now went she had
never known a sorrow nor a care in her life. She stood in the center of
the room, waiting impatiently for Elma to appear.
Maggie having shut her in, went cautiously upstairs. Elma and Carrie
were in their bedroom. Carrie was already in bed.
Maggie, who seemed to scent mischief all round, thought she would now
act with considerable guile. She knocked a low and gentle knock on the
panel of the door. Elma came to open it.
"What is it, Maggie?"
"Miss Helma, will you come outside on the landing for a minute?"
Elma went out.
"I have a bit of news about that money, miss. If you'll come right down
to the dining-room I'll tell you there."
"News about my money, Maggie? Oh, impossible!" But hope, ever ready to
dawn in the human breast, could not help rising now on poor Elma's
horizon. It all seemed utterly impossible; but what earthly sense would
there be in Maggie telling a lie.
"I was just getting into bed," she said. "Can't you tell me here?"
"No, miss, it's not me at all; it's news of the money you'll get if you
just come down to the dining-room, and be quick about it."
"Well, _I_ may as well go. Is there anybody there?"
"You go and find out, miss."
"Oh!" thought Elma, "Sam Raynes has repented. He was able to find money
after all, and has brought it to me. This is nice."
"What's the matter, Elma?" called Carrie from her bed.
"Nothing, Carrie. I'll be back in a few moments."
Elma hastily refastened her dress; put up her hands to her hair to
smooth it, and tripped downstairs, full of expectation and hope. Maggie
had relit the gas in the dining-room. Elma bounded into the room.
"Well, Sam," she exclaimed. Then she stepped back a couple of paces; she
was confronted not by Sam, but by Kitty Malone herself.
"Kitty!" cried Elma. There was a faintness in her voice, which Kitty had
no time to remark.
"Yes, Elma, I have come. I have broken my word of honor; but after all,
I never really gave it. I dare say I shall get into a worse scrape than
ever; but I can't help it. I came to you, Elma, because I _must_ have
that money. Will you let me have it now at once please--my eight
sovereigns--will you give them to me now? If I had seen you last night I
should not have been so miserable. I was coming to you when Fred and I
passed the 'Spotted Leopard.' Oh, please, Elma, give me my money at
Elma's face could scarcely turn whiter. She looked piteously at Kitty.
"I wish I could give it to you," she began; "but----"
"What do you mean; can't you let me have my own money? You have not
spent it, not all of it, have you?"
"Yes, I--I spent it."
"You spent all that money! all those eight sovereigns? Oh, Elma, you
must be joking. Can't you let me have some of it back? Please, Elma,
don't say no. It is for Laurie; he is in the most awful trouble. I must
have the money, and at once."
"I can't give it to you," said Elma. "I am awfully sorry. Sit down,
please, Kitty. Oh, Kitty, you won't tell on me?"
"I don't know what I'll do," said Kitty. "I am nearly distracted."
"But you promised you would not tell. You don't know what an awful
scrape I shall get into if you do. And you--oh, yes--you shall have the
"What do you mean by soon; to-morrow? Shall I have it to-morrow?"
"Not quite so soon as that. Give me a week, Kitty."
"I can't," answered Kitty. "It is a case of life or death to Laurie.
Your mother must give it to me if you cannot; but have it I must."
"But you are rich; surely you can manage without it for one week."
"It is not that, and I am unable to explain. Laurie must have the money.
He wants me to help him about something, and I must send it to him
"I wish I could give it to you," said Elma. "I would do anything in all
the world to let you have it back; but it isn't my fault."
"What did you spend it on? Dress?"
"Oh, in different ways." Elma had made up her mind not to tell about
Carrie and Sam Raynes.
"I'll let her think that I spent the money on finery," she said to
herself. "She is sympathizing about dress. I'll let her think that."
Kitty's hands had dropped to her sides; a look of despair filled her
"What is to be done?" she said. "I never thought for a moment you could
not let me have it back."
"You shall have it in a week; that I promise you faithfully."
"But a week will be no good, Elma. Oh! Elma, Elma, Laurie will suffer
for this. They will take his freedom from him; he will be like a chained
lion; he will lose his spirit; perhaps--perhaps he will die. I cannot
stand it, Elma, I cannot."
Kitty covered her face with both her hands, and the tears which with
difficulty she had been keeping back all the evening burst forth in
torrents. Kitty did not cry as an English girl might. She cried with the
wild, passionate sobs of those who have seldom exercised self-control.
Elma was dreadfully frightened.
"Do stop, Kitty," she said. "You make so much noise; mother and Carrie
will hear you. Carrie will come down."
"What if she does?" cried Kitty. "Oh, Laurie, Laurie! this will break
your heart. You are ruined; ruined for life!"
"There are more than Laurie ruined for life, it seems to me," said Elma.
"Kitty, I am ever so sorry; but if you will only be patient I will try
and think of some plan of helping you. Now, please, please, promise me
one thing--you won't tell that I asked you for this money?"
"Why not? I must tell some one. I must get the money somehow."
"But you made me a promise you would not tell. It is very wrong to break
"I don't care whether it is right or wrong. I cannot keep this secret,
Elma. I must remember Laurie, Perhaps Mr. Denvers will lend me the
money. I must think of Laurie first."
"Please, Kitty, listen to me. If you will promise to keep my secret I'll
manage to get you the money somehow."
"But how, Elma?"
"Oh, I'll think out some plan. Do promise me that you'll keep my secret.
It would be my ruin if it were known. Do promise, Kitty; do, please."
