Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Wild Kitty by L. T. Meade

Part 2 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download Wild Kitty pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"Well done, Elma," said Gwin, "that is a capital rule."

"It is a hateful rule," said Bessie. "I really don't think I can join. I
don't know what fashionable clothes are. I never study the fashions. I
have not the slightest idea whether sleeves are worn stuck out to the
size of a balloon or skin-tight to the arm. All I ask for in a sleeve is
that it should be comfortable; all I ask for in a dress is that I should
not know I have it on. I like to be warm in winter and cool in summer.
More I do not ask for."

"Then the rule will do you a wonderful lot of good," said Gwin. "And now
is it decided? If so we will draw up the rules in proper form, and----"

"I tell you what," said Bessie. "I have thought of a name and a good one
too. Let us call the society the 'Tug-of-war Society.'"

"Well done," said Gwin; "that will be capital. And now is there to be a
subscription or is there not?"

"Oh, certainly," said Alice. "It would make it much more distinguished,
and prevent too many girls asking to join. We want to have the
Tug-of-War Society rather select, don't we?"

"I suppose so," said Gwin; "but I don't think that really depends upon
the amount of the subscription. What do you say to half a guinea,

Alice looked thoughtful, and Elma's face turned rather pale; but she was
the first to say she thought Gwin's suggestion an admirable one.

"Then that is all right," said Gwin, "and I will set to work to write
out the rules as neatly as I can. After they are all set out in due
form, we can see if there are any improvements to be suggested."

Gwin set to work, bending low over her foolscap paper, and Alice offered
to help her. Elma and Bessie wandered out of the room, and soon their
conversation turned to the much-discussed subject of Kitty.

Bessie stood up warmly for the harum-scarum Irish girl, as Elma called

"She has a lot of good in her," said Bessie warmly. "She would be a
splendid girl if she were tamed down a little. I really don't think we
want to take much of the fire out of her; but if she would only restrain
some of her wild speeches it would be all the better; for if she remains
as frank as she is at present to the end of the chapter she cannot help
making enemies."

"I want to ask you a question, Bessie," said Elma, dropping her voice to
a low tone; "is it true that Kitty Malone is rich?"

"Rich?" echoed Bessie. "I really cannot tell you."

"I thought you might happen to know, as you have made such chums with
her. She is your greatest friend now at Middle ton School, is she not?"

"Certainly not," replied Bessie. "What do you mean by asking me such a
strange question, Elma? Alice is far and away my greatest friend, and
after Alice I like Gwin best."

"Oh, everybody likes Gwin Harley," said Elma; "who could help it? She is
so beautiful to look at, and she has such a delightful, lovely home."

"I cannot see that her having a lovely, delightful home has anything to
do with our liking her," said honest Bessie.

"Not to you perhaps," answered Elma, and a queer look, half-wistful,
half-defiant, came into her eyes.

"I thought you would be sure to be able to tell me if Kitty were rich,"
she said again after a pause.

"I cannot. You must ask Alice--she lives with Alice. She has plenty of
pretty dresses, and all that sort of thing; but I don't know anything
about her having money."

"I will run into the house this minute and ask Alice," said Elma.

"Do, of course, if you are anxious; but I cannot imagine what difference
it makes to you."

"No, it doesn't, but I am just curious on the subject. I won't keep you

Elma dashed into the house. She presently came back.

"I have found out all about it," she said.

"All about what?" asked Bessie.

"What I went into the house for. How forgetful you are, Bessie!"

"I was wondering if I might steal into the library," said Bessie. "I did
not get all the information I wanted about magnetic iron ore, but--Well,
what is it, Elma?"

"Kitty Malone is rich, very rich, and----"

"I can't see that it matters," said Bessie--"I mean to us."

"Oh, but it matters a good deal. You don't understand. I shall certainly
vote that we ask her to join the Tug-of-War Society."

"You will?" cried Bessie--a look of great pleasure came into her eyes.
"Then I am really glad, for to join such a society would do Kitty more
good than anything else in the world. Only the nicest girls will belong,
and she will get at once into the best set. She is as wild as she can
be, but she has got plenty of honor; and if she once gave her word that
she would do a certain thing no one would do it better."

"Let us have her by all means. Let us put it to the vote as soon as we
go back to the house," said Elma. "Come Bessie, no slinking away in the
direction of that fascinating library. They have nearly copied the
rules, and we are to read them over and make comments."

"I think it will be a delightful society," said Bessie. "I am sure it
will do me good."

"It is meant to do us all good," said Elma. "Tug-of-war! I should rather
think it will be! How I shall hate that terrible effort to get to the
head of my class; not that I am stupid or dislike my lessons."

"That would be the nice part as far as I am concerned," said Bessie;
"but oh! the fashionable sleeves and the stylish hair. Oh dear! I often
feel inclined to have my hair cut short."

"Well, Bessie, you would be a fool if you did," said Elma. "Your
splendid hair; why, it's nearly down to your knees."

"Yes, and that's the bother," said Bessie, "for mother insists on my
brushing it out every night for at least ten minutes, and all that time
is taken from my books. I tell you, Elma, I would gladly change with

Elma's locks were very thin and straggly, and she could not help
coloring at this left-handed compliment; but at that moment Alice
appeared on the balcony to tell the other two girls that the rules were
ready, and that they might return to the house. They did so, and the
rules were then read carefully over (by Elma on this occasion),
criticized by Gwin, Alice, and Bessie, and finally carried as far as the
original members of the society were concerned. The next important thing
was to put to the vote who was to be asked to join and who was to be
excluded. Several girls were named, and among them Elma suddenly
introduced the name of Kitty Malone.

"Now what do you mean by that?" said Alice, her eyes flashing angrily.
"If Kitty joins the society, I, for one, will resign."

"But you cannot, dear," said Gwin in her placid voice. "Remember you are
one of the founders; you are bound to uphold the society now for at
least one term of its natural life. At the end of that time you are
permitted to resign, but certainly not before."

"Then, as I presume I have a vote with regard to the election of
members, I certainly do not wish for Kitty Malone," said Alice.

"I think the votes must go by the wishes of the majority," replied Gwin;
"does any one else want her?"

"I do." said Elma, holding up her hand.

"And I think it would be good for her," said Bessie.

"Dear me, Bessie, how spiteful of you to say that," cried Alice.

"But I do think it, Alice; I do truly."

"Why, Bessie?" asked Gwin.

"Well, you know there are the sort of things mentioned in our rules
which would just give Kitty the sort of restraint she wants," began

"Yes, I think I begin to understand you, Bessie. I too will vote that
she is asked to join," said Gwin.

Alice looked very sulky, but did not say anything further, and soon
afterward the girls broke up their conference.



Kitty Malone was admitted to a low form at Middleton School, her
acquirements being the reverse of distinguished. This fact did not give
her the smallest sense of discomfort. On the contrary, she was pleased;
and although her fellow-scholars were all younger and smaller than
herself, she soon became a sort of queen among them, laughing and joking
with them, and flying round the playground with half a dozen small girls
at her heels, feasting them with unlimited chocolate and telling them
stories. She soon got through her somewhat easy lessons, and was wilder
and more incorrigible than ever. The only sober moments she seemed to
enjoy were when she was with Bessie; for Bessie Challoner took a sincere
interest in her, and was very anxious to get her into a higher form,
where she would be with girls nearer her own age, and would thus be
forced to submit to more discipline than she could enjoy with the
younger girls. Bessie also hoped great things from the Tug-of-war
Society, and soon told Kitty that she was to be asked to become a

"I will certainly join when I am asked," answered Kitty. "I have not the
least idea what you are all driving at, but I'll become a member if it's
to be in the same society with you, my darling duck of a girl!"

Bessie then read her a copy of the rules.

"Why, then, you can't expect me to adhere to the first of them," was
Kitty's answer. "It's no, it's no to that, Bessie. I wouldn't tell a lie
for any earthly thing, and I could not drive myself to the head of that
class. Why, I wouldn't take the place from sweet little Agnes Moore for
all the world. Why it's tears I'd bring to the pretty eyes of the
creature. Oh, I couldn't get ahead of her. I'd just as lief be at the
tail--just as lief."

"But, Kitty, have you no ambition?"

"Well, no, dear, I don't think I have. I never could see the fun of
taking a prize from another; it's no use I'll be in the society, not the
least bit."

"Well, all the same it would do you good," said Bessie, "for you know
you love your father, and you said you would try to acquire knowledge to
please him."

"Oh, where's the good of reminding me of that," said Kitty, looking very
thoughtful and somewhat pensive. "Why did you come out with it, Bessie,
aroon; it's fretting the heart out of me you are. Dear old dad! there's
nothing I wouldn't do for him."

"I am glad I did remind you, Kitty, for you know you have come here to

"Ah, dear, I'll shut my ears if you talk any more in that sort of way,"
said Kitty. "If I must learn, I must; but don't be reminding me of it,
there's a good creature--it's play out of school if it's work in."

"Much work you do, Kitty! Why, I always see you laughing and winking
and twinkling your eyes, and pushing your feet about."

"Pushing my feet about! And is it to keep them in a corner I would,
pretty feet like mine! Why, they are meant to be seen. That's the only
reason why I object to a long dress, because it does not show so much of
the feet and ankles. Ah, sure it's dear little ankles I have, as neat
and trim as you please."

"Kitty, you are getting wilder than ever."

"Well, darling, I'll cool down if you'll just let me give you one of my
big hugs."

"I really can't; my ribs are quite sore. You must not do it to-day. I
told you, you might once a week, but no oftener."

Kitty sank down on the nearest chair and looked comically miserable.

"Go on with the next rule, Bessie," she said, after a moment. "I want to
belong to the Tug-of-war because it's close to you I'll be, darling.
What's the next rule?"

Bessie read it out to her.

