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Wild Kitty by L. T. Meade

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policemen she at last reached Constantine Road, and presently found the
right house. She ran up the steps and sounded a rattling rat-tat on the
knocker. The moment she did so a girl with a mop of untidy red hair
peeped up at her from the area below.

"Come and open the door at once," called Kitty. "Why do you keep a lady

The girl soon appeared, tying on her cap and apron as she did so.

"I thought as they was all out for the day," she began, "--Oh, miss, I
beg your pardon."

Kitty, notwithstanding her rather rude words, presented a very charming
spectacle as she stood on the steps. She was dressed not only in the
height of the fashion, but wore such a perfectly captivating little
toque at the back of her head as to fire the fancy and take the little
wit which she possessed out of Mrs. Lewis' maid-of-all-work.

Maggie had never seen anything so captivating nor so ravishing. A wild
desire to make a toque like it to put on her own towzled locks on the
following Sunday caused her to stare so hard at Kitty with her mouth
wide open that she did not hear a word that young lady was saying.

"Are you in a dream?" asked Kitty Malone. "I want to see Miss Elma
Lewis. Is she at home?"

"Miss Helma? No, miss, that she ain't," replied Maggie. "Oh, I beg your
pardon, miss; but it's it's the bonnet at the top of your head."

"My bonnet?" said Kitty.

"Yes, miss. Oh, I do beg your pardon, miss--I was took all of a heap.
Yes, miss, I'm attending now. But oh, if you would just turn your head a

"You must be mad," said Kitty. But her eyes began to sparkle.

"Do listen to me," she continued; "it's most important. Is Miss Elma not
at home?"

"No, miss; she's out for the day, and so is the missus and Miss Carrie.
They're all out a-pleasuring in their different ways, and they has left
me at home to drudge. I'm the household drudge, miss, and no wonder I'm
took with anything so pretty. Do you mind telling me, miss, if them
wiolets is real?"

"Oh, the violets in my toque--are those what you are staring at?" said
Kitty. "Well, now, I'll tell you what I'll do--I'll give you the whole
bunch if you'll let me come into the house and write a letter to Elma,
and if you'll further faithfully promise that you will give it to her
the instant she comes home."

"To be sure I will, miss. Come right along in. Oh, what a beautiful
young lady you is!"

"Every one tells me I am beautiful," thought Kitty. "It really is very
pleasant. I am more flattered here than I was in Ireland. People told me
there I had a face like cream and roses, or cream and strawberries, and
father used to say that I had washed it in the fairies' dew, and Laurie
would tell me that I was a bouncing girl and no mistake; but then Aunt
Honora was always saying: 'Kitty dear, beauty is only skin deep, and
don't be set up by it, child. Handsome is that handsome does, Kitty.'
Oh, how she would deave me with that old proverb. But here they seem to
think beauty is a talent, and I ought to be desperately proud of it. Oh,
faith, but why do I think of these things when my precious duck of a
Laurie is in the mess he has got into. He go to England to break his
heart, the darling! Not a bit of it; not while his Kitty has her wits
about her."

Meanwhile Maggie conducted this ravishing and welcome visitor into the
tiny sitting-room, furnished her with pen, ink, and paper, and then
began to hover about near the door in order to get another view of the
lovely cap.

Kitty bent her head over the sheet of paper and indited a letter in hot
and furious haste:

"DEAR ELMA: I am so sorry, but I must ask you to return that eight
pounds to me immediately. I want it for Laurie. He has got into trouble
and requires it; so don't keep me waiting a single minute if you can
help it. I am so sorry you are out; but will you bring it to me the
instant you return home? It is of the most vital importance. I am in
dreadful trouble, and nothing else will save Laurie. Yours in great

Having written the letter, Kitty looked round for an envelope; Maggie
also searched to right and left, but could not find one.

"But it will be all right, miss," she said. "I'll lay it just as it is
flat out on the table, and Miss Helma will see it the moment she comes

"Thank you," answered Kitty. "And now I must go. Be sure you give it to
her her the instant she returns, and tell her to come straight to me
with the money, for I must send it off to-night whatever happens. It is
a money transaction; and you understand, don't you? What is your name?"

"Maggie, miss."

"Well, you understand, Maggie, that any transaction connected with money
is very important."

"Like the Bank of England, miss?"

"Yes, to be sure, and--"

"Oh, miss, forgive me; but you promised me them wiolets."

"To be sure I did."

Kitty snatched them from her toque, flung them to Maggie, who caught
them in an ecstacy, and a moment later was running home as fast as she



Of the Lewis family the first who came home that special evening was
Carrie. She walked straight into the little sitting-room, where Kitty
Malone's letter lying on top of the blotter immediately attracted her
attention. It need not be said that she instantly read it, and not only
once but twice.

"Ha! ha! Elma, I have got you into my power at last," she said to
herself. "So that accounts for the money. Now, what did you borrow it
from that queer Irish girl for? But now that I know a thing or two. I
may be able to draw on you to a considerable extent. Return it! not
you--you are not likely to; but I think I'll be able to frighten you. I
shall certainly do my utmost."

It will be seen from these remarks that Carrie was by no means an
amiable girl. She ran up to her room, took off her hat, and surveyed
herself in the pale blue dress which had been purchased with some of
poor Kitty's money. She then returned to the sitting-room, and folding
up the letter, deliberately put it into her pocket. As she was doing so
Maggie came in to lay the tea.

"Oh lor! Miss Carrie," cried the maid-of-all-work as she spread the
not-too-clean cloth upon the table, "whatever 'as become of that bit of
writin' that was lyin' atop of the blotter here?"

"What bit of writing?" asked Carrie, turning calmly round and surveying

"Oh, a letter miss; I don't know what was in it, but it was a money
transaction, as important as the Bank of England, and it was to be give
to Miss Helma the very instant she come 'ome. Didn't you see it, miss,
when you come in?"

"No, I didn't," said Carrie promptly. "I saw no letter of any kind.
Here's the blotter, there is nothing on it. It may have got between the
folds, however." She took up the thick pad of blotting-paper and shook
it, but no letter dropped out.

"There," she said. "I have not the least doubt that Fido jumped on the
table and took it up and ate it."

"Oh lor! miss, you don't think so?"

"I should not be surprised. Fido can never resist paper; he is always
pulling it about and chewing it."

Maggie looked frantically under the table for even stray pieces of the
letter, but she could not find any.

"If he had ate it," she said at last, fixing Carrie with a very
determined stare--"if he had ate it he would have left some bits about.
I don't believe it; I believe you 'as took it Miss Carrie. Oh, miss, for
shame; and it was as important as the Bank of England--a money
transaction, miss, what ought not to be trifled with. I can't read
writin', though I can read books fair enough; but the young lady was
awful put about."

"What young lady?" asked Carrie. "You had better tell me everything."

"Oh, it was that Irish young lady, Miss Malone. She come here with the
most beautiful 'at on (no, it was wot they calls a talk), and the
wiolets in it they might 'av growed, I could a'most smell 'em; and she
come in distracted like, and writ the letter, and told me I was to give
it to Miss Helma the very moment she returned, and that Miss Helma was
to take her the money to-night--what money is more than I can tell, for
I didn't think Miss Helma ever had any. And she said it was an important
transaction. And I said, 'Is it like the Bank of England, miss?' and she
said, 'Yes, to be sure.' Why, Miss Carrie, you have not gone and hid the
letter, 'ave you? That would be real mean of you."

"Look here," said Carrie; "what did you say about those violets?"

"Why, she gave 'em to me, miss; she took 'em out of her cap, and she
give 'em to me, and I was to give the letter to Miss Helma. It was a
fair and honest bargain, and I must keep my part of it miss."

"Would you like some roses to put with the violets?" said Carrie, making
a careful calculation.

"Roses, miss? That would be prime, and very seasonable, wouldn't they

"Yes, violets and roses look very pretty together, and I'll pin them
into your hat and furbish it up. And, look here, Maggie, you can go out
with your young man on Sunday. I'll manage it--I can. I will stay at

"Oh, Miss Carrie, you don't mean it?"

"Yes, I do. I'll manage it; but I'll do it only on a condition."

"What is that miss?"

"That you don't every ask me another question with regard to that
letter, and that you never, never on any account breathe a word of it to
Elma. If you do, why----"

"Oh, Miss, it don't seem fair."

Poor honest Maggie walked to the window and struggled for a few minutes
with her temptation. The thought, however, of roses to add to the
violets, the thought also of Joe, whom she dearly loved, to walk with
her on the following Sunday, proved far too seductive. She struggled
with her enemy for a few minutes, and then she fell once and for all.

"I'll have the roses, Miss Carrie. I can't resist them and the thought
of Joe on Sunday. Joe is so passionate loving, miss, I can't resist
'im." And then Maggie rushed out of the room.

She flew to her attic, threw herself by the side of her bed and burst
into sobs.

"But I oughtn't to 'ave done it," she said several times--"I oughtn't to
'ave done it. If it worn't for the roses and for Joe I'd 'ave stood up
to her; but as it is I was too tempted. But all the same I oughtn't to
have done it--no, I oughtn't to 'ave done it!"

Meanwhile Carrie up in her bedroom was thinking hard. Here indeed was a
revelation! So Elma possessed eight pounds, or nearly eight--for Carrie
knew that her blue dress, and the lobster, and the lettuces, and the
stout had not cost a great deal of that valuable sum of money.

"At the present moment," she concluded, making a careful computation in
her mind, for she was a smart enough girl in certain ways--"at the
present moment Elma must possess the sum of seven pounds or thereabouts."
What in the world did that Irish girl lend it to her for? What an utter
fool she must have been! But as to Elma's paying it back! as to Elma
getting rid of those riches--Carrie thought she saw her way of
preventing that. In order to do so, however, it was all-important that
Elma should not see poor Kitty's passionate little appeal to her; for
although Elma was anything but an amiable girl, Carrie was certain that
mere fright would make her return the money.

