“No, honey,” replied Nan, placidly. “And I wouldn’t go without you, you know very well.”
“Oh! wouldn’t you, Nan? Not even with Walter?”
“Certainly not!” cried Nan Sherwood, big-eyed at the suggestion.
“Only because Dr. Beulah wouldn’t hear of such an escapade, I guess,” said the wicked Bess, laughing.
“Now! just for that,” Nan declared, pretending to be angry, “I won’t tell you—yet—what we were talking about.”
“You and Walter?”
“Walter and I—yes.”
“Secrets from your chum, Nan! You’re always having something on the side that you don’t tell me,” pouted Bess.
“Nonsense! Don’t you know Christmas is coming and everybody has secrets this time of year?”
“Hurry up, girls!” commanded the red-haired girl who was helping pull on the rope directly behind the chums. “I’m walking on your heels. It will be night before we get on the slide.”
“We’re in the lead,” Bess flared back. “Don’t be afraid, Laura.”
“That may be,” said Laura Polk, “but I don’t want Linda Riggs and her crowd right on top of us. They’re so mean. They came near running into us the other day.”
“But the professor called ’em down for it,” said the fourth girl dragging the bobsled, who was a big, good-natured looking girl with a mouthful of big white teeth and a rather vacuous expression of countenance when she was not speaking.
“He ought to send Linda Riggs and her friends down first,” Nan Sherwood suggested.
“No, ma’am!” said Bess Harley, shrilly.
“We’re here ahead of ’em all. We can go first, can’t we, Professor Krenner?”
“Certainly, my dear,” responded the professor. “Look over the sled, Walter, and see that it is all right.”
The handsome sled was almost new and there could be nothing the matter with it, Walter was sure. Other parties of girls from the Hall, dragging bobsleds, were appearing now. They were all the bigger girls of the school, for the younger ones, or “primes,” as they were designated, had their own particular hill to slide on, nearer the Hall.
Dr. Beulah Prescott, principal of Lakeview Hall, believed in out-of-door sports for her girls; but they were not allowed to indulge in coasting or sleighing or skating or any other sport, unattended. Professor Krenner had general oversight of the coasting on Pendragon Hill, because he lived in a queerly furnished cabin at the foot of it and on the shore of the lake.
He marshalled the sleds in line now and took out his watch. “Three minutes apart remember, young ladies,” he said. “Are you going with your sister’s sled, Walter?”
“This first time,” said the boy, laughing. “Grace won’t slide if I don’t, although Nan knows how to steer just as well as I do.”
“Of course she does,” said Bess, with assurance. “We don’t need a boy around,” she added saucily.
“They’re very handy animals to have at times,” said the professor, drily. “Wait a bit, Miss Riggs!” he added sharply. “First come, first served, if you please. You are number three. Wait your turn.”