L.T. Meade.

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_The Rebel of the School_









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I. Sent to Coventry! 5

II. High Life and Low Life 17

III. The Wild Irish Girl 26

IV. The Home-Sick and the Rebellious 34

V. Wit and Genius: the Plan Propounded 58

VI. The Poor Tired One 72

VII. The Queen and Her Secret Society 79

VIII. The Box from Dublin and Its Treasures 93

IX. Conscience and Difficulties 106

X. The Wild Irish Girl's Society Is Started 112

XI. The Blouse and the Robbery 126

XII. Tom Hopkins and His Way with Aunt Church 136

XIII. Aunt Church at Dinner, and the Consequences
Thereof 150

XIV. Ruth Resigns the Premiership 171

XV. The Scholarship: Trouble Is Brewing 177

XVI. Kathleen Takes Ruth to Town 192

XVII. Miss Katie O'Flynn and Her Niece 204

XVIII. Susy Hopkins Persuades Aunt Church 220

XIX. Ruth's Troubles and Susy's Preparations 230

XX. The Governors of the School Examine Ruth 242

XXI. The Society Meets at Mrs. Church's Cottage 253

XXII. Ruth's Hard Choice: She Consults Her Grandfather 263

XXIII. Ruth Will Not Betray Kathleen 275

XXIV. Kathleen and Grandfather Craven 281

XXV. Kathleen Has a Good Time in London 294

XXVI. The Right Side of the Ledger 308

XXVII. After the Fun Comes the Deluge 314

XXVIII. Who Was the Ringleader? 321

XXIX. End of the Great Rebellion 334




The school was situated in the suburbs of the popular town of
Merrifield, and was known as the Great Shirley School. It had been
endowed some hundred years ago by a rich and eccentric individual who
bore the name of Charles Shirley, but was now managed by a Board of
Governors. By the express order of the founder, the governors were
women; and very admirably did they fulfil their trust. There was no
recent improvement in education, no better methods, no sanitary
requirements which were not introduced into the Great Shirley School.
The number of pupils was limited to four hundred, one hundred of which
were foundationers and were not required to pay any fees; the remaining
three hundred paid small fees in order to be allowed to secure an
admirable and up-to-date education under the auspices of the great

There came a day in early autumn, shortly after the girls had
reassembled after their summer vacation, when they streamed out of the
building in groups of twenties and thirties and forties. They stood
about and talked as girls will.

The Great Shirley School, well as it was managed, had perhaps a larger
share than many schools of those temptations which make school a
world - a world for the training either for good or evil of those who go
to it. There were the girls who attended the school in the ordinary way,
and there were the girls who were drafted on to the foundation from
lower schools. These latter were looked down upon by the least noble and
the meanest of their fellow-scholars.

There was a slight rain falling, and two or three girls standing in a
group raised their umbrellas, but they still stood beside the gates.

"She's quite the very prettiest girl I ever saw," cried Alice Tennant;
"but of course we can have nothing to do with her. She entered a week
ago. She doesn't pay any of the fees; she has no pretence to being a
lady. Oh, here she comes! Did you ever see such a face?"

A slight, shabbily dressed little girl, with her satchel of books slung
on her arm, now appeared. She looked to right and left of her as though
she were slightly alarmed. Her face was beautiful in the truest sense of
the world; it did not at all match with the shabby, faded clothes which
she wore. She had large deep-violet eyes, jet-black hair, and a sweet,
fresh complexion. Her expression was bewitching, and when she smiled a
dimple came in her cheek.

"Look - look!" cried Mary Denny. "Isn't she all that I have said?"

"Yes, and more. What a pity we can't know her!" said Alice Tennant.

"But can't we? I really don't see why we should make the poor child
miserable," said Mary Denny.

"It is not to be thought of. We must worship the beautiful new star
from afar. Perhaps she will do something to raise herself into our set;
but as it is, she must go with Kate Rourke and Hannah Johnson and Clara
Sawyer, and all the rest of the foundationers."

