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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Rebel Of The School - Chapter 4. The Home-Sick And The Rebellious
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The Rebel Of The School - Chapter 4. The Home-Sick And The Rebellious Post by :leman28 Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1044

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The Rebel Of The School - Chapter 4. The Home-Sick And The Rebellious

CHAPTER IV. THE HOME-SICK AND THE REBELLIOUS

Kathleen O'Hara ran up to an untidy room. She banged-to the door, and standing by it for a moment, drew the bolt. Thus she had secured herself against intrusion. She then flung herself on the bed, put her two arms under her head, and gazed out of the window. Her heart was beating wildly; she had a strange medley of feelings within. She was desperately, madly lonely. She was homesick in the most intense sense of the word.

Kathleen had never left Carrigrohane Castle before. This romantic abode was situated in the extreme south-west of Ireland. It was a mile away from the sea, and stood on a rocky eminence which overlooked a very wide expanse of moor and wood, rushing streams and purple mountains, and deep dark-blue sea. In the whole world there could scarcely be found a more lovely view than that which since her birth had presented itself before Kathleen's young eyes. Her father, Squire O'Hara, was, as landlords in Ireland go, very well off. His tenantry adored him. He got in his rents with tolerable regularity. He was a good landlord, firm but also kind and indulgent. A real case of distress was never turned away from his doors, but where rent could be paid he insisted on the cottars giving him his due. He kept a rather wild establishment, however. His wife was an Irishwoman from a neighboring county, and had some of the most careless attributes of her race. The house got along anyhow. There were always shoals of visitors, mostly relatives. There were heavy feasts in the old hall, and sittings up very late at night, and no end of hunting and fishing and shooting in their seasons. In the summer a pretty white yacht made a great "divartisement," as the Squire was fond of saying; and in all things Kathleen O'Hara was free as the air she breathed. She was educated in a sort of fashion by an Irish governess, but in reality she was allowed to pursue her lessons exactly as she liked best herself.

It was just before she was fifteen that Kathleen's aunt, a maiden lady from Dublin, who rejoiced in the truly Irish name of O'Flynn, came to see them, remarked on Kathleen's wild, unkempt appearance, declared that the girl would be a downright beauty when she was eighteen, said that no one would tolerate such a want of knowledge in the present day, and advised that she should go to school. Mrs. O'Hara took Miss O'Flynn's hint very much to heart. Kathleen was consulted, and of course tabooed the entire scheme; in the end, however, the elder ladies carried the day. Miss O'Flynn took her niece to Dublin with her, and gave her an expensive and very unnecessary wardrobe; and Mrs. O'Hara, having heard a great deal of Mrs. Tennant, who had Irish relatives, decided that Kathleen should go to the Great Shirley School, where she herself had been educated long ago. Everything was arranged in a great hurry. It seemed to Kathleen now, as she lay on her bed, kicking her feet impatiently, and ruffled her beautiful hair, that the thing had come to pass in a flash. It seemed only yesterday that she was at home in the old house, petted by the servants, adored by her father, worshipped by all her relatives--the young queen of the castle, free as the air, followed by her dogs, riding on her pony--and now she was here in this hideous, poor, fifth-class house, going to that ugly school.

"I can't stand it," she thought. "There's only one way out. I must have a real desperate burst of naughtiness. What shall I do that will most aggravate them? For do that thing I will, and as quickly as possible."

Kathleen thought rapidly. She had no brothers of her own, but their loss was made up for by the adoration of about twenty young cousins who were always loafing about the place and following Kathleen wherever she turned.

"What would most aggravate Pat if he were here," thought the girl, "or dear old Michael? Ah, well! Michael--" The girl's face slightly changed. "I was never _very naughty with Michael," she said to herself. "He is different from the others. I wouldn't like to see that sort of sorry look in his dear dark-blue eyes. Oh, I mustn't think of Michael now. When I was going away he said, 'Bedad, you'll come back a princess, and I'll be proud to see you.' No, I mustn't think of Michael. Pat, the imp, would help me, and so would Rory, and so would Ted. But what shall it be?"

She thought excitedly. There came a rattle at the handle of the door.

"Let me in, please, Kathleen; let me in," called Alice's voice.