"I cannot," said Kitty. She walked restlessly to the door. "I must go,"
she said; "if I don't they will discover that I am out."
"And if they do you'll get into an awful scrape."
"Oh, it doesn't matter; I can't be worse off than I am. My one hope now
is that they will expel me; then I'll have to return to Ireland; and
perhaps I may coax father not to be too hard on Laurie."
"Then Kitty, you have quite made up your mind to tell all about me?"
"I think so. I cannot imagine why it matters."
"But it does, and I must give you the reason. I did wrong, dreadfully
wrong, ever to ask you for that money. I broke one of the strictest
rules of the school."
"What do you mean?"
"It is one of the strictest rules of Middleton School that no schoolgirl
must ask another to lend her money. The governors are terribly
particular. If it is ever known I shall be most likely expelled. Anyhow,
my character will be gone, and I shall be ruined for life. Oh, Kitty,
you have not such a hard life as I have. Do have pity on me."
Kitty stood silent; she was thinking deeply.
"You'll promise; won't you?" repeated Elma.
"I can't say. I scarcely know what I am doing at the present moment."
"Then listen to me. If you tell about the money I'll tell about this
visit. There; don't you see now we are quits."
"You tell! That would be mean of you."
"Yes. I'll tell that you broke your parole."
"But I never gave it."
"Oh, that is only begging the question, Kitty. Miss Sherrard understood
that you had given it. When you came here you broke it. You'll get into
a terrible scrape."
"And you spoke to me, Elma; so you too will get into a scrape."
Kitty's tears stopped like summer rain, and a flash of sunshine flew
across her charming face.
"Poor Elma, you will be in hot water too," she said. "What a muddle
everything is in."
"You see, Kitty, we must cling together, for we are both in the same
boat. I'll do my utmost to get you that money. I am sure I can manage
somehow. But you must not tell."
"All right. I'll keep the secret until after school to-morrow. Good-by,
She left the house, and Elma returned to Carrie.
"Who were you talking to all that time?" exclaimed Carrie.
"That unfortunate girl, Kitty Malone."
"You mean to say she was here?"
"Yes; she came about the money. I am miserable about it. I promised to
get it for her by hook or by crook. How can I manage?"
"Look here," said Carrie after a pause, during which she was sitting up
in bed and thinking intently. "You say that Kitty Malone is very rich?"
"Yes, of course she is. She has more money than she knows what to do
with. Why, I tell you, Carrie, the day she lent me those eight
sovereigns I saw fifteen in her purse. Fancy a girl having fifteen
sovereigns just to do what she liked with? I could scarcely realize it.
I took the money before I knew what I was doing. She did tempt me so
sorely when she showed me her purse."
"Oh, I'm not a bit surprised," said Carrie. "If I had been in your shoes
I'd have taken the whole fifteen sovereigns just as soon as the eight.
But listen to me, Elma; I have a plan in my head. I'll talk it over with
Sam to-morrow; perhaps we can get the money; but there's no saying.
I'll talk it over with Sam."
"I wish you would not. I would rather not get it through his means."
"What a dislike you have to him."
"I have. He is not good enough for you, Carrie. Oh, Carrie, dear, I vow
and declare that I'll work for you and mother; I'll work my very fingers
to the bone; I'll do anything for you. Only don't marry that horrid
"How excitable you are, Elma, and queer. Sam suits me very well. Oh, if
you don't want his help you need not have it--remember it is your
scrape, not mine."
"It is your scrape, too, Carrie. You stole the money and gave it to Sam
Raynes. You are a thief, and you have ruined your sister."
"If you begin abusing me I shall certainly not stay awake any longer,"
said Carrie; "I'm dead with sleep as it is. Now, do put out the candle,
like a good girl. I'm off to the Land of Nod."
Carrie pulled the clothes over her head and struggled down among the
pillows. Elma stood and stared out of the window.
"I wonder if I could do it," she said at last to herself. "It might be
the best plan; and Gwin is very kind and very rich. I wonder if I dare.
Anything seems better than my present predicament."
"I CANNOT HELP YOU."
Elma scarcely slept that night. At an early hour on the following
brilliant summer's morning she stole softly out of bed, glanced for a
moment at Carrie, as she lay sleeping the sleep of the just, with her
towzled hair tossed about the pillow, and then, getting deftly into her
own clothes, left the room without arousing the sleeper. She had made up
her mind very definitely what to do. Without even waiting to get any
breakfast, she unfastened the hall door, opened it, and stepped out into
the full radiance of the summer's morning. A quick walk brought her in a
little over half an hour to Harley Grove. When she went up the ponderous
flight of steps which led to the principal door of the mansion a clock
far away struck the hour of seven.
"It is terribly early," she said to herself, "terribly early to disturb
her; but it is my only chance. I must have time; I cannot rush this
thing. If she can help me I believe she will; and anyhow, I do no harm
by what I intend to say to her."
Elma rang the bell, but her early summons was not immediately attended
to. Presently a servant girl, who looked as if she might be one of the
under-housemaids, unbolted and unbarred the door, and opened it a few
inches. "When she saw a neat-looking girl, in all probability a
schoolgirl, standing outside she opened it a little further and her jaw
dropped in some astonishment.
"I have come here," said Elma to know if I can see, Miss Harley
immediately on very special business."
"I don't know, miss, I am sure," answered the girl, who was a stranger
in those parts. "I can't say that you can see Miss Harley now, for I
think she is fast asleep and in bed, miss."
