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Wild Kitty by L. T. Meade

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"Highty! tighty! we are haughty. Well, the person who pays for Elma is
our Aunt Charlotte--a certain Mrs. Steward, wife of the Reverend John
Steward, rector of St. Bartholomew's, Buckinghamshire. There's a grand
enough name for you; and I suppose, being a clergyman, you'll consider
that he is a gentleman and that his wife is a lady. Aunt Charlotte
happens to be own sister to mother; and when Elma made her little
complaint to her she took pity on her; and now she pays all her expenses
at Middleton School. And if Elma does well and nothing disagreeable
comes to Aunt Charlotte's ears, she will send her presently to Newnham
or Girton. Think of that I Elma will be a college girl; she will be an
undergraduate of one of the universities--and some day a graduate; and
then she will get a first-class post as high-school mistress, or
mistress of something or other. But if you tell on her and make things
bad, and the truth gets out--You look pale; are you ill?"

"I am all right," said Kitty. She staggered across the room and poured
some water into a glass.

"I did not eat much lunch," she continued; "and I am--Never mind; go

"Well," continued Carrie, "if nothing comes to Aunt Charlotte's ears to
turn her mind the other way, Elma will be all right; she will move in
your sphere--yes, she will, whether you like it or not. She is just so
clever she is able to do anything. So I have come to say that I hope to
goodness you won't split on her, for it would be mighty cruel of you.
You would ruin her for life, and that would be a nice consolation for
you when you came to die. She did not steal your money, remember; you
gave it to her."

"I lent it to her."

"Oh, how you will harp upon that! But you didn't tell her to a day when
she was to pay it back again."

"No, I certainly did not; but, of course, I expected that she would
return it to me when I asked for it; and then she spent it on dress."

"Spent it on dress? What do you mean?"

"She told me so."

"Oh, naughty, naughty little Elma!" said Carrie, shaking her forefinger
in a very knowing manner "She didn't like to tell about Sam, and so she
made up that story, did she? Well, it was an untruth. She didn't spend
that money on dress; she--well, I will tell you--I stole it from her."

"You!" gasped Kitty, backing away in horror.

"Yes. Good gracious! how scared you are! You don't understand the larks
of girls like me. I didn't mean any harm. I took it and gave it to Sam
to keep for her."

"Then," said Kitty, coming close up to Carrie, her lips parted, the
color flooding her cheeks, her eyes full of light, "then, of course,
you, Carrie----"

"Oh, I'm Carrie now, am I?"

"Yes, you are; but never mind. Then, you, Carrie, can get it back for

"So I will, all in good time, my pretty little dear. You shall have the
money if you are willing to wait, say a month."

"There's no use at all in that," said Kitty, her voice sounding faint
and far away.

"I am afraid there must be, as far as that eight pounds is concerned.
The fact is, Sam is speculating with the money, and when we get it back
it will be doubled. Elma and I will divide the profits between us, and
you shall have your eight pounds back. Now, I think I have told you
everything except--"

"And, having told me, I wish you would go away," said Kitty. "I don't
know that you have bettered matters in any way. Of course I am sorry for
Elma; but it is only right that you should know something. It would be
well also for Elma to know the truth. I told her yesterday when I went
to your house that I would keep her secret until after morning school."

"Good gracious! You have not blurted out the truth?"

"Wait till you hear. When I was at school this morning I was--oh so
miserable! I could not help thinking of--But never mind; you would not

"No, no, of course not; pray proceed."

"I was thinking how soon I might tell."

"Nice sort of creature you are!"

"Why will you interrupt me?" said Kitty. "But then I looked at Elma, and
I saw that she seemed very anxious and miserable; and wretched as I was,
I made up my mind to be kind to her. I said to myself I will keep her
secret; and--and I wrote her a note to tell her so. You would not
understand if I said any more; but--but immediately after morning school
she--she was false to me; utterly false. You ask her when you see her
how she received that letter I wrote to her at the risk of getting into
terrible trouble myself. I have been angry, furious, beside myself; and
now Miss Sherrard knows everything."

"You don't mean it?" said Carrie. Her florid face had turned perfectly
white. She bit her lip and looked out of the window. After a time she
looked back again at Kitty, and said slowly:

"You are very cruel, and you have ruined Elma; but after all it is
partly my fault. I ought not to have taken that money. Now, look here,
shall I tell you what I really came for to-day?"

"If you would do so quickly and then go."

"You won't be in such a hurry to part from me when you know the truth.
Now, then, listen. You want some money; I think I see a way to getting
it for you."

"Do you really?"

"Yes, I do; that is, if you on your part will do what I want."

"I will do anything to get the money. I want to send it to Laurie if I
can this evening. There's nothing I would not give you."

"I will remember that small promise presently," said Carrie in a frank
voice. "But now let me tell you what my plan is. You have a great many
clothes, have you not?"

"Yes; but please don't bother me about them now. I was always fond of
pretty dress; but I should not care if I had to wear rags at the present
moment if only I might get that eight pounds."

"If them's your sentiments," said Carrie, "you very soon can have your

"What in the world do you mean?"

"Why, this. If you'll just allow me to take the pick of your wardrobe I
can take away the things and sell them. I'll soon bring back the eight
pounds--yes, and for that matter ten too."

"Sell my clothes?" said Kitty. She stared at the other girl as if she
did not believe the evidence of her own senses.

"Yes. Did you never hear of a pawnshop, you dear little wiseacre?"

"A pawnshop! Do you think I would allow my clothes to go to a pawnshop?"

"I know nothing whatever about it; but I make you the proposal. I will
transact the business for you if you'll allow me ten per cent, upon it.
I can get you the money."

"Oh, Carrie, it seems such a bitter shame," said Kitty. Her face was
crimson; she went to the other side of the room, opened the window and
put out her head. She wanted the cool air to soothe her scorched cheeks;
her heart was thumping in her breast. Had matters indeed come to this,
that she, Kitty Malone, was to pawn her pretty dresses, her trinkets,
her whatnots! Alas! she could not do it.

"I have often had to do it," said Carrie. "I know just how to manage. If
you'll allow me to select the most suitable of your things, I'll bring
you back the money in no time."

"You are sure?" said Kitty, beginning to yield.

"Certain--sure--positive. But you must allow me ten per cent."

"I know nothing about percentage; but you may take every scrap that is
over after you have got me the eight pounds."

"Very well, that's a liberal offer," said Carrie. "Now, then, I may as
well take a look at your clothes."

"Oh, it seems such an awful thing to do," said Kitty. "Are you sure,
quite sure, that no one will find it out?"

"Not a bit of it; that is, if you'll be quick and not allow that other
girl--Alice, you call her--to come into the room."

"I'll lock the door," said Kitty. She rushed across the room with new
hope, turned the key, and came back again to Carrie.

"I never heard of anything quite so extraordinary in my life," she said.
"And you--you call yourself a lady?"

"No, I don't; I call myself a good-natured lump of a girl."

"Well, perhaps you are; but to pawn one's things! Do you mean that I
will never see them again?"

"Oh, yes; whenever you like to return the money. They'll be kept safe
enough for you. If you don't return the money, of course, they belong to
the pawnbroker; but you have lots of time to think of that. Look here,
I'll pawn them for a month; that will give you heaps of time to look

"So it will," said Kitty. "And are you quite, quite certain that I shall
have the money to-night?"

"Oh, yes, if you won't talk so much, only act. Now, then, open your

Kitty unlocked the door of the mahogany wardrobe which she shared with
Alice, and Carrie began to pull her choice little garments about.

Kitty went and stood by the window.

"Don't you want to know what I am taking?" said Carrie. "Don't you want
to make a selection?"

"No; I'll leave it all to you. I can't bear to see them. Take--take what
you want."

"Goodness, what a girl!" thought Carrie to herself. "Here's an
opportunity for me."

She made a hasty and very wise selection, choosing the richest dresses,
the most stylish jackets, skirts, shoes, ribbons, gloves--clipping the
feathers out of the hats and the flowers from the toques--throwing in
some of the finest cambric handkerchiefs; and then, taking a sheet of
brown paper which she had put into a basket on her arm when she left
home, she folded the things into it and fastened her parcel with stout

"Here I am," she said; "and this is my parcel. I have looked through
your wardrobe; your clothes are neat, fine, some of them gaudy, but all
good. I can get from three to four pounds for this lot."

"But why don't you take enough to get the eight pounds?" said Kitty, who
had quite made up her mind by this time.

"I could not carry any more. Now, then, open your jewel-case, quick."

"My jewel-case. Oh! I cannot part with my jewels."

"You must, if you want your eight pounds by to-night. I know my
pawnbroker. He won't give five pounds for this little parcel. Now then,
be quick. Oh, there I see Alice Denvers coming up the road with that
other fine young lady, Bessie Challoner. Where's your jewel-case?"

Kitty's face was like a sheet.

"I have not any jewels," she said; "or scarcely any worth mentioning. I
didn't bring any jewels with me. But here's my watch; will that do?"

"Do--rather! Why, it's a beauty. Don't say a word to the others; keep
your own counsel. Now, then, I'll be off to the pawnshop, and you shall
have the money to-night. _Au revoir! an revoir!_"



Mrs. Steward was a great contrast to Mrs. Lewis. Mrs. Steward was a
tall, thin, rather refined-looking woman. Mrs. Lewis was fat and dumpy,
decidedly untidy in appearance, with a melancholy air and a habit of
constantly indulging in low weeping. Mrs. Steward looked as if she had
never wept in her life; she sat upright as a dart, her movements were
quick, her manners independent; she had a vivacious eye, a somewhat
short nose, thin lips, and a very decided manner.

Mrs. Steward and Mrs. Lewis had a long conversation in the untidy, ugly
little parlor, while they waited for Elma to return from school. Maggie
had been going in and out, glancing with some apprehension at the lady,
and then whisking back to her kitchen to sigh profoundly and mourn for
the violets which were no longer in her possession.