"Presently, darling," replied Kathleen in her most nonchalant tone.

"But I am in a hurry. I must be back at school by half-past two. Let me in immediately."

"What a nuisance it all is!" thought Kathleen. "But, after all, my naughtiness needn't make that stupid old Alice late for her darling lessons."

She scrambled off the bed, drew back the bolt, and returned to her old position. Alice came quickly in. She glanced at Kathleen with disgust.

"I wish you wouldn't lie on the bed in your muddy boots."

No answer.

"I must ask you not to lock the door. It is my room as well as yours."

No answer. Kathleen's eyes were fixed on the window; they were brimful of mischief. After a time she said:

"Darling."

"I wish you wouldn't talk to me in that silly way."

"Faith! honey, then."

"I do wish--"

Kathleen suddenly sprang upright on her bed.

"Don't you like the sky when it looks as it does now? I wish you could see it from Carrigrohane. You don't know the sort of expression it has when it seems to be kissing the sea. We have a ghost at Carrigrohane. Oh, wisha, then, if you only could see it! I can tell the boys about it. Sha'n't I make them creep?"

"It is very silly to talk about ghosts. Nobody believes in them," said Alice.

"I'll ask father if I may have you at Carrigrohane in the summer, and then see if you don't believe. She wears white."

"I am going out now, Kathleen; aren't you coming with me?"

"No, thank you, my love."

"You ought to, Kathleen. I am busy preparing for my scholarship examination or I would stay and argue with you. It is an awful pity to have gone to the expense of coming here if you don't mean to do your utmost."

"Thank you, darling, but it is rather a waste of breath for you to talk so long to me. I mean to be naughty this afternoon."

"I can't help you," said Alice. "I am very sorry you ever came."

"Thank you so much, dear."

Alice ran downstairs.

"Mother," she said, rushing into her mother's presence, "we shall have no end of trouble with that terrible girl. She is lying now on the bed with her outdoor boots on, and she won't come to school, or do a single thing I want her to."

"The money her father pays will be very welcome, Alice. We must bear with some discomforts on account of that."

"I suppose so," said Alice, shrugging her shoulders. "How horrid it is to be poor, and to have such a girl as that in the house! Well, I can't stay another minute. You had better keep a sort of general eye on her, mother, for there's no saying what she will do. She has declared her intention of being naughty. She knows no fear, is not guided by any sort of principle, and would, in short, do anything."

"Well, go to school, Alice, and be quick home, for I have a great deal I want you to help me with."

Alice made no reply, and Mrs. Tennant, after thinking for a minute, went upstairs. She knocked at the door of the room which she had given up to the two girls. There was no answer. She opened it and went in. The bird had flown. There were evident signs of a stampede through the window, for it stood wide open, and there were marks of not too clean boots on the drugget, and a torn piece of ivy just without. The window was twenty feet from the ground, and Kathleen must have let herself down by the sturdy arm of the old ivy. Mrs. Tennant looked out, half expecting to see a mangled body on the ground; but there was no one in view. She returned to her darning and her anxious thoughts.

She was a widow with two sons and a daughter, and something under two hundred and fifty pounds a year on which to live. To educate the boys, to do something for Alice, and to put bread-and-butter into all their mouths was a difficult problem to solve in these expensive days. She had on purpose moved close to the Great Shirley School in order to avail herself of its cheap education for Alice. The boys went to another foundation school near by; and altogether the family managed to scrape along. But the advent of Kathleen on the scene was a great relief, for her father paid three guineas a week for Mrs. Tennant's motherly care and for Kathleen's board and lodging.

"Poor child!" thought the good woman. "What a wild, undisciplined, handsome creature she is! I must do what I can for her."

She sat on for some time darning and thinking. Her heart was full; she felt depressed. She had been working in various ways ever since six o'clock that morning, and the darning of the boys' rough socks hurt her eyes and made her fingers ache.

Meanwhile Kathleen was running along the road. She ran until she was completely out of breath. She then came to a stile, against which she leant. By-and-by she saw a girl walking leisurely up the road; she was a shabbily dressed and rather vulgar girl. Kathleen saw at once that she was one of the Great Shirley girls, so she went forward and spoke to her.