"It is of the utmost importance or I would not disturb her," said Elma.
"I have brought a note with me; can you manage in some way to have it
delivered to her? I can wait downstairs in any of the rooms until I get
As Elma spoke she slipped a little three-cornered note into the girl's
hand, at the same time placing in it one of her own most valuable and
very few and far between shillings.
"Can you manage it for me?" she said. "It is really of the utmost
A shilling was a small bribe; but the housemaid was young and
tender-hearted. She looked again once or twice at Elma, who could wear a
most pleasing expression when she chose, and then, ushering her into a
small room to the left of the wide entrance hall, departed slowly
upstairs on her errand.
While she was away Elma fidgeted, walking from end to end of the little
room into which she had been admitted. All depended, or so she imagined,
on her note reaching its destination. She knew Gwin's kind heart; she
was certain that if Gwin received the note, however tired and sleepy
she was, she would at least see her for a few minutes. Elma had worded
"I am in great trouble," she had written. "It is connected with Kitty
Malone. I see my way to helping Kitty if you, Gwin, can help me. But I
must see you now at once. Let me come to your bedroom. I would not
disturb you if it were not a matter of life or death."
This note, sufficiently startling in its contents, was given by the
under-housemaid to Gwin's own special maid. The girl, after some
deliberation, said she would venture to give it to Gwin, early as the
hour was. Accordingly she stole into the shaded bedroom, drew up one of
the blinds, and when Gwin opened her sleepy eyes presented her with the
little three-cornered note on a salver.
"There's a young lady, a Miss Lewis, waiting downstairs. She brought
this note and begged that it should be delivered to you at once, miss. I
ventured under the circumstances to wake you, as the young lady seemed
from all accounts to be in a desperate way."
"What can it mean?" said Gwin. She sprang up in bed, tore open the note,
and read the contents.
"Is my cold bath in the room, Simpson?" she asked of her maid.
"Yes, miss; in your dressing-room."
"Well, I shall dress at once. Go down, please, to Miss Lewis and tell
her that I'll be ready to see her in my study in twenty minutes."
The maid departed on this errand, which brought much relief to poor
In less than the time named she was summoned by Gwin's maid to come
with her to Miss Harley's study. There a moment later she and Gwin were
clasping each other's hands. Gwin was in a long white dressing-gown; her
hair streaming over her shoulders.
"Well, to be sure, Elma," she exclaimed, "you are an early bird. Now,
what do you want with me? I am full of curiosity. You are in trouble,
and it is something connected with Kitty Malone?"
"Yes," said Elma. "I am desperate, and I have come on a desperate
errand, Gwin. Can you manage, somehow or other, in some fashion, to let
me have the use of eight pounds for--for say a fortnight?"
Gwin Harley gasped; not only at the magnitude of the sum demanded, but
also at Elma's audacity in asking for it.
"You want eight pounds," She exclaimed. "But, Elma, you know the rule?"
"Oh, yes, I know the rule; and it is because I am fairly desperate I
apply to you. You might lend the money to my sister Carrie; or perhaps
mother would be best. It might be managed so that I didn't appear to
borrow it. I would not ask for it if--if the trouble were not terrible;
and--and the secret belongs to another."
"What do you mean?"
"It belongs partly to Kitty Malone."
"I cannot help you," said Gwin decidedly.
"Why? Oh Gwin, I did not know you could be so cruel."
"You don't understand, Elma. I am surprised that you should ask me. How
could I break one of the strictest rules of the school?"
"Oh, but you need not really break it; I mean it could be managed in
this way: Would not your father lend mother the money? You need not do
it at all; all you have to do is to ask him."
"You must tell me everything, Elma. This is most mysterious. Why do you
want money? Is it for yourself? You must tell me every single thing."
"I cannot tell you, because the secret is not mine."
"You say Kitty is mixed up with this?"
"And you will not tell why?"
"I cannot. I wish I could."
"Then, Elma, I also must be firm. I cannot help you."
"You will not ask your father?"
"How could I? It would be a subterfuge--the whole thing would be a
subterfuge. I must have nothing to do with it. I am sorry, Elma, for I
see you are in great trouble; but I am powerless."
"Then I am ruined," said Elma. She covered her face with her hands, and
the tears trickled slowly between her fingers.
"I wish I could help you," said Gwin kindly. "Is there any other way?"
"No other way. I want eight pounds for a fortnight--I want it
desperately. You could manage to let me have it without breaking the
rules of the school, but you will not."
"I am truly sorry, but--I will not."
"Oh, Gwin, if you would only trust me. We were always friends, were we
"Yes," answered Gwin slowly. "I have always liked you, Elma."
"We were friends," continued Elma, wiping the tears passionately from
her cheeks; "and I did think last night, when I was in such trouble,
that perhaps you could come to my aid. I thought you would trust me
without my telling you everything."
"I cannot, Elma," said Gwin again.
Elma now looked steadily into Gwin's face. Gwin looked gravely into
hers. After a time Gwin spoke slowly:
"Because," she said--"forgive me, Elma--you are not trustworthy."
"Oh!" said Elma. She turned first pale and then red.
"There is no use in my staying," she said, after a pause. "I am sorry I
got you up so early."
"Oh, that does not matter," said Gwin, in an altered tone. "I would do
what I could to help you; but I cannot do the impossible."
"I see that I was mistaken in you."
"Not at all," replied Gwin. "You found me what I have always been. I am
naturally careful. I never jump to wild conclusions; I am not impulsive.
I have liked you, and I shall go on liking you in the future."
