Jennie looked very spirited and pretty with her flushed cheeks and glowing eyes as she faced her principal, and, without flinching a hair, told her simple, straightforward story in the presence of the other teachers.
Prof. Seabrook was fond of the girl, for she possessed many lovable qualities and was very faithful in the performance of her duties. If he had been inclined to be severe, because of her other offense, his heart was very tender towards her now; for he fully appreciated her honesty and the moral courage she had manifested in taking this stand for Katherine.
He was uncomfortably conscious, too, that his own attitude towards Miss Minturn had not been quite considerate. He recognized her loveliness of character, her excellence in scholarship, her conscientious deportment; in fact, he had no fault whatever to find with her, except that she was a Christian Scientist, and the remembrance of this always stirred him, in the most unaccountable manner, whenever he came in contact with her.
He regarded Jennie thoughtfully for a moment after she concluded, then a gleam of amusement crept into his eyes and his lips twitched with repressed mirth, as he dryly observed:
“Well, Jennie, it seems that you are making quite a record for yourself by breaking rules. I hope there will be no occasion for further self-condemnation after this. You may go now.”
The girl was glad to go, and was “scared stiff,” as she affirmed afterward, when she came to think over what she had said. But her desire to have justice done Katherine had made her forget herself, for the time, in defending her.
Still, as was characteristic, her spirits quickly rebounded, and she flew away to find some of the sophs and reel off a graphic report of what had just occurred in the principal’s study.
Consternation at once took possession of some of their number, for it was evident that, even though Prof. Seabrook and the teachers were ignorant of the names of the guilty ones, Miss Minturn had recognized the ringleaders, and so their supposed secret was out.
A private meeting of all concerned was immediately called, and the matter thoroughly discussed.
“So Miss Minturn claims it would ’rob us of our moral responsibility’ if she should give us away!” remarked Rose Tuttle, a buxom girl of eighteen, with a roguish face and an independent air. “That’s a novel way of looking at it—isn’t it, girls?—and escaping the fate of a ‘telltale,’” and the ringing laugh which completed these remarks was echoed by several others.
“Puts us in a tight box, though,” said Carrie Archer, another merry sprite, as she gnawed the rubber on her pencil with a thoughtful air.
“All the same, I think Katherine Minturn is O. K., and I’m ready to make my best courtesy to her,” gravely observed a girl who was sitting beside her.
“Well, I begin to think she is rather fine myself, in spite of her absurd Christian Science. But what are we going to do about this affair?” inquired Miss Tuttle, with an impatient shrug of her plump shoulders.