The next morning Cassandra Weldon was much surprised, on arriving at the school, to receive a message asking her to step into Miss Ravenscroft’s special sanctum. She went there at once, wondering if the head-mistress wanted to give her particular instructions with regard to the great scholarship examination which would take place at the end of the term. Cassandra was remarkable for her calm and somewhat stately bearing; she was the sort of girl who never gave herself away. She was admired rather than passionately loved by her companions. No one could help giving her a most sincere respect. But one or two adored her, and amongst these was Florence Archer, a handsome, bright-faced, original sort of girl who was in the same form as Cassandra.
“Be sure you come and tell me afterwards what it all means, Cassie,” said Florence, touching her friend affectionately on the shoulder.
Cassandra nodded. She did not suppose the matter was of special import. The rest of the girls proceeded to their different classes, and Cassandra found herself in Miss Ravenscroft’s presence. Now to Kathleen the fact of being interviewed by Miss Ravenscroft only caused a sense of annoyance, and unwonted irritation; Ruth was surprised, partly delighted and partly afraid; but Cassandra, whose father had been a teacher, and who lived all her life in the scholastic world, considered it an honor almost too great for words that she should be specially interviewed by so great a person as Miss Ravenscroft. She made, therefore, a most respectful curtsy, and stood modestly before the head-mistress.
“Sit down, dear,” said Miss Ravenscroft kindly. “I have sent for you, Cassandra, neither to reprove nor to give you ordinary counsel. I have sent for you to consult you, my dear child.”
“You are very good,” said Cassandra, flushing all over her delicate face; “and I am sure,” she added, “if it is possible for me to help one like you, I should be only too proud.”
“That is what I feel; and I think you can help me. We are at present in a very unpleasant position in the school. The unanimity and harmony of this entire large place is in danger, and the foundationers are in extreme peril. You perhaps know to what I allude.”
“I could not be in the school without having heard rumors of a sort of insurrection which seems to be spreading a good deal,” said Cassandra.
“Of course,” said Miss Ravenscroft. “It has been brought to our ears that a society has been formed by an Irish girl of the name of Kathleen O’Hara. She has called it the Wild Irish Girls. There are several members, and she herself is the leader. Now, Cassandra, without going into particulars, it is the firm intention, not only of myself as head-mistress, but also of the governors, to crush this matter in the bud. It is true that the bud is rapidly blossoming into most dangerous flower and fruit, but if we are in time we shall stop all further mischief. Now to do this we must get all particulars. There is one girl who can furnish us will all we want to know, but she dreads, doubtless from conscientious motives, to betray her late companions. I allude to Ruth Craven.”