"Even though I am not trustworthy?"
"Yes; I shall like you for what you are. You have always been nice to
me, and I wish to be nice to you. Please understand that this will make
"And you won't tell what I came about?"
"No, I shall never mention it. Now, must you go?"
"I must," said Elma.
The full morning light fell upon her face as she spoke, and Gwin
noticed that it looked small, pinched, and thin.
"You must have some breakfast first," she said. She walked across the
room and sounded the bell. The servant appeared in a moment.
"Order breakfast to be served here this morning," said Miss Harley, "for
two, please." The maid withdrew. Gwin opened the window and looked out.
"I am very sorry for Kitty," she said, after a pause.
Elma did not reply. After a time she said slowly:
"Did you see Miss Sherrard last night?"
"I did; but it was useless. She won't retract her mandate."
A sigh of relief came from Elma's lips.
The servant again appeared with breakfast. Gwin poured out tea for her
friend. Elma drank a cup, her throat felt dry. She saw no way out of her
difficulty. She could scarcely bring herself to eat.
A few moments later she was on her way back from Harley Grove. She
hesitated whether to go straight to the school and wait there until nine
o'clock or to return to Constantine Road. After a little reflection she
decided on the latter course. She reached home hot and weary between
eight and nine o'clock. Carrie was seated at the breakfast table; a
letter lay on Elma's plate.
"Why, Elma, what have you been doing out and about at this unearthly
hour?" said Carrie, as she cracked the shell of an egg by no means
"Where is mother?" remarked Elma, as she seated herself at the table.
"She has a bad headache. I have sent up her breakfast. Are you going to
"No, I think not. I shall just have time to eat something--not that I am
specially hungry--and then start for school."
"There's a letter on your plate. Why don't you read it?"
"I know; it's from Aunt Charlotte."
"Well, well, and you are interested in Aunt Charlotte more than I am,"
said Carrie. "Do read your letter."
Elma somewhat languidly tore open the envelope. The next moment she
uttered an exclamation, and her face went first red and then pale.
"Aunt Charlotte writes to say she is coming here to-day."
"To-day! Good gracious!" said Carrie. "She doesn't want me to stay in,
"Oh, no; but this is terribly awkward."
"Why so, Elma? Why shouldn't you ask her to lend you the money?"
"Ask Aunt Charlotte! I may as well put my hand into the fire."
"Well, suppose I were to help you," said Carrie, after a time.
"You, Carrie; how could you?"
"But suppose I were to--I am not the sort of person who does anything
for nothing. What would you give me if I got you out of this?"
"But how could you get me out of it?"
"Why, I suppose by giving Kitty the money."
"Carrie, you talk nonsense. Unless, indeed, you were to persuade Sam
"Oh, it's useless to worry poor Sam. He has speculated with that money,
and if he doubles it we shall have it back. I think when that time comes
the very least you ought to do, Elma is to give me half of the balance
over and above what you borrowed. That would be three pounds ten, for me
quite a nice little sum. It would keep me in ribbons, gloves, and boots
for a bit. I get such a very small salary."
"Well, the money has not been doubled; it's time enough to talk of our
chickens when they are hatched," said Elma. She rose from her seat,
looking despairingly at the open letter which she held in her hand.
"After all, I may as well take this up to mother," she said.
"One moment before you go, Elma. Would you like me to help you, or would
"If you could help me, Carrie, of course I should be obliged."
"And what is the punishment they have inflicted upon that Irish lass?"
"Oh, dear me, Carrie, I told you all about that yesterday; she is in
Coventry--we are none of us allowed to speak to her."
"All the same, you did speak to her last night, don't forget."
"Yes, I could not help myself; but if it was found out it would go hard
with us both."
"Then I am the one to interfere," said Carrie _sotto voce._ "I'll do my
best, Elma, and trust to you to make it up to me when I have got you out
of this scrape."
"I wish you would do something, Carrie; but I don't suppose you can.
It's awful to think of Aunt Charlotte coming now. If I can't help Kitty,
Kitty is sure to tell, and then it will be all over the school. They
won't blame her so much as they'll blame me. Oh dear, dear! if you would
"Well, I promise that I just will," said Carrie. "Now go off to school
with an easy mind."
KITTY TELLS THE TRUTH.
Early the next morning Kitty received her telegram. It certainly was not
at all calculated to soothe her. She was restless and miserable before;
now her hands shook so violently that she could scarcely eat her
Alice acted somewhat the part of a jailer; she had to convey the
disgraced girl to Middleton School.
"I am ill; I won't go," said Kitty, bursting into tears.
"You had much better come, Kitty," said Alice, speaking almost kindly
for the first time in her life; she really pitied poor Kitty at that
moment. "If you will only take your punishment patiently it will soon be
over, and I know for a fact," she continued, "that many of the girls are
only too anxious to make it up to you by and by."
"Oh, it's not that," said Kitty; "it is because I am so wretched. I have
a great trouble at home; but there, there's no use in talking to you
about it, Alice."
"So you always say," answered Alice. "Whenever I want to be the least
bit good to you, you put me off; but never mind, I am sure I can do
without your friendship. Anyhow, I think you must come to school unless
you are so ill that mother will be obliged to send for the doctor."
"Oh, I don't want that," said Kitty, "I never had a doctor in my life.
If you'll wait for me, Alice, I'll go upstairs and put on my hat."
She rushed to her room, flung herself on her knees for a moment by her
bedside, and uttered a frantic prayer to Heaven.