"Why, now, it's the pink of a lady I am myself," said Kitty. "I was
always told I was; I don't mind that rule in the least. There won't be
much of a tug-of-war there; if Kitty Malone is to be a lady, why, a lady
she is. I wish you could hear Aunt Honora and Aunt Bridget talking about
our ancient family and our long and royal descent. Go on, Bessie; that's
not so bad as taking the prize from poor little Agnes. What's Rule

Rule III. was read aloud to Kitty, who shook her head solemnly several

"Now, to be frank with you," she said, "there's only one bond between
Alice and me, and that is we do make a froth of the things in our
drawers; and if we are both to struggle against our besetting infirmity,
it will go hard with us; but there, it will be fun to see her struggling
to be tidy and all to no purpose. I think I'll join on that account. I
shall like to see her fighting her drawers. I know if I'm put to it I
can keep mine twenty times tidier."

"I am now coming to Rule IV.," said Bessie; this she read aloud with
some qualms, for she disliked it so very much herself. Kitty's eyes
flashed with pleasure.

"Now, that is after my own heart," she cried, "fashionable dresses are
they, and hair done up in style. Mavourneen! mavourneen! you will have
to wear a fringe!"

Kitty burst into peals of laughter.

"Oh, Bessie," she said, "I have just been longing to attack that head of
yours. I'll bring my little tongs along, and I'll curl up such a lovely
fringe on your great intellectual forehead."

"You'll do nothing of the kind," said Bessie, clasping her hands over
her head to protect her thick, long hair.

"But you must, mavourneen, you must if you join the Tug-of-war Society.
Oh, it's beautiful you'll look! And I tell you what it is, Bessie, I'll
lend you the patterns of my new sleeves--those that are all crinkled
from above the elbow down to the wrist, and puffed ever so much at the
top, with little tucks, and little insertions, and little--"

"Kitty, I won't listen to you for another moment. I shall try to dress
as neatly as I can, and perhaps I must twist my hair into a more stylish
coil at the back of my head, but beyond that I absolutely refuse to go."

"Well, it's a delicious rule," said Kitty Malone, "and I hope I'll work
you round after a bit, Bessie. It seems but fair that if I yield to you
with regard to the other rules you ought to yield to me about Rule IV. I
am sure if I do take the prize from poor little Agnes Moore, and if I
never speak a word of slang, and if I keep my abominable drawers as neat
as a new pin, and all my clothes in perfect order, that you on your part
ought to wear a good thick, heavy fringe, and have your hair pointed out
ever so far at the back in the way it is worn in the present day. I'd
love to do it; and you have magnificent hair, Bessie, aroon! so you

"I must ask you to leave me now, Kitty," was Bessie's answer. "You are a
very funny girl, and there is a great deal that I like in you; but I
cannot neglect my studies even for you."

"Oh, bother your studies!" answered Kitty.

Bessie, however, was quite in earnest, and Kitty had to leave her.

The next day there was another meeting at Gwin Harley's house, and the
members of the Tug-of-war Society were formally initiated into the
mysteries of what they had undertaken. About ten girls joined in all,
and it was decided to limit the number to these until the end of the
present term. In addition to the four chief rules it was also clearly
understood that the members were all to be absolutely faithful the one
to the other, that no member of the Tug-of-war Society was to speak
against another member; on the contrary, she was to uphold her through
thick and thin, to help her if possible, to aid her in moments of
difficulty, and to rejoice with her in moments of triumph. Once a week
the members were to meet at each other's houses. There they were to have
tea together, to discuss the rules if necessary, but at any rate to have
a pleasant time. As the summer advanced picnics were to be inaugurated
on Saturdays, and fun of some sort or another was to be the vogue.

Kitty, who had dressed herself for this auspicious occasion in a dress
of the palest blue, with a silver sheen running in zigzag lines all over
it, whose black hair was curled up on her forehead and coiled
fantastically round the back of her head, whose eyes were shining and
wreathing themselves in all sorts of smiles, could scarcely restrain her
spirits while the rest of the girls were debating on the rules.

Finally Gwin laid a little box on the table, and asked the new members
to subscribe their half-guinea each. Each girl dropped her
half-sovereign and sixpence into the box with the exception of Elma,
who, coloring a little, said she would bring it to Gwin the next day. No
one made any remark, as it was well known in the school that Elma was
anything but well off, and Gwin privately resolved to subscribe for her
without saying anything about it.

Then the girls had tea in Gwin's own private sitting-room, and afterward
they wandered about the lawns, and returned home in the cool of the
evening. On this occasion Elma found herself side by side with Kitty
Malone. Kitty was walking quietly; she had exhausted some of her
emotions during the hours that she had played tennis, and laughed and
chatted with the other members of the Tug-of-war Society, and when Elma
put her hand on her arm, and looked up at her half-timidly and
half-beseechingly, Kitty stopped short, and said in her hearty, frank

"And what may you be wanting with me, Elma? Is it a favor I can do you;
because if it is I am sure you are welcome to it with all the pleasure
in life."

"You are a good-natured girl, Kitty," said Elma; "I always felt that
from the very first. Shall we drop a little behind the others? The fact
is I don't want every one to hear what I am going to say to you."

"If it is a secret, darling, don't tell it to me," said Kitty, "for I
cannot keep it. I always say so quite frankly. I say to each person who
comes to me with a private confidence, 'Confide nothing in Kitty Malone,
for Kitty Malone is a sieve.'"

"Oh, but it would never do for you to be that," said Elma, who was
somewhat alarmed and secretly greatly disgusted. "A girl is not worth
her salt if she tells what is confided to her by another girl; and of
course, now that you have become a member of the Tug-of-war Society, if
you are found blabbing any of our secrets at Middleton School I don't
know what will happen!"

"I wonder what would happen!" cried Kitty; "it would be quite nice to
find out. Do tell me, Elma."

"How can I when you don't understand," said Elma. "You would be wanting
in all honor; none of us ten girls would speak to you again."

"Wouldn't Bessie Challoner, the darling?"

"Certainly not. She could not; none of us could."

"I shouldn't like that," said Kitty thoughtfully. "I did not know, when
I joined the Tug-of-war, that I was to be burdened with secrets. And am
I not to explain to any of the other girls why I am moving heaven and
earth to get to the very head of the class? Am I not to breathe the real
reason, when I am taking poor little Agnes Moore's place, and breaking
her heart, the pretty lamb? Is that so?"

"You certainly are not," said Elma. "Dear me, Kitty, what a very
extraordinary specimen you are!"

"Well, don't scold me, for pity's sake," said Kitty. "I am so sick of
every one telling me that I am an extraordinary specimen. In Ireland
they think I am a very fine specimen; but here! oh, it's nothing but
holding up of hands and rolling up of eyes, and 'Oh, dear, let us get
out of her way!' and 'Oh, dear, how queer she looks in her grand
clothes!' and--and----"

"Do stop talking, Kitty. You are the most awful rattlepate----"

"There, now, on you go," said poor Kitty. "I'm a rattlepate, am I? It
seems that I can never speak but I get into somebody's black books."

"You don't get into mine, I am sure," said Elma. "But I think you ought
to be greatly obliged to me for telling you what is your plain duty with
regard to the Tug-of-war Society. It is just like a secret society; our
rules are our own, and not a soul who is not a member must know anything
about them."

"Well, I won't tell," said Kitty. "When I say a thing I stick to it. I
won't split--there I that's flat and I suppose I am obliged to you,

"Yon ought to be," answered Elma. "Why, what a terrible scrape you would
have got into. And now, then, Kitty, I have something else to tell you."

"Well, and what is it?" asked Kitty.

"First, are you not pleased that you are a member of the Tug-of-war

"To be sure I am. I think it is awfully nice of all you girls to ask me
to join."

"It is a great distinction," continued Elma; "a new girl like you, one
who is not known a bit in the school! Out of the whole school we have
only selected ten, including the founders, and you are one. You ought to
think yourself in rare luck."

"So I do."

"And you ought to be very grateful."

"So I am."

"But do you know whom you ought to be grateful to?"

"Well, I suppose to Bessie."

"Not a bit of it; it is to me you ought to be grateful. But for me you
would not be a member of the Tug-of-war Society."

"But for you, Elma?"


"Was it you who got me asked to join?"

"I was the one who insisted on your being asked to join us. I put it
plainly to Bessie and to Gwin, and they quite agreed with me. Alice was
the only one who voted against you."

"Oh, just like her, spiteful thing!" said Kitty, coloring with
annoyance. "Well, I am sure, Elma, I am obliged to you, and if there's
anything I can do--"

"I am coming to that," said Elma; "it's not much, but if you could--"

"Could what? Why, I'll do anything. Is it one of my gowns you want to

"No, no. What extraordinary ideas you hare!"

"Oh, there you begin again," said Kitty. "I never can speak right. Well,
what can I do for you, Elma?"

"If you could--just until next Monday--if you could lend me some--some
money," said Elma, coloring as she spoke, her voice faltering, and her
eyes seeking the ground.



Kitty stared at her companion for a moment, then she put her hand into
her pocket and took out a very fat sealskin purse. She opened it and
held it out to Elma.

"Help yourself," she said.

Elma looked into the purse--golden sovereigns lay there in delicious
rows. There must have been at least fifteen sovereigns in the purse.

"Take as many as you like," said Kitty; "you are heartily welcome."

"You don't mean it; you can't," replied Elma, turning very pale.

"Why, what are you hesitating about? You said you wanted some money.
Dear heart alive! everybody wants money in Ireland, we are always
borrowing one from the other. Take as many of those yellow boys as you
fancy, and say no more about it."

"I am obliged to you, Kitty," said Elma. "I think you are quite
splendid; but can I--do you really mean it--can I take five?"

"Five, bless you! Take them all if you want them. I have only to write
to the dear old man at home, and ask him to send me a fiver or a tenner,
and he'll do it. You need have no qualms, and----"

"But when must I give them back?"