"You go to our school, don't you?" she said.

"Yes, miss," answered the girl, dropping a little curtsy when she saw Kathleen. She was a very fresh foundation girl, and recognized something in Kathleen which caused her to be more subservient than was necessary.

"Then, if you please," continued Kathleen, "can you tell me where that sweetly pretty girl, Ruth Craven, lives?"

"She isn't a lady," said the girl, whose name was Susan Hopkins. "She is no more a lady than I am."

"Indeed she is," said Kathleen. "She is a great deal more of a lady than you are."

The girl flushed.

"You are a Great Shirley girl yourself," she said. "I saw you there to-day. You are in an awfully low class. Do you like sitting with the little kids? I saw you towering up in the middle of them like a mountain."

Kathleen's eyes flashed.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Susan Hopkins. I used to be a Board School girl, but now I am on the foundation at Great Shirley. It is a big rise for me. Are you a poor girl? Are you on the foundation?"

"I don't know what it means by being on the foundation, but I don't think I am poor. I think, on the contrary, that I am very rich. Did you ever hear of a girl who lived in a castle--a great beautiful castle--on the top of a high hill? If you ever did, I am that girl."

"Oh, my!" said Susy Hopkins. "That does sound romantic."

Her momentary dislike to Kathleen had vanished. The desire to go to the town on a message for her mother had completely left her. She stood still, as though fascinated.

"I live there," said Kathleen--"that is, I do when I am at home. I come from the land of the mountain and the stream; of the shamrock; of the deep, deep blue sea."

"Ireland? Are you Irish?" said the girl.

"I am proud to say that I am."

"We don't think anything of the Irish here."

"Oh, don't you?"

"But don't be angry, please," continued Susy, "for I am sure you are very nice."

"I am nice when I like. To-day I am nasty. I am wicked to-day--quite wicked; I could hate any one who opposes me. I want some one to help me; if some one will help me, I will be nice to that person. Will you?"

"Oh, my word, yes! How handsome you look when you flash your eyes!" said Susy Hopkins.

"Then I want to find that dear little girl, who is so beautiful that I love her and can't get her out of my head. I want to find Ruth Craven. She went away with a horrid, stiff, pokery girl called Cassandra Weldon. You have such strange names in your country. That horrid, prim Cassandra chose to correct me when I came into school, and she has taken my darling away--the only one I love in the whole of England. I want to find her. I will give you--- I will give you an Irish diamond set in a brooch if you will help me."

This sounded a very grand offer indeed to Susy Hopkins, who lived in the most modest way, and had not a jewel of any sort in her possession.

"I will help you. I will, and I can. I know where Miss Weldon lives. I can take you to her house."

"But I want Ruth."

"If she has taken Ruth home, she will be at Cassandra's house," said Susy.

"And you can take me there?"

"This blessed minute."

"All right; come along."

"When will you give me the diamond set in the brooch?"

"It isn't a real diamond, you know. It is an Irish diamond set in silver--real silver. My old nurse had it made for me, and I wear it sometimes. I will bring it to you to school to-morrow."

"Oh, thank you--thank you, Miss--I forgot your name."

"O'Hara--Kathleen O'Hara."

"O'Hara is rather a difficult name to say. May I call you Kathleen?"

"Just as you please, Susan. It is more handy for me to say Susan than Hopkins. As long as I am in England I must consort, I see, with all kinds of people; and if you will make yourself useful to me, I will be good to you."

Susy turned and led the way in the direction of Cassandra Weldon's home. They had to walk across a very wide field, then down a narrow lane, then up a steep hill, and then into a valley. At the bottom of the valley was a straight road, and at each side of the road were neat little houses--small and very proper-looking. Each house consisted of two stories, with a hall door in the middle and a sitting room on each side. There were three windows overhead, and one or two attics in the roof. The houses were very compact; they were new, and were called by ambitious names. For instance, the house where the Weldons lived went by the ambitious name of Sans Souci. All through the walk Susy chatted for the benefit of her companion. She told Kathleen so much about her life that she was interested in spite of herself! and by the time they arrived outside Sans Souci, Kathleen's hand was lying affectionately on her companion's arm.

"I had best not go in, miss," she said. "Cassandra Weldon would never take the very least notice of me; and none of us foundation girls like her at all."