"Well, we have seen her now," said Mary, "so I suppose we needn't stand
talking about her any longer. Will you come home and have tea with me,
Alice? Mother said I might ask you."

"I wish I could come," said Alice; "but we are expecting Kathleen."

"Oh, the Irish girl! Is it really arranged that she is to come?"

"Yes, of course it is. She comes to-night. I have never seen her. We are
all pleased, and expect that she will be a very great acquisition."

"Irish girls always are," said Mary. "They're so gay and full of life,
and are so ridiculously witty. Don't you remember that time when we had
Norah Mahoney at the school? What fun that was!"

"But she got into terrible scrapes, and was practically dismissed," said
Alice. "I only hope Kathleen won't be in that style."

"But do you know anything about her? The Irish are always so terribly

"She is not poor at all. She has got an uncle and aunt in Chicago, and
they are as rich as can be; and her uncle is coming to see her at
Christmas. And besides that, her father has an awfully old castle in the
south-west of Ireland. He is never troubled on account of the Land
League or anything else, and Kathleen will have lots and lots of money.
I know she is paying mother well for giving her a home while she is
being educated at the Shirley School."

"I can't imagine why she comes to our school if she is so rich," said
Mary. "It seems almost unfair. The Great Shirley School is not meant for
rich girls: a girl of the kind you have just described ought not to
become a member of the school."

"Oh, that is all very fine; but it seems her mother was educated here,
and swore a sort of vow that when Kathleen was old enough she should
come to this school and to no other. Her mother's name is Mrs. O'Hara,
and she wrote to Miss Ravenscroft and asked if there was a vacancy for
Kathleen, and if she knew of any one who would be nice to her and with
whom she could live. Miss Ravenscroft thought of mother; she knew that
mother would like to have a boarder who would pay her well. So the whole
thing was settled; mother has been corresponding with Mrs. O'Hara, and
Kathleen comes to-day. I really can't stay another moment, Mary. I must
rush home; there are no end of things to be attended to."

"All right," said Mary. "I will watch for you and the beautiful Irish
heiress - "

"I don't know that she is an heiress."

"Well, whatever she is - the bewitching Irish girl - to-morrow morning.
Ta-ta for the present."

Mary turned to the left, and Alice continued her walk. She walked
quickly. She was a well-made, rather pretty girl of fifteen. Her hair,
very light in colour, hung down her back. She had a determined walk and
a good carriage. As she hurried her steps she saw Ruth Craven, the
pretty foundation girl, walking in front of her. Ruth walked slowly and
as if she were tired. Once she pressed her hand to her side, and Alice,
passing her, hesitated and looked back. The face that met hers was so
appealing and loving that she could not resist saying a word.

"Are you awfully tired, Ruth Craven?" she said.

"I shall get used to it," replied Ruth. "I have had a cold for the last
few days. Thank you so much, Miss Tennant!"

"Don't thank me," said Alice, frowning; "and don't say 'Miss Tennant,'
It isn't good form in our school. I hope you will be better to-morrow. I
am sure, at least, that you will like the school very much."

"Thank you," said the girl again.

The girls parted at the next corner. When Ruth found herself alone she
paused and looked behind her. Tears rose to her eyes; she took out her
handkerchief to wipe them away. She paused as if troubled by some
thought; then her face grew bright, and she stepped along more briskly.

"I am a coward, and I ought to be ashamed of myself," she thought. "Now,
when I go in and grandfather sees me, he will think he has done quite
wrong to let me go to the Shirley School. I must not let him think that.
And granny will be still more vexed. I have had my heart's desire, and
because things are not quite so pleasant as I hoped they would have
been, it is no reason why I should be discontented."

The next moment she had lifted the latch at a small cottage and entered.
It was a little better than a workman's house, but not much; there were
two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs, and that was all. To the
front of the little house was the tiny parlour, at the back an equally
tiny kitchen. Upstairs was a bedroom for Ruth and a bedroom for her
grandparents. Mr. and Mrs. Craven did not keep any servants. The moment
Ruth entered now her grandmother put her head out of the kitchen door.