"Whenever you like."

"You don't really require them on Monday, do you?"

"I don't require them at any special date. Pay me when it is convenient.
Here, you may as well have ten."

"I could not; it is too much," said Elma. She put her hands behind her
back, her teeth were chattering, and she was trembling all over. She was
afraid that Kitty must read her through and through.

"Oh, what is the use of bothering?" cried Kitty Malone. "If you won't
take ten, take eight. Let me see, that leaves me seven over. Seven
sovereigns. I don't ever want to spend any money here. Of course I may
require a new dress when the fashions change. I must keep strictly up to
date now that I have joined the Tug-of-war; but in case I do, I'll just
send a wire to Aunt Bridget in Dublin and she'll send me over a beauty.
Ah, she's a dear old soul, Aunt Bridget is. There, Elma, do take the
money and be quick about it."

Elma--feeling sick and low, hating herself as she had never hated
herself before--dipped her greedy fingers into Kitty's sealskin purse,
and soon extracted eight of the golden sovereigns. These she slipped
into her pocket.

"I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you," she said.

"Not another word!" cried Kitty. "I have forgotten all about it already.
Now shall we have a run? I want to catch up to Bessie; I have not had a
word with her for the whole of the day."

Elma no longer required to keep Kitty Malone in the background. She had
now gained her object. Hoping against hope to extract from half a
sovereign to fifteen shillings from the generous-hearted Irish girl, she
suddenly found herself the lucky possessor of eight whole sovereigns.
Never in the whole course of her life had Elma possessed anything
approaching such a sum. Her mother was very poor. She had only one
sister, a daily governess. All Elma's people were hard up, as the
expression goes, and Elma herself only attended Middleton School because
an aunt paid her school fees. Hardly ever could the girl secure even
half a crown for her own pleasure. She hated poverty, she detested the
small privations which slender means involved. She was in no sense of
the word a high, refined character; on the contrary, there was something
small in her nature, something little about her. She had ever cringed to
the wealthy. She had made friends with Gwin Harley, who was rich,
high-spirited, and generous, but also very conscientious, and with
abundance of common sense. A glance had told Elma that she could never
ask Gwin to lend her money; but Kitty--innocent, frank, generous
Kitty--had proved an all too easy prey.

At that moment Elma despised Kitty as much as she was grateful to her.
The eight pounds, which she might return whenever she liked, lay lightly
in her pocket; she almost danced in her excitement and sense of triumph.
Of course Kitty would never tell--that went without saying; and in the
meantime she was rich beyond her wildest dreams. The girls had joined
forces when they came up to the stream which led across a wide field
called the Willow Meadow. Kitty linked her hand inside Bessie's arm, and
Elma and Alice walked side by side.

"Well," exclaimed Alice, "how did you get on with her, Elma?"

"With whom?" asked Elma.

"Oh, need you ask? That detestable Kitty Malone. I saw you sucking up to
her, and wondered why."

"I wish you would not use such horrid, vulgar words, Alice," said Elma.
"You know you are really breaking the rules of the Tug-of-war. We are
requested not to make use of slang."

"I forgot," said Alice. "But if it comes to that," she continued, "I
believe I shall have to leave the society if I can never express my
feelings with regard to Kitty Malone."

"But do you really dislike her as much as ever?" asked Elma, who, shabby
and mean as she was, in her poor little soul could scarcely bring
herself to run down generous Kitty just then.

"Dislike her!" cried Alice. "I hate her--there! I suppose that's flat
and plain enough."

"It certainly is."

"But you don't mean to say--it is impossible, Elma--that you see
anything to like in her?"

"Well, of course," answered Elma--who wished to propitiate Alice, for
her nature was to be all things to all men--"I can see at a glance that
she is not your style; she has not got your cleverness and refinement,
dear Alice."

"Oh, bother!" cried Alice. But all the same she was pleased, and when
Elma tucked her small hand inside of her arm Alice did not shake her

"Any one can see that," continued Elma Lewis; "but I don't think she is
quite so bad as you paint her, Alice."

Alice's private opinion of Elma was that she was a little toad, and she
now managed to extricate herself from the smaller girl's clasp.

"I shall never like her," she said. "There is no good in your praising
her to me. If you mean to be her friend you must do so from a double

"How uncharitable of you!" cried Elma, coloring crimson as she spoke.

"Oh, I can guess it very well, my dear," pursued Alice. "But for you she
would not be a member of the Tug-of-war. What would have been a
delightful society, a pleasure to the best girls at Middleton School,
will be nothing whatever but a ridiculous farce, a scene of high comedy,
something contemptible, now that Kitty Malone has joined it. But for you
she would never have been asked to join. Why did you do it, Elma?"

"For no reason in particular," answered Elma.

"That is certainly not true, and you know it."

"I cannot think why you speak to me in that tone," said Elma. "What have
I done to you that you should think so badly of me?"

"Oh, I don't think badly of you, Elma, not specially; but I have always
seen that whatever you did, you did with a reason. In your own way you
are clever, you are extremely worldly wise. There are certain people who
would commend you; but you are not like the rest of us. You are not like
Gwin for instance, nor like Bessie, nor like me. Yes, I will frankly say
so, I am better than you, Elma. I have not got your double motives for
everything. You are only a girl now; I don't know what you will be when
you are a woman!"

The thought of the eight sovereigns so comfortably reposing in her
pocket made Elma able to bear this very direct attack. She determined to
take it good-humoredly; there was no use whatever in quarreling with
Alice. Accordingly she said cheerfully:

"You may think what you like of me, Ally, but I hope in the course of
years that you will find I am not so bad as you paint me."

Shortly afterward the girls parted, and each went on her way to her
special home. Bessie ran briskly up the short avenue which led to her
house, waving farewells to her companions as she did so. Alice and Kitty
were obliged to content themselves one with the other; and Elma, in the
highest good-humor, her heart bubbling over with bliss, departed in the
direction of her own humbler residence. She had to walk quite a mile and
a half, and at the end of that time she found herself in a much poorer
part of the large suburb where Middleton School was situated. The houses
here were of a humble description--not even semidetached, but standing
in long, dismal rows, a good many of them backing on to a
railway-cutting. These houses boasted of no small gardens, but ran flush
with the road. They were built of the universal yellow brick, and were
about as ugly as they could well be.

Elma paused at No. 124 Constantine Road. As she did so, a high, rasping,
and fretful voice screamed to her from an upper window:

"You are later than ever to-day, Elma, and mother has been fretting
herself into hysterics. Do come in at once and be quick about it."

Elma mounted the two or three steps which led to the hall door, and
pulled the bell with considerably more energy than was her wont. The
sovereigns were in her pocket; they made all the difference to her
between misery and happiness. She entered the house in high good-humor.

"What is it, Carrie?" she called to the fretful voice, which was now
approaching nearer.

The next moment a slatternly-looking girl appeared at the head of the

"It's very easy for you to ask what is it," cried its owner, speaking in
high dudgeon. "You promised to be in between five and six, and it is now
between seven and eight. Here is all my chance of an evening's fun
knocked on the head. It's just like you, Elma; that it is."

"Oh, never mind now; please don't scold me," said Elma. "What is
it--about mother; has she been bad again?"

"Oh, it's the usual thing; she has had one of those dismal letters from
father. I can't imagine why she thinks anything about them. It came just
when we were all sitting down to dinner, and she began to cry in that
feeble sort of fashion."

"Oh, don't, Carrie; she will hear you," said Elma. "Pray go back to your
room, and I'll be with you in a minute. I have something to tell you.
You won't be quite so miserable when you hear my news."

Carrie stared at Elma, and then slowly backed until she reached a very
minute bedroom which she and Elma shared together.

Elma ran briskly upstairs. Turning to her right, she knocked at a
certain door; waited for an answer, but none came; then turned the
handle and went in. The Venetian blinds were down here, and the form of
a woman was seen lying in the center of a big bed.

"Is that you, Elma?" said a voice; and then the head was buried once
more in the pillows, and no further notice whatever was taken.

"Yes, mother, I am here," answered Elma. "I was thinking you might like
something nice for your supper--a crab or a lobster, or something of
that sort. Which would be your preference, mother?"

"A crab or a lobster!" muttered Mrs. Lewis. "You might as well ask me if
I should like a bottle of champagne, or some caviare. One is about as
likely to be forthcoming as the other."

"I tell you you may choose," said Elma. "I have my hat still on, and
I'll go as far as the fishmonger's, and bring in either a lobster or a

Mrs. Lewis raised herself on her elbow as Elma spoke.

"What are you dreaming about?" she said. "Where have you got the money?"

"Never mind. I have got the money. Which Would be your preference?"

"Oh, crab, dear; crab. I like it when it's well dressed; but then Maggie
never can do anything properly."

"I'll dress it on this occasion," said Elma. "You shall have a good
supper--crab and salad, and--There mother, do keep up heart again; you
give way too much."

"Ah, child," said poor Mrs. Lewis, "I have had another terrible letter.
He says he is starving; he cannot get work. I made the greatest possible
mistake in allowing him to leave the country."

"You could do nothing else," said Elma, with a little stamp of her foot.
"You know he would not help you in any way; he had to leave. But there,
mother, you shall tell me the dismal news after tea. You will feel ever
so much better when you have partaken of the dainty meal I mean to get
for you."

Mrs. Lewis did not say anything further. Elma bent down, touched her
parent on her brow with the lightest possible caress, and then stepped
on tiptoe out of the room.

"Poor mother!" she muttered. "It is surprising the kind of things that
comfort one; she is soothed at the thought of crab for supper with
salad. Well, that is all right; she will be as amiable and petting to me
as possible for the rest of the day. Now, then, for Carrie. A loose,
untidy, badly, hung together girl like Carrie is a trial to any sister.
However, I know the sort of thing that pleases her. I must be very
careful of my treasure-trove. I shall not spend it lightly; but in
giving my family small unexpected surprises it will be doing me an
immensely good turn."

