L. T. Meade.

Betty Vivian : a story of Haddo Court School online

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It was Hetty who put the packet into her hand. "Here it is, Betty
darling. We said we'd find it for you."

Then a wonderful thing happened; for Betty looked at the packet, then
she smiled, then she raised it to her lips and kissed it, then she put
it under her pillow. Finally she said, "Oh, I am sleepy! Oh, I am
tired!"




CHAPTER XXIII

RESTORATION


Notwithstanding the fact that the lost packet was restored, Betty's life
hung in the balance for at least another twenty-four hours. During that
time she tossed and sighed and groaned. The fever ran high, and her
little voice kept on saying, "Oh, that I could find the packet!"

It was in this emergency that Miss Symes came to the rescue. She called
Sylvia and Hester to her, and desired Hester to stand at one side of
Betty's little, narrow, white bed, and Sylvia to place herself at the
other.

Betty did not seem even to know her sisters. Her eyes were glassy, her
cheeks deeply flushed, and there was a look of intense restlessness and
great pain in her face. "Oh, that I might find the packet!" she
murmured.

"Do what your heart prompts you, Sylvia," said Miss Symes.

Sylvia immediately pushed her hand under Betty's pillow, and, taking up
the lost packet, took one of the girl's little, feverish hands and
closed her fingers round the brown-paper parcel.

"It is found, Bettina! it is found!" said Sylvia. "Here it is. You need
not fret any more."

"What! what!" said Betty. Into her eyes there crept a new expression,
into her voice a new note. "Oh, I can't believe it!" she exclaimed.

But here Hetty threw in a word of affection and entreaty. "Why,
Bettina," she said, "it is in your hand. Feel it, darling! feel it! We
got it back for you, just as we said we would. Feel it, Bettina! feel
it!"

Betty felt. Her fingers were half-numbed; but she was able to perceive
the difference between the brown paper and the thick, strong cord, and
again the difference between the thick cord and the sealing-wax. "How
many seals are there?" she asked in a breathless, eager voice, turning
and looking full at her sisters.

"Eight in all," said Sylvia, speaking rapidly: "two in front, two at
each side, and two, again, fastening down the naps at the back."

"I knew there were eight," said Betty. "Let me feel them."

Sylvia conducted Betty's fingers over the unbroken seals.

"Count for me, darling, silly Sylvia!" said Betty.

Sylvia began to count: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

"It is my lost packet!" said Betty with a cry.

"It is, Betty! it is!"

"And is any one going to take it from me?"

"No one, Betty, ever again."

"Let me hold it in my hand," said Betty.

Sister Helen came up with a restorative; and when Betty had taken the
nourishing contents of the little, white china cup, she again made use
of that extraordinary expression, "Oh, I am so sleepy! Oh, I am tired!"

Still holding the packet in her hand, Betty dropped off into slumber;
and when she came to herself the doctors said that the crisis was past.

Betty Vivian recovered very slowly, during which time the rules of the
school were altogether relaxed, not only in her favor, but also in favor
of the twins, Sylvia and Hetty. They were allowed to spend some hours
every day with Betty, and although they spoke very little, they were
able to comfort their sister immensely. At last Betty was well enough to
leave her bed and creep to any easy-chair, where she would sit, feeling
more dead than alive; and, by slow degrees, the girls of the school whom
she loved best came to see her and comfort her and fuss over her.
Margaret Grant looked very strong and full of sympathy; Martha West had
that delightful voice which could not but attract all who heard her
speak. Susie Rushworth, the Bertrams, Olive, and all the other
Specialities, with the exception of Fanny, came to visit Betty, who, in
her turn, loved to see them, and grew better each day, and stronger, and
more inclined to eat the good, nourishing food which was provided for
her.

All this time she had never once spoke of Fanny Crawford. The other
Speciality girls were rather nervous on this account. They wondered how
Betty would feel when she heard what had happened to Fanny; for Fanny,
after spending a whole day and night in the small and somewhat dismal
bedroom prepared for her by Mrs. Haddo's orders, refused to appear at
prayers the following morning, and, further, requested that her
breakfast should be taken up to her.

