THE FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL
The great gateway stood wide open, and through it one could see the fine stone house with its vine-covered balconies, its rare flowers and stately trees.
A light breeze swayed the roses, sending out their perfume in little gusts of sweetness, while across the path the merry sunbeams flickered, like little dancing elves.
Down the path came a lovely little girl, swinging a skipping-rope, and dancing over and under it in perfect time with the song which she was singing.
The sunlight touched her bright curls, making her look like a fairy, and now she skipped backward, and forward, around the circular garden, and back again, only pausing to rest when another little girl ran across the lawn to meet her. She was Dorothy Dainty, the lovely little daughter of the house, and the sprightly, dark-eyed child who now joined her was Nancy Ferris, her dearest playmate.
“I was just wishing you’d come out, for I’ve something to tell you,” Dorothy said. “You know Aunt Charlotte has all her plans ready for opening her private school next week, and you heard her tell mamma that the class was very full.”
“Oh, I know it’s to be a big class,” said Nancy, “for besides all the girls that used to be in it, there’s to be one new one, and one boy, Katie Dean’s cousin, Reginald, and,—oh, did you know that Arabella is to join the class?”
“Why, Nancy, are you sure?” asked Dorothy; “only yesterday we looked over toward her house, and there seemed to be no one at home.” Nancy’s eyes were merry.
“Come and look now!” she said, clasping Dorothy’s hand, and running with her down to the gate.
“There!” said Nancy, “see all those windows open, and somebody out there behind the house beating a rug; you see they are at home, and that’s her queer little old Aunt Matilda.”
Dorothy looked at the resolute little figure, and wondered how the thin arm could wield the rug-beater with so much energy. She remembered that Arabella had said that her father always did as Aunt Matilda directed, and truly the small woman appeared able to marshal an army of men, if she chose.
“Perhaps Arabella will go over to the public school,” said Dorothy; “she doesn’t have to enter Aunt Charlotte’s private class.”
“Oh, but she will, I just know she will,” Nancy replied, “and Aunt Charlotte’ll have to let her. You know Mr. Corryville was in your papa’s class at college, and if he says he wishes Arabella to join the class, your papa will surely say ‘yes.’”
“He certainly will,” said Dorothy, “but there’s one thing to think of,” she said, with a bright smile, “There are nice girls in the class, and if Arabella is queer, we mustn’t mind it.”
“We’ll try not to,” Nancy said, and then, as Dorothy again swung her rope, Nancy “ran in,” and the two skipped around the house together, the rope whipping the gravel walk in time with the dancing feet.