Elma now entered the room where Carrie was fuming up and down.

"Well, what have you to say for yourself, miss?" she cried, when her
younger sister put in an appearance.

"Only that I am very sorry, Carrie; but to be honest with you, I quite
forgot that you wanted to go out this afternoon. Did I not tell you
that I was engaged to tea at Gwin Harley's?"

"You are forever with that odious girl," said Carrie.

"Gwin Harley an odious girl! What in the world do you mean?"

"What I say. Oh, of course I have seen her, and I know she's pretty, or
some people would think her so; in my opinion she's vastly too stuck up;
and so Sam Raynes says. Sam saw her last Sunday in church, and he said
she wasn't a bit his style."

"Oh, pray, don't quote Sam Raynes to me," said Elma. "Well, Carrie, of
course I had tea with Gwin, and of course she's about the nicest girl in
the world; and Kitty Malone was there, that scamp of an Irish girl. Oh,
she's not so bad when you get to know her better. And Alice Denvers was
there, and Bessie Challoner. We had quite a nice time. Of course I told
you about that society that I have joined. Well, there are about ten
girls members now, quite the elite of the school. I believe we shall do
a vast lot of good."

"What does it matter to me," said Carrie, stamping her foot. "I have
lost my pleasant afternoon with Sam. He and his sister promised to meet
me. I was to go with them to the Crystal Palace. Oh, it's too

Carrie still fumed up and down the room.

"And I have such a dull time," she continued; "those children are quite
past bearing. They wear the very life out of me. See what that little
imp of a Claude did to my dress this afternoon."

As Carrie spoke she held up a decidedly shabby dress, which bore a huge
rent at one side.

"He caught it in his nasty little boot," said the girl. "He was
scrambling up on my knee, and made such a fuss, and there happened to be
a tiny hole, and then he wriggled and wriggled, and made it worse and
worse. The skirt is not fit to wear. I don't know what I shall do. I
really have not a blessed farthing to buy myself another new thing."

Elma made a careful calculation.

"How much was that stuff a yard?" she asked suddenly.

"What does it matter, Elma? It's worn out now, and there's an end of it.
You cannot buy me another gown; so where's the good of talking."

"But perhaps I can," said Elma dubiously.

"My dear Elma what do you mean?"

"Well, I am not quite certain, of course," said Elma; "and it would have
to be very cheap--very cheap indeed. But what color would you like,

"Oh, blue," said Carrie, "rather light in shade. I love blue; and Sam
says I look sweet in it."

"If you begin to quote Sam again I don't think I'll give you sixpence
for anything. You know perfectly well that I loathe and detest him."

"Oh, that's your way," said Carrie. "You think it is very fine to detest
all the young men in our set; but I tell you Sam is a right good fellow,
and he has his ideas as much as anybody. He is going to get a raise,
too, at Christmas, and--"

"Are you engaged to him, Carrie?" asked Elma suddenly.

"Not yet. Oh, we don't think of any such thing; but I like to go with
him. He is great fun, and so is Florrie. Florrie doesn't mind a bit how
often she acts gooseberry."

Elma went and stood by the window. She looked gloomily out. How shabby
and sordid her home was; how miserable everything seemed! Carrie was
really a trial to any sister. Elma wondered if in the future she would
have to tolerate Sam Raynes as her brother-in-law. A sick feeling crept
over her. She was not a particularly refined girl; but in her school
life she associated with girls of a totally different caliber from poor
Carrie, and a shudder ran through her frame as she thought over her

"If you mean anything by that talk about a new frock, you had better
speak out plainly," said Carrie. "If you can really give me money to get
the stuff, something pretty and cheap, I could buy it to-night; there is
still plenty of time."

"Put on your hat and we'll go out at once," said Elma.

Carrie rushed to her wardrobe, took down her frowzy, over-trimmed hat,
stuck it on her towzled head, drew a pair of gloves up her arms, and
announced herself ready. The two girls ran briskly downstairs. Mrs.
Lewis called from her bedroom after them:

"Where are you two going?" she said. "Am I to be left alone in the

"No, Maggie is in the kitchen," called out Carrie.

"Oh, I am sick of being by myself, and I want my supper."

"I must go out to choose the crab, mother," said Elma.

"Oh, the crab," replied Mrs. Lewis in a mollified tone. "If you are
going really to get one, Elma, be sure you see that it has plenty of
coral in it, and choose nice, crisp lettuce. I care nothing for crab
without lettuce."

"All right mother; I'll manage," said Elma.

The girls found themselves in the street.

"So you are going to get mother crab and lettuce for supper," cried
Carrie. "Then I suppose after all you don't mean to give me money to buy
stuff for a new dress?"

"Yes, I do, Carrie, if you'll only have patience. I said I would, and
there's an end of it."

"But how have you got the money?"

"Never you mind; I have got it."

Carrie walked on, her spirits rose, and she began to talk in her high
staccato voice, allowing each person who passed to hear what she was

"This is Thursday," she said. "I shall get up at daylight to-morrow
morning, and I shall cut out the dress and put it in hand. I am always
home between four and five in the afternoon, so I can work at it again
until late at night. Then on Saturday, thank goodness! there's a whole
holiday. Oh, I shall manage to get it done by the evening, and Sam and I
can have a jolly time together in the park on Sunday."

"We will buy the crab first," said Elma, "and then we can call at
Macpherson's on our way home."

"They have sweet things at Macpherson's," said Carrie. "You really are a
very good-natured old thing, Elma."

"I am glad you think so," said Elma, her lips parted in a slightly
satirical smile.

Carrie, now beaming all over with good-humor, assisted in the choosing
of the crab; she further volunteered to carry this luxury home, and
suggested that radishes would be a great addition to the lettuce.

"Is there anything else you think mother would like?" asked Elma.

"Oh, a bottle of really good Guinness' stout," said Carrie.

"Capital, Carrie! Why, you are getting quite a head for housekeeping.
We'll give mother such a good supper, and it will do her a world of

"Poor old dear, so it will," said jubilant Carrie.

Having purchased the materials for an appetizing meal, the girls now
entered a large establishment which, being supported by people of
extremely slender means, could only afford to indulge in the cheapest
articles. Carrie desired the shopman to exhibit cheap materials in
different shades of blue. She finally selected one, turquoise in color,
and wonderfully pretty, which cost the large sum of sevenpence
three-farthings per yard. She ordered the required length to be cut, and
Elma took out her purse to pay for it.

She did not at all want her sister to see how many sovereigns that purse
contained, and turned her back slightly as she laid one on the counter.

"Well, how you got it baffles me!" cried Carrie.

"Pray, don't speak so loud," said Elma; "they really will think that I
stole it if you go on giving me those sort of staccato rises of your
eyebrows. It's all the better for you; that sovereign has got you a new

"So it has, and you are an old darling," said Carrie. "I'll tell Sam
all about you on Sunday, Elma. By the way, what a good idea; wouldn't
you like to come with us? There's Sam's cousin, Maurice, a capital
fellow--Maurice Jones."

"Oh, no; don't speak of him," said Elma. She gave a shudder, and turned
her head aside.

The materials for the dress were purchased, even down to the linings and
buttons; and Carrie, holding her parcel tucked comfortably under her
arm, started home, Elma accompanying her. Carrie was so excited and
delighted with her dress that she had no time even to think of the
wonderful problem as to how Elma had got the money.

When they reached the house Elma ran into the kitchen and prepared to
dress the crab. She did so well, and when the dainty little meal was
upon the table, ran upstairs to bring her mother down.

"Now, mother, get up at once," she said.

"Get up. Oh. I can't," said Mrs. Lewis; "I have got such a splitting

"But the crab is downstairs, and I have dressed it myself, just in the
way you like best. I have brought in a little cayenne pepper, too, for I
know you don't care for crab without it; and the lettuce is wonderfully
crisp and fresh, and there are some radishes. Oh, and Carrie reminded me
that you would not care for crab without your stout."

"I know," said Mrs. Lewis in a plaintive voice; "your father would never
allow me to touch crab or lobster without stout. Ah, but those good old
days are gone!"

"Not quite mother, for there is a bottle of Guinness's waiting at your

"Oh, is there?" said Mrs. Lewis. She raised herself on her elbow. "Then
I think I'll go down," she said.

"Well, make yourself smart, mother. I shall be waiting for you, and so
will Carrie."



Middleton School, which consisted of from six to seven hundred girls,
was kept in a state of discipline not so much by punishments as by a
very strict code of honor. There were certain things which no Middleton
girl who respected herself would ever dream of doing. There were other
things which she would do as a matter of course. For instance, she would
uphold her school through thick and thin, allowing no outsider to run it
down. To be a member of Middleton School insured her friendship with all
the other girls in the school. The _esprit de corps_ of this celebrated
day school was exceptionally strong. Even in after-life its members met
as friends, never forgetting that they were at one time schoolfellows in
one of the best and most thorough colleges of learning in the whole of

As the fees for instruction were necessarily low, and as the school was
therefore open to all classes of girls, from the very rich to those who
had but limited means, a rule, and a very strong one, was that all money
and class distinctions were to be absolutely abolished. The girls, so
long as they belonged to the school, were absolutely on the same
footing, notwithstanding the fact that their home-lives might be very
far removed the one from the other. Among the most emphatic rules of
the school--a rule which, if it were disobeyed, would cause ostracism on
the part of the girls and the gravest reprimand, not to say a chance of
expulsion, on the part of the teachers--was the borrowing of money.
Money was supposed not to be mentioned between the girls; and as to a
poor girl borrowing from a rich, it was considered about the blackest
crime which could take place in Middleton School. Now, Elma, knew this
fact perfectly well, and when she took the eight pounds from Kitty
Malone she was aware of the grave risk which she ran. More depended on
her keeping up a good character in the school than her companions were
at all aware of. She was sent to Middleton School by an aunt who to a
certain extent had adopted her--her mother could not possibly afford to
pay the fees, small as they were.

