“Child, I don’t want to doubt you—nobody who knows you could do that—but it will mean ruin to poor Susy and to many and many a girl at the Great Shirley School. It isn’t so much Miss O’Hara we mean. Miss O’Hara has gone into this with her eyes open; and she is rich, and what is disgrace to her in this little part of England, when she herself lives in a great big castle in Ireland, and is a queen, lady, and all the rest? But it means—oh, such a frightful lot to so many! Now, Susy, for instance. I meant to apprentice her to a good trade when she had gone through her course of work at the Great Shirley; but she will have to be a servant—a little maid-of-all-work—and I think that it would break my heart if she was expelled.”
“And what do you want me to do, Mrs. Hopkins?”
“Oh, my dear, not to think of yourself, but of the many who will be ruined—not to tell, Ruth Craven.”
Ruth gave a gentle smile; then she put out her small slim hand and touched Mrs. Hopkins, and then turned and continued her walk to the school.
There were a group of foundationers standing round the entrance. Ruth longed to avoid them, but they saw her and clustered round her, and each and all began to whisper in her ears:
“You will be faithful, Ruth; nothing will induce you to tell. It will be hard on you, but you won’t ruin so many of us. It is better for one to suffer than for all to suffer. You won’t tell, will you, Ruth?”
Ruth made no reply in words. The great bell rang, the doors of the school were flung wide, and the girls, Ruth amongst them, entered.
AFTER THE FUN COMES THE DELUGE
Kathleen O’Hara’s nature was of the kind that rises to the top of the mountains and sinks again to the lowest vales. She had been on the tip-top of the hills of her own fantasy all that evening. When she ran quickly home under the stars she began to realize what she had done She had done something of which her mother would have been ashamed. Not for a moment had Kathleen thought of this way of looking at her escapade until she read the truth in the eyes of the unknown but most kind lady. She despised herself for her own action, but she did not dread discovery. It did not occur to her as possible that what she and her companions had done could be known. If no one knew, no one need be at all more sorry or at all more unhappy on account of her action.
“Poor Wild Irish Girls! they are getting into hot water,” she said to herself. “But this little bit of fun need never be told to any one.”