"I should like something to eat," said Mrs. Steward to her sister. "I
thought I would come to you for lunch, Caroline. Have you got anything
in the house--a lamb chop or even cold lamb and salad will do quite

"My dear Charlotte," said Mrs. Lewis, laying her fat, tremulous hand
upon her sister's firm but thin arm, "do you think it likely that we
often have lamb chops or even cold lamb and salad for lunch? It is true
that since the Australian meat came in we can now and then indulge in a
very small joint of lamb for Sundays, but certainly on no other day. Ah,
Charlotte, you little know the poverty to which your poor sister is

"I know all about it," said Mrs. Stewart, shaking herself angrily, "and
my plain answer to you is this--as you sow you must reap. What else did
you expect when you married that fool of a man, James Lewis?"

Mrs. Lewis made a great endeavor to rise from the sofa, she made a
further effort to look dignified; but all she could really accomplish
was to burst into a fresh wail of low weeping and to murmur under her
breath, "Charlotte, you are cruel to me, you are cruel."

"I don't mean to be, my dear; but really, Caroline, you do annoy me.
Have you no spunk at all in your composition? Are you still fretting
your heart out for that good-for-nothing man?"

"Well, you see, I love him," said the poor wife. "The parting from my
dear husband was a terrible trial. I think of him at all hours both day
and night. I often have an uncontrollable desire to join him in

"Pray yield to it," said Mrs. Steward in the calmest of voices, "and
when you go, take that great lout of a Caroline with you. She is as like
you in appearance as one pea is like another. I am ashamed of you. Now,
let us turn to a more congenial topic. Little Elma, I am glad to say,
is made of very different stuff."

"Oh, Elma is a good girl," said Mrs. Lewis. At that moment Maggie came
into the room.

"Have you ordered your servant to prepare any lunch for me?" said Mrs.

"Well, really--" Mrs. Lewis looked imploringly and with a vacant eye at

"There's the remains of the salt beef, mum," said that small worthy,
dropping a bob of a courtesy as she spoke.

"I couldn't touch it," said Mrs. Steward with a shudder. "Have you got a
fresh egg in the house?"

"Oh, my dear, nothing of the kind--a fresh egg! Fresh eggs are worth
their weight in gold. We have a stale egg, if you don't mind that."

Mrs. Steward indulged in another shudder even more violent than the

"My good girl," she said then, "pray get me a cup of tea and some thin
toast, and be quick about it. See that the tea is really strong and the
cream fresh."

"Cream!" murmured Mrs. Lewis; but Maggie had withdrawn.

"Well, now, that is comfortably settled," said Mrs. Steward, "and I can
tell you what really brought me to town--I have come about Elma."

"Indeed, and what about her?"

"I mean to take her from you."

"To take Elma away from me, my own dear child?"

"Oh, now, come, Caroline, don't sicken me with your false sentiment. It
is a precious good thing for Elma that she has got an aunt ready and
willing to help her. I have just arranged to send her to a first-class
German school. Her English, I should say, was fair, and she will be
taken as pupil-teacher; she will thus have the advantage of learning
German. I heard of this through a great friend of mine, Fräulein Van
Brunt. She is going to Germany herself next week, and will take Elma, if
you can spare her."

"If I can spare her? But it will break my heart--such a sensible girl
as she is," said poor Mrs. Lewis.

"Come, come, Carrie, no more nonsense; when I explain all the advantages
you will see for yourself how all-important it is that Elma should go.
The school is in the Harz Mountains, a splendid place; magnificent air,
and all the rest. If Elma stays there for two years, I will then have
her home, and send her to Girton as I promised. I will further arrange
that she spends her holidays with me, as I think really--" here Mrs.
Steward glanced round the shabby room--"I think that the less she
remains with her own family for the present the better."

"I see what you mean. I am beneath my own child."

"Beneath her. Well, it is a painful thing to say; but, as you put it so
frankly, I must reply in the affirmative," replied Mrs. Steward. "Ah,
who is this now?"

The door was flung open, and Carrie, very red about the face, and with
her parcel under her arm, entered the room. Her intention was to ask her
mother to accompany her to the pawnshop. It had not been the first nor
the second nor the third time that the unfortunate lady had been obliged
to pawn her things. Carrie thought that her parent could make a better
bargain than she could herself, and she hoped that she would have been
in time to transact this little business before the arrival of her aunt.
She now gave a start of dismay, and, dropping the parcel, sank down on
the nearest chair. As she did so Kitty's watch and chain tumbled out of
the front of her dress, where she had very insecurely fastened them. The
watch was a lovely one, with an enameled back studded with pearls, and
the chain was made of eighteen-carat gold. Owing to a warning glance
from Carrie, Mrs. Lewis refrained from saying a word; but Mrs. Steward
had no idea of keeping her emotions to herself.

"You, I presume, are Carrie," she said, looking at her niece. "Come
here, Carrie, and speak to your aunt."

Carrie advanced as if she were treading on buttered eggs. She held out
one dimpled hand gingerly.

"How do you do, my dear? Allow me to congratulate you on the acquisition
of that very lovely little watch and that splendid chain. Now, I am
devoured with curiosity to know who has given them to you. Surely not
your mother? Surely, Caroline, with all your faults, you have not----"

"Oh, dear me, no," said Mrs. Lewis.

Carrie indulged in a loud laugh.

"Bless us, aunt," she cried, "do you suppose mother can afford to give
me these? No, I--" She grew red and turned away.

Mrs. Lewis fidgeted on her seat, and appeared thoroughly uncomfortable.

"I do not wish to pry into your secrets, Caroline," said Mrs. Steward,
favoring the untidy and vulgar-looking girl with a glance full of
reprehension. "You are at liberty to wear handsome watches and chains
made of the best gold if your mother cares to see you with things so
unsuitable to your class and appearance. Your doings in life are no
affair of mine. But now, as you happen to be my niece, will you have the
kindness to go immediately into the kitchen and tell Maggie, or whatever
the name of your servant is, to hurry with that tea and toast."

Carrie was only too glad to dart from the room. She picked up her
parcel, and resorted to the kitchen.

"Oh, Miss Carrie, I do wish you would help me," said Maggie, who was
flying distractedly about. "There's the kitchen fire all but out, and
the lady ordered toast as crisp as you please. I don't believe we can do
it for her. Wouldn't she be content with thin bread and butter curled in

"Oh, of course she would, and must," said Carrie. "She is in no end of a
temper, and for my part I don't wish to humor her. Yes, of course,
Maggie. I'll cut the bread and butter and make it into rolls, and you
see to the tea."

"Thank you, miss, I'm sure I'm much obliged, and perhaps, miss, you
wouldn't mind taking it into the dining-room, for her eyes do fasten on
to you that fierce that I get all of a tremble, and as likely as not
I'll drop the tray."

Carrie laughed, and being at heart good-natured in her own way, helped
Maggie with some vigor to prepare the tea.

At last a meal, which could not be remarked for its abundance, was
forthcoming, and was brought into the dining-room.

"I ordered toast," said Mrs. Steward in an angry voice.

"I am sorry, Aunt Charlotte," said Carrie; "but the fire happened to be
out in the kitchen. You see," she added, somewhat spitefully, "we are
obliged to economize with coals, and we don't keep a fire up in the
middle of the day."

"Well, I am really so famished that I am content with anything," said
the good lady. "Pour me out a cup of tea at once, my dear, and just put
the bread and butter where I can reach it."

Carrie did so, winking at her mother as she arranged the tray. The next
moment Mrs. Lewis went out into the passage. Carrie followed her,
closing the door behind their guest.

"Mother, I want you to come with me to the Sign of the Three Balls."

"What in the world for, Carrie?"

"I have got to pawn some things, some beautiful things, and I am to get
ten per cent, on the commission. I shall turn over a nice little bit of
money, and you can have your favorite supper. You will come, won't you,
mother? And I'll give you half a crown into the bargain."

"Oh, dear, dear," said Mrs. Lewis, "I wish she had not come! She never
helps me in any way. All she does is to scold me and make me more
depressed than I am already. And she blames me so for marrying your poor
father, Carrie; as if I could help that now. And what do you think she
is going to do? She says she is going to take Elma from us."

"And a good thing, too," said Carrie.

"Carrie, what an unnatural girl you are! Do you mean to say you would be
glad to part from your sister?"

"I would, because I am fond of her, and she has got into the most awful
scrape at school. Don't you put any spoke in her wheel, mother, for
goodness' sake!"

At that moment the latchkey was heard in the lock, and Elma herself
appeared on the scene.

"Oh, good gracious! Elma," cried Carrie, darting up to her sister, and
beginning to whisper vigorously into her ear.

"What?" said Elma, with a start of dismay. "So soon?"

"Yes, yes; she's been here for nearly an hour. She is devouring rolled
bread and butter and tea in the dining-room at present. She asked for

"Yes," interrupted Mrs. Lewis, who now came up and began also to
whisper; "yes, and fresh eggs, and cream, and lamb chops, and cold lamb
and salad. I never heard of anything so unreasonable. My poor head is in
an awful whirl. But she has come about you, Elma. She wants to take you
away with her."

"She wants to take me away with her?" exclaimed Elma, starting, and her
pale face flushing.

"And you had better go, Elma, and be quick about it," said Carrie,
giving her a warning glance.

"I don't know what all this means," said Elma, her heart beating
uncomfortably fast; "but I had better go in and see Aunt Charlotte."

"Yes, my love, yes; and while you are talking to her I--What do you
say, Carrie--you and I might go out upon that little matter of business,
might we not?"

"To be sure, mother; an excellent thought. If you stay here I'll run
upstairs and fetch your bonnet, veil, and mantle in a twinkling. Go in
to Aunt Charlotte, Elma; do, for goodness sake, make yourself of use.
More depends on it than you think. If she hears us whispering and
mattering in the hall she'll be out upon us."

