At those times she felt no nervousness, no loneliness, nothing but pure, unalloyed happiness. Sometimes she would take a book with her, and when she came to a spot that pleased her, she would turn Prue into the hedge to graze, while she herself would stay in the carriage and read, or dismount and climb some hedge, or tree, or gate, and gaze about her, or lie on the heather, thinking or reading; and by-and-by she would turn the old horse’s head homewards, and arrive at last laden with honeysuckle or dog-roses, bog-myrtle, ferns, or rich-brown bracken and berries.
THE COMING OF ANNA.
The next week or two were full of change, excitement, and unrest. No one knew what the next day might bring forth, and the children never felt sure of anything. Any hour might bring a surprise to them, and it was not likely to be a pleasant surprise—of that they felt sure. One of the changes decided on was that Dan was to go very soon—the next term, in fact—to a public school as a boarder.
To all but Dan the news came as an overwhelming blow. Katherine and Elizabeth, as their aunt persisted in calling them, considered it one of the most cruel and treacherous acts that Mrs. Pike could have been guilty of. Of course they blamed her entirely for it. “Dan was to be turned out of his home-banished—and by Aunt Pike!” they told each other.
“I expect she will banish us next,” said Betty. “If she does, I shall run away from school and become something—a robber, or a gipsy, or a heroine.”
But the cruellest part, perhaps, of the blow was that Dan himself did not resent it. In fact, he showed every sign of delight with the plan, and was wild with excitement for the term to begin. To the girls this seemed rank treachery, a complete going over to the enemy, and they felt it keenly.
“I didn’t think Dan would have changed so,” said Kitty dejectedly, as she and Betty lay in their beds discussing the serious state of affairs.
“I don’t know,” said Betty darkly. “I thought he was very odd the night Aunt Pike came. First there was the rude way he spoke to me about my making up to her, and then he went and got that bottle of embercation for her. I called that sucking up to her.”