Elma knew well as she lay down to sleep that night that if the little
transaction between herself and Kitty were known she would be
practically ruined for life. No other girl belonging to the school would
lend money even if it were asked for, so strong was the feeling on this
head; but Kitty knew nothing about it; she had not been long at
Middleton, and the subject had not been mentioned to her. Elma sincerely
trusted to Kitty's never alluding to it. Kitty had promised not to tell;
and Elma believed, wild and erratic as she was, that when her word was
once given, she would respect it. When she had asked Kitty to lend her
money she had intended only to take half a sovereign; she wanted this in
order to pay her subscription to the Tug-of-war Society; but when Kitty
generously opened her purse and told her to help herself, the temptation
had proved far too strong. Before she quite knew what she was doing she
had taken eight sovereigns; had put herself absolutely into Kitty's
power, and had run the chance of being ruined for life. Still, that
first night she slept soundly, and awoke in the morning with a sense of
bliss. She had still a little over seven sovereigns; not her own, and
yet in one sense quite her own, for Kitty had said there was no hurry
about the replacing of the money. Oh, yes, she was quite certain that no
one would find out. She opened her sleepy eyes, yawned, and saw Carrie
sitting at the window, busily employed cutting out her dress. Elma
remarked crossly at the blaze of light.

"Oh, don't say you mind it, you old dear," cried Carrie. "I can't see
unless I have plenty of light, and it's most important how I cut this
sleeve. I mean it to be puffy and yet not too puffy, and the elbows must
fit exactly in the right place. What a pity it is, Elma, that you and I
are not the same sort of figure. I am nearly double as big as you. It
would be so convenient if you could be my model; then I might fit my
things like a glove. Ah, well, I suppose there's nothing perfect in the

Elma turned on her other side.

"If you talk to me any more," she said, "I shall become so cross as to
be unbearable. Go on with your dress if you must, but don't speak."

Elma returned to the land of dreams, and Carrie cut and snipped, and
basted and pinned, until it was time for her to go downstairs to
breakfast. Elma got up at her usual hour, ate her breakfast with
scarcely a remark, and started for school. When she got there the
different members of the Tug-of-war Society were hanging about the
doors. The school was not yet opened and the girls who belonged to the
society nodded to one another and whispered and smiled. Among the party
waiting at the door were Alice Denvers, Kitty Malone, and Bessie
Challoner. Gwin Harley had not yet arrived. It was never Gwin's stately
way to be either too early or too late for school; she generally
appeared on the scene, driving up in her pretty little phaeton, just as
the clock struck nine. The other girls always made way for this dainty
little turnout, and Gwin would spring carelessly to the ground, give a
direction to the smart tiger who sat behind, and who immediately took
the reins, and then, turning with a gay nod to her companions, would
enter the school with them.

Gwin was certainly the pride of the school. The girls who were not her
absolute friends looked at her with awe, wonder, and admiration. The
girls who were her friends bragged of the fact to their companions. It
was a pleasure even to look at Gwin, for, although she never overdressed
herself, she was always so wonderfully dainty--her neat little shoes,
her lovely stockings, the fine quality of her cambric handkerchiefs, the
delicate scent which clung to them, the glossy braids of her ever
exquisitely arranged hair, and the very set of that perfectly plain
sailor hat with its band of white ribbon, were all the acme of
perfection. Oh, they all betokened wealth and taste, taste and wealth.
No wonder the girls worshiped Gwin. She never boasted of her wealth,
she never brought it prominently forward; but for all that it pervaded
her from the top of her head to the point of her pretty bronze shoes.

Kitty now gave Gwin an earnest and longing look. There was a peculiar
expression about Kitty's face: a sort of new, thoughtful look, as though
something was worrying her and causing her to cudgel her brains to quite
a remarkable extent. Kitty Malone had never yet been affected with
shyness, nor was she shy now. Just as Gwin's carriage appeared and the
other girls made way for it as was their wont, and Elma approached quite
close to Alice, meaning to make some remark to her, what she never
afterward remembered, Kitty ran straight up to Gwin and clasped her by
the hand.

"I want to say something to you very badly," she began.

"How do you do, Kitty?" answered Gwin in her pleasant high-bred voice.
"You want to say something to me? But the bell has just rung; we must go
into school."

"I mean after school," continued Kitty. "Can I walk with you during

"Oh, but please, Gwin," cried Elma at that point, "you promised to walk
with me to-day; don't you remember?"

"Yes, and you promised to walk with me, Miss Harley," exclaimed a girl
of the name of Marcia Tyndal.

"But it is so important, Gwin," pleaded Kitty, bringing that peculiar
Irish quality into her voice which it was difficult to resist.

"Ah, now do, Gwin," she continued; "do let me walk with you just during
this recess. The others may have you for every other recess until
Christmas; but do let me be with you just for to-day."

"I think you must, Kitty," said Gwin. "Elma, you won't mind, will you?
Marcia, you and I can have to-morrow instead of to-day; is it a

"Oh, I don't mind," said Marcia Tyndal in a good natured voice,
shrugging her fat shoulders as she spoke.

Then the girls trooped into school, prayers began, and immediately
afterward they all assembled at their different classes.

Kitty was restless and nervous, she could not settle to her work. She
was more _distrait_ and inattentive even than usual. The younger girls,
who delighted in her, and quite prided themselves on having her in their
class, nudged her in vain.

"Kitty," whispered one little girl quite three years Kitty Malone's
junior, "if you don't open your history book you won't have your lesson
ready when Miss Worrick comes."

"Oh, I know all that stupid history," cried Kitty in a low voice. "Don't
bother me, Annie, asthore. I can't be teased. I have got something in
the back of my head."

"Something in the back of your head?" whispered Annie.

"Yes, yes; but hush, alanna! I can't let it out; it's bothering me
entirely. There, if I must look at the stupid history, I must. What part
are we doing, Mary Davies?"

"Oh, it's about Charles the First."

"Poor martyr! Shame to England to cut off his head!" Kitty bent over her
book, but soon her erratic fancy had started off in another direction.
She was sent to the bottom of the class when the history lesson came on,
and was looked at with growing disfavor by Miss Worrick, a particularly
painstaking and earnest young teacher.

"Really, Miss Malone, if this sort of thing goes on I must report you,"
she said. "It is pure inattention. If you wish to take any position in
the school you must make up your mind that while in school you must

"And while out of school I must play," retorted Kitty. "Ah, then, it's
little of the play I get. If I had my share of the play I could do my
share of work."

"Come, you must not answer me," said Miss Worrick. "Now, sit down and
read up that chapter in your history. You will not be allowed to go out
during recess this morning."

"Not go out during recess?" cried Kitty in horror; "but it's most
important. Ah, now, do let me out; just excuse me to-day, won't you?
I'll be as good as gold to-morrow, and better; but excuse me to-day;
please, please. Say you will; for I really must go. I was to meet Gwin
Harley, the darling; and it's put out she would be awfully if I wasn't
with her. You'll let me out to-day, won't you? Please say yes."

"I do not understand you, Miss Malone. When I say a thing I mean it.
You are not to go out during recess."

Kitty's bright face fell; the cloud which had more or less hovered
round her during the entire morning deepened. She sank into her seat
with a heavy sigh.

"Never mind, Kitty; we all of us have to stay in sometimes," whispered
little Mary Davies.

"Take a chocolate out of my pocket, darlin', and don't talk to me any
more," was Kitty's answer. "I am sad past bearing. Not to see Gwin when
I had arranged it all; but I will, I must! There, take a second
chocolate if you want it; they are full of cream. But just leave me to
my own thoughts for a bit. I am so worried I don't know whether I am on
my head or my heels."

"Silence, girls--no whispering!" called the mathematical teacher, who
now came on the scene.

Poor Kitty's morning began badly, and it certainly was destined to go on
badly. None of her lessons were prepared with the slightest care; she
went down lower and lower in class, and each teacher gave her an
imposition or some other punishment. When recess came she alone in the
whole class was required to remain in the room.

The rest of the girls looked at her with pity.

"She's such an old dear, although quite the idlest and most ignorant
person I ever came across," said Mary Davies to her companions.

"Yes," whispered another little girl with fat rosy cheeks and round
eyes; "but did you ever taste such chocolate creams? Why, they must
cost a halfpenny apiece. I do love to sit next to her; she says I may
dive my hand into her pocket as often as I like."

"Oh, she's an old love!" echoed all the girls: "but what a pity it is
that she won't learn."

"She does not want to learn," said Mary Davies. "Learning would spoil
her; she is a pet."

Meanwhile in the playground Gwin Harley waited in vain for Kitty to join

"Does any one know where Kitty Malone is?" she said, addressing one of
the girls in Kitty's class.

"She is kept in for an imposition; she did not know her history, and
Miss Worrick said she was to stay in," answered Mary Davies.

"Oh, well, I suppose I can see her another time," said Gwin. At that
moment she met Elma's anxious eyes.

Elma was just about to dart to the side of her friend, when, to the
amazement of all the girls, Kitty walked calmly across the playground.

"Oh Gwin, I must speak to you; it is about Alice. You know, you and
Alice are great friends. Things get worse and worse, and they are almost
past bearing. Last night I heard her sobbing in bed. She sobbed and
sobbed, and at last I could stand no more of it, and sprang out of bed,
and bent over her and said: 'Alice, is it about me you are crying?' and
she said: 'Oh, yes, Kitty, it is;' and I said, 'And why 'Oh, yes,
Kitty?' What has poor Kitty done to you?"

"'I am not happy,' answered Alice. 'Since you came everything has
changed; you have made my home miserable to me. I don't like your ways.'

"'Have you made up your mind never to be friends with me?' I asked.

