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particularly when she came across a piece of spar that Tony, without
saying a word to any one, must have wrapped up and tucked in amongst her
things as a pleasant surprise for her. It was a very pretty bit that he
had himself found, and was immensely proud of. Kitty's eyes filled as
she held the little cold stone and kissed it. Then she hung up a
calendar that Betty had given her, one of her own manufacture. "I shall
soon be able to mark off one day," she thought with some relief.

Her room grew to look so different and so nice that she became quite
interested, and rather a long time had elapsed before she tidied herself
and went out in search of Miss Hammond's room. It was not difficult to
find, for it was on the same landing as her own, and had Miss Hammond's
name painted on the door.

"Come in," said a voice in answer to her knock. "Come in. I was just
about to begin without you. Sit down here, dear, in this low chair by
the table. We will have a 'plate tea' and a drawing-room tea combined;"
and Kitty dropped gladly into a pretty low chair beside the tea-table,
which was drawn up to the fire, and Miss Hammond drew up her chair to
the other side.

"Oh, what a grand thing tea is! I love it," she exclaimed with a sigh
of pleasure. It was said so girlishly and impulsively that Kitty
laughed as she agreed.

"Pamela Peters has come," said Miss Hammond a moment later, "and I have
asked her to tea too."

Kitty felt just a little feeling of disappointment. She did not want to
meet any more strangers then; she was tired and shy, and she knew that
her eyes were still swelled. She wanted, too, to have Miss Hammond to
herself - she was so sympathetic and understanding, and so bright and
interesting. Kitty had never before met any one like her, and was

"I will not say I want you two to be friends, or that I think you will
like each other, for I know that that is the surest way to make you
determine you never could, would, or should be. But I do think you will
like Pamela, and I thought it would be nice for you to get to know one
of your future companions a little before meeting them all together."

Kitty could not but agree. One stranger now, with Miss Hammond to break
the ice, was infinitely preferable to four by-and-by, when she would be
alone. And then came a knock at the door, and Pamela Peters walked in.

Pamela was a taller and altogether larger girl than Kitty. She looked
rather older too. Perhaps a certain air of self-possession gave one
that impression. Kitty gazed at her first with interest and then with
wonder, for she looked as smiling and happy as though she had just
reached home for the holidays, instead of returning to school for the
term. She had to check her surprise while Miss Hammond introduced them
and made room for Pamela at the table, but it soon returned again with
double force.

"I am very glad to see you," said Pamela heartily, turning to Kitty
again. "Isn't it jolly to be back?"

"Jolly! - what! - isn't it what?" stammered Kitty, at a loss to understand

Miss Hammond laughed. "Kitty Trenire thinks it anything but jolly; her
heart is miles away from here; but I hope that in time she will find
something here to care for too." And even Kitty actually felt that in
time perhaps she might. In that cosy little room, and with those two
new friends, it did not seem so absolutely impossible; but when Kitty's
thoughts flew to Miss Pidsley, the bare, unhomelike room downstairs, and
the dreary road outside, her mind began to waver, and she felt anything
but hopeful.

"I _am_ so glad to be back," sighed Pamela, with genuine pleasure.
She was not exaggerating in the least - even Kitty could see that.
"But," she added, "if you have a nice home and people to leave, it must
be awfully hard. I expect it is what I feel at the end of term when I
have to leave here."

"Oh, it is much worse than that; it must be," gasped Kitty, her
astonishment overcoming her shyness. "But you are laughing. You really
love going home, of course?"

"No, I don't. I am miserable. You see, I have no real home, only a
guardian, an old man, who doesn't want me any more than I want to go,
and is just as anxious as I am for the holidays to be over. He is old,
and an invalid too, poor old man, and he never will have any one to stay
in the house, or allow me to; so it is dull, and one doesn't feel very
overjoyed at going home to it. I can assure you I find it much more
exciting to come back to school. I suppose you have brothers and
sisters and a real home?" looking across at Kitty with wistful eyes.

"Oh yes!" said Kitty, and then she fell to talking of them; and Miss
Hammond and Pamela listened with such interest and laughter to her
account of their escapades and adventures, that Kitty talked on and on,
until at last they were interrupted by a cab drawing up before the
house, and Miss Hammond had to go to welcome the new arrivals.

