LONG TO BE REMEMBERED
There were lights and music and flowers all about the big reception rooms, and a number of ladies and gentlemen were present besides the committee that had brought the medal for Nan. This was no time to retail such gossip as Linda Riggs had brought to her ears, and Miss Hagford, the governess, did not take her employer into her confidence at that time.
Besides, Nan was suddenly made the heroine of the hour.
If she had felt like running away as the party of young people returned to the Mason house from the moving picture show, Nan was more than desirous of escape now. The situation was doubly embarrassing after Linda Riggs’ cruel accusation; for Nan had the feeling that some, at least, of these strange girls and boys must believe Linda’s words true.
Nan knew that, all the way from the picture show, Linda had been eagerly giving her version of the difficulties that had risen between them since she and Nan had first met on the train going to Lakeview Hall. These incidents are fully detailed in the previous volume of this series, “Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall,” as likewise is the incident which resulted in the presentation to Nan of the medal for bravery.
The ladies and gentlemen who had made it their business to obtain this recognition of a very courageous act, had traced the modest schoolgirl by the aid of Mr. Carter, the conductor of the train on which Nan and Bess had been so recently snow-bound.
The committee were very thoughtful. They saw that the girl was greatly embarrassed, and the presentation speech was made very brief. But Mrs. Mason, with overflowing kindness, had arranged for a gala occasion. A long table was set in the big dining room, and the grown folk as well as the young people gathered around the board.
The ill-breeding of Linda Riggs, and her attempt to hurt Nan’s reputation in the eyes of the Masons’ friends, were both smothered under the general jollity and good feeling. Afterward Bess Harley declared that Linda must have fairly “stewed in her own venom.” Nobody paid any attention to Linda, her own cousin scarcely speaking to her. Only once did the railroad magnate’s daughter have an opportunity of showing her ill-nature verbally.
This was when the beautiful gold medal was being passed around the table for the inspection of the company individually. It came in the course of events, to Linda. She took the medal carelessly and turned it over on her palm.
“Oh, indeed—very pretty, I am sure. And, of course, useful,” she murmured. “I have been told that most of these medals finally find their way to the pawnshops.”
This speech made Mrs. Mason, who heard it, look curiously at Linda; the girls about her were silent—indeed, nobody made any rejoinder. It caused Mrs. Mason, however, to make some inquiries of Miss Hagford, and later of Grace and Bess.