"'Yes,' said Alice. 'I wish you would go away.' She sat up in bed then
with her tear-stained face, and looked at me ever so earnestly. 'Tell
mother that you would rather go to some other house--that you won't stay
here. I never could stand vulgar girls, and you are one.'

"Oh Gwin, I felt so mad. You don't think me a vulgar girl, do you?"

"Tell me the whole," said Gwin in a low voice.

"Oh, there is not much more. Alice was in a regular temper. She buried
her face in the clothes, and though I tried pinching her, and pulling
her, and petting her even, not another word would she utter. Now, you
must see for yourself, Gwin, that if this sort of thing goes on I shall
have to return home, and then the old dad will be fretted, and he will
think that I don't want to learn manners nor to get learning into me. Oh
dear, I don't want to fret him, although I hate England. I have just
been wondering if you would speak to Alice."

"Yes, certainly," answered Gwin. "I--" Her words were interrupted.

"Miss Malone, do I see you in the playground?" said a stern voice. Miss
Worrick had appeared on the scene.

"Why, then, yes, Miss Worrick, you do. It's a fine day, isn't it; and
the air is most refreshing," said Kitty in her most impertinent tones.

"Do you know that you have distinctly disobeyed me? I forbade you to
leave the schoolroom during recess. How dared you do so?"

"There wasn't much daring about it. I walked to the door, opened it, and
came out. I had made a previous engagement, and it was not at all
convenient to break it. I told you so at the time, did I not?"

For answer Miss Worrick took Kitty by the arm and led her across the

"I must take you to Miss Sherrard," she said. "I cannot manage a
disobedient girl like you."

She opened a side door, and, still holding Kitty by the arm, led her
down a long passage and into a small room, where she desired her to wait
while she fetched the head-mistress.

Miss Sherrard was a little woman, but she had a native dignity which is
beyond and above all mere personal appearance. She had a keen and
commanding eye, a somewhat pale face, an upright little figure. She was
not only short in stature, but slight; nevertheless, there was not a
mistress in the great school who did not hold her in awe as well as
admiration, and not a girl, with the exception, perhaps, of Kitty
Malone, who did not do her reverence.

When the door was shut behind Kitty, she drummed impatiently on the bare
mahogany table near which she had been placed, then walked to the window
and looked out. From her position she could catch a glimpse of Gwin
Harley pacing up and down the playground with Elma Lewis. She saw Alice
come up and talk to Gwin; she noticed that Gwin and Elma paused, then
that Alice slipped to the other side of Gwin, and the three walked
slowly up and down. As they walked they talked. Alice nodded her head
once or twice; Elma made emphatic grimaces; Gwin alone looked quiet,
calm, and stately.

"They are talking about me," thought the Irish girl, and an angry
feeling rose in her heart. "Is it for this I have left the dear old dad,
and the beautiful home, and the animals, and Aunt Bridget, and Aunt
Honora? Oh, is it for this I have left dear Old Ireland, may her heart
be blessed! to come here to be slighted, to be made little of, to be
joked at! Am I Kitty Malone, or am I somebody else? Oh! my heart will
break, my heart will break!"

"Miss Malone, I am sorry to hear this of you," said a very calm, very
distinct, and withal very kind voice, just at Kitty's back. Kitty turned
abruptly, and said aloud:

"Oh, and did you overhear me?" She then involuntarily dropped a courtesy
to the head-mistress.

Miss Sherrard shut the door behind her.

"I am sorry," she began, "to learn from Miss Worrick that you are
showing insubordination and disobedience."

"Why, then, now, and won't you let me tell my own story in my own way?"
said Kitty.

In spite of herself, Miss Sherrard gave an involuntary smile. It soon
vanished, but Kitty had caught the glint in the eye and the tremble
round the lips. "Why, then I see at a glance that you have the kind
heart," she said; "you thought to keep it in, but I saw it breaking out
just then. You'll let me tell my own story, won't you?"

"That seems fair enough," said Miss Sherrard. She seated herself as she
spoke on one of the bare, comfortless chairs, and looked full up at

Kitty was dressed according to Rule IV. of the Tug-of-war Society. She
wore a decidedly fashionable dress, the sleeves well puffed out at the
shoulders, fitting nicely at the elbows, and with ruffles of lace, real
lace, round the wrists. Round Kitty's throat also there were ruffles of
lace; the neck of her dress was cut a little low, showing the soft, full
contour of her exquisitely-curved throat. Her waist was clasped with a
belt of solid silver, and in front she wore a great bunch of
cabbage-roses. The cabbage-rose has a scent which, when once it assails
the nostrils, can never afterward be forgotten. Miss Sherrard, in spite
of herself, gave a little sniff.

Quick as lightning Kitty saw it, and detached the bunch of roses from
her belt.

"Now, will you have them?" she said. "Ah, do now, just to please me,
Kitty Malone; they came all the way from Old Ireland this morning. Stay,
I'll pin them into the front of your dress. Hold easy a moment dear
woman, and you'll have as neat a little bunch as ever you clapped your
two eyes on."

Miss Sherrard could not help once again letting that ghost of a smile
play round her lips, and then vanish.

"But really," she said--"oh, thank you for the roses; yes, they are very
sweet; yes, delicious! She bent her head and sniffed quite audibly.

"Ah, then, aren't they refreshing, and aren't they melting the anger
down in your heart? Say they are now--say they are. You see you never
had an out-and-out wild Irish girl to manage before. Well, and what is
it you want with me? I'll be as civil as you please, and as willing to
listen to the words of wisdom, if only you'll let me first tell my own

"It is only fair that you should be allowed to tell your own tale,"
said Miss Sherrard; "but please understand that I am very angry. Miss
Worrick's story has amazed me. Do you know. Kitty Malone, of what you
are accused?"

"Well, I do, and I don't; but I should like to hear the crime spoken of
by your pretty lips. What is it? Something black of course; black things
are always laid to the door of Kitty Malone."

"The crime, Miss Malone, is the very grave sin of disobedience. You must
know that in a great school of this kind, if there were not perfect
obedience there would be no order at all."

"True for you, it looks like it; but then, as far as I can see--and I
have watched all the girls pretty closely of late--I am the only black
sheep. Now, I should think that one black sheep in a great big orderly
place of this kind would make a sort of diversion. You would all be
after her, and joking at her, and thinking which of you could get her
under control. Well, I am the black sheep, and I suppose I am sorry."

"Don't talk any more, Kitty; listen to me."

"Yes; what is it?"

"You have been disobedient; you were very inattentive over your history
lesson, not knowing it at all. Miss Worrick says, as a matter of fact,
you did not even trouble to open your book, and when the time came for
you to go through your lesson you were not able to answer a single
question. For this extreme carelessness she desired you to stay in the
schoolroom during morning recess. She said you pleaded hard that she
would excuse you, not liking to take the punishment which you richly
deserved; but Miss Worrick, very justly insisted on her word being
obeyed. What then, was her astonishment to see you in the playground
walking calmly up and down with Gwin Harley."

"Yes, dear; and what else could you expect?" answered Kitty.

"What else could I expect? I don't understand."

"Well, was it likely now that I would stay in that close, stifling
schoolroom when the sun was shining and there was a bird on a tree
outside singing to me as loud as ever it could? And I had made an
arrangement with Gwin Harley to walk up and down with her during recess,
and the darling girl had put off two others for me, and was waiting for
me. Don't you think it was about natural that I should disobey Miss
Worrick, whom I never cared twopence for, and go out to Gwin Harley,
whom I love? Of course I knew I was disobedient, and I supposed she
would punish me; but I didn't think she would have me up for you to
lecture me."

"You behaved very badly indeed," said Miss Sherrard; "and you are now
talking in an extremely silly way."

Kitty bowed her head; the light went out of her eyes, her face turned

"What punishment will you invent to torture me with?" she said at last
in a low voice. "I suppose I have done wrong, and I am willing to take
the punishment. What is it?"

"Of course you must be punished," said the head-mistress; "it would
never do to allow disobedience is the school. You see, Kitty--"

"Oh, bless you, bless you, for calling me by my Christian name,"
muttered Kitty Malone.

"Kitty, I am inclined to take you into my confidence."

"Are you, indeed? I declare you're an old dear!"

"You have come to school to learn, have you not?"

"Not a bit of it," answered Kitty; "I came to school to please the old

"Your father?"

"Yes, the dear old dad, the dearest, the best in the world."

"But what did he send you here for?"

"Well, I suppose to get knowledge and manners. Ah, bad luck to them! and
I suppose also to tame me down a bit. He said he never could manage that
at Castle Malone."

Miss Sherrard once more gave that faint involuntary smile.

"Your father sent you here," she said, "to put you under discipline.
While you are in this school, my dear girl, you must obey me, and also
the other teachers. If you are disobedient the other girls will be
disobedient, and then where should we all be?"

"It would be a lark!" muttered Kitty, with sparkling eyes.

"Don't interrupt, and please listen. I should be very sorry to send you
back to Castle Malone in disgrace. I should be sorry to have to write to
your father in order to tell him that his Kitty, whom he loves--his
bright, pretty, lovable daughter--can never learn manners nor
accomplishments, nor be tamed in the very least. There are from six to
seven hundred girls in this school, who all now know about your very
daring act of disobedience. Were I not to punish you they would be
astonished, and some of them might even go to the length of copying your
behavior. You see this for yourself, don't you?"

"Oh, I see it plain enough," answered Kitty; "plain as a pikestaff.
What's the punishment to be?"

Miss Sherrard hesitated. Once more she looked at Kitty; Kitty's eyes
were as bright as stars.

"You need not be afraid," said the pupil in an encouraging voice. "I am
nothing of a coward; I'll take anything in reason. Is it a flogging you
are thinking of ordering for me?"