"I feel as though I knew Betty and Dan and Tony already," said Pamela as
they strolled down the corridor to their rooms. "I wish I did. And
your father must be a perfect dear, I think."

"He is," said Kitty warmly, but with a catch in her voice; and from that
moment she loved Pamela. "I do wish," she said impulsively, "I do wish
you could come and stay with us, and know them all. There isn't very
much to see at Gorlay, but there are beautiful places all round it, and
we could have some jolly times."

"I'd love to come," said Pamela heartily. "I know I should enjoy myself
tremendously, I feel it in my bones. But don't ask me if you don't
really mean it, for I shall come, I tell you plainly."

Kitty laughed, actually laughed quite gaily, and made up her mind that
it should not be her fault if Pamela did not have at least one happy

The next day the girls were allowed to write home to announce their safe
arrival. Kitty wrote to her father a letter full of eagerness and
promises, and longings for the holidays, which made Dr. Trenire smile
and sigh as he laid it away in his pocket-book, and made the house seem
emptier and less itself even than it had done before. In with her
father's letter Kitty put one for Betty. It was the first that young
person had ever received, and it so filled her with a sense of
importance that Anna and Tony said she was almost unbearable all the
rest of the day. How many times she read it over no one could have
counted, but at every opportune and inopportune moment it was drawn out
of her pocket, until at last it grew quite frayed at the edges, and,
though scarcely a word it contained was confided to the others, Betty
read it again and again with compressed lips and frowning brows, and an
air of seriousness that nearly drove them frantic.

There was not much in it either to give rise to all this.

"Dearest Betty," wrote Kitty, "I have so much I want to say that I don't
know what to say first. I am very lonely, but one day and night are
over, and one of the girls is very nice, I think. She is called Pamela
Peters, and I want to bring her home with me for the holidays, because
she has no father or mother, or home, or anything but a guardian, a very
cross old man, and I want her to see what jolly times we have. I think
I shall like another girl too, called Hope Carey. She is quite little,
about your age, and is very unhappy. Her mother was very ill when she
left home, and she is always thinking about her and fretting. I think
it was very cruel to send her back until her mother was better. I do
feel so sorry for her.

"One of the first things I did was to take off my gray stockings and put
them all away. I shall give them to one of the maids. It is lovely to
be without the hateful things. I wonder what you are all doing at this
very minute, and if you are thinking of me. I am always thinking of you
all the time, and saying, 'Another minute gone, another hour gone,' but
it only seems to make the time pass more slowly. I have a bedroom to
myself, I am glad to say, and it looks very nice with my things about
it, but of course I don't really care for it at all. I think Miss
Pidsley isn't as nasty as I thought she was when Aunt Pike was with her.
I think she is ill, or worried, or something, and not so very cross.
Miss Hammond, the other principal, is a dear. I like her very much.
We are all going out shopping one day with Miss Hammond. We are allowed
to go on one Wednesday afternoon each month. Sometimes she takes the
girls to see something, or to a concert, instead of going shopping.
I do not want to buy anything for myself, but I think I shall get some
flowers for Miss Hammond, and something for Hope, she is so unhappy, and
she has very little pocket-money. We go for excursions in the summer
and have theatricals at Christmas, and you and father will be invited to
those. It is rather nice, isn't it? But of course I don't take any
real interest in it. I hate being here, but I am going to work hard to
make the time pass. I hope Anna is better. Give Tony my love, and tell
him he was a perfect dear to give me his precious piece of spar.
I shall always take it with me wherever I go. I will write to him next
time. Mind you write and tell me everything, and give my love to Fanny,
and Jabez, and Grace, and kiss Prue and Billy for me. Kiss Prue on her
dear old cheek and her soft nose. - Your loving sister,




Betty's satisfaction, though, ended with the day. "I am never happy one
day but what I've _got_ to be unhappy the next," she said plaintively to
her father the following evening, when telling him her woes.

"You might put it another way," he said, smiling, "and say you are never
very unhappy one day but what you are very happy the next."

Betty shook her head gravely. "But I am not," she said. "I can't be
_sure_ I am going to be happy, but I can be that I am going to be
unhappy, and sometimes it lasts for ever so long."

"You poor little suffering martyr," said Dr. Trenire, "what is wrong

"It's my stockings," said Betty solemnly.