Carrie stayed some time in her room; she was thinking out a plan. How
could she prevent Elma returning the money to Kitty Malone? She
considered rapidly. Never before had she felt so full of energy and of
resource; it suddenly occurred to her as extremely unlikely that Elma
would carry about so much money on her person. Suppose she, Carrie, had
a thorough good hunt for it now on the spot. Suppose she found it, then
would it not be her duty, by taking possession of it, to guard Elma from
giving it away? Carrie made up her mind quickly; she determined to have
a search for the money at once. In the somewhat meagerly-furnished
bedroom there were not a great many hiding-places, and Carrie began her
search systematically. Elma and she had a little set of drawers each;
there were no locks to these drawers. With all her faults, Elma
absolutely trusted her own family. It never occurred to her even in her
worst moments that Carrie would examine her drawers; she also believed
that Maggie was perfectly honest.

Carrie now began to search. She opened Elma's drawers and looked
through them. Soon she found what she sought for. In the small
right-hand drawer at the top corner was a little parcel. It felt heavy.
Carrie opened it and there lay seven shining sovereigns. There were also
a couple of shillings and a few pence; but Carrie's eyes were
principally fixed upon the sovereigns. Bright and new they looked,
almost as if they had just come from the mint. Carrie danced a pirouette
there and then.

"I have found the treasure," she gasped. "Now I must take it where it
will be safe. I know what I'll do. I'll give it to Sam Raynes to keep
for Elma. It will be a nice excuse for seeing him again, and I'll tell
him it is money of my own, and ask him to bank it for me. He'll be ever
so pleased; he will think all the more of me if he supposes I am
wealthy. Yes, I'll take it to Sam; he shall keep it for me."

Flushed, excited, her heart beating high, Carrie once more pinned on her
hat. She ran downstairs. As she passed through the hall her mother was
letting herself in with a latchkey.

"My dear Carrie," she said, "you are not going out again at this hour of

"I shan't be long, mother. I am just going into Summer Terrace to see
the Raynes."

"I wish you would not go out so late, Carrie; it really isn't----"

But Carrie had slammed the door without even waiting for her parent's
last words. She soon reached the Terrace, which was within three
minutes' walk of her own house. Florrie Raynes let her in.

"My dear Carrie," she said, "what do you want? Oh, you naughty girl;
you knew Sam would be in."

"Well, I want to speak to him. Can I see him just for a moment?" gasped
Carrie, panting and breathless, pushing the hair from her forehead as
she spoke.

"Yes, come right in," said Florrie; "you need not apologize. He is only
having a cigar, and he'll be right pleased to see you."

As she spoke she opened the door of a small sitting-room and pushed
Carrie in, slamming it behind her. The echo of her rude laughter as she
performed this unladylike feat was heard down the passage.

Sam was seated in front of an open window smoking a cigar. When he saw
Carrie he removed it from his mouth and came forward in a somewhat
nonchalant way to meet her.

"Now, Car," he said, "what's up? Any news? Can we have a jolly time next

"Yes," answered Carrie panting slightly, "and for as many other Sundays
as you like. See here, Sam, I cannot wait a minute now. You know you
once told me that I was a frivolous little thing, that I was
extravagant, and all that. Now, what will you say if I ask you to put
seven pounds in the bank for me?"

"Seven pounds!" cried Sam; "'pon my word! Where in the world did you get
it, Car?"

"It's out of my savings," replied Carrie.

"Well, I must say--" Sam gave her a look of the broadest admiration he
had ever yet bestowed upon her. "You can bank it for me, can you not?"

"Yes, that I can. But I say, Car, would you like me to speculate with
it? I might double it, you know."

"Oh, do what you like with it, only keep it safe," answered Carrie. "I
shall want to draw a little of it from time to time. Now, good-by, Sam.
I can't wait another moment."

She laid the money on the table. Sam's large and somewhat fat hand
closed greedily over it, and the next moment it was conveyed to his
waistcoat pocket.

"This will come in very handy for myself," he muttered; but Carrie did
not hear the words--she ran home breathless and excited. She thought she
had managed splendidly.



Kitty was miserable that night. An Irish girl has always her ups and
downs. She is either up in the seventh heaven of bliss, or she is down
almost below the ordinary earth in misery. Kitty was suffering from an
intense revulsion of spirits. Laurie was in trouble. He was the best
brother in all the world; he was Kitty's idol. There never was anybody
more reckless, more passionate, more dare-devil than Laurie Malone; and
Kitty had always been with him heart and soul, always from the time that
they had been little tots together. And now Laurie was in danger. The
best broth of a boy might be condemned to go to a school in England; he
might be condemned to the misery, the want of freedom, which she was now
enduring. Oh, she must save him at any risk. She could do so. She could
send him ten pounds; she would have exactly that sum in her possession
if only Elma returned the eight which she had lent her. It did not occur
to Kitty as at all difficult for Elma to return the money. She had never
yet know money difficulties herself; and when Elma had asked for the
loan of it she imagined that she could have it back at any time. If this
was not the case it would not greatly matter; but now, of course,
Laurie's letter altered the complexion of everything.

Kitty was too unsettled and anxious to stay quiet for a single moment.
She fidgeted Alice, who was busily engaged preparing her lessons for the
following day.

"Kitty," she said, when that erratic young person had jumped up to lean
her body half out of the window for the twentieth time, "if you cannot
sit still yourself, you ought to have some thought for me. What am I to
do if you keep rushing to the window and back again to your seat every
couple of minutes?"

"I am looking for Elma," said Kitty.

"For Elma Lewis? Do you expect her to-night?"

"Yes, and on a matter of vital importance. Oh, don't talk to me please,
Alice. If she doesn't come soon, I believe my heart will burst."

"That is exactly like one of your exaggerated statements," said Alice.
"People's hearts don't burst. Oh, if you only would stay quiet."

"I believe that's herself turning round the corner," cried Kitty,
bending out so far now that it was a wonder she was not overbalanced.

"Really, Kitty, you make my heart stand still," said Alice. "You will
fall out if you are not careful. Oh, for goodness' sake, don't stoop out
any further."

"It's not her," said Kitty, popping in her head. "I was only stooping
far enough to catch a glimpse of her boots. Elma always wears such
horrid shabby boots; and her feet are too large. By the way, Alice, what
do you think of these shoes; do you like them with straps across, and
little rosettes?"

"I don't like anything in the way of dress at the present moment," said
Alice. "I want quiet and peace. It is impossible for me to do anything
while you fidget as you do."

Kitty jumped with a bang into the nearest chair; opened a novel, and
tried to read it upside down.

"If she isn't in time I won't be able to send the letter to-night and
then--Alice, do you mind my interrupting you for a moment? What time
does the last post go?"

"The pillar outside the gate is cleared at twelve," said Alice.

"It is only nine now. You don't happen to be able to tell me when a
letter, cleared at twelve, would reach Castle Malone?"

"I cannot tell you. Forgive me, Kitty, I cannot stay in the room any
longer. I am going to our bedroom."

Alice gathered up her books, and swept out of tho room. When she reached
the bedroom she shut and locked the door.

Kitty was now left alone in the drawing-room, for Mr. and Mrs. Denvers
were spending the evening out. She was glad of this, as she could lean
as far out of the window as she dared, and there was no one to shout at
her. She could also pace up and down the room, which she presently did
with the rapidity and eagerness of a young tigress.

Oh, to be back again at Castle Malone! What was Laurie doing now?
Suppose Paddy Wheel-about really told her father about Laurie!

Squire Malone was extremely kind to Kitty; there was no saying what he
would not do for Kitty were she in trouble; but Laurie and Pat were
different matters. He had fits of severity-with them--only fits, mind
you; for he was too Irish in his character, too generous-hearted, ever
to keep his anger long; but in these fits he often made strange
resolves, and when these resolves were made, as a rule, he carried them
out. He was too proud to change his mind. If once he decided that the
boys were to go to school to England, to school they must go--to
"prison," Kitty termed it. Tears rose in her bright eyes, they rolled
down her cheeks. Oh, why was not Elma in time? How dreadful, how
dreadful if she (Kitty) missed the twelve-o'clock post! She was in this
state of fret and worry, when Fred entered the room. Fred hated all
girls, with the exception of Kitty Malone. He could not be said by this
time to hate her, for he admired her very much indeed. The moment she
saw him she called out to him to come in.

"Ah, then, Fred, it is you. Come along in," she cried; "you'll be a
drain of a comfort--not much, but still a drain. Oh, Fred, it's I who am
in the trouble entirely. You wouldn't think it to look at me, but I am."

"Dear me, Kitty I am sorry," said Fred. "What's up? Has Alice been
teasing you as usual?"

"Oh, bother Alice! as if I minded her little pinpricks. It's that
darling Laurie in Ireland. He has got into trouble, the broth of a boy
that he is."

She then related what had occurred in connection with Paddy
Wheel-about's coat.

"And the poor old coat is in the bottom of the lake," she added, "and
the lake is feet deep in mud just at the bottom, and anything that falls
with a weight into it would sink and sink. Oh, they will never find the
coat till the day of judgment, and it full of beautiful money! And Paddy
Wheel-about has lost the little grain of sense he ever possessed, and
Laurie will be sent to one of those prisons."

"To prison?" cried Fred; "but surely your father--"

"Oh, I mean a school--it's all the same. Don't interrupt me, Fred. When
my mind is full I must rattle off the speech somehow."

"And he wants you to send him ten pounds?"


"And have you got ten pounds to send him?"

"To be sure I have--I have ten pounds ten. I am an awful girl for
spending money. I bought a whole pound's worth of chocolate yesterday. I
only wish I had the money now instead; but poor little Agnes Moore and
the other girls in my class, they do love chocolate, and they quite seem
to fatten them. I bought the chocolates, and I have got ten shillings in
my pocket."

"But you showed me a whole purseful of gold the other day," said Fred.

"Well, it's gone, Fred, and it isn't gone; but I know who could help me
to find it if I could catch a sight of her."

"And who is that?" asked Fred.

"Elma Lewis."

"Elma Lewis! Do you like her?"

"I can't say that I like her--no I don't think I do; but she would help
me, if I could only get to see her."

"Then, do you want me to go to her house and tell her so?"

"Why, Fred, that's a splendid idea. You are a jewel, a darling, a duck!
Let me fetch my hat, and you and I will go together."

"But I don't know my lessons yet. It is that beastly German. I have
pages to translate. It is such rot."

"Oh, what does the German matter? Think of the misery poor Laurie is in.
Just stay where you are, Fred; I'll be back in a minute."

Kitty dashed upstairs, two or three steps at a time, and thundered a
loud tattoo on the locked door of Alice's bedroom.

"You cannot come in, whoever you are," cried Alice from within.