Elma instinctively put up her two hands to smooth back her hair, she
straightened her already perfectly neat little jacket, and, drawing
herself up to her full _petite_ height, entered the little dining-room.

Elma was a perfect contrast to her untidy mother and her frowzy sister.
However poorly dressed, she was always the pink of neatness. She was
full of agitation now and nervous fear, but not a trace of these
emotions could be visible in her manner and appearance. She went up to
her Aunt Charlotte, who for her part held out both her arms and, drawing
the girl down, printed a kiss upon her cheek.

"I am really glad to see you, Elma," exclaimed Mrs. Steward. "Sit near
me, my dear; it is a pity you were not in when I arrived. It was the
least you might have done for your aunt, Elma. You had my letter this
morning. Oh, my poor child, I have gone through a dreadful hour! These
vulgar relations of yours grow worse and worse."

"My mother and sister?" murmured Elma.

"Yes; it is a terrible affliction for you. But, my dear, I am going to
relieve you from the strain. I, your aunt, am coming to the rescue.
There, Elma, pour me out another cup of tea, and I will tell you

Elma raised the teapot, she filled her aunt's cup with fresh tea, added
a little milk, and brought it to her side.

"Thank you, my dear. Now, Elma, you may consider yourself a made girl."

"Made?" echoed Elma, turning her white face to Mrs. Steward.

"Yes, made. What would you say to going abroad?"

Elma's eyes brightened.

"Do you mean on the Continent?"

"Yes, I do, my dear child. To no less a place than the Harz Mountains. I
have heard of a most charming school, fifty times better than Middleton
School; and you are to go there, my dear Elma, at my expense. You will
go as pupil-teacher, and you thus acquire perfect German. Think what
that will mean for you! I propose to leave you in Germany for two years,
and at the end of that time you will return and go to Girton, I being
responsible for all your expenses. My dear, your fortune is made. I have
further arranged with your poor unfortunate mother that you spend the
holidays with me, as it is not to be expected that you can associate any
longer with such a person, nor with that frowzy young woman who calls
herself your sister."

Elma did not speak. This news which would have delighted her at another
and less harassing moment, was now fraught with perplexity and alarm. At
the same time she thought she saw in it a possible means of escape.
Suppose Aunt Charlotte took her away at once, before Kitty had time to
tell what she knew, before Middleton School had time to ring with the
news of her dishonor. Oh, if so, she might indeed be saved!

"Am I to go immediately?" she asked, choking down a strangled sob in her
throat, "or am I to stay at Middleton School till the end of the term?"

"Well, dear, that is the awkward part, for of course you are working
very hard for a prize, are you not?"

"I am working for a small scholarship," answered Elma. "If I succeed in
my examination I shall obtain a scholarship in English Literature worth
ten pounds a year for three years. That would be a very large sum to me,
Aunt Charlotte."

"A large sum to you! I should think it would be a large sum to anybody,"
said Mrs. Steward in a severe tone. "Ten pounds is quite a fortune for
any young girl. Pray don't begin to speak of money in that disparaging
sort of way, Elma; it ill suits your circumstances, my love. But now,
dear, I am sorry to disappoint you--I have heard of an admirable escort;
a certain Fräulein Van Brunt is going to the Harz Mountains next Monday;
it will therefore be necessary for me to take you back to
Buckinghamshire to-night, Elma."

"Oh, Aunt Charlotte, I am glad!" burst from Elma's lips.

"Glad to leave your mother and sister?" said Mrs, Steward, looking
severely at the young girl. "After all, they are the last people you
ought to associate with; but still natural ties, my dear Elma."

"Oh, I am sorry to leave them, I am sorry to go; I am both glad and
sorry," gasped poor Elma. "I have been worried, and am glad to get out
of everything."

"Worried! I suppose with that dreadful sister and your poor, muddled
mother. Her unfortunate habit of weeping has reduced the little brain
she possessed to a state of pap. Of course I know she is not well off;
but all she absolutely could offer me in this house was a stale egg, and
not even toast. Oh, I scorn to complain, but--I know this is not your
wish, Elma. Your ideas were always very different, my dear child."

Elma did not say anything; she was fidgeting with her hand, making a
slight noise with the teaspoon which she was tapping against a saucer.
The noise was irritating to Mrs. Steward's easily-affected nerves.

"That calm of manner which I trust you will acquire after you have had
the advantages which I am giving you will soon show you how very
unpleasant those little tattoos and small noises are, Elma," remarked
the good lady, taking the teaspoon severely out of her niece's hand.
"Yes, my dear, you are to come with me to-night; that is, of course--"

"What do you mean by 'of course,' Aunt Charlotte?"

"After I have seen your head-mistress, Miss Sherrard."

"Do you want to see Miss Sherrard?" asked Elma, a note of alarm in her

"Certainly; and I am going immediately to the school. You will not be
admitted into the admirable school in Germany without a testimonial from
your present teacher; and I am going to Miss Sherrard in order to
secure one. It will, of course be merely a matter of form my asking for
it, for your conduct has always been admirable--admirable in the
extreme. Miss Sherrard has written to me about you from time to time,
and always spoke of you with affection and admiration. She said your
abilities were good; your moral character without a flaw. I will just
step across to the school now, Elma; and, if you like, you can accompany

Elma hesitated. She did not yet know what had taken place; but when she
had last seen Kitty there was a flash in her eyes the reverse of
assuring. She could only hope against hope that nothing had yet taken
place; that Kitty had still kept her miserable secret. If Miss Sherrard
knew nothing she would of course give her an excellent character; and
she herself would leave Middleton School that afternoon and forever.
Then indeed she might snap her fingers at Kitty and her distress. She
would be saved just at the very moment when she thought her ruin most



"Come, Elma, what are you looking so thoughtful about?" asked Mrs.
Steward in an impatient voice.

"Nothing, Aunt Charlotte," replied Elma, rising to her feet. "I am ready
to go," she added. She sighed as she spoke.

"You must give up that unpleasant habit, my dear child. Nothing
irritates me more than hearing people sigh. It always seems as if they
were discontented and ungrateful to Providence. Now, what have you, for
instance, to sigh about? A singularly fortunate girl, a girl who
possesses an aunt who is willing to take a mother's duties upon her
shoulders. If it were that wretched, vulgar Carrie now, or even my poor
sister herself; but you, Elma, don't let me think that you are
ungrateful to me or I wash my hands of you on the spot."

"Oh, I am nothing of the kind indeed, Aunt Charlotte," replied Elma. "I
always have felt that you--you were more than good to me."

"Well, my dear that's as it should be. I honor your feelings. I often
say to myself and to your uncle-in-law--remember he is not your real
uncle, Elma, but your uncle-in-law, my dear husband, the rector of St.
Bartholomew's--'John,' I say, 'if Elma doesn't show gratitude for all I
am doing for her I shall once and for all give up the human race. I
shall never again expect right feeling from any one." But of course you
are grateful, Elma; you will be the comfort of my old age. You will be
as my own child to me. I--I sometimes think, my dear, that when your
education is finished and you are turned into a refined,
highly-cultivated, highly-trained woman, I will keep you with me. You
shall be my companion, my housekeeper, the one who is to read aloud to
me, to sit with me in the long evenings when my sight begins to fail. My
eyes do ache at times, my dear, I have thought of all that. You will be
my adopted child; not that I can leave you anything in my will, but I
would provide a home for you while I am left in this tabernacle of the
flesh. What do you say, Elma, eh?"

"It is too soon to say anything at present," answered Elma, to whom this
prospect was the reverse of charming. To live as her aunt's unsalaried
companion could not be attractive to her; but she wisely concluded that
sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof, and she had yet to be
educated and brought to that calm of spirit and strain of intellect
which would satisfy Aunt Charlotte.

"Come now at once," said the good lady, who suddenly from being in a
very cross temper became in the best of humor. "We have just nice time
to go across to the school, and then after we have seen Miss Sherrard to
return here for you to pack your things. What do you say, Elma, to our
both staying in London to-night? It would be a pleasant treat for you,
and there may be a few little things necessary to add to your wardrobe,
which I shall have much pleasure in providing you with. Elma, you are in
rare luck. When I think of all I am doing for you I feel that you have
indeed much to be thankful for."

"Yes, Aunt Charlotte," echoed Elma, but her voice sounded faint, and she
brought out her words with an effort.

Leaning on her niece's arm, Mrs. Steward now pursued her way to
Middleton School. Alas! her journey there quickly dissipated her lately
acquired good-humor. She had not gone one hundred yards before she
complained of the dust of the roads, she had not gone two before her
anger was great at the length of the way, and when she found that it was
necessary to mount uphill her complaints became loud grievances--in
short, by the time she really arrived at the school she was in as bad a
temper as Elma had ever seen her in.

"What it is to have a great girl like you hanging on to one, dependent
on one!" she cried. "It was most inconsiderate of Caroline to marry as
she did, and she now even complains when I blame her for it. She is an
extraordinary person. If she had remained single she might have been
living comfortably with me at St. Bartholomew's rectory, and you and
Carrie would never have been in the world plaguing your relatives."

"Well, you see we are in the world," said poor Elma, who felt that she
must just show the faintest spark of spirit. "We did not ask to be
born," she added, "so I don't see that we are to be blamed."

Mrs. Steward favored her with a sharp glance.

"Elma," she said, "if you indulge in pertness I shall wash my hands of
you. Now, here we are. Have the goodness to ring the bell."

The great school door was opened presently by a neat-looking
maid-servant, and Mrs. Steward inquired in a tart voice if Miss Sherrard
was in."

"She is, ma'am," replied the girl; "but she is particularly engaged at
this moment. Oh, is that you, Miss Lewis?" she continued. "Miss Sherrard
is just sending for you, miss; but I don't think the messenger has gone
yet. I'll run and stop him. Will you walk inside, ma'am!"

"A messenger for me!" murmured Elma. She felt terribly uncomfortable;
her face grew whiter than ever.