"Oh, no; we never flog in this school," said Miss Sherrard in a shocked

"Why, then, if it is something in the shape of learning a lesson it will
go cruel with me. I don't care for learning, and----"

"I am afraid, Kitty, that I must give you the kind of punishment which
all the school may know about. All the school now knows of your
disobedience, and it must also be well aware of your punishment."

"Good gracious! this sounds exciting," answered Kitty. "I am to have a
punishment that all the school will know about."

"Yes, it is this. To-morrow morning, just before recess, you are to go
up to Miss Worrick, and tell her before the entire school that you are
sorry you disobeyed her; you are then to offer to stay in during the
play hour."

"If that's all," said Kitty, "it is not much of a bother. I am to say I
am sorry, and I am to stay in to-morrow. You won't object to my

"I'll hear of no conditions," answered Miss Sherrard, starting to her
feet. "Go away now, my dear girl, and please remember that your father
sent you here to learn, that I trust you will learn, and that you will
also endeavor to be good to--to please me, Kitty."

Kitty's eyes filled with sudden tears.

"You are very kind," she murmured. "I know I should soon learn to love
you. You wouldn't mind letting me give you a hug, would you?"

"I will certainly kiss you, dear, but no demonstration, please. Kitty, I
know you have a warm heart; but don't let it lead you into mischief.
There is much for you to learn in England, as I doubt not there would be
much for an English girl to learn in your country."

"Ah, but it is the dearest land in all the world," said Kitty.

"I am sure it is to you; but say no more now. I will speak to Miss
Worrick; she will expect you to do what I have desired to-morrow."



The next day there was a whisper through the school that Kitty Malone
was about to do public penance. She had already made more or less
sensation in that part of the school where she worked. In her own class
the girls, as has already been stated, adored her; but the other girls
also looked at her with interest. They admired her dress, her free,
careless gait, her upright, erect figure, and the bright, happy glance
in her eyes. They all thought her charming, and the expression of her
face was often so comical, the shrug of her shoulders so ludicrous, that
at a glance she set the girls tittering.

On this special occasion she sat down between her favorite Mary Davies
and Agnes Moore, and whispered to the former:

"Ah, then, darling, it is not your place I'll be taking to-day; sure my
head is bothered entirely. But I have got all kinds of nice things about
me. Do you know that I sat up late last night putting a pocket in the
left side of my dress as well as the right, so now the girl on each side
of me can have as many chocolates as she has a fancy for? You dive in
your hand whenever you feel the least bit inclined for a sweetie, Agnes;
and you do the same, Mary Davies; and, Mary, you might pass one on now
and then to that poor, little, thin Katie Trafford at the other end of
the class."

It was certainly impossible for a girl like Kitty Malone not to be
popular; and the other girls valued her, and thought themselves highly
privileged to be in the same class with her, dunce as she was.

Kitty had learned her lessons a little better, but the thought of the
public confessions which she was about to make rested heavy on her soul.
It made her restless; and her lessons, although they had been better
prepared, gained her no more marks than on the previous day.

"I wonder how I ought to do it," she whispered more than once to Agnes

"To do what?" asked Agnes, who was a very earnest little student, and
whose dream was that she might get a remove at the end of the term.
"About what, Kitty? I wish you would not interrupt me."

"Oh, bother it, dear. Have a chocolate, won't you? What are your lessons
compared to my perplexities? What ought I to say? Ought I to drop a
courtesy or go on my knees? There was an old romance which I found in
the garret at home; and when the heroine did wrong she always dropped
upon her knees and folded her hands, and raised her eyes toward
heaven--is that the way I ought to do it?"

"Don't, don't, Kitty; you'll make me laugh, and then I'll be sent down.
Please, don't talk to me any more."

Kitty turned her attention to Mary Davies.

"Would you, Mary, go on one knee or on two? If you dip your hand down to
the very bottom of my pocket, you'll find some caramels--some people
like them better than chocolate creams."

"You must not talk to me any more or I'll get into disgrace," whispered
Mary in a low, frightened voice. "Look, Miss Worrick has come into the
room. Now do open your history book, there's a dear girl."

Kitty bent her curly head over her book. She was really interested in
the cruel fate of the martyr-king, but at that moment she saw nothing
but the picture she was conjuring up each moment before her excited
imagination--the tall girl asking pardon of the little teacher. Was the
girl to go on her knees?

"It really would be better," thought Kitty. "I'd be lower than her then.
It does seem ridiculous that the big should ask pardon of the little,
and--Oh, Miss Worrick, I beg your pardon; were you speaking to me?"

"I was, Kitty. Stand up; I am just going to lecture."

The history lesson began. Kitty did no better than yesterday. It came to
an end. The mathematical teacher took her class, and then the great bell
was rung for recess. Just at the moment when its last note echoed
through the vast school Miss Worrick came a step forward into the room,
and held up her hand to arrest the movement of the classes. She looked
at Kitty with an expectant expression. Kitty returned her gaze, and said
nothing. Kitty Malone felt glued to her seat. For a moment every nerve
seemed paralyzed, her face became crimson, her eyes filled with ready
tears, she looked down, the great tears splashed upon the desk before
her. At that instant she encountered the vindictive and delighted
glance of Alice Denvers.

Kitty had confided all her trouble to Alice on the previous night, and
Alice at the time had pretended to give a little sympathy; but where was
her sympathy now?

"I hate her," thought the Irish girl. "No one else would be glad to see
me so miserable."

"You have something to say to me, have you not, Miss Malone?" said Miss
Worrick in her stiff, precise voice.

Kitty staggered to her feet.

"I don't want to say it a bit," she grumbled.

"Come forward, my dear; come forward."

Kitty left the protection of her desk, and staggered across the room.
Miss Worrick had mounted a little platform, all the other teachers stood
waiting, and the girls waited also. Kitty looked round, the eyes in each
face seemed multiplied fourfold--the room seemed to be all eyes. She
longed for the mountains, for her father, for Laurie, for the old home.
She hated the school, she hated England. Why was she to be publicly

"Oh, it is very wrong indeed to ask me to do it," she cried. Then the
following words rushed out: "Miss Worrick, I am sorry I disobeyed you
yesterday, and I'll stay in class to-day. Yes, I will stay; but I hate
every one of you, and I hate England, and I wish I was back again in
dear Old Ireland. Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear! Why was I ever sent into
this horrid, cold, freezing land? Oh, my heart is broken! my heart is

Kitty's sobs were distinctly heard across the great schoolroom. She
returned to her seat. Miss Worrick with a wave of her hand dismissed the
rest of the girls. Kitty bent her head low down upon the desk before
her, and sobbed louder and louder. At last she felt a hand resting
lightly on her shoulder.

"I know I did it dreadfully, Miss Worrick," she said; "but it was so
bad. Why did you make me, why did you make me?"

"There, Kitty, it is over now, and you will never disobey your teacher
again as long as you live," said a kind voice, and Kitty raised her eyes
to see, not the face of Miss Worrick, but that of the head-mistress.

"Oh, Miss Sherrard, how could you make me do it?" she sobbed. "It wasn't
in me. None of the Malones could beg anybody's pardon, and I couldn't go
on my knees when the moment came because they felt stiff, they had no
joints in them. I could not do it properly; no, I could not."

"You did it, dear, but not very well. You did it, however, and you have
learned your lesson. Now come with me into my private sitting-room. You
and I will have lunch together, and I will excuse you from any more
lessons to-day."

Kitty Malone never forgot that next hour. Miss Sherrard was an ideal
head-mistress. She had the keenest sympathy with girls. In her long
experience she had met girls of every shade of character, the bold, the
ambitious, the timorous, the idle, the frivolous, the noble, the
earnest. She knew all about the Christian girl as well as the pagan
girl; all about the girl who had a terrible battle with her own evil pro
pensities, and the girl whose nature was so amiable, so gentle, so
sweet, that life would be comparatively easy for her. But although she
had been head-mistress of the great Middleton School now for several
years, she had never before met quite such an extraordinary specimen as
Kitty Malone. Where, however, others would see nothing but a spirit of
frivolity, a love of admiration, dress, pleasure, in Kitty, Miss
Sherrard peeped below the surface and discovered some really noble
qualities. She determined to be very gentle to this wild, willful
girl--to take her, in short, as she was.

"Oh, I wonder you care to speak to me," said Kitty, when her sobs having
ceased, she stood looking half-repentant, half-rebellious in Miss
Sherrard's private room.

"You are not to be the subject of our conversation at all for the
present, Kitty," said Miss Sherrard. "Lunch is ready, and you must be
hungry. Would you like to go into my room--it is just next to this--and
wash your hands and brush out your hair?"

Kitty looked at Miss Sherrard's small and beautifully-kept hands. She
was fastidious to a remarkable degree about her personal appearance.

"I dare say my hair is somewhat untidy," she said. "I might as well take
a squint at myself in the glass. I never like to look ugly. Is my nose
very red, Miss Sherrard?"

"Never mind about your appearance," said Miss Sherrard, who could not
help feeling slightly annoyed at what she considered such a very
irrelevant remark.

"I expect I am a fright," said Kitty standing up and talking half to
herself and half for the benefit of the head-mistress. "Crying always
spoils me. Now, I knew a girl at home, and the more she cried the
prettier she got. She used to let her tears roil down her cheeks in
great drops, and never attempted to wipe them away, and her nose never
got red, and her eyes only got bigger and quite dewy. Now, as to me when
I cry, my nose----"

"Kitty, will you please remember that I am waiting for lunch,"
interrupted Miss Sherrard.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, ma'am," answered Kitty. She ran into the next
room, examined herself critically in the glass, arranged her hair,
dipped her hands into hot water, and came back looking spruce, bright,
pretty, and once more restored to the highest good-humor.

"I said yesterday that I would love you, ma'am," she said, as she seated
herself at the other side of the appetizing board. "Oh! what a dear
little pie! I wonder is it pigeon pie"

"No, it is lamb pie," answered Miss Sherrard. "Will you help yourself?"

