“‘Please do tell me somebody is scandalized’”
“‘Can I have what other women have—silk underwear and stockings?’”
“‘Duane!’ she gasped—’why did you?’”
“Oh, the horror of it!—the shame, the agonized surprise”
“’This is one of those rare occasions ... where goodness is ... amply rewarded’”
“‘I want to confess! I’ve been horribly depraved for a week!’”
“She dropped him a very low, very slow, very marvellous courtesy”
“Crumpled up like a white flower in his arms”
All day Sunday they had raised the devil from attic to cellar; Mrs. Farren was in tears, Howker desperate. Not one out of the fifteen servants considered necessary to embellish the Seagrave establishment could do anything with them after Kathleen Severn’s sudden departure the week before.
When the telegram announcing her mother’s sudden illness summoned young Mrs. Severn to Staten Island, every servant in the household understood that serious trouble was impending for them.
Day by day the children became more unruly; Sunday they were demons; and Mrs. Farren shuddered to think what Monday might bring forth.
The day began ominously at breakfast with general target practice, ammunition consisting of projectiles pinched from the interior of hot muffins. Later, when Mrs. Farren ventured into the schoolroom, she found Scott Seagrave drawing injurious pictures of Howker on the black-board, and Geraldine sorting lumps of sugar from the bowl on the breakfast-tray, which had not yet been removed.
“Dearies,” she began, “it is after nine o’clock and——”
“No school to-day, Mrs. Farren,” interrupted Scott cheerfully; “we haven’t anything to do till Kathleen comes back, and you know it perfectly well!”
“Yes, you have, dearie; Mrs. Severn has just sent you this list of lessons.” She held out a black-edged envelope.
Geraldine, who had been leisurely occupied in dropping cologne on a lump of sugar, thrust the lump into her pink mouth and turned sharply on Mrs. Farren.
“What list?” she demanded. “Give that letter to me.... Oh, Scott! Did you ever hear of anything half so mean? Kathleen’s written out about a thousand questions in geography for us!”
“I can’t stand that sort of interference!” shouted Scott, dropping his chalk and aiming a kick at the big papier-mache globe. “I’m sorry Kathleen’s mother is probably going to die, but I’ve had enough geography, too.”
“Mrs. Severn’s mother died on Friday,” said the housekeeper solemnly.
The children paused, serious for a moment in the presence of the incomprehensible.
“We’re sorry,” said Geraldine slowly.... “When is Kathleen coming back?”