Jennie was rigorously catechised, but had very little to tell. She had overheard something of a plot that promised considerable excitement and fun; she had also heard some one whisper, “Monday, at midnight,” and her curiosity had been raised to the highest pitch, therefore she had been unable to resist being “in at the finish.” She could not tell who were the leaders, for she had neither seen nor heard anyone, having slipped into the closet before the crash came. Being hard pressed, however, she admitted that she thought the sophomores were chiefly concerned in the “racket.”
Katherine was then requested to relate all that she knew about it, whereupon she repeated what she had already told Miss Williams.
“You have corroborated what Miss Wild has stated, and have also exonerated her from any complicity in the affair,” Prof. Seabrook observed, when she concluded. “I judge that it must have been confined entirely to the sophomore class. Now we must get down to individuals, if possible. Miss Minturn, did you recognize the voices of those two girls whom you overheard in the hall last night?”
“Truth compels me to say that I did,” Katherine replied, a hot flush mounting to her brow.
“Their names, if you please,” commanded the principal, briefly.
“I beg that you will excuse me from naming them,” she pleaded.
“It is plainly your duty to expose them, Miss Minturn. The affair is of too serious a nature to allow sentiment to thwart discipline and the preservation of law and order,” returned the gentleman, in an inflexible tone.
“Pardon me,” she said, “but I cannot feel it my duty—at least until—”
“That is equivalent to saying that you will not comply with my request,” interposed the professor, his eyes beginning to blaze in view of what he regarded as a defiant attitude.
“No, sir; I could not be so disrespectful,” Katherine gently replied. “Please allow me to say that I would have taken no action whatever in the matter but for the sake of saving Miss Wild from being unjustly accused.”
Jennie flashed her an adoring look as she said this.
“I just wanted to hug you!” she told her afterwards.
“Miss Wild is no doubt properly grateful; all the same you have no right to shield the guilty ones, and I shall hold you to your duty,” inflexibly responded Prof. Seabrook.
Katherine saw that he was determined to make her name the culprits, and, for a moment, she was deeply distressed. Then her face suddenly cleared.
“May I suggest that it is the duty of the offenders to confess their own wrongdoing?” she questioned, in a respectful tone; adding: “It certainly is their right to have the opportunity given them, and I would prefer not to rob them of it; while it would release me from a very awkward position if they would do so.”
“I think Miss Minturn is right, Prof. Seabrook,” Miss Williams here remarked. “I am sure we can all understand how she feels about it, and we know that it would place her under the ban of the whole school if she were to expose the ringleaders without giving them the opportunity, as she says, to volunteer a confession.”