"Yes, but I must, Alice, aroon; let me in, jewel that you are. I want my
hat, and gloves and jacket, nothing else. Do, for goodness' sake, let me
in, Alice, asthore!"

But Alice was obdurate. Once let Kitty in, she would never be able to
get rid of her again, and her lessons must be learned. They were
specially difficult and required all her attention.

"Then if you won't," cried Kitty, whose quick temper was beginning to
rise, "at least fling the things out of the window."

"You know you must not go out at this hour."

"If you won't give them to me," said Kitty, "I'll go without them."

"You are not to have them; you are not to go out. It isn't right,"
called Alice, who felt strong in the cause of virtue.

Kitty rattled violently on the handle for a moment longer, and then
rushed downstairs again to where Fred was waiting.

"I can't get my hat," she said; "but it doesn't matter. I'll go as I

Now Kitty's dress was more picturesque than suitable. She had on a
crimson blouse and a skirt bedizened with many ribbons and frills. The
blouse had only elbow sleeves and was cut rather low in the neck.
Nothing could be more becoming to the dancing eyes, the rose-bloom
cheeks, the head of dark hair.

"Lend me a cap of yours, Fred, there's a darling," called Kitty, "and
we'll be off. Alice is in one of her tantrums, and she won't let me into
our room nor give me my hat and jacket. If your mother were there it
would be all right."

Fred only thought that Kitty looked remarkably pretty. It did not occur
to him as at all queer that she should want to walk a couple of miles in
this erratic dress. He went downstairs, accommodated her with a small
cap which bore the college coat of arms in front, and the two were soon
hurrying along the roads at a rapid rate in the direction of Elma's

There were two ways to Elma's home. One way was by crossing a wide
common, cutting off a certain corner, walking down a by-street, and so,
by a series of short cuts, reaching Constantine Road. By the other and
slightly longer way you had to pass an open thoroughfare in the center
of which blazed, with its shining lights and its gay exterior, a large
public-house called the "Spotted Leopard." Now the "Spotted Leopard" was
by no means a nice place to pass at night. Men considerably the worse
for drink were apt to linger about the doors. Gossiping and idle fellows
would congregate just by this special corner, ready to take up any bit
of fun or nonsense which might be coming, meaning no special mischief,
but being decidedly disagreeable to meet at night.

Fred was as careless a schoolboy as could be found in the length and
breadth of Great Britain; Kitty was equally reckless, perhaps more so,
if that were possible. That special evening Fred decided that they would
not take the short cut across the common.

"A beastly lonely place at this hour of night," he said, "and the road
is so uneven and there are no lamps. We'll go round by the 'Spotted
Leopard'. You don't mind, do you, Kit?"

"Never a bit," answered Kitty. "Come along, Fred; stretch your legs. I
must get to see Elma Lewis to-night as quickly as possible."

Fred walked fast, and Kitty laughed and talked and danced by his side.
Now that she was in action she forgot her fears; her volatile spirits
rose once again to a height. She entertained Fred with numerous stories
relating to Paddy Wheel-about, Laurie, and Pat, and invited him to come
to Castle Malone for the whole of the summer holidays, assuring him that
the fishing would be splendid, the cycling superb, the riding such as
would make your eyes water, and the shooting and the hunting when that
season began all that could stimulate the least ambitious of boys. And
when Kitty spoke she was apt to illustrate her words, dancing now in
front of her companion, now keeping by his side, now lingering a little
behind him, all the time gesticulating with eyes and lips and gay
motions. She was like a restive young colt--beautiful, excitable. The
boy felt that he had never had such a charming companion before.

All went well, and Kitty's bizarre dress, her hair tossed wildly over
her head and hanging partly down her shoulders, her little feet encased
in the shoes with the rosettes and steel buckles, the frills on her gay
skirt, her bare arms, failed to attract any special attention. But when
they got into the neighborhood of the "Spotted Leopard," a blaze of
light fell full across her. She was a remarkable enough figure to be out
at this hour, and when joined to the somewhat peculiar spectacle, the
wild-looking boys--for they were little more--who had congregated round
this special corner, saw the college cap on her head, they made a rush
forward and the next moment had surrounded her.

They began to laugh and to make facetious remarks. It was all done in a
second. Kitty stood stock still as if some one had shot her. He gay
manner ceased on the instant, she drew herself erect, and the next
moment aimed a blow straight from the shoulder at the nearest of the
men, knocking him over as completely as though he had been a ninepin;
then taking hold of Fred's arm--who had come to her rescue, although the
poor lad had not the least idea what to do--marched away, her face as
crimson as her gay silk blouse.

"Well, Kitty, you did that splendidly," he said.

"The impertinent wretches! Don't speak to me about them," answered
Kitty. But just then she came face to face with a more serious
obstacle. This was no less a person than Miss Worrick herself.

Now if there was a prim mistress in the whole length and breadth of
England, it was Matilda Worrick. She liked girls to be neatly dressed;
she could not bear to see them out at what she called inclement hours.
She would have thought it the height of impropriety for Kitty and Fred
to walk together at such an hour; but when in addition to this Kitty
went out in a dress which Miss Worrick would have thought very
unsuitable for home, when she wore a boy's college cap on her head, and
when she had so far distinguished herself as to have been for a moment
the center of a lot of low noisy, rough men, Miss Worrick felt that the
moment had come for her to interfere. She grasped Kitty Malone firmly by
the arm.

"What are you doing, Miss Malone?" she said. "How dare you be out at
this hour?"

"How dare you interfere?" answered Kitty, who, excited already, could
not for a moment brook Miss Worrick's interference.

"I shall march you straight home," said the mistress. "If Miss Sherrard
knew of this she would expel you from the school. You are a very wicked
girl. Fred Denvers, you can go home or go on with your walk, just as you
like, but I have charge of Miss Malone; she belongs to the Middleton
School, and I must see her home before I go a step further."

Poor Kitty felt staggered.

"I really meant no harm," she said. "I cannot imagine what you are
talking about. I could not get my hat and jacket, and as it was most
important that I should see Elma Lewis, Fred promised to take me to her
house. Please don't ask me to return now with you, Miss Worrick, I
really cannot come."

But Miss Worrick was inexorable. She grasped Kitty very firmly by the
arm, turned abruptly in the direction of home, and walked forward with a
firm step. There was no help for it; Kitty Malone must accompany her.
They soon found themselves back again at the Denvers' house. Mr. and
Mrs. Denvers were out, but Miss Worrick inquired for Alice.

"Ask Miss Alice to come to me immediately," she said to the servant.

The girl looked pityingly at Kitty, who was a prime favorite with her,
and then went away to fulfill her errand.

The instant Alice got this somewhat startling message, she forgot her
lesson, unlocked her bedroom door, and flew downstairs as fast as she
could. Miss Worrick was standing in the center of the drawing-room.
Kitty was leaning up against one of the window-curtains. Kitty's face
was red, her hair was tossed in wild confusion, and her dark eyes seemed
to flash fire.

"Alice," said Miss Worrick, coming straight up to Alice when she
appeared. "I must ask you to take charge of Kitty Malone."

"Why so?" asked Alice in some astonishment.

"Just do what I say. Your father and mother are out. Kitty is not to
return to school to-morrow until she hears from Miss Sherrard. In the
absence of your parents I put her in your charge, Alice. She has behaved
disgracefully, and I shall have the great pain of reporting what I have
just witnessed to our head-mistress to-morrow."

So saying, Miss Worrick walked quickly out of the room and out of the

"Well, thank goodness, she's gone--the old cat!" cried Kitty.

"Now, Kitty what have you done?" said Alice. "Oh, this is terrible!
Fresh scrapes! We seem to live in constant hot water. What is the matter
now, you headstrong and dreadful girl?"

"Nothing is the matter," replied Kitty, "absolutely nothing. It is all a
storm in a teacup. But if any one is to blame you are the one."

"I?" cried Alice. "What next?"

"Well, you are. You would not give me my hat and jacket. I have a nice
plain hat and a jacket to match. I should have put them on if you had
not locked our bedroom door, and prevented my coming into the room,
which is just as much mine as yours. As it was imperative for me to see
Elma Lewis immediately, I asked Fred if he would walk round with me to
her house, and I wore his college cap. When we were passing the 'Spotted
Leopard' a lot of rough, rude boys rushed out and began to make
impertinent remarks about my dress. I just gave one of them a black eye
and knocked him over. The next moment I found myself under the fire of
Miss Worrick's anger."

"And small wonder," said Alice. "Kitty, what is to be done? Before you
came here I thought myself a respectable girl--all we Middleton girls
did; and now for such a fearful thing to happen. Why, it will be all
over the place in the morning. They will talk of it everywhere. Oh,
Kitty, you have disgraced me for ever."

Here Alice burst into tears.

"Good gracious!" cried Kitty, "what are you crying about? I did nothing;
it was the rude men, or boys, or whatever you like to call them, who
were to blame."

"You did nothing, going out in that dress?" cried Alice--"that red
blouse, and your arms bare, and with Fred's college cap on your head. I
should not be a bit surprised if Fred were expelled; he will certainly
get into an awful scrape. Oh dear! oh dear!"

"I cannot imagine what you are talking and crying about," said Kitty.
"But there; I have got a headache, and am going to bed. I suppose there
is no chance of my--Oh, poor Laurie! What a wicked girl Elma Lewis is!"

Kitty rushed up to her room. Not that she was frightened--that was not
her way; but she saw that disagreeable things might be pending. In the
meantime her most anxious thoughts were for Laurie. What would happen if
she could not send him the money by an early post?



Early the next morning Mrs. Denvers was a good deal surprised by
receiving a letter from Miss Sherrard. It ran as follows:

"DEAR MRS. DENVERS: I have just heard an extraordinary story from Miss
Worrick with regard to Kitty Malone. She met Kitty with your Fred at a
late hour last night just outside the 'Spotted Leopard.' She was not
wearing an outdoor jacket, and had the college cap on her head. In
consequence, she was spoken to impertinently by some men outside the
public-house, and when Miss Worrick came up had just knocked one of them
down. Miss Worrick says, further, that Kitty showed her great
impertinence; and, in short, that the whole affair was wrong and
disgraceful. It is my painful duty to look thoroughly into this matter,
and I should be glad if you would bring Miss Malone to Middleton School
this morning in order that I may do so.