"Well, it is extremely unfair," said Kathleen. "From all you have been telling me, the foundation girls must be particularly clever. I tell you what it is: I think I shall take to you."

"Oh, would you, indeed, miss?" said Susy, her eyes sparkling. "There are a hundred of us, you know, in the school."

"That is a great number. And Ruth Craven is really one?"

"She is, miss. She isn't a bit better than the rest of us."

"And I love her already."

"She is no better than the rest of us," repeated Susan Hopkins.

"I have a great mind to take to you all, to make a fuss about you, and to show the others how badly they behave."

"You'd be a queen amongst us; there's no doubt about that."

"It would be lovely, and it would be a tremendous bit of naughtiness," thought Kathleen.

"Do you think you will, miss? Because, if you do, I will tell the others. We could meet you and talk over things."

"Well, I will decide to-morrow. I will enclose a letter with your brooch. Good-bye now; I must go in and kiss my darling Ruth."

Susy Hopkins stood for a minute to watch Kathleen as she went up the little narrow path of Sans Souci. When Kathleen reached the porch she waved her hand, and Susy, putting wings to her feet, ran as fast as she could in the opposite direction. She felt very much elated and really pleased. In the whole course of her life she had never met a girl of the Kathleen O'Hara type before. Her beauty, her daring and wild manner, the flash in her bright dark eyes, the glints of gold in her lovely hair, all fascinated Susy.

"What a queen she'd make!" she thought. "We must make her our queen. We'd have quite a party of our own in the school if she took us up. And she will; I'm sure she will. This is a lark. This is worth a great deal."

Meanwhile Kathleen rang the bell at Sans Souci in a very smart, imperative manner. A little maid, neatly dressed, came to the door.

"Please," said Kathleen, "will you say that Miss O'Hara has called and would be glad to see Miss Ruth Craven for a few minutes?"

The girl withdrew. Presently she returned.

"Mrs. Weldon will be pleased if you will go in, miss. She is sitting in the drawing-room. The two young ladies are out in the garden."

"Thank you," said Kathleen.

After a brief hesitation she entered the house, and was conducted across the narrow hall into a very sweet and charmingly furnished room. The room had a bay-window with French doors; these opened on to a little flower-lawn. At one side of the house was a tiny conservatory full of bright flowers. Compared to the house where the Tennants lived, this tiny place looked like a paradise to Kathleen. She gave a quick glance round her, then came up to Mrs. Weldon.

"I am one of the new girls at the Great Shirley School," she said. "My name is Kathleen O'Hara. I am Irish. I have only just crossed the cold sea. I am lonely, too. I want Ruth Craven. May I sit down a minute while your servant fetches her? I like Ruth Craven. She is very pretty, isn't she? She is the sort of girl that you'd take a fancy to when you're lonely and far from home. May I sit here until she comes?"

"Of course, my dear," said Mrs. Weldon, speaking with kindness, and looking with eyes full of interest at the handsome, striking-looking girl. "I quite understand your being lonely. I was very lonely indeed when I came home from India and left my dear father and mother behind me."

"How old were you when you came home?"

"A great deal younger than you are: only seven years old. But that is a long time ago. I should like to be kind to you, Miss O'Hara. Cassandra has been telling me about you. You are living at the Tennants', are you not? Alice Tennant and Cassandra are great friends."

"But I don't like either of them," said Kathleen in her blunt way.

Mrs. Weldon looked a little startled.

"Do you know my daughter?" she asked.

"She is much too interfering, and she is frightfully stuck-up. Please forgive me, but I am always very plain-spoken; I always tell the truth. I don't want her. I like you, and wish that I lived with you, and that you'd have Ruth Craven instead of your own daughter in the house. Then I'd be perfectly happy. I always did say what I thought. Will you forgive me?"

"I will, dear, because at the present moment you don't know my girl at all. There never was a more splendid girl in all the world, but she requires to be known. Ah! here she comes, and your little friend, Miss Craven, with her."

Ruth, looking very pretty, with a delicate flush on each cheek, now entered the room in the company of Cassandra. Kathleen sprang up the minute she saw Ruth, rushed across the room, and flung one arm with considerable violence round her neck.

