With her arm thrown across the teacher’s shoulders Madge made her way to the houseboat, followed by her friends. At that moment, to the little, impulsive girl, Miss Jennie Ann Jones seemed particularly dear, in spite of her mysterious ways, and Madge made mental resolve to try to believe in their chaperon, no matter what happened.
THE GIRL ON THE ISLAND
“Phil, it looks like only a little more than half a mile over to the island. Do you think we can make it?” asked Madge, casting speculative eyes toward the distant island.
“Of course we can,” declared Phyllis. “I’m sorry that Eleanor and Miss Jones did not come with us. But they have become so domestic that they can’t be persuaded to leave the houseboat. Nelly told me she positively loved to polish kettles and things,” Phil replied.
Lillian, Phyllis and Madge were in their own rowboat, the “Water Witch,” which had been expressed to them from Harborpoint. They were no longer in the quiet inlet of the bay, where their houseboat was anchored, but rowing out toward the more open water. On one side of them they could see the beach in front of a large summer hotel. Across from it lay a small island, to which they were rowing.
“Miss Jones doesn’t like to have us start off alone this way. She has grown dreadfully nervous about us since our experience in the cabin,” remarked Lillian. “That is why she didn’t approve of Madge’s plan this morning.”
“I thought Madge was going to fly into little bits when Miss Jones suggested it was not safe for us to row about here in our own little ‘Water Witch,’” teased Phil.
“Phil, please don’t discuss my temper,” answered Madge crossly. “If there is one thing I hate worse than another, it is to hear people talk about my faults. Of course, I know I have a perfectly detestable temper, but I hardly said a word to Miss Jenny Ann. Please tell me what fun we could have on our holiday if we never dared to go ten feet away from the houseboat?”
“None whatever,” answered Lillian, “only you needn’t be so cross with Phil and me. We were not discussing your faults. You are altogether too ready to become angry over a trifle.” There was indignation and reproof in Lillian’s tone.
Madge plied her oars in silence. She knew that she had behaved badly. “Isn’t it exactly like me?” she thought to herself. “If I am sweet and agreeable one minute, and feel pleased with myself, I can surely count on doing something disagreeable the next. Now I have made Lillian and Phil cross with me and probably have hurt Miss Jenny Ann’s feelings and spoiled this beautiful day for us all.”
Eleanor’s soft voice broke in upon her self-arraignment. “Don’t squabble, girls. The day is altogether too perfect. None of you are really cross. Now, are you?”
Three pairs of eyes met hers, then the little dispute ended in a general laugh.