"Oh! God, in your mercy, keep Laurie from doing anything desperate,"
cried the unhappy girl. She then joined Alice downstairs. Her face was
white; there were heavy black lines under her eyes; she had never looked
prettier, more pathetic, more likely to win sympathy from the other
At prayers that morning all eyes were directed to Kitty Malone. She was
not allowed to sit with the others, but was given, a place on the bench
with the teachers. Here she faced the rest of the school. It would have
been a cruel position for another girl; but it did not matter to Kitty,
for she saw no one present. Her eyes, with that queer inward look in
them, were gazing straight, not at the scene before her, but at the old
home in Ireland. The squire, whom she so passionately loved, roused to
the last extremity of anger; the boy, whose heart was hers, crushed,
trapped, imprisoned, his liberty taken from him. Kitty trembled from
head to foot; she could scarcely restrain her terrible emotion.
After school she accompanied the others to the classroom, but in
absolute silence. She was given her usual lessons to do, but at a table
by herself. Her punishment was to be carried out in all its fullness;
but, dreadful as it would seem to most, it did not touch her at all
to-day. Her head ached, her eyes felt dim. Laurie's telegram, which lay
in her pocket, seemed to scorch into the very depths of her heart. She
had not even been allowed to answer it; the whole weight of her trouble
lay unrelieved upon her. The poor child was unaccustomed to such
anguish, and her self-control was in danger moment by moment of giving
As she strove to get that dull piece of English history into her head,
as she endeavored to follow the rules of syntax, as the knowledge that
she never, never to the longest day of her life, would understand what
was meant by the possessive case, alongside with these feeble little
efforts to follow her lessons, ran the dark thought of how, by what
possible means, she could help Laurie. And more and more as the time
went on she felt that she could not keep her promise to Elma. Elma had
been cruel to her; she had borrowed her money when she knew she had not
the most remote chance of paying it back; she had spent it according to
her own saying in the most frivolous way. Now, for the first time, Kitty
learned to despise dress. How could Elma spend the money which was to
save Laurie in anything so contemptible as ribbons and finery? Kitty
looked down at her own neatly-appointed clothes; her perfect little
shoes peeped out from beneath the frill of her dress. Notwithstanding
her misery she was as neat as usual in her attire; but now she had no
heart to appreciate gay clothes, good looks, pretty ribbons--any of the
things which usually delighted her. Laurie seemed to cry to her; she
fancied she could hear his voice coming across the waters to her
ears--Laurie, who had always trusted to her, who, strong as he was, was
not quite so strong as Kitty when scrapes and troubles were about. Oh!
if only she could go to him! If only she might relieve her feelings and
tell the exact truth to Miss Sherrard! What kept her back? Nothing
whatever but the thought of Elma. She had given Elma a promise, and,
tempted as she was, she must not break it.
As this thought came to her she remembered that she had only promised
Elma to keep the secret until after morning school. That time would soon
"Once Miss Sherrard knows I am certain she will help me," thought Kitty,
"though I don't want to excuse myself; yet I know that a great deal of
the blame of my proceedings will be lifted from my shoulders to Elma's.
Why should I go through all the suffering, and Elma sit there looking so
calm, and quiet, and still?"
As these thoughts rushed through Kitty's mind she glanced up for the
first time, and calmly surveyed the great room full of her
fellow-students. As if with one impulse all the girls raised their eyes
and looked back at her. There was pity on most of the faces, amusement
on a few, curiosity on a few others; but on Elma's face alone was an
expression of intense anxiety and misery. Kitty had the kindest heart in
the world. The moment she saw this expression the idea of betraying Elma
melted from her mind.
"She does look wretched," she said to herself. "I must not speak to her;
I dare not, and yet--yet--I should like her to know that I am not going
to be hard on her."
Kitty tore off a piece of her exercise book and managed, when she
thought no one would see, to write a little note to Elma. In this she
said, "Don't be afraid, Elma; I have made up my mind not to tell."
This note she twisted up, and, as the girls were going to the playground
for recess, managed to flash an intelligent glance toward Elma. Elma
approached close to her table, Kitty stretched out her hand, and Elma's
fingers were just about to close over the note, when, by an unlucky
chance, there came a breeze through the window, and the note, for some
inconceivable reason, fluttered from Kitty's hand to the floor. In an
instant Miss Worrick had seen it. She was just stepping forward when
Elma like a flash caught it up and tore it into fragments. She would not
for the world have the note seen. Miss Worrick, filled with anger, came
up to Kitty.
"You are a bad girl, the worst girl I know," she said. "You are not even
honorable. Did you not give your parole that you would not hold
communication with another girl in the school, and yet you have been
trying to communicate with Elma Lewis by means of writing?"
"Writing is not speaking," said Kitty, now standing up very erect and
proud, and replying to Miss Worrick as pertly as she could.
"Don't answer me, miss; you grow worse and worse. Elma Lewis, do you
know anything about that note?"
Kitty looked full at Elma. If she was going to be true to Elma, would
Elma be equally true to her?"
"I know nothing about it," said Elma promptly.
Kitty's eyes filled with withering scorn; an expression of disdain
curled her pretty lips.
"You are quite certain, Elma? Kitty Malone seems to have a great anxiety
to communicate with you. Can you throw any light on the scrape she has
"I know nothing whatever about her secrets; I--I have nothing to do with
them," said Elma in an agitated voice, which she endeavored in vain to
Gwin Harley, who had stopped on her way out of the classroom, paused to
listen to Elma's words.