"Will you have the goodness to tell your mistress that I wish to speak
to her at once," said Mrs. Steward; "that I am in a hurry, and cannot be
kept waiting? Pray mention my name, Mrs. Steward, from St. Bartholomew's
Rectory, Buckinghamshire."

The girl promised to do so, and withdrew. She soon returned to say that
Miss Sherrard would be pleased to see both Mrs. Steward and Miss Lewis
in her private room.

"I wish to see Miss Sherrard alone," said Mrs. Steward. "Remain where
you are, Elma." Mrs. Steward sailed out of the room, and poor Elma sank
down on the nearest chair.

"If Miss Sherrard has sent for me she must know something," thought the
wretched girl. "Oh! how am I to live through it? She will tell Aunt
Charlotte and then all my prospects are over."

Meanwhile Mrs. Steward sailed down the passage with a dignity and
majesty of demeanor which impressed Miss Sherrard's neat handmaid
considerably. The next instant she was ushered into the school-mistress'

Miss Sherrard looked troubled; she came forward to meet Mrs. Steward
very gravely, and, motioning with her hand to a chair, asked her to seat
herself. Mrs. Steward stared for a moment at the head-mistress, and the
head-mistress stared back at her. At last Mrs. Steward said glibly:

"I am sorry to take up any of your valuable time, Miss Sherrard; but I
think I can explain my errand in a few words. I am about to remove my
niece, Elma Lewis, from the school."

"Indeed, I am heartily glad to hear it," answered Miss Sherrard, visible
relief both in her tone and face.

"What an extraordinary remark for you to make! But I will pass it by,
for I am in a considerable hurry. I have heard of an admirable school in
Germany to which I intend to send my niece. Not that I have the least
objection to your mode of teaching, Miss Sherrard, nor to this very
celebrated school; but of course when it comes to foreign languages you
cannot compare England to the Continent."

"Certainly not," answered Miss Sherrard, who was now staring at the
other lady in some wonder.

"It is my intention to remove Elma to-night," continued Mrs. Steward;
"for although it is not quite the end of term, yet the Harz Mountains
are some distance away, and it would not be possible for a young girl
who has at present no knowledge of the German language to go so far
without an escort. Miss Sherrard, you will be glad to hear that an
escort has been found, a suitable escort, and Elma will leave England
next week. Under these circumstance I propose to take her back to my
husband's rectory in Buckinghamshire to-morrow morning, and she will
leave the school now."

"Indeed! I repeat that this is a most fortunate coincidence. I am glad
to hear it," said Miss Sherrard.

"Your remarks seem to me the reverse of flattering; but I have no time
to ask you to explain them. What I have really come about is this: It is
necessary for Elma to have a certificate from her present mistress in
order to be admitted into the very first-class school in Germany where I
propose to place her. Will you kindly give me a testimonial in my
niece's favor, Miss Sherrard? Just say anything you can to the credit of
her character and general attainments. From your many letters to me I
judge that you have a very high opinion of the dear girl; and I trust,
now that I am doing so much, in starting this young girl in life, that I
shall not go unrewarded. The care of the young is a sad trial, Miss
Sherrard and I doubt not that the looking after Elma will worry me
considerably; but I am not one to shirk my duties, and I am willing to
take all this responsibility, and for the future to regard that young
girl as if she were indeed my own child. But I must have the
testimonial, so will you kindly write it at once."

Miss Sherrard had been sitting with her hands clasped in her lap while
Mrs. Steward was speaking. Once she had lowered her eyes; but during
the greater part of the time they were fixed upon the good lady's face.
A look of consternation, almost akin to despair, flitted now over the
teacher's expressive countenance.

When at last Mrs. Steward ceased to speak, Miss Sherrard still remained
for nearly half a minute quite silent.

"You will perhaps oblige me by writing the testimonial?" said Mrs.
Steward in a very haughty voice. Then she added, perceiving that
something was wrong, and finding it impossible to guess what, "I dare
say you are annoyed at Elma leaving the school so unexpectedly--"

"No, no; nothing of the kind," said Miss Sherrard. "I have told you
twice, Mrs. Steward, that I am glad, very glad of this."

"Your words surprise me; but of course you will write--my time is
precious, I have not a moment to lose."

Miss Sherrard now stood up.

"I cannot give Elma Lewis a testimonial with regard to conduct." The
words came out quietly, firmly, distinctly.

Mrs. Steward sprang to her feet.

"You cannot give my niece a testimonial with regard to conduct?" she
gasped. "Do you know what you are saying what you are doing, Miss

"Perfectly well, Mrs. Steward."

"In your letters to me you have invariably spoken of Elma's conduct as
excellent. Miss Sherrard, you surely forget yourself--you cannot be
well; you must be mistaking Elma for one of your other pupils? She has
always been an exemplary girl. You cannot give her a testimonial with
regard to conduct? Am I to believe the testimony of my own ears?"

"I am deeply sorry; I have seldom been more grieved about anything. I am
told that Elma has accompanied you here--if you will permit me, I will
send for her, and explain how matters really stand in your presence."

"Oh, this is intolerable," said Mrs. Steward, clasping and unclasping
her hands in her agitation. "The wicked girl, what has she done? Pray
send for her at once, Miss Sherrard; if she has done anything really
disgraceful I wash my hands of her. If you, her mistress, cannot give
her a certificate, do you suppose that my husband and I will take her

"It is impossible for me to say, madam. In this emergency to really help
Elma would be a Christian act. She may have been tempted beyond her
strength, but you will be better able to decide when you know the

As Miss Sherrard spoke she rang the bell. "When the servant appeared,
she desired her to bring Elma immediately into her presence. A moment
later the young girl entered the room. She gave a wild and frightened
glance first at her aunt, then at Miss Sherrard, then stepping forward,
fell on her knees.

"Has Kitty told you?" she gasped.

"Yes, Elma. Get up; you cannot kneel to me."

"Rise this minute you wicked girl!" said Mrs. Steward.

Elma staggered to her feet.

"It is all up, then," she murmured.

"I know everything, Elma," said Miss Sherrard. "The knowledge has come
to me as a painful surprise. Your aunt has just asked me to give you a
testimonial with regard to character. I am bitterly pained to say that I
must refuse to do so."

"But what does it all mean," cried Mrs. Steward, "and why am I to be
kept in the dark any longer? Elma, stop twirling your thumbs; stand
back. Now, Miss Sherrard, I have paid the school fees for Elma Lewis for
the last four years, so I presume I am entitled to know all about her.
Tell me what has occurred. Of what she is accused?"

Miss Sherrard then briefly related the story which had been told to her
by Kitty.

It was exactly the sort of tale which would affect a woman of Mrs.
Steward's caliber disagreeably. She listened with a horror-stricken
face. When the school-mistress had finished, she said abruptly:

"What do you propose to do now?"

"It will be necessary for me to explain the whole circumstances of
Elma's wrong-doing to the entire school to-morrow," said Miss Sherrard.
"This is necessary for the sake of Kitty Malone."

"At what hour do you propose to make this very pleasant exhibition of my

"After prayers to-morrow morning--I sent for you, Elma," continued Miss
Sherrard, "to tell you, as I thought you ought to be prepared."

"Thank you," answered Elma, her head bowed on her breast. She felt
stunned and cold. The dreadful blow had fallen; but the acute misery
which was immediately to follow was not at present awakened within

"Come, Elma," said Mrs. Steward. She turned to leave the room. Just as
she reached the door she looked back at Miss Sherrard.

"After you have exposed Elma, and ruined her character for life, you
will doubtless expel her?" she said.

"I hope not--I think not."

"In any case she leaves the school, for I pay no more fees. Come Elma."



During the long walk home to Constantine Road the elder and the younger
lady maintained an absolute silence. As soon as they got to the house
Mrs. Steward turned to Elma for the first time and spoke.

"Find out immediately if your mother is in. If she is tell her I wish to
see her. Go; don't stare at me."

Elma went without a word. Her mother was in, and so was Carrie.

"Mother," said Elma, "Aunt Charlotte wants to see you."

"Why, my dear Elma, what is the matter? How queer you look!"

"Don't mind about me, mother, pray; the expression of my face is not
worth considering. Aunt Charlotte is waiting for you in the

Mrs. Lewis gave a profound sigh.

"How very unreasonable of Charlotte!" she said; "she will doubtless be
expecting more tea and cream and fresh eggs, and other impossibilities."

"Oh, go mother, and stop talking," said Elma.

Mrs. Lewis dragged herself up from the sofa on which she was reclining.

"I really don't know what the world is coming to," she said. "Even my
own children are turning out quite disagreeable to me. Dear! dear! what
it is to be a mother! How little those who are fortunate in not
possessing children understand the burden!"

She went, downstairs slowly, and Elma turned to Carrie.

Carrie was standing with her back to her; she was making up something in

"Well, Elma," she said, looking up at her sister, "what is up?"

"Everything is up," said Elma.

"What do you mean?"

"Everything is up and everything is over. What are you doing with that
paper, Carrie?"

"I am folding up the money I have just got for Kitty Malone?"

"The money you have got for Kitty Malone! Has--has Sam Raynes returned
the sovereigns?"

"Bless you, poor Sam can't do impossibilities. No; this money has
nothing whatever to do with Sam. I am folding it up, and giving her a
little account with it. We got exactly eleven pounds eleven shillings
for the clothes and the watch and chain. She can redeem them all within
a month if she likes. Here is the pawnbroker's receipt; tell her to keep
it until she does. She can redeem them whenever she cares to pay back
eleven pounds eleven shillings with interest. My commission at ten per
cent, is one pound three shillings and tenpence--that leaves a balance
of ten pounds seven shilling and twopence; it will doubtless get her
nicely out of her difficulty. She ought to be thankful to me to her
dying day. Look here, Elma, if you are worried about things--and I can
guess what is the matter pretty well; for I happen to know that Kitty
Malone made a clean breast of your secret not long ago--you will be glad
to get out of the house. Here, take this money to her, and be off, can't

Elma still did not speak. That cold, stunned feeling was pressing round
her heart. She did not much care whether she was in the house or not.
Just at that moment, however, a loud slam of the front door caused both
the girls to run to the window. Mrs. Steward had sailed down the steps.
Mrs. Steward with her long train streaming behind her, was walking up
Constantine Road. The next instant Mrs. Lewis burst into the room.