"Whatever is wrong with your stockings? Stand still, child, can't you,
and tell me."

"No," said Betty, "I can't, my legs itch so. I am sure I shall be crazy
before long. I _almost_ wish I'd been sent away to school too, then I
could give them away, as Kitty has."

"Given away what? - her legs? What made Kitty do it, and what is wrong
with the stockings? Are they new, that they have only just begun to
irritate you?"

"No, they aren't new, but - well, you see, I've only just been found

"What _do_ you mean?"

"Well, you see, Aunt Pike would make us wear these ugly, woolly, itchy
things, and " - Betty's voice waxed indignant - "she wouldn't believe us
when we said we couldn't, and so - well, I thought of it first - we wore
our black cotton ones under these, and then we didn't feel them."

"I see," said Dr. Trenire, a smile beginning to twinkle in his eyes.
"And you were not found out?"

"Not till to-day," with a triumphant air; "but to-day there was a hole
in the gray ones, and I didn't know it; but Aunt Pike saw the black
showing through, and she screamed out, 'Elizabeth, _what_ has happened
to your leg?' And oh! I did jump so; and then I looked, and there was
a great black spot, and everybody was looking and laughing. It was - oh,
it was dretful, and Aunt Pike was _so_ angry, she made me go home and
take off the black ones; and now she has taken all my cotton ones away,
and - and I've _got_ to wear these, and it's - it's _awful_, it really is,
daddy," and poor Betty's eyes grew pink with tears.

"I know," said her father sympathetically. "I suffer in the same way
myself. Don't cry, child; it will be all right. I will explain to your

But Betty had borne much that day, and the tears, at least a few, had to
come. "She said if Tony can bear it, I can; but Tony doesn't mind, he
doesn't feel it; he says, though, he would never have said he didn't if
he had known it would make it harder for me and Kitty."

"Loyal Tony!" laughed Dr. Trenire. "I like his spirit. Well, don't
fret about it any more; you shall have some others. I think, though,
that we will have some other colour; they aren't very pretty, are they?"

"Pretty!" cried Betty; "they are _'trocious_. No one else would have
worn them. I'll take them off now; shall I, father?"

"Hadn't you better wait till you have some others to put on?"

"Oh no, thank you. Fanny wouldn't take long getting me some. If you
will give her some money, she won't be more than a few minutes.
I'll wrap my feet up in two shawls for the time."

"I see there is to be no time wasted," said Dr. Trenire. "You are a
business-like young person, Betty."

"Yes," said Betty, with satisfaction. "You see, I can't do anything
until I have them; and if they are going to be bought, they may as well
be bought quickly."

"Your logic is admirable; but, dear, why didn't you speak to me about it
before? It would have been much better than pretending to obey your
aunt all these weeks, and deceiving her."

Betty looked ashamed. To have the word "deceive" used about herself
without any glossing of it over made her feel very small and mean.

"We did think of it, father," she said earnestly; "but Kitty said she
didn't want to seem to be always complaining about Aunt Pike."

"I see," said Dr. Trenire quietly, and he gazed for a moment gravely
into the fire before he left the room.

Betty never knew what passed between her father and her aunt; but she
heard no more about the gray stockings, and she wrote off delightedly to
Kitty to tell her all about it.

Kitty was out when the letter came. It was the day on which the girls
were taken for an afternoon's shopping or sight-seeing.

"I really must get some presents to take home to them all," she had said
quite seriously to Pamela in the morning.

Pamela laughed. "There are eleven more weeks to do it in," she said.

But Kitty covered her ears. "Don't, don't," she cried - "just when I
have been telling myself that time is flying, and that I haven't many
more chances."

"Well, you haven't _many_," laughed Pamela. "Of course we don't go
every week. I think you are wise, though, to get your things while you
have the money, and if you see things later that you like better you
mustn't mind."

"I shall keep my eyes turned away from the shops," said Kitty. "Now be
quiet, Pamela, while I make my list."

"Mine is ready," said Pamela, with something between a laugh and a sigh,
and she held up a blank sheet.

"Haven't you any one to get anything for?" said Kitty sympathetically,
sorry At once that she had talked so much about herself. "Poor Pamela!"

