By this time the gentleman had come within speaking distance of the ladies, whom he instantly recognized, his fine eyes lighting with pleasure as they fell upon Katherine. He courteously lifted his hat.
“Good-afternoon, Miss Reynolds,” he said, with a genial smile, as he extended his hand in greeting. “And, Miss Minturn, this is certainly an unexpected pleasure! I suppose, however,” he continued, with a mirthful quiver of his lips, “it would not be at all proper to ask if you are well, even if your blooming appearance did not speak for you and preclude the necessity of such an inquiry. But to what happy circumstance do we owe the pleasure of your advent here?”
“I am a student at Hilton Seminary,” Katherine replied, as she frankly gave him her hand, her color deepening as she did so. “I played truant from school for several months, as you know, and am now trying to bridge the chasm.”
“And your delightful mother, Miss Minturn? I trust she is also we-—Ah! excuse me—enjoying life?”
“Ah! Dr. Stanley, I see you have not forgotten how to exercise your propensity for teasing,” Katherine retorted, with a light laugh. “My mother is both well and happy, thank you, and will be pleased to know that I have met you again.”
The physician bowed his acknowledgment as he remarked:
“Pray give my kind regards to Mrs. Minturn when you make up your next budget of news for her. As for my propensity to tease”—with a roguish smile—“I had no resource except to exercise it upon the daughter. Since the mother would not be teased and could never be defeated in an argument, I had to retaliate in some way. But what class have you entered, Miss Minturn?”
“I am a junior, Dr. Stanley.”
“Ah! then we shall keep you at Hilton for some time,” and there was a ring of satisfaction in the gentleman’s tones which did not escape the ear of the observant teacher. “Are you aware, Miss Reynolds,” he said, turning to her and resuming his bantering tone, “what a revolutionary spirit our institution has taken to her bosom in admitting Miss Minturn?”
“We have found her a very peaceable individual: thus far; she certainly does not have the appearance of being a discordant element,” the lady returned, as she bestowed an affectionate glance upon her companion.
But the girl’s face had grown suddenly grave, and she now lifted a pair of very serious eyes to the physician.
“Yes, Dr. Stanley,” she observed, “Miss Reynolds knows that I am a Christian Scientist; but Prof. Seabrook has forbidden me to make my religious views prominent in the school.”
“I understand. Yes, I know that my brother-in-law is not at all in sympathy with the movement,” said Phillip Stanley; and at once dropping his banter, he added, apologetically: “I fear that I was thoughtless in referring to the subject in the way I did, and I will not annoy you again by alluding to it in the presence of a third party.”