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Wild Kitty by L. T. Meade

Part 6 out of 6

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away to get the things that poor Elma requires."

During the course of that day it could scarcely be said that Kitty
Malone was without luggage; for two new trunks presently made their
appearance, full to the brim with all sorts of dainty clothing both for
Elma and herself.

"Elma," she cried, dancing into the sick-room, "I have got two of the
most charming hats you ever laid eyes on. Mine is sweetly becoming to
me, and I am sure yours will suit you equally well; they are both big
white leghorns, with great bunches of black feathers in front. Won't
they look sweet with our new muslin dresses? Mine is pink, but I thought
blue would suit you best. I expect dad to-morrow evening at the latest;
and I am going to meet him at the station in my new hat and dress. There
will be no doubt about his forgiving me when he sees me in them."

Just then there was a tap at the door, and Kitty, rushing to open it,
found a telegram awaiting her. She tore it open and read the following

"Starting from Dublin by the night-boat, with you to-morrow.--DENNIS

"There, didn't I say he was a darling--the best, best darling in the
world?" cried the excited girl. "Oh, won't he have a _caed mille
afaltha;_ won't he? Elma, I am almost beside myself."

"I don't know what you are talking about," said Elma. "What do you mean
by those queer words?"

"_Caed mille afaltha_? Oh, they are the Irish for a hundred thousand
welcomes. We put them over our arches and everything when people are
coming home. Oh, they don't speak a half nor a quarter of what our
hearts are full of. Oh father, father, the joy--the joy your poor little
Kitty feels at the thought of seeing your darling face again!"

That night again Kitty lay awake, although Elma slept. Strange thoughts,
strange and new, were coursing through the young girl's brain.
Everything had been a failure, and yet she felt bright and happy and
like her old self once more.

"It is the thought of seeing father," she said to herself. "I was never
fit for England. England and its ways will never suit me, never, never;
but when I see father I shall be all right. Oh, to think that he is
really coming, and that Laurie is saved! I must, of course, tell father
everything; but he won't be angry with Laurie when I tell him the story
in my own way."

Accordingly early the next morning Kitty dressed herself in the
fascinating leghorn hat and slipped on the pink muslin dress, and, with
a bunch of roses at her belt, sallied forth to the railway station. She
soon found the right platform, and paced up and down in a fever of
impatience waiting for the train. As she was doing so, flaunting her
pretty little person in a somewhat aggressive way and causing some
prim-looking ladies to gaze at her with anything but approval, a hand
was laid on her arm, and turning she saw, to her amazement, the
extremely indignant faces of Miss Sherrard and Miss Worrick.

"Well, Kitty, after this!" said Miss Sherrard,

"Oh, please don't scold me just now!" said Kitty, with a little gasp;
"wait until he comes."

"Until who comes?"

"Father. I am expecting him by this train."

"I am relieved at that," said Miss Sherrard. "I shall have a painful
tale to tell him."

"So you may, Miss Sherrard. You may tell him everything; but please let
me tell him my story first. You must, you shall; I insist."

The girl's eyes were flashing; she was trembling all over. Just when her
happiness seemed to be at its height, for Miss Sherrard and Miss Worrick
to appear!

"Oh, and there's the train!" she cried. "He will be here in a minute;
let me see him first. Oh, the train, is stopping, and there he is; I see
him at the very end; there he is with his white hair and--let me go, let
me go!"

She rushed from Miss Sherrard's retaining arm and flew up the platform,
and a moment later the owner of the pink dress and leghorn hat was being
clasped tightly, tightly to the breast of the magnificent-looking old
gentleman, almost a king in his way, who had suddenly stepped on to the

"Father, you'll protect me--they have come, they have followed me. You
will let me tell you my story first? Father! father! oh, feel how my
heart is beating!"

"Why, Kitty, asthore; Kitty, Kitty, my own. What is it, Kit? I say, Kit,
what is wrong?"

"Nothing, nothing now that you have come; but let me tell you my story

"Your story first--why, of course, Kit."

"They are there; speak to them; tell them you will see them afterward.
We are staying at the Sign of the Red Doe; tell them that you will see
me first and then you will see them."

"Introduce me to them, Kitty, and calm yourself. Come, Kitty, come."

"Yes, father, yes; it is all right."

Kitty's terrible excitement subsided; leaning on her father's arm, she
approached the platform where Miss Sherrard and Miss Worrick, both
looking rather confused, were standing.

"This is my father, Miss Sherrard," said Kitty, introducing Dennis
Malone, who took off his hat with a grand sweep.

"I am relieved to see you," began Miss Sherrard.

"Pardon me one moment, madam," said Malone; "but Kitty here would like
to tell me her story first. You are her school-mistress, the lady with
whom I have had the pleasure of corresponding?"

"I am, and I have a very, very painful tale to tell you."

"You shall tell me your story afterward."

Here the owner of Castle Malone caught sight of Miss Worrick, and gave
her a bow even more deferential than he had bestowed upon the

"I am sorry to put you off even for a few moments, ladies," he said;
"but you see this little girl, she--she must come first. However badly
she has behaved, she--she is my only girl, you understand, and I--I must
hear her story first. Will you meet us both within an hour at the Sign
of the Red Doe? Then everything can be explained."

"I wonder if that dreadful girl is to go unpunished in the end," said
Miss Worrick to Miss Sherrard, as they both slowly went to the nearest
hotel to wait until the time arranged to meet Kitty and her father at
the Sign of the Red Doe."

"It seems like it," said Miss Sherrard. "But what a splendid old man!
Perhaps after all it may be the best thing for Kitty Malone not to
punish her, Miss Worrick."

"Oh, Miss Sherrard! I cannot approve of your very lax opinions. Surely
punishment for such terrible wrong-doing--"

"Yes, she behaved badly, but not so badly as Elma, I think we must wait
to hear the whole story explained; at present we are more or less in the

"And now, Kit, what is it?" said the squire, when he and his daughter
were ensconced in the little sitting-room at the Sign of the Red Doe.

"Do you mind if I give you one of my real big hugs first?" said Kitty.

"To be sure not, alanna--oh, acushla macree! it is like flowers in May
to see you again."

"There! I am better now," said Kitty, after she had bestowed one of her
most violent hugs upon her father. "Let me sit on your knee and I will
tell you everything."

At the best it was a sad story, a story full of wrong-doing, full of
impulse, full of passion; and although Kitty tried hard to make Elma's
part of it as light as possible, the squire's eyes blazed and a
thundering note came into his voice as he listened.

"That's a bad girl, Kitty," he cried; "and you ought to have nothing to
do with her."

"But that's exactly it, father--that's what I am coming to. If you
won't let me have anything to do with Elma, why--why, you must punish me
terribly. I want you to let me--to let me make Elma my real friend."

"That sort of girl your friend? Not if I know it," said the squire.

"But, please, father, do let me plead for her. I have done her injury,
and she--she has never had advantages like the rest of us."

Then Kitty began to coax, and few, very few people could coax like this
Irish girl. Not only with her voice, but with her eyes, with a smile
here and a frown there, she set herself to bring old Squire Malone to
her way of thinking. And as always from the time she was a tiny child
she had been able to twist this old lion round her little finger, so she
twisted him now.

"You have got to do it, father," she said at last. "You have got to
forgive Laurie, and you have got to forgive Elma, and----"

"Bless the boy, it was just like his recklessness, Why didn't he come
and tell me? He wasn't afraid of his old father, was he?"

"Well, father, you know you are very fierce when you like."

"Tut! tut! Kitty, don't you begin to scold."

"No; I won't--not if you yield to me. Full and free forgiveness for the
whole three of us; for your Kit----"

"Bless you, child, I have forgiven you already."

"Ay, didn't I know it--didn't I say he was a dear old thing? Now,
Laurie--you won't say a word to him?"

"I'll give him a right good scolding."

"Why, then, dad, your scolding never did anybody any harm; your bark is
worse than your bite, you know; but there will be no school in England
for him, that's what I mean."

"Well, it doesn't seem to have succeeded with you, asthore."

"No more it did. Why, it was breaking the heart in me entirely."

"So you want to come back with me again?"

"That I do, and never, never be a polished lady with manners to the
longest day of my life."

"You want to be Wild Kitty still?"

"Wild, wild, the wildest of Kittys to the end of the chapter."

"And what will your aunts say?"

"Never mind; what you say is the important thing."

"It shall be as you please, Kit. I am sure I have missed you sore, very

"And now, what about Elma?"

"Yes; what do you want me to do for her?"

"I want her to come back with me to Castle Malone for the rest of the

"Oh, heart alive! child; but I don't think I could take to that sort of

"Yes, you will, if I take to her. Now, dad, must I begin it all over

"No, no; anything to please you, Kit."

"And at the end of the summer, as you have plenty of money, and as I am
sure she has repented most bitterly will you send her to Girton?"

"Oh, come, come; I make no promises."

"But I know it is all right, and I am going to rush up to her and tell
her everything. Oh, and here come Miss Sherrard and Miss Worrick. You
shall see them without me."

"I declare, upon my word, Kitty, you are the most extraordinary
creature. How am I to face the good ladies?"

"Here they are, father. Please, Miss Sherrard, come in; father will see
you, and Miss Worrick too."

Kitty flung open the door, and the head-mistress of Middleton School and
her subordinate found it closed behind them. They had a short interview
with Squire Malone--very short. It ended by Miss Sherrard and the squire
shaking hands most heartily.

"You did your best for her, and I am awfully obliged to you," said the
squire. "But, after all, she is too wild for England; she had better
stay in her own land."

"I believe you are right," said Miss Sherrard.

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