Arabella was looking over the low wall,—ah, now she was reaching down as if trying to get something that was hard to reach, or was she dropping something over?
[Illustration: She was reaching down as if to get something.]
Reginald could not guess which she was doing, and he knew that if he asked her, she would not tell him.
Now Arabella was running; Reginald ran, too. He knew that he must be quite late, for none of the other pupils were in sight.
He was a swift runner, and he entered the door just as Arabella was about to close it.
“You’re late, too,” she whispered.
The little pupils were singing, and the two went softly to their seats.
After the singing, Aunt Charlotte questioned Reginald.
“I started early, but I forgot my books, and going back for them made me late. I ran ’most all the way; I meant to be here early.”
“Being late for such a reason as that is excusable,” said Aunt Charlotte.
“You, also, were late, Arabella.”
“I had to help my Aunt Matilda,” said Arabella, as glibly as if it had been true.
“Oh, oo! That’s a fib!” whispered Reginald, but Arabella did not hear him.
Aunt Charlotte said nothing, but she thought it strange that Arabella’s aunt should have detained her. Surely the maid could have given all necessary assistance, rather than force the little daughter of the house to be late at school.
Reginald had longed to peep over that wall, but he dared not linger. What had Arabella been doing? He determined to wait until he had a fine chance, and then he would look over that wall. He believed that she had hidden something there. He would not tell the other girls, for they might tell Arabella.
At recess time he asked Aunt Charlotte if she had found his ball.
No, the ball was not in the room.
“I think you must have been mistaken,” she said, “the ball must be at your home.”
“Truly I had it here,” the boy insisted, “I left it on my desk.”
“It must have gone to find my red book which had our dialogue in it, for that has disappeared, and hunt as I will, I cannot find it. You have your parts carefully copied, and can be learning them, but I need the book to prompt you.”
Reginald knew that the ball had been on his desk when he had left the schoolroom, and he could not think how it could have disappeared unless some one had helped it to do so.
Again he searched in his desk, but the ball was not there. He put away the books which he had taken out, and closed his desk, looking up just in time to see that Arabella was closely watching him. How queer she looked! She was not laughing, but she seemed to be amused.
“I b’lieve I know where my ball is,” he whispered; “I just know Arabella took it, and p’r’aps that was what she dropped over the wall.”