Betty's life was still hanging in the balance, although the doctors were
not nearly so anxious as they had been the day before. Fanny was biding
her time. She knew all the rules of the school, having spent so many
years there. She also knew well what desolation awaited her in the
future in this bright and pleasant school; for, during that painful day
and that terrible night, and this, if possible, more dreadful morning,
no one had come near her but the servant who brought her meals, no one
had spoken to her. To all appearance she, one of the prime favorites of
the school and Sir John Crawford's only daughter, was forgotten as
though she had never existed. To Fanny's proud heart this sense of
desertion was almost intolerable. She could have cried aloud but that
she did not dare to give way; she could have set aside Mrs. Haddo's
punishment, but in her heart of hearts she felt convinced that none of
the girls would take her part. All the time, however, she was making up
her mind. Her nicely assorted garments - her pretty evening frocks, her
day-dresses of summer and winter, her underclothing, her jackets, her
hats, gloves, and handkerchiefs - had all been conveyed to the small,
dull room which she was now occupying. To herself she called it
Punishment Chamber, and felt that she could not endure the life there
even for another hour.

Being well acquainted with the usual routine of the school, Fanny busied
herself immediately after breakfast in packing her different belongings
into two neat cane trunks which she had desired a servant to bring to
her from the box-room. Having done this, she changed the dress she was
wearing for a coat and skirt of neat blue serge and a little cap to
match. She wrote out labels at her desk and gummed them on the trunks.
She examined the contents of her purse; she had two or three pounds of
her own. She could, therefore, do pretty much what she pleased.

But although Fanny Crawford had acted perhaps worse than any other girl
had acted in the school before, she scorned to run away. She would go
openly; she would defy Mrs. Haddo. Mrs. Haddo could not possibly keep a
girl of Fanny's age - for she would soon be seventeen - against her will.
Having packed her trunks, Fanny went downstairs. The rest of the upper
school were busy at their lessons. Sibyl Ray, who had returned to the
lower school, was of course nowhere in sight. Fanny marched bravely down
the corridor, along which she had hurried yesterday in nameless fear
and trepidation. She knocked at Mrs. Haddo's door. Mrs. Haddo said,
"Come in," and she entered.

"Oh, it's you, Fanny Crawford! I haven't sent for you."

"I know that," replied Fanny. "But I cannot stay any longer in disgrace
in one room. I have had enough of it. I wish to tell you, Mrs. Haddo,
that Haddo Court is no longer the place for me. I suppose I ought to
repent of what I have done; and, of course, I never for a moment thought
that Betty would be so absurd and silly to get an illness which would
nearly kill her. As a matter of fact, I do not repent. The wicked person
was Betty Vivian. She first stole the packet, and then told a lie about
it. I happened to see her steal it, for I was saying at Craigie Muir at
the time. When Miss Symes told me that the Vivians were coming to the
school I disliked the idea, and said so; but I wouldn't complain, and my
dislike received no attention whatsoever. Betty has great powers of
fascination, and she won hearts here at once. She was asked to join the
Specialities - an unheard-of-thing for a new girl at the school. I begged
and implored of her not to join, referring her to Rule No. I., which
prohibits any girl who is in possession of such a secret as Betty had to
become a member. She would not listen to me; she _would_ join. Then she
became miserable, and confessed what she had done, but would not carry
her confession to its logical conclusion - namely, confession to you and
restoration of the lost packet."

"I wish to interrupt you for a minute here, Fanny," said Mrs. Haddo.
"Since your father left he has sent me several letters of the late Miss
Vivian's to read. In one of them she certainly did allude to a packet
which was to be kept safely until Betty was old enough to appreciate it;
but in another, which I do not think your father ever read, Miss Vivian
said that she had changed her mind, and had put the packet altogether
into Betty's charge. I do not wish to condone Betty's sins; but her only
sin in this affair was the lie she told, which was evidently uttered in
a moment of swift temptation. She had a right to the packet, according
to this letter of Miss Frances Vivian's."