Kitty's face was now white as death. She did not glance at Elma; she was
looking the other way.
"Leave us, girls," said Miss Worrick.
The next moment the great classroom was empty, with the exception of
Miss Worrick and Kitty Malone. Kitty was standing upright as a dart.
"Take me to Miss Sherrard; I want to speak to her," she said.
"I am certainly going to take you to her. You are a very, very wicked
girl. I doubt not you will be expelled."
"Oh, I hope I shall," said Kitty. "I should like nothing in all the
"You would? You are quite incorrigible. Do you know, you wretched girl,
what it means?"
"No," answered Kitty; "I wait for you to tell me. What does it mean,
"That you are tainted for life, disgraced for life. Wherever you go it
will be always remembered to you that your conduct was so bad at school
that you were obliged to be expelled."
"But that won't matter in old Ireland," said Kitty with a hollow,
"Yes, it will; it will break your father's heart. There are no people so
proud as the Irish. They can stand a good deal; but any cloud on their
"Ah, you are right," cried Kitty, standing still, and a queer change
coming over her face. "Our honor--no one ever touched that yet."
"It will have a nice blow when you are dismissed from Middleton School,"
said Miss Worrick, glad to find a point in Kitty's hitherto invulnerable
armor. "Come with me at once, you bad girl. I must explain your conduct
to Miss Sherrard."
"I have something on my own account to say to Miss Sherrard," answered
Kitty in a proud voice; "something which will explain a good deal."
"I am glad to hear it; but I scarcely think any words of yours can
remove the stigma on your character. But come; I have no time to argue
with you further."
Miss Worrick now led the way into Miss Sherrard's little sitting-room.
Miss Sherrard was standing near the window; she turned quickly when she
saw Miss Worrick, and a displeased and withal a troubled glance filled
her eyes as they rested upon Kitty."
"Anything fresh?" she said, turning to the teacher with a weary
expression in her voice.
"Only just what I expected," said Miss Worrick with bitterness. "Kitty
Malone is not to be trusted. Yesterday she gave her word of honor----"
"I didn't," interrupted Kitty.
"Kitty my dear, allow your teacher to speak."
"She gave her word of honor, or equivalent to it, that she would submit
to the punishment which you rightly inflicted upon her. Well, I found
her just now in the act of smuggling a note into Elma Lewis' hand."
"Oh, but this is very bad, Kitty," said Miss Sherrard. "Did you not know
what your word of honor meant?"
"I never promised anything," replied Kitty. "You spoke; but I was
"Pardon me, my dear; that is begging the question. You were told that
you were not to communicate with any of your fellow-pupils. Your silence
signified consent. Kitty, I am ashamed of you."
"As you know so much you may as well know all," said Kitty, desperation
in her tone. "I did far worse than you think. Last night I went out
again after dark by myself to see Elma Lewis. I had an interview with
her. I talked to her, and she talked to me. That was not exactly her
fault; for I forced her to speak. Now, you know how very bad I am. Expel
me if you wish. I know you will after this. I am in dreadful disgrace. I
only wish I were dead."
"Leave us, Miss Worrick," said Miss Sherrard.
The door was closed behind the governess; and the head-mistress, taking
one of Kitty's cold hands, led her to a seat near herself on the sofa.
"There is more behind," she said. "Kitty, you must tell me the truth."
"I long to tell you," answered Kitty. "A short time back I had made up
my mind to conceal it because the telling would make another girl
miserable--miserable for life. Now my feelings are changed."
"I am glad that you are at last willing to confide in me," said Miss
Sherrard in a kinder tone. "Tell me everything, Kitty, and as quickly as
Thus counseled, Kitty's reserve absolutely gave way. The whole miserable
story was quickly revealed: Elma Lewis' request for money; Kitty's
generous response; Laurie's passionate and anguished letter; Kitty's
desire to help him; her reasons, which had almost driven her mad, for
seeking Elma; her desperate resolve at last to go to her late at night;
then Elma's passionate beseeching of her to keep the secret; Kitty's
promise that she would do so until after morning school that day; then
her further resolve, when she saw the look of misery on Elma's face, to
keep it altogether even at the cost of breaking Laurie's heart; then
Elma's conduct when the note was discovered.
"I scorn her now," said Kitty. "I don't regard any promise I ever made
to her. I am glad to tell. She is false, cowardly, and I scorn her. Miss
Sherrard, you know everything; expel me if you must."
"Yes, I know everything," replied Miss Sherrard. She sat still for a few
moments, lost in anxious thought. She blamed Kitty still, but she also
deeply pitied her. Her feelings toward Elma were so strong that she
could scarcely trust herself to speak of them at the present moment.
"My honor is gone, and my heart is broken," continued Kitty. "Of course
you will expel me after this; and, indeed, I want to go home. Please,
Miss Sherrard, let me go home; I cannot stay any longer at school."
"My dear Kitty," said Miss Sherrard, "I am very sorry for you. I am
certainly glad at last to know the truth. You, poor child, have been
more sinned against than sinning. I cannot tell you what I think about
Elma. Such a girl does more mischief in a school than twenty like you.
Stay, my dear; stop crying. Kitty, Kitty, what is it?"
"I feel nearly mad--Laurie is in such trouble. May I not at least answer
"Yes, here is a telegraph form. Fill in what you like; I will send it at
once to the post office."
"Miss Sherrard, would it be possible for you to lend me the money?"
Miss Sherrard shook her head.