"Ruthie," she said, "the butcher has disappointed us to-day. Here is a
shilling; go to the shop and bring in some sausages. Be as quick as you
can, child, or your grandfather won't have his supper in time."

Ruth took the money without a word. She went down a small lane, turned
to her right, and found herself in a mean little street full of small
shops. She entered one that she knew, and asked for a pound and a half
of pork sausages. As the woman was wrapping them up in a piece of torn
newspaper, she looked at Ruth and said:

"Is it true, Miss Craven, that you are a scholar at the Great Shirley

"I am," replied Ruth. "I went there for the first time to-day."

"So your grandparents are going to educate you, miss, as if you were a

"I am a lady, Mrs. Plowden. My grandparents cannot make me anything but
what I am."

Mrs. Plowden smiled. She handed Ruth her sausages without a word, and
the young girl left the shop. Her grandmother was waiting for her in the

"What a time you have been, child!" she said. "I do hope this new school
and the scholars and all this fuss and excitement of your new life won't
turn your head. Whatever happens, you have got to be a little servant to
me and a little messenger to your grandfather. You have got to make
yourself useful, and not to have ideas beyond your station."

"Here are the sausages, granny," answered Ruth in a gentle tone.

The old lady took them from her and disappeared into the kitchen.

"Ruth - Ruth!" said a somewhat querulous but very deep voice which
evidently issued from the parlor.

"Yes, granddad; coming in a moment or two," Ruth replied. She ran up
the tiny stairs, and entered her own little bedroom, which was so wee
that she could scarcely turn round in it, but was extremely neat.

Ruth removed her hat, brushed out her black hair, saw that her dress,
shabby as it was, was in apple-pie order, put on a neat white apron, and
ran downstairs. She first of all entered the parlor. A handsome old man,
with a decided look of Ruth herself, was seated by the fire. He was
holding out his thin, knuckly hands to the blaze. As Ruth came in he
turned and smiled at her.

"Ah, deary!" he said, "I have been missing you all day. And how did you
like your school? And how is everything?"

"I will tell you after supper, grandfather. I must go and help granny

"That's right; that's a good girl. Oh! far be it from me to be
impatient; I wouldn't be for all the world. Your granny has missed you
too to-day."

Ruth smiled at him and went into the kitchen. There were eager voices
and sounds of people hurrying about, and then a fragrant smell of fried
sausages. A moment later Ruth appeared, holding a brightly trimmed lamp
in her hand; she laid it on a little centre-table, drew down the blinds,
pulled the red curtains across the windows, poked up the fire, and then
proceeded to lay the cloth for supper. Her pile of books, which she had
brought in her satchel, lay on a chair.

"I can have a look at your books while I am waiting, can't I, little
woman?" said the old man.

Ruth brought him over the pack of books somewhat unwillingly. He gave a
sigh of contentment, drew the lamp a little nearer, and was lost for the
time being.

"Now, child," said old Mrs. Craven, "you heat that plate by the fire.
Have you got the pepper and salt handy? Sausages ain't worth touching
unless you eat them piping hot. Your grandfather wants his beer. Dear,
dear! What a worry that is! I never knew that the cask was empty. What
is to be done?"

"I can go round to the shop and bring in a quart," said Ruth.

"But you - a member of the Shirley School! No, you mustn't. I'll do it."

"Nonsense, granny! I'll leave school to-morrow if you don't let me work
for you just the same as ever."

Mrs. Craven sank into her chair.

"You are a good child," she said. "All day I have been so fretting that
we were taking you out of your station; and that is a sad mistake - sad
and terrible. But you are a good child. Yes, go for it, dear; it won't
do you any harm."

Ruth wrapped an old shawl round her head, picked up a jug, and went off
to the nearest public-house. They were accustomed to see her there, for
old Mr. Craven more often than not had his little cask of beer empty.
She went to a side entrance, where a woman she knew served her with what
she required.

"There, Ruth Craven," she said - "there it is. But, all the same, I'm
surprised to see you here to-night."