"Only Miss Hammond," said Pamela. "We generally give her some flowers -
most of us do, at least. Rhoda Collins doesn't; she says it seems such
a waste of money, as flowers fade so soon. I suggested one
day that she should give Miss Hammond a cake instead, as that at any
rate was useful."

"And did she?"

"No; she said one couldn't get anything very nice for a penny."

Kitty tittered. "Flowers for Miss Hammond," she wrote on her list.
"What do you give to Miss Pidsley?"

"Miss Pidsley!" Pamela looked surprised at her question. "Oh, nothing.
You see, Miss Hammond goes with us, and - and - well, we all like her; but
Miss Pidsley - I don't know why, but I think we never thought of giving
her anything. I should be afraid to."

The shopping was really great fun; the girls swarmed about the counters
and wandered about the shops, going into raptures over this thing and
hesitating about buying that thing, until it really seemed as though all
the purchases never would be made. Yet by degrees they somehow acquired
a great many curious possessions.

Kitty bought a nice pocket-book for her father, a little brooch for
Betty, a book for Tony, and a penknife for Anna; but it took so long to
decide on these that she left her presents for the servants to get
another day, for she still had to buy her flowers for Miss Hammond, and
teatime was fast approaching. The flower-shop was perhaps the most
fascinating of all; the cut flowers, the ferns, and the plants in the
pots were perfectly bewildering in their beauty. Kitty was in raptures,
and almost wished she had bought flowers to take home to them all,
instead of the things she had got.

"Father would simply love that fern," she cried, "and Betty would go
wild over that little white basket with the ferns and hyacinths in it.
O Pamela, I do so want it for her! I want them all!"

Pamela had not lost her head as Kitty had. "Well, the hyacinths will
have faded long before you go home, Kitty, and the brooch is easier to

Kitty laughed somewhat shamefacedly. Her eye was already caught by a
lovely little flowering rose-bush in a pot. "I must buy that," she said
with determination, "and I am going to."

"For Miss Hammond? Oh, how nice! Stupid me had never thought of a
plant for her. I always get cut flowers for her room."

"It isn't for Miss Hammond," said Kitty rather shyly; "I have bought
violets for her. I think I will take the rose back to Miss Pidsley."

"Miss Pidsley! You funny girl, Kitty."

"Well, at any rate I will offer it to her, and if she doesn't like it -
she can't hurt me; and it does seem rather hard that she should miss all
this, and not have anything taken back to her either. She seems to have
all the dull, disagreeable things to do, and none of the nice ones."

"I had never thought of that," said Pamela. "I suppose she chose what
should be her work, and what should be Miss Hammond's."

"Then she must be a good sort to have given all the nicest things to
others to do, and have kept all the dull ones for herself," said Kitty,
with the frankness with which schoolgirls discuss their elders in

"Come along, girls," called Miss Hammond, returning to the shop.
"I have ordered tea, and it will be ready in five minutes."

By this time it was getting dark, and it was very pleasant to turn from
the cold, windy streets into the snug, brightly-lighted room where tea
was laid for them at a couple of tables placed in the window.
The blinds were up, and they could watch the people and the busy life in
the streets, or could turn their eyes inwards and look at that in the
room, where every table was occupied. They were all very hungry and
pleased and excited. The food was good and the tea was good, and the
girls could talk and laugh to their hearts' content.

Then there was the walk home through the busy streets again, where the
shops were all brilliantly lighted now, making everything look very gay
and cheerful. Kitty felt the exhilaration of it tingling in her blood
as she stepped along through the strange scenes which, in her eyes, were
so exciting and gay and full of interest.

When they reached home and the others all flew off to their rooms, Kitty
stood for a moment hesitating; then, with a little added flush on her
cheeks, she walked along the hall to Miss Pidsley's private room and
knocked. There was a moment's silence, then "Come in," said Miss
Pidsley in a voice that was not exactly encouraging, for it was that of
a person who had reached the limits of her patience.

Kitty almost wished she had not come. She seemed to be doing such a
dreadful thing by interrupting, and suddenly her pretty rose looked very
poor and insignificant; but there was no drawing back now, so she opened
the door and went in. Miss Pidsley looked up very sharply.

"Oh, surely, Katherine," she began, when she saw who it was, "it is not
time for your music lesson yet?" Then she noticed that Kitty had on her
hat, and had evidently only just come in.