"I could not do it, Kitty; nor would it be right. Your brother has done
distinctly wrong; and if you telegraph to him now I hope you will
counsel him to go straight to your father and confess everything. There
is never the least use in concealment where wrong-doing is concerned, my
But Kitty's eyes had now blazed again with renewed passion.
"You are not a Malone nor an Irishwoman," she cried. "You do not know
Ireland, or you would not speak in that tone. I counsel Laurie to tell
father what he did to poor Paddy Wheel-about! I counsel him to say that
he took the old man's coat--stole it from him! Miss Sherrard, you don't
know father. Laurie did it, it is true, in a fit of bravado; but father
would never understand. He would be furious, wild; Le would punish him
severely. Oh, I must get that money somehow, in some fashion!"
"Kitty, you are speaking disrespectfully," said Miss Sherrard, "and I
cannot allow it. I am sorry for you, my dear; you are dreadfully
overcome at present. Go home now; I will see you again in the
Poor Kitty left the room without even bidding her teacher good-by.
In her own room the miserable child fell on her knees, and gave way to a
burst of passionate weeping. She cried as she had never cried in the
whole course of her life before; her tears seemed as though they could
not cease. She was so exhausted at last that, kneeling by her little
bed, she fell into a sound sleep. In her sleep she dreamed that she was
home again; but all was confusion, worry, distress. Laurie was going to
a school in England; Laurie's heart was broken. Old Paddy Wheel-about
was dead; the squire was so upset and so angry that he would not even
allow Kitty herself to comfort him. Aunt Honora was grumbling and going
from room to room in the old Castle. Aunt Bridget was talking about
dress, and scolding Kitty with regard to the state of her wardrobe.
Kitty's head ached, and she felt a sense of irritation.
"And it's so pretty," said Aunt Honora. "Those ruffles round the skirt
are done in such a dainty manner, and--oh, I won't disturb you if you'll
allow me just to take the pattern. I can in a moment--don't move, don't
Kitty opened her eyes in some bewilderment, and gazed full into the fat
and somewhat red face of Carrie Lewis. It was Carrie's voice she had
heard, piercing through her dreams. It was Carrie who was bending by
her side and holding up a length of her skirt in her hand.
"Oh, don't move, pray; I have just got the set of it; it's very curious
and very fashionable. I know Sam would like it awfully."
"Who are you, and what do you want?" said Kitty, jumping to her feet and
confronting her unwelcome visitor with flushed cheeks and sparkling
"I knocked at your door several times, and you didn't answer," said
Carrie; "so then I opened it softly and came in, and you were
half-sitting, half-kneeling by your bed, sound asleep; and your skirt
did look so very fashionable that I was tempted!--oh yes, I have taken
the pattern in my mind's eye. I'll alter my blue nun's-veiling. I can
easily get a bit more of the stuff to match, and it will make it quite
_comme il fait_,"
"But who are you?" said Kitty, who had never laid eyes on Carrie before.
"I'm Elma's sister. Now you know."
"Elma's sister?" said Kitty. "But what have you come to my room for?
What do you want here?"
"To speak to you. I want to help you if you'll let me."
"To help me?" said Kitty languidly. "I would much rather you went away.
You cannot help me; you know nothing whatever about me. I am in great
great trouble, and I would much rather be alone."
"You would not rather be alone if you could be helped," said Carrie. "I
know all about it. You have got a brother in Ireland who has got into a
scrape. Bless you, I know all about the scrapes of young men. Now, poor
Sam Raynes, he----. Yes, what is it, Miss Malone?"
"I wish you would leave me," said Kitty in a haughty tone. "I am not
friends with Elma just now, and I would rather not see any of her
"Yes, but I think you'll see me when I tell you my errand," said Carrie,
in no way abashed by Kitty's manner. She crossed the room as she spoke,
and deliberately placing herself in the one easy-chair the room
possessed, crossed her legs, and leaning back, looked fixedly at Kitty.
"Very well, if you won't go, then I must," said Kitty. "I don't
understand English people. They talk a great deal about manners; but no
Irishwoman, none that I ever heard of, would dream----"
"Oh, bosh! Stop all that," said Carrie in her rudest voice. "I have come
here to help you, and I see that I must explain myself. You want some
money, don't you?"
"Yes; but I cannot get it," answered Kitty.
"Oh, my dear, do just stay still a moment. What a sweet little shoe!
Did you get it at any shop here?"
"No," answered Kitty, interested for the moment in spite of herself.
"Aunt Honora bought these in Grafton Street, Dublin. They have the
nicest shoes in that special shop of any place I know. Do you like it?"
"Oh, it is quite sweet; it is the way the heel is arranged, and that
"Well, never mind about my shoes now," said Kitty, pushing the
attractive little foot well in under her skirt. "What is it you have
come to say? Please say it, and then--go."
"I will, if you wish me to. Look here, I know all about your story. You
are in dreadful trouble, and so is Elma; but I do declare I think poor
Elma's trouble much worse than yours."
"You know nothing about it," cried Kitty, with passion. "Elma in worse
trouble! Oh, if you only could guess!"
"I guess well enough," said Carrie, "and so does Elma. You want money,
which, evidently, as a rule, is as plentiful to you as blackberries on
the hedges in September; and you think, because you cannot lay your hand
on that money immediately, the whole world is going to change. But let
me tell you that Elma and I want money far, far more badly than you have
any idea of. Until you gave Elma that eight pounds, we neither of us
ever in our lives had so much in our possession."
"I didn't give it--you make a mistake--I lent it."