Kitty cut herself a generous slice.

"I like all sorts of good things," she said. "I am sure I was meant to
do nothing in life but dress well, and look pretty, and have the nicest
food to eat, and----"

"How dare you?" interrupted Miss Sherrard. Her words coming firm and
strong, the expression on her kind face arrested the idle girl's silly

"What do you mean?" asked Kitty.

"I mean this, Miss Malone, that you are a girl with a considerable
amount of ability----"

"Oh, now that I have not got."

"With a considerable amount of ability," continued Miss Sherrard, "and
with a great many talents."

"Talents! I thought talents meant genius. Now, I have always and always
been told that I was a dunce of the dunces. It's not joking me you are,
is it, Miss Sherrard?"

"No, Kitty; I am in very sober earnest. You have been sent to me to make
something of you."

"Well, my dear woman, I am afraid you won't make much. The fact is, I am
wild through and through. I come of a wild stock. I wish you could see
us at home, and Laurie, and----"

"You must tell me about your home afterward," said Miss Sherrard. "But
now I have something to say about yourself."

As she spoke, Miss Sherrard drew her cup of coffee to the side of the
table, leaned back, and looked fixedly into the bright and lovely face
of the girl who sat opposite her.

"You have read your Bible, have you not?" she said.

"My Bible!" cried Kitty. "Yes; I read it every day."

"I am glad to hear that."

"Why, you don't suppose we are a lot of heathens at Castle Malone, do
you, Miss Sherrard? Father has prayers every morning, and we all troop
in, every one of us, into the big hall. Oh, I wish you could see the
hall, and the pictures of my ancestors, and----"

"Afterward you shall tell me about them," interrupted Miss Sherrard. "So
you do read your Bible every day. Then I dare say you happen to know
the beautiful story, or rather parable, spoken by Christ himself about
the talents?"

"Yes, I love that story; only I don't think it applies specially to me,
for I have not got any."

"Have not you? Perhaps I can find that you have."

Kitty gazed at her mistress very earnestly.

"What is it I am good in?" she asked after a pause. "Is it my English?
Bless you, they tell me it's awfully Irish."

"It certainly is, Kitty."

"Then, I don't know any music, although I can sing and whistle. Oh, I
can whistle anything. There's not an air that Laurie plays (it's he that
has the genius for music, bless the boy)--but there's not an air he
plays that I can't whistle it right up and down, and with variations

"Yes, my dear, yes; but I was not thinking of this special talent. Now,
let me tell you something that you have got."

"What? Please speak."

"You have plenty of money."

"I never thought that was a talent," cried Kitty.

"I should think it a very great and responsible talent. You have been
given that money to do something for God. He wants you to use it for
Him. Then, also, you have a very bright, attractive, loving manner."

"Oh, I feel every word I say. It's not manner," said Kitty. "You don't
suppose I'm a hypocrite, do you?"

"No, I think on the contrary you are very sincere. We will now admit
that you have got two talents; you have got money and you have got a
pleasant manner. I think also that you have got a third, and I may be
able to prove to you that you have got a fourth."

"Dear me, this is most entertaining!" exclaimed Kitty. "So I have really
got two talents, and you think I have more. What is the third?"

"I don't wish to make you vain; but you have--yes, I must tell you--a
remarkably pretty face."

"Ah, now, what a darling you are! I always thought you were sweet. What
part of me do you admire most, the eyes or the mouth? I have the real
Irish eyes I know--gentian-blue, yes, that's the color--and my
eyelashes--aren't they long?"

"We need not discuss your beauty piece by piece," said Miss Sherrard.
"You are pretty, and I am willing to admit it. Now, a bright face like
yours, with an attractive manner, is a gift. Then, besides, you
have--you will be astonished when I say this--lots of becoming dress,
which adds to the charm of your appearance. Kitty, if you were all you
might be--if you would use that money which God has given you, that
beauty which God has given you, that attractive manner which God has
given you, all for His service--why, you could do a great deal in the
world. You could make it a better place, a brighter place, a happier
place. Now, my dear child, your father has trusted you to me. He wrote
to me a great deal about you before you came to Middleton School----"

"Dear old dad!" cried Kitty.

"He loves you with all his heart."

"I should think so, the darling blessed man--may the saints preserve

"As your father feels so strongly about you, and as I promised him to
do what I could for his child, will you help me, Kitty? Will you
remember that you are equipped for the battle of life much more bravely,
much more strongly than most of the other girls in Middleton School? Use
your beauty for Him, dear; use your attractive manner for Him."

"You make me feel very solemn," said Kitty. She rose. "I will try and
think about it," she said. "I wish I was not quite such a giddypate; but
I'll try and think about it."

Miss Sherrard kissed her.

"And now I want you to do something more," she said. "You won't be able
to be a better girl than you were in the past if you don't pray to God
to help you; and when you pray, Kitty, ask Him to teach you to restrain
your feelings a little, not to let them all rush to the surface, to keep
a little back. Thus you will gain strength of character, and--and be all
the better for it, my child."

"You are very good to me," said Kitty. "I don't mind what I do for those
I love. I suppose now you would wish me to learn my lessons perfectly
every day?"

"I certainly should."

"And to--to turn poor little Agnes Moore from the head of her class?"

"Well, Kitty, I cannot say anything about that. II you do better work
than Agnes Moore you will get to the head of the class and she will go
down; but I doubt your being able to do so, for Agnes is a very clever
and a very diligent little pupil. But I want you, dear, soon to get out
of that class, for it is a great deal too young for you. I want you to
be with girls of your own age. We are yet one month to the end of the
term. By the end of term I want to be able to tell you that you have got
a remove. And now, dear, good-by. Remember, I shall watch you, and--yes,
I shall pray for you."

"You are very good to me," repeated Kitty; and she walked out of Miss
Sherrard's presence with her head lowered, and a mist before her eyes.

For the next few days Kitty was strangely thoughtful. She did not speak
nearly so much as usual, she felt inclined to go away by herself, and
she was much puzzled about her talents. Miss Sherrard's words had made
quite a deep impression. She learned her lessons with care, and had
every chance, so her teachers told her, of a remove at the end of term.
Even Alice found less to say against her. Kitty began to look on her
school life as something roseate and delightful; but all these things
were to come to a speedy end.

On a certain afternoon she got home to find Alice out and Mrs. Denvers
seated in the drawing-room with a great basket of mending before her.

"Oh, what a lot of work! Would you like me to help you?" said Kitty.

"Very much, dear; but what kept you so late? Oh, here is a letter for

"A letter!" cried Kitty eagerly. "Oh, it is from Laurie. Hurrah!

She forgot all about her offer to help Mrs. Denvers with her darning,
tossed the letter in the air two or three times, and then sank down on
the nearest ottoman to read it. These were the words on which her eyes

"DEAR OLD KITTERKINS: I have got into the greatest bother of a mess that
ever assailed a poor gossoon, and if you can't help me, old girleen,
well, I shall be done brown, as the saying is. The whole matter concerns
Paddy Wheel-about. The poor creature has been getting queerer and
queerer lately, and father has been ever so much worried about him. I
didn't know a word of this, mind you, at the time, but learnt it
afterwards; and it makes my bit of a frolic all the blacker, I can tell
you. Father got Dr. Milligan to go and see Paddy in his cabin at the top
of Sleeve Nohr, and the doctor said that the poor old boy was going off
his head as fast as he could, and we must be careful not to give him any
shock. Well, but to come to my part of it. You know that coat of his,
and what diversion we have had out of it from time to time? You made one
of the patches yourself, don't you remember, Kitty? We always told him
that in each patch he had concealed a sovereign. Well, hot as the days
are, he has been wearing that coat, and a figure of fun he did look. The
Mahoney boys and Pat and I thought we would take a rise out of him; so
one night when he was asleep we stole up to his lair and got hold of the
precious coat. We bundled it up and were off with it. We had to cross
the lake, in the old boat with a hole in the bottom, in order to get
home in time, and what do you think happened? Up came a squall, the boat
was upset, and Paddy's coat sank to the bottom of the lake. We swam to
the shore and thought it would be an easy matter to fish up the old coat
on the following morning; but although we dragged and dragged, and Pat
and I both dived down to the bottom a good dozen of times, the coat had
sunk in the deep mud and we could not find it, no nor a sign of it.
Well, of course, our one hope was that no one should know; but what was
our horror to be confronted by no less a person than Wheel-about
himself. You know that craze he has about never speaking. Well, he spoke
to us and pretty sharp too, and told us he knew we had taken the coat,
and didn't he look thunders and daggers at us, and we funked it so
awfully--yes, I will confess it, Kits, your brave Laurie funked it like
anything--for Wheel-about did really look like a roadman; at last there
was no help for it--we had to out with the truth. Oh, didn't he raise a
yell louder than anything you ever heard, and then I told him that if I
could not get back the coat I would give him ten pounds for certain by
Saturday next. He said if I did he would lie quiet for a bit and not
tell the governor, so I want you like a blessed girleen to lend me the
money. Send it off the very instant you read this; for if you don't the
saints alone know what will happen. We are certain to be sent to a
school in England, at least I am. From what you tell me, Kitterkins, of
that place, I should think it would break our hearts to smithereens. Now
look sharp and send the money. Your loving brother,


"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Kitty starting to her feet. "Do you mind my going
out at once, Mrs. Denvers?"

"Certainly not, my love. Tea will be ready at five o'clock. Are you
going far?"

"Only to Elma Lewis' house. I want to see her; it is awfully important."

"But Elma lives quite two miles from here."

"Oh, that does not matter. I am sure to find my way. It is most urgent,"
said Kitty.

She rushed out of the room, pinned on her hat, and a moment later was
walking down the street as fast as she could go. She crossed a field
and a common, and after a time got into that part of the town where Elma
lived. By dint of asking half a dozen children and three or four

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest