They read it, and protested clamorously.
“It is perfectly true,” said Agatha, solemnly.
“It’s beastly mean,” said Jane energetically. “The idea of your finding fault with Gertrude, and then going and being twice as bad yourself! I never heard of such a thing in my life.”
“‘Thus bad begins; but worse remains behind,’ as the Standard Elocutionist says,” said Agatha, adding another sentence to her confession.
“But it was all my fault. Also I was rude to Miss Wilson, and refused to leave the room when she bade me. I was not wilfully wrong except in sliding down the banisters. I am so fond of a slide that I could not resist the temptation.”
“Be warned by me, Agatha,” said Jane impressively. “If you write cheeky things in that book, you will be expelled.”
“Indeed!” replied Agatha significantly. “Wait until Miss Wilson sees what you have written.”
“Gertrude,” cried Jane, with sudden misgiving, “has she made me write anything improper? Agatha, do tell me if—”
Here a gong sounded; and the three girls simultaneously exclaimed “Grub!” and rushed from the room.
One sunny afternoon, a hansom drove at great speed along Belsize Avenue, St. John’s Wood, and stopped before a large mansion. A young lady sprang out; ran up the steps, and rang the bell impatiently. She was of the olive complexion, with a sharp profile: dark eyes with long lashes; narrow mouth with delicately sensuous lips; small head, feet, and hands, with long taper fingers; lithe and very slender figure moving with serpent-like grace. Oriental taste was displayed in the colors of her costume, which consisted of a white dress, close-fitting, and printed with an elaborate china blue pattern; a yellow straw hat covered with artificial hawthorn and scarlet berries; and tan-colored gloves reaching beyond the elbow, and decorated with a profusion of gold bangles.
The door not being opened immediately, she rang again, violently, and w as presently admitted by a maid, who seemed surprised to see her. Without making any inquiry, she darted upstairs into a drawing-room, where a matron of good presence, with features of the finest Jewish type, sat reading. With her was a handsome boy in black velvet, who said:
“Mamma, here’s Henrietta!”
“Arthur,” said the young lady excitedly, “leave the room this instant; and don’t dare to come back until you get leave.”
The boy’s countenance fell, and he sulkily went out without a word.
“Is anything wrong?” said the matron, putting away her book with the unconcerned resignation of an experienced person who foresees a storm in a teacup. “Where is Sidney?”
“Gone! Gone! Deserted me! I—” The young lady’s utterance failed, and she threw herself upon an ottoman, sobbing with passionate spite.
“Nonsense! I thought Sidney had more sense. There, Henrietta, don’t be silly. I suppose you have quarrelled.”