All the hands were raised up at this juncture, and all the voices said:
“Yes, yes, yes.”
“That’s splendid,” said Kathleen. “I didn’t know I had such an enthusiastic following. Well girls, we’ll have to run a certain risk. We will have to conceal all we can about this society; we’ll have to be true to each other, whatever happens; and we’ll meet wherever we like, girls. Let the head-mistress and the governors say what they please.”
“Hurrah for Kathleen O’Hara! Hurrah for the Wild Irish Girls for ever!” they shouted.
“That’s about it,” said Kathleen. “I called you all to-night to tell you that we are suspected, and we are called insurrectionists; but let them call us what they like.”
“Please,” here put in the timid voice of Janey Ford, “are we likely to be put in prison? For that would break mother’s heart, and do none of us any good.”
“Oh, you little goose!” cried Kathleen, with her ringing laugh. “Not a bit of it. The worst that could happen to us is to be expelled from the school.”
Now this worst, which was really a matter of little importance in the eyes of Kathleen, was somewhat serious to the other girls. To be expelled meant to deprive them of their chance of being well educated and of earning a decent living by-and-by. They all felt very grave, and Kathleen, who had a great power of reading what went on in the hearts of those in whom she was interested, felt somehow that their enthusiasm had abated.
“But nothing will happen,” she cried, “if we are faithful to each other, stand shoulder to shoulder, and do not whatever happens, betray each other. Why girls, Miss Ravenscroft and the governors can do nothing to us unless they have proof, and they will have no proof if we are all true to each other. Now that’s the whole of it for to-night. We’ll meet in the quarry on Saturday night, and then we’ll make a plan for a great expedition all by ourselves to London in the course of next week.”
“Oh dear,” said Susy, “doesn’t it make your heart throb?”
“And I want to add,” continued Kathleen, “that I will frank you. I can’t do it always, but I will on this occasion. Aunt Katie O’Flynn has given me some money for that purpose. So you will stick to me, won’t you girls?”
“That we will!” came from the mouths of all.
“And I am your captain, am I not girls?”
“Indeed you are. We could die for you,” said one or two. “And we’ll never betray you or one another.”
RUTH’S HARD CHOICE: SHE CONSULTS HER GRANDFATHER.