Kathleen had let herself out of the house by the strong rope of ivy; she meant to return to her bedroom the same way. Alice was a very sound sleeper; it did not occur to her that Alice on that particular night might be awake. She reached the foot of the window in perfect safety, saw that the ivy looked precisely as it had looked when she climbed down it, and began her upward ascent. This was decidedly more difficult than her downward one; but she was light of foot and agile. Had she not climbed dangerous crags after young eaglets at home? By-and-by she reached the window-sill. How nice! the window was partly open. She pushed it wider and got in. The room was in darkness. So much the better. She stepped softly, reached her own bed, undressed, and lay down. How nice of Alice to be sound asleep! Then of course it was not Alice she saw standing on the platform looking at her with reproachful, horrified eyes.
“I must have dreamt it,” thought Kathleen. “Now all is well, and I shall sleep like a top until the morning.”
This, however, was no easy feat. Alice’s quiet breathing sounded not many feet away, and after a time it seemed to get on Kathleen’s nerves. She moved restlessly in her bed. Alice awoke, and complained of the cold.
“The window is a little open,” said Kathleen. “Shall I shut it?”
Alice made no answer. Kathleen jumped up, shut the window, and fastened it. She then got back into bed. In the morning Alice called out to her:
“Is your headache better?”
“Had I one?” began Kathleen. Then she blushed; then she laughed; then she said, “Oh, it’s quite well.”
Alice gazed steadily at her. It seemed to Kathleen that Alice’s eyes were full of something very terrible.
“Are you coming to school to-day?” asked Alice the next moment.
“Of course. Why do you ask such a strange question?”
“I shouldn’t think you would wish to; but there is no accounting for what some people can live through.”
“Alice, what do you mean?”
“What I say.”
“Is there anything very awful going to happen at school?”
“You will find out for yourself when you get there.”
“Dear me!” said Kathleen; “you look as if the deluge was coming.”
“And so it is,” said Alice.
She had finished dressing by now, and she went out of the room. The two girls went down to breakfast. Alice’s face was still full of an awful suppressed knowledge, which she would not let out to any one; but Mrs. Tennant was smiling and looking just as usual, and the boys were as fond of Kathleen as was their wont. She had completely won their immature masculine hearts, and they invariably sat one on each side of her at meals, helped her to the best the table contained, and fussed over her in a way that pleased her young majesty. Kathleen was very glad that morning to get the boys’ attention. She determined to sit with her back slightly turned to Alice, in order not to look into her face. They were about half-way through breakfast when there came a ring at the front-door, and Cassandra Weldon’s voice was heard.