"You have come," she said. "I have been hunting the place for you. How dared you go away and hide yourself? Don't you know that you belong to me? The moment I saw you I knew that you were my affinity. Don't you know what an affinity means? Well, you are mine. We were twin souls before birth; now we have met again and we cannot part. I am ever so happy when I am with you. Don't mind those others; let them stare all they like. I am going to take you foundation girls up. I have made up my mind. We will have a rollicking good time--a splendid time. We will be as naughty as we like, and we will let the others see what we are made of. It will be war to the knife between the foundation girls and the good, proper, paying girls. Let the ladies look after themselves. We of the foundation will lead our own life, and be as happy as the day is long. Aren't you glad to see me, dear, sweet, pretty Ruth? Don't you know for yourself that you are my affinity--my chosen friend, my beloved? Through the ages we have been one, and now we have met in the flesh."

"I think," said Cassandra, at last managing to get herself heard, "that you have said enough for the present, Miss O'Hara. Ruth Craven has come to spend the day with me. I know that you are an Irish girl, and you must be lonely. I shall be very pleased if you will join Ruth and me in our walk. We are going for a walk across the common.--We shall be in to tea, dear mother. Will you have it ready for us not later than five o'clock? And I am sure you will join me, mother darling, in asking Miss O'Hara to stay, too."

"But Miss O'Hara doesn't want to join either you or your 'mother darling,'" said Kathleen in her rudest tone. "It is Ruth I want. I have come here for her. She must return with me at once."

"But I can't. I am ever so sorry, Miss O'Hara."

"You mean that you won't come when I have called for you?"

"I am with Miss Weldon at present."

"Be sensible, dear," said Mrs. Weldon at that moment. "You don't quite understand our manners in this country. However attached we may be to a person, we don't enter a strange house and snatch that person out of it. It isn't our way; and I don't think--you will forgive me for saying it--that your way is as nice as ours. Be persuaded, dear, and join Cassandra and Ruth, and have a happy time."

Kathleen's face had turned crimson. She looked from Mrs. Weldon to Cassandra, and then she looked at Ruth. Suddenly her eyes brimmed up with tears.

"I don't think I can ever change my way," she said. "I am sorry if I am rude and not understood. Perhaps, after all, I am mistaken, about Ruth; perhaps she is not my real proper affinity. I am a very unhappy girl. I wish I could go back to mother and to my dad. I shouldn't be lonely if I were in the midst of the mountains, and if I could see the streams and the blue sea. I don't know why Aunt Katie O'Flynn sent me to this horrid place. I wish I was back in the old country. They don't talk as you talk in the old country and they don't look as you look. If you put your heart at the feet of a body in old Ireland, that body doesn't kick it away. I will go. I don't want your tea. I don't want anything that you have to offer me. I don't like any of you. I am sorry if you think me rude, but I can't help myself. Good-bye."

"No, no; stay. Stay and visit with me, and tell me about the old country and the sea and the mountains," said Mrs. Weldon.

But Kathleen shook her head fiercely, and the next moment left the room.

"Poor, strange little girl," thought the good woman. "I see she is about to heap unhappiness on herself and others. What is to be done for her?"

"I like her," said Ruth. "She is very impulsive, but she is------"

"Oh, yes," said Cassandra, "she has a good heart, of course; but I foresee that she is up to all sorts of mischief. She doesn't understand our ways. Why did she leave her own country?"

Ruth was silent. She looked wistful.

"Come along, Ruthie; we will be late. I have no end of schemes in my head. I mean to help you. You will win that scholarship."

Ruth smiled. Presently she and Cassandra were crossing the common arm-in-arm. In the interest of their own conversation they forgot Kathleen.

When that young lady left the house she ran back to the Tennants'.

"I will write to dad to-night and tell him that I can't stay," she thought. "Oh, dear, my heart is in my mouth! I shall have a broken heart if this sort of thing goes on."

She entered the house. There sat Mrs. Tennant with a great basket of stockings before her. The remains of a rough-looking tea were on the table. The boys had disappeared.

"Come in, Kathleen," called Mrs. Tennant, "and have your tea. I want Maria to clear the tea-things away, as I have some cutting out to do; so be quick, dear."

