The lessons went no better on the following Sunday; Gillian could neither enforce her authority nor interest the children. She avoided the esplanade, thinking she had found a nice country walk to the common beyond the marble works; but, behold, there was an outbreak of drums and trumpets and wild singing. The Salvation Army was marching that way, and, what was worse, yells and cat-calls behind showed that the Skeleton Army was on its way to meet them. Gillian, frightened almost out of her wits, managed to fly over an impracticable-looking gate into a field with her children, but Fergus wanted to follow the drum. After that she gave in. The children went to Mrs. Hablot, and Gillian thought she saw ‘I told you so’ in the corners of Aunt Jane’s eyes.
It was a further offence that her aunt strongly recommended her going regularly to the High School instead of only attending certain classes. It would give her far more chance of success at the examination to work with others and her presence would be good for Valetta. But to reduce her to a schoolgirl was to be resented on Miss Vincent’s account as well as her own.
CHAPTER IV. THE QUEEN OF THE WHITE ANTS
The High School was very large. It stood at present at the end of a budding branch of Rockquay, where the managers, assisted by the funds advanced by Lord Rotherwood and that great invisible potentate, the head of the marble works, had secured and adapted a suitable house, and a space round it well walled in.
The various classes of students did not see much of each other, except those who were day boarders and spent the midday recreation time together. Even those in the same form were only together in school, as the dressing-room of those who dined there was separate from that of the others, and they did not come in and out at the same time. Valetta had thus only really made friends with two or three more Rockstone girls of about her own age besides Kitty Yarley, with whom she went backwards and forwards every day, under the escort provided in turn by the families of the young ladies.
Gillian’s studies were for three hours in the week at the High School, and on two afternoons she learnt from the old organist at Rockstone Church. She went and came alone, except when Miss Mohun happened to join her, and that was not often, ‘For,’ said that lady to her sister, ’Gillian always looks as if she thought I was acting spy upon her. I wish I could get on with that girl; I begin to feel almost as poor Lily did with Dolores.’
‘She is a very good girl,’ said Miss Adeline.
’So she is; and that makes it all the more trying to be treated like the Grand Inquisitor.’
’Shall I speak to her? She is always as pleasant as possible with me.’
’Oh no, don’t. It would only make it worse, and prevent you from having her confidence.’
‘Ah, Jane, I have often thought your one want was gentleness,’ said Miss Ada, with the gesture of her childhood—–her head a little on one side. ’And, besides, don’t you know what Reggie used to call your ferret look? Well, I suppose you can’t help it, but when you want to know a thing and are refraining from asking questions, you always have it more or less.’