"Oh, it is all the same. Elma had it, and, for practical purposes, it
was just as valuable as if it were really her own."
"Well, I want her to give it back to me now. I surely have a right to
ask for my own money back again?"
"No, you have not--not without reasonable notice. She asked you to lend
her some money--she never asked for eight pounds--you let her take it.
You said she might have as much as she liked. When she explained the
position of things to me, I said: 'Elma, you were a rare fool not to
take the whole fifteen.'"
"You must be a very queer girl," said Kitty, astonished at this
remarkable specimen of young ladyhood.
"Am I? I don't know. I am frank, and I am generally hard-up. I know, if
any one does, where the shoe pinches. Bless you! it would do you good to
open your eyes. You don't know what poverty means--a little house, a
disgusting little house, shabby paper, dirty ceilings, badly-carpeted
floors, the drains wrong, the water-supply as likely to poison us as
not, an invalid mother--"
"Oh, have you a mother? Then, I am sure you are not to be pitied,"
"Little you know! What good is a mother who is in bed most of the day, a
father who--Well, I need not mention him; he is not in the country at
any rate. No education to speak of; no dress worth considering; toil,
toil from morning till night; and life a mere scramble, a scramble for
bread without butter. That's what our life is!"
Kitty had ceased to fidget; she even sank down on the corner of the
nearest chair. Her pretty figure, her beautifully-appointed dress, her
whole appearance, from the crown of her head to the sole of her foot,
betokened what the other girl could never aspire to, never hope to
have--abundance of money. And yet at the present moment Kitty was
breaking her heart for want of money. No wonder Carrie was puzzled.
Kitty's own eyes were opened to an extent they had never been opened
"Yes, our life is a rough one," continued Carrie; "very rough indeed;
but I don't grumble. I was brought up to it, and use is half the
battle, as perhaps you don't know, but you ought. You'll get accustomed
to doing without your eight pounds after a bit, and never give it
"Oh, no, that I won't," said Kitty, now jumping to her feet in her
indignation; "and it is not for myself, it is for----"
"Oh, never mind who it is for. You want it, and you think the world is
going to stand still because you cannot get it. Well, the world won't
stand still. I, who am quite used to doing without money, can assure you
as to the truth of that fact. Would you like to know, now, how I spend
my days? I teach some horrid children in a small private school from ten
to one each morning, and then in the afternoon I go to a family and
teach some more little brats; and I am scarcely paid anything for all
this toil--starvation wages I call it--and I hate it, hate it. But I
have my consolations. I am not overparticular; very small pleasures
content me; and there's a fellow whom I love."
"A fellow whom you love?" echoed Kitty; "is it a brother?"
"Bless you, I'm not likely to put myself out about a brother; not that I
have one, and so much the better, thank goodness. There's a man whom I
love, and a right jolly fellow he is--his name is Sam Raynes. He is not
one of your fine, bread-and-butter gentlemen--not he. He is rough and
ready, and he has his joke, and he isn't too handsome, although some
people admire red hair; but, anyhow, I'm fond of him and he's fond of
me, and some day--I don't know when--when we can scrape enough
together, we are going to set up housekeeping."
"You are going to marry; is that it?" said Kitty.
"Yes; some day we'll marry. Now, you see, that's a bit of fun for me;
and I can go out with Sam on bank holidays and on Sunday afternoons just
like any other girl with her young man. Bless you, I don't mind."
"I wonder what all this is leading up to," said Kitty, with a slight
yawn. "Of course, it is very interesting to you; but I don't care about
your young man."
"No more you do, you haughty little minx; and I wouldn't bother you
about him, for, with all his faults, he's too good to have words wasted
about him to a little independent chit of a thing like you. But, as I
was saying, I'm not talking for nothing, I'm leading up to something.
Now, I am content enough with our lot; but Elma isn't. Elma is quite
different from me--she has got a great deal of refinement about her."
"Has she indeed?" said Kitty in a voice of scorn.
"Yes, she has, and you needn't contradict me. She's a very clever girl,
is Elma. I don't say that she's always as straight as a die--I don't
pretend that she is; but she is a clever girl, and she is fond of her
books, and she's likely to get on--that is, if you don't spike her
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, well, it's only an expression of mine. I heard Sam use it last
week. I often copy his phrases, they're so fine and full of flourish.
Well, now, if you don't spoil sport, Elma will get into an altogether
different circle from your humble servant. Mother and I will go one way,
and Elma another. Elma, with her grand notions and her set-you-up sort
of airs, will rise in life. She's heartily welcome to go her own way,
and I wish her Godspeed, for she is the only sister I have got."
"I don't understand," interrupted Kitty.
"If you'll let me speak I'll soon explain. You don't suppose that girls
such as I am are often to be seen at Middleton School?"
"Well, I have not seen any like you," said Kitty, gazing from head to
foot at her very peculiar visitor.
"No more you have, bless you; and I'm not the least offended by your
very frank stare. Sam admires me, and that's enough for me. Now, Elma
looks a lady, doesn't she?"
"I suppose so," said Kitty in a dubious tone.
"You suppose so indeed! Let me tell you that Elma is a born little lady,
a real lady, and she looks it, every inch of her. That is why she goes
to Middleton School; but now, who do you think pay for her?"
"How can I tell?"
"Do you think mother, or father, or I? Now, who do you think does? I
should be interested to know your thoughts."
"I cannot really tell you, Miss Lewis."
"Oh, it does sound fine to hear you Miss Lewising me. My name is
"I prefer to call you Miss Lewis."