Kathleen entered. The untidy table did not trouble her in the least; she was accustomed to things of that sort at home. She sat down, helped herself to a thick slice of bread-and-butter, and ate it, while burning thoughts filled her mind.

"Have some tea. You haven't touched any," said Mrs. Tennant.

"I'd rather have cold water, please," Kathleen replied.

She went to the sideboard, filled a glass, and drank it off.

"Mrs. Tennant," she said when she had finished, "what possessed you to live in England? You had all the world to choose from. Why did you come to a horrible place like this?"

"But I like it," said Mrs. Tennant.

"You don't look as if you did. I never saw such a worn-out poor body. Are you awfully old?"

"You would think me so," replied Mrs. Tennant, with a smile; "but as a matter of fact I am not forty yet."

"Not forty!" said Kathleen. "But forty's an awful age, isn't it? I mean, you want crutches when you are forty, don't you?"

"Not as a rule, my dear. I trust when I am forty I shall not want a crutch. I shall be forty in two years, and that by some people is considered young."

"Then I suppose it is mending those horrid stockings that makes you so old."

"Mending stockings doesn't help to keep you young, certainly."

"Shall I help you? I used to cobble for old nurse when I was at home."

"But I shouldn't like you to cobble these."

"Oh, I can darn, you know."

"Then do, Kathleen. I should take it very kindly if you would. Here is worsted, and here is a needle. Will you sit by me and tell me about your home?"

Kathleen certainly would not have believed her own ears had she been told an hour ago that she would end her first fit of desperate naughtiness by darning stockings for the Tennant boys. She did not darn well; but then, Mrs. Tennant was not particular. She certainly--although she said she would not--did cobble these stockings to an extraordinary extent; but her work and the chat with Mrs. Tennant did her good, and she went upstairs to dress for supper in a happier frame of mind.

"I will stay here for a little," she said finally to Mrs. Tennant, "because I think it will help you. You look so terribly tired; and I don't think you ought to have this horrible work to do. I'd like to do it for you, but I don't suppose I shall have time. I will stay for a bit and see what I can make of the foundation girls."

"The foundation girls?"

"Oh, yes; don't ask me to explain. There are a hundred of them at the Great Shirley School, and I am going--No, I can't explain. I will stop here instead of running away. I meant to run away when my affinity would have nothing to do with me."

"Really, Kathleen, you are a most extraordinary girl."

"Of course I am," said Kathleen. "Did you ever suppose that I was anything else? I am very remarkable, and I am very naughty. I always was, and I always will be. I am up to no end of mischief. I wish you could have seen me and Rory together at home. Oh, what didn't we do? Do you know that once we walked across a little bridge of metal which is put between two of the stables? It is just a narrow iron rod, six feet in length. If we had either of us fallen we'd have been dashed to pieces on the cobble-stones forty feet below. Mother saw me when I was half-way across, and she gave a shriek. It nearly finished me, but I steadied myself and got across. Oh, it was jolly! I am going to set some of the foundation girls at that sort of thing. I expect I shall have great fun with them. It is principally because my affinity won't have anything to do with me; she is attaching herself to another, and that other is little better than a monster. Your Alice won't like me; and, to be frank with you, I don't like her. I like you, because you are poor and worried and seem old for your age--although your age is a great one--and because you have to cobble those horrid socks. There! good-bye for the present. Don't hate me too much; I can't help the way I am made. Oh; I hear Alice. What a detestable voice she has! Now then, I'm off."

Kathleen ran up to her room, and again she locked the door. She heard Alice's step, and she felt a certain vindictiveness as she turned the key in the lock. Alice presently took the handle of the door and shook it.

"Let me in at once, Kathleen," she said. "I really can't put up with this sort of thing any longer. I want to get into my room; I want to tidy myself. I am going to supper to-night with Cassandra Weldon."

"Then you don't get in," whispered Kathleen to herself. Aloud she said:

"I am sorry, darling, but I am specially busy, and I really must have my share of the room to myself."

"Do open the door, Kathleen," now almost pleaded poor Alice. "If you want your share of the room, I want mine. Don't you understand?"

