‘It is not for me to scold you,’ I replied quietly; ’but I am afraid you will get into trouble for this piece of recklessness. Think how frightened poor Fraeulein will be when she misses you.’
’Poor Fraeulein, indeed! a deceitful creature like that. Why, Ursula, what do you think? I just peeped into her room to be sure that she was safe and it was all dark: she was not there at all. Oh, oh, my lady, I said to myself, so that is your little game, is it? And, just to be certain, I rang at the bell at 37 Brunswick Place, where the Schumackers live, and asked the servant if Fraeulein Hennig was still there, and when I heard that she was having tea I nearly laughed in his face. What do you think of that for an instructress of youth,—getting up the excuse of a headache, and leaving me over those stupid lessons, while she paid a visit on her own account? Does she not deserve a thorough good fright as a punishment?’
’I think Aunt Philippa ought to be undeceived. I have never trusted Fraeulein Hennig since you told me she shut herself up in her bedroom to read novels. Jill, my dear, you have acted very wrongly, and I am afraid we shall all get into trouble over this school-girl trick of yours. I must think what is best to be done under the circumstances.’
‘You may think as much as you like,’ returned Jill obstinately, ’but I have come to spend my Christmas Day with you, and nothing will induce me to go back to Fraeulein: I shall murder her if I do. Now, Ursie darling,’ in a coaxing voice, ’do be nice, and make much of me. You can’t think how delicious it is to see your face again; it is such a dear face, and I like it ever so much better than Sara’s and Lesbia’s.’
I was unable to reply to this flattering speech, for Jill suddenly put up her hand—I noticed it was a little inky—and said, ’Hark, there is some one coming up to the door?’ and for the moment we both believed that it was Fraeulein; but, to Jill’s immense relief, it was only Mr. Tudor, with a great bough of holly in his hand.
’We have just finished at the church, and I have brought you this, Miss Garston,’ he began, and then he stopped, and said, ‘Miss Jocelyn here!’ in a tone of extreme surprise, and Jill got up rather awkwardly and shook hands with him. I could see that she felt shy and uncomfortable. I was very pleased to see Mr. Tudor, for I knew he would help us in this emergency. Jill was such a child, in spite of her womanly proportions, that I was sure that her escapade would not seriously shock him; he was young enough himself to have a fellow-feeling for her; and I was not wrong. Mr. Tudor looked decidedly amused when I told him Jill had taken French leave. He tried to look grave until I had finished, but the effort was too much for him, and he burst out laughing.
Jill, who was looking very sulky, was so charmed by his merriment that she began to laugh too, and we were all as cheerful as possible until I called them to order, and asked Mr. Tudor if he would send off a telegram at once.