"Well, Elma," she cried, "this is a pretty state of things. Your aunt
has told me everything. What a miserable woman I am!"

"Please, don't scold me," said Elma. "I have had enough scolding during
the last hour to last me my life. Say what you like to me to-morrow."

"But your aunt says she washes her hands of you. How are you to be
educated? How are you to live? How are you to support yourself?"

"I don't know. I don't think it much matters."

"Don't talk in that silly way, Elma; of course it matters. She says too
that you are to be publicly exposed at Middleton School to-morrow, and
your conduct--I must say I could not make out what she was talking
about; I don't see that you did anything very wrong--but your conduct is
to be proclaimed to the school, and that you are to be, if not expelled,
something like it. Elma, this is enough to take all my senses away!"

"Never mind, now, mother; we can talk it all over presently," said Elma.
"Give me the money, Carrie, and let me go."

Carrie handed her sister the little parcel without a word. Elma walked
slowly out of the room.

A moment later she found herself on the dusty road. She reached the top
of the ugly street, and then paused to look around her. To her right lay
the peaceful valley in which Middleton School was situated. A little
further away was the open country, beautiful, verdant, full of summer
splendor. Gwin Harley's house could be seen in the distance.

"If only Gwin had been my friend this morning, all these terrible things
need not have happened," thought Elma. "I have nothing to thank Gwin
for; I have nothing to thank Kitty for. I am a miserable, forlorn,
forsaken girl. There is nothing before me but the most wretched life.
Shall I go to see Kitty? Does Kitty deserve anything at my hands? I have
got ten pounds seven shillings and twopence in my pocket. Why should I
not go right away with the money? I don't think Kitty would prosecute
me; and if she did would it matter? I am so hopeless that I don't think
anything much worse could happen to me. I know I could not stand being
publicly exposed to-morrow at the school. I cannot have those hundreds
of eyes fixed on me; I, who have always been looked up to, respected,
who belonged to the Tug-of-war Society. I cannot, cannot bear it. Why
should Kitty have this money? She has treated me badly. She promised
not to tell. She had no right to break her word. I cannot see her at
present; no, I cannot."

Elma walked down the road. She longed beyond words to get into a fresh
place, to be where there was no chance of meeting a Middleton girl. She
walked faster and faster. Presently she found herself at the little
station; she had not an idea where to go nor what to do. She had no
luggage with her. It would look queer her going away without even a
handbag. It would look very much as if she were running away. All the
girls belonging to Middleton School had to wear a badge on their hats,
and Elma would therefore be known. She would be recognized as one of the
pupils. Nevertheless she thought she would risk it, for the longing to
go away got stronger and stronger.

The railway station happened to be rather empty at this time. She looked
around her hastily, saw no one that she knew about, and went into the
booking-office. She hastily made up her mind to take a ticket for a
large seaport town a few miles distant. She asked for a third-class
single ticket to Saltbury, inquired when the next train came up, and a
few moments later found herself on the right platform waiting for it. It
came in within a quarter of an hour, and Elma took her seat in a
third-class compartment. She was relieved to find that she was in the
company of a good-natured-looking, middle-aged woman who was just
returning to her own home from doing some marketing at Middleton. She
did not take any notice of Elma, who crouched up in the opposite corner,
and sat looking out at the country. The woman left the carriage at the
next station, and Elma continued her journey for the rest of the way
alone. She got to Saltbury within an hour, and stepped out on to the
platform. She had been at Saltbury before with her mother and Carrie.
They had once spent a never-to-be-forgotten week there when Mrs. Lewis
had a ten-pound note in her pocket which she resolved to devote to a
treat at the seaside. Elma wondered if she might venture to go to the
little cottage in the suburbs of Saltbury where she had spent this week.
After reflection, however, she thought that it would not be wise to
venture, for if she were missed it would be very easy to trace her to
Saltbury, and then this cottage would be the first to seek for her in.
Accordingly she went into the more thronged and populous part of the
town. The expensive season had not yet begun, and she presently went
into a neat little house with "Apartments" written on a card in the
window. She asked for a bed for the night. The landlady, a ruddy-faced
young woman, immediately said she could accommodate her, and took Elma
upstairs to the top of the house to show her a neat little bedroom.

"You can have this for half a crown a night, miss," she said. "Are you
likely to make a long stay?"

"I don't know," answered Elma; "I can't be sure. I want the room for one
night, and then I'll let you know."

"Very well, miss, that's quite satisfactory, and I can get in anything
you like in the way of food. If you happened to wish for a sitting-room,

"Oh, no, a bedroom will be enough," answered Elma. "I do not care to go
to the expense of a sitting-room."

"You left your luggage I suppose, miss, at the railway station?"

Elma colored and then turned pale.

"No," she said; "I have not brought any luggage with me."

The woman stared, opening her eyes very wide, now giving Elma a full and
particular attention which she had not hitherto vouchsafed to her. She
said nothing further, and Elma went downstairs.

"I'll go down to the beach for a little," she said. "You might have some
tea ready for me when I come back. I am very tired, and should like some
tea and toast."

"And a hegg, miss, or anything of that sort?"

"No, thank you; just tea and toast, please. Nothing more."

The woman stared after her as she went down the street. Elma got as far
as the beach; she then sat down on a bench and gazed out at the waves.
The tide was coming in. The beach at Saltbury was celebrated, and
children were playing about, amusing themselves gathering shells, making
sand-castles, and otherwise disporting themselves after the manner of
their kind. A little boy was wading far out. Elma watched him with
lack-luster eyes. She wondered vaguely how long he would be allowed to
wade, and how deep he might go. He got as far as his knees, and then
turned back. As he was going back he fell, wetting himself and crying
out lustily.

Elma continued to gaze at him with eyes which scarcely saw.

"He thinks he is hurt," she said to herself, "that he has had a
terrible misfortune. How little he knows what real pain means, and what
real misfortune is! Here am I with money in my pocket which does not
belong to me, having run away from home, disgraced for life, miserable
for life. Oh! what shall I do?"

It had been a very hot day, but the evening was chilly, and Elma
shivered as she went back to her lodgings in South Street. She had
brought away no wraps with her, and her thin cotton dress was not
sufficient to keep out the chill of the sea breezes. She thought she
would be glad to get under shelter, to go to bed, to wrap herself up and
cover her face and court sleep. When she got to the door, however, the
young landlady, who was evidently waiting for her, came out on to the

"If you please, miss," she said, "I am really very sorry, but my husband

"What?" said Elma.

"That as you have no luggage, miss (you know it ain't customary for us
to take in ladies without luggage)----"

"Then you mean--" said Elma, turning very white and pale.

"Yes, miss, I'm ever so sorry."

"You can't give me the room even for one night?"

"We can't really, miss."

"But I can pay in advance," said Elma eagerly.

"I'm ever so sorry, miss; but another lady came just as you left, and
she had a box and a handbag, and everything proper, and as she wanted
the room very badly and as we had her before, we have let it to her,
miss. I am sure I am very sorry not to oblige; but I dare say--There
are a great many other apartments down this road, miss."

"Thank you," said Elma; "it does not matter at all."

She spoke with a voice of ice; pride, a remnant of pride, came to her
aid. She would not let the woman see how distressed she was.

"Good-evening, miss," said the young landlady. "I'm real sorry not to

"Oh, it doesn't matter," said Elma; "I dare say I can manage."

She walked down South Street, knowing that the landlady was watching her
as she disappeared. She soon came to a corner where four roads met.
Where should she go? What could she do? Where was she to have shelter
for the night?

It occurred to her that after all there was nothing now left to her but
to return to Middleton. She hurried up to the railway station, and asked
when the next train would start. A porter, who was standing just inside
the station informed her that the last train for Middleton had left five
minutes ago.

"The next will be at seven to-morrow morning," he said.

"Thank you," answered Elma. She would not allow any of the dismay on her
face to appear.

"After all, it is too absurd that I can't have shelter," she said to
herself, "when I have over ten pounds in my pocket. What can the
landlady have meant? Surely, if I pay my way that is all that is

But, all the same, she did not like to go and inquire at any other
lodging. She could not stand meeting once again the stony stare of a
landlady when she explained that she had no luggage, none at all. It
occurred to her that she might go into a shop and buy some night-gear
and a small handbag, but she rejected the idea almost as quickly as it
came to her.

"It would only waste the money," she said to herself, "and where is the
use? I suppose I can manage to spend the night somewhere. Thank
goodness, it is a fine summer's night; I might do worse than spend it in
the open air."

She wandered away, and presently passing a small restaurant, went in and
ordered a cup of tea for herself, and some bread and butter. She drank
the tea, but found that to eat choked her. The outlook before her was
more miserable moment by moment. She was driven to such despair that it
seemed of very little consequence to her whether she succeeded in
getting away from Middleton School, from the censorious eyes of the
whole of her world, or not. Everything was up with her. She kept
repeating that moodily, drearily under her breath. Everything was up;
she had not a friend in the wide, wide world.

Having finished her meager meal, she went out again into South Street.
She was horrified when she saw the name at one end of the street. She
did not want to pass by that neat little house which contained that snug
little bedroom where she had hoped to cover her eyes from the light, and
court sleep, in order to get rid of her misery for a few hours.

She had now reached the neighborhood of the shore. The tide was nearly
full in; the great, broad expanse of beach was covered. The children
had all gone home to supper and to bed. The stars were coming out in the
sky; a full moon was riding in majesty across the heavens. It seemed to
Elma, fine as the night was, that the sea moaned in an unreasonable and
very dreadful manner. She had to press her hands to her ears to shut
away the sound of that moaning sea. She determined to go inland. There
was plenty of time, plenty. She could get back to the station by seven
in the morning, wait for the first train which returned to Middleton,
and reach the school after all in time for her exposure.