"Oh no, Miss Pidsley," said Kitty, "there is an our yet before that.
I hope I haven't interrupted you. I brought you home a little
rose-tree, which I hope - I - I thought you might like it," and she put
the beautiful, cheery-looking little crimson rambler down on the table
beside her.

Miss Pidsley looked completely surprised, but quite pleased. "How kind
of you, Katherine - how very kind of you to think of me," she said, and
Katherine noticed that her voice sounded strangely. Then her head
dropped on her hand, and she gave a deep, deep sigh. "Oh," she
exclaimed, and the words seemed to be forced from her, "I am _so_
worried, and oh! so tired, so tired." Then she looked up again with
almost an embarrassed air. "I am afraid I spoke sharply when you
knocked. I feared it might be Jane again, and after the scene I have
had with her I really do not want to see her for some time yet. She has
quarrelled with the house-maid, and both have given me notice; and what
to do I don't know, just at the beginning of term and all." Miss
Pidsley talked on as though she really could not keep her troubles to
herself any longer. "It has been a most trying scene; they upset me
dreadfully, they were so violent."

Had any one else in the house heard the usually reserved headmistress
talking so unreservedly they would have gasped with astonishment. But
Kitty was too full of sympathetic interest to think of anything else.
She had a little unconscious way of her own of winning confidence from
the most unlikely of people, and poor Miss Pidsley, who was so weary, so
overburthened with worries, so perplexed and altogether out of heart,
could not refrain from pouring her troubles out to her; for, first of
all, her sympathy, and, secondly, her little gift of the rose had
carried her straight into Miss Pidsley's lonely, aching heart.

There was Miss Hammond, of course, for her to confide in, and Miss
Hammond would have been told some of the worries by-and-by, but deep
down in Miss Pidsley's heart lurked a little pain, a little trouble that
Miss Hammond's advice could never lessen. Miss Hammond was attractive,
charming, genial, and every one liked her; the girls all adored her.
Miss Pidsley was not attractive, and she had not a genial manner, and
she told herself that nobody cared for her, and that the girls feared
and disliked her. And, unfortunately, this feeling, which hurt her
cruelly, made her withdraw herself more and more from all but what one
might call the business part of the life, and so gave the girls a real
reason for feeling towards her as they did.

Fortunately Kitty had not known Miss Pidsley long enough to realize how
very unlike herself she was now, so she was not at all embarrassed, but
only intensely full of a desire to help.

"Miss Pidsley," she said, after a moment's pause, "if you would let me,
I will write to father and ask him if he knows of any girls that would
do for you. He often does hear of servants wanting places - nice ones
too. You see, he knows so many poor people."

Miss Pidsley looked up surprised. She had never thought of Kitty as a
possible helper in her dilemma. "It is very kind of you, Katharine, to
think of it," she said warmly. "I should indeed be most grateful to
your father if he could help me. He would know that the girls were
respectable and nice. But I really do not like to trouble him, he is
such a busy man."

"Oh, father wouldn't think it a trouble. I will write to-night," said
Kitty, delighted at the prospect of being able to help. "I wish you had
been with us this afternoon, Miss Pidsley; you would have enjoyed it
so. We had a lovely time."

"I wish I had," said Miss Pidsley. "At any rate I should have had some
tea, which is more than I got at home."

"No tea!" Kitty was shocked. No wonder she found her mistress tired and
overdone. "Shall I tell them to get you some now?" she asked, moving
towards the door.

"Oh no!" cried Miss Pidsley, alarmed. "I would not ask for anything
while matters are in such a state in the kitchen." Then she laughed with
some embarrassment at her confession of fear.

"I will go and take off my things now," said Kitty, and she left rather
abruptly and ran quickly to her room.

The throwing off of her hat and coat occupied less than a minute; then,
taking out from a tin box a spirit-lamp and kettle, she filled the
latter and put it on to boil. That done, she ran softly down the stairs
to the pantry. Fortunately for her, Nellie, the schoolroom maid, was
there alone. Nellie, who was an easy-going, good-tempered girl, had
been the pleased recipient of the discarded gray stockings, and had ever
since showed a gratitude which was beyond Kitty's comprehension, for in
her opinion it was she who had most cause to be grateful. To Nellie
Kitty explained her wants, and after a brief, whispered consultation she

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