"But why so?" asked Ruth.

"Isn't it true that you are one of the Shirley scholars now?"

"I am; I joined the school to-day."

"And yet you come to fetch beer for your old grandfather!"

"I do," said Ruth, with spirit. "And I shall fetch it for him as long as
he wants it. Thank you very much."

She took the jug and walked carefully back to the cottage.

"She's the handsomest, most spirited, best little thing I ever met,"
thought the landlady of the "Lion," and she began to consider in her own
mind if one of her men could not call round in the morning and leave the
necessary beer at the Cravens'.

Supper was served, and was eaten with considerable relish by all three.

"Now," said old granny when the meal had come to an end, "you stay and
talk to your grandfather - he is all agog to hear what you have got to
say - and I will wash up. Now then, child, don't you worry. It isn't
everybody who has got loving grandparents like us."

"And it isn't many old bodies who have got such a dear little
granddaughter," said the old man, smiling at Ruth.

Mrs. Craven carried the supper things into the kitchen, and Ruth sat
close to her grandfather.

"Now, tell me, child, tell me," he said. "What did they do? What class
did they put you into?"

"I am in the third remove; a very good class indeed - at least they all
said so, grandfather."

"I don't understand your modern names; but tell me what you have got to
learn, dear. What sort of lessons are they going to put into that smart
little head of yours?"

"Oh, all the best things, grandfather - French, German, English in all
its branches, music, and Latin if I like. I am determined to take up
Latin; I want to get to the heart of things."

"Quite right - quite right, too. And you are ever so pleased at having
got in?"

"It does seem a grand thing for me, doesn't it, grandfather?"

"Most of the girls are ladies, aren't they?"

"It is a big school - between three and four hundred girls. I don't
suppose they are all ladies."

"Well, you are, anyhow, my little Ruth."

"Am I, granddad? That is the question."

"What do you think yourself?"

"I think so; but what does the world say?"

"Ruth, I never told you, but your mother was a lady. You know what your
father was. I saved and stinted and toiled and got him a commission in
the army. He died, poor fellow, shortly after you were born. But he was
a commissioned officer in the Punjab Infantry. Your mother was a
governess, but she was a lady by birth; her father was a clergyman. Your
parents met in India; they fell in love, and married. Your mother died
at your birth, and you came home to us. Yes, child, by birth you are a
lady, as good as any of them - as good as the best."

"They are dead," said Ruth. "I don't remember them. I have a picture of
my father upstairs; it is taken with his uniform on. He looks very
handsome. And I have a little water-color sketch of my mother, and she
looks fair and sweet and interesting. But I never knew them. Those I
knew and know and love are you, grandfather, and granny."

"Well, dear, when I had the power and the brains and the strength, I
kept a shop - a grocer's shop, dear; and my wife, she was the daughter of
a harness-maker. Your grandparents were both in trade; there's no way
out of it."

"But a gentleman and lady for all that," said the girl.

She pressed close to the old man, took one of his weather-beaten hands
between both of her own, and stroked it.

"That is as people think, Ruthie; but we weren't in the position, and
never expect to be, of those who are high up in the world."

"I am glad you told me about my father and mother," said the girl. "I
love both their memories. I am glad to think that my father served the
Queen, and that my mother was the daughter of a clergyman. But I am more
glad to think that there never was such an honorable man as you,
granddad, and that you made the grocery trade one of the best in the

"It was a bad trade, my darling. I had several severe losses. It was
very unfortunate my lending that money."

"What money?"

"Oh, I will tell you another time; it doesn't really matter. There was a
little bit of ingratitude there, but it doesn't matter. Only I made no
fortune by grocery - barely enough to put my boy into the army and to
educate him for it, and enough to keep us with a pittance now that we
are old. But I have nothing to leave you, sweetest. You just have your
pension from the Government, which don't count for nothing at all."

Ruth rose to her feet.

"I am glad I got into the school," she said. "I hope to do wonders
there. I mean to take every scrap of good the place opens out to me. I
mean to work as hard as ever I can. You shall be desperately proud of
me; and so shall granny, although she doesn't hold with much learning."