Fanny stood very still. "I didn't know that," she replied.

"I dare say you didn't; but had you treated Betty differently, and been
kind to her from the first, she would probably have explained things to
you."

"I never liked her, and I never shall," said Fanny with a toss of her
head. "She may suit you, Mrs. Haddo, but she doesn't suit me. And I wish
to say that I want you to send me, at once, to stay with my aunt Amelia
at Brighton until I can hear from my father with regard to my future
arrangements. If you don't send me, I have money in my pocket, and will
go in spite of you. I don't like your school any longer. I did love it,
but now I hate it; and it is all - all because of Betty Vivian."

"Oh, Fanny, what a pity!" said Mrs. Haddo. Tears filled her eyes. But
Fanny would not look up.

"May I go?" said Fanny.

"Yes, my dear. Anderson shall take you, and I will write a note to your
aunt. Fanny, is there no chance of your turning to our Divine Father to
ask Him to forgive you for your sins of cruelty to one unhappy but very
splendid girl?"

"Oh, don't talk to me of her splendor!" said Fanny. "I am sick of it."

"Very well, I will say no more."

Mrs. Haddo sank into the nearest chair. After a minute's pause she
turned to her writing-table and wrote a letter. She then rang her bell,
and desired Anderson to get ready for a short journey.

About three o'clock that day Fanny, accompanied by Anderson, with her
trunks and belongings heaped on top of a station-cab, drove from Haddo
Court never to return. There were no girls to say farewell; in fact, not
one of her friends even knew of her departure until Mrs. Haddo mentioned
it on the following morning.

"Fanny did right to go," she said. "And now we will try to live down all
that has been so painful, and turn our faces once again towards the
light."

* * * * *

Betty recovered all in good time; but it was not until Christmas had
long passed that she first asked for Fanny Crawford. When she heard that
Fanny had gone, a queer look - half of pleasure, half of pain - flitted
across her little face.

"You're glad, aren't you? You're very, very glad, Bettina?" whispered
Sylvia in her sister's ear.

"No, I am not glad," replied Betty. "If I had known she was going I
might have spoken to her just once. As it is, I am sorry."

"Oh Bettina, why?"

"Because she has lost the influence of so noble a woman as dear Mrs.
Haddo, and of so faithful a friend as Margaret Grant, and of so dear a
girl as Martha West. Oh, why did I ever come here to upset things? And
why did I ever tell that wicked, wicked lie?"

"You have repented now, poor darling, if any one ever did!" said both
the twins.

As they spoke Mrs. Haddo entered the room. "Betty," she said, "I wish to
tell you something. You certainly did exceedingly wrong when you told
Sir John Crawford that you knew nothing of the packet. But I know you
did not steal it, dear, for I hold a letter in my hand from your aunt,
in which she told Sir John that she had given the packet absolutely into
your care. Sir John could never have read that letter; but I have read
it, dear, and I have written to him on the subject."

"Then I may keep the packet?" asked Betty in a very low voice.

"Yes, Betty."

"And it will read me a lesson," said Betty. "Oh, thank you! thank you!"
Then she sprang to her feet and kissed Mrs. Haddo's white hands first,
and then pressed a light kiss on that good lady's beautiful lips. "God
will help me to do better in the future," she added.

And she was helped.

THE END




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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

1. Chapter VIII, A New Member, had a major typesetter's error in the
edition this etext was done from - the text for Rule I. was inadvertently
inserted for Rule IV. The staff of the Rare Books Collection at Marriott
Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City were kind enough to research
their version of the text, and provide the correction, from the original
1909 edition from W. & R. Chambers, Edinburgh.

2. Minor changes have been made to ensure consistent usage of
punctuation.

3. A Table of Contents has been added for the reader's convenience.







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Online LibraryL. T. MeadeBetty Vivian : a story of Haddo Court School → online text (page 22 of 22)