“But it will be a nice thing if my girl gets expelled owing to her,” said a sour-faced woman, coming forward now and placing her arms akimbo just in front of Kathleen.
“Is it that that every one is thinking about?” said Kathleen. She stood still for a minute. The color left her face. She felt a wave of tempestuous blood pressing against her heart; then it all rushed back in a fiery color into her cheeks and in brightness to her eyes.
“And Alice knew of this,” she said to herself; “and when I didn’t come to school this morning she thought that I was afraid. Afraid!—Don’t keep me, good people,” said Kathleen. “Make way, please. I am sorry I am a little late.”
She walked past them all. When she got as far as the school door she turned to Mrs. Hopkins.
“You can tell your aunt that the almshouse is safe,” she said, and then she blew a kiss to her and disappeared into the school.
WHO WAS THE RINGLEADER?
In the passage a monitress was standing, and when she saw Kathleen she came up to her and said in an agitated tone:
“They are all assembled in the great hall. Go in quickly; you may be in time, after all.”
The voice of the monitress quite shook, and there was a troubled, very nearly tearful expression in her eyes.
“But why is the whole school in the central hall?” asked Kathleen. “Why are they not in their different classrooms?”
“Go in—go in,” said the monitress. “You will know when you find yourself there; and there is not a moment to lose.”
So Kathleen, impelled by a curious power which seemed to drive her whether she will it or not, opened the door of the great central hall and entered. She found it quite full. The four hundred girls who composed the Great Shirley School were all present; so were the teachers, and so were the professors who came to give them music and drawing and literature lessons. So was the head-mistress, Miss Ravenscroft; and also, seated on the same little raised platform, were the six ladies who formed the governors. The governors sat in a little circle, Miss Mackenzie in the middle. Miss Mackenzie looked hard and very firm. Her iron-gray hair, her false teeth, her prominent nose, and her rather cruel steel-gray eyes made themselves felt all down the long room. The other ladies also looked as they usually did, except that Mrs. Naylor had traces of tears in her eyes, and bent forward several times to whisper something to Miss Mackenzie, who invariably shook her head and looked more stern than ever. There was evidently a moment’s pause, and the whole school was in a waiting attitude when Kathleen made her appearance. All eyes were then turned in her direction; all eyes fixed themselves on the showily dressed and very handsome child who suddenly entered the room.