"But I do, little girl; I love it more than anything. I have got such a
lovely scheme in my head. I will work alongside of you, Ruth - you and I
at the same things. You can lend me the books when you don't want them."

"What a splendid idea!" said Ruth, clapping her hands.

"You look quite happy, my dear."

"And so I am. I am about the happiest girl on earth. And now, may I
begin to look through my lessons for to-morrow?"

The old man arranged the lamp where its light would be most comfortable
for the keen young eyes, and Ruth sat down to the table, got out her
books, and worked for an hour or two. Mrs. Craven came in, looked at her
proudly, wagged her head, and returned to the kitchen. After a time she
came to the door and beckoned to the old man to follow her. But the old
man had taken up one of Ruth's books and was absorbed in its contents;
he was muttering words over under his breath.

"Coming, wife - coming presently," he said.

Ruth's head was bent over her books. Mr. Craven rose and went on tiptoe
into the kitchen.

"We mustn't disturb her, Susan," he said. "We must let her have her own
way. She must work just as long as she likes. She is going to be a great
power in the land, is that child, with her beauty and her talent;
there's nothing she can't aspire to."

"Now don't you be a silly old man," said Mrs. Craven. "And what on earth
were you whispering about to yourself when I came in?"

"I am going to work with her. It will be a wonderful stimulation, and a
great interest to me. I always was keen for book-learning."

Mrs. Craven suppressed a sigh.

"If I even had fifty pounds," she said, "I wouldn't let that child spend
every hour at school. I'd dress up smart, and take her out, and get her
the very best husband I could. Why, old man, what does a woman want
with all that learning?"

"If a woman has brains she's bound to use them," replied the old man, as
he sat down by the kitchen fire.

Meanwhile Ruth went on with her lessons. After a time, however, she
uttered a sigh. She flung down her books and looked across the room.

"If he only knew," she said under her breath - "if he only knew that I
was practically sent to Coventry - that none of the nice girls will speak
to me. But never mind; I won't tell him. Nothing would induce me to
trouble him on the subject."



Amongst the many girls who attended the Great Shirley School was one who
was known by the name of Cassandra Weldon. She was rapidly approaching
the proud position of head girl in the school. She had entered the
Shirley School when quite a little child, had gone steadily up through
the different classes and the various removes, until she found herself
nearly at the head of the sixth form. She was about to try for a
sixty-pound scholarship, renewable for three years; if she got it she
would go to Holloway College, and eventually support herself and her
mother. Mrs. Weldon was the widow of a man who in his time had a very
successful school for boys, and she herself had been a teacher long ago
in the Great Shirley School. Cassandra and her mother, therefore, were
from the very first surrounded by scholarship; they belonged, so to
speak, to the scholastic world.

Mrs. Weldon could scarcely talk of anything else. Evening after evening
she would question her daughter eagerly with regard to this
accomplishment and the other, to this change or that, to this chance
which Cassandra might have and to the other. The girl was extremely
clever, with a sort of all-round talent which was most remarkable; for
in addition to many excellent accomplishments, she was distinctly
musical. Her musical talent very nearly amounted to genius. If in the
future she could not play in public, she resolved at least to earn her
living as a music teacher. Mrs. Weldon hoped that Cassandra would do
more than this; and, to tell the truth, the girl shared her mother's
dreams. Besides music, she had worked very hard at botany, at French and
German, and at English literature. She would be seventeen on her next
birthday, and it was against the rules for any girl to remain at the
Great Shirley School after that time. Cassandra had, however, two more
terms of school-life before her, and these terms she regarded as the
most valuable of her whole education.

In appearance Cassandra was a tall, well-made girl, graceful in her
movements, and very self-possessed in manner. Her face was full of
intelligence, but was rather plain than otherwise, for her mouth was too
wide and her nose the reverse of classical. She had bright intelligent
brown eyes, however, a nice voice, and a pleasant way. Cassandra was
looked up to by all her fellow-students, and this not because she was

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