“Come just a little way home with me,” said Susy. “It won’t take me long to say what I want to say.”
She linked her hand in her companion’s as she spoke. Yes, there was little doubt of it, Ruth was lovable. One forgot her low birth, her low surroundings, when one looked at her. Susy had heard of those few people of rare character and rare natures who are, as it is expressed, “Nature’s ladies.” There are Nature’s gentlemen as well, and Nature’s ladies and Nature’s gentlemen are above mere external circumstances; they are above the mere money’s worth or the mere accident of birth. Now, Ruth belonged to this rare class, and Susy, without quite understanding it, felt it. She forgot the humble little house, the lack of rooms, and the workmanlike appearance of the whole place. She said in a deferential tone:
“I have come to you, from Kathleen O’Hara. You have done something which has distressed her very much. She wants you to meet her to-morrow at the White Cross Corner on your way to school; she wants you to be there at a quarter to nine. That is all, Ruth. You will be sure to attend? I promised Kathleen most faithfully that I would deliver her message. She is very unhappy about something. I don’t know what you have done to vex her.”
“But I do,” said Ruth. “And I can’t help going on vexing her.”
“But what is it?” said Susy, whose curiosity was suddenly awakened. “You might tell me. I wish you would.”
“I can’t tell you, Susan; it has nothing to do with you. It is a matter between Kathleen and myself. Very well, I will meet her. There is no use in shirking things. Good-night, Susan. It was good of you to come and give me Kathleen’s message.”
RUTH RESIGNS THE PREMIERSHIP.
The next morning Kathleen O’Hara was downstairs betimes. She ran into the kitchen and suggested to Maria that she should help her to toast the bread. Maria, who was somewhat lazy, and who had already begun to appreciate Kathleen’s extreme good-nature, handed her the toasting-fork and pointed to a heap of bread which lay cut and ready for toasting on the deal table in the center of the kitchen.
“Dear me, Miss Kathleen!” she said; “if only Miss Alice was as good-natured as you, why, the house would go on wheels.”
“I often helped the servants at home,” said Kathleen. “Why isn’t Alice good-natured?”
“She’s made contrairy, I expect, miss.”
“Cut on the cross, I call it,” said cook, who came forward at this juncture and offered a chair to Kathleen.
“Well, if that’s the case I’m sorry for her,” said Kathleen. “It must be very unpleasant to feel sort of peppery-and-salty and cross-grained all the time.”
“It isn’t what you ever feel, miss,” said cook with an admiring glance at the young lady.
Kathleen fixed her deep-blue roguish eyes on the good woman’s face.