"I am not interfering, dearest," called back Kathleen, "and I am keeping religiously to my own half. I have the straight window, and you have the bay. I am not touching your beautiful half; I am only in mine."

"Let me in," called Alice again, "and don't be silly."

"Sorry, dear; don't think I am silly."

There was a silence. Alice went on her knees and peered through the keyhole: Kathleen was seated by her dressing-table, and there was a sound of the furious scratching of a pen quite audible. "This is intolerable," thought Alice. "She is the most awful girl I ever heard of. I shall be late. Mary Addersley and Rhoda Pierpont are to call for me shortly, and I shan't be ready. I don't want to appeal to mother or to be rude to the poor wild thing the first day. Stay, I will tempt her.--Kathleen!"

"Yes, darling."

"Wouldn't you like to come with me to Cassandra Weldon's? She is so nice, and so is her mother. She plays beautifully, and they will sing."

"Irish songs?" called out Kathleen.

"I don't know. Perhaps they will if you ask them."

"Thanks," replied Kathleen; "I am not going." Again there was silence, and the scratching of the pen continued. Alice was now obliged to go downstairs to acquaint her mother.

"What is it, dear? Why, my dear Alice, how excited you look!"

"I have cause to be, mother. I have come in rather late, very much fagged out from a day of hard examination work and that imp--that horrid girl--has locked me out of my bedroom. I was so looking forward to a nice little supper with Cassandra and the other girls! Kathleen won't let me in; she really is intolerable. I can't stay in the room with her any longer; she is past bearing. Can't you give me an attic to myself at the top of the house?"

"You know I haven't a corner."

"Can't I share your bed, mummy? I shall be so miserable with that dreadful Kathleen."

"You know quite well, Alice, that that is the only really good bedroom in the house, and I can't afford to give it to one girl by herself. I think Kathleen will be all right when we really get to know her; but she is very undisciplined. Still, three guineas a week makes an immense difference to me, Alice. I can't help telling you so, my child."

"In my opinion, it is hardly earned," said Alice. "I suppose I must stay down here and give up my supper. I can't go like this, all untidy, and my hair so messy, and my collar--oh, mother, it is nearly black! It is really too trying."

"I will go up and see if I can persuade her," said Mrs. Tennant.

She went upstairs, turned the handle of the door, and spoke. The moment her voice penetrated to Kathleen's ears, she jumped to her feet, crossed the room, and bent down at the other side of the keyhole.

"Don't tire your dear voice," she said. "What is it you want?"

"I want you to open the door, Kathleen. Poor Alice wants to get in to get her clothes. It is her room as much as yours. Let her in at once, my dear."

"I am very sorry, darling Mrs. Tennant, but I am privately engaged in my own half of the room. I am not interfering with Alice's."

"But you see, Kathleen, she can't get to her half."

"The door is in my half, you know," said Kathleen very meekly, "so I don't see that she has any cause to complain. I am awfully sorry; I will be as quick as I can."

"You annoy me very much. You make me very uncomfortable by going on in this extremely silly way, Kathleen."

"I will darn some more socks for you, darling, tired pet," whispered Kathleen coaxingly. "I really am awfully sorry, but there is no help for it. I must finish my own private affairs in my own half of the room."

She retreated from the door, and the scratching of the pen continued.

Alice downstairs felt like a caged lion. Mrs. Tennant admitted that Kathleen's conduct was very bad.

"It won't happen again, Alice," she said, "for I shall remove the key from the lock. She won't shut you out another time. Make the best of it, darling. If we don't worry her too much she is sure to capitulate."

"Not she. She is a perfect horror," said Alice.

Mrs. Weldon's supper party was to begin at eight o'clock. It was now seven, and the girls were to call for Alice at half-past. If Kathleen would only be quick she might still have time.

The boys came in. They stared open-eyed at Alice when they saw her still sitting in her rough school things, a very cross expression on her face. David came up to her at once; he was the favorite, and people said he had a way with him. Whatever they meant by that, most people did what David Tennant liked. He stood in front of his sister now and said:

"What's the matter? And where's the little Irish beauty?"

"For goodness' sake don't speak about her," said Alice. "She's driving me nearly mad."

"Your sister is naturally much annoyed, David," said his mother. "Kathleen is evidently a very tiresome girl. She has locked the door of their mutual bedroom, and declines to open it; she says that as the door happens to be in her half of the room, she has perfect control over it."

David whistled. Ben burst out laughing.

"Well, now that is Irish," David said.

"If you take her part I shall hate you all the rest of my life," said Alice, speaking with great passion.

"But can't you wait just for once?" asked David. "Any one could tell she is just trying it on. She'll get tired of sitting there by herself if only you have patience."

"But I am due at Cassandra's for supper" and Mary Addersley and Rhoda Pierpont are to call for me at half-past seven."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said David.--"Ben, leave off teasing." For Ben was whistling and jumping about, and making the most expressive faces at poor Alice,--"I will see what I can do," he said, and he ran upstairs. David was very musical; indeed, the soul of music dwelt in his eyes, in his voice, in his very step. He might in some respects have been an Irish boy himself. He bent down now and whistled very softly, and in the most flute-like manner, "Garry Owen" through the keyhole. There was a restless sound in the room, and then a cross voice said:

"Go away."

David stopped whistling "Garry Owen," and proceeded to execute a most exquisite performance of "St. Patrick's Day in the Morning." Kathleen trembled. Her eyes filled with tears. David was now whistling right into her room "The Wearing of the Green." Kathleen flung down her pen, making a splash on the paper.

"Go away," she called out. "What are you doing there?"

"The outside of this door doesn't belong to you," called David, "and if I like to whistle through the keyhole you can't prevent me;" and he began "Garry Owen" again.

Kathleen rushed to the door and flung it open. The tears were still wet on her cheeks.

"Can't you guess what you are doing?" she said. "You are stabbing me--stabbing me. Oh! oh! oh!" and she burst into violent sobs. David took her hand.

"Come, little Irish colleen," he said. "Come along downstairs. I am going to be chummy with you. Don't be so lonely. Give Alice her room; one-half of it is hers, and she wants to dress to go out."

"Let her take it all," sobbed Kathleen. "I am most miserable. Oh, Garry Owen, Garry Owen! Oh, Land of the Shamrock! Oh, my broken heart!"

She laid her head on David's shoulder and went on sobbing. David felt quite bashful. There was nothing for it but to take out his big and not too clean handkerchief and wipe her tears away.

"Whisper," he said in her ear. "There are stables at the back of the house; they are old, worn-out stables. There is a loft over one, and I keep apples and nuts there. It's the jolliest place. Will you and I go there for an hour or two after supper?"

"Do you mean it?" said Kathleen, her eyes filling with laughter, and the tears still wet on her cheeks.

"Yes, colleen, I mean it, for I want you to tell me all you can about your land of the shamrock."

"Why, then, that I will," she replied. "Wisha, then, David, it's a broth of a boy, you are!" and she kissed him on his forehead. David took her hand and led her into the dining-room. Alice was still there, looking more stormy than ever.

"It's too late now," she said; "the girls have come and gone. I can't go at all now."

"But why, darling?" said Kathleen. "Oh! I wish I had let you in.--She must go, David, the poor dear. It would be cruel to disappoint her.--What dress will you wear?" said Kathleen.

"Let me alone," said Alice.

She rushed upstairs, but Kathleen was even quicker.

"I'm not going to be nasty to you any more," she said. "I have found a friend, and I shall have more friends to-morrow. Kathleen O'Hara would have died long ago but for her friends. I shall be happy when I have got a creelful of them here. Now then, let me help you. No, that isn't the shoe you want; here it is. And gloves--here's a pair, and they're neatly mended. Which hat did you say--the one with the blue scarf round it? Isn't it a pretty one? You put that on. Aunt Katie O'Flynn is going to send me a box of clothes from Dublin, and I will give you some of them. You mustn't say no; I will give you some if you are nice. I am ever so sorry that I kept you out of your part of the room; I won't do it any more. Now you are dressed; that's fine. You won't hate me forever, will you?"

Alice growled something in reply. She had not Kathleen's passionate, quick, impulsive nature--furious with rage one minute, sweet and gentle and affectionate the next. She hated Kathleen for having humiliated and annoyed her; and she went off to Cassandra's house knowing that she would be late, and determined not to say one good word for Kathleen.

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