She turned her steps now countrywise, and after walking for a mile or
two found that she was too weary to go any further. She crept inside a
narrow opening in a hedge, and got into a field. Here she was absolutely
alone; not a human being was in sight. As far as she could tell there
was not a living creature near. She felt the grass; it was heavy with
dew. She had always heard that it was very dangerous to sit down on
grass soaked with dew, but danger now was of no moment to her.

"It would be rather nice to be ill; it would be rather nice to die." She
had nothing left to live for. Her whole life had been a mistake. She had
tried hard to get away from her own set, the set in which she was born.
She had made a mess of it; she had failed. Her own set--the
narrow-minded, the vulgar, the low--were the only ones who could claim
her, who could touch her, who could have anything in common with her.
How terribly shocked Miss Sherrard had been at what she had done. How
disgusted, how coldly, terribly cruel Aunt Charlotte had been; but her
mother had thought very little about it, and Carrie would love her just
as much after her disgraceful conduct as she had done before.

"I belong to them, and they belong to me," thought poor Elma. "My
ambitions were wrong; I shall sink now, and become a second Carrie. No,
I shall never marry a Sam Raynes, but I shall become a sour old maid.
Perhaps I shall do charring some day, there is no saying. I did wrong to
try to raise myself. I----"

She never saw where her fault lay. She was not really repentant for her
wrong-doing. The consequences were terrible, but the sin did not trouble

After a time, terribly exhausted and weary, she lay down just as she was
on the soaking wet grass and fell asleep. She had been chilled and tired
before she slept; but when in the very middle of the night she awoke she
had never known anything like the bitter cold which she experienced. She
could not at first remember where she was; but all too soon memory with
a flash returned to her. She remembered all the events of yesterday. She
knew that she was a runaway, that she had stolen money in her pocket.
She might be arrested and put in prison; there was no saying what awful
fate lay before her. In the dead of night lying there she became really
frightened; she almost felt as if she could scream aloud in her terror.
How empty the world seemed, how hollow! She wished the stars overhead
would not blink at her; she wished the moon would go behind a cloud; she
felt as if God Himself was looking at her through the face of the moon,
and she did not like it. She covered her face with her cold and
trembling hands, and tried to shut away what she felt might be the face
of God Himself.

"I have been a very wicked girl," she moaned, and now, for the first
time, she thought not so much of the consequences as of the sin. Tears
rained from her eyes; she sat up and covered her face.

"God help me! Please, God, don't be too angry, with me; I am the most
miserable girl in the world," she faltered.

After that frightened cry or prayer she felt more comfortable; and now,
staggering to her feet, she saw, standing about ten yards away, and
looking at her fixedly out of its large and luminous eyes, a brown cow.
There were several more cows in the field, and this one had come up, and
was gazing inquiringly at her. The motherly creature could not imagine
what desolate and queer young thing this was, up and awake in the middle
of the night. Such creatures as Elma, in the cow's experience, were not
to be seen at these inclement hours. It lashed its long tail slowly from
side to side, and kept gazing at her; and Elma looked at it, and her
nervous terrors grew worse. The cow had horns; suppose it came near, and
tried to horn her. She was not a country girl, and did not understand
country creatures. A bitter cry of abject terror rose from her lips. She
darted past the animal, rushed out by the way she had come into the
field, and found herself once more on the highroad.

The cow, its curiosity very faintly tickled by the appearance of Elma on
the scene, placidly resumed its feeding, and the terrified girl ran as
if she had wings to her feet up the highroad.

In after days she was never able to tell how she spent the remainder of
that night; but the longest hours only herald in the dawn, and at last
the sun arose and the worst of her fears were over. The sun warmed her,
and took away the dreadful feeling of chill which she was experiencing.
She wandered about, sitting down now and then, too feeble, too tired,
too utterly depressed to have room even for active fears, and at last
the time came when she might again present herself at the station.



When Carrie left her, Kitty Malone was buoyed up with a certain degree
of hope. Carrie had spoken with confidence; she had assured her that her
clothes were worth money. Never before, much as she prized pretty
things, had they seemed so valuable in poor Kitty's eyes. If Carrie
would really keep her word it would be possible for Kitty to send Laurie
the money which he wanted that evening. Could she do this her worst
anxieties would be laid to rest, and she felt that it would be even
possible for her to try to be good once more. As things were at present,
she cared nothing at all about being either good or bad. Every thought
of her mind was fixed upon Laurie; if he were saved she would be good;
if not--if he indeed, the darling of her heart, went to the
dogs--nothing mattered.

Kitty was too restless and miserable to go down to the rest of the
family. She walked up and down, up and down her bedroom, watching and
longing for Carrie. Now and then she would rush to the window, putting
out her head and shoulders and half her body, to watch if by any chance
Carrie might be coming up the street. That red-faced, fat,
uninteresting-looking young woman now represented all Kitty's hopes.

When darkness set in, however, when the hours first struck nine and
then ten, poor Kitty gradually saw the last star in her firmament
expire. "Without doubt Carrie had failed to pawn the things.

"And I thought them so good," whispered Kitty to herself. "Aunt Bridget
would be sure to choose nice and expensive things. Perhaps they were too
good for the people who come to the pawnbroker for their clothes. That
must be the reason; but I wonder Carrie did not come back to tell me."

Presently Alice bustled into the room, and, opening the door of the
large wardrobe which the girls shared between them, began to make active
search for a neat little jacket which she wanted to put on. She was
going out for the evening, and wished to wear it when she was returning
home. Search as she would, however, she could not find it, and presently
turned to ask Kitty if she had seen it.

"Dear me, no," answered Kitty, starting and blushing. "Is it not in the

"No," replied Alice. "And I remember I hung it on this peg. Where can it
possibly have disappeared to? Don't you know anything about it, Kitty?
By the way, how wonderfully empty the wardrobe looks! Have you been
putting your clothes back into your boxes?"

Kitty, who had been standing in the middle of the room looking the very
picture of despair, now burst into a hearty peal of laughter.

"What are you laughing about?" asked Alice.

"I am awfully afraid it has happened," she cried.

"What do you mean?"

"Why, that your jacket has gone to the pawn."

"Kitty!" cried Alice, looking at the Irish girl in some alarm, "have you
gone mad?"

"No, Alice; but I am dreadfully afraid all the same that it has
happened; indeed, there can be no doubt of it."

Kitty laughed again. She often cried when she laughed and now the tears
ran down her cheeks.

"Well, this is too funny!" she gasped between her paroxysms of mirth.

"I don't think it funny at all. I think you must have taken leave of
your senses. Kitty, please, explain yourself."

"I will try to, Alice. Oh, don't frown at me so horribly, or I shall go
off into fits of laughter again. This is the simple truth. I wanted
money very, very badly. I could not get it, and Carrie Lewis--"

"Carrie Lewis? Who is she?" asked Alice.

"Oh, don't be so ridiculous, Alice. Of course you know who Carrie Lewis
is. She is Elma's sister. She came here to-day."

"How very interesting! What a nice set of people you seem to be getting
to know! I wasn't aware that you were acquainted with any of the Lewises
except Elma."

"Well, I am acquainted with Carrie now, and I rather like her. She is
great fun, much more fun than you are. She is vulgar, of course; but
really that does not matter. She called to see me, and as I happened to
want money she suggested pawning some of my things for me. I conclude
she took your jacket by mistake with the rest."

Alice was so stunned absolutely by this news that no words would come
to her. She stared at Kitty, her face growing whiter and more
wooden-looking each moment. Then, without vouchsafing a syllable of
reply, she left the room, banging the door behind her.

"There, I have given her a good settler," thought Kitty; and for a
moment the feeling that Alice was as uncomfortable as she was herself
gave her a certain sense of satisfaction.

The last post brought a letter from Laurie. It was brief, and was
written in frantic hurry and despair.

"My dear Kitty," wrote the boy, "what has come to you? I am looking for
a letter by every post, but none arrives. I shall not be able to give
Wheel-about the money I promised him on Saturday, and I know he will not
keep my secret any longer. When father hears it, all is up. If I don't
receive that money by Saturday morning I shall run away to

The letter fluttered from poor Kitty's fingers to the floor. She felt
stunned; there was a cold weight now at her heart, which made it almost
impossible for her to move or even think. If Laurie did not get the
money by Saturday morning he would run away to sea. This was Thursday
evening. There was still time, just time, to save him. Oh, if only
Carrie would come! How dreadful, how terrible of her to fail Kitty at
such a moment as this! Laurie was just the sort of boy to do what he
said. The longing to go to sea had been one of the innermost cravings of
his heart for many years. If he did so, the squire would never forgive
him. His career would be ruined. Bad and awful as an English school in
Kitty's opinion would be, the fate which he now had mapped out for
himself would be much worse. The cruel, cruel sea might even drown him.
Kitty might never behold her Laurie again. He was the joy of her heart
and the light of her eyes. She uttered a piercing cry, and fell down
half-fainting by her bedside. She lay so for the greater part of an
hour, then struggling to her feet got into bed without undressing, and
pulled the bedclothes well over her head.

When Alice came in very late that evening she thought that Kitty was
asleep, and did not disturb her; but all during the long hours of that
miserable night poor Kitty lay awake, her heart beating loud, terrible
visions passing before her eyes. Toward morning she fell into a troubled
sleep, to awake again quite early. Her head ached badly, her pulses beat
too quickly; she could not stand her hot bed any longer. Springing up,
she went into the bathroom, turned on the cold water, and refreshed
herself with a bath. She felt really desperate and quite impervious to
all ideas of discipline. She made up her mind to go to the Lewises,
knock up Carrie, and demand an account of the property which she had
confided to her on the previous day. Even still there was just--just
time to save Laurie, for if she could catch the early post he would
receive his money on Saturday morning.

Kitty found herself at Constantino Road between seven and eight o'clock.
The blinds of Carrie's bedroom window were still down, for the Lewises
were not early risers. Maggie however, was up, and when Kitty rang the
bell she opened the door for her.

"Miss Malone!" she cried.

"I want to see Miss Carrie at once," cried Kitty. "Is she up, Maggie?"

"Not she, miss. She's sound asleep and in bed. But I'll run up and tell
her that you are here. Please come into the dining-room, Miss Malone."

Maggie threw open the door of this by-no-means luxurious apartment, and
then ran upstairs to inform Carrie of Kitty's unexpected arrival.

"Now, what can be up?" thought Carrie. "Surely she is satisfied. I did
very well for her."

She dressed herself hastily, and in five minutes was standing by Kitty's

"What is it?" she asked. "Are you not pleased? Elma took you the money,
did she not? She must have stayed with one of the Middleton School girls
for the night, for she never returned home; but she took you the money.
I thought I did very well by you. Were you not satisfied?"

"She took me the money?" cried Kitty, turning pale. "No; that she did
not. I never had any money. What do you mean, Carrie?"

"What I say," answered Carrie. "Oh, do sit down, Kitty; you look quite
ghastly. I gave Elma ten pounds seven shillings and twopence to give you
I got eleven guineas for your things, including the watch and chain.
After I deducted my ten per cent., the balance for you was ten pounds
seven and twopence. I thought you would be delighted. Did she not take
you the money early yesterday evening?"

"No. I have never seen her."

"But she left here quite early on purpose. She said she was going
straight to your house. I sent you plenty of money, did I not?"

"How much did you say?" asked Kitty, putting her hand up to her forehead
in a distracted way.

"Ten pounds seven and twopence. You only really wanted eight pounds, did
you not?"

"I had a little money of my own, and eight pounds would have done," said
Kitty in a low voice; "but----"

Here she sprang forward and gripped Carrie by the arm. "What does it
mean, Carrie--what does it mean? Elma never came near me; I never, never
saw her last night."

"You never saw her? Elma never went to you?"

"No, never. Do you think I would tell an untruth? I never saw her, not
since early school yesterday. Oh, Carrie, tell me what it means?"

"I cannot. I must say it looks very queer," said Carrie. She frowned,
turned her back partly upon Kitty, and supporting her fat chin on one of
her dimpled hands, began to think deeply. The more she thought the less
she liked the aspect of affairs.

"Carrie, what does it mean?" cried Kitty, reiterating her words in a
kind of frenzy of agitation.

"Oh, stop talking to me for a minute, Kitty! I must think this out."

Carrie walked to the window, pulled up the blinds, threw the sash up,
and allowed the fresh morning air to blow upon her hot face. After a
time she turned round and faced Kitty.

"You may well look pale," she said. "I confess I am as bewildered as you
are yourself. Of course Elma may have been taken ill--she had a
dreadful shock yesterday."


"You are silly to talk like that. Don't you know?"

"You mean because I told about her?"

"Well, it turned out very badly, as badly as possible. You did tell, and
when you did so you ruined her. If you had only kept that precious story
to yourself, even for twenty-four hours, little Elma would have been
made--made for life; but you ruined her."

"Oh do please tell me what you mean! My head is going round in a whirl;
I can scarcely follow you."

"You can pull yourself together if you like. This is what happened. I
told you, did I not, yesterday, that Aunt Charlotte pays Elma's fees at
Middleton School?"

"I think so, but I don't quite remember."

"That is so like you. I always said you were selfish."

"Think what you like, Carrie; but please tell me everything."

"Oh, I'm quite willing. This is the story. Aunt Charlotte came here
yesterday. She had heard of a splendid school in Germany, where Elma was
to be sent as pupil-teacher. She wanted Elma to leave Middleton School
at once, as she had found an escort to take her to Germany; but before
Elma could be admitted into this new school it was necessary for her to
have a certificate from Miss Sherrard. Now you see daylight, don't you?
My aunt, Mrs. Steward, went to see Miss Sherrard, taking Elma with her.
Elma did not know that you had put a match to the mine, and of course
Aunt Charlotte knew nothing about it. When Miss Sherrard was asked to
give Elma a certificate for conduct, she refused point-blank. Of course
the mine exploded. Elma was called in, and all your nice, miserable
story told to Aunt Charlotte. Elma is to be publicly exposed at
Middleton School to-day; and Aunt Charlotte has washed her hands of her
forever. There! that's what you have done. We have much to thank you
for, have we not?"

Kitty's face had grown whiter and whiter.

"You blame me very much for what I am not to be blamed for," she said
after a pause.

"That's what you think. You're an Irish girl, and you think nothing of a
promise. You promised Elma you would not tell. You lent her the money,
and you promised you would not tell about it. You broke your promise,
and you have ruined her for life. There! that's what has happened. I
wish you joy of the nice state your conscience must be in."

"You are very bitter to me, Carrie; but you cannot quite see my side of
the question. I would not have told about Elma if Elma had been in the
least true to me, but she was not, not a bit. All the same, I am
terribly, terribly sorry for her. I would not have got her into this
scrape if I had known."

"Ay, you had no thought, you see. You just blurted out everything."

"I am very miserable," said poor Kitty. She clasped her trembling hands
together, and tears slowly welled into her beautiful dark-blue eyes.
Carrie watched her with anxiety.

"There, now I like you," she said, after a pause "You look awfully
pretty with those tears in your eyes, and----"

"Pretty, do I?" said Kitty. For a moment a pleased smile flitted across
her face, but then it faded; the present anxiety was too intense for her
to give much thought to her personal appearance.

"Where can Elma be?" she said.

"Ah, that's the dreadful part. I don't know. She went out of the house
with your money. She evidently never took it to you. I am sure I cannot
think what has happened to her."

"And my money is gone?" said Kitty.

"So it seems--that is, unless we can find Elma. It is all very dreadful,
very horrible. I suppose the plain English of the matter is this"--here
Carrie gulped something down in her throat--"that she--she stole your
money and has run away with it."

"Carrie, you cannot think so!"

"It is what I have to think," answered Carrie. "It is a mighty
unpalatable truth, I can tell you. I suppose, now, your next step will
be to prosecute her to send the police after her, and have her locked
up. Then you will ruin me too, for Sam Raynes--not that he is
overparticular, nor that he cares twopence about refinement, or anything
of that sort--would not care to marry a girl whose--whose sister was put
in prison. That's your next step isn't it, Kitty Malone?"

"I won't stop to listen to you," said Kitty; "you are too terrible."

She ran to the door, opened it, and the next moment found herself in
the street. She walked fast, ugly words repeating themselves in her
ears. Carrie had been very blunt, and had given the petted, half-spoiled
girl some home truths to think about. Had she really been unkind in
telling about Elma? Oh, what was right and what was wrong? What was the
matter? Could she ever, ever, in the whole course of her existence, have
a light heart again? She walked up the street, little caring what she
was doing or where she was going. At the next corner she came plump upon
Elma herself, who was coming slowly, very slowly in the direction of
Constantine Road. When she saw her, poor Kitty gave a sudden shout.

"Oh, Elma!" she said, "how glad I am--how glad I am!"

"What do you mean?" said Elma. Her voice was faint.

"I thought I might never see you again. I thought--I don't know what I
thought--but you have come back."

"I ran away, and I have come back again," said Elma. "You can punish me
if you like, Kitty; things can never be much worse than they are." Here
she staggered, and would have fallen had not Kitty held her up.

"How dreadfully bad you look! But oh, the relief of seeing you again!"
said Kitty. "Where have you been? What have you done?"

"I scarcely know what I have done, or where I have been. I have a noise
in my head, a queer noise. My head aches so badly it seems as if it
would never leave off again. I am going to school, and they are going
to expose me. It was all because you told, Kitty. And here is nearly
all your money." Elm a put her hand into her pocket. "I must tell you
everything, Kitty; for nothing really matters now. I meant to take that
money. I meant to steal it all, but when it came to the point I found I
could not. Here is most of it back. I spent three shillings on my fare
to Saltbury and back, and sixpence on tea last night. That leaves ten
pounds three and eightpence. Here, count it, won't you, Kitty? Take it
in your hand. Here are the ten sovereigns, and the three shillings, and
the sixpence and twopence. Have you got them all right? I must owe you
the balance, but I'll pay you soon--soon."

Elma's voice sounded weaker and weaker. Kitty clasped the money; her
small fingers closed over it, her eyes grew bright, a flaming color rose
into each of her cheeks, and it was as if new life was put into her.

"How bad you look!" she cried; "but oh, how happy I am to have this
money! Never mind for a moment what you meant to do; I have it now, and
I forgive you with my whole heart. Let us go straight to the nearest
post office. I must get a postal order lor eight pounds immediately.
Come, Elma, come."

"But what do you mean? Why should I go with you?"

"Because you must--because I am not going to part with you--not yet.
Come, come at once. Oh, how dead tired you look! You are not to go back
to that dreadful little house of yours--not yet. Here is a nice-looking
restaurant. You just go straight in, and I'll go on to the post office
and send off the postal order to the dear old boy. He is saved now, and
I am saved; nothing--nothing else matters. Dear Elma, of course I
forgive you; pray don't look so miserable. I felt fit to die five
minutes ago, but now I am as well and jolly as possible. Here, Elma,
come into the restaurant and wait."

Kitty had clutched hold of Elma's arm, and now she dragged her into a
large, bright-looking restaurant, which they were just passing. The next
moment Elma found herself seated by a small marble table. Kitty was
ordering tea or something, Elma could not quite make out what, nor did
she care. Everything was dreamy and unreal to her.

"I'll be back in a minute, Elma," cried Kitty. Her flashing eyes smiled
as they glanced at Elma. Elma tried to smile back, but could not. The
next moment Kitty was out of the place. She was back again in less than
a quarter of an hour.