"Yours very truly,


"My dear Alice," said Mrs. Denvers, as her daughter entered the room,
"what does this letter mean?"

Alice read Miss Sherrard's letter hastily.

"It is exactly as I feared, mother," she said.

"Exactly as you feared, Alice! What do you mean?"

"I always told you that Kitty would be certain to get into trouble
sooner or later. Well, she got into trouble last night."

"But what occurred?"

"What occurred!" said Fred, who came into the room at that moment. "I
thought you would be talking about poor Kitty. I will tell you exactly
what did occur mother; but first I want to say something else. Kitty is
just as nice a girl as we ever had in the house. She has not a low nor a
small thought in her, but she is excitable, and she has high spirits;
and yesterday evening, when I went into the drawing-room, I found her
there alone, and in no end of a fret because one of her brothers in
Ireland had got into trouble. He had written to her; but she would not
tell me what he said. For some extraordinary reason, which none of us
know, it seems that Elma Lewis can get him out of his trouble, I cannot
pretend to explain what this means; but such is the fact. Poor Kitty was
wild to see Elma, and she asked me if I would walk over to her house
with her. Of course I promised to do so, for it was difficult not to be
good-natured to the poor thing."

"At what hour was this, Fred?" interrupted Mrs. Denvers.

"It was rather late, I will own, mother--about half-past nine."

"Go on, my dear boy. What happened then?"

"Now it is Alice's turn to get into your black books," continued Fred,
darting a malicious look at his sister. "She doesn't like Kitty, and
nothing that Kitty can do or say is right in Alice's eyes."

"Fred!" interrupted Alice--"Mother, you have no right to listen to him."

"I am bound to hear both sides of this story, Alice," said Mrs. Denvers.
"Fred shall tell his side first. Go on, my boy."

"When I arranged to go with Kitty, she ran upstairs to the bedroom which
she shares with Alice to get her jacket and hat; but Alice had locked
the door, and wouldn't let her in. I heard her crying out and begging of
Alice to do so, or, at least, if she would not, to throw her hat and
jacket out of the window; but no! good nature was not to be expected
from my amiable sister. So then Kitty ran down again, and said that as
the night was warm it really didn't matter a bit; and she asked me to
lend her a cap. I took one from the peg in the hall, never seeing that
it was one of the college caps with the coat-of-arms in front, and Kitty
popped it on, and off we set. We neither of us gave a thought to her
dress, and we walked as fast as possible, chatting and laughing all the
way. All went well till we got in front of that horrid 'Spotted
Leopard,' and there were several lads round the door. I suppose Kitty's
dress attracted them as well as her pretty face, and all in a minute
they surrounded her. Such awful cheek! But do you think Kitty would put
up with their impudence? I never saw a girl like her! She just aimed a
blow straight at one of the fellows and knocked him over as if he were a
ninepin. I can tell you she had the laugh on her side; and I don't
believe we would have heard anything more about it if that mean,
spiteful old cat, Miss Worrick, hadn't been coming round the corner. She
ran up to Kitty, and took possession of her, and marched her off home,
and put her, forsooth, into Alice's custody. That's the explanation of
Miss Sherrard's letter, mother."

"Dear, dear!" said Mrs. Denvers, "it was a most imprudent thing to do.
But of course, the poor child meant no harm."

"I should rather think she didn't," cried Fred. "The one you ought really
to blame is Alice. No one would have looked at Kitty, nor thought of her
one way or the other, if Alice had let her get her hat and jacket; but
what was she to do when she was locked out of her own bedroom?"

"But she know very well that she was breaking rules," said Mrs. Denvers.
"None of the Middleton girls are allowed to go out so late in the
evening except with a suitable escort; and she certainly ought not to
have gone in the dress you have described, my boy. It was all
thoughtlessness; but she will get into sad trouble, I fear."

"Of course it was thoughtlessness," said Fred; "and the poor thing was
bothered, dreadfully bothered, about that brother in Ireland."

"I see, mother," said Alice, "that you are determined to take Kitty's
part, whatever happens. She has bewitched you, like all the rest of the

"Whom have I bewitched now?" asked Kitty, who entered the room just

"Oh, my poor, dear child," said Mrs. Denvers, "you have got into a
terrible scrape. See this letter which I have just received from your

Kitty eagerly seized the letter. She was looking pale, and not like her
usual self. There were heavy black lines under her eyes. The poor girl
had spent most of her night crying. The thought of Laurie was resting on
her soul; she was very anxious about him, and, in consequence, very

"I always said that I hated England," she cried, coloring as she spoke.
"Oh, I know, dear Mrs. Denvers, that you are a jewel; and as to Fred, he
is no end of a darling; and Mr. Denvers is as nice as a man could be.
But there's Alice, and she doesn't like me; and Miss Worrick can't bear
me; and half the girls at school don't understand me, and, for the
matter of that, I don't care for them; and I don't understand your
stiff, proper English ways. I am far and away too wild for England. In
Ireland we would only laugh at such a thing as happened last night. What
does it matter what sort of dress I go out in and at what hour I go, if
I am doing right all the time? I wanted to do something for Laurie, for
my dear, dear Laurie, who is in terrible trouble. Please, Mrs. Denvers,
let me go home again. Let us both go to Miss Sherrard this morning, and
tell her that it is all no use; Kitty Malone was born wild, and wild she
will remain to the end of the chapter. Let me go home; please let me go

"My poor child, I must not yield to you," said Mrs. Denvers. "You have
been sent to us to be made----"

"Oh, don't begin it," cried Kitty. "Don't begin to talk about all the
things you have got to make me, and which, to be plain, none of you will
ever succeed in doing, for I was not half nor a quarter as wild in
Ireland. I was considered in some ways the steady one of the family; but
here, why, I am provoked every minute of the day, and I--I can't stand
it much longer."

"Well, sit down now and eat your breakfast," said Mrs. Denvers, "for we
must soon hurry off to school. Miss Sherrard will want to see us
immediately after prayers."

Kitty seated herself, but she had little appetite for her food.

"Why don't you eat?" said Fred, who sat next to her. "Let me help you to
some of this porridge; it's jolly well done this morning, and you always
like it, don't you?"

"Yes, yes; but I have got a lump in my throat and I can't swallow,"
answered Kitty. "Thank you all the same, Fred. There are some chocolates
in my room if you like to steal up in the middle of the day in case I am
locked up, as twenty to one I shall be for this misdemeanor. There are
some chocolates and some rock and toffee. You'll find them in my
left-hand drawer in the corner. I spent a whole sovereign on sweets, as
I told you a few days ago."

"Oh, thanks. Kitty, you are a brick," whispered Fred back in return.

"You can take as many as you like, Fred, old boy, for you are a comfort
to me. I'll tell Laurie about you when I go back to Ireland."

"Come, come, my dears, no whispering," said Mrs. Denvers. "Kitty, if
you don't care for your breakfast, perhaps you will go up to your room
and make yourself tidy for school."

"Oh, am I not tidy now?" asked Kitty, jumping up and running to the
glass in the overmantel to survey herself. "By the way, do you like my
frock? it is quite new. Don't you think this crimson cotton with the
white sash very effective? It is cool, and yet it's gay. I belong to the
Tug--Oh! I must not mention that. I never did know such a place for
awful secrets as England. I am drawn up every minute by remembering that
I must not mention something. But how do you like my dress, Mrs.

"Well, dear, I prefer quieter colors; but we will say nothing more about
it just now. Get your hat, Kitty; put on your outdoor shoes and your
gloves, and come down immediately, for it is time for us to start."

As soon as Kitty had left the room, Alice turned to her mother.

"Are you going to encourage her in all her follies?" she asked.

"My dear Alice, I don't encourage her in her follies; but there is no
use in pulling the poor child up short every moment. She expresses
herself quite correctly when she says that she is wild; she is not
broken in. But to break in Kitty Malone too thoroughly might also break
her heart, and that would never do."

"Break her heart! I don't believe she has got one," said Alice. "But,
there, I can't talk any longer on the subject."

It occurred to her that if she started immediately for school she might
call for Bessie Challoner, and tell her what had occurred. Bessie's
sympathy would be very sweet, and Alice determined to secure it if
possible. Accordingly she left the house, and at about a quarter to nine
found herself at Bessie's house. Bessie was standing on the steps
drawing on her gloves.

"Why, Alice, what has brought you?" she cried; "and where is Kitty?"

"Oh, don't mention Kitty, if you don't want to rile me beyond
endurance," said Alice.

"I always do rile you when I mention her," answered Bessie; "but where
is she all the same?"

"With mother--she is coming to school with mother."

"With your mother--to Middleton School! What do you mean?"

"Only that mother has to bring her. She has got into no end of a row."

"Has she? Oh, I am sorry," said Bessie.

"Come out, Bessie," said Alice. "It is a little early to get to school,
but we may as well walk slowly, and I will tell you all about it as we
go along."

This Alice did, enlarging much upon Kitty's dress, her crimson blouse,
her bare arms, the college cap on her head, and her little shoes with
the buckles and rosettes.

"She must have looked very pretty," said Bessie.

"Bessie! you really are enough to distract any one. Don't you see the
impropriety of it? Don't you see that this will get all over the place?
People will say that a Middleton girl dressed so unsuitably, so loudly,
that--Oh, don't you see it?"

"I don't see anything in it except a silly, foolish, girlish act,
uncommonly like Kitty Malone," said Bessie. "You are determined to make
mountains out of molehills, Alice."

"No, I am not," said Alice. "Anyhow," she added in a tone of triumph,
"Miss Sherrard thinks it disgraceful, and so does Miss Worrick. I
suppose you will not go against the opinions of your own mistresses,
will you, Bessie?"

"No, no; only I am sorry," said Bessie.

At that moment the two girls reached the school. Gwin Harley was just
driving up in her pony-chaise, and Elma, as usual, was hovering near.

"Come here, Elma," said Bessie. "We have something to tell you."

"What is it?" asked Elma eagerly.

"It is this," cried Alice. "Kitty Malone has got into the most awful
scrape. She went out last night with Fred in her red blouse--you know
that silk blouse she is so fond of wearing?"

"I know; it is sweetly pretty," said Elma.

"Oh, there you are, praising everything she does! Well, anyhow, she wore
it, and her arms were bare to the elbow, and she stuck one of the
college caps on her head. What will Dr. Butler say? She went with Fred
to see you, by the way, Elma. She seemed in an awful hurry to find you.
She was in trouble about her brother, and she said you could help her."

"Oh, nonsense!" said Elma. But she had an uncomfortable feeling as the
words were said. Her thoughts naturally flew to the eight pounds which
Kitty had lent her. Was it possible that Kitty wanted that lovely, that
beautiful money back again? Elma had felt almost as if she were living
in fairyland from the time that money had been in her possession. She
would part with it whenever the day came with extreme reluctance.

"Well," she said, "I cannot imagine what she wanted with me; but what

"Some rough boys outside the 'Spotted Leopard' were rude to her, and she
knocked one of them down; then Miss Worrick came up and took her back to
our house; and Miss Sherrard has written this morning to say that mother
is to bring Kitty up to school, and that she must have the whole thing
explained. There's a nice state of things!"

At that moment the great gong was heard, and the girls were obliged to
troop into the school. Prayers were conducted as usual in the great
hall, and Elma, Gwin, Alice, and Bessie looked in every imaginable
corner for a sight of Kitty Malone. She was not present, however, and
they were obliged afterward to go to their class-rooms without having
caught sight of her beaming and brilliant face.

Meanwhile Mrs. Denvers and Kitty were waiting for Miss Sherrard in the
head-mistress' private sitting-room. Kitty went to the window and looked

"I like Miss Sherrard," she said, turning to Mrs. Denvers as she spoke.
"I am really sorry to annoy her. It is about a fortnight ago since she
spoke to me in this very room; she spoke so kindly, and told me that I
had got talents. I was astonished, for I thought she meant cleverness,
and I have always been told that I am a dunce; she said that she knew I
had good abilities, and that besides I had plenty of other
talents--nice dress, and good looks." Kitty colored and flashed a
half-defiant, half-roguish glance at Mrs. Denvers. "She also spoke about
my money as a talent. Oh, dear, I felt half-conceited, half-delighted
when I left her, and I made up my mind that I would be good; but it
seems useless, more than useless. Oh, my poor money, my poor money! I
have got none of it left now, or at least scarcely any."

"My dear child, no money!" exclaimed Mrs. Denvers. "Impossible. When
you spoke to me last you had about fifteen pounds. Kitty, my dear, it is
wrong for you to squander money in that fashion."

"But I haven't squandered it, Mrs. Denvers, not really. I have not got
it with me, it is true; but most of it is safe, only I must not talk
about that. There's another secret for you. What an awful place England
is! Oh, dear, dear! I am in a muddle about everything. I can't bear to
stand in this room and remember Miss Sherrard's talk. Fancy her saying
that even my dress was a talent! Now there's something in favor of my
nice red cotton and my dear red silk blouse; and fancy her saying still
more that my looks, my pretty face, was a talent! Mrs. Denvers, do you
think me pretty, very, very, very pretty?"

"No, Kitty dear, not so wonderfully pretty as that; but you have an
attractive face. Miss Sherrard is quite right; beauty is a gift,
although it used to be my old-fashioned idea that the less girls were
told about their looks the better."

"Oh, but that's all exploded, love," cried Kitty. "In these days girls
are told when they are pretty just as much as they are told when they
are clever. Now, I'm not clever, not a bit. I'm a dunce, an out and out
dunce; but at any rate I've got a pretty face, and I promised that I
would use my talents for--for the best--" Here she lowered her face and
a thoughtful and beautiful expression came into the great big eyes. "But
it's no use," she added. "I am bothered entirely every day of my life,
and I am just going from bad to worse."

"Hush, Kitty, you must not talk in that way Hark! I think I hear Miss
Sherrard's step." As Mrs. Denvers spoke the door was slowly opened and
Miss Sherrard, accompanied by Miss Worrick, came in. Miss Sherrard was
just about to speak; but before she could utter a word Kitty rushed to

"I have failed, darling; I have failed entirely," she gasped out, "I
meant to do right, but I did wrong; I have become worse and worse,
although I cannot see the wrong myself. But Miss Worrick has found it
out. I want to give up the school, darling, and to go back to Old
Ireland. They don't think so badly of me in Old Ireland, and they'll let
me dress as I like and go out when I like; and--and, I am not fit for
England, dear. Please write to dad and tell him so--tell him I am a
failure as far as England is concerned. He'll understand, dear old man.
He'll be sorry, but he'll understand. Let me go home again, please, Miss
Sherrard--let me go home!"

"No, Kitty, I shall do nothing of the kind," answered Miss Sherrard.
"You must not kiss me just now, my dear; no, I am not pleased at all.
You did very wrong to go out as late as you did last night. You broke
one of the strictest rules of the school, and have brought discredit
upon us all. Miss Worrick, will you please relate exactly what

Miss Worrick now stood up and made as much as she possibly could of poor
Kitty's little escapade in front of the "Spotted Leopard." The story so
described made anything but a pleasant picture. Miss Sherrard who was
tenacious with regard to the school, and most anxious that each and all
of her girls should bear the highest character for quiet and orderly
behavior, was deeply annoyed.

"Kitty," she said, "I have always been strangely unwilling to punish
you. I have never ceased to remember that you have not been brought up
like most of the girls here--that you have enjoyed a freer, wilder life.
On that account I have tried to be very patient with you, my dear; but I
am sorry to say that I have no alternative now. I must punish you, and
severely. For the next week you are to stay in during the morning
recess, and after school is over will remain here day by day to learn
different tasks which will be set you. Further, my dear--and this, I am
sure, will be the most severe part of your punishment--your school
companions are absolutely forbidden to speak to you, and you must give
your word of honor that you will hold no communication with any of them
until the week has expired."

This very severe sentence made poor Kitty quite collapse. She sat down
on the nearest chair and her rosy face turned pale.

"Oh, I cannot give my word of honor," she gasped. "I must speak. I must
at least speak to Elma Lewis."

"You are not to speak to any of your companions, with the exception of
Alice Denvers, in whose house you live," said Miss Sherrard. "Kitty, if
you disobey me, I shall have to expel you, and then indeed you will be
disgraced for life. My dear you must bow to my authority--you are to
speak to no girl in the school. I trust to your honor to obey me in this
particular. If you are expelled--and it will certainly happen if I find
that you are not keeping your word--you will be branded for life."



After parting with Kitty, Miss Sherrard went back to the school. As she
did so, she said a few words to Miss Worrick. The result of this was
that all the girls were summoned to appear in the great central hall.
When there they were told very briefly--Miss Sherrard standing by her
desk as she spoke--that Miss Malone was in disgrace.

"Miss Malone has done something which obliges me to put her into
Coventry for a week," said the head-mistress. "Her schoolfellows are
forbidden to have any intercourse with her. If she attempts to speak to
any girl belonging to Middleton School, with the exception of Alice
Denvers, in whose house she is living, that girl holds communication
with her at her own peril. Such a girl stands a grave chance of being
expelled from the school."

Miss Sherrard then descended from her platform, and the usual work of
the morning went on.

It may easily be guessed that Kitty Malone, and Kitty Malone only, was
the subject of conversation during recess. What had she done? Why was
Miss Sherrard so very severe on her? It was not often that a Middleton
girl was given such a very terrible punishment. Alice who knew all about
it, and Bessie, who knew a little, were therefore in immense request.
Girls came up to these two in groups to find out what was the matter;
and when they heard from Alice the very glaring account of what Kitty
had really done on the previous night, they listened with open mouths,
giving vent to their feelings in different ways. The larger number
pronounced Kitty's conduct to be the height of all that was disgraceful.

"Is it true," said one, "that she really wore the college cap? Oh, what
will Dr. Butler say if he finds it out? Alice, you cannot mean that she
had bare arms, bare from the elbows? Oh, impossible!"

"But Alice," said another, "tell me, did she really, really, knock one
of those horrid boys down?"

"Yes; like a ninepin, so Fred says," replied Alice. "Oh, it was
disgraceful. Don't talk of it any more; my cheeks burn whenever I think
of it."

"But after all, Alice"--said Gwin, who came up at that moment. Gwin's
tone sounded quiet, stately, penetrating; it rose above the din which
the other girls were making. "After all, Alice, don't you think that you
were to blame too? Why did you not let Kitty get into your room and
hers? If she wanted to go for a walk it was surely natural enough to ask
for her hat and jacket; you refused to give them to her."

"Of course I refused," said Alice, who did not at all wish to share any
of poor Kitty's blame. "Kitty knew perfectly well that she was breaking
one of the school rules as well as one of our home rules by going out at
such an hour--it was between nine and ten o'clock. As to her going
without her hat and jacket, such an idea never entered my wildest
dreams. No; bad as I thought Kitty, I did not think her bad enough for
that. There is no excuse for her. She is well punished, and for my part
I cannot but rejoice."

"For my part," said Gwin gravely, "I am extremely sorry. I like Kitty; I
like her much. She has her faults of course; she is different from any
of the rest of us; she is wild and daring and eccentric; but she is also
the soul of honesty and candor. She is very affectionate and very
generous. She has not been brought up in the least as we have been.
Things we think wrong are not considered wrong by Kitty Malone. As she
herself expresses it, she is a little bit wild. Oh, I am sorry for her,
dreadfully sorry; and I think Miss Sherrard has been too severe. I
wonder at Miss Sherrard. I thought she understood Kitty. She spoke to
mother so kindly about her yesterday; she said there was a great deal of
good in the Irish girl, as she called her; and also said that she was
very glad that I was her friend. Although Miss Sherrard does not know
any of the rules of the Tug-of-war Society, she naturally knows that we
have formed it. She told me that she could not express how pleased she
was at our having asked Kitty to become a member. Girls, I wish I could
speak to Miss Sherrard. I think I will. It will break Kitty's heart to
be kept in Coventry for a week."

"I doubt if she has a heart," said Alice. "It is all very fine to talk
of her affectionate ways; for my part I call them nothing but impetuous.
She is vain, conceited, and selfish; and provided she gets her own way
does not care what prejudices she rides roughshod over. Oh, I have no
patience with her."

"But," said Bessie Challoner, who was standing stolidly by, looking
very determined and very quiet, "what did Kitty want out at that hour?
Kitty with all her faults, would not break the rules unless she had a
strong motive. What could have been the matter?"

"And why did she want to see you, Elma?" said Gwin. "Can you throw any
light on the subject?"

Elma colored first and then turned pale. Several pairs of eyes were
immediately fixed on her; one girl looked at the other, and a few nodded
significantly. Elma observed the looks and turned away in hot fear.

"I don't know what she wanted with me," she muttered.

The rest of the school hours passed as usual, and just before dinner,
when the great school broke up for the day, Kitty was still the subject
for conversation. Gwin lingered a little behind the others, and Bessie
stopped to ask why she was doing so.

"I have almost made up my mind," she said, "to plead with Miss Sherrard
for Kitty."

"Oh Gwin; how noble of you. I respect you, I do from my heart; but I
tell you what. Would it not be better for us to do something of this
sort? Why should not all the Tug-of-war girls plead for her? That would
seem more effective and stronger, would it not? Suppose we wrote a
letter, a sort of round-robin, and sent it to Miss Sherrard, begging of
her to forgive Kitty this time; and taking upon ourselves the
responsibility of her future conduct. Oh, I say, Gwin, could we not do

"It is a splendid thought," said Gwin; "much--much better than my
talking to Miss Sherrard alone. Look here, Bessie; could we not manage
to have a meeting of the Tug-of-war at my house this evening? Oh,
there's Elma; I'll ask her at once. Elma come here."

Elma who was just shouldering her books preparatory to leaving the
school, turned when she heard Gwin's voice.

"What is it, Gwin?" she asked; her manner was a little nervous.

Gwin hastily repeated Bessie's daring suggestion.

"Oh, I'll come of course," said Elma; but there was a certain amount of
apathy in her tone.

"And I will secure Alice; I am getting quite to dislike Alice, though,"
said Bessie.

Gwin promised to write to the other girls at once, and it was finally
arranged that a meeting should be held at Harley Grove that evening
between four and five o'clock.

Elma walked home alone, musing much over the aspect of affairs.

"I wonder what Kitty did want with me," she said to herself. "Doubtless
it had something to do with that money. Kitty was in despair, so it
seems. Oh, there's Fred Denvers; perhaps he can tell me something?
Hullo, Fred!"

Elma stopped; Fred was on his way from college; he was whistling a gay
air, and did not see Elma until he had almost reached her side.

"Hullo, Elma," he answered; "how are you?"

"Oh, I am very well, Fred, thank you; but have you heard about Kitty

"How everybody does cry out Kitty Malone; it will soon be sung by the
birds in the air," said Fred; "Kitty Malone! Kitty Malone! What's the
matter with her now?"

"Oh, she has got into the most awful scrape; of course you know what
occurred last night?"

"Rather!" said Fred. "I was with her. I say, Elma, she is about the
pluckiest girl I ever met. Didn't she hit out straight from the
shoulder; and didn't that fellow go down like a ninepin! I don't believe
he is able to see out of his eye to-day. Why, that little hand of hers
is as hard as iron. Who taught her the art of boxing like that? She's a
born fencer! She's a splendid girl. I never met any one like her."

Elma did not feel so much annoyed at this praise of Kitty as Alice would
have been; but all the same it was scarcely gratifying to her. After
reflecting for a moment, during which Fred was preparing to continue his
swinging pace toward his home, she said suddenly: "But where was she
going, Fred?"

Fred's big blue eyes lit up with a sudden light of intelligence.

"What a fool I am!" he said. "You perhaps can throw light on this
mystery. She wanted to see you, Elma. I cannot imagine what about. You
know how fond she is of her brother Laurie? Well, it seems that Laurie
got into some sort of scrape; and Kitty, poor girl, she was in a way
about it; fretting like any thing, and she said no one could help her
but you. Can you tell me what she wanted with you? She was in a rare
hurry to get to your house."

"Of course I cannot tell," answered Elma. "Who could be responsible for
the vagaries of Kitty Malone? I thought I would ask you. I thought
perhaps you would know. Of course they are talking about it at school,
and they are wondering what I can have to do with it. It is anything but
pleasant for me I can tell you."

"Oh, you'll manage well enough; you'll fight your own battles. Well,
what have they done with her at the school? You look quite mysterious."

"I forgot I had never mentioned it to you. They have sent her to
Coventry; Miss Sherrard has done it. We are none of us to speak to her
for a week."

"Whew!" said Fred, rounding his lips for a prolonged whistle. "Well,
that won't bother Kitty much; I don't suppose talking to you would be
much of a loss to her."

"But you don't understand, Fred. It's the disgrace, and Gwin Harley
thinks it will break her heart; and--But I must not tell you any more; I
must hurry home."

"Poor Kitty! Anyhow, there's no embargo put on my talking to her," said
Fred to himself. "Poor old Kit, poor old girl; I'll make it up to her if
I can."

Fred ran home as fast as he could, and Elma continued her way.

"There's no doubt of it," she said to herself; "she wants that money.
She will manage, Coventry or not, to ask for it. She promised me
faithfully that she would never tell that I borrowed it from her; but,
being an Irish girl, she is scarcely likely to keep her word. Now that
she is in trouble for some unknown cause, she is certain to blab it
out. Did she not say herself that she could never keep a secret? Oh
dear, what an awful mess I have got into. If it gets to be known that I
borrowed eight pounds from Kitty I shall be expelled. If there is a rule
that the Middleton governors are strict about, it is that by which the
girls are forbidden to borrow money from one another; and eight pounds
is such a large, large sum. All my future will be ruined if this is
known. I had better give her back all the money that is left, and at
once. It would be the safest plan. I can at any rate let her have seven
sovereigns; and perhaps if she has that, she will not say anything
whatever about the matter. How miserable I shall feel without it; but
anything, anything is better than the dreadful fact getting to Miss
Sherrard's ears that I broke one of the strictest rules of the school,
and borrowed eight pounds from Kitty. The Tug-of-war Society would never
again have anything to do with me. I should have the poorest chance of
remaining in the school. It would get to Aunt Charlotte's ears. Yes,
yes; all my future depends on keeping this thing dark. I must get rid of
that dreadful money as quickly as possible. I thought my luck was going
to turn; but it is far too good to be true that I might keep such a
large sum of money safely. Poor Kitty! yes of course, I'm sorry for her;
but she is certain to tell on me. She would think nothing of getting me
into the most terrible scrape. I--I am bound to think of myself first."

At this point in her meditations Elma reached the house in Constantine
Road. She ran up the steps, let herself in with a latchkey, and went
straight to her room. She opened the drawer where she kept Kitty's
precious sovereigns and put in her hand to take out the little paper
parcel. More than once since she had possessed this money had Elma
examined that little packet, getting up early in the morning to gloat
over it, looking at it the last thing at night; but always taking care
that Carrie should be sound asleep. It gave her comfort, the comfort
almost of a miser to gaze at her gold. She used to forget at these
supreme moments that the gold was in reality not hers at all. She used
to forget everything but the delightful sense of possession. She felt as
if she could never spend the money, as if she must hoard it and hoard it
just for the mere pleasure of looking at it. She knew the exact corner
of the drawer where she kept it; no one ever dared to meddle with Elma's
drawers. She kept the rest of the family more or less in awe of her. As
to Maggie, she was honest as the day. But what was the matter? Search as
she would she could not find the precious little packet. She looked
frantically here, there, and everywhere. Soon she had removed the drawer
from its case and had tumbled all the contents on her bed. Nowhere was
the money to be found. Elma's face turned white as a sheet. She trembled
from head to foot. In the midst of her meditations Carrie entered the

"My dear Elma, what is the matter?" she cried.

A glance had shown her what was really wrong. A smile crossed her face.
She walked deliberately across the room and flung herself on her bed.

"How hot it is," she said with a pant.

"Dear me, Carrie, why are you so incorrigibly lazy?" said Elma. "Not
that I care--I am in dreadful trouble I------"

"You look like it," said Carrie. "What is the matter?"

"I am looking for some money."

"Money? What money are you likely to have?"

"Well, it so happens that I have some--a good deal. Carrie have you seen

"Have I seen what?" asked Carrie in a provokingly drawling voice.

"Why, my money. How did you think I got that dress, that dress which you
are racking through at such a furious pace?"

Carrie was attired in the pale blue nun's-veiling. It was Carrie's way
to have a dress and to wear it morning, noon, and night, destroying all
its freshness. The nun's-veiling was already dirty and draggled-looking.

"How do you think I got that dress that you made such a fuss about if I
had not money to pay for it?"

"I am sure I couldn't tell, and what's more, I didn't care," said
Carrie. "What is vexing you now, Elma? Oh! what a commotion you are
making in your poor drawer!"

"I have just lost seven sovereigns and--Carrie, I see by your face that
you do know something about it. Is it possible that you stole the

"How dare you accuse me of such a thing?" said Carrie, flaring up in
apparently most righteous indignation--- in reality she was enjoying
herself immensely. She had made up her mind not to tell Elma the truth
at present. By and by she would tell, after she had well frightened her
sister, but certainly not yet.

"I know nothing whatever about it," she said, caring little for the lie
which she was telling. "I am sorry you have lost it; but how did you get

Elma was silent, shutting up her lips tightly. The dinner-gong sounded,
and the girls went down to their midday meal.

Carrie soon perceived that Elma was in real trouble. With all her low,
idle, careless, and unprincipled ways, at the bottom of her heart she
was fond of her sister. She made up her mind to visit Sam Raynes that
evening and get him to return the money.

"Poor old Elma," she said to herself. "I don't want to be too hard on
her. It is not the fun I expected when she looks at me with such
miserable eyes. It would certainly not do for her to get talking to

"You leave the matter to me. I may have a clue," she said, when dinner
was over. "But rest assured on one point, Maggie has nothing to do with
it, nor has mother."

Here Carrie ran upstairs, to put on her things preparatory to returning
to her pupils.

Elma was now alone. The hour was three o'clock. At half-past four she
was to meet Gwin Harley and the rest of the Tug-of-War girls. In the
meantime she knew she could not possibly have any peace of mind until
the seven sovereigns were discovered.

Mrs. Lewis had gone up as usual to her room to lie down. She had a
headache and was in very low spirits. Elma glanced at her once or twice
and determined not to worry her; but Maggie she considered her lawful
prey. She had given Carrie no promise, and felt sure that Maggie and
Carrie between them were at the bottom of the mystery. She determined to
go into the kitchen and terrify Maggie into confession.

