“And I am neutral. I don’t think I ought to join at all,” said Ruth.
“Oh, yes, you will, Ruth. I want you to be my Prime Minister, I want you to be with me in all things.”
“I don’t know that I can.”
“And why should she be your Prime Minister?” said Kate in an ugly voice. “She’s no better than the others, and she’s very new. Some of us have been at the school for some time. Ruth Craven has only just joined.
“The queen must have her way,” said Kathleen, stamping her foot. “The queen must have her way in all particulars, and she wishes to elect Ruth Craven as her Prime Minister—that is, if Ruth will consent.”
They were headstrong and big girls, most of them older than Kathleen, but they submitted, for her ways were masterful and her tone full of delicate sympathy.
“I will think it over and let you know,” said Ruth. “Of course, I shall not betray you; but you must please understand that I have friends amongst the paying girls of the school. Cassandra Weldon is my friend, and there are others. I will not join nor advocate any plan that annoys or worries them.”
The girls looked dubious, and one or two began to speak in discontented voices.
“We must meet again in a couple of days,” said Kathleen finally. “By then I shall have drawn up the rules. We can’t always meet at night, but we will when it is possible, for this place is so romantic, and so correct for a secret society. Those who are present to-night will be in my Cabinet. I should like if possible to have all the foundation girls on my side, but that must be decided at our next meeting. I am willing to purchase a badge for each girl who joins me; it will be made of silver, and can be worn beneath the dress in the form of a locket.”
“Oh, lovely, delicious! There never was such a queen,” cried Susy Hopkins.
The little meeting broke up amidst universal applause.
The box from Dublin and its treasures.
Kathleen returned quite safely to Myrtle Lodge. Ben was sitting up for her; he opened the door. The hall was quite dark. He held out his hand and drew her in.
“Am not I splendid?” he said. “I have been standing here for half-an-hour, all drenched with perspiration. If mother came down” what wouldn’t she say? And as to Alice, she’d be even worse. But a sov.’s worth doing something for. I say! I do feel happy! I never had all that lot of bullion in the whole course of my life before. Are you right now, Kathleen—can you slip upstairs without making any noise? Don’t forget that the step just before you reach the upper landing gives a great creak like the report of a pistol; hop over it on to the landing itself, and you are safe. Alice is in bed, snoring like anything; I listened outside the keyhole.”