"I have done it," she cried, "and my heart is as light as a feather. I
have sent off the postal order to Laurie; he will be saved now. Oh, it
is so comforting; and we have a little over two pounds for ourselves."

"For ourselves--what do you mean?" said Elma.

"Why, of course, we'll divide it and have a jolly time. Aren't you going
to have your breakfast? I'm as hungry as a hawk."

As Kitty spoke she poured out a cup of tea, added milk to it, and pushed
it toward Elma. Elma drank it off, and when she had done so the confused
feeling in her head got a little better. Kitty then began to speak in a
low, excited whisper.

"Let us do something," she said. "Let us do something quite mad and
wild and jolly. We have got out of our scrape."

"You have; but I am in it up to my neck," said poor Elma. "Oh Kitty, I
am a miserable, wretched girl!"

"Never mind, you are going to be a jolly girl now, the jolliest girl in
the world. Do you think because I am happy again that I am going to
leave you to all this misery, particularly after that nice blunt,
determined Carrie of yours telling me that it was my fault, and that I
would repent it to my dying day? Look here, Elma, did you say that you
wanted to go back to Middleton School this morning?"

"I have to. I am to be exposed, you know."

"Not a bit of it. Neither you nor I will go to that hateful school; let
us run away."

"Run away? But I have run away and come back again."

"Let us do it over again."

"Kitty, what do you mean?"

"What I say. I have heaps of money; let us get back to Saltbury and enjoy
ourselves, Elma. Why can't we take the next train? No one will prevent
us; no one will guess where we are. We will have a nice time, a really
nice time. Say 'Yes,' Elma, won't you?"

"But would you really go with me?"

"Why not? I am the wild Irish girl, and you are the naughty English
girl; let us go off together."

"Well, it does sound tempting," said Elma, her eyes sparkling. "Kitty,
it is wonderful of you not to give me up."

"Oh, I am not the sort of girl to give up a friend when she is in
trouble. You have made it right for me, and the sun is shining again,
and I am as happy as the day is long. Elma, you must come."

"It does sound tempting--I wish my head did not ache so badly."

"It will be better when you get to the seaside."

"Perhaps so, and then I need not go to Middleton School."

"You need never go there again. Oh, don't waste any more time over
breakfast. We can eat when we get to Saltbury. I want to get off before
Alice and Carrie or any of them begin to miss us. Let us go to the
railway station; it is not far off."

Kitty's eager and impetuous words earned the day, and in a quarter of an
hour's time the girls found themselves speeding away to Saltbury.

"We have indeed burned our boats now," said Kitty, with a laugh; "we
have both run away. Now they have something really to scold us about;
but never mind. I never felt, more jolly in my life."



But Kitty's happiness was very short-lived, for long before they got to
Saltbury Elma was really so ill that she could not hold up her head.
Kitty had never seen such severe illness before. She was not easily
frightened; she had plenty of pluck when a real emergency arose, and she
now determined to do her best for her companion.

"It is all the worry and the misery she has undergone," thought Kitty to
herself; "but now that my mind is at rest she will see what a good
friend I can be to her." When they got to Saltbury she immediately
ordered a cab, and desired the man to drive her to the nearest hotel.

"Oh, Kitty!" gasped poor Elma, "they won't take us in, because we have
no luggage, you know."

"I'll manage it," said Kitty; "no luggage--what does that matter?"

She followed Elma into the cab, and a few moments later the girls found
themselves at the door of a neat little inn facing the sea. Kitty jumped
out and went straight to the bar.

"I want a nice, quiet bedroom," she said, "with two beds in it."

"Certainly, miss," said the woman, glancing into Kitty's bright face.

"It must be a very quiet room," continued Kitty, "for my companion is
ill; she has a bad headache, and we must send for a doctor immediately."

"Yes, miss. I'll send the porter out to bring in your luggage."

"That's the annoying part," said Kitty; "we have no luggage."

The woman looked dubious, and turned to glance at a man who approached.

"Two young ladies want a room," she said in a low voice. "One of them is
ill, and--they have no luggage."

"Then in that case, miss, I am very sorry----" began the man.

But Kitty interrupted him.

"Don't say those words," she began. "I know exactly what you are going
to say, but please don't. We have no luggage, for we--we have run away
from school. There now, I have confided in you. Here's father's card. He
will be responsible for us. Please show us to your very best room

As Kitty spoke she took a card out of her sealskin purse and handed it
to the woman.

"Dennis Malone, Castle Malone, County Donegal," was inscribed on the
small piece of pasteboard. It evidently had a good effect, but a still
greater effect was produced by the sparkling and lovely eyes of the
handsome girl who spoke in a tone of quiet assurance.

"Father will be so grateful to you for taking us in," she continued. "It
would be terrible, you know, if you allowed us to wander about the
streets. I am going to telegraph to him now, and he will arrive here, I
have no doubt, within the next twenty-four hours. I have not much money
with me," added Kitty frankly, "but father will bring plenty--plenty when
he arrives."

Again the man and woman whispered together, and now approving and
interesting glances turned in Kitty's direction. The woman presently

"Very well, miss, we'll do our best for you. Will you follow me, miss?"

She took Kitty and Elma upstairs and showed them into the best room in
the house. In a very short time poor Elma found herself in bed, with
Kitty bending over her, kissing her now and then, and whispering kind
words in her ears.

"I have managed beautifully with the people of the hotel," whispered
Kitty. "And now, darling, you'll be made so comfortable. I am going to
make up to you for--for what Carrie said I did."

"But you did nothing; it was I who was bad, very bad," cried Elma.

"Oh, don't begin to get remorseful now, while you are ill. Wait, at
least until you are better. I have ordered some fruit and jelly and ice,
and I have asked the landlady--isn't she a dear--to send for the

"It seems like a dream," said Elma. "Is it possible that everything has
changed so completely, and you--you, Kitty Malone--you to whom I have
acted so badly, are good to me?"

"Yes, yes, I mean to be good to you; but don't begin to fret about your
sins until you are better. Leave unpleasant things alone. Go to sleep,
Elma; go to sleep."

Kitty went out of the room and stood and reflected for a few moments on
the landing.

"Here's a state of things," Kitty said to herself; "but on the whole I
rather like it. I knew I should be good in emergencies; I felt that it
was in me. I am afraid poor Elma is going to be downright ill. I suppose
I did wrong to run away--perhaps I did; but I am so relieved about
Laurie that nothing else seems to matter now. I will telegraph
immediately to the dear old dad and ask him to come right away here at
once. When I see him and know that Laurie is really saved, I'll just
tell him everything. Oh, yes, that is the only--only thing to do."

Kitty went straight to the nearest post office, and in an incredibly
short space of time the following message was being carried across the
wires to Castle Malone:

"AT THE SIGN OF THE RED DOE, SALTBURY.--You will be surprised, father;
but I have run away from school. I will tell you everything when I see
you. I am here with a sick girl who has also run away. We have very
little money; and I, your Kitty, want you dreadfully. Come to me as
quickly as you can.


"Bless him," said the girl to herself. "He may be angry for a minute,
but this message will bring him on the wings of the wind. Now that it
has gone off I wonder ought I to let them know at Middleton?"

Kitty reflected earnestly over this problem. She quickly, however, made
up her mind to keep her secret to herself.

"A little suspense will be rather good for Alice than otherwise," she
thought; "and although Mr and Mrs. Denvers may be anxious about me, they
can but telegraph to father; and as he will know my address already it
won't put him into a taking. Miss Sherrard too can bear it; and as to
Carrie, I am really sorry for poor old Carrie, and I should not much
mind having her here; but I think until father comes I will look after
Elma my lone self, as they say in Ireland."

Having made up her mind, Kitty went back to the hotel and asked the
landlady, with whom she was now great friends, to send for the best
doctor in the neighborhood.

Dr. Marchand arrived in the course of the morning, and pronounced Elma
to be ill, but not alarmingly so.

"Your young friend is suffering from considerable shock," he said, "and
has evidently also taken a severe cold; but with care and nursing she
will in all probability soon get relief--that is, if the strain from
which she is suffering is taken off her mind."

"Oh, I think I can manage that," answered Kitty, nodding to the doctor
in a very bright and frank way. Her dark-blue eyes were shining like
stars; the color in her cheeks, the set of her beautiful head on her
lovely neck, the very arrangement of her clothes fairly bewitched that
good man. He had seldom seen such sparkling eyes nor such a beautiful
dimpled mouth. Kitty's manner completely won Dr. Marchand over to her
side, as it had already done the good people at the hotel.

After getting innumerable directions from the doctor, she went
downstairs to consult with her land lady.

"Now, Mrs. Stacey," she said, "I must buy lots of things, and I wonder
if you can help me. I have telegraphed to father to come here; but until
he does I have only this much;" here she opened her purse and tumbled
the contents on to the landlady's palm.

Mrs. Stacey started back in some astonishment. Really this was a very
fascinating young lady; but she had never met anybody quite so--so out
of the common.

"You can reckon it up if you like," said Kitty; "you will see that it
does not come to two pounds. Now, do you know of a shop that would trust
me--give me credit, I mean--for some things?"

"What sort of things, miss?"

"Oh, clothes, and a couple of trunks. You see, we are not respectable
without trunks, are we?"

"Oh, yes, Miss Malone, you are."

"But do you know of such a shop? Please think very hard, Mrs. Stacey."

"Williamson's round the corner will oblige you to any extent, miss, if
you mention my name."

"Then I'll go there immediately. Thank you; how very nice you are!" said

"Of course I ought not to be nice to you, miss, for it ain't right--no,
that it ain't--to encourage runaways."

"When you know our story you will be quite glad you encouraged us,"
laughed Kitty.

"Then perhaps you'll confide in me, miss."

Kitty colored and thought for a moment.

"I think father must know it first," she said. "And now I must rush

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