That young woman was busy giving sundry touches to the charming toque
with which she intended to electrify her young man on the following

"Maggie," said Elma, "I wish to speak to you."

"Oh lor! miss, how you startled me," cried Maggie. She jumped up as she
spoke, dropping Kitty's violets to the floor. They were so natural, so
beautiful, so exactly like the real flowers, that more than one girl had
remarked upon them, and among these had been Elma. As they lay on the
by-no-means-too-clean kitchen floor, she stooped now to pick them up.

"Where did you get these?" she asked in a sharp voice.

"Oh, Miss Helma, they're mine, and you have no right to 'em," was the
quick reply.

"Where did you get them, Maggie? You're a bad girl; you must have stolen

"I steal 'em! I like that," said Maggie, turning first crimson and then
very white. "They was give to me by the young Irish lady."

"By Miss Malone, Miss Kitty Malone?"

"Yes, miss; the prettiest young lady I ever clapped eyes on; she give
'em to me herself."

"Look here, Maggie," said Elma, "the violets don't matter. Let us talk
of something else. Do you know anything about some money which I keep in
my drawer upstairs? Now look me straight in the eyes. I miss that money,
and you know I can call in the police and have your boxes searched. Do
you know anything about it? If you'll tell me the truth I'll be merciful
to you. Last night I had seven sovereigns in my drawer, but now they are
gone. Did you touch them, Maggie? Tell me the truth and at once."

"I touch your money, miss! I didn't know you had any, that I didn't."

Poor Maggie's face was a study. Perplexity, despair, indignation swept
over it in a sort of terror.

"Miss Helma, you're cruel to talk to me like that," she cried. "Me touch
your money! No, that I didn't. Oh, miss, is it the money Miss Malone
come about? Is it gone?"

A wild hope flashed through Elma's brain, to be discarded the next
moment. Could Kitty have come to the house and visited her room and
taken away her own money herself?

"What do you mean about Miss Malone?" she cried.

"She come here miss. Oh, Miss Helma, don't look at me so scornfully. She
came here yesterday and asked for you and when I told her you was out
she writ a letter, and said you was to have it the moment you come in,
and that it was as important as the Bank of England. Yes, that she
did--and she laid it on the blotter in the dining-room. She was the
prettiest young lady I ever set eyes on, and she took them violets out
of her cap and give them to me. She was in an awful way, and said she
wanted to see you on a most important matter. I don't know what she
wrote in the letter; but it may have been about the money, miss."

"Of course it was about the money," said Elma, who felt more and more
uncomfortable each moment; "but where is the letter, Maggie? Why did I
not get it?"

"You ask Miss Carrie that, miss. She come in, and--. Oh, but I mustn't
tell any more."

"But you must and shall," said Elma. She took hold of Maggie fiercely by
her arm, dragged her forward to the light, and looked her full in the
eyes. "Now, tell me every single thing you know, or I'll summon the
police this moment," she said.

Thus adjured, Maggie fell on her knees and made an ample confession.



Elma felt nearly driven to distraction. All her future depended on the
character which she was able to maintain at school. She did not, and she
knew it, belong to the best class of girls who attended Middleton
School. Elma's father was a man of bad reputation. He had long ago
disgraced his family, and had been obliged to go to Australia. Mrs.
Lewis was better born than her husband; and when trouble came, a sister,
who had been much shocked at her marrying Lewis, came to her aid. She
did not do much for her; but she did something. This sister, a certain
Mrs. Steward, the wife of a clergyman in Buckinghamshire, promised to
look after Elma, who was the cleverest and most presentable of the two
girls. Mrs. Lewis begged that Elma should not be taken away from her;
and Mrs. Steward, angry with herself for what she termed her folly, had
yet yielded to her sister's entreaties. She said she would give Elma
what would be better than a fortune--namely, a first-class education;
and if, when her education was finished, she showed intelligence, and,
above all, a good, sterling, moral character, she would do what she
could to place her in life. Her present intention was, after Elma had
gone through a course of instruction at Middleton School, to send her
to Girton, thus enabling her by and by to take a really good position as

All these things Elma knew well. She was an ambitious girl; she
earnestly desired to secure a good position for herself in life. She
hated her sister Carrie's ways, and detested the grumbling, weak sort of
character which she could not but see that her mother possessed. All the
same, she was not really scrupulous nor high-principled; it was only
that the little mean ways and the petty shifts which went on in the
small house in Constantine Road sorely fretted her. Her intercourse with
girls like Gwin Harley and Bessie Challoner could not but raise her
standard. Carrie's manners and ways disgusted her more and more each

Now, as she put on her hat and prepared to walk to Harley Grove, she
could not help thinking, with great bitterness, of the unlooked-for
calamity which had come upon her. She was naturally intensely selfish,
and had no idea of sacrificing herself on this occasion. No matter to
what subterfuge she must be obliged to stoop, she would never, never,
let any of the Middleton girls know that she had broken the rule of the
school, and borrowed money from Kitty. For a Middleton girl to borrow
money at all was a black crime; but for any one to take advantage of
Kitty's innocence, her _naïveté_, her wild, daring, reckless ways would
make the crime all the blacker. Elma, were such a sin to be discovered,
would be, if not expelled from the school, which was extremely likely,
at any rate tabooed on the spot by all the nice girls who went there.
Above all things, she longed for and esteemed popularity. Such a course
of treatment would be intolerable. As a matter of course, Mrs. Steward
would be told of her niece's transaction. Mrs. Steward would say, "Like
father, like daughter." She would cease to patronize Elma. The fees for
her schooling would be withdrawn, and Elma herself must sink to the
level which Carrie had long ago reached.

"It cannot be," she thought; "whatever happens, I must keep this
miserable story from the ears of the girls and mistresses. At the
present moment I am fairly safe. Wild and reckless as Kitty is, she
would not dare to hold intercourse with any of the Middleton girls now.
Alice is the only one allowed to speak to her, and Alice she will
certainly not confide in, for she so cordially hates her. Yes, I know
perfectly well what I am going to Harley Grove for. Gwin is full of
sympathy for Kitty; so is Bessie Challoner. Romantic and silly they both
are; but Alice at least will be on my side. I will oppose the petition
which the Tug-of-war girls intend to send to Miss Sherrard. Kitty must
not be set at liberty until I can return her the money. Carrie has it,
beyond doubt. What she has done with it I don't know; but most likely I
shall be able to give it back to Kitty to-morrow."

Having made up her mind, Elma walked briskly forward. She would she felt
certain, be very unpopular if she opposed the vote which, unless she did
something to prevent it, would be carried by the majority in Kitty's
favor. She was anxious to see some of the other Tug-of-war girls. It was
all-important that a majority should be against Kitty, not for her.

When she arrived at the avenue which led to Harley Grove she met Alice,
and a moment later two other girls of the names of Matilda and Jessie
Forbes came pantingly up.

"Oh, do wait for us," they cried, seeing Elma and Alice linger for a
moment at the gate.

"Alice," said Elma, "before they join us I want to speak to you. Are you
for Kitty, or against her?"

"How do you mean?" asked Alice in some wonder.

"I mean, are you going to vote that this petition should be sent to Miss
Sherrard or are you not?"

"I am going to vote against it, of course," said Alice, with a short

"Well, I am on your side; I wish to say so."

"You, Elma! I thought you would never oppose Gwin Harley. You are one of
those people who know where their bread is buttered. Why do you take my
part on this occasion?"

"Because," said Elma, flushing deeply, for, hardened little sinner as
she was, she had not perfect control over her emotions--"because I think
Kitty richly deserves what she has got. It would never do to have this
sort of thing going on at the school. But look here, Alice, if the
petition is not to be sent to Miss Sherrard, we must try and have a
majority on our side. Why should we not secure Matilda and Jessie

"I never thought of that," said Alice; "but really, Elma, now I come to
consider it, as far as I personally am concerned, I don't much care. It
matters very little to me whether Kitty gets out of Coventry or not. I
shall have to speak to her however the tide turns. You do seem strangely
eager on the subject."

"When I join a certain side I don't wish it to be the losing one," said
Elma, as calmly as she could. "Hullo, Matilda, how out of breath you
are! You need not have run so fast; you could see that we were waiting
for you."

"Well, you see," said Jessie Forbes, who was also panting as she came
up, "we have never yet been to Harley Grove. Is it not a very grand
place, Elma? Was it not kind of Gwin to ask us, and--Oh, of course, we
are full of sympathy for that poor, dear Kitty Malone."

"Why do you pity her?" asked Elma coldly.

"Because the poor darling didn't know any better. Does it not seem silly
to make such a fuss about such a trifle? I can't imagine why Miss
Sherrard has been so very severe."

"I don't agree with you at all," said Elma. "I think Kitty richly
deserves her punishment. Of course," she added, "I don't want to be
really hard on her; but unless she is made to feel shame when she does
an _outré_ and extraordinary thing like she did last night, she will go
on doing similar deeds, and get the whole school into disgrace."

"Oh dear, yes," said Jessie, "that is perfectly true, and I should not
like father to know that one of the Middleton girls had been spoken to
by a rude boy in the street. I really believe he would take us both from
the school."

"If you think so," said Elma, "you ought to oppose the petition."

"Are you going to, Elma?"


"But you are a friend of hers, are you not?"

"Of course I am. I am very fond of her."

"And you oppose it for her good?"

"Undoubtedly; altogether for her good."

"And Miss Sherrard does know what is right," said Matilda, in a
thoughtful voice. "Miss Sherrard was never a severe teacher. We all love
her dearly."

"And she is very fond of Kitty," said Elma. "I know that for a fact."

"Yes, and so do I know it to my cost," said Alice shrugging her
shoulders. She walked up the avenue as she spoke. Jessie ran after her.

"What side are you going to take Alice?" she asked.

"Miss Sherrard's," replied Alice shortly.

Meanwhile Elma had slipped her hand gently through Matilda's arm, and
looking up into the face of the taller girl, said in her most
insinuating voice:

"I do think, painful as it is, that we ought to take Miss Sherrard's
side. Gwin is so enthusiastic, poor dear, and so is Bessie Challoner,
that they are certain to be led away by their feelings. Now, Miss
Sherrard is the most sympathetic and kindest of head-mistresses, she
would not have given Kitty so severe a punishment without reason."

"That is true," said Matilda. "Only, of course, you see, Elma, I don't
want to go against Gwin. I am so terribly anxious to become her friend.
I admire her so immensely. I don't think there's any other girl in the
school to equal her."

"I should think there isn't," said Elma with sudden warmth.

"I am sorry she has taken Kitty Malone's part--poor Kitty! We certainly
all think her charming; but if father were to hear of it!"

"You would not like him to take you from the school now," said Elma,
"just when you have such a good chance of the literature scholarship?"

"I should think not; it would be a dreadful blow. But he would be--oh, I
cannot tell you how shocked he would be!"

"And he would be more shocked, would he not, if he heard that you had
taken Kitty's part, and had signed the petition against Miss Sherrard?"

"Of course, I never thought of that. I declare Elma, you are clever. I
will mention what you say to Jessie, and tell her that she must go
against the petition."

Elma felt that she had won her point. There would be at least four girls
against Gwin's motion, and probably others would follow their example.

When the girls arrived at the house, they were shown immediately into
Gwin's pretty private study. Gwin was standing by the open window. She
had a book in her hand, but was not reading it. She was looking
anxiously out. There was a perplexed expression on her fine face, and
her large deep gray eyes were full of emotion.

"I am so glad you have come," she said when she saw the girls. "I hope
all the Tug-of-war girls will be present. The more I think of this
affair the more certain I am that it will be the ruin of Kitty Malone."

Elma looked sympathizingly at her friend, Alice frowned, Matilda and
Jessie did not know where to look, nor what to say. If they had not met
Alice and Elma they would have certainly gone heart and soul with Gwin
in the matter.

"Sit down, won't you, girls?" said Gwin. "Tea will be ready in a
moment--are you not thirsty?"

"Yes, it's a very hot day," said Jessie, somewhat timidly.

"And you had a long walk; but it was really kind of you to come. We
won't do anything until some more of the Tug-of-war Society arrive. But
perhaps my letters have not reached the others."

"Oh, I know the Hodgsons are coming," said Matilda Forbes, "because I
met them."

"I am glad of that. Ah, and here is Bessie."

Bessie Challoner at this moment entered the room. She shook hands with
the Forbes girls, whom she had not met before that day, nodded to Alice,
and going up to Gwin began to whisper in her ear.

Gwin looked more anxious.

"All the same I am determined to do it," she said.

"I am certain Miss Sherrard will be very angry," said Bessie. "Had you
really better, Gwin?"

"I certainly had better. I am not afraid of Miss Sherrard, nor twenty
Miss Sherrards, when I think I have a righteous cause. She does not know
Kitty as well as I know her. Ah, here you are," she said as, the
Hodgsons, two rather dowdy, but affectionate girls, came quickly into
the room.

"What's this Gwin?" cried Mary, the elder; "something wrong with that
Irish girl? What can be up?"

"I will explain everything to you after we have had tea. Ah, here it

Gwin walked to the table, where the footman now placed tea and cakes,
and began to dispense the refreshments. The girls stood round her
chatting, munching cake and drinking tea. The afternoon sun poured into
the room. Outside it was cool and shady. Gwin went to the window and
drew down the green venetian blinds.

"Now, that is cooler," she said. "Have you all had enough?"

"Yes, thank you," answered one or two.

Gwin rang the bell, and the servant came to remove the tea equipage.

"And now to business," said Gwin. "What I briefly propose to do is this:
Kitty Malone is in trouble. As a member of the Tug-of-war Society, the
rest of the society is bound to support her. I am most anxious that she
should get all the support in our power. She is not like any of us; she
has been differently brought up. What she did last night was the result
of impetuosity and overzeal. She was troubled about her brother, and for
some extraordinary reason thought that Elma could help her. Elma, can
you throw any light on the matter?"

"None whatever," answered Elma in a stout voice.

"She went out with the college cap on and without her jacket, and for
that reason some rough, rude boys talked to her, and she knocked one of
them down in trying to defend herself, and so got into a terrible
scrape. Miss Worrick, it seems, witnessed the transaction, and she told
Miss Sherrard. Miss Sherrard was very much annoyed, and has put Kitty
into Coventry for a week. We are none of us allowed, on pain of instant
dismissal, to speak to her. Now, my proposal is this; that we write a
little petition, and each of us sign it, and then that I take it to Miss
Sherrard. I want to ask Miss Sherrard to allow the members of the
Tug-of-war Society to speak to Kitty. I want to ask her to allow us all
to do our best during her week's punishment to show her that this wild
and erratic way will not go down in England; I want her to allow us to
do our utmost by kindness to overcome Kitty's wild nature. I have
scarcely any doubt, girls, that Miss Sherrard will approve of our

"Well, I for one approve of it most heartily," said Bessie Challoner. "I
believe severity would ruin a girl like Kitty. You cannot drive her; she
must be led."

"Thank you, Bessie. I knew you would feel with me. And now, girls, I
will put this thing to the vote. All who are in favor of the scheme hold
up their hands."

The Forbes girls looked tremblingly, with flushed cheeks and glittering
eyes, at Elma and Alice. Their hands went half up and then dropped again
into their laps. It was the fear of their father's displeasure which
prevented their going altogether with Gwin. The Hodson girls immediately
held up their hands; but Alice, Elma, Matilda, and Jessie plainly showed
that they did not mean to sign the petition.

"Is this possible?" said Gwin in a vexed voice. "I surely thought there
was not--Elma, you must be at the head of this. What is your reason for
not joining us?"

Alice looked as if she were about to speak; but Elma jumped at once to
her feet.

"I don't join you because I do not agree with you, dear Gwin. I believe
Miss Sherrard knows a great deal better than we do what is good for a
girl. I am certain she will be much annoyed by our interfering; and for
my part I think a week in Coventry will do Kitty Malone no harm."

"I am surprised and disappointed in you, Elma," said Gwin, "Alice, what
is your feeling?"

"Oh, I absolutely agree with Elma," said Alice. "I think it would be a
rare comfort to take any means to subdue and crush out of sight, even
for one week, that most obnoxious person Kitty Malone. The unfortunate
part is that I shall have to do with her even during her week in

"But surely," said Gwin, in some astonishment, "you two Forbes girls can
have nothing to say against Kitty. It cannot injure you in any way that
we should plead for the mitigation of her punishment."

"Well, the fact is this," said Jessie, standing up as she spoke, and
looking very miserable. "Father is most particular; he is almost faddy,
you know, Gwin--and if he ever heard that a girl from the school did
exactly what Kitty did last night--I mean that she went out so late
against rules, and was dressed in such a queer way, and was obliged to
knock down a rude boy in order to protect herself--why, I think he would
take us from school. Then if father also heard that we had gone against
Miss Sherrard's authority, we--Oh, I cannot say it exactly as I ought;
but Gwin, I would rather not sign that paper."

"All right," answered Gwin in some vexation.

"Then my scheme falls through. Four against and four for. We have only
one other member of the Tug-of-war except poor Kitty herself, and she, I
am afraid, cannot come, as she is ill with a bad cold. Well, I shall see
Miss Sherrard alone and must take my chance."

"Yes, if you please; that would be much the best plan," said Jessie,
sinking down into her seat with a sigh of relief.

Soon afterward the little party at Gwin Harley's house separated. There
was a feeling of restraint over them which Gwin's guests seldom
experienced. They were not at one. It was impossible to talk any longer
on the subject with which their hearts were full. Gwin was anxious to
prepare the exact arguments she intended to use with Miss Sherrard. She
looked relieved when Elma made the first move of departure. Alice jumped
up also with alacrity.

"Good-by Gwin," she said. "I think you are doing wrong to interfered in
this matter. A little punishment will do Kitty Malone no more harm than
it does any other girl. Of course it's not pleasant; punishment never
is. Good-by; take my advice and allow Kitty Malone to shift for

Gwin made no reply at all to this. She gave Alice a cold nod, and the
four girls who now formed the opposition left the house.

"Good-by to all chance of my friendship with Gwin," said Jessie Forbes
rather miserably as they walked up the avenue.

"Oh, never mind, Jessie, you did the right thing," said Alice. "What is
the good of toadying? I hate toadies. If you are ever to become a
friend of Gwin Harley's you will see that she hates them also, although,
perhaps I am wrong to say that." Here she glanced somewhat significantly
at Elma. Elma colored and turned her head aside.

When they reached the top of the avenue the girls turned each to go
their several ways. Elma hurried home as fast as she could.

"I must get that money by hook or by crook this evening," she said to
herself. "I wonder where Carrie has hidden it. Bad as she is, she would
certainly not steal it from me. Oh, it is safe of course, and I must get
it and manage to convey it to Kitty to-night, and then as far as I am
concerned I don't care how soon the poor thing gets out of Coventry."

When Elma reached home the first person she saw was Carrie. Carrie was
standing on the steps of the shabby little villa in Constantine Road
talking to a fiery-haired young man.

Elma never condescended to have anything to do with Raynes. Giving him a
very cold nod now, she was about to enter the house when Carrie caught
her arm and stopped her.

"Why don't you speak to Sam?" she said. "Sam, this is my sister, Elma."

"How do you do?" said Elma. "I am sorry I cannot wait now; I want to see

"There's no use in your going in if it's mother you want," pursued
Carrie. "She has gone out for the evening. Mrs. Duncan has asked her to
tea. I am glad of it. A little change will do her good."

"I won't keep you now, Car," said Raynes, turning to Carrie and giving
her a somewhat clumsy nod. He looked askance at Elma, and the next
moment had clattered down the steps, and, turning the corner, was out of

"What a creature!" said Elma. "I wonder you have anything to do with
him, Carrie. I think, even for my sake, seeing that Aunt Charlotte is
doing so much for me--"

"Now stop that," said Carrie; "I won't have a word of abuse against Sam.
He suits me very well. I'm not a fine lady, and I never mean to be a
fine lady. I shall be very comfortable as his wife some day, and I don't
want you to abuse him. Whether you like him or not, he is going to be
your brother-in-law and--Why, Elma, how tired you look!"

"I am tired and worried, and I want to speak to you," said Elma.

"To speak to me?" answered Carrie, a little alarm coming into her voice
in spite of herself. "What for? Anything special? Are you prepared to
make me a present of another dress; I could do with a white one now the
weather is getting so very hot, and Sam would like me in white. White
with pink ribbons would be a change, or mauve--mauve